It is certainly inaccurate to say there is *no* primatial power in Orthodoxy; rather there is no *absolute* primatial power in Orthodoxy. Absolute power corrupts, as absolute independence corrupts. In Orthodoxy there is a proper balance of power, specifically sobernost, under the headship of Christ (cf. Ernst Benz below). In Orthodoxy bishops must call for the amen of the people. The people have a voice along with deacons and presbyters. This has worked out just fine for some 2000 years now.If this approach had worked "just fine", the major schisms that took place wouldn't have occurred, nor the Great Schism.
I definitely cannot agree with you here. Failure to prevent schisms is certainly *not* a sine qua non
of the true Church. At the very least such a definition is not found in scripture or the tradition of the fathers and reduces to private opinion (unless you can document it in the thinking of some major Orthodox father, saint, or theologian, which I invite you to do). Schisms have existed from the inception of the Church. They do not entail that the Church "does not work."
On your hypothesis that schism indicates the failure of an approach "to work" it would clearly follow that Christ's nor Paul's approach also "did not work" since neither Christ nor Paul were able to prevent schisms:
"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes" -2 Tim 1:15
"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him" -John 6:66
If you want a degree of unity of mind and thought that has persisted since the earliest centuries of Christianity which surpasses most anything else you will find in the history of Christendom, you will find that in Eastern Orthodox Christianity (Both EO and OO can make this claim; RC only sustains a modified claim, IMO, by adopting a notion of evolutionary development, e.g. papal supremacy and infallibility, inherited guilt, soteriology of merit, etc.). The Orthodox claim is to have achieved significant unity of mind and thought persisting through the centuries, not unity which never precipitated division or schism. No one has ever achieved this. Christ did not achieve this. The first century church did not achieve this. If this is the sine qua non
of the true church, agnosticism would indeed become appealing, as pointed out by Volnutt.
One party's definition is another one's innovation.
Nicea I and Constantinople I led to the Arian schism.
If you want something that accepts everything and rejects nothing, G.K. Chesterton famously observed, just look to the city sewer.
Arianism is a heresy, not a schism. If in the face of the mere presence of diversity our manner of thinking precludes us from being able distinguish between heresy and schism, or between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy, our thinking at the very least not Orthodox. If such things cannot in principle be demarcated, there is no such thing as Orthodoxy (right teaching); indeed the very notion of authentic Christianity might be called into question, as again is frequently done today. Certainly one might suppose such a position would appeal to the devil.
"...we should humbly acknowledge our own failings that contributed to the fragmenting of Christianity."
Orthodox Christians claim to know where the Church is, but not where it is not. Your tacit assumption to be able to "see" a larger church beyond the confines of the visible Orthodox Church, to argue that EO has "fragmented the [larger] church" goes beyond what most Orthodox Christians would say about the visible church. I prefer the traditional notion that Orthodoxy preserved and indeed is the fullness of Christianity and constitutes the visible Church to the notion that Orthodoxy has fragmented the [larger] church.
And I certainly agree that with you that truth exists. The problem is, how do we identify the truth in a given situation? When two groups are diametrically opposed, only one (at most) can have the truth, but each most certainly thinks that their side is right. In the absence of a new revelation from God, the Church has to find ways to work these things out.
If the Church of the living body of Christ is not itself the working out of these things, as Orthodox Christians believe.
Regarding the rationalistic component of your perspective I would suggest -since the question is theological- that unless the only answer given to your question "how do we identify the truth" is the biblical one, "by the Spirit of God," your focus has shifted from a theological one to rationalism and epistemology (the subdivision of philosophy which is concerned with the question "How does one know what one knows?") and that the question itself -a product of medieval to modern classical foundationalism- is wrong with respect to knowledge of Christ and His body. For a fuller explanation see the Nuda Scriptura thread I started in Orthodox-Protestant Discussion.
It has been suggested that atheism and agnosticism are not so much ontological (relating to what is) or even epistemological (relating to how a human being can know what he or she knows) so much as a psychological (relating and extrapolating one's personal inability to perceive -i.e. statements of one's personal life-situation). Similarly, to say one cannot individually tell what the true Church is in the face of schisms is not convincing enough as an ontological universal claim to suppose most Orthodox Christians would find convincing (i.e. that if one cannot tell, no one can)' this too can be seen as more of a psychological claim relating to one's own personal journey. Our reasons will of course be congruent to our personal psychology, but biblically and patristically they are not reducible to that.