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Author Topic: Catholic and Orthodox: Appeal to Teaching Authority  (Read 10854 times) Average Rating: 5
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elijahmaria
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« on: August 11, 2010, 02:32:12 PM »

Father Al Kimel wrote the following in another discussion thread and I thought he was correct to say that it deserves a topic all its own:

Father Al Kimel:

The question of the continuity of present teaching with the teaching of the past is not of course irrelevant to Catholics--quite the contrary. But for purposes of this discussion, it is absolutely critical that the question "What is the present teaching of the Catholic Church on purgatory?" be separated from "Has the Catholic Church 'changed' its teaching on purgatory?" I understand why the latter question is of such polemical interest to folks like Fr Ambrose; but until Fr Ambrose and others like him cease to arrogate to themselves the authority of the Catholic Magisterium, there can be no fruitful discussion. Catholics are rightly insulted when non-Catholics keep imposing upon them their polemical reconstructions and caricatures of Catholic belief. 

But the point you raise, FormerReformer, is of great interest and deserves its own thread, because it touches on what may be an important difference between Catholic and Orthodox understandings of ecclesial authority. Orthodoxy appeals to the consensual teaching of the Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils. When doctrinal disagreement occurs, Orthodox theologians ask, "What did the Church Fathers teach?" As we know, faithful Christians will often disagree in their identification and interpretation of the consensual teaching of the patristic Church. How are such differences authoritatively resolved?

The Catholic, on the other hand, looks to the present teaching of the Church to resolve, if not definitively then at least reliably, the question "What did the Apostles teach?" and "What did the Fathers teach?" The Catholic does this because he trusts that the Holy Spirit is guiding the pastors of the Church. Hence the provocative words of Henry Cardinal Manning in his book The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost (1881):

Quote
As soon as I perceived the Divine fact that the Holy Spirit of God has united Himself indissolubly to the mystical body, or Church of Jesus Christ, I saw at once that the interpretations or doctrines of the living Church are true because Divine, and that the voice of the living Church in all ages is the sole rule of faith, and infallible, because it is the voice of a Divine Person. I then saw that all appeals to Scripture alone, or to Scripture and antiquity, whether by individuals or by local churches, are no more than appeals from the Divine voice of the living Church, and therefore essentially rationalistic. (p. 44)

The doctrines of the Church in all ages are primitive. It was the charge of the Reformers that the Catholic doctrines were not primitive, and their pretension was to revert to antiquity. But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine. How can we know what antiquity was except through the Church? No individual, no number of individuals can go back through eighteen hundred years to reach the doctrines of antiquity. We may say with the woman of Samaria, “Sir, the well is deep, and thou hast nothing to draw with.” No individual mind now has contact with the revelation of Pentecost, except through the Church. Historical evidence and biblical criticism are human after all, and amount at most to no more than opinion, probability, human judgment, human tradition. (p. 227)

From the Catholic perspective, the Orthodox appeal to patristic consensus looks very similar to the Protestant appeal to the plain teaching of Scripture. Both appear to be appeals to antiquity and thus ultimately appeals to the private judgment of clerics, historians, and theologians. From the Orthodox perspective, the Catholic appeal to the contemporary teaching of the Magisterium looks like advocacy of progressive, and even new, revelation. How can the present-day teaching of the Catholic Church on purgatory, for example, be essentially identical to the teaching of the medieval Catholic Church when it appears to be so different? Of course, the positions of both Churches are far more nuanced than what I have here simplistically stated; but this is, I think, a matter worthy of substantive, patient, and charitable discussion.
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2010, 02:57:30 PM »

This is indeed an interesting difference between Catholics and Orthodox. What puzzles me is that when looking for an answer, the Orthodox believe all they can do is look back on previous teachings by the Church Fathers or by doctrines defined at Ecumenical Councils. It is almost as if they believe that the Holy Spirit only guided the Church for a certain time, from the time of the Apostles and Early Church Fathers up until the seventh Ecumenical Council. The Catholic Church believes it possesses the same teaching authority that the Church has always had going back to antiquity. If the Holy Spirit guided the Church then and was able to produce definitive orthodox doctrine, then surely now the Church has that same authority. This is what the Catholic Church believes. I am puzzled as to why the Orthodox Church doesn't believe that the Church still possesses teaching authority by virtue of the Holy Spirit, or that the Holy Spirit is not able to bring the Church into a fuller understanding of truths. That the Orthodox are uncomfortable with this concept is made evident when they scoff at our Magisterium, which is the teaching authority of the Catholic Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

Our understanding of doctrinal teachings certainly does change even if the Truths themselves cannot and do not change. I'm sure most Orthodox would agree that our understanding of the Trinity after the First Council of Nicea was a lot clearer than it was before Nicea. However, this is not to say that the Church changed its view and created the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, but simply that over time the Holy Spirit brought the Church into a deeper understanding of it.
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mike
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 03:05:35 PM »

The Orthodox always look in the past when looking for an answer to whether the question was not been resolved. Making a new answer if there is already the one for the same question is pointless. New answer (under the guidance of Holy Spirit) are worked out only when the problems did not appear in the past.

The RCC on the other hand doesn't bother to check whether the Church has opinion on anything (or they chack and say the opinion is wrong) and when the question appears (no matter how many time did it appear before) it creates a new answer best suitable (according to them) to the present situation.
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 03:08:41 PM »

The Orthodox always look in the past when looking for an answer to whether the question was not been resolved. Making a new answer if there is already the one for the same question is pointless. New answer (under the guidance of Holy Spirit) are worked out only when the problems did not appear in the past.

The RCC on the other hand doesn't bother to check whether the Church has opinion on anything (or they chack and say the opinion is wrong) and when the question appears (no matter how many time did it appear before) it creates a new answer best suitable (according to them) to the present situation.
This is not entirely correct. The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't, know does it believe it can. Adjusting the way we describe Purgatory (which is a spiritual thing) by describing it using different physical metaphors than before doesn't mean we changed the doctrine, as the precise nature of Purgatory was never doctrinally defined.
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 03:09:29 PM »

The Orthodox Church does not have the Roman Catholic concept of the development of doctrine.
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2010, 03:13:34 PM »

The Orthodox always look in the past when looking for an answer to whether the question was not been resolved. Making a new answer if there is already the one for the same question is pointless. New answer (under the guidance of Holy Spirit) are worked out only when the problems did not appear in the past.

The RCC on the other hand doesn't bother to check whether the Church has opinion on anything (or they chack and say the opinion is wrong) and when the question appears (no matter how many time did it appear before) it creates a new answer best suitable (according to them) to the present situation.
This is not entirely correct. The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't, know does it believe it can. Adjusting the way we describe Purgatory (which is a spiritual thing) by describing it using different physical metaphors than before doesn't mean we changed the doctrine, as the precise nature of Purgatory was never doctrinally defined.

Which brings us to the problem plaguing the other threads:  At what point does the Roman Catholic Church consider a doctrine "defined"?  Ecumenical Council?  Papal pronouncement?  Inclusion in the Catachesis?
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2010, 03:13:46 PM »

The Orthodox always look in the past when looking for an answer to whether the question was not been resolved. Making a new answer if there is already the one for the same question is pointless. New answer (under the guidance of Holy Spirit) are worked out only when the problems did not appear in the past.

The RCC on the other hand doesn't bother to check whether the Church has opinion on anything (or they chack and say the opinion is wrong) and when the question appears (no matter how many time did it appear before) it creates a new answer best suitable (according to them) to the present situation.

Mike,

Your reply here made me think that perhaps it would be helpful if you could give and example of what you see happening with the Catholic Church...or an example from Orthodoxy that we could then compare and contrast the way of examining things?

Also I think we are going to need a good working explanation for "patristic consensus"...What is it?  How do we determine if we've got it? What happens if it we cannot find a decisive patristic majority position?  Etc.

Actually the Catholic Church also has to explain what she means by and how she employs patristic consensus in her teaching and doctrinal documents now and through history.  

There are no formal Catholic documents that are not explicitly grounded in some way in the long historical view of tradition.

M.
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2010, 03:16:18 PM »

The Orthodox always look in the past when looking for an answer to whether the question was not been resolved. Making a new answer if there is already the one for the same question is pointless. New answer (under the guidance of Holy Spirit) are worked out only when the problems did not appear in the past.

The RCC on the other hand doesn't bother to check whether the Church has opinion on anything (or they chack and say the opinion is wrong) and when the question appears (no matter how many time did it appear before) it creates a new answer best suitable (according to them) to the present situation.
This is not entirely correct. The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't, know does it believe it can. Adjusting the way we describe Purgatory (which is a spiritual thing) by describing it using different physical metaphors than before doesn't mean we changed the doctrine, as the precise nature of Purgatory was never doctrinally defined.

Which brings us to the problem plaguing the other threads:  At what point does the Roman Catholic Church consider a doctrine "defined"?  Ecumenical Council?  Papal pronouncement?  Inclusion in the Catachesis?

In many ways, teaching and legitimate doctrinal development is like the soul...a work always in progress.

Councils establish some parts of a given doctrine, but always leave room for the spirit to move...room and time.

The bishops have the authority to formulate doctrine and the laity are charged with its protection.

Mary
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2010, 03:31:20 PM »

This is not entirely correct. The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't, know does it believe it can.

Really?

Quote from: Council of Florence
It firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church.

source

Quote from: II Council of Vatican
Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts,(19) which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect.

source
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2010, 03:40:38 PM »

This is not entirely correct. The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't, know does it believe it can.

Really?

Quote from: Council of Florence
It firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church.

source

Quote from: II Council of Vatican
Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts,(19) which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect.

source

That is a wonderful question.  Is every word of every council infallible?

Mary
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2010, 03:44:11 PM »

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2010, 03:53:36 PM »

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

They can be for pastoral guidance as well as legitimate doctrinal development.

Does Orthodoxy teach that none are saved outside the Orthodox Church?

M.
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2010, 04:02:03 PM »

Yes, but Christ can save anyone He wants.
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 04:04:10 PM »

Yes, but Christ can save anyone He wants.

Well then consider Florence the Yes and the Second Vatican the But.....

I'm not really joking there.  Someone mentioned that Orthodoxy does things in her own time and it was none of my business really to question it....well....there it is.

M.
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« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2010, 04:11:19 PM »

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.
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« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2010, 04:17:55 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Vatican II isn't the complacement of Florence, it's its negation.

Florence says that those out of communion with Pope won't achieve salvation because they are outside the Church. Vatican II says that those out of communion with Pope are truly baptised, therefore they can achieve salvation. Two equal authorities proclaimed statements that contradict each other. Which one is true? The latter one superceded the previous one? Is it possible for one Ecumenical Council to change the doctrinal teachings defined in the previous Council?

We, the Orthodox, say - no.

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.

You have mentioned pastoral rules - they can be changed. The doctrinal statements cannot.
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« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2010, 04:24:22 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Vatican II isn't the complacement of Florence, it's its negation.

Florence says that those out of communion with Pope won't achieve salvation because they are outside the Church. Vatican II says that those out of communion with Pope are truly baptised, therefore they can achieve salvation. Two equal authorities proclaimed statements that contradict each other. Which one is true? The latter one superceded the previous one? Is it possible for one Ecumenical Council to change the doctrinal teachings defined in the previous Council?

We, the Orthodox, say - no.

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.

You have mentioned pastoral rules - they can be changed. The doctrinal statements cannot.

Florence says that no one outside the Church will achieve salvation...

In those centuries being outside the Church meant being without Baptism or being a heretic or one who outright rejected the Church and her sacraments and tenets of belief....

Vatican II says that anyone outside the Church who is baptized may be saved and that there is even the possibility of a baptism of desire...but she says nothing about heretics being saved...

Your rendition of Florence has said things that are not there in the document...I guess you needed to add that to make your argument work.

M.
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« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2010, 04:26:28 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Vatican II isn't the complacement of Florence, it's its negation.

Florence says that those out of communion with Pope won't achieve salvation because they are outside the Church. Vatican II says that those out of communion with Pope are truly baptised, therefore they can achieve salvation. Two equal authorities proclaimed statements that contradict each other. Which one is true? The latter one superceded the previous one? Is it possible for one Ecumenical Council to change the doctrinal teachings defined in the previous Council?

We, the Orthodox, say - no.

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.

You have mentioned pastoral rules - they can be changed. The doctrinal statements cannot.

Florence says that no one outside the Church will achieve salvation...

In those centuries being outside the Church meant being without Baptism....

Vatican II says that anyone outside the Church who is baptized may be saved and that there is even the possibility of a baptism of desire...

Your rendition of Florence has said things that are not there in the document...I guess you needed to add that to make your argument work.

M.

so does this mean that those who lived in those centuries w/o baptism are damned outright while those who have the fortune to be born post 1969 may be saved?
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« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2010, 04:27:19 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Without the church, ex ecclesia, how do you know what is Christ's authority and what is man's delusion?

M.
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« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2010, 04:32:20 PM »


so does this mean that those who lived in those centuries w/o baptism are damned outright


I am sure it means that there were some who believed that to be true, but there were others who did not and I don't have the citations immediately before me but there is a history of those who took a very strict and rigid view of, ex ecclesia, and those who did not.  Vatican II was only the culmination of centuries of internal and informal dialogue, prayer and study.

So what would be said now is that without the Church, there is no salvation...and we would say that with an entire long tradition of understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ and the Mystical Body of Christ and all that entails in terms of the spiritual life in Christ....for those who are baptised in water and the Spirit and those who we can only pray be saved by the grace of Christ.

M.

PS: You do realize, in Latin, "without the Church" and "outside the Church" can both be translated "ex ecclesia"...
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« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2010, 04:51:13 PM »

In those centuries

You have just stated that the RCC can change its doctrinal teachings. I'm sorry but you are wrong:

Quote from: Council of Vatican
This doctrine is to be believed and held by all the faithful in accordance with the ancient and unchanging faith of the whole Church.

source

What means that in three Councils the RCC issued two contradictory teachings and stated that it's unchangeable. That's tricky  Tongue

In those centuries being outside the Church meant being without Baptism or being a heretic or one who outright rejected the Church and her sacraments and tenets of belief

Way out again. Have you heard of Dictatus Papae?

Quote
That he who is not at peace with the Roman church shall not be considered catholic.

source

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Without the church, ex ecclesia, how do you know what is Christ's authority and what is man's delusion?

M.

God guides the Church and makes the Church to establish rules but He's above that rules.
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« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2010, 05:04:37 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Vatican II isn't the complacement of Florence, it's its negation.

Florence says that those out of communion with Pope won't achieve salvation because they are outside the Church. Vatican II says that those out of communion with Pope are truly baptised, therefore they can achieve salvation. Two equal authorities proclaimed statements that contradict each other. Which one is true? The latter one superceded the previous one? Is it possible for one Ecumenical Council to change the doctrinal teachings defined in the previous Council?

We, the Orthodox, say - no.

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.

You have mentioned pastoral rules - they can be changed. The doctrinal statements cannot.

Florence says that no one outside the Church will achieve salvation...

In those centuries being outside the Church meant being without Baptism or being a heretic or one who outright rejected the Church and her sacraments and tenets of belief....

Vatican II says that anyone outside the Church who is baptized may be saved and that there is even the possibility of a baptism of desire...but she says nothing about heretics being saved....
So, a heretic will definitively not be saved?
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« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2010, 05:07:17 PM »

Some of this post I can't follow so I will respond to what I can understand:

I have no idea of the underlying premises of your logic that the Church contradicted herself from Florence to Vatican II.  I realize it is an assertion by you and others but the logic is not clear to me and I've never been able to have anyone explain it to me so that it came clear without simply repeating the assertion.

Also I really am aware that God is above the rules of the Church but he is not "above" his own Word for he is the Word.

What I was really asking you was, ex ecclesia, how do YOU know what is God's Word or what is revealed Truth,  and what is human delusion?  How do you determine that?

Mary
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« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2010, 05:10:02 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Vatican II isn't the complacement of Florence, it's its negation.

Florence says that those out of communion with Pope won't achieve salvation because they are outside the Church. Vatican II says that those out of communion with Pope are truly baptised, therefore they can achieve salvation. Two equal authorities proclaimed statements that contradict each other. Which one is true? The latter one superceded the previous one? Is it possible for one Ecumenical Council to change the doctrinal teachings defined in the previous Council?

We, the Orthodox, say - no.

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.

You have mentioned pastoral rules - they can be changed. The doctrinal statements cannot.

Florence says that no one outside the Church will achieve salvation...

In those centuries being outside the Church meant being without Baptism or being a heretic or one who outright rejected the Church and her sacraments and tenets of belief....

Vatican II says that anyone outside the Church who is baptized may be saved and that there is even the possibility of a baptism of desire...but she says nothing about heretics being saved....
So, a heretic will definitively not be saved?

By all natural lights...most likely not....since a heretic is defined as one who tries to destroy the Body of Christ in some manner...but that surely does not preclude an act of God...a deathbed conversion...or the act of a loved one who prays in faith to a God who responds, for the soul whose fate is questionable...eh?

M.
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« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2010, 05:37:17 PM »

This is not entirely correct. The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't, know does it believe it can.

Really?

Quote from: Council of Florence
It firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church.

source

Quote from: II Council of Vatican
Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts,(19) which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect.

source

Florence declared that no one outside the Church can attain salvation, which the Catholic Church still believes. Vatican II clarified what being inside the Church means, and that not everyone who is not in Full Communion with the Catholic Church is necessarily outside the Church.
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« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2010, 05:38:42 PM »

The Orthodox Church does not have the Roman Catholic concept of the development of doctrine.
So Nicaea wasn't a development? You believe that the understanding of the Trinity was as developed before Nicaea as it was after? If so, what was the purpose of Nicaea in the first place? I'm really having a difficult time understanding what the Orthodox think the purpose of an Ecumenical Council is if our understanding of teachings doesn't develop over time. After all, even the earliest Ecumenical Council took place around 300 years after Christ. Isn't that pretty late in the game for any teachings to be pronounced if you believe everything was taught once and for all by Christ and the Apostles?
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« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2010, 05:42:51 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Vatican II isn't the complacement of Florence, it's its negation.

Florence says that those out of communion with Pope won't achieve salvation because they are outside the Church. Vatican II says that those out of communion with Pope are truly baptised, therefore they can achieve salvation. Two equal authorities proclaimed statements that contradict each other. Which one is true? The latter one superceded the previous one? Is it possible for one Ecumenical Council to change the doctrinal teachings defined in the previous Council?

We, the Orthodox, say - no.

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.

You have mentioned pastoral rules - they can be changed. The doctrinal statements cannot.

Florence says that no one outside the Church will achieve salvation...

In those centuries being outside the Church meant being without Baptism or being a heretic or one who outright rejected the Church and her sacraments and tenets of belief....

Vatican II says that anyone outside the Church who is baptized may be saved and that there is even the possibility of a baptism of desire...but she says nothing about heretics being saved....
So, a heretic will definitively not be saved?

I have a question for you...several:

Is it too late to pray for the souls of Origen and Arius?

If not why not?

How do you know?

M.
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« Reply #27 on: August 11, 2010, 05:51:28 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Vatican II isn't the complacement of Florence, it's its negation.

Florence says that those out of communion with Pope won't achieve salvation because they are outside the Church. Vatican II says that those out of communion with Pope are truly baptised, therefore they can achieve salvation. Two equal authorities proclaimed statements that contradict each other. Which one is true? The latter one superceded the previous one? Is it possible for one Ecumenical Council to change the doctrinal teachings defined in the previous Council?

We, the Orthodox, say - no.

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.

You have mentioned pastoral rules - they can be changed. The doctrinal statements cannot.

Florence says that no one outside the Church will achieve salvation...

In those centuries being outside the Church meant being without Baptism or being a heretic or one who outright rejected the Church and her sacraments and tenets of belief....

Vatican II says that anyone outside the Church who is baptized may be saved and that there is even the possibility of a baptism of desire...but she says nothing about heretics being saved....
So, a heretic will definitively not be saved?

I have a question for you...several:

Is it too late to pray for the souls of Origen and Arius?

If not why not?

How do you know?

M.
I'm not Orthodox.  Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: August 11, 2010, 06:05:08 PM »

Christ is higher authority than any Council or Consensus Patrum. He does what he wants.

Vatican II isn't the complacement of Florence, it's its negation.

Florence says that those out of communion with Pope won't achieve salvation because they are outside the Church. Vatican II says that those out of communion with Pope are truly baptised, therefore they can achieve salvation. Two equal authorities proclaimed statements that contradict each other. Which one is true? The latter one superceded the previous one? Is it possible for one Ecumenical Council to change the doctrinal teachings defined in the previous Council?

We, the Orthodox, say - no.

We say - yes.

I have another one wonderful question: What is the purpose of Ecumenical Councils if they don't precise the Church's doctrine?

Catholics do not say that every word written in a conciliar document is irreformable.

M.

You have mentioned pastoral rules - they can be changed. The doctrinal statements cannot.

Florence says that no one outside the Church will achieve salvation...

In those centuries being outside the Church meant being without Baptism or being a heretic or one who outright rejected the Church and her sacraments and tenets of belief....

Vatican II says that anyone outside the Church who is baptized may be saved and that there is even the possibility of a baptism of desire...but she says nothing about heretics being saved....
So, a heretic will definitively not be saved?

I have a question for you...several:

Is it too late to pray for the souls of Origen and Arius?

If not why not?

How do you know?

M.
I'm not Orthodox.  Smiley

Quite!  Missed that clean!

I suppose you might have some thoughts on it from your own perspective...in any event.

M.
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« Reply #29 on: August 11, 2010, 07:47:51 PM »

This is indeed an interesting difference between Catholics and Orthodox. What puzzles me is that when looking for an answer, the Orthodox believe all they can do is look back on previous teachings by the Church Fathers or by doctrines defined at Ecumenical Councils.

Actually, it really comes down to our differences on the matter of "development of doctrine". We believe that our doctrine cannot be "developed" and must be one with the Church of the past, and thus must be judged on the basis of the doctrine of the Church of the past. All that the Church has authority to do is define, formulate, and clarify the doctrine of the Apostles; it has no authority to in any way edit it. This does not mean that we no longer have teaching authority: we certainly do still have authority to define, formulate, and clarify the Apostolic doctrine. This is why we look back to the Church of the past, because our doctrine today must be one with it and we must be judged by their doctrine.

There is a quote I heard from a theologically conservative Episcopalian professor at the local seminary in Berkeley: "I do not judge the Creed, but rather the Creed judges me." Of course, he was meaning something rather different by it; that the revisionist trend in the Episcopal church to pick and choose what we feel is reasonable amongst the parts of the Creed is erroneous. However, I think it points to this reality, however. We hesitate to view ourselves as judges of the Tradition of the Church past, as this runs the risk of the revisionism you see in your own tradition. Rather we first look to conform ourselves to former doctrinal formulations, for the safe sake of being one in doctrinal substance.

I do not think that this approach is really different from that of the Fathers. Yes, it is true that they did significantly more formulating than we have since then. But there is certainly a reason for this. They did not yet have the formulaic structure to fall back on like we do today. When faced with heresies, they were forced to extricate formulas from the substantial doctrine of the Church that they knew. Heresies over time have become more and more recycled. As time passes on, we have more and more of a formulaic basis to fall on to fight heresies rather than trying to introduce new formulas. So the Fathers did more formulating because they had to. But I do not think that they had a distinct perspective from us about "doctrinal development". I think they very well recognized that the Church only had authority to define, refine, formulate, and clarify doctrine, not to edit it in any way. I think that they saw their formulas as either particular rephrasings of doctrine that had already been presented to the Apostles. And I think they came up with these formulas looking highly to those who had come before them, knowing that their formulations had to be judged by the doctrine of their predecessors. For instance, it is quite clear that Saint Cyril of Alexandria did not view his formulation of the hypostatic union as some new doctrine or a "doctrinal development", but rather simply the proper phrasing and implication of the doctrine of his revered Father Saint Athanasius who taught that the Lord Christ is one in substance with the Father; how else could that be possible without the hypostatic union?

On the other hand, we most certainly see that you believe you have the authority to develop doctrine and that you have authority in and of yourselves to define doctrine in a way we do not see ourselves as having. The filioque is a great example. What had been the apparent reality to us since Apostolic times is that the Holy Spirit is ontologically spirated particularly from the Father and that the Father alone is the fountainhead or source in the Godhead. Your church came along and began to say that the Son ontologically spirates the Holy Spirit along with the Father. You would say, via the infallibility of the Pope, that you had the authority to define this doctrine. We, on the other hand, judged this doctrine on the basis of what we say preceding it and found it contradictory to the Apostolic doctrine.

So no, it is not a matter of us thinking that Church authority terminated at some point, but rather that, in a lack of confidence in our individual teachings, that our doctrine must be judged on the basis of that which in the Church past is known to have been authoritative.
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« Reply #30 on: August 11, 2010, 07:47:51 PM »

The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't,

Precisely why we do not believe that you are the Catholic Church.
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« Reply #31 on: August 11, 2010, 10:26:41 PM »

This is not entirely correct. The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't, know does it believe it can.

Really?

Quote from: Council of Florence
It firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church.

source

Quote from: II Council of Vatican
Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts,(19) which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect.

source

That is a wonderful question.  Is every word of every council infallible?

Mary

What does it matter whether it is or not? Every statement of every council ought to be analyzed and verified as orthodox before being ratified. A council that has been ratified by a church ought to be understood as fully representing their beliefs. To ratify a council without believing that it was wholly orthodox without exception is irresponsible and an abuse of the baptismal vows. Therefore, we ought to assume that a church believes every doctrinal definition of a council that it subscribes to, lest it be hypocritical or inconsistent.
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« Reply #32 on: August 11, 2010, 10:26:42 PM »

Does Orthodoxy teach that none are saved outside the Orthodox Church?

Well, it is usually taught in the Christian East that there is no redeeming grace outside the one visible communion that is the Church. And that most likely means that none will receive redeeming grace if not in union with the Church. However, I think it would be accurate to say that God is working to direct people towards redemption, namely through union with the Church. I think it is possible that many more than those that are now in visible union with the Church will eventually be united in the Church. Whether they could eventually be redeemed otherwise is unknown.
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« Reply #33 on: August 11, 2010, 10:26:42 PM »

Vatican II says that anyone outside the Church who is baptized may be saved and that there is even the possibility of a baptism of desire...but she says nothing about heretics being saved...

That is a highly confusing statement.
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« Reply #34 on: August 11, 2010, 10:26:42 PM »

and that not everyone who is not in Full Communion with the Catholic Church is necessarily outside the Church.

This seems to suggest that the Church is not visibly one.
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« Reply #35 on: August 11, 2010, 10:26:42 PM »

So Nicaea wasn't a development?

Christ being one in substance with the Father was not a new doctrine like the dual procession of the Holy Spirit or the Immaculate Conception of Mary but rather a particular formulation of something Christ had already told us: "I and the Father are one".

You believe that the understanding of the Trinity was as developed before Nicaea as it was after?

Not with respect to formula. But there's a difference between doctrinal formulation and doctrinal substance. For instance, Jesus being one in substance with the Father and being one in hypostasis with the Logos are different formulations explaining different dimensions of a doctrine but they are none the less the same doctrine.

The doctrinal formulation on the Trinity was more developed after Nicaea I and then even more so after Constantinople I, but they simply clarified, defined, and formulated a pre-existent doctrine.

If so, what was the purpose of Nicaea in the first place?

To formulate the doctrine of the Church for the purpose of more sufficiently excluding Arianism.

I'm really having a difficult time understanding what the Orthodox think the purpose of an Ecumenical Council is if our understanding of teachings doesn't develop over time.

I don't want to even get started on the "Ecumenical Council" business again.

Anyway, the purpose of a doctrinal church council is to linguistically clarify the Apostolic doctrine for the purpose of excluding heterodox doctrines.

Isn't that pretty late in the game for any teachings to be pronounced if you believe everything was taught once and for all by Christ and the Apostles?

The Apostles didn't have to deal with Arianism so they had no need for the homoousios formula. But they none the less believed the same doctrine that Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of the Father.
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« Reply #36 on: August 12, 2010, 03:27:23 AM »

What I was really asking you was, ex ecclesia, how do YOU know what is God's Word or what is revealed Truth,  and what is human delusion?  How do you determine that?

Mary

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« Reply #37 on: August 12, 2010, 04:08:18 AM »

This is not entirely correct. The Catholic Church has never changed doctrine outright, it can't, know does it believe it can.

Really?

Quote from: Council of Florence
It firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church.

source


I think that it is taught now that a Jew can be saved even if he does not convert to Catholicism.
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« Reply #38 on: August 12, 2010, 04:29:28 AM »

[
Does Orthodoxy teach that none are saved outside the Orthodox Church?


... the words of the holy Metropolitan Philaret who was the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad when I was a young man and a very conservative theologian.  He is here speaking of salvation of heterodox Christians but I would think he would say the same about Jews and others:


"It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman
Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox
confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics—i.e. those who
knowingly pervert the truth... They have been born and raised and are
living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do
the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not
been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The
Lord, "Who will have all men to be saved" (I Tim. 2:4) and "Who
enlightens every man born into the world" (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is
leading them also towards salvation In His own way."


N.B:  "The Lord...undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation
In His own way."

And we have the words of St. Theophan the Recluse to guide us into a correct Orthodox understanding:


"You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them?
They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being.
He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such
concern. Study yourself and your own sins... I will tell you one thing, however:
should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray
Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever
."

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« Reply #39 on: August 12, 2010, 08:16:58 AM »


Father Al Kimel:

From the Catholic perspective, the Orthodox appeal to patristic consensus looks very similar to the Protestant appeal to the plain teaching of Scripture.


Commenting upon the words of St. Paul (2 Thess. 2:14), St. John Chrysostom (hom. iv. in 2 Thess.) says: "It is evident that the Apostles did not communicate all in writing, but much without writing. Both deserve equal faith . . . It is tradition; ask no more."


Here is something simply expressed which I took from a Greek
Orthodox catechism
http://www.goholycross.org/studies/studies_doctrine.html#Dogma

**Please pay particular attention to the LAST  PARAGRAPH.**

-oOo-


Source & Basis of Dogma:

* Revelation- God's self revelation to His Creation

* Holy Tradition- that which is given over within the Church from the time
of Christ's apostles to the present day

* The Bible- the Old Testament & the New Testament

* The Liturgy- the gathering and work of the people

* The Councils- a gathering of bishops who representing the body of the
Church

* The Fathers- saints who were theologians and spiritual teachers who
defended and explained the doctrines of the Christian Faith

* The Saints- those who share the holiness of God

* The Canons- a rule or norm or measure of judging

* Church Art- comprised of the artistic expressions of man and the blessings
and inspirations of God

Formulation:

The Orthodox Church recognizes two distinct sorts of dogmas : those
perpetually preached and believed by the fullness of the Church as included
in various dogmatic and symbolic tests and the writings of the Fathers, and
those proclaimed and ratified by the seven ancient ecumenical councils and
those local councils which were ratified by them.
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« Reply #40 on: August 12, 2010, 08:38:21 AM »

What I was really asking you was, ex ecclesia, how do YOU know what is God's Word or what is revealed Truth,  and what is human delusion?  How do you determine that?

Mary

Reception of the Royal Priesthood (laity).

Again what meaning does the Royal Priesthood have, ex ecclesia?
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« Reply #41 on: August 12, 2010, 08:41:34 AM »

[
Does Orthodoxy teach that none are saved outside the Orthodox Church?


... the words of the holy Metropolitan Philaret who was the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad when I was a young man and a very conservative theologian.  He is here speaking of salvation of heterodox Christians but I would think he would say the same about Jews and others:


"It is self evident, however, that sincere Christians who are Roman
Catholics, or Lutherans, or members, of other non-Orthodox
confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics—i.e. those who
knowingly pervert the truth... They have been born and raised and are
living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do
the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not
been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The
Lord, "Who will have all men to be saved" (I Tim. 2:4) and "Who
enlightens every man born into the world" (Jn. 1.43), undoubtedly is
leading them also towards salvation In His own way."


N.B:  "The Lord...undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation
In His own way."

And we have the words of St. Theophan the Recluse to guide us into a correct Orthodox understanding:


"You ask, will the heterodox be saved... Why do you worry about them?
They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being.
He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such
concern. Study yourself and your own sins... I will tell you one thing, however:
should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray
Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever
."



As you pointed out to me in the discussion on purgation....these are some pretty modern sources for "ex ecclesia" in Orthodoxy.  And the latter one of the is pretty suspect to me since his major life work was to swipe the spiritual teachings of a Roman.

I'll bet we both could find some ancient ones, many in fact, that are one heck of a lot stricter.

When did Orthodoxy change her doctrine of "ex ecclesia"?

M.
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« Reply #42 on: August 12, 2010, 08:48:13 AM »


Father Al Kimel:

From the Catholic perspective, the Orthodox appeal to patristic consensus looks very similar to the Protestant appeal to the plain teaching of Scripture.


Commenting upon the words of St. Paul (2 Thess. 2:14), St. John Chrysostom (hom. iv. in 2 Thess.) says: "It is evident that the Apostles did not communicate all in writing, but much without writing. Both deserve equal faith . . . It is tradition; ask no more."


Here is something simply expressed which I took from a Greek
Orthodox catechism
http://www.goholycross.org/studies/studies_doctrine.html#Dogma

**Please pay particular attention to the LAST  PARAGRAPH.**

-oOo-


Source & Basis of Dogma:

* Revelation- God's self revelation to His Creation

* Holy Tradition- that which is given over within the Church from the time
of Christ's apostles to the present day

* The Bible- the Old Testament & the New Testament

* The Liturgy- the gathering and work of the people

* The Councils- a gathering of bishops who representing the body of the
Church

* The Fathers- saints who were theologians and spiritual teachers who
defended and explained the doctrines of the Christian Faith

* The Saints- those who share the holiness of God

* The Canons- a rule or norm or measure of judging

* Church Art- comprised of the artistic expressions of man and the blessings
and inspirations of God

Formulation:

The Orthodox Church recognizes two distinct sorts of dogmas : those
perpetually preached and believed by the fullness of the Church as included
in various dogmatic and symbolic tests and the writings of the Fathers, and
those proclaimed and ratified by the seven ancient ecumenical councils and
those local councils which were ratified by them.


This is not a negative criticism.  It is an inquiry!!:

The one thing that the Catholic Church does that I appreciate and learn from is that when they do something like the last paragraph here...they include Scripture and the relationship of the Word to the Body...the relationship of Scripture, Councils and the tradition of the fathers.

This triple interaction is something that I very often find lacking in Orthodox texts...not that Orthodoxy ignores Scripture but I don't remember being struck by Orthodox writers who speak of consensus of the fathers and the councils also including Scripture and the relationship of all three together.

Are there documents or texts or authors where I could find not just mention but also explanations and descriptions of that triple interaction?



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« Reply #43 on: August 12, 2010, 08:55:21 AM »


Father Al Kimel:

From the Catholic perspective, the Orthodox appeal to patristic consensus looks very similar to the Protestant appeal to the plain teaching of Scripture.


Orthodox are far less concerned with the question of "who holds the authority?"   It honestly seems to me that this search for "authority" is excessive within Roman Catholicism but it is no doubt an outgrowth of the papal system.

The sources of Orthodox teaching are those things listed above. They are the authority, for bishops and for laymen,  Altogether they comprise the Tradition of the Church.  (I am sure that people know that the Orthodox see even the Bible as included in Tradition and not as something separate to it.)

Now in our times the Tradition is fairly settled and unchallenged and has been for over a millennium.  There was a time from the 4th to 8th centuries when the Church was rocked by serious heresies and so it called into temporary existence 7 great Councils to address them, to put down the false teaching and to formally clarify the true and orthodox teaching.  These Councils did not concern themselves with an attempt to act as an over-arching teaching authority nor to formulate doctrine in general.  They addressed the aspects of the faith -trinitarian, christological, pneumatological- which were currently in danger from heretical teachings.

Having dealt with the heresy threatening the Church the Councils dissolved,.  They are extraordinary irruptions from the other world into the life of the Church, the work of the Spirit, in safeguarding the teaching of Christ and His path to salvation.

For the last 1200 years the Church has had no need to call further Councils.  Heresies which have come along have been localised and have been dealt with by local Synods and local Churches.

So, the teaching authority of the Church -which is the Tradition and the Spirit who flows within it- has flowed on quietly for centuries since the last Great Council in 787.

If we should be faced by a new church-wide heresy, then the Church will probably combat it again by convening an Ecumenical Council.  And probably God will be pleased to give us such superb and staunchly orthodox individuals as Athanasius and Maximus the Confessor to protect our holy faith.  For the "authority" to protect the faith is not the exclusive provenance of bishops but it can be given by God even to laymen and monastics.


« Last Edit: August 12, 2010, 08:56:59 AM by Irish Hermit » Logged
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Holy Father Patrick, pray for us


« Reply #44 on: August 12, 2010, 09:08:55 AM »


Father Al Kimel:

From the Catholic perspective, the Orthodox appeal to patristic consensus looks very similar to the Protestant appeal to the plain teaching of Scripture.


Commenting upon the words of St. Paul (2 Thess. 2:14), St. John Chrysostom (hom. iv. in 2 Thess.) says: "It is evident that the Apostles did not communicate all in writing, but much without writing. Both deserve equal faith . . . It is tradition; ask no more."


Here is something simply expressed which I took from a Greek
Orthodox catechism
http://www.goholycross.org/studies/studies_doctrine.html#Dogma

**Please pay particular attention to the LAST  PARAGRAPH.**

-oOo-


Source & Basis of Dogma:

* Revelation- God's self revelation to His Creation

* Holy Tradition- that which is given over within the Church from the time
of Christ's apostles to the present day

* The Bible- the Old Testament & the New Testament

* The Liturgy- the gathering and work of the people

* The Councils- a gathering of bishops who representing the body of the
Church

* The Fathers- saints who were theologians and spiritual teachers who
defended and explained the doctrines of the Christian Faith

* The Saints- those who share the holiness of God

* The Canons- a rule or norm or measure of judging

* Church Art- comprised of the artistic expressions of man and the blessings
and inspirations of God

Formulation:

The Orthodox Church recognizes two distinct sorts of dogmas : those
perpetually preached and believed by the fullness of the Church as included
in various dogmatic and symbolic tests and the writings of the Fathers, and
those proclaimed and ratified by the seven ancient ecumenical councils and
those local councils which were ratified by them.


This is not a negative criticism.  It is an inquiry!!:

The one thing that the Catholic Church does that I appreciate and learn from is that when they do something like the last paragraph here...they include Scripture and the relationship of the Word to the Body...the relationship of Scripture, Councils and the tradition of the fathers.

This triple interaction is something that I very often find lacking in Orthodox texts...not that Orthodoxy ignores Scripture but I don't remember being struck by Orthodox writers who speak of consensus of the fathers and the councils also including Scripture and the relationship of all three together.

Are there documents or texts or authors where I could find not just mention but also explanations and descriptions of that triple interaction?


I do not entirely understand.  The writings of the Church Fathers and the monastic Fathers are saturated with scriptural references.

But if you mean modern writings from the 20th century then I do not know.  The advent of "academic theologians" is something new to the Orthodox world and in general I tend to not be too fussed with "theologians" who are my own age.  laugh The Western trend to flood the universe with theological writings has not been common with the Orthodox Churches  - even Meyendorff and Schmemman seemed to have found their own verbosity a bit of a shock to themselves.  They wrote that they would refrain from so much theologizing and explication because they were trivialising the mystery - rather as Bernard of Clairvaux accused the Schoolmen of "peeling the onion" -so that in the end you are left with nothing in your hand.

But if you want to move back a century to the books of Ignaty Brianchaninov, Theophan the Recluse, etc., their writings are beautifully related to scripture and intertwined with it.
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