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Author Topic: What's the One True Church?  (Read 1990 times) Average Rating: 0
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byhisgrace
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« on: March 28, 2014, 02:31:22 PM »

Hi Everyone!

I'm currently an Evangelical Christian who is seeking to find which Church is the one true church, whether that be Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or the Church of the East.

Whether you are Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or a Church of the East Christian, please tell me: How do you know that your Church has the fullness of God's truth, and not the other three?

Thanks! Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2014, 02:39:45 PM »

Hi Everyone!

I'm currently an Evangelical Christian who is seeking to find which Church is the one true church, whether that be Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or the Church of the East.

Whether you are Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or a Church of the East Christian, please tell me: How do you know that your Church has the fullness of God's truth, and not the other three?

Thanks! Smiley

I foresee a rather unpleasant thread, what with juxtaposing one's affiliation against others and all that.

Also, there are many here, although not all, that have nuanced understandings of the Church, so it wouldn't quite be the "either X or Y" way you're putting it for everyone.
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2014, 02:59:57 PM »

I foresee a rather unpleasant thread, what with juxtaposing one's affiliation against others and all that.

Also, there are many here, although not all, that have nuanced understandings of the Church, so it wouldn't quite be the "either X or Y" way you're putting it for everyone.

That's a good point! I've pondered on this possible problem, too. Do you have any advice on what thread I can start such that I can examine the claims of all four Churches, while minimizing the amount of "heated debate" against each other?

If one has an answer that more than one of the Churches is in the Body of Christ, that's okay too Smiley . It would be great, however, if s/he can add why s/he believes that the differences among them do not determine whether one is in Christ or not.
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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2014, 03:29:58 PM »

Hi Everyone!

I'm currently an Evangelical Christian who is seeking to find which Church is the one true church, whether that be Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or the Church of the East.

Whether you are Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or a Church of the East Christian, please tell me: How do you know that your Church has the fullness of God's truth, and not the other three?

Thanks! Smiley

Hi, byhisgrace.  Please keep in mind that when Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christians declare their respective communions to be the True Church that they are making no pronouncements on the salvation of anyone outside of those communions.  I believe the same holds true for the Roman Church and the Church of the East, though I've had conversations with Roman Catholics who've told me that there's no salvation for anyone outside of "Holy Mother Church".  I think they might've been hardliners though, and weren't articulating the official stance of their communion.

Some questions I feel might be helpful to you in your quest for understanding are:

*Which of these communions reflects a real and intimate unity with Christ on the terms He established?  In other words, in which one can a person have true communion with Him as much as possible on this side of the grave?

*Which one holds most closely to the Faith and teachings of the Early Church without the introduction of doctrinal innovations, heterodox practices or other deviations?

Personally, painting with very broad strokes, I feel that the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches have both maintained the true Apostolic Faith and Orthodox practice, despite centuries of mutual excommunication.  I believe there is no substantial doctrinal difference between them, but merely a schism without heresy.  Many here agree.  Others certainly disagree, to put it mildly.

As far as the Church of the East and the Roman Church are concerned, I must sadly say that as far as I can tell, they do not maintain the same Faith as the Orthodox bodies.  I most especially wish the former did, but, as it pertains to Christology, I can't say that it does.  This is where my research has led me.
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« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2014, 03:31:10 PM »

why do you want to change church?

Probably because something starts bothers your mind as you search/read  and you feel uncomfortable and unsure about your church

well....

someone know that "this" Church has the fullness of God's truth when it feels like that
and whatever he/she search or read for this church don't bother his/her mind

I really feel very comfortable and safe in my orthodox church when I read for other churches or religions


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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2014, 04:01:30 PM »

Well if you want to marry an Assyrian girl then you'll probably have to move to either Iraq or Chicago. Their Christology is whack, but some men seem to find the women particularly alluring for whatever reason.
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2014, 04:06:09 PM »

What always comes to my heart and soul upon this question dear friend byhisgrace is the following.

Whatever issue you will face from now on and forward, remember that is it not in your hands to reveal the true church. When you encounter it, you will know it by truth and by spirit. Exactly what we´re being told by the Lord in John 4:21-26, where the samaritan by heart is asking the same question as you are.

The Orthodox Church has a long long history that takes time to look through, research and explore. But when the Liturgy starts and Orthodoxy is experienced in its most beautiful way, in truth to the Faith, and in Spirit during prayer. Then no one in the world can stand without saying, this is where I belong, by the gift of Gods grace, in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Pray for me and forgive me, the sinner
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2014, 04:14:00 PM »

Hi, BHG. Welcome to the board. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2014, 08:32:01 PM »

Well if you want to marry an Assyrian girl then you'll probably have to move to either Iraq or Chicago. Their Christology is whack, but some men seem to find the women particularly alluring for whatever reason.

What do you mean "for whatever reason"?  There's no "whatever" about it.  Tongue
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2014, 10:54:21 PM »

Well if you want to marry an Assyrian girl then you'll probably have to move to either Iraq or Chicago. Their Christology is whack, but some men seem to find the women particularly alluring for whatever reason.

What do you mean "for whatever reason"?  There's no "whatever" about it.  Tongue

I'm tempering my admiration as a happily married man.  Wink
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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2014, 11:08:58 PM »

Constantinopalian/Byzantium Orthodox Church? ...
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« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2014, 01:12:12 PM »

Hi Everyone!

I'm currently an Evangelical Christian who is seeking to find which Church is the one true church, whether that be Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or the Church of the East.

Whether you are Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or a Church of the East Christian, please tell me: How do you know that your Church has the fullness of God's truth, and not the other three?

Thanks! Smiley

I was once in a similar situation,but being so far from the nearest parish, I still find myself unable to attend Divine Liturgy. I will occasionally visit the assembly my mother attends, a non-Orthodox Church. I still pray often and listen to various podcasts of Orthodox speakers. I pray The Lord will find a way for me.

In my search I could come to no other conclusion than to side with Eastern Orthodoxy.  It was the Roman Bishop that disrupted the unity of the Church,with the exception of the non-Chalcedonian churches, for which I find that division to be more having to do with semantics than  anything, which in my opinion seems rather silly, although I have been wrong before.
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2014, 12:34:22 PM »

In my search I could come to no other conclusion than to side with Eastern Orthodoxy.  It was the Roman Bishop that disrupted the unity of the Church,with the exception of the non-Chalcedonian churches, for which I find that division to be more having to do with semantics than  anything, which in my opinion seems rather silly, although I have been wrong before.

The Bishop of Rome had a lot to do with that, too, according both to them and to us.  Tongue
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2014, 09:54:23 AM »

In my search I could come to no other conclusion than to side with Eastern Orthodoxy.  It was the Roman Bishop that disrupted the unity of the Church,with the exception of the non-Chalcedonian churches, for which I find that division to be more having to do with semantics than  anything, which in my opinion seems rather silly, although I have been wrong before.

The Bishop of Rome had a lot to do with that, too, according both to them and to us.  Tongue

I still really haven't studied the situation with Pope Leo and the Tome and all of that. Any resources in English you'd recommend?
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2014, 07:20:50 PM »

In my search I could come to no other conclusion than to side with Eastern Orthodoxy.  It was the Roman Bishop that disrupted the unity of the Church,with the exception of the non-Chalcedonian churches, for which I find that division to be more having to do with semantics than  anything, which in my opinion seems rather silly, although I have been wrong before.

The Bishop of Rome had a lot to do with that, too, according both to them and to us.  Tongue

I still really haven't studied the situation with Pope Leo and the Tome and all of that. Any resources in English you'd recommend?

I realize you were asking Mor, but The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined by Fr. V.C. Samuel of the Indian Orthodox Church is perhaps the best articulation of the Oriental Orthodox perspective I've ever read.  It's scholarly and, although taking a definite stand, non-polemical.  It's also accessible to most readers.
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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2014, 08:36:10 PM »

I find it interesting. The original 12 apostles. I would imagine they would constitute the true church. All with the same beliefs. Each go a different direction. Thomas I believe to India, Mark to Egypt, Paul the greek communities, the armenian church by Jude and bartholomew,etc. Yet there is schisms and differences. All from the original 12. But of course the councils were decided by men years later, not apostles. Its a shame really.
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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2014, 09:10:03 PM »

I realize you were asking Mor, but The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined by Fr. V.C. Samuel of the Indian Orthodox Church is perhaps the best articulation of the Oriental Orthodox perspective I've ever read.  It's scholarly and, although taking a definite stand, non-polemical.  It's also accessible to most readers.

Thanks, Nik!  I forgot to get back to this, but you recommended what I was going to recommend. 
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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2014, 09:28:31 PM »

To know the One True Church, investigate the matter using the historical resources available, and look at them honestly from an objective point of view (as you probably have no hard time doing).  See if anything holds water to the true integrity of the faith.  Is the belief in the Trinity sound?  Is the Christology sound? The Mariology? The ecclesiology?  The historical continuity? The eschatology?

One of the most important things I have learned and I am growing convinced is the definition of heresy, which would be a doctrinal opinion that allows for a separation of communion between man and God.  For instance, in Christology, if Christ is not one person, but is a synthesis of a conjunction between the man Jesus and the indwelling of the Word of God, united only by honor, no different than a saint or prophet who has God dwelling in him/her, then there's no real unity between man and God through Christ, because the man Jesus ends up not being IN TRUTH the Word of God.  Another example in Christology, if Christ happens to have lost full integrity of humanity, then this too also leads to no real unity between man and Christ, since God the Word did not become a full human being.

All of these need some personal catechesis, and I recommend you do the reading and pray and seek guidance, and you will find the truth.  Many of us will give you a biased answer because we are convinced of our own traditions.  For me, I am convinced of my church because I find in her the continuity of the unadulterated faith and historical connection with the Church that puts me at ease to be in communion with all those who have the fullness of grace, where the necessary faith that puts us in communion with God is maintained and developed.  This does not exclude other churches who I feel also have the same criteria.  As His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware puts it best (who is not Oriental Orthodox), "We know where the Church is; we do not know where it is not."
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« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2014, 12:49:42 AM »

In my search I could come to no other conclusion than to side with Eastern Orthodoxy.  It was the Roman Bishop that disrupted the unity of the Church,with the exception of the non-Chalcedonian churches, for which I find that division to be more having to do with semantics than  anything, which in my opinion seems rather silly, although I have been wrong before.
In terms of salvation, does it matter whether I choose to believe in Nestorianism, Miaphysitism, or Diophysitism? Those were the dividing issues between Eastern, Oriental, and Church of the East.  
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« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2014, 12:54:34 AM »

In my search I could come to no other conclusion than to side with Eastern Orthodoxy.  It was the Roman Bishop that disrupted the unity of the Church,with the exception of the non-Chalcedonian churches, for which I find that division to be more having to do with semantics than  anything, which in my opinion seems rather silly, although I have been wrong before.
In terms of salvation, does it matter whether I choose to believe in Nestorianism, Miaphysitism, or Diophysitism? Those were the dividing issues between Eastern, Oriental, and Church of the East.  

What do you believe these three (Nestorianism, Miaphysitism, Diophysitism) taught?
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« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2014, 12:59:35 AM »

What do you believe these three (Nestorianism, Miaphysitism, Diophysitism) taught?
Nestorianism: Christ is two persons in two natures
Miaphysitism: Christ is one person in one nature (His divinity and humanity are inseparable)
Diophysitism: Christ is one person in two natures (This is the Chalcedonian belief).

So far, as an Evangelical, I have been taking the first four Ecumenical Councils for granted, as I haven't been challenged on my Christology, very much. Thus, I am very interested in hearing why the non-Chalcedonian Churches believe that their Christology is the right one.  
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« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2014, 01:16:40 AM »

So far, as an Evangelical, I have been taking the first four Ecumenical Councils for granted

Really? I thought the average Evangelical only strongly held to the first three. Although, maybe that's just the Reformed-leaning sort I've known.
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« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2014, 02:39:52 AM »

Can anyone answer for me whether my eternal salvation is at stake, when it comes to which Church I decide to join?
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« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2014, 03:58:08 AM »

To know the One True Church, investigate the matter using the historical resources available, and look at them honestly from an objective point of view (as you probably have no hard time doing).  See if anything holds water to the true integrity of the faith.  Is the belief in the Trinity sound?  Is the Christology sound? The Mariology? The ecclesiology?  The historical continuity? The eschatology?

One of the most important things I have learned and I am growing convinced is the definition of heresy, which would be a doctrinal opinion that allows for a separation of communion between man and God.  For instance, in Christology, if Christ is not one person, but is a synthesis of a conjunction between the man Jesus and the indwelling of the Word of God, united only by honor, no different than a saint or prophet who has God dwelling in him/her, then there's no real unity between man and God through Christ, because the man Jesus ends up not being IN TRUTH the Word of God.  Another example in Christology, if Christ happens to have lost full integrity of humanity, then this too also leads to no real unity between man and Christ, since God the Word did not become a full human being.

All of these need some personal catechesis, and I recommend you do the reading and pray and seek guidance, and you will find the truth.  Many of us will give you a biased answer because we are convinced of our own traditions.  For me, I am convinced of my church because I find in her the continuity of the unadulterated faith and historical connection with the Church that puts me at ease to be in communion with all those who have the fullness of grace, where the necessary faith that puts us in communion with God is maintained and developed.  This does not exclude other churches who I feel also have the same criteria.  As His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware puts it best (who is not Oriental Orthodox), "We know where the Church is; we do not know where it is not."
Thanks for giving a constructive answer Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2014, 05:31:02 AM »

https://www.svots.edu/content/beyond-dialogue-quest-eastern-and-oriental-orthodox-unity-today

Building on the work of these and subsequent informal consultations, an official Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches began to meet in the 1980s.  In its agreed statements on Christology, the Commission repeatedly and unequivocally affirmed the churches’ full agreement on the substance of the faith, notwithstanding differences in terminology.  “In the light of our four unofficial consultations (1964, 1967, 1970, 1971) and our three official meetings which followed (1985, 1989, 1990), we have understood that both families have loyally maintained the authentic Orthodox Christological doctrine, and the unbroken continuity of the apostolic tradition, though they may have used Christological terms in different ways” (Chambesy 1993).  Indeed, as the documents of the dialogue point out, “Our mutual agreement is not limited to Christology, but encompasses the whole faith of the one undivided Church of the early centuries” (Anba Bishoy 1980), including, for example, the veneration of icons. [3]

so both the OO and EO churches are right.
miaphytism (OO) is actually one person with two natures united into one 'without mingling, without confusion and without separation'
(the quote is from the coptic orthodox divine liturgy).
it does not contradict the chalcedonian view AS CLARIFIED BY THE 5TH AND 6TH COUNCILS.

it is a big, big subject to try to understand all these apparent word games, and you should know that there was a lot of politics involved at the 4th council, so that complicates things.

what i would really recommend for you is to pray (and fast) and ask God for guidance and then look for a church near you that is either EO or OO and see if the people there are ready to welcome you and to show you the depths of God's love found in the orthodox church.

the important things you should look for in an orthodox church are the love of God and the willingness and ability to explain orthodox Christianity to a visitor in a language he / she can understand.
whether the church is EO or OO is really secondary.
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« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2014, 07:49:16 AM »

Can anyone answer for me whether my eternal salvation is at stake, when it comes to which Church I decide to join?

God is merciful.  Should you chose something other than the Orthodox and Apostolic Faith through ignorance, as opposed to making a conscious choice for heresy or standing stiff-necked in the face of loving and reasoned correction, it is my prayer that God will gently lead you home in His time rather than look for an excuse to cast you into hell.  Salvation is a process, and thankfully, we serve a God whose mercy is greater than our sins, no matter how easy it may be to forget this when we're in the thick of things.
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« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2014, 08:04:13 AM »

What do you believe these three (Nestorianism, Miaphysitism, Diophysitism) taught?
Nestorianism: Christ is two persons in two natures
Miaphysitism: Christ is one person in one nature (His divinity and humanity are inseparable)
Diophysitism: Christ is one person in two natures (This is the Chalcedonian belief).

So far, as an Evangelical, I have been taking the first four Ecumenical Councils for granted, as I haven't been challenged on my Christology, very much. Thus, I am very interested in hearing why the non-Chalcedonian Churches believe that their Christology is the right one.   
Because those who adhere to the councils we reject in the end SEEM to find that there is no ESSENTIAL disagreement on Christology, it's very tough to answer this without the temptation of polemics.

Any specific questions? Perhaps this may help narrowing down the approach than give anything vague.  We could also recommend a book that explains the history of it all.
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« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2014, 08:24:36 AM »

Hello byhisgrace.

Im going to give you some friendly advice. Questions like yours opens a huge can of worms for people wanting to take potshots at other faith traditions. Of course its a good idea to get an understanding of what convinced others to convert, but I would stress you NOT use their reasons to motivate or convince you.

Go to a parish of these traditions, talk to the priests and pray alot.

Unfortunately, around here you'll get decent advice mixed with a healthy dose of cynicism, a little bit of bigotry from some members, and a whole lot of bad or questionable "facts" from people with an axe to grind. Will you find some good advice? Sure you will. But taking the time filtering out the good advice from the nonsense can be better spent finding out yourself.

God bless,
PP
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« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2014, 11:29:11 AM »

Go to a parish of these traditions, talk to the priests and pray alot.

PP raises some great points in the above post, not the least of which is do you actually live in an area where all of these traditions - Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Church of the East - are represented and it would be reasonable for you to regularly attend and commune in the communion of your choice?

In some ways, this shouldn't impact upon your choice.  If, for example, you become convinced that the Church of the East is the only one of the bunch that holds to the Apostolic Faith but there are none around, I would not advise that you join one of the others in defiance of your conscience and understanding of orthodoxy.  On the other hand, regular communion and participation in the life of the church is crucial.
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« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2014, 11:44:11 AM »

It certainly doesn't seem that way when there is a Baptist and Pentecostal church on every corner of the neighborhood  Tongue My understanding is to be patient and wait for the Orthodox Church and on God's time.
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« Reply #30 on: April 01, 2014, 11:51:50 AM »

It certainly doesn't seem that way when there is a Baptist and Pentecostal church on every corner of the neighborhood  Tongue

What doesn't seem what way?
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« Reply #31 on: April 01, 2014, 12:19:23 PM »

It certainly doesn't seem that way when there is a Baptist and Pentecostal church on every corner of the neighborhood  Tongue

What doesn't seem what way?


In this region of Texas there other churches and other missions ... Baptist,Pentecostal,Wesleyan,Lutheran and it doesn't seem like the Orthodox one is very prevalent at all. (The Southern part of the USA) ..
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« Reply #32 on: April 01, 2014, 12:28:27 PM »

Hello byhisgrace.

Im going to give you some friendly advice. Questions like yours opens a huge can of worms for people wanting to take potshots at other faith traditions. Of course its a good idea to get an understanding of what convinced others to convert, but I would stress you NOT use their reasons to motivate or convince you.

Go to a parish of these traditions, talk to the priests and pray alot.

Unfortunately, around here you'll get decent advice mixed with a healthy dose of cynicism, a little bit of bigotry from some members, and a whole lot of bad or questionable "facts" from people with an axe to grind. Will you find some good advice? Sure you will. But taking the time filtering out the good advice from the nonsense can be better spent finding out yourself.

God bless,
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Yes, those are very good points. I have been praying for God to help me find the truth, and sometimes I wonder whether He is asking me to wait, or whether He has answered already and I'm missing it.
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« Reply #33 on: April 01, 2014, 02:03:47 PM »

Go to a parish of these traditions, talk to the priests and pray alot.

PP raises some great points in the above post, not the least of which is do you actually live in an area where all of these traditions - Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Church of the East - are represented and it would be reasonable for you to regularly attend and commune in the communion of your choice?

In some ways, this shouldn't impact upon your choice.  If, for example, you become convinced that the Church of the East is the only one of the bunch that holds to the Apostolic Faith but there are none around, I would not advise that you join one of the others in defiance of your conscience and understanding of orthodoxy.  On the other hand, regular communion and participation in the life of the church is crucial.
In once sense, I agree with you. I've read testimonies of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who say that they got convinced that their respective Church is true through their experience with the liturgy and sacraments. Participation in the liturgies and sacraments may be a way for me to experience the grace of God, which may convict me, on a personal and experiential level, that God's Church is truly that Church. On the other hand, it's hard for me to participate in the liturgies and sacraments without hurting my conscience a bit, for I do not know (to put it quite frankly) whether that church is the work of God or the work of the devil. Didn't God, after all, tell me not to put Him to the test?
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« Reply #34 on: April 01, 2014, 02:48:45 PM »

In once sense, I agree with you. I've read testimonies of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who say that they got convinced that their respective Church is true through their experience with the liturgy and sacraments. Participation in the liturgies and sacraments may be a way for me to experience the grace of God, which may convict me, on a personal and experiential level, that God's Church is truly that Church. On the other hand, it's hard for me to participate in the liturgies and sacraments without hurting my conscience a bit, for I do not know (to put it quite frankly) whether that church is the work of God or the work of the devil. Didn't God, after all, tell me not to put Him to the test?

All I was saying was, how many of the four communions you're considering - OO, EO, RC, & CotE - actually have a parish in your area?

As far as the points you've raised here, I'd like to ask (along the lines of Mina's advice) how much you've studied the history of the four communions and what has separated them.  Are there any arguments or circumstances - theological, ecclesiological, historical or otherwise - that you find more or less compelling pertaining to any of the four?  What has your research told you so far about who might be closer to what was established by Christ?
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« Reply #35 on: April 01, 2014, 02:52:22 PM »

It certainly doesn't seem that way when there is a Baptist and Pentecostal church on every corner of the neighborhood  Tongue

What doesn't seem what way?


In this region of Texas there other churches and other missions ... Baptist,Pentecostal,Wesleyan,Lutheran and it doesn't seem like the Orthodox one is very prevalent at all. (The Southern part of the USA) ..

Yet the southern and western dioceses of the OCA and GOA (and probably more, but I know these for certain) are the fastest growing.
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« Reply #36 on: April 01, 2014, 03:01:08 PM »

Sounds like the quest for The ChurchTM
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« Reply #37 on: April 01, 2014, 04:29:20 PM »

In once sense, I agree with you. I've read testimonies of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who say that they got convinced that their respective Church is true through their experience with the liturgy and sacraments. Participation in the liturgies and sacraments may be a way for me to experience the grace of God, which may convict me, on a personal and experiential level, that God's Church is truly that Church. On the other hand, it's hard for me to participate in the liturgies and sacraments without hurting my conscience a bit, for I do not know (to put it quite frankly) whether that church is the work of God or the work of the devil. Didn't God, after all, tell me not to put Him to the test?

All I was saying was, how many of the four communions you're considering - OO, EO, RC, & CotE - actually have a parish in your area?

As far as the points you've raised here, I'd like to ask (along the lines of Mina's advice) how much you've studied the history of the four communions and what has separated them.  Are there any arguments or circumstances - theological, ecclesiological, historical or otherwise - that you find more or less compelling pertaining to any of the four?  What has your research told you so far about who might be closer to what was established by Christ?
Ah, sorry, didn't mean to put words in your mouth.

To answer your question, all four communions have parishes in my area. I live in the US.

So far in my research, I find the Catholic position to be a the most compelling, mostly because they have a well-defined, final authority on who says what the Church should teach (i.e. the Magisterium and the Pope). As far as Church History goes, I've only read two Church History books, both written by Protestants, and I only thoroughly read the writings of the Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, and Shepherd of Hermas. (After all, aren't they most reliable sources in seeing what the Apostles meant, and how their Epistles should be interpreted? It's sad that there are very few Apostolic Fathers.) Other than that, I've only read snippets of quotes of the other Fathers, quotes from Catholic and Eastern Orthodox apologists. Thus, I only have a surface level understanding of Church history, and the apologetics arguments among Catholic and Orthodox historians, so far, seem equally compelling to me. So where does that leave me? Perhaps I should trust a Church that has the most well-defined, final authority. You may then ask, "Why are you not Catholic, then?" Because I have many problems with Catholic doctrine that I want answers to.
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« Reply #38 on: April 01, 2014, 04:41:59 PM »

Can anyone answer for me whether my eternal salvation is at stake, when it comes to which Church I decide to join?

The Scriptures say "whoever calls opon the name of The Lord, shall be saved." If one spends their life seeking out The Lord, and the truths. He has proclaimed, God will find a way of saving such a person. I would have to say that both you and I, if I can speak for you ,are moving in the right direction, as to when we actually arrive at our destination remains unanswered, but the destination itself is never a question. Christ also said that there are sheep that are not of this fold, meaning that there are those outside the Church,who have yet to come through Her doors, as. I understand it. Some may have a clearer understanding of this than I.
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« Reply #39 on: April 01, 2014, 04:46:44 PM »

In once sense, I agree with you. I've read testimonies of Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who say that they got convinced that their respective Church is true through their experience with the liturgy and sacraments. Participation in the liturgies and sacraments may be a way for me to experience the grace of God, which may convict me, on a personal and experiential level, that God's Church is truly that Church. On the other hand, it's hard for me to participate in the liturgies and sacraments without hurting my conscience a bit, for I do not know (to put it quite frankly) whether that church is the work of God or the work of the devil. Didn't God, after all, tell me not to put Him to the test?

All I was saying was, how many of the four communions you're considering - OO, EO, RC, & CotE - actually have a parish in your area?

As far as the points you've raised here, I'd like to ask (along the lines of Mina's advice) how much you've studied the history of the four communions and what has separated them.  Are there any arguments or circumstances - theological, ecclesiological, historical or otherwise - that you find more or less compelling pertaining to any of the four?  What has your research told you so far about who might be closer to what was established by Christ?
Ah, sorry, didn't mean to put words in your mouth.

To answer your question, all four communions have parishes in my area. I live in the US.

So far in my research, I find the Catholic position to be a the most compelling, mostly because they have a well-defined, final authority on who says what the Church should teach (i.e. the Magisterium and the Pope). As far as Church History goes, I've only read two Church History books, both written by Protestants, and I only thoroughly read the writings of the Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, and Shepherd of Hermas. (After all, aren't they most reliable sources in seeing what the Apostles meant, and how their Epistles should be interpreted? It's sad that there are very few Apostolic Fathers.) Other than that, I've only read snippets of quotes of the other Fathers, quotes from Catholic and Eastern Orthodox apologists. Thus, I only have a surface level understanding of Church history, and the apologetics arguments among Catholic and Orthodox historians, so far, seem equally compelling to me. So where does that leave me? Perhaps I should trust a Church that has the most well-defined, final authority. You may then ask, "Why are you not Catholic, then?" Because I have many problems with Catholic doctrine that I want answers to.

The problem I have with the Catholic position is that the Bishop of Rome, and those that have occupied the office, are seeking to be at the first position at the table, and The Lord told His disciples that this is the least desirable. I see very little humility in a person that would seek such a place.
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« Reply #40 on: April 01, 2014, 04:57:25 PM »

Questions you can ask:  Is the doctrine professed:

1.  Strengthens the unity with God? For instance, one can profess correct belief about God, but without the Church and the sacraments, finds himself only believing in ideas.  One can also have a sacramental Church, but if the Christology is seriously flawed, unity with Christ becomes flawed, or Pneumatology can be flawed, so unity with God by the Spirit could be flawed, etc.

2.  Necessary for unity with God?  For instance, one cannot join a Church without historical Apostolic continuation through her bishops.  But one can also ask, is a particular ecclesiastical structure necessary, or does it not make a difference?  Does one have to have One Pope and a Magisterium, or can there be a council of sister church's bishops?  Does there really have to be Purgatory or toll houses or hope of salvation for all?  Or does it not make any difference at all either way?

Regardless of how much I think I know, at times, it's the second question that will live with you, even when you're already a convinced member of the Church.  This is where you need to really do the research and read "both sides" of the argument to understand the issues very well.  You could probably ask, "is there a good book that talks about so-and-so".  Even though I am an OO, there are EO books that are recommended on our side, supplemented by OO books as well to explain our stance on particular issues.  His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware has gained a lot of fame in OO circles for his books on the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox faith.
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« Reply #41 on: April 01, 2014, 05:00:04 PM »

So far in my research, I find the Catholic position to be a the most compelling, mostly because they have a well-defined, final authority on who says what the Church should teach (i.e. the Magisterium and the Pope). As far as Church History goes, I've only read two Church History books, both written by Protestants, and I only thoroughly read the writings of the Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, and Shepherd of Hermas.

My only advice if you find the papal authority as a compelling evidence for the Catholic Church, take the dogma and apply it to history and see if Christ protected the church according to their view and dogma about the Pope. But there was a broader sense to authority, decision making in the councils and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the church.

Fixed quote tags for you.

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« Reply #42 on: April 01, 2014, 05:01:29 PM »

So far in my research, I find the Catholic position to be a the most compelling, mostly because they have a well-defined, final authority on who says what the Church should teach (i.e. the Magisterium and the Pope). As far as Church History goes, I've only read two Church History books, both written by Protestants, and I only thoroughly read the writings of the Apostolic Fathers: Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, and Shepherd of Hermas.

My only advice if you find the papal authority as a compelling evidence for the Catholic Church, take the dogma and apply it to history and see if Christ protected the church according to their view and dogma about the Pope. But there was a broader sense to authority, decision making in the councils and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the church.
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« Reply #43 on: April 01, 2014, 05:03:03 PM »

Please help me moderator with my last post ;P It took the quote and my text as the same >.<
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« Reply #44 on: April 01, 2014, 05:16:56 PM »

Please help me moderator with my last post ;P It took the quote and my text as the same >.<

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