I think this is an interesting debate, but allow me to present what I've seen from your perspective, Eykos:
Sorry, but obedience to the Fathers comes before obedience to a Bishop.Theoretically a reasonable statement, although Bishops are typically thought to have a better understanding of the Holy Fathers, Canons, etc., hence the whole Apostolic nature of the Church.
Then, you were presented with a quote from a Holy Father:
Our holy Father Mark of Ephesus was emphatic:
"Latins must not be re-baptized but only after their renunciation of their
heresies and confession of sins, be anointed with Chrism and admit them to
the Holy Mysteries and in this way bring them into communion with the holy,
catholic Eastern Church..."
Then, you dismissed this quote from the Holy Father as being antiquated, and proceeded to present your opinion of Roman Catholic faith and made the determination yourself that this Patristic quote was no longer applicable:
Because Catholic theology has changed so very little since the days of St. Mark of Ephesus, right?
Catholicism has veered so far astray that at present Orthodoxy has more in common with the Sufis of Islam than we do with the schismatic Vatican.
That quote was written at a time when there was still some common ground between the Catholics and Orthodox with which to build upon.
Today, the very Christ of which they speak is a separate Christ from which the True Church knows.
The doctrine of Salvation that they hold is completely separate from reality.
Are you following the Holy Fathers or your personal interpretation of what you believe to be right? I'm not implying that there is a simple answer to that or the overall question regarding Baptism v Chrismation, but it appears to this objective observer that you have not fully shaken some of your Protestant underpinnings. Forgive me if my assessment is flawed or perceived as overly harsh.
I'm taking the words of Elder Ephraim (Who I've met personally, who gave me the blessing to be baptised, and is responsible for me being Orthodox in the first place and who I consider to be a Saint) and Elder Joseph (Who most of the Holy Mountain considers to be a Saint).
It appears that you're objective observation is a cop out.
I'm not saying I'm a theologian, or that my word is worth crap, but I've spent more time in monasteries than outside of them since becoming Orthodox (I'm writing this from one right now), and I much prefer taking the word of honest monks (Especially on Athos) on these matters over anyone else.
They've given up everything. They've got nothing to gain by being dishonest in their teachings.
Why don't you tell me, in what way has the Vatican kept true to the doctrines of the Church?
Could it be the the change in the way of Immaculate Conception?
Their complete rewriting of Salvation in the language of Atonement, completely changing the mission of Christ on Earth, therefore changing their perception of Christ himself?
How about the 1860 bombshell of "Papal Infallibility"?
Maybe they kept true to the Church by their insistence on overly rationalizing the faith, on trying to compromise with the times in light of current "scientific progress"?
Maybe it's their trying to wrap theology around the possible existence of "Alien Lifeforms".
Maybe they kept honest to the Church when they sacked Constantinople, sat a prostitute on the altar of Hagia Sophia, cut St. Peter the Aleut apart bit by bit, or supported the NATO bombing campaign against Orthodox in the Balkans?
Maybe their insistence on opening Uniate churches all over the place.
Maybe it's the doctrine that sin is a crime to be punished.
Or how they constantly replace old canons with new ones, looking to the present for their theological backbone instead of the past, ignoring the very thing which made them "almost" Orthodox in the first place.
Or perhaps it's how they are legalistic, overly intellectual, and overly arrogant in their approach to Orthodoxy, which, as a Church, and in reality, is their superior.
Maybe I stepped on toes earlier by saying we have more in common with the Sufis than the Catholics.
I'll take that back.
I'll say rather, that as far as I'm concerned, the Catholics are about on the same page as the Mormons.
Its not a "Church", because there is only one "Church".
If the Catholics had the doctrine that they had today in the days of St. Mark of Ephesus, he would have denounced them as heretics.
I know this, because the Orientals were treated as such in the language of the Fathers, and they are FAR
closer to us in doctrine than the Catholics.
Heck, the Arians were closer to us in doctrine than the modern Catholics.
There is nothing left in the Catholic church which the Orthodox Church can still say is "legitimate".
Even their monks are cloistered bookworms. No concept of theosis, no concept of hesychasm.
Their baptisms are not "baptisms", they are sprinklings of water. (Another "new" development not seen in St. Mark's day)
How exactly do you reconcile that to St. Athanasius's words on rebaptising those who have not been immersed?
Answer the questions, and leave the "Oh noes, you're a convert" mess at the door.