None of us can know for sure, of course, but I don’t know if it is wise to assume that schism was somehow destined to happen by virtue of the differences within the Church. Maybe for other reasons, sure, but if we consider how, for instance, Latin replaced Greek as the language of the Western Church by the end of the fourth century yet we remained in communion with the Byzantine East for another ~500 years (with increasing difficulties), it doesn’t seem so simple. EO Bishop Kallistos (nee Timothy) Ware explains it much better than I can, and I think his ultimate point is a good one.
And given that there seems to have always been differences, some very profound in terms of theology and doctrine, is it a credible arguement to say that the Catholic (capital C) Church has not changed since the times of the Apostles, when in fact even immediately after the Apostles, there seems to have been some serious differences between the Bishops of the centres of Christendom all of whom were part of the ONE Holy Catohlic Apostolic church?
Good question. In the above-linked article, the distinction between those differences which constitute complimentary understandings and those which constitute contradictory understandings of that same faith is explored. I agree that this is the essential difference, in vastly simplified terms, and that on which side of that divide you find yourself will determine your answer to the question you’ve posed. Do you believe that Papal Infallibility, the Filioque, or one of the other problematic doctrines that stand in the way of unity represent a shift away from and contradiction to the faith that we at one time shared, or do you believe that they are an illumination of the truth of that faith?
And finally, how can an observer decide who’s closer to the Truth? The Roman Catholic church, who has a theory of ‘‘developing’’ and ‘‘expaning’’ what it claims to have always been understood since Apostolic times, or the Orthodox, who claim they’ve changed absolutely nothing since Apostolic times, given that even in Apostolic times, they dont seem to have spoken with One Voice?
Er…yeah. That. (I should really learn to read the ENTIRE post before I decide to reply. I’m sorry. )
At what threshold can you say that those outside of your own communion have not spoken with one voice? How do you define what unity is? Is it visible unity around a central figure, as in RCC, or is it doctrinal unity around local bishops, as in the EO and OO? Again, a vast simplification, but still an important question.