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Is Orthodoxy the only true Christianity?

Irened

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Irened

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@melkite I feel for you, I see your struggle and lack of definitive peace. I pray the Lord shows you way where you can find 100% peace.
 

J Michael

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It's a little more complicated than that for me, at least. The Catholic Church still does teach that the fullness of truth exists within it. Whatever is salvific in other churches, it sees you as having it through the Catholic Church, not of yourselves. So for you, if you've never been Catholic, you are united to the Catholic Church by what the Orthodox Church retains from its connection to the Catholic Church. If I, however, having been united to the Catholic Church, separate myself from it and join the Orthodox Church, I am a schismatic and stand condemned. It's sort of an economia for you, acriveia for me.

I've come at the Pascal's Wager from the opposite side. The Catholic Church, at least traditionally, but still, just less explicitly, teaches that one must be Catholic to be saved. Orthodoxy doesn't seem to have a clear answer, but the more common opinion I've seen is that God can save whom he will and that one is not necessarily bound to be a formal member of the Orthodox Church in order to be saved. It sounds like the Orthodox position, in actuality, is probably very similar to what I stated above about the Catholic position. For me, I feel like it's safer for me to stay Catholic, if I'm thinking about it along these lines. If I leave, I'm condemned, but since I've never been Orthodox, your church doesn't definitively condemn me for not joining.
I think I pretty much agree with that.

With respect to your last sentence, there are probably any number of Orthodox Christians who would argue that just knowing about Orthodoxy, certainly to the extent that you (and I) do, and choosing not to join it, or even at least equivocating about it, is enough to "condemn" you. Mind you, there are many Catholics who think/say the same about Orthodox and others. In other words, you don't have "ignorance" as a "get out of jail free" (sort of) card. @Irened just alluded to that above.

I like what @Ainnir said above,
God is also infinitely merciful. It’s really not up to us to settle the score beforehand. We’re just supposed to love and follow Him. The Church teaches us how.
And so many of us are often all too quick to "settle the score beforehand", to no one's benefit, really.

I've been (and probably will continue to be) condemned and vilified by both Catholics and Orthodox for entertaining the view that both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are "The Church", and are both right and wrong, each in different ways (which I'm really too ignorant to expound on) and to different and varying degrees. To quote someone from whom I've sought some counsel about all of this, "My faith isn’t destroyed by the fact that the institutional church isn’t perfect and never was." (Though that came very close to happening on more than one occasion.)

Whether we are Orthodox or Catholic, we all need trusted and faithful orthodox shepherds to lead us on the path to salvation.
 

melkite

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With respect to your last sentence, there are probably any number of Orthodox Christians who would argue that just knowing about Orthodoxy, certainly to the extent that you (and I) do, and choosing not to join it, or even at least equivocating about it, is enough to "condemn" you. Mind you, there are many Catholics who think/say the same about Orthodox and others. In other words, you don't have "ignorance" as a "get out of jail free" (sort of) card. @Irened just alluded to that above.
You know, I wondered about that as I was writing it. I was an Orthodox catechumen at one time. Does that mean I joined "just enough" to now be condemned? But I feel pretty at peace about it all. God knows my heart. If he is truly merciful, then he knows I stayed out because I'm just not sure, not because I know the truth but resisted it. If God is going to send me to hell over not willing to play a game of chance, knowing I will still go to hell if I guess wrongly, then hell is the place for me. I wouldn't want to spend one second in the presence of a God that fickle, anyway.
 

J Michael

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He knows exactly what within your heart led you to write that:
Do I detect a teeny weeny note of judgmentalism there? Please tell me I'm misunderstanding you.

Would YOU want to spend any time in the presence of a fickle God?
 

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Hebrews 11:6
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6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Having doubts of God’s goodness is a great hindrance in seeking Him.
 

J Michael

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Hebrews 11:6
KJV
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Having doubts of God’s goodness is a great hindrance in seeking Him.
True, but sometimes our experiences in life can be a hindrance to knowing His goodness beyond all doubt. Learning to trust can be a long and painful process, moreso for some than others, esp. when it comes to a God Who is pretty much invisible to us because we do not yet have "eyes to see" or "ears to hear".
 

Ainnir

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Yes. But we need trusted Orthodox shepherds who will lead us on the right path.
Of course. That also is a synergy, though. They’re trusted, not infallible. Trust is earned and can be broken, and it should be placed first in God. Our clergy are shepherds only insofar as they imitate the Good Shepherd. The best ones will readily tell you they fall short.
 

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That's true. He knows I despise false gods.
God despises judgment against him. David had a lot of really hard questions for God, but he also said: "Blessed are you, o Lord, teach me your statutes."

Do I detect a teeny weeny note of judgmentalism there? Please tell me I'm misunderstanding you.
What @melkite said is bad, but he may have written it for any number of reasons from hyperbole to heresy. I did form an immediate opinion about it (neither hyperbole nor heresy), but I realised it was judgmental and didn't stay there. So I wrote an objective suggestion for reflection rather than an opinion about him.

Sure, there may be a hint of judgment, but it doesn't change what I wrote, because every word we speak ultimately comes from the heart. Heart and intellect are inseparable, as an image of the Father and the Son.

Would YOU want to spend any time in the presence of a fickle God?
"Fickle God" is necessarily self-contradictory.
 
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biro

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Irene said:
It seems like Fr. Peter is more in line with traditional non-ecumenical, non-WCC Orthodoxy which I personally feel is the safest place to be in Orthodoxy.
They seem to still be members of the WCC.

 

melkite

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"Fickle God" is necessarily self-contradictory.
I agree. I don't actually think God is fickle. I was judging a false god in a hypothetical scenario where that god turned out to be true.
 

noahzarc1

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I'm not solidly convinced of this yet, and I'm not well read enough to be certain. But what I've read from the fathers, my impression is that, while they did not accept papal supremacy, many believed it was necessary to be in communion with Rome in order to be part of the Church. If this is true, then it's not possible for the EO to be the true church.
I am not convinced the earlier popes would have concurred with the language of Vatican I Pastor Aeternus delineated in proclaiming the dogma of papal infallibility. I don't know if they thought in terms of a supremacy as it was ultimately proclaimed by 1870. It does not appear the earlier popes in and around the 4th and 5th century conceived of this type of a supremacy concept as it was espoused at Vatican I either. Had there never been a schism, you may have never seen a pope put pen to paper to write such a document; to wit, the counsel had begun dispersing due to the threat of war when the final vote was taken, and the definition was proclaimed. It's questionable whether Pope Francis himself believes he is endowed with such a charism, or that the Papacy for that matter holds such a power. In my experience, those who advocate for papal infallibility, advocate for the ideal of what Pastor Aeternus declared, but have a tough time seeing it in actuality from any current or former pope, particularly since Vatican II.

It appears highly likely Pope Paul VI dogmatically declared Vatican II sealed with the charism of infallibility. All sorts of attempts have been made to call it a teaching council and all other explanations due to the fact it is widely understood now, 60 years hence, Vatican II fundamentally changed the Catholic Church, its teachings (some in strict contradistinction to long established Catholic dogmas), to include changing the mass. One cannot sit on the fence about these things. With the "necessity" of having an infallible head of the Catholic church also comes with it the acceptance the Pope has and can change the whole of the Catholic faith. You don't have to believe me on these topics, just listen to the traditionalists within Rome to hear their calls and cries since 1965 on these matters.
 

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I am not convinced the earlier popes would have concurred with the language of Vatican I Pastor Aeternus delineated in proclaiming the dogma of papal infallibility. I don't know if they thought in terms of a supremacy as it was ultimately proclaimed by 1870.
Pope Gregory VII? He made some pretty dramatic and radical claims about the papacy, well before VI.

It appears highly likely Pope Paul VI dogmatically declared Vatican II sealed with the charism of infallibility.
"It appears highly likely..." Am I naive in thinking that Pope Paul VI either did or did not declare VII "sealed with the charism of infallibility"? There seems to be some dispute about that. If he did there should be some document (you know how very much the Vatican loves documents!) that indicates that. Do you know of one?
 

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If I, however, having been united to the Catholic Church, separate myself from it and join the Orthodox Church, I am a schismatic and stand condemned. It's sort of an economia for you, acriveia for me.
The remarks were "specifically for those who are down to either RC or EO but not sure"; if someone supposes they will go to hell outside of the papal fold their applicability would be reduced zero.

The Catholic Church, at least traditionally, but still, just less explicitly, teaches that one must be Catholic to be saved.
It seems to me the manner which the Vatican currently understands that seems to render concerns about salvation for anyone outside logically null.

A. No salvation outside the Church or Rome was solemnly defined at the Council of Florence, 1442 and at least six other times by Roman Catholic popes.
B. Vatican II/ Lumen Gentium, Section 16 All men of good will can attain to salvation.[1]
C. Analysis. "What has happened here? Not much, some Catholic theologians soothingly claim, only a new 'interpretation' of the infallible ancient dogma: 'Church' no longer means as at Florence, 'the holy Roman Church,' but 'properly speaking,' 'rightly understood,' 'fundamentally,' all men of good will who all 'somehow' belong to the Church. But it is not the whole of good-willed humanity thus swept with an elegant gesture across the paper-thin bridge of a theological fabrication into the back door of the 'holy Roman Church,' leaving no one of good will 'outside.' The formula 'no salvation outside the Church' is then as true as ever, because all in fact are in the church from the very beginning; not as formal, but as 'anonymous' Christians or-as we ought logically to say- 'anonymous Roman Catholics.'" Fr. Hans Kung, OBC, p. 98

Am I naive in thinking that Pope Paul VI either did or did not declare VII "sealed with the charism of infallibility"?
That's a fair question. If the reinterpretation by Vatican II above is a false view of the Catholic dogma "no salvation outside the Catholic Church" one has to wonder whether that particular falsehood, which no Orthodox can accept, is completely off the reservation (Christianity) and as good an indication of a trajectory mired in heresy as anything that has ever proceeded from Rome.


______________________
[1]
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium? https://www.vatican.va/archive/hist...s/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

I. A Relevant Excerpt:
15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.
16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(125) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(126) But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(20*) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature",(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.
 
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noahzarc1

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Pope Gregory VII? He made some pretty dramatic and radical claims about the papacy, well before VI.
He is a post schism pope. I was referencing around 4th-5th century. I am not saying there were not claims of supremacy, but that I don't believe they had in mind what was promulgated by 1870.

"It appears highly likely..." Am I naive in thinking that Pope Paul VI either did or did not declare VII "sealed with the charism of infallibility"? There seems to be some dispute about that. If he did there should be some document (you know how very much the Vatican loves documents!) that indicates that. Do you know of one?
Any document of Vatican II would suffice. For example, Lumen Gentium, "Each and all these items which are set forth in this dogmatic Constitution have met with the approval of the Council Fathers. And We by the apostolic power given Us by Christ together with the Venerable Fathers in the Holy Spirit, approve, decree and establish it and command that what has thus been decided in the Council be promulgated for the glory of God."

Vatican II is part of the universal ordinary magisterium. Catholics are bound to adhere to it. The magisterium approving, decreeing, establishing and commanding are succinct in the declaration of infallibility, but I am not part of the magisterium, so I am nothing more than a layman like the apologists on both sides of the aisle who have done quite a bit of gymnastics on what these terms mean in relation to the declarations of Pastor Aeternus in 1870. Vatican I created more confusion and not less.
 

RaphaCam

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I'm not solidly convinced of this yet, and I'm not well read enough to be certain. But what I've read from the fathers, my impression is that, while they did not accept papal supremacy, many believed it was necessary to be in communion with Rome in order to be part of the Church. If this is true, then it's not possible for the EO to be the true church.
It definitely looks like that if one's looking for answers to this question through pericopes, almost regardless of their previous opinion on the matter. However, once you drop the pericopes and look at the full texts being quoted, you'll see the Fathers are almost invariably just appealing to Rome in the middle of many other arguments pointing towards the defence of a point that has nothing to do with papal supremacy. These are fathers that generally engaged in polemics through elaborate rhetorics, and they would say anything sincere to get their point across. The Church Fathers generally didn't think of speech in the same terms as the classical philosophers, but rather in the same terms as the sophists.

And why did they appeal so much to Rome? Rome wasn't only the primus inter pares, it was also far less affected by imperial politics (although urban politics never ceased to be a big deal) and (partly as a consequence) had a more peaceful succession of bishops than the Tetrarchy over history. This ended after Rome got caught in the power struggles between Franks and Lombards. Over time, Roman urban politics started to mirror geopolitical struggles, and eventually the Papacy had many confusing moments that resembled the older times of the Tetrarchy while the latter became very stable.

This is why the Council of Jassy recognised Rome had a special place, but grown out of its own historical moment.
 

Bizzlebin

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Each ancient high church/communion claims it's the only true one, so the Orthodox say yes, they are the only true Christianity.
Yep. The idea that there even is a big-"""O""" Eastern Orthodox Church is a fiction. Sometimes, that fiction is useful, but usually it is not. There are local Churches which are instantiations of the One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church. Whether a specific local Church (using "EO" liturgics or not) is partaking of the Church is another question entirely.
 

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Aren't we joined to Christ in the Holy Sacraments? And if those sacraments are found only in His Eastern Orthodox church, how is any other group claiming to be Christian joined to Christ and a Christian? I know not all Orthodox will be saved but that can't mean that a non Orthodox can be? Didn't the eunich need to be baptized into His Church, and what of Cornelius? Many Orthodox Saints say explicitly that there is no salvation outside of the EO church and that even those of other faiths that are martyred for following Christ die in vain since they preach a false gospel and aren't joined to Christ through His church. I'm not trying to sound cold, I wish all to be saved, but this is what the church teaches. It wasn't easy for me to accept but we must speak the truth here.
Of course we are united to Christ via sacraments, but what is a sacrament? Based on some off-topic discussion in another thread, there is clearly difference of opinion about what that means here. And would we say the Incarnation (ie, the Annunciation) was a sacrament? It truly did unite us to Jesus Christ. This isn't a simple question.

I think you'll find precious few pre-Reformation sources that say the EO "Church" (which is technically a fiction) is the Church, though plenty of local Churches which follow EO praxis may be considered part of the Church. And some of the earlier post-Reformation sources we have, like the Sigillon of 1583, was forged by Athonite monks much later. Don't forget about this thread: http://forums.orthodoxchristianity.net/threads/eastern-orthodox-church.79575/ ; IDing the Church solely with the EO is a denial of all our saints Western, Northern, Sourthern, and otherwise—who are orthodox but may have had little to no inkling of "Eastern" liturgics.
 

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Regarding the late Met. Kallistos quote, I found an informative transcript of a Fr. Peter Heers' talk which brings up that very quote and shows it to be quite un-Orthodox and actually an ecumenical inversion of a statement made by St. Irenaeus in which the Saint affirms that the EO Church has the Holy Spirit!

It seems that the idea of not knowing where the church "isn't" was initially put out there by the Catholics during Vatican II!

You will find it mentioned in the section titled:

"2. Recognition of the “Ecclesiality” of Heterodox Confessions"

I don't agree with Met Kallistos here, but I cannot agree with Pr Peter, either, who is not actually opposing Met Kallistos so much as going further in the same extreme direction. Both miss it. And, generally speaking (which is dangerous), I'd take Met Kallistos's writings (faults and all) as more authoritative any day of the week vs Pr Peter's writings.

As to the quote, we can only know the Church through Jesus Christ. The more we partake of Christ, the more we see the Church. And note that I wrote the word "see": just as with the Kingdom (cf John: 3.3), it is not merely a problem with people seeing the Church and disagreeing, but not even being able to perceive it. As Jesus Christ is both human and divine, so the Church has a structure, and order, and a life that cannot be limited to the visible, the measurable, and the created. So not only do we know where the Church is and where it is not to the degree that we have the Holy Spirit, but angry screeds about ecumenism and history are more reflective of the inability to even reach the state of purification, not the attainment of theoria or of theosis.

And though this was in a later post, note that the attack on St Francis Of Assisi is *not* by St Seraphim Of Platina.
 

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Of course we are united to Christ via sacraments, but what is a sacrament? Based on some off-topic discussion in another thread, there is clearly difference of opinion about what that means here. And would we say the Incarnation (ie, the Annunciation) was a sacrament? It truly did unite us to Jesus Christ. This isn't a simple question.

I think you'll find precious few pre-Reformation sources that say the EO "Church" (which is technically a fiction) is the Church, though plenty of local Churches which follow EO praxis may be considered part of the Church. And some of the earlier post-Reformation sources we have, like the Sigillon of 1583, was forged by Athonite monks much later. Don't forget about this thread: http://forums.orthodoxchristianity.net/threads/eastern-orthodox-church.79575/ ; IDing the Church solely with the EO is a denial of all our saints Western, Northern, Sourthern, and otherwise—who are orthodox but may have had little to no inkling of "Eastern" liturgics.
Your statement threw me for a loop. Are you saying that the Eastern Orthodox church as we currently know it is not the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church? Who are these others who are part of the church but aren't practising Eastern liturgics?
 

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Here is an excerpt from Fr. Seraphim's The Orthodox Survival Course lectures regarding Francis of Assisi:

 

Irened

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@Bizzlebin

Note: When I say EO I mean those listed here that are in communion with each other and regard themselves as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Since it's only a Wkii site, it may have informational errors. I have no clue where I would find an official list.

 

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Yep. The idea that there even is a big-"""O""" Eastern Orthodox Church is a fiction. Sometimes, that fiction is useful, but usually it is not. There are local Churches which are instantiations of the One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church. Whether a specific local Church (using "EO" liturgics or not) is partaking of the Church is another question entirely.
This is either bad ecclesiology and/or an objectively incorrect use of words. It doesn't sound consistent neither with the writings of the Church Fathers here and there, nor with the many different councils that adress this issue.

The only way I can see your statement being orthodox is if you're actually claiming "Eastern Orthodox Church" is a relative term distinct from the substantial expression "One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church", in which case I can't even understand: 1) why this distinction could or should be made; 2) how your second sentence relates to your first one.
 

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Yep. The idea that there even is a big-"""O""" Eastern Orthodox Church is a fiction. Sometimes, that fiction is useful, but usually it is not. There are local Churches which are instantiations of the One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church. Whether a specific local Church (using "EO" liturgics or not) is partaking of the Church is another question entirely.
There you go again.....It almost seems as if you actively try to befuddle people. Maybe, no...I think, definitely, an explanation of that post that is clear and simple for us befuddled and simple folks (well, me and anyone who'd like to join me in befuddlement) is in order. I know you can do it, Bizzlebin!
 
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Here is an excerpt from Fr. Seraphim's The Orthodox Survival Course lectures regarding Francis of Assisi:

I will have to look at your link more but I saw the “prelest of Francis of Asissi” ????? I am at work now will look later.
 

biro

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What is "Fr. Seraphim's Survival Course"? Did Fr. Seraphim write it himself?

Try to find out these things before you make implications.
 
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I will have to look at your link more but I saw the “prelest of Francis of Asissi” ????? I am at work now will look later.
Not meaning to quote myself but I would just as soon leave whatever I originally posted left to just dissolve.
 

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What is "Fr. Seraphim's Survival Course"? Did Fr. Seraphim write it himself?

Try to find out these things before you make implications.
There are numerous Orthodox sites online that make reference to said talks/lectures made by Fr. Seraphim Rose that were transcribed into books and also dictated into audio format by his followers.

"Transcript of a series of lectures on the "Orthodox Worldview", and the history of post-schism intellectual and cultural deviation. Fr. Seraphim Rose starts from the time of Rome's schism from the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church and details the innovative ideas that led us to the modern world of nihilistic chaos. "
 

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Yep. The idea that there even is a big-"""O""" Eastern Orthodox Church is a fiction. Sometimes, that fiction is useful, but usually it is not. There are local Churches which are instantiations of the One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church. Whether a specific local Church (using "EO" liturgics or not) is partaking of the Church is another question entirely.
Wow. You just need to stop. Your soul is at risk.
 

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J Michael said:


"It appears highly likely..." Am I naive in thinking that Pope Paul VI either did or did not declare VII "sealed with the charism of infallibility"? There seems to be some dispute about that. If he did there should be some document (you know how very much the Vatican loves documents!) that indicates that. Do you know of one?
Any document of Vatican II would suffice. For example, Lumen Gentium, "Each and all these items which are set forth in this dogmatic Constitution have met with the approval of the Council Fathers. And We by the apostolic power given Us by Christ together with the Venerable Fathers in the Holy Spirit, approve, decree and establish it and command that what has thus been decided in the Council be promulgated for the glory of God."

Vatican II is part of the universal ordinary magisterium. Catholics are bound to adhere to it. The magisterium approving, decreeing, establishing and commanding are succinct in the declaration of infallibility, but I am not part of the magisterium, so I am nothing more than a layman like the apologists on both sides of the aisle who have done quite a bit of gymnastics on what these terms mean in relation to the declarations of Pastor Aeternus in 1870.
If it were a matter of supreme doctrinal authority and infallibility, shouldn't there be expressions like "teach and define," not just "decree and command"?

Vatican I created more confusion and not less.
Indeed.
 

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If it were a matter of supreme doctrinal authority and infallibility, shouldn't there be expressions like "teach and define," not just "decree and command"?
You'd think so, wouldn't you? The whole question of infallibility in the Roman Church is something of a quagmire, imo.
 

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I'm currently reading through these posts with much interest. I've only read the first page so far but wanted to give my thoughts and ask a question(s).

I went back and forth between traditional Catholicism and Orthodoxy a couple times and now am in a conservative Reformed denomination for the last several years. My attitude and thinking up into my mid 30s was that either Rome or Orthodoxy were the true church and everyone else was damned. I also attributed bad faith and motives to all who couldn't see the obvious truth that the communion I happened to be in at the time was the true one.

I have met true and genuine Christians everywhere I have been, and also hypocrites. I now know that most people are doing the best they can with the information they have, and their ability to interpret that information. What is obvious to one is not at all obvious to another. The believers in my current congregation love the Lord and they take His precepts seriously. However, being a conservative denomination, "papists" and by extension, Orthodox are most likely damned.

However I feel myself disillusioned. I feel myself being pulled back to Orthodoxy for several reasons. I find Reformed worship uninspiring. My "ethos" simply doesn't fit with extemporaneous prayers. My internal life is suffering. Part of me wonders if I had to make this journey to put myself in other situations which I previously condemned so that I could see for myself what was there and the people who were there. I've almost lost the "One True Church" mentality and find myself thinking that, while one Communion may have the best claim to the historical pedigree of the "Church", that all who truly love and trust Christ for their salvation and are living according to Gospel precepts are also part of that Church.

My concern and question primarily surrounds the church we find in the New Testament. Put bluntly, I simply don't see the Eastern Orthodox Church in the pages of the Acts of the Apostles or the epistles. What I see is a simple church with a simple Gospel Faith and simple Gospel worship. Obviously it's true that in time the Reformed churches are much younger than the EO or RC, the worship there seems to be what is found in the NT. Can anyone make the argument that St. Paul would recognize an Orthodox church as the church and Faith he knew rather than a Reformed Presbyterian church?

Blessings and prayers.
 

Ainnir

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See, it wasn't until I found Orthodoxy that I found the Church I saw in the New Testament. But then I never cared about externals. 🤷‍♀️
 

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See, it wasn't until I found Orthodoxy that I found the Church I saw in the New Testament. But then I never cared about externals. 🤷‍♀️
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

My point being, should one expect the "True Church" to look at least somewhat like what we find in Acts or the Epistles? A Reformed service consists in psalm singing, prayer, scripture reading, confession of sin, and a sermon. I know that all of these elements are present in the Divine Liturgy, but the manner in which these are constructed is quite different between the two. I see nothing of icons, vestments, incense or a sacerdotal priesthood in the pages of the NT. Why does a Communion which didn't exist until the 16th century appear to have more in common with the worship of the Apostolic age if the Orthodox (or Catholic) church is the Apostolic Church?

Now it's true that soon after the Apostolic Age the Liturgy seems to quickly take form and is definitely centered on the Eucharist. Most knowledgeable Protestants admit as much. But is this a legitimate development? What standard do we have to say when Liturgical Development has reached its zenith and is no longer permitted to develop? Is the New Testament account of worship descriptive or prescriptive? Both?
 

Ainnir

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Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

My point being, should one expect the "True Church" to look at least somewhat like what we find in Acts or the Epistles? A Reformed service consists in psalm singing, prayer, scripture reading, confession of sin, and a sermon. I know that all of these elements are present in the Divine Liturgy, but the manner in which these are constructed is quite different between the two. I see nothing of icons, vestments, incense or a sacerdotal priesthood in the pages of the NT. Why does a Communion which didn't exist until the 16th century appear to have more in common with the worship of the Apostolic age if the Orthodox (or Catholic) church is the Apostolic Church?

Now it's true that soon after the Apostolic Age the Liturgy seems to quickly take form and is definitely centered on the Eucharist. Most knowledgeable Protestants admit as much. But is this a legitimate development? What standard do we have to say when Liturgical Development has reached its zenith and is no longer permitted to develop? Is the New Testament account of worship descriptive or prescriptive? Both?
I expect, first and foremost, for the True Church to behave and teach its faithful to behave like what I find in the NT -- in completely and perfect balance (e.g., not to teach justice at the expense of mercy or vice versa). Our services repeatedly and consistently teach the Gospel and provide a pattern for prayer, worship, repentance, and thanksgiving that far exceeds and aligns with Scripture anything else I've encountered (having visited RC, Anglican, nondenominational, Presbyterian, Lutheran, free Methodist, Evangelical Reformed churches, attended United Methodist then Southern Baptist churches for over a decade each, and flirted with Messianic Judaism as well as Anabapists). All of these expressions of Christianity have a piece or a few pieces of the puzzle, but not the whole.
Do Orthodox laity (and even clergy) fall short of that? Yes. But what's taught matters. Most other churches presented shortcomings as teaching or taught an incomplete and/or imbalanced picture.

As for trying to reverse engineer the Church, consider that the Church came before the New Testament. Trying to define what the Church should physically and practically look like according to (what one understands) the New Testament (to say) is slightly backwards.
Also consider that when God directly ordained worship, it was liturgical, it had ornate images, incense, and vestments -- all of the finest materials available. And that came over a thousand years before either the Church or the NT.

Just food for thought. Your path is your own to walk. :)
 
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