Feeling stuck between churches

I’ve told my story before, so I won’t bore y’all with another rehashing of my religious background. Instead, this time, I want to ask for advice one more time.

At this point, I am going through confirmation in the Episcopal Church, which will end in my being confirmed at the Easter Vigil this year. Whatever tradition I choose, I am quite sure that I am leaving the Episcopal Church. The main reason is the upcoming new prayer book (which lacks the traditional service that I’ve grown to love and will contain a new marriage rite that is “inclusive” of gay couples),but I’ve also noticed that we’ve spent more time talking about social justice and “the Christian response” to news items than we have about Christ, which seems just wrong.If I do stay an Anglican, it will be in ACNA or the Anglican Mission.

But that isn’t certain either. Although I generally agree, for the most part, with the Articles of Religion, there is some discord. The faith/works issue is something I struggle with, and I do believe, despite the Articles, that councils of the Church, when representing all bishops, are infallible by their nature. The trouble is more with worship and liturgical practices. I hold a doctrine of the Eucharist,that while allowed by the Articles, nonetheless clashes with the beliefs of most Anglicans. I thus wish to show reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, which according to traditional Anglican teaching, is idolatry. I however believe that as Anglican priests are theoretically required to believe in the Real Presence, that not adoring the Sacrament is a most shameful and impious blasphemy. I also support the use of liturgical items considered taboo by Anglicans, thus I support priests wearing stoles, copes, dalmatics,etc. and the liturgical use of incense, both of which are frowned upon by conservative Anglicans.

Thus, my natural reaction is to ponder going Romeward. The problem is, despite having read through countless apologetic tracts, as well as catechisms, there are some Roman Catholic doctrines which I just cannot accept, chiefly Papal Infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, and the bread-and-wine-no-longer-exist part of transubstantiation. I also have qualms about the idea of Mary as Co-Redemptorix, although I realize that it is not dogma, I just feel like it’s something I could never subscribe to. There is also the issue, though this isn’t peculiar to Catholicism, that Western theology is too scholastic and reliant on classical philosophy, when sometimes I feel it would be better to embrace the mystery of faith rather than nit-pick the details. This is especially true of things like predestination and transubstantiation.

For these reasons, I’ve also considered Eastern Orthodoxy, as you may remember from older threads. It has all of the Catholic doctrines I accept, plus a gorgeous liturgy. My only concerns are my perceived difficulty in finding a parish with services in English, and adapting to the Byzantine calendar and worship structure, which is much more different from what I’m used to than the Latin rite. I also have a nagging sense, though I feel kind of stupid about it, that because my whole family are Western Christians, I would be rejecting my cultural identity by becoming Orthodox. But, for now, the good things about Orthdoxy outweigh those in my mind.

So there you have it. I am stuck in the middle between Anglicanism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy, feeling very unsure, and could use some advice. Thank you all in advance:)

God Bless,
DeusExMachina

Regarding Papal Infallibility, consider these posts:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=1037146

forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=14502957&postcount=310

Regarding the Immaculate Conception, consider this short video:

youtube.com/watch?v=kUdYeYy3NQA

Regarding transubstantiation, have you read Aquinas’ take on it?

newadvent.org/summa/4075.htm

Maybe Aquinas’ teaching on “local presence” would help:

newadvent.org/summa/4076.htm#article5

Mystical theology is a big part of Roman Catholicism:

newadvent.org/cathen/14621a.htm

Eastern Orthodox are one of many groups in the east that split off from the Church over the centuries. Most of the people in the original apostolic churches in Egypt and the Middle East joined the Oriental Orthodox communion, and those further East formed the Church of the East. And many others throughout these regions, such as the Maronites and Melkites, remained loyal to Rome.

In short :slight_smile:

Jesus established the Catholic Church. References, all properly referenced going back to the first century #34

Within those internal links (all operational) you will see that from the beginning, being outside the Catholic Church has always been condemned.

What you are describing above is doing your will. May I suggest doing Our Lord’s will. Come home to His Church that He established, and gave all His promises to, the Catholic Church.

Re: the Orthodox, here’s a project for you. Find the first time in writing, in history, properly referenced, where you see the name “Orthodox Church”.

What is wrong with Lutherans - Missouri Synod. Check 'em out.

I had similar doubts but once I read the history of the Church I realise there is only one Church that Christ gave his authority to. There is only one Church that meets that criteria and has a documented and unbroken link from that moment he gave authority to Peter to today (Isaiah 22).

Everything else, the Marian doctrines etc was just a self inflicted distraction, my excuses and selfish motivations clouded my ability to see that all of it rests on “authority”.

Thanks. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the LCMS more pietistic than, say, Scandinavian Lutheran churches, and thus more “low church?” If so, wouldn’t I have the same issues I have with Anglicanism:confused:?

Yes, they are ‘confessional Lutherans.’ High Church Lutherans. This means they still adhere to the Book of Concord, Augsburg Confession, Lutheranism as it was originally set out by Luther himself. Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist - Lord’s Supper is what they call it - baptism, confession (not sure if they do private confession in practice but they do believe in it on paper). They reject intercession of the saints and really tone down Mary to ‘Mother of God’ but that phrase for them is given in the highest respect. But they don’t do the Catholic Mary thing (which I like) if you know what I mean. They reference saints with respect (examples of holiness) and have some (Michael, Gabriel, the big ones, etc.) They are prolife, anti-gay marriage, anti-euthanasia, etc. Priests marry obviously. But they are a small denomination, losing members and under a lot of the same pressures as Catholics in terms of social issues. I think they may be cracking here and there - you can find liberalism I think in some of their parishes (unofficial). The rest of Lutheranism is long long gone to liberalism. Anyway, LCMS Lutherans are very committed, authentic Christians with much in common with Catholics. If you can’t handle the Catholics seriously (or the Anglicans or Orthodox) you should read their belief statements, see if you can find a local parish. Luther works from Augustine, the early Church councils, exact same creed. Above all the WORD of GOD. Might work out.

You seem to be looking for a group which agrees with you, with which you feel comfortable, and which gives you the right kind of liturgy.

The only thing that really matters is which Church holds the truth?

Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

Do not seek the consolations of God, but the God of consolations.

I gotta say, that explanation of the immaculate conception makes sense to me:thumbsup:.
I’m still not wholly convinced by Papal Infallibility. In fairness, though, Aquinas’s explanation of transubstantiation is flawless, given that one agrees with Aristotelian metaphysics. The problem is, I see practical problems with Aristotelian metaphysics, buts that’s a whole other story.

There are 24 churches in communion with Rome, Eastern Catholics.

Why would you be Anglican? It makes little sense, knowing what you know, to be part of a “church” that doesn’t possess an unbroken historical legacy to the beginnings of Christianity, to the *establishment *of the Church IOW.

Indeed. I would say that since our OP has at least some interest in the Eastern Orthodoxy that they shall look into the Melkite (Greek) Catholic church or another church that has similar liturgy that is still in communion with the bishop of Rome.

I have to tell you that speaking as a Catholic, I think the thing that is wrong with them is that their church was not founded by Jesus Christ. To the OP, I am not going to rush you. I think you should figure this out on your own but I and many other people are here to help you. I don’t think if you are not ready to make a decision yet that you should.

Though the Parishes are few and far between, the Eastern Orthodox Church also has a “Western Rite” that is very similar to the Catholic Latin Rite.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Rite_Orthodoxy

You have my sympathy. It’s quite a predicament for faithful Anglicans. They have beautiful liturgy, with great reverence for the Lord’s supper… I know that in my old Anglican parish, they actually kneel at the altar rail… And they have a healthy respect and attitude towards tradition and the 7 disputed books by the protestants. But so many in this denomination are becoming liberal and determining their own truth by democratic vote. I mean you really have to murder your own conscience to remain in these churches now. If you decide to stay, be prepared to leave again as the ACNA may become liberal in your lifetime as well, especially if you are a younger person.

It was the Anglican Church that first started allowing birth control on the protestant side back in 1930, so it’s no surprise to me that they have now pretty much opened the flood gates into moral decadence.

Mary as co-Redeemer is not a big deal when you understand what is actually being said. Everyone played their role for us, to include the blessed Mother, John the Baptist, the apostles, etc. No, they didn’t redeem us, they were just used as instruments to further the Catholic Church in it’s infancy stage. God get’s all the glory, but we also thank and recognize these very important human beings for playing their part in all this.

Transubstantiation, while it sounds complicated, is not all that far off from the what the Orthodox believe. If the two sides sat down, I believe they can come to agreement on this.

And the Orthodox have acknowledged Rome as “First among equals”. But they can’t accept the “first” (Bishop of Rome) having anymore authority than they have. So it poses the question, what’s the point in being first if there is no tangible authority there?

Back to the Anglicans, they hold to real presence but adoration of the body and blood is frowned upon. . I do not understand why Lutherans and Anglicans do not have Eucharistic adoration chapels like we do since their beliefs on this are similar. Doesn’t make much sense when you really think about it. Seems as if some of these teachings are just a attempt to distance themselves from Rome. :shrug:

Best wishes on your journey, no matter where it leads you.

Yes, I agree it is a predicament. The problem for me with co-Redemptorix is not that it recognizes that Mary enabled our salvation, but that it makes her a mediator when Holy Scripture says only Christ fills that role, diminishing his unique mediatorship.
And I think the Orthodox position is similar to the respect a bishop affords a Cardinal. One is higher-ranking than the other but no more doctrinally or morally authoritative. Basically, they don’t give the Pope the right to overrule the whole rest of the Church, which is implied in papal infallibility, even if it has never taken place.

Understood.

Would you agree that everything recorded in the Gospels is significant? That basically nothing is obscure details, it is all there for a reason? I’m sure you likely would. So consider John 2 and the wedding at Cana. Here we see something typical in early Jewish culture - petitioning the mother of the King, and it being granted, even if the King didn’t necessarily want to grant it.

Then we can ask ourselves is there much of a difference between intercession and mediation? No matter what label it’s given, we understand Mary is a created being who prays for us at our request. Not that she is the 4th person of the Trinity, capable of answering prayers herself.

Then there is this woman in Revelation 12 which battles Satan which coincides with GEN 3:15. There is symbolism there and you could argue Church/Israel, but some also believe the character, the Woman described is the blessed Virgin Mary. And if that is true, then she is obviously much more important than all of protestantism acknowledges.

Anyway, the Co-Mediatrix label, as you pointed out, isn’t something official to my knowledge.

Church historian Hefele says that Pope Agatho I defended the infallibility of the Church of Rome with zeal:

forums.catholic.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=14508499

Pope Agatho I stood alone against the entire rest of the church and the might of the Byzantine Empire in the monothelite controversy. Pope Martin I had previously been seized from Rome by Byzantine troops who threw him into prison where he died for refusing to submit to monothelitism. Similarly, Pope Liberius I had been exiled for 2 years for refusing to consent to semi-Arianism, which a majority of bishops in the church had accepted.

Church councils have erred frequently, but the Pope has never erred. Examples of church councils that have erred:

The Synod of Antioch AD 341 newadvent.org/fathers/3805.htm
The Councils of Sirmium AD 357-359 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Sirmium
The Council of Ariminum AD 359 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Ariminum
The Council of Constantinople AD 360 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Constantinople_(360
The Synod of Ephesus under John of Antioch AD 431 newadvent.org/cathen/08468a.htm
The Second Council of Ephesus AD 449 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Council_of_Ephesus

All of these councils have in common that they were not accepted by the Bishop of Rome. Every council approved by the Bishop of Rome has been orthodox. This is factually undisputed. And the bishops of every other ancient see (Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople) have erred frequently, which is undisputed.

This all makes sense given that Jesus is our King, not the chairman of a council. He does not need the reasoning of fallible men to confirm his decrees. Rather, Jesus confirms truth to the Church through his Vicar, the Bishop of Rome.

As Fr Ambrose said, an Orthodox priest who used to post here,
#129

Also, the term “first among equals” was not used in the first millennium. It’s something they made up in the second millennium to justify their schism.

In the first millennium, the Church said the following about the Pope:

The Council of Ephesus AD 431:

“There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed pope Cœlestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place.”

newadvent.org/fathers/3810.htm

The Council of Chalcedon AD 451

“We received directions at the hands of the most blessed and apostolic bishop of the Roman city, which is the head of all the churches.”

“That most apostolic bishop who is the ruler of the whole church.”

“The Roman Church has always had the primacy.”

“From what has been done and brought forward on each side, we perceive that the primacy of all and the chief honour according to the canons, is to be kept for the most God-beloved archbishop of Old Rome.”

newadvent.org/fathers/3811.htm

Letter of Chalcedon to Pope Leo I:

“And this golden chain leading down from the Author of the command to us, you yourself have steadfastly preserved, being set as the mouthpiece unto all of the blessed Peter, and imparting the blessedness of his Faith unto all… Of whom you were chief, as the head to the members, showing your goodwill in the person of those who represented you… Accordingly, we entreat you, honour our decision by your assent, and as we have yielded to the head our agreement on things honourable, so may the head also fulfil for the children what is fitting.”

newadvent.org/fathers/3604098.htm

The Formula of Hormisdas AD 519:

"For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” [Matthew 16:18], should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied.

Following, as we have said before, the Apostolic See in all things and proclaiming all its decisions, we endorse and approve all the letters which Pope St Leo wrote concerning the Christian religion. And so I hope I may deserve to be associated with you in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion resides. I promise that from now on those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See, will not have their names read during the sacred mysteries."

byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/122063/The%20Formula%20of%20Pope%20St%20Hormisd

The Sixth Ecumenical Council:

“Therefore to you, as to the bishop of the first see of the Universal Church, we leave what must be done, since you willingly take for your standing ground the firm rock of the faith, as we know from having read your true confession in the letter sent by your fatherly beatitude to the most pious emperor: and we acknowledge that this letter was divinely written (perscriptas) as by the Chief of the Apostles.”

newadvent.org/fathers/3811.htm

The Seventh Ecumenical Council:

“May the chief of the Apostles himself, to whom the power was given by our Lord God to bind and remit sins in heaven and earth, be often your protector, and trample all barbarous nations under your feet, and everywhere make you conquerors. For let sacred authority lay open the marks of his dignity, and how great veneration ought to be shown to his, the highest See, by all the faithful in the world.”

newadvent.org/fathers/3819.htm

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.