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Author Topic: Thinking of visiting a church but I have a problem.  (Read 618 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 28, 2012, 03:32:36 AM »

I am going to be without a car for a month or so so I am getting rides to work but when that comes I would like to visit an orthodox church. There are two problems. I just got deeply interested in orthodoxy a few weeks ago so I have decided to give it another month of praying and thinking it over to see if actually making the first step toward orthodoxy is something God wants for me.

1. I am concerned about how my protestant friends and relatives will react and my aim is to keep my contemplation of orthodoxy quiet. This is not to say I am ashamed of thinking of this direction but many of my protestant friends and relatives are ultra-protestant and will try to lecture me and be judgmental.

2. The biggest problem of all is the fact that the nearest Orthodox church to me is 25 miles away. It also only seems to have services of Vespers at 7pm Saturday and services Sunday mornings. I have refrained from contacting the priest and intend to do so until I am sure about making this step. My problem is I work Saturday nights until 8 half the time and work every single Sunday at 9am to 6pm. This would conflict. I know God calls on us to give things up for Him but must I be ready to begin searching for a new job if the pull is so great?

Many will no doubt say it is too much. Still I find my spiritual life within Protestantism is on life support.

I hope you will all pray for me.

On that note let me explain what led me to contemplate Orthodoxy.

I was raised within Protestantism in a church that was Wesleyan-Arminian in its theology. In the early years I cannot remember a time when I did not go to church. Still I found myself with several conflicting visions of Protestantism. The church I was raised in could be defined as about as close to a megachurch as you can get in a town of the size of my own. It sets 3000 and has two morning services and a night service. No it is not at the equivalent of Joel Osteen's converted stadium but it is still a huge church. It is definitely evangelical, however I would not define it as fundamentalist. The pastor has not been one to criticize other Christians and is somewhat ecumenical in his orientation. He often speaks of non-Protestants as having insights into spiritual experiences and recounted positively a journey to a Catholic monastery in Kentucky. So no he is not the sort of Protestant who proclaims non-Protestants to be apostates. Still that church has its issues. It has grown quickly. My parents went there when it had one hundred members or less and when I was young it had many more but it was still not as large as today. When I was young I always liked the traditional worship style best instead of contemporary. At the time the church had a traditional and contemporary service. I am not saying that people cannot praise God in contemporary style but I like traditional better because it gives me a higher sense of sacredness. When I express my complaints the contemporary people have accused me of "legalism" but it is they who are legalistic because they act like the contemporary "stripped down" services are the only way to worship God. They have to be "relevant" you see. Still I could not justify leaving the church I was part of from youth over this and I accepted that I could either sing the new hymns or leave Protestantism since the contemporary style is becoming virtually universal in Protestantism. I could not leave Protestantism because as I said I do not believe just liking the music better is a good reason to change over to Catholicism since there are greater theological issues involved. Still in movies or TV whenever a Catholic Church was featured or a mass was featured there was a part of me that secretly longed to be Catholic. I said to myself, "If only Catholics did not worship Mary (now I realize this is a misconception) I would become Catholic." This was me at a very young age since I was precocious in my intellectualism.

Anyway the problem was that I sort of had three big influences in my life. My immediate family's Wesleyan-Arminian evangelicalism was one. I explained that. The second was the more fundamentalist Protestantism of my extended family. My father was raised with no religion and converted to Christianity as a young man but my extended relatives could care less if I became Orthodox than they would if I turned Muslim. My mother was raised Baptist but there were many members of the family involved in the Churches of Christ, an extreme fundamentalist denomination which claims to be the true New Testament Church and claims that it existed in secret along with the Roman Catholic Church (a false church) as the one true Church. They are notable in believing you should not use musical instruments in worship because they are not mentioned in the New Testament. Very very anti-Catholic. No doubt many of my reservations come from this pull in my life. Though I do not look to these people for guidance and I do not come from a particularly close knit family I am positive I will face judgmentalism on their part since they will simply view Orthodoxy as another version of Catholicism. I know how the fundamentalist mind works.

Finally my third religious influence comes from my school. I went to a Christian school of the Protestant background but it was also strongly Calvinist in orientation. It was the only Christian school in town. There I learned about John Calvin and how great he was and so on and so forth. One thing that bothered me though was that as much as they talked about how bad the Pope was for thinking he is infallible they seemed to hold Calvin as infallible even though he was dead for five hundred years. I remember in Bible class my Bible teacher was a very sincere Christian man but we had to write a paper on whether or not we agreed with predestination. I wrote out a long drawn out explanation of why I did not (remember the chuch influence of Wesleyan-Arminian was doing battle against the Calvinist school influence) and I got a B. It was well reasoned logically and I mentioned that I did not intend to knock Calvinist beliefs. Still I got a B. A friend of mine who totally missed what Calvin was saying but basically just took all the stuff out of the textbook and wrote they he agreed with it got an A. Getting a B is good and it is not the grade that upsets me to this day, it is the fact that I came up with reasoned arguments why after having genuinely been presented with the Calvinist case I could not believe in it and I got marked down. At that point it became clear to me that Reformed Christians, though many of them seek God, fall prey to exactly what they criticize Calvinists of, elevating a man to such a high level. At church I hear occasional mention of John Wesley but he is not treated with the virtual infallibility Calvin is. I am not going to say God loved John Wesley more but his character was certainly more Christ like than Calvin or Luther since he was out preaching to abolish slavery while Calvin beheaded and burned people for preaching against his ideas and ran a police state and while Luther openly called for burning Jewish homes and killing the mentally retarded. You shall know them by their fruits, the Bible says. If that is the case I have always had a problem with how some Protestants elevate Calvin and Luther while bashing bad Popes when in truth they were not saintly men in the least, especially Luther who was calling for what Hitler wanted four hundred years early. Still in spite of those influences it was something I learned of in Bible class that led me toward Orthodoxy. In fact in spite of what I viewed as the flawed reformed teachings of the people in that school I recognized most of these people were raised that way and could not help it. They were so stuck in reformed thinking that I would be judgmental to act like they were somehow less Christian because they erred by belief in predestination. While I believe predestination is dangerous since it encourages laxity toward evangelism and matters of the soul reducing Christianity to intellectual debates I still believe these people strove to be Godly even if they had blinders on.

Still I could not convert to Catholicism because I had many hangups about it. While a friendship with a devout Catholic I developed later on helped clear me up of my misconceptions about what Catholics believe I still have my issues with the Catholic faith. Still I went over my three biggest influences, now let me go over my spiritual biography.

Growing up I loved Bible stories. I remember having that childlike faith in Jesus and the Bible where there was absolutely no doubt in my mind, where the vain ways of intellectual men crept in and led me to doubt Christianity had not yet been seen. I wish I could get that sense of childlike faith back again. I see it only in children and the mentally handicapped who are dear to my heart having worked in retail where many of them are present. I also got a huge love of history and reading. In the end I find what Solomon writes that much knowledge increases sorrow because my love of reading led me to this agonizing point in my life. I have truly agonized over matters of faith. For some people there is no doubt but for a person who reads a lot like I do it is always creeping and the struggle is great. It was around ten or eleven that church became a chore as I described. I would correlate it with the more contemporary worship style that came in. I said I felt I could not relate to God with contemporary Christian music and people told me I was bad because I felt this way since I was acting like one form of worship was better than another. There was a part of me that felt that people can genuinely worship God in this way but the way I have always approached God is with a sense of awe. I see a God who is mighty and who can smite men down in an instant, who can destroy the Earth with water and who can end the entire universe in the blink of an eye. I understand that God is loving and Jesus is our friend but I feel that contemporary Christian and Protestant styles trivialize it with their pop songs by focusing ONLY on this attribute of God. In the end the risk is of it becoming consumer Christianity and indeed I worry it has. The church I attend installed a coffee shop and I constantly see teenagers wandering in and out of the auditorium coffee in hand. I am glad the church gives teenagers a place to hang out because I know that is the intent to provide them with somewhere sin cannot creep in but I feel I cannot grow spiritually in such an environment. I feel that putting a coffee shop in to attract teenagers is good intentions but will it attract them to a deep faith? I am not sure, it certainly did not attract me.

At about the age of twelve it got to be where church was a chore and I went with pains to not go to church. Anything I could do to get out of church I would do. I did not like it. My parents told me if I did not go to church that I would not be able to eat for an entire day. I am not sure why they thought this would make me suddenly come on fire for Jesus, to tell me I either had to go to church or not eat. My parents are Godly people. At the time I thought it was just because my mom was worried people would think she was a bad parent if I did not go so it was all about keeping up the image of the "good Christian family." It was only after I went through turmoil in my teenage years that I saw how much my mom prayed for me until she cried that she genuinely was concerned about me. Still around fourteen I got more and more liberal in my worldview and by a certain point I saw myself as a deist and became a communist for a while and later on drifted around toward other radical ideologies but ended up as an anarchist in high school. I was still going to the Christian high school and sort of went through the motions. Most of my friends were there and my parents sent me there at great financial sacrifice because they genuinely felt I was there to grow in Christ. I knew they would send me off to public school where my friends weren't if I were to declare my deism so I sort of faked Christianity from about eighth through eleventh grade. Still there was one thing I learned about in high school that stuck with me from bible class. It was the difference in eastern and western thinking. The east is much more experiential whereas the west is more rational. That stuck and led me to reconsider Orthodoxy.

There was a point where I got into reading some christian apologetics and CS Lewis and that sort of stuff. At the time I viewed Jesus as a great moral teacher and that sort of thing but at a certain point reading CS Lewis on how Christ was either what he said to be, evil, or a madman I came to accept Him again. Still I was not interested in church since I saw it as an institution of man that kept us separate from God. Long before the guy who made the video of how he hates religion but loves Jesus I had the same sentiment. In the course of this time I became militantly anti-Catholic so much so I criticized Protestant churches for maintaining many Catholic trappings since I felt all institutions of men kept man from God.

Soon college came and at college I became friends with a devout Catholic who explained some things to me about Catholicism and led me to see that my view of it was incorrect. I was not about to become Catholic because I still believed it to be incorrect but I did not view it as heretical as I had in the past. Still I felt I did not need to have an institution between me and God whether Catholic or anything else. In the end what I failed to recognize is my rejection of religious institutions was not because I was so correct in my ideas but because my spiritual life in Protestantism had died. This was my first year of college. Some time in the summer of the next year I found myself listening to a lot of stuff about religion and comparative religion again and sort of began to fall back into my deism again and out of Christianity. I think there were a few days in this journey where I leaned toward agnosticism but I could never become fully atheist since I was convinced there had to be some source of existence which could not be explained. I came to doubt the CS Lewis stuff with looking at some new perspectives on the so-called "historical Jesus."

There came a day though when I was drinking heavily at a college party and I am not sure how much I drank. I ended up somewhere on a bathroom floor in a pile of vomit. I think I had alcohol poisoning or close to it but there just came a point where I literally was trying to vomit but could not and felt myself nearly choking on my own vomit. I believe I was dying because I literally felt like life was leaving me and I felt like I was falling but then I prayed and I felt a force almost like a giant hand lift me up. It was a feeling like I have never felt before or since and it was like I should wish to experience again. One thing that I do not remember from that whole experience but a friend of mine told me is I called him at five in the morning weeping profusely and proclaiming I had touched God, and here I was the great rationalist. This experience could not be explained. Still you would think I would have run out and become ultra-pious but I did not but I began to reconsider things.

Still other events caught up with me. I have experienced severe depression twice in my life. The first at age fifteen caused me to lash out and I began skipping school and was failing all my classes. The second came at this period and caused me to drop out of college. I got kicked out of the house when I announced this in the cold. I was absolutely distraught and wanted to buy a bus ticket to the West Coast. I intended to make a decision whether to jump off a cliff into the ocean or not. Still at the last minute my mom called me and begged me to come home. I am doing better now and plan on going back to college. It was only in the last year I really started to open up history again. I love history and I am a dedicated student of it. There came a point when I recognized a simple fact. This Jesus fellow, he had to have something to him if the Apostles went to the ends of the Earth and eleven were executed and one was exiled. These were stories I read of, that virtually all who knew Jesus died in His name. It had to make sense. Christ had to be the truth. For every prophet who has come in such a group there was at least one who came out and exposed it as a lie, of Christ's Apostles there were none. Still this opened me up to something new: Church History. I had little of it. My only observation was that Christianity followed the true doctrines for four hundred years then the popes became corrupt and then the Protestant Reformation came and fixed all the problems. Still there were some things that bothered me. In the past year I sporadically read the church fathers and many of the things they taught contradicted my Protestant ideals. It bothered me a good deal. I began to question if Catholicism was the answer. Still many thing about Catholicism bothered me such as its history, its legalism, and the Pope's claim to infallibility.

Catholic apologist sites came forth with their standard fare and I recognize the Catholic Church is not as bad as I once thought still the legalism of Catholic salvation bothered me. I was once told by a teacher in my high school that Luther's intent was not to make a new church but to cleanse the Catholic Church of false practices but it became such a trial for him. In the past weeks though a thorn has come into my side on this issue and I have decided it is time to face it. I feel that I am called to rejoin the Body of Christ and become active in community and not just as an individual. Still much of what Catholicism taught bothered me. I then remembered the thing about east vs. west I was taught in Bible class and thought if it was not worth it to read into Eastern Orthodoxy. In the past I perceived it as being purely an ethnic church where you would be out of place if you were not Greek or Slavic. Still as I read I found that while some have mistakenly turned the Orthodox Church into primarily an ethnic matter it is possible in any group to overemphasize something. Certainly while my studies have found me a new appreciation for the role of the Virgin Mary (and I find that many Protestant founders held beliefs which were surprisingly close to Catholic and Orthodox) I do recognize that some individual Catholics have taken it dangerously close to the level of worship even if this is not what the Church teaches even as some Protestants elevate Calvin and Luther's teaching so high they are infallible or who spend more time defining themselves as part of the latest, truest, and most correct sect as opposed to defining themselves by Christ. Yes these dangers exist but if it is the One Catholic and Holy Apostolic Church then it is regardless of whether individual members have erred. I find many things in Catholic theology bothersome and I find the Orthodox Church close to the culture that Apostles would have come from, an eastern culture. The Roman Church I feel is rationalizing Christianity and basing its doctrines on Aristotle and Plato who were pagan Greeks. This is not to say non-christians cannot have a window on truth even if they cannot see the whole picture but it still disturbs me nonetheless that these pagans whose culture was so removed from that of first century Judea would be held in such high regard. Though they are not saints in holding Thomas Aquinas up so high the RCC is opening itself to the influence of such men. Also the Catholic Church also bothers me by seeming to almost have some big list of sins and treating salvation almost like a game. If you die with X sin you to to purgatory for X years and so on and so forth. I remember reading the autobiography of the comedian and Catholic apostate George Carlin and he mentioned how he delighted in asking his teachers at Catholic school hypothetical situations about sin. As I find Carlin disrespectful to religion I wonder if he would have renounced Christianity if he had not grown up in such an environment? It takes on a legalistic tone rooted deeply in Western pagan as opposed to the Eastern culture Jesus came out of. This is why I lean toward Orthodoxy.

I hate to be so long winded but I felt I needed to share this.
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2012, 05:22:48 AM »

I really sympathize with you. My background is very similar. I too converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism. I am currently a catechumen. My conversion story is linked below in case you are interested.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,42793.0.html

Personally, I think that you should NOT attend the Orthodox parish until you have everything else in check. Let me be honest with you; Orthodox services blow Protestant ones out of the water. I am saying this as a convert and I am not exaggerating. When I first attended an Orthodox service I never even wanted to return or go back to the Protestant ones ever again; I could not imagine it. They seemed so mediocre compared to Orthodoxy. Going back to a Protestant service after you have attended an Orthodox one is like going back to bologna after you have had the luxury of eating steak. Once you attend that Orthodox service for the first time, you are going to want to come back. Many a soul has been won over by the external worship.

I would say that the biggest thing which led to my conversion was the history. Through my research as a Protestant I learned that the Orthodox Church is the oldest Church, and I remembered how Jesus promised that He would protect His Church from Hell for all ages. This alone was the primary reason behind my conversion. It seemed that no Protestant had a valid explanation for this, and to me it seemed like the Protestants did not have faith in Jesus' promise to protect His true Church forever, and so I left Protestantism. I accepted all of the teachings of Orthodoxy on simple trust because I believed and still believe that Jesus will not allow heresy or evil to ever become a dogma of His true Church. I also began to learn about how obvious and well supported these beliefs were, and in contrast, how misinterpreted and to be honest, absurd, the beliefs of mainstream Protestantism are compared to it. When you become Orthodox, your mind set changes, and you begin to see things in ways you never have before, but in a good way mind you.

Moving forward, to answer your questions. I highly understand the hang-up with your family not accepting your conversion. I too deal with the same issue. I am sixteen years old and at the entire mercy of my radical Protestant parents but I still converted to Orthodoxy about six or eight months ago and they are not happy about it at all, but they are not stopping me. My piece of advice to you is to not let your family hold you down. There is always going to be opposition to the truth, but it is the truth no doubt, and we should not let hardships make us stray from the truth. At first, they are going to be all preachy trying to stop you from converting, but remain strong and steadfast. With knowledge and faith, always be prepared to refute and answer their doubts to Orthodoxy and stand up against their Protestant beliefs and criticisms. But do it in kindness and only do it when they are trying to turn you away from your faith. Do not go looking for a fight. And when you do not know the answer to something, do not be afraid to admit it, lest you accidently spit out heresy and classify it as Orthodox teaching.

After this stage, the preachiness will die out. And they will learn to tolerate you. My immediate family does not try to prach to me anymore or stop me. They just stay out of my religious life and I stay out of theirs. They do however get a bit offended when I publicly talk about my beliefs in front of them or tell my little brother about Orthodox beliefs. I've learned to keep my faith to myself, yet, still remain strong and to not give into their beliefs. Eventually, you will learn to do the same. People are going to be worried about offending you, and they may be uneasy around you to be honest. This is how Protestants have reacted around me after learning of my conversion. And, my next piece of advice to you is to try to be understanding and keep your cool. There are going to be many times when your Protestant friends are going to offend your faith, but many times it is actually going to be by ACCIDENT because they honestly do not know. In fact, sometimes they may accidently offend your faith when they are trying to be polite and sensitive about it!

For example, one time a Protestant friend of mine invited me to her 'non-denominational' Protestant Church, and I refused the offer, telling her it feels awkward for me since I'm an Orthodox Christain, and her response was 'We're non-denominational, don't worry!' and this highly offended me, because she was classifying Orthodoxy as a denomination even though we are the only non-denominational Church since we are the original, in fact, we are pre-denominational. But, she did not know this, and she was only trying to make me feel welcome. See what I mean? Try to understand that your Protestant associates are going to make mistakes, but we have to be forgiving and understanding of their ignorance and be kind, not quick to lose our cools.

Lastly, when they bring up arguments against Orthodoxy or doubts, do not be afraid! Most arguments against Orthodoxy from Protestants come from strawmen and misconceptions because most of them do not even know what we are! Or, they can be refuted with basic knowledge. It is not an exaggeration when I say that the most complex, deep Protestant argument or belief which came from years of intense theological study and revision can be refuted with even the most basic of Orthodox knowledge that the average layman can learn within the first year of their conversion.

I commend your interest into Orthodoxy and highly sympathize with you since I share a similar background. I would love to help, counsel or do anything I can to aid you! I assure you that once you attend an Orthodox service you will not be returning back to the Protestant ones. Feel free to message me or email me and may God bless your journey!

In Christ,
James
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2012, 01:27:10 PM »

What would you do for Christ? What would you do for the health of your soul? Would you let friends or distance get in the way?
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2012, 01:28:53 PM »

Another thing I am fighting against is the appeal of Catholicism. There is still a part of me that looks at how Christ told Peter he is the rock on on which his church will be built and I wonder to myself. Still I have seen so many Catholics abandon Christianity altogether. I just had a Catholic friend turn into some sort of universalist. There was an associate pastor at my Protestant church who used to be Catholic. I hear the stories of Protestants turning Catholic yet there are so many more of Catholics turning Protestant. I have heard testimonies of faith at church and it often goes like this, "I was raised Catholic then fell away but then Christ came into my life..." and that really worries me. There are many, many devout Catholics but there are many who just go through the motions, still it worries me when I see this. Still I have heard of many people converting to Orthodoxy but few of people leaving it. James Likoudis is one who turned Catholic and there is one on this forum who became Orthodox but went back to Catholicism. I don't know of any prominent converts from Orthodoxy to Protestantism.
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2012, 01:56:22 PM »

Another thing I am fighting against is the appeal of Catholicism. There is still a part of me that looks at how Christ told Peter he is the rock on on which his church will be built and I wonder to myself. Still I have seen so many Catholics abandon Christianity altogether. I just had a Catholic friend turn into some sort of universalist. There was an associate pastor at my Protestant church who used to be Catholic. I hear the stories of Protestants turning Catholic yet there are so many more of Catholics turning Protestant. I have heard testimonies of faith at church and it often goes like this, "I was raised Catholic then fell away but then Christ came into my life..." and that really worries me. There are many, many devout Catholics but there are many who just go through the motions, still it worries me when I see this. Still I have heard of many people converting to Orthodoxy but few of people leaving it. James Likoudis is one who turned Catholic and there is one on this forum who became Orthodox but went back to Catholicism. I don't know of any prominent converts from Orthodoxy to Protestantism.

Historically, the Petrine propaganda is not older than the late 11th century.
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2012, 02:16:53 PM »

I don't know of any prominent converts from Orthodoxy to Protestantism.
Benny Hinn. But let's not go there - please.
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2012, 02:53:11 PM »

Another thing I am fighting against is the appeal of Catholicism. There is still a part of me that looks at how Christ told Peter he is the rock on on which his church will be built and I wonder to myself.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that He meant that Peter was the first Pope, or that Peter would be the infallible head of the entire Church. After all, Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch and the method of church governance was conciliar. The Bishop of Rome was the "first among equals."
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2012, 03:25:43 PM »

thanks for sharing, your story touched me.
keep searching and we will pray for you.
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2012, 03:32:19 PM »

Another thing I am fighting against is the appeal of Catholicism. There is still a part of me that looks at how Christ told Peter he is the rock on on which his church will be built

St. Peter was not the rock, but it was his statement of faith which is the rock. And that statement of faith leads to Jesus Christ, therefore, Jesus Christ Himself is the rock which the Church is built on. This is supported by scriptures such as Ephesians 2:20-21 which says '...having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord...' Likewise, this is the view that has been supported by many of the Church Fathers as well. Below are a few excerpts from the Fathers.

‘But if you suppose that upon the one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter in particular the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, ‘The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,’ hold in regard to all and in the case of each of them? And also the saying, ‘Upon this rock I will build My Church?’ Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them? But if this promise, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ be common to others, how shall not all things previously spoken of, and the things which are subjoined as having been addressed to Peter, be common to them? 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ If any one says this to Him...he will obtain the things that were spoken according to the letter of the Gospel to that Peter, but, as the spirit of the Gospel teaches to every one who becomes such as that Peter was.'-St. Origen

‘Certainly the other Apostles also were what Peter was, endued with an equal fellowship both of honor and power; but a commencement is made from unity, that the Church may be set before as one…’ -St. Cyprian.

Even St. Augustine, who originally advocated the modern Roman Catholic view of Petrine Supremecy later corrected himself of it in his 'Retractions' and then leaves it open for the reader to decide. 'In a passage in this book, I said about the Apostle Peter: ‘On him as on a rock the Church was built’...But I know that very frequently at a later time, I so explained what the Lord said: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received ‘the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.’ For, ‘Thou art Peter’ and not ‘Thou art the rock’ was said to him. But ‘the rock was Christ,’ in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter. But let the reader decide which of these two opinions is the more probable.’ He then further says ‘They drank from the spiritual rock that was following them; but the rock was Christ’ (1 Cor 10:4). So this disciple is called Rocky from the rock, like Christian from Christ...Why have I wanted to make this little introduction? In order to suggest to you that in Peter the Church is to be recognized. Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter’s confession. What is Peter’s confession? ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ There’s the rock for you, there’s the foundation, there’s where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer.’

Lastly, it is also fair to mention that many of the Church Fathers did refer to St. Peter as a rock, but they did not mean it in the same sense. There were two rocks. There is first, the infallible rock that the Church is built on, which, all of the Fathers mostly agree is either Jesus Christ Himself or the statement of faith which led to Jesus Christ, then there is the second rock which represents St. Peter and the rest of us. I'll explain as I quote the Fathers to you.

'...and although He gives to all the Apostles an equal power, and says, ‘As My Father sent Me, even so I send you; receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted to him, and whosoever sins ye shall retain, they shall be retained’ (John 20:21);—yet in order to manifest unity, He has by His own authority so placed the source of the same unity, as to begin from one...' and ‘Certainly the other Apostles also were what Peter was, endued with an equal fellowship both of honor and power; but a commencement is made from unity, that the Church may be set before as one…'-St. Cyprian. He refers to St. Peter as a 'rock' as well, but only in the sense that he represents the unity among the apostles and believers as a whole. He is a figurehead for the unity of the Church. Not in the sense that he is the only infallible boss, because St. Cyprian clearly did not support this view, as you see in his earlier writing which I quoted.

For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and upon every such rock is built every word of the Church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.’-St. Origen.

You see, this topic is more confusing than the Roman Catholic Church makes it, but all of the Fathers and scriptures agree that Jesus Christ alone, or the statement which led to Jesus Christ, is the true infallible rock of the Church. And while many of the Fathers did refer to St. Peter as a rock in a special sense, they never meant it in the same sense as Christ is the rock and were always important to make the distinction as I have shown you. Some referred to him as a rock in the sense of unity or as a rock in the sense that he represents what every Christian can become etc. It is also important to mention that the Roman Catholic Church did not start using this argument to support Petrine Supremecy until very recently and that the pre-schism Church did not function with the Pope as the universal head. In fact, some Popes were even anathematized at Ecumenical Councils for falling into error, such as Honorius.

In Christ,
James



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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2012, 04:19:32 PM »

Another thing I am fighting against is the appeal of Catholicism. There is still a part of me that looks at how Christ told Peter he is the rock on on which his church will be built and I wonder to myself.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that He meant that Peter was the first Pope, or that Peter would be the infallible head of the entire Church. After all, Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch and the method of church governance was conciliar. The Bishop of Rome was the "first among equals."

Or, if you want to completely blow the door off its hinges, neither Peter, nor any of the other Apostles (at least the 12) were bishops of anywhere, because Apostles are greater than bishops--Apostles appoint bishops by themselves, whereas for one bishop to be made, at least two bishops must lay their hands on him.
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2012, 06:38:20 PM »

2. The biggest problem of all is the fact that the nearest Orthodox church to me is 25 miles away. It also only seems to have services of Vespers at 7pm Saturday and services Sunday mornings. I have refrained from contacting the priest and intend to do so until I am sure about making this step. My problem is I work Saturday nights until 8 half the time and work every single Sunday at 9am to 6pm. This would conflict. I know God calls on us to give things up for Him but must I be ready to begin searching for a new job if the pull is so great?

Call the priest (or the church). Many (most?) Orthodox churches have additional services during the week (especially right now with Lent starting), but often they move around based on what feast and saint's days happen to fall that week and so they are not posted as 'regular services'--since this week it might be Monday, next week Thursday, etc.
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For it were better to suffer everything, rather than divide the Church of God. Even martyrdom for the sake of preventing division would not be less glorious than for refusing to worship idols. - St. Dionysius the Great
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