Can Eastern Orthodox prove they’re the One True Church?
Where faith is concerned nothing can be proven.
However before I make an attempt:
Do you agree that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches were, together, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church prior to the Great Schism?
If you agree with this (and it is a teaching of your church),
then what must be proven is the nature of the Church prior to the Great Schism, i.e. was it concilliar, vs. monarchical.
If it can be shown that the Church was monarchical prior to the great schism, it stands to reason that Rome is the True Church. However if it can be shown that the Church was concilliar prior to the Great Schism, it stands to reason that the Orthodox Church is the True Church.
Do you agree with this basis?
If not, why?
Encyclical Regarding Holy Communion
Fr. Anastasios Hudson
December 5/18, 2002
E N C Y C L I C A L
To the Holy Clergy and Pious People
Of the Holy Metropolis of the Genuine Greek Orthodox
Old Calendar Church of America
Beloved Fathers and Brethren:
“May the blessings of God always be with you.”
1.The beloved Disciple of our Lord, the Evangelist St. John, writes in his First General Epistle: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard the antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (I John 2:18-19).
In other words, St. John the Theologian warns us saying: My children, now is a critical time: today’s season is full of dangers. As you have heard from the evangelical preaching, the antichrist will come. At this time, many heretics have manifested themselves; they are forerunners of the antichrist. From this we learn that our times are critical.
Heretics have separated themselves from us Christians and have left the Church. In any case, they never were a part of us. They were never TRUE members of the Church. For if indeed they were of us and TRUE members of the Church, they would have remained with us. However, they left the Church so that it might be shown to be that all of them were not of us. They were not TRUE Christians. (P. Trembelas, The New Testament with Short Interpretation, page 995).
2.The Word of God, the Gospels which contain the above-mentioned words of the Evangelist St. John, teaches us of the dangers faced by true Christians should they leave the Church of Christ. Such are heretics and various schisms.
The Franks have ever used the most cunning, deceptive, and dishonorable means to entangle the Orthodox in error and false belief, seeking to make them Franks. One of the means used by the Franks was the papal calendar that they sought to impose upon the Orthodox Church in the 16th century. However, the Orthodox Patriarchs, with three Local Synods, held in 1582, 1587 and 1592, condemned the New Calendar. The Patriarchs preached that those Orthodox who would follow it, would be cut off from the body of the Church and cease to be Orthodox.
Unfortunately, in Greece in 1924, Archbishop Chrysostomos (Papadopoulos) along with his bishops, desired to accommodate the Orthodox faithful to the errors of the Franks. The people of God, the genuine Orthodox, resisted, and thereby did a large portion of them remain faithful members of the Church of Christ, that Church of Christ being “the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic” Orthodox Church, She to Whom, by the grace of God, we genuine Orthodox Christians belong.
First, the Orthodox Christians must seek this Grace, which exists only in the Holy Mysteries, and especially the Divine Eucharist, which exist only in the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”, which is the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians, and
Second, he who wishes to receive the Grace of salvation must be a genuine member of the Orthodox Church. He must not be a heretic or a schismatic.
For this reason, the genuine Orthodox Christians are not permitted to enter the churches of heretics or schismatics to receive communion, for such is a very serious sin. The person, who does so, cuts himself off from the Orthodox Church. For this same reason, the Fathers of the Church forbid to heretics or schismatics communion of the blameless Mysteries in our Churches, since by so doing, instead of salvation, they receive “a consuming fire,” (Hebrews 12:29) that is, a fire, which burns up all those who dare to partake of it.
5.Our times are the times of the antichrist, as the Evangelist St. John tells us. The antichrist labors so that iniquity, sin, apostasy, error, and false teaching may spread throughout the world.
Ecumenism, which today has captivated many people, is the result of all this. It is the work of the antichrist and of his followers. This Ecumenism would swallow up the very last lambs of Christ, that is us, the genuine Orthodox Christians, if it could. This is why Ecumenism is a pan-heresy.
In the face of this great danger, as your Bishop and Shepherd of the Orthodox Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of America, who am charged by God to protect His flock from the heretics and schismatics who have placed themselves outside the Church, I call upon the faithful children of our Church not to enter the churches of schismatics and heretics to take communion. You should communicate only in churches that belong to our Church, which here in America are only the churches of the Holy Metropolis (GOC) of America. You should have the permission of your spiritual father, who himself should be a clergyman of our Holy Metropolis, and should have confessed and fasted correctly prior to Communion. Those who do not have an Orthodox faith and confession, that is heretics, ecumenists, false old calendarists, etc., will not be permitted to be imparted the Holy Mysteries in our churches, even as the Holy Synod of our Church has directed.
Amazing isn’t it?
The above is an example of a Greek EO Church that regards those following the New Calendar as heretics and schismatics, rather than genuinely Orthodox, and forbids its own faithful from entering those other Churches and from taking Holy Communion there.
Thus, my question is: who decides which one is the “true” Orthodox Church and which one has fallen into heresy?
Is the true (non-heretical) Church the Holy Metropolis of the Genuine Greek Orthodox Old Calendar Church of America and the other Orthodox Churches (Serbian, Russian) and communities (monks on Mount Athos) who stick with the Old Calendar? Are the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the New Calendar Greek Orthodox, the Antiochian Orthodox, OCA, and so on, all heretics, like the Holy Metropolis of the Genuine Greek Orthodox Old Calendar Church of America, ROCOR, and other Old Calendar groups of Romanian and Bulgarian Orthodox claim it?
There’s a Calendar schism going on within the EO Churches, and who decides who’s on the right side, and who’s on the wrong side of the schism?
Shouldn’t this question be in either the Traditional or the Eastern Catholic sub-forum?
It is determined the same way it is in the Catholic Church.
There are several men who claim to be pope at present, how do you tell which one is the true Roman Catholic Church?
Simple, it is the one that actually has the chain of legitimacy.
Same way in Orthodoxy. A Bishop who disagrees with his Holy Synod and decides to go off and claim to be the True Church, is no longer an Orthodox Bishop, as is the case with the Old Calendarists.
It is neither about Traditional Catholicism or Eastern Catholicism. At one time, so the legend goes, Orthodox and Eastern Catholic threads were together in an Eastern Christian subforum, but those days are gone, and the mods like us to come here.
If the EOC is the One True Church, the question still remains: are the Old Calendar EO Churches the One True Church, or, are the New Calendar Churches the One True Church?
Is the Holy Metropolis of the Genuine Greek Orthodox Old Calendar Church of America part of the One True Church, or not?
And who decides? On what basis will one decide?
As far as the Holy Metropolis of the Genuine Greek Orthodox Old Calendar Church of America is concerned, it clearly rejects communion with the New Calendar Churches. Same thing with ROCOR and other Old Calendar groups.
Honesty I don’t have an answer to your questions. Although from your last post it can really be determined that the Orthodox view us as heretical since Rome left Holy Orthodoxy. So from their point of view everything we have is simply false in terms of our sacraments and so on.
It sure is interesting for sure.
Thanks for the answer. On the same logical basis, would the EOC consider Saint Josaphat Kuncevyc and the Holy Synod of Brest still a part of the True Church, since the Holy Synod of Brest decided to reunite with the Catholic Church?
I would add the case of the Russian Metropolia under Metropolitan Isidore - there was no such thing as a Holy Synod at that time, however the Russian Bishops, lead by Metropolitan Isidore, agreed to the Union of Florence. Thus, are they still part of the True Church or not?
When Metropolitan Isidore returned from Florence, the Tsar threw him into jail, and the Tsar invented this new system of “Holy Synod”. However, before the Tsar ever got to invent the “Holy Synod”, Metropolitan Isidore and the delegation of Russian Bishops were the accepted leaders of the Russian EOC, and they decided in Florence to reunite with the Catholic Church.
From this vantage point, who is the True Church? Is it Metropolitan Isidore and the other delegates to Florence, or is it the Holy Synod invented and appointed by the Russian Tsar, after he threw Metropolitan Isidore into jail?
They also officially reunited with us at Council of Florence, too.
HOWEVER, having been taught centuries of hatred of the Papacy and of the Catholic Church, most of the priests and people in the East rejected the Council of Florence’s
reunion agreement, and the schism continued.
In 1960s, the Roman Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople,
the ONLY TWO MEN WITH THE RIGHT TO DO SO,
REMOVED and CONSIGNED TO OBLIVION, the mutual Excommunications of 1041 A.D., which caused the official schism in the first place.
So, the proper authorities of both communions removed the mutual excommunications.
We Catholics no longer regard the Eastern Orthodox as excommunicated.
Can they prove that they are the true church? Only by ignoring many, many teachings of many of the church’s Sainted early Fathers regarding the papacy. And they, if scholarly, also know that Purgatory is not a roman Papal invention, either, it was widely taught early on. But the terms in the early church were never clearly defined by the theologians of both east and west, regarding this purification, and hence their strong disagreement with it today, despite the fact that it was held by some of the greatest saints of the Undivided Early Church for SEVERAL CENTURIES before the division ever took place.
What CAN the orthodox prove? They can PROVE:
- they have VALID apostolic succession of their bishops and priests.
- they have VALID sacraments, ALL SEVEN OF THEM.
- all of their basic doctrines stem from early church teachings and councils.
This does not mean that doctrinal development, as many of their theologians assert,
is an illegitimate concept or that even a point in a creed cannot be more precisely clarified
(their basis for rejecting the filioque clause is that is not specified in the original Nicene Creed, which states that the Spirit “proceeds from the Father.” But this is faulty logic, for the creed does not say, “who proceeds ONLY from the Father” — that would prove their position conclusively).
Because the Orthodox Churches are so very catholic, in all their basic Orders, sacraments, beliefs and practices, they were horrified and outraged in the 16th century,
when the “Reformers” of the protestant revolt sent emissaries to their patriarchs, urging them - the orthodox!! - to join the Reformation, which they quickly and loudly denounced
as a HERESY (to their great credit, God bless them for it).
I have yet another problem Holy Synod-wise. The Holy Synod of ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) decided that Moscow Patriarch (MP) Sergius has fallen into the Bolshevik heresy in 1927, thus the Moscow Patriarchate ceased to be Orthodox. Then, and ever since, ROCOR operated its own Holy Synod. ROCOR priests forbade their faithful to present themselves for Holy Communion in New Calendar (Greek, Antiochian, etc) EO Churches, they forbade them both before and after ROCOR’s 2006 reunion with the MP, and I trust that ROCOR’s priests acted and continue to act according to the official guidelines of ROCOR’s Holy Synod.
Thus, my question is this: is ROCOR part of the True Church, according to those New Calendar EO Churches in which ROCOR’s faithful are forbidden, by ROCOR’s priests, to partake in Holy Communion?
I will add that ROCOR does NOT believe that New Calendar Churches, as well as churches that have pews to sit in, and musical instruments (organs etc) other than the human voice, are part of the True Church.
Please remember to continue to be charitable to our Orthodox brothers and sisters, and their rich Church history, we we share in part with them.
Re-reading this Encyclical by the Holy Metropolis of the Genuine Greek Orthodox Old Calendar Church of America, I realize that they are acting in obedience to their own Holy Synod’s directions.
So, my question is, can a New Calendar EO Church say that the Holy Synod of the Holy Metropolis of the Genuine Greek Orthodox Old Calendar Church of America is somehow illegitimate? Who decides in the EOC, which particular Holy Synod is part of the True Church, and conversely, which Holy Synod is heretic/illegitimate?
I answered that question already.
A Holy Synod is the governing body of a Church. The Synod held at Brest was a synod of an autonomous church. Only an autocephalous church could make such a decision. So no, they were illegitimate.