I want to make clear in advance that I’m not trying to attack or offend. I’m just sincerely trying to understand the orthodox position on things. It’s a real mental wrestling match for me XD. I’d like to get some input from actual Eastern Orthodox members
Situation: There is a split/schism over some issue and the church is polarized; split right down the middle. The bishops on each side excommunicate the bishops on the other side.
Question: How do you know which church is the true one in this case?
In the Roman Catholic church the answer is papal primacy; the bishops in communion with the pope are still operating within Apostolic/Holy/Sacred Tradition while the bishops who dissent are heretics. The magesterium will hold a council and define some new canons and dogmas, clarifying the situation and making the split formal and decisive.
But I don’t know what the equivalent Eastern Orthodox solution is. From what I’ve read, the solution seems to be an appeal to collective common sense: The orthodox seem to me to be saying “Follow the church which has the correct doctrine”. And yes of course I agree we should do that But that is the whole point of my question: how do I know which church has the correct doctrine? It all seems extremely vague and fuzzy: In Orthodoxy the true faith is what all the bishops agree that the true faith is, and bishops who disagree are heretics. This doesn’t work, especially when the church is divided down the middle. Half the bishops agree, half the bishops disagree.
Please help to correct my understanding
(Again, this is not supposed to be a trap, I’m sincerely looking for an answer!)
PS. I bring this up in part because I am fascinated by Oriental Orthodoxy and other pre-reformation church splits. In these cases it isn’t a denial of tradition that divides the churches. There have been splits, and a new tradition is born every time there is a split. All pre-reformation churches claim that their tradition is the Holy tradition. The question for me is, who has the correct tradition? I choose Roman Catholicism because of the Papacy. I would love to hear from different Orthodox members what it is that gives them certainty that their tradition is the correct one when there are so many available to choose from.
On the Protestant side of things, there is a denial of the sacred role of tradition entirely (Prima scriptura doesn’t count). I’m personally convinced that tradition is as important as scripture (potentially moreso), so I just can’t understand sola scriptura and it is therefore a topic for another thread. I will also quickly note for any protestant readers that I DO understand the difference between sola scriptura and solo scriptura