Choosing between Apostolic Communions

A popular topic on this board is “Catholicism or Orthodoxy?” Protestants who come to the realization that the early Christians were sacramental, liturgical, and placed great emphasis on Apostolic succession often reach a point where they seriously consider both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. To me this is an unfair evaluation. Why is Oriental Orthodoxy left out? If I were still a Protestant, I would feel obliged to seriously consider all three communions. I don’t understand why Oriental Orthodoxy is so quickly dismissed. Certainly in the past we in the West dismissed them as “monophysite heretics”, but this is no longer true (the Catholic Church, under Pope St. John Paul, for example, signed common declarations on Christology with both the Coptic and Syriac Churches). For me it comes down to papal primacy…that’s why I’m Catholic. If I were to reject papal primacy, as understood by Catholics, I would have to very seriously evaluate both Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy because without the primacy of Rome I don’t see the Council of Chalcedon as being clear cut.

Good question. I am sure that a lot of it has to do with the fact that the majority of people that post here live in America. Oriental Orthodoxy here in the states is nearly impossible to find, unless you live in a major metro area that has a large immigrant population. Even then, most liturgies in Oriental churches are still recited in their native dialect. I think the large bulk of it has to do with that, as opposed to specific theological issues revolving around the Council of Chalcedon.

Also Eastern Catholicism and Assyrian Churches are left out.

Many Eastern Catholic Churches in the US are 2nd and 3rd Gen and use mainly English and their Liturgical language - with the native language only sparingly or sporadically.

Well the question was about apostolic communions and eastern Catholics would fall under the larger Catholic communion.

And the Assyrian Church I assume is left out since it is such a small fringe group currently unfortunately.

And for the op, I assume it’s usually a showdown between eastern orthodoxy and Catholicism since most Christians in general see Chalcedon as ecumenical.

I think I’m a lot like you, twf, in that I have come to have a great appreciation for OOxy over the years. However, I don’t really understand your post … why is it strange that some people have great esteem for Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, but not for OOxy?

Hi Peter - partly its the principle of it. It seems to be unfair to limit the discussion to “Catholics vs Orthodoxy” as most seekers seem to do. I think a lot of it is simply ignorance (as in lack of knowledge) of the Oriental tradition. We often have individuals on this board seeking “Truth” and sincerely want to know which of the Apostolic Churches was “founded by Christ” and possesses the “fullness of Truth”…it becomes a Catholic vs Orthodox debate more often than not, but in reality there are at least three major communions that have, at least historically, an equal claim to the title. Personally I became convicted to seek full communion with the Catholic Church, but that was due to my acceptance of papal primacy. If I were to reject papal primacy, I don’t know how I would decide between EO and OO…but for most it seems that rejection of papal primacy makes you EO “by default”.

If I were to feel the need to change the only possibility in my area would be Roman Catholicism. I’ve always been intrigued by the Orthodox traditions especially Greek more so because that is the only one that I’ve known about in the various areas I have lived. I’m sure there were others but I was not familiar with any of them because my focus had been my job as a Lutheran teacher, and later, physical and spiritual healing from childhood abuse.

I think one of the biggest obstacles to Orthodoxy both eastern and oriental in this country is its “ethnicness”. After leaving the RC I spent about half a year attending both a Greek and Russian church and I quickly learned that since I wasn’t Greek I would never be completely welcomed by the congregation unless I married a Greek. The Russians were far more welcoming even then the language barrier was a problem.

twf #6
We often have individuals on this board seeking “Truth” and sincerely want to know which of the Apostolic Churches was “founded by Christ” and possesses the “fullness of Truth”…it becomes a Catholic vs Orthodox debate more often than not, but in reality there are at least three major communions that have, at least historically, an equal claim to the title. Personally I became convicted to seek full communion with the Catholic Church, but that was due to my acceptance of papal primacy. If I were to reject papal primacy, I don’t know how I would decide between EO and OO

The unfortunate inability to see the obvious dissent by all Orthodox, most essentially to the Christ-established Magisterium, is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Nothing and no one can claim legitimately against the Christ, the Son of God:
For St Peter and the Apostles Christ mandated:
All four promises to Peter alone:

“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later, also to the Twelve].

Sole authority:
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

How could these commands be fulfilled if Peter or his successors could TEACH error? Do you think that the Christ lied?

Jesus warned re dissenters: “if he refuses to hear even the Church let him be like the heathen and a publican.” (Mt 18:17). St. Paul says also, “through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10).” The Church teaches even the angels! This is with the authority of Christ! St John counsels: “We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.” (1 Jn 4:6).

That rejection of Christ’s Magisterial mandate has resulted in the anti-Christ official policies by the Orthodox Churches which do not contain “the fullness of truth” – they explicitly have fallen into the grave errors of permitting divorce and remarriage, denying the reality of the Christ-given infallibility of the Pope and His supremacy, and rejecting the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. All cavalierly ignored as nonessential!

Amount of churches in the area are also an influence. I drive an hour to get to my RC church, The closest Orthodox is a Greek Orthodox 3 hours away.

I’m not sure what your experience is but I am the only asian in my parish and I stick out like a sore thumb. Even so, they were very welcoming.
If there are any negative experiences (with any church) it’s because we are sinners.

I have more experience with Greek Catholicism than with Eastern Orthodoxy; but I think that parishes are pretty much split in that regard: about half are very ethnic and about half aren’t.

As before, we agree on quite a lot.

The oddest thing about it all is that, out of people who take a “only Catholicism and Orthodoxy” approach, a great many of them based it on The Pope said so … and yet the Pope didn’t even say so. :hmmm:

What do you mean by “The Pope said so.”
:confused:

Ultimately everyone has to make their own decision if there is more than one option. You can’t depend on the words of the pope or anyone else. Geography and proximity to a church will make the choice for most people though. Oriental Orthodoxy isn’t an option for most people.

Mongo #15
You can’t depend on the words of the pope or anyone else. Geography and proximity to a church will make the choice for most people though.

That dissent is against Christ who established only His own Church on St Peter and mandated “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me.” Lk10:16. Again, Christ said, “If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen.” (Matt. 18:17). Our Lord never commanded men to obey two conflicting authorities.

The fact is that multiple authorities exist, whether you like it or not. Just because the pope says he is the successor of Peter doesn’t mean it is the case. Protestants deny it, Orthodox deny it (atleast in the sense the pope claims it). It would be great if there were no divisions and disputes within Christianity, but sadly that isn’t the case so you can’t reduce the question to obedience or disobedience of Christ. Since there is division and dispute every man must seek the truth and discern for himself where it is. It is demanded of you that you use your own mind to seek the truth. You can’t abrogate your responsibility to the pope or anyone else. You are the one who will be judged on it. There are no excuses that can justify the abrogation of your responsibility. You must decide for yourself whether the claims of Rome are true or false. If you come to the conclusion that they are true, then follow the teachings of the pope. If not, then join the Orthodox Church or some other church.

Neither of your quotes are restricted to the Church of Rome.

Mongo #17
Just because the pope says he is the successor of Peter doesn’t mean it is the case. Protestants deny it, Orthodox deny it (atleast in the sense the pope claims it). It would be great if there were no divisions and disputes within Christianity, but sadly that isn’t the case so you can’t reduce the question to obedience or disobedience of Christ.

Neither of your quotes are restricted to the Church of Rome.

Anyone claiming to be Catholic is in error when they assert blithely that anyone claiming to follow Christ is faultless in denying Christ Himself when he mandated clearly in all the Sacred Scriptures which all have:
**All four promises to Peter alone: **
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)
“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)
I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) [Later, also to the Twelve].

**Sole authority: **
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

How could these commands be fulfilled if Peter or his successors could TEACH error? Do you think that the Christ lied? So the obedience to the Pope and the Catholic Church which the Christ mandated in teaching faith and morals is required of all Catholics.

To assert that “If a man will not hear the Church, let him be as the heathen.” (Matt. 18:17) is not the prerogative of Christ’s Church is as ludicrous as evading the reality that the Orthodox harbour the grave errors of permitting divorce and remarriage, denying the reality of the Christ-given infallibility of the Pope and His supremacy, and rejecting the dogma of the Immaculate Conception against teaching by Christ through His Chief Vicar teaching His Church by infallible dogma and doctrine.

Do you realize that this thread isn’t about the specific differences between the Catholic Church and other Churches? Every one of your posts has missed the subject of the thread by a mile. The subject of the thread is concerned with how you discern the truth between different communions. More specifically it is about why Oriental Orthodoxy is generally ignored in the search for the one true church. That is most likely because most people have very little access to the Oriental Churches.

The truth is that every man must discern the truth for himself. You have chosen to abrogate your responsibility to another man and let him discern the truth for you. So be it; that is your choice, but it is no excuse for being wrong.

I don’t think Christ was a liar, only those who condemn everyone else in the name of a lie, whether that lie is concerning the bishop of Rome or something else. Just because you have been convinced of your interpretations doesn’t mean that anyone else is convinced of them. I will go where I am convinced of the truth, whether that be Rome, Constantinople, or Alexandria.

Granted I haven’t read quite 100% of the posts on this thread, but I wonder if what you’re saying there and what the OP said here:

aren’t two sides of the same coin. I.e. if someone accepts the truth of Catholicism, then they have arrived, so to speak. Otherwise the thing to do is to consider the various options that present themselves.

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