Are not the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and the Assyrian Church of the East in some sense still a part of the one true church? If so, how does this affect doctrinal development that has occurred in regard to the papacy (such as the development in understanding of the papacy that occurred with Vatican I) and other areas of church life after the schism when development cannot occur universally with all the churches involved? How does this work with schism in the church? Is there not a sense in which all sides of the debate have been sinful and contributed to the schisms?
This is sometimes confusing to me from the Catholic perspective, but I run into similar problems from the Eastern Orthodox perspective, although it may not be exactly related to doctrinal development per se. For example, the Oriental Orthodox have been misunderstood in some ways. I don’t think they disagree with Catholics and the Orthodox on the divine and human nature of Christ, though they have a different way of explaining it. From the Eastern Orthodox perspective, however, they don’t accept all seven ecumenical councils. But from the Oriental Orthodox perspective, while they do not essentially disagree with the underlying theology of the fourth through seventh councils (EO only accept seven), those councils were only local because they occurred without the participation of the Oriental Orthodox and thus could not have ecumenical authority. The Assyrian Church of the East feels this way about the third thorugh seventh councils.
This is why when I feel confused about Catholicism and some of the theology Eastern Orthodoxy is not a perfect solution to me – there is more than one Eastern communion of Christians with similar theology who are in schism. How can the church really be one?
In the end, I guess a person just has to pick one of these communions and go by faith. I don’t think reason alone can resolve these seemingly unending theological and ecclesiastical conflicts. If it comes down to faith, I guess I would go with Rome because Western theology and prayer tradition is more in line with me personally, comes to me more naturally and easily. It seems to me that would be what I would progress in spirituality the most rapidly. (I say I’d go with Rome because the Western Latin rite is the largest tradition in Catholicism and what is available to me – Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism are not accessible to me, another complication to my dilemma. If I thought Eastern Orthodoxy were the right church for me, I still don’t have that option.)
I suppose this thread has gone into distinct issues, but I think they are related. I hope it is not too convoluted. Any advice would be appreciated.