Do you consider the Papacy as a divinely instituted office? I understand there is considerable historical and scriptural precedence for it, however, even though I am Catholic, I have my reservations.
Suppose there are two factions within the Church. We’ll call them faction A and B. Now, if the truth is knowable, which Catholics believe, and a certain man is genuinely seeking the truth while fighting the passions, shouldn’t he be able to arrive at a definitive conclusion about whether or not the beliefs of faction A or faction B are right? Shouldn’t this man be able to accomplish this task by looking at what the Church has always taught and taking the unity of the faith into consideration? If a doctrine is true, after all, it should logically follow from the sacred deposit of the faith. If so, why is the Pope even necessary? If Truth, which is Christ, manifests Himself to those who seek Him, why is there even a need for a man invested with divine power to confirm dogmas, if dogmas themselves are evident to all genuine seekers of Truth?
It seems that in general, Eastern Orthodox Christians have maintained the heritage of our faith better than most Catholics. However, the Orthodox lack a centralized Church government. If the Papacy is true, why is it that the Orthodox appear to have a unity of faith light-years beyond that found among Catholics? For instance, it is true that the Catholic Church has official and unalterable/infallible doctrines set down in ink, but do they really mean anything? 90% of Catholics in the United States consider all forms of contraception acceptable, and about half of Catholics in America don’t object to abortion. What good is it to have new official documents drawn up every hundred or so years if no one follows them?
The Orthodox haven’t had a council for about 1,000 years, yet they seem to be handling the modern world just fine. Indeed, they are growing at astounding rates, preserving their Divine Liturgy and customs unchanged, utilizing technology superbly, and correctly responding to the moral issues of our times. Yet they have had no “technology summits,” no “role of Church in the modern world” conferences, or anything of that sort. While people in Western Christendom are always experimenting with new kinds of Biblical scholarship and seeking ways to improve upon the work of the Church Fathers, the Orthodox keep employing the same techniques Christianity has always used.
Maybe we Christians of the Western persuassion are missing the boat? We seem to respect the Church Fathers as great minds for their times, true enough, but we always want to criticize, correct, or build on them. On the other hand, the Orthodox approach them with all humility, sitting upon their lap as a small child sits upon the lap of a grandfather, listening intently to everything he says and believing in his words wholeheartedly. I admire the Orthodox greatly for this. They claim to have the fulness of the truth, and are content to live that truth without feeling the need to develop it any further.
For them, the faith is a perfect, unchanging, eternal, and unified whole. Have Western Christians departed from a true Christian identity? Have we fallen into the trap of wanting to perfect religion, rather than letting religion perfect us? It seems like everything is about us nowadays. Both liberals and ultra-traditionalists (dare I say, apostates and heretics, respectively) give the image that we must somehow save the Church from impending doom by taking this or that action. I was under the impression the Church needs to save us, not vice-versa. A Church in need of saving, simply put, is not the True Church.
I am beginning to think of Western Christianity as mainly an intellective/emotive exercise with a few secondary spiritual elements. Where is the numinous, where is the transcendent, where are the mystics, where is our divine birth-right?
When Catholics talk about God, they sound more like lawyers than lovers. This is my main complaint. Western Christianity has become more idea than practice. I am beginning to sympathize with the Eastern Orthodox perception that Catholicism and Protestantism are more similar to each other than to Eastern Christianity.
Thoughts? Opinions? Rebukes? Speak your mind, but mind how you speak.