Ever join a church because it's the "most true," but you don't believe that church's claims about itself?


#1

Has anyone here ever joined a church because you believed that the church was the most true, out of all other Christian traditions, but you didn’t believe the church’s own claims about itself?

At least not fully? For example, you joined an Eastern Orthodox church but you don’t believe it’s equivalent to the “one true church.”

Or you think Catholicism is the most faithful but not infallible…

Or you accept Mormonism but don’t think it was God’s chosen re-establishment of the church… etc…


#2

Yes, definitely! When I was ceasing to be Protestant in the early 2000’s, I realized that there was a further choice to make (the historic churches). I read up on both, attended liturgies at both, and I leaned toward Catholic for a few reasons. But, I couldn’t escape the belief that EO seemed very surely to be Christ’s Church too.

My belief re the Catholic Church today is that it is the privileged vehicle/path to lead people to God, but I’m not sure it’s more privileged than Orthodoxy. In fact, it may not be. And there is plenty of truth in other religions besides Christianity. Catholicism seems to have “more” goodness, truth and beauty than other religions. And since I formed the belief some time ago that the true church subsists in both Catholic and Orthodox, then I’m fairly agnostic when it comes to Rome asserting itself as “supreme” as over against the other Sees. And yet, the Catholic Church readily admits to the Orthodox having a valid priesthood and therefore sacraments, etc. But this charititable view doesn’t always run the other direction (EO—>RC). I hope and pray for a restoration of unity, which will take compromise on both sides. I really don’t know what to make of Vat 1’s assertions about the pope and how that could possibly fit with an Orthodox viewpoint. So yeah, for me, I definitely approach the church that I’m a part of as having mostly true, good and beautiful beliefs and practices.


#3

But, I couldn’t escape the belief that EO seemed very surely to be Christ’s Church too.

And then the fact that the Eastern Orthodox is not the only alternative to the Catholic Church. There is the Assyrian Church of the East and the Oriental Orthodox, too.

They might be smaller and do not share the same 1,000 years of unity that the OC and CC do. But you still have to find a principled reason to accept one and not the other 3. I maintain it is harder to find a non-Catholic principled way of discerning the true church, if it even makes to say that. For each one — Eastern Orthodox, Assyrian, Oriental Orthodox — claims to maintain orthodoxy. But how do you discern which?

The Catholic Church gets outside the circle by saying the Petrine ministry ensures full communion and unity. But I digress… Just thought I’d point this out.


#4

No, the only church I ever joined (as opposed to being born into/ brought into by my parents) was the Catholic Church. I would not have made that step if I did not believe in all that She holds and teaches.


#5

It’s a good point, and I’m sympathetic to it–there does need to be some principle by which you would choose one over the others. Suppose, however, that you were of the opinion that Christ’s Church actually subsisted in all the ones you mentioned (and possibly others besides what you’ve mentioned), which would entail that you were in the body of Christ and living a sacramental Christian life?

And suppose, further, that truth were not the main thing you were after (although you admitted its importance), but rather you were seeking the community that fostered in yourself the deepest sense of spirituality that would grow and deepen the expression and inculcation of your faith?

And one could argue that the Catholic Church has merely taken the easier path to unity by overemphasizing the Petrine ministry, as might be argued to have been done in Vatican I. It seems a far harder thing to keep together in unity several equal Sees (even if one were considered to have the supremacy of pastoral ministry, not juridical, such as the Petrine ministry has had).


#6

Yes, I see what you are saying.

Of course, the typical Catholic like myself would maintain that these other communities are in fact apostolic, maintaining Apostolic Succession and so are genuine particular churches.

How can you be a particular church – with a real bishop linked to the apostolic age, gathered around a real Eucharist – and yet be outside the Church? You can’t. I like how @ChristMyLife puts it, that these other churches are particular Catholic Churches that have left full unity.

And there’s the crux of the issue. Did Christ want there to be a visible principle so that these various traditions CAN find a source of full communion? I think so, and in fact, many elements of these other communities have come back into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Petrine ministry provides for this.

For example, if you think you better flourish in a Byzantine community, then try the Melkites in full Catholic communion, for example. Etc.

But I pray for the day that I don’t have to choose my current Catholic parish over the small Antiochian Orthodox church next door. I hope one day we can be in full communion, so that it’ll be easier for Catholics everywhere to experience the fullness of apostolic diversity.


#7

AMEN to that!! I am grateful that the Petrine ministry has taken this need for the restoration of unity seriously in the 20th century (unitatis redintegratio and ut unum sint). Of course, the Petrine primacy is always emphasized, and I think the Orthodox can accept primacy in a few particular senses. But it seems virtually impossible to see how they would ever accept the teaching of Vat I as its currently understood by the Catholic Church. And, should not the first millennium be a guide to how the Sees should all be unified with respect to each other? Seems like it should. But, how can Vatican I fit with that model? I don’t know. It’s a shame.

At any rate, I’m totally with you on the desire for unitatis redintegratio! I pray for it regularly and if I were an academic, I think this would actually be a main area of focus for me!


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