EO or RC. How can a Protestant decide?

This became one of the many discussions which sort of derailed a thread and I’m really interested in understanding this.

I’m an Evangelical Christian, I belong to no Apostolic Faith, whether it be Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican or whoever else claims to be #1 among the oldest Christian groups.

I often see the argument posed here that I have no true authority to interpret Scripture, nor does my Pastor. The argument is as follows; “If your Pastor has one interpretation and another Pastor has a different interpretation how can the Holy Spirit guide you to your Pastor’s interpretation and lead another to believe the other interpretation is truth?” I often reply that among Evangelicals our interpretations are extremely close but not always the exact same.

Some differences among Evangelicals are, eternal security, contraception, old earth/new earth and there could be more but most of them are small. But the question remains, “who’s Holy Spirit is right?” I trust God to guide me, I pray, keep an open mind and try to do His will, as does someone who is in another Church with another interpretation.

Now, this seems like a tough argument to address until we look at the tradition of the Catholic Church. There is the RC with its many, many members. The EO in second place, the Copts who believe that Mark personally founded their Church, and many Orthodox branches that are similar to the RC but still not the one true Church.

So for someone like myself, how can I be sure which Church to join? Perhaps it’s the persecuted Copts that I shall join, or perhaps the EO, perhaps the RC? I can pray and trust the Holy Spirit and I may be led to the RC while another is led to the EO. So what’s the difference? One of them is wrong, so how is this argument any different?

Hi dronald. I like this question a lot. To be fair on this thread, don’t you think the answers should only be given in terms and intellect of say 80 IQ or lower? I think it is only fair to those like myself who will at some point in time rely on someone to translate the outcome. Just my opinion.


Intellect is irrelevant, C.S. Lewis and William Lane Craig I’m sure knew what they were talking about and led many to Christ. Likewise Scott Hahn or many Orthodox Priests leading other intellects.

It would be false to say that all intelligent people who research extensively while praying will be lead to Religion. RC, EO, Baptist, whatever.

Deciding between the three you list can be tough, but ask yourself this objectively: which church appears to have the stronger claim to all four marks (One, Holy, Apostolic, and “Catholic” meaning universal and everywhere)? Which church seems to have the clearest understanding of the role of Peter as the first leader as exhibited in scripture such as his authority shown at the Council of Jerusalem? Which church has a continuing line of unbroken leadership from Peter on down to today? While the orthodox come very close and take exception on the understanding of the seat of Peter (first among equals, head of the Church, or other understanding), it is clear which Church meets these tests most persuasively.

Donald, this is a good question. This is purely my thoughts but I would suggest you attend Mass with the Latin Rite (RCC) the EO, or even an EO that is in communion with the RCC (Byzantine CC) perhaps. Watch, listen, PRAY. Let go of preconceived notions and let the Holy Spirit guide you.

In truth, to me the EO and RCC have so very much in common and very little that separates us. Both have apostolic tradition and succession. So whatever side of the boat you get out on, you are going to get just as wet. :slight_smile:

But then I’m relying on myself based on my own interpretation of Scripture. “Upon this rock” could refer to the statement of Faith or Peter himself, how can I trust either Church’s interpretation?

Regardless I have to trust my own interpretation and my own logic, which I have done in order to become the Evangelical I am now. In order for this logic to bring me to my beliefs is what Catholics find appalling, however you’re asking me to use the same standard in order to come to the conclusion of Rome>East.

As for your Universal question, I would say that the EO’s everlasting, even in the face of persistent persecution could be evidence that they’ve maintained the true Faith. The RC’s have not been oppressed in a long time so it makes sense that there’s so many. But that’s absent from the point, my point is that even what I just stated is human reasoning and we as humans need an authority to say whether what I said is true or false.

I have done so, and Christ brought me back to my Church I believe. But He couldn’t have if one of those two Church’s is correct?

I don’t want to derail your thread right out of the gate but I certainly was not worrying about the intellect. I was more worrying about the non-intellect.

Once you get to the end of this thread, and assuming you have come to some sort of revelation, think of how a non-intellect can come to the same conclusion.


So are you saying that the RCC or the EO Churches are wrong then? just trying to understand what you are getting at.

Another question, did you leave the many misrepresentations of the Catholic faith and falsehoods at the door step. Are you sure that the Holy Spirit lead you back or was it another voice you heard?

My concern is with the argument that Protestants have no authority and have to rely on their own interpretation (or that of their Pastors) when in reality we pray, study, and do God’s will and thus end up in our Church. The same can be with the RC/EO claiming to be the one true authority to interpret Scripture

The reason I went to Mass and signed up for the RCIA was because I was getting annoyed with the misrepresentations. I decided that perhaps Evangelicals were misguided about all things as some were about many things.

It was no voice in my ear, it was that I kept praying about it and God keeps opening doors away from the CC.

Donald I think in the end “You” are going to have to trust your heart or gut as to where you have to be. There is always going to be these points and counter points until we are all reunited. That being said those who are born into a particular faith find it extremely hard to let go of it. That’s just human nature and it is sad that the CC could not have reformed the Church from within, but men are sinners and it is what happened. We can’t un-ring the bell. As has been posted many times here on CAF:

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”

As for the voice in your ear, that is not where I was going. Sometimes the Holy Spirit may speak to us in a whisper and because of all the commotion we really do not hear.

Of course that’s what I do, it’s what we all do.

And for the record I was brought up in a non-Christian home.

Both Churches claim that the faith has been deposited once and for all by the Apostles, being led by the Holy Spirit to all truth.

But the Orthodox Church does not seem to accept doctrinal development as much as the Catholic Church.

In my personal search, that seems to be the biggest issue: Staying as close to the faith that had been delivered or having spiritual knowledge being continually expounded upon by the Church.

“It’s completely foreign to the Apostolic faith and the early Church fathers” vs. “Things are being revealed throughout history for the benefit and salvation of humanity.”

Forgive me if I oversimplify or make erroneous assertions.

As for me, I was a Southern Baptist who converted to Catholicism. Thanks be to God that I found my way to the CC.

Matthew 16:18 is but one of numerous verses that show that Peter was prime among his brothers. Thus, it is immaterial if Christ meant Peter or his confession. The Church is not founded on a single verse, such as Romans 3:28, or upon many verses. It is founded on Jesus Christ, the totality of the scriptures, the successors of the Apostles, as guided by the Holy Spirit-lead Magisterium.

As to the RC and EO, they are officially in schism and the Holy Spirit is working on reconciliation. It is the right thing to do, and it will be necessary as the world turns increasingly against the Church.

I would be interested in you sharing the other numerous verses.

There are a number of verses that imply his primacy. And it is clear that the early Church held his see in Rome as having primacy. No where, however, does scripture or the early councils mention supremacy.

And for me, that is the issue. Which is right; the one see alone who claims supremacy, or the other sees in unity who do not.


The question you need to ask is which one of them is the closest to being right. The closest to following Christian precepts and traditions.

I never had any exposure to the EO, so that wasn’t part of my decision making process when I became a Catholic. Since I come from a Western background and I wanted to join the closest thing to the original church that I could find, the RCC made sense. It might not make sense for someone who has a connection to an area which had a schism with the RCC.

We tend to gravitate towards what we know and are comfortable with culturally. In my area, it seems that all the different ethnic groups has their version of the Orthodox church - the Romanians, the Albanians, the Syrians, the Copts…etc. I never noticed until I started getting serious about being a Catholic.

Ultimately, you need to visit the different churches and find out where you are the most comfortable. Don’t focus so much on the “is the RCC or EO right or wrong?” part of your problem.

Focus on the “is this where the God wants me to be?” issue. Trust your judgment and let God place you in the church where you need to be. God lets us know if you aren’t where we are supposed to be.

It took me a long time to discern whether I should become a Catholic. For most people, it doesn’t happen overnight. However, I looked at the evidence and concluded that the RCC was the most correct in its philosophy and its tradition. Intellectually, I get why I go there every Sunday, but emotionally/culturally, I’m still a newbie.

It’s not “wrong” for someone to be in a different church. As a Christian, the “wrong thing” is being in a church that doesn’t teach the entire Gospel and won’t challenge people’s ideas about what it means to be a Christian.

Hi dronald. Good, reasonable questions. While I’m neither EO or RC, you did mention my Church by name in the OP, so I hope you don’t mind me addressing some of your thoughts with thoughts of my own.

I’m going to assume that this question is asked of you of Roman Catholics. While it is not an unreasonable question in and of itself, my reply as an Orthodox Christian would probably something more like: It’s not a matter of individual pastors disagreeing; though we don’t really have this problem in the Orthodox Church, to the extent that different pastors have strengths in certain areas and weaknesses in others (they are, after all, people), all of us – bishops, clergy, laity alike – take refuge in the holy fathers of the early Church in providing the guidance and boundaries within which we may safely say “this (interpretation) is within our tradition and the historical and continuing Orthodox faith” (and maybe as a corollary, this other interpretation is not). With the fathers we teach, pray, and believe, and there are also of course different hermeneutic traditions that developed in the apostolic sees (note the plural) and other early centers of Christian learning, e.g., Alexandria had its own, highly metaphorical and allegorical way of interpreting, taught at and propagated the School of Alexandria, the first Christian catechetical in the world; Antioch had its own, which was more literal/historically-minded; Edessa had its own, highly valued in the Syriac tradition; etc.

So rather than saying “You (personally) don’t have the authority to interpret the Bible”, I would say I don’t have any authority to personally interpret the Bible, either, in that I am not possessing any such authority of my own, by I do have ~2000 years of saints and a rock solid hermeneutic tradition that they helped nurture that at least gives my Church that authority (NB: not any one man in it, be he Pope, priest, or private pontificator), provided that we follow our fathers like we need to in order to even call ourselves “Orthodox” in the first place. I hope this distinction makes sense, because it is different than both the Protestant and RC ways of looking at authority and interpretation (the RC magisterium has no analogue in the Orthodox Church; our bishops and priests have whatever kind of authority they do by virtue of their adherence to the apostolic Orthodox faith, not by their membership in a given governing body; our governing bodies are likewise accountable to that same faith).

Some differences among Evangelicals are, eternal security, contraception, old earth/new earth and there could be more but most of them are small. But the question remains, “who’s Holy Spirit is right?” I trust God to guide me, I pray, keep an open mind and try to do His will, as does someone who is in another Church with another interpretation.

That is a good question to ask, and a good attitude to maintain.

Now, this seems like a tough argument to address until we look at the tradition of the Catholic Church. There is the RC with its many, many members. The EO in second place, the Copts who believe that Mark personally founded their Church, and many Orthodox branches that are similar to the RC but still not the one true Church.

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