I'm in the process of becoming Catholic (in the RCIA program) but a lot of things in Catholicism have me questioning what I'm doing. I love Orthodox theology, but I've watched videos of Orthodox masses in other countries and I'm not really fond of them. I also don't like the higher clergy wearing those HUGE crowns
I was raised a Lutheran, but I know now that it's likely false and I loved Catholicism but some things (like purgatory, most Catholics thinking Mary is like the only thing or person that can help us to Jesus, their doctrines of venial and mortal sins, how we obtain forgiveness, etc) just nag at me. Orthodoxy seems to be the best of both worlds. It has all the elements from both Churches that I love and weeds out the things I don't really like. Thing is, the Orthodox Church doesn't seem to universal, but more restricted to certain areas. Also, I don't hear much about Orthodox missions and stuff for 3rd world countries and all that. Jesus said the gospel had to be preached to the whole world, yet the Orthodox gospel seems to have restrictions primarily to the East.
Please help. I talked to an Orthodox man on YouTube (davidpwithun) and I'd like to share what has been said so far.David (responding to me):
First, please let me apologize for taking so long to get back to you; I know it's been about a week and a half since I received your questions and I apologize to you for that delay.
Now, responding to your questions:
>>>1) Do the Orthodox have a similar position as Catholics do on sin (venial, mortal, etc).<<<
No; we view all sins all equal because each is equally a violation of the law of God.
>>>Do you also believe, like Catholics, that the only way for sins to be forgiven is through confession and you can't get forgiveness by praying?<<<
No; while we do believe that Repentance (the act of confessing one's sins in the presence of a Priest and receiving a blessing) is a Sacrament, we also beleive that praying for forgiveness in your own home or elsewhere is effective for the forgiveness of sins. It is very common for Orthodox Christians to pray Psalm 51 each evening as part of their daily prayer rule. The way in which we perform the Sacrament of Repentance is also different from the way Roman Catholics do it. Unlike them, we do not confess TO the Priest, but in his presence. While Roman Catholics generally stand in front of their priest and tell their sins directly to him, Orthodox stand in front of an Icon of Christ and the Priest stands either beside or behind the person giving their confession, acting as a support and encouragement, reminding the person confessing that God is all-forgiving. Whereas the Roman Catholic priest gives the blessing at the end of the confession, saying "I forgive..." the Orthodox Priest, in his blessing, says "God forgives..." It is a very different approach.
>>>2) Do Orthodox Christians believe Protestants and/or Catholics will go to hell simply because they aren't Orthodox, or do they believe that these groups are imperfectly in the Church (note: imperfectly)?<<<
We do not believe that Protestants and Roman Catholics will go to hell for not being Orthodox; rather we rejoice in their love for the Lord Jesus Christ while mourning the fact that they do not have the Church and all of the tools established by Christ for our salvation.
>>>3) What about Orthodox Christians who leave the Church for Protestantism or Catholicism? What shall we say of them? Will they be accepted by God as true Christians? Or will they be denied since they left the Church to try to follow Jesus elsewhere?<<<
Of course, it is for God to judge and not for us -- however, apostasy from the Church is a sin. To have the True Faith and then abandon it is much worse than to have not had the True Faith at all.
>>>4) What do the Orthodox believe happens after death? I understand Orthodox Christians deny purgatory, so what exactly happens?<<<
For the most part, we allow that to remain a mystery and trust in the mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ.
I hope I was able to help with your questions; please let me know if there are any further questions I can address or if there is anything here I can further clarify.
Man, this kinda scares me. I'm going through RCIA to become Catholic, but I feel like some parts of Orthodox and some parts of Catholicism are both right. I like the sound of forgiveness in the Orthodox Church, as opposed to Catholicism. I don't know what to do really. I kinda think I should be neither. If I become Catholic, for instance, and then convert to Orthodox, and then when I die and find out Catholicism is right, I'm supposedly going to hell (and vice versa with Orthodox to Catholic). I hate this "leave me or die" attitude. I just don't get it...
Please help me