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Author Topic: Orthodoxy vs Protestantism and Catholicism  (Read 3306 times) Average Rating: 0
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Libertas
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« on: September 18, 2010, 01:00:42 AM »

Hello!

Before I state my topic, I just want to give you my background. I'm 17, was baptized Roman Catholic but raised in Protestantism (the United Church of Canada). About two or so years ago, I switched to an Evangelical church, having been influenced by Evangelical and Baptist theology for a few years. My exposure to the Divine Liturgy comes from one side of my family being Eastern Rite Catholic. I've had some interest in Orthodoxy mostly due to quotes by Church Fathers (Ignatius, etc.), but there are probably other reasons.

Anyway, I wouldn't consider myself committed to converting quite yet. I do have a general intuition that I may end up doing so in the future, but I don't think I'm ready yet. Right now, I'm inquiring.

Something that would really help me is if I had a some sort of "solid" idea(s) about what is wrong with Protestantism and Catholicism, and where Orthodoxy is better in the same areas. What is mainly flawed about Protestantism and Catholicism in comparison to Orthodoxy?

(Sidenote: I'm posting on a blog about these sorts of issues to get my thoughts organized. If anyone is interested in providing feedback, it would be welcome and appreciated. Prayer would also be nice.)

Thanks in advance!

-Andrew

« Last Edit: September 18, 2010, 01:02:13 AM by Libertas » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2010, 01:07:37 AM »

Hi Andrew - as a fellow Eastern Catholic investigating Orthodoxy, may I humbly suggest you find an Orthodox church and attend services (Vespers and/or the Divine Liturgy)?  You can only learn so much on the Internet and there are a lot of contradictory voices here.  Experiencing Orthodoxy is the best way to learn about it IMHO. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2010, 02:05:08 AM »

Welcome Libertas,

This is one of the best ways I've ever heard it put:

"Orthodoxy is Catholicism without the additions... and Protestantism without the subtractions."

The issue is this: Roman Catholics and Protestants do not hold and practice the same faith as that delivered once and for all to the saints.

PS... I too am from a RC background.

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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2010, 03:00:28 AM »

The Orthodox see themselves as the original church, straight from the New Testament; the church that the Nicene Creed calls the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church."  From the Orthodox viewpoint, the Roman Church broke off from this in 1054 AD, and the Protestant church came about in a negative reaction to the Roman church in the 16th century. 

SO the issue isn't so much what do we believe that's different, although you'll find plenty of that, but which church is the one that Holy God started and has the fullness of the faith.  I didn't know ANY of this two years ago -- once I learned there was just such a church, I had to ask myself, "Why would I not want to be a part of that, if it still exists?"

May you find the fullness of God on your journey! 
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2010, 06:19:49 AM »

I see both historical problems and philosophical problems within the protestant tradition as well as catholic. But i mainly want to focus on a protestant idea. The idea of the unified invisible church, that all groups or churches are apart of the invisible body of Christ despite their differences. Not only do I think this betrays what Jesus and the apostles of the church wanted, but it defies logic itself. Of course it depends on who you run into, I believe the most common type of protestant is the one that rejects catholicism (knowing a little bit of Orthodoxy) and either belongs to a church but doesn't label himself as such and proclaims a unified body of people within the protestant tradition.

My first question is why if the protestant traditions are truely in the same body they dissagree, is the body of Christ divided? At which point they most typically deny a broken and divided body attacking itself (remember Baptists and anapbaptists (or any other protestant group) are apart of the same body). Not only does this not make sense, but it cannot be resolved at all. You have to literally believe in a body divided and broken up, some have taken the arm, others the feet. And this is not what Jesus meant when he said he would protect his church. The answer? A unified body of believers that has existed since the time of the apsotles, whose authenticity is historical and can be tracted.

But then of course there is the really fun guy who believes protestants, catholics and orthodox are apart of the same body. Dispite the history between these groups. I don't think this even needs to be explained. The Orthodox and catholic church ceased being the same church in the 10th or so century and thus are not the same body but an entirely different body altogther. And the protestants protested against rome, breaking off from it. Are we really to believe they are apart of the same body? Only if we a re a fool I think.

Just my two cents. But there are more reasons.
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2010, 09:39:21 AM »

Thanks for the responses!

Saint Iaint, I think that quote might make sense. If Catholicism added to Orthodoxy and then Protestantism radically took away not only the additions but more things, it would leave Orthodoxy in a sort of "medium" position.

As for the points about separations in the body, are there any references in the Bible or early Fathers that would clearly teach a visible church? The idea is starting to make sense, but I've been influenced for years by the idea of an invisible church. I'm not used to thinking hierarchically. Tongue

For example, does the Nicene Creed teach this by saying "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church"?

-Andrew
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2010, 10:23:46 AM »

Welcome Libertas (I like the nickname Smiley )!

I'd put it in this way. Western Christianism as a whole, at some point around the 9th century and the Reformation, simply stopped believing in the power of the Holy Spirit as Spirit of Truth being really present and governing the Church in a literal way.

You see, when Our Lord is about to ascend to Heaven, He promises to send a Comforter, the Spirit of Truth who would make clear even many things He had said. He is the origin of both bishops and the Scriptures but He did not promise a bishop or a Scripture to be the infallible guide of the Church. He promised the Holy Spirit.

Now, let's step back a little from the metaphysics and think simply of the concept that the Spirit of Truth guides the Church. In a simple way, it merely says that despite different versions of Scriptures, and power-driven bishops, Truth will prevail in the end. In a sense, it is similar to what happens in sciences today. There are many very ugly power disputes among many scientists, for the top chair of a department, for social prestige. There are far too many cases of tampering documents and data to "prove" a point that will bring such power and prestige - the equivalent of changing the Scriptures or interpreting them in convenient ways. Yet, in the end, despite the various pesky mediocrities of bad scientists, of certain scientific institutions and of politicians and capitalists involved with it, truth prevails in science. There is no need for a chief übber head scientist with jurisdiction over all laboratories in the world or for an infallible scientific book to guide everybody. The trust is, and it should be, in the spirit of truth. Only if they knew it is more than a metaphor and that this "spirit of truth" is, really, "The Spirit of Truth" acting externally on them.

That is why people trust and respect science. Science trusts truth, loves truth and doesn't accept substitutes for it. If the "Universal Scientist" or the "Infallible Book of Science" were ever brought into the game, even if subcounsciously, people would notice that the need to bring up these things reveals the scientists would not be striving for truth anymore, just for legitimacy which is far different. Since theories and technologies would innevitably fail after some time, it would just further reveal the folly of those substitutes of the loyalty to truth and science, and its institutions would eventually loose all its credit with the people.

That is what happened with the Church in the West, both Romans and Protestants. In the place of the Holy Spirit, of the Spirit of Truth, they put respectively the person who used to be the first bishop of the Church and the Scriptures. They don't really trust that Truth, who after all is Jesus, can prevail of its own accord. For them, it needs a "strong man" or a "strong book".

To give an example, there were several cases in the history of the church when one or few saints prevailed - even if only after their martyrdom - against councils, bishops and false interpretations of the Scriptures. At other times, it was the councils or authorities that were used by the Spirit of Truth against the folly of individuals Other times even the whole Church was reproached by the Holy Spirit using non-Christians to bring them back to the right path. Sometimes innert objects were used miraculously by God to send His messages.  In all this we see that the "Spirit blows where it will" and that it is the Spirit of Truth who is the infallible guide of the Church, and that the idea of an infallible man or book, no matter how important they are in the Church, borders blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is the unforgivable sin.

Now, that, of course, does not counter the fact that both bishops and Scripture are core "organs" of the Body of Christ. It is only that *they* depend on the Spirit of Truth and not the Spirit of Truth depends on them to be expressed in the world.
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2010, 10:59:58 AM »

Greetings, Andrew

My priest is a retired UCC minister (which is very nice - his pension provides adequately for him. Our little mission parish couldn't afford a priest otherwise  Smiley).

I was an Evangelical Protestant for over fifty years, but some questions began to arise that weren't being answered. And then, on a chance encounter with Orthodoxy, I very quickly found answers to my questions and more. I never considered Roman Catholicism as I did and do have problems with what I see as additions to the faith. I had never changed denominations for my entire life (nor had my parents or grandparents), but almost instantly felt at home in Orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy can't be learned or experienced from books or even internet forums, so please visit a church and attend a service as soon as you can. The only advice I would give you is that if you get a choice, try the English-language ones first, just for your own comfort.
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« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2010, 03:27:46 PM »

Fabio Leite: I think you might be right. I'll have to look out for this in my environment. The Spirit "spoke through the prophets" and it came upon the Church at Pentecost. That's a good point about Jesus giving the Holy Spirit instead of handing them a pre-written New Testament. By the way you put it, the Holy Spirit can have a very involved role in the Church without us all becoming hyper-Charismatics.  Smiley I should think about this more.

Also, just out of curiosity: Would you say that after joining Orthodoxy it becomes harder to fall into a legalistic mindset? This is one of my struggles in faith. I was thinking the other day how almost-paradoxical it would be if Orthodoxy countered legalism by providing a co-operative approach to God's grace rather than an "instant conversion" approach.


genesisone: I've been thinking of visiting a Ukrainian parish in a city that's about 40 minutes from where I live. The one side of my family is Ukrainian Catholic, so it's probably similar. Lots of people in our area go to that city for various reasons. It seems to be the nearest one I can find so far--or at least, the easiest one to get to. Would it be worth going even once a month at first, or something?
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2010, 03:37:37 PM »

Check here, maybe there is a closer one.
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« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2010, 04:04:24 PM »

Fabio:

"Christianism"?  Give me a break. It's 'Christianity'.

'Christianism' is a neologism conceived by that liberal moron, Andrew Sullivan, to count the term 'Islamism' as used to describe radical Islam and its adherents. It was Sullivan's idea of being clever. Christianity is not to be equated with radical Islam.
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« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2010, 04:07:46 PM »

Don't you realise that not everyone here is an English native speaker WASP?
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« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2010, 04:33:32 PM »

Fabio:

"Christianism"?  Give me a break. It's 'Christianity'.

'Christianism' is a neologism conceived by that liberal moron, Andrew Sullivan, to count the term 'Islamism' as used to describe radical Islam and its adherents. It was Sullivan's idea of being clever. Christianity is not to be equated with radical Islam.

Don't you realise that not everyone here is an English native speaker WASP?
But some of us speak Greek: Χριστιανισμός "Christianism" is the original term St. Ignatius of Antioch (Magnellians 10) used:
Quote
Therefore, having become His disciples, let us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity. For whosoever is called by any other name besides this, is not of God. Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the sour leaven, and be changed into the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ. Be salted in Him, lest any one among you should be corrupted, since by your savour you shall be convicted. It is absurd to profess Christ Jesus, and to Judaize. For Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity, that so every tongue which believes might be gathered together to God

Is WASP that well known a term outside of the US? I'm impressed.
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« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2010, 05:16:37 PM »

Fabio:

"Christianism"?  Give me a break. It's 'Christianity'.

'Christianism' is a neologism conceived by that liberal moron, Andrew Sullivan, to count the term 'Islamism' as used to describe radical Islam and its adherents. It was Sullivan's idea of being clever. Christianity is not to be equated with radical Islam.

Ops! I wasn't aware of that connotation. I'm Brazilian and my first language is Portuguese, in which the word "cristianismo" has always been used for what "Christianity" means in English. I just checked and saw that really "christianism" has a bad connotation in English and will avoid using it from now on. Again, sorry, my bad. Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2010, 06:22:23 PM »

Fabio, just wanted to say I really liked your analogy about science and the need (or lack thereof) for a "Universal Scientist".  That actually made sense to me, and in a much more charitable, sensible and positive way than so many of the anti-papal  comments sround here.  Thank you!!! Smiley

And if I could just add - it wouldn't even matter if said "Universal Scientist" were right or wrong in his pronouncements - even if he were always right it would still be better for each scientist to verify the truths for themselves in their own labs.

Again, thanks!  You've given me some meat to chew on! Cheesy
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« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2010, 07:36:59 PM »

Thank you Michal! It's part of routine when you venture into second languages. When that happens, you simpy acknowledge the mistake, apologize and add the information to your mental vocabulary. Smiley


Theistgal, thank you too! I really believe that the Church works in a way very similar to how science works today: with trust (faith) and guided by the truth, with love for the truth. There are deeper theological meanings for being "guided by Truth" (after all Jesus said He *is* Truth itself), but in terms of Church governance we don't have to go that deep to understand. For example, that is also the soure of respect for a bishop even when he is a bad person. Let's imagine a bad scientist. For all the defects in character he may have, for the evil his actions may cause, if he finds out a new theory that is latter proven, his character has no influence whatsoever in it. Likewise, as bad as a bishop can be, like the scientist, he works with things besides himself that are true despite of his character. His role in the church doesn't change because of what he is. At the same time, it gives us a reference in terms of how far obedience to him has to go. As another example, we have to pay obedience to our doctors when they prescribe treatments for us. But we can suspect a treatment or surgery is being recommended for the commission more than for our health. And we can also discern what is for our health and if the doctor is going beyond his limits. If he recommends, say, food with more iron for the kids, that's okay. If as friend he gives his opinion they should watch less telivision, I can live with that. If he says that I have to sell my car or else I will develop kidney stones, then he has stepped far outside the place where he can enjoy a right to obedience.
If there is anything that Christianity and the Church in particular have to "rediscover" is this common-sensical love for truth.
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« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2010, 08:08:55 PM »

genesisone: I've been thinking of visiting a Ukrainian parish in a city that's about 40 minutes from where I live. The one side of my family is Ukrainian Catholic, so it's probably similar. Lots of people in our area go to that city for various reasons. It seems to be the nearest one I can find so far--or at least, the easiest one to get to. Would it be worth going even once a month at first, or something?
Yes, by all means go wherever you have the opportunity. If you're already at least somewhat familiar and comfortable with Ukrainian culture, then you shouldn't have a problem. Though it may depend on the diocese and parish, you will likely have services all in Ukrainian. I have attended a Divine Liturgy a couple of times at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in my own city, and it's all in Ukrainian, with some (and only a very few) parts repeated in English to a sadly dwindling and aging congregation. That being said, I know there are some thriving Ukr parishes, so do try whatever is available.

Unfortunately the website provided by Michał Kalina, which is otherwise excellent, does not include the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada http://www.uocc.ca/, though it is in communion with Antioch, OCA, etc.
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« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2010, 07:04:36 AM »

Unfortunately the website provided by Michał Kalina, which is otherwise excellent, does not include the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada http://www.uocc.ca/, though it is in communion with Antioch, OCA, etc.

That's strange.
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« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2010, 11:27:28 AM »

Michal: The church that I'm led to believe is 40 or so minutes away (though it's not on the map) is by far the closest. The next two are 1.5 hours and 2.25 hours respectively. What's interesting is I think the two closest churches (the 40-minute and 1.5-hour ones) are under the same priest, according to the UOCC website.

genesisone: I've been to the Ukrainian Catholic a few times, but by no means regularly or semi-regularly. The services were all done in English. As far as the culture goes, I know a bit about the food and a couple words. Then again, I was taught a Nativity and Easter song in Ukrainian. It would probably be best to contact the priest via e-mail and ask some questions.




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« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2010, 02:10:41 PM »

genesisone: I've been to the Ukrainian Catholic a few times, but by no means regularly or semi-regularly. The services were all done in English. As far as the culture goes, I know a bit about the food and a couple words. Then again, I was taught a Nativity and Easter song in Ukrainian. It would probably be best to contact the priest via e-mail and ask some questions.
I'm not at all surprised. Use of English vs Ukrainian will vary from one parish to another and from one diocese to another. I rather think that's true of the Catholics as well as the Orthodox, but that's just a bit of personal observation, and my experience is limited.

But do go to whatever Orthodox Church that you can. Even if the only one that is geographically possible for you to visit holds its services in Ukrainian, you should go. There will almost certainly be someone there to help out. And it does sound as though you are not intimidated by that prospect.

Please do phone the priest of the nearest church to let him know how soon you can plan a visit on a Sunday. If it's a small parish that shares a priest, they may not meet every Sunday. Is this information on the UOCC website? Yes, I did say phone the priest. Let me say kindly that if he is of a certain age and/or cultural identity, he may not use email as efficiently as you. Nothing to keep you from doing both, of course. You may find out that he actually does prefer email communication. But I really would recommend a phone call as your initial contact.
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« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2010, 02:01:15 AM »

Michal: The church that I'm led to believe is 40 or so minutes away (though it's not on the map) is by far the closest. The next two are 1.5 hours and 2.25 hours respectively. What's interesting is I think the two closest churches (the 40-minute and 1.5-hour ones) are under the same priest, according to the UOCC website.

This is a reality for many Orthodox in our hemisphere, both having to travel long distances  to participate in services and having priests serve two churches more than an hour apart.
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« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2010, 02:28:16 AM »

Attend our services, speak with the priest, and some of the parishoners.
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« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2010, 04:03:46 PM »

genesisone: One of the pamphlets on the UOCC website called "I'm Not Ukrainian...What Does This Church Offer Me?" talks a little bit about the language issue. I quote: "We will give you a house of worship where you experience Jesus‘ life-bearing words ... in a way that is both meaningful and accessible to you. We will also teach you hymns of praise and glory in the tongue of our ancestors; words that have been passed from generation to generation ..." This might work well to visit.  Smiley  I like your advice on contacting the priest, too. I'm thinking I may do that this week.

Agabus: If I do end up converting, this will be one of the major differences. It seems like almost every community has a Roman Catholic or Protestant church of some kind, or one nearby. I don't see it as much of an excuse though, because I'm willing to go to this same city with my friends to see movies and whatnot.


On the main topic: If anyone wants to make further comments on what they perceive to be the flaws of Protestantism or Catholicism vs Orthodoxy, that would be welcome.

-Andrew


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« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2010, 11:52:54 PM »

I won't say much about protestants and catholics, as there's too much to say, really. Protestants I could never give much thought to because I always saw all of the divisions and thought that the "This is what it means to ME" theology was horribly misguided from the start. What kind of church conforms itself to YOU? Your personal ideas, guided by this modern culture, are not the source of truth.

Anyway...

I think you should try to attend the church closest to you. A 45-minute drive is quite a hike; we have a priest who drives 242 miles (4 hours), every weekend, to minister to a mission church. I'm not at all saying driving that far every week is easy or feasible, but a semi-regular attendance shouldn't pose too much of an obstacle. You shouldn't have much of an issue being new. Some very ethnic parishes tend to be a bit guarded, but be persistent for a couple weeks and they should accept you right in. For example, a fellow catechumen went to a Serbian church here and the priest immediately asked him "Who are you and what do you want?" But at the Greek church the priest simply introduced himself, and at the parish I frequent I found the warmest welcome I've ever encountered anywhere.

"Just show up" is the instruction I got at first from my priest Wink
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