There is something I just couldn’t wrap my mind around when I was discerning Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy confesses that there is only one True Church and that consists of the Primates and Patriarchs of the communion of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constainople, the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Moscow, Antioch, and the rest. Am I right so far?
Where it gets a little fuzzy to me is how the Copts, Jacobites, and Armenians fit into the equation. Are these heretical groups who are outside the Orthodox fold or not? Every orthodox christian I talked to said they weren’t. If they were indeed orthodox christians, it seemed like a self contradiction to me. By admitting that the OO is orthodox you are saying that the Holy Orthodox Church was wrong about who was and wasn’t an Orthodox Christian for over a 1000 years.
I can’t wrap my mind around the EO church being the one true church while admitting that they were mistaken about who was a heretic for so long to the point that they established rival patriarchates in Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem to contend with the Orthodox bishops of the OO.
The Copts and Armenians are Jacobites. The term Jacobites refers to the Oriental Orthodox communion. It points back to Jacob Baradaeus who was very important in the survival of the Oriental Church in the sixth century. They are not part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Neither says the other is orthodox even though you might have individuals who say so.
Let’s face it, every person thinks they themselves are orthodox. If they did not believe it, they would switch to something else!
Formally, Holy Orthodoxy does not see the non-Chalcedonians as orthodox.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot in common. For an Orthodox like myself to state that I don’t think the differences are that great would be a personal opinion, like an Anglican stating that they don’t see much difference with the RC. On a formal level the differences are too great to ignore and thus the two churches exist in parallel.
What one will find is that the non-Chalcedonians and the Orthodox share much in spirituality, even theological expression. The Orthodox tradition owes a great deal to the spiritual gifts of these other traditions.
The non-Chacedonians (note: they are the non) decided that they could not agree to the theology of Chalcedon, and they separated from BOTH the Orthodox of the East and the West.
The Orthodox and the Latin Catholics as well as those Anglicans who are traditional are all Diaphysite, and the non-Chalcedonians repudiated the council and separated from all of these.
I actually admire the guts it took for them to stick to their position, even in the face of intense persecution. It saddens me to reflect on the history of that schism, which might have all been based upon a misunderstanding (it focuses almost entirely upon the nature of Christ, and some believe the varying cultural expressions were stating the same essential Truth in different ways). Politics of the day played a part in this.
In sum, the non-Chalcedonians are not a schism from Holy Orthodoxy alone, unless you happen to believe that the Roman Catholic church did not even exist at the time.
Anyway, I’ve wondered this a lot too, Varc. My home area has a large historic Russian presence, and more recently (~20 years or so) many Ethiopians and Eritreans (including some who worship at the local OCA! I am not sure how that works, but from all I’ve seen Michael is right about the closeness of the OO and the EO). So there’s a good mix of the different expressions of Orthodoxy, and it makes it hard for the outsider like me to understand why I should believe the EO over the OO or vice-versa. This was a factor in my eventual decision that Orthodoxy might not be the best place for me. It’s a shame, really. I always think it is too much optimism when I read on here that certain RC’s believe that reunification of the Eastern and Western churches will happen soon, but for my part I think it would be just as incredible and joyous to witness the reunion of the two churches claiming to be Orthodox. They’ve always struck me as much closer to one another in most ways than either are to Roman Catholicism.
I think the fact that the RCC would recieve me a EO or my friend OO is actually validating us to be non heratics. I think the origonal poaster may have come off, unintentionally of course, as looking down at the close relationship between the EO OO and points to a bit, as he may percieve it to be, of back taking. It is however interesting that he does not recognize the back taking of his own Church which has varied in its degrees of Ceasaro-Papism (control of the church by the crown). His church has of course gone from the Crown being the head of the Church in England to the Bishop of Canterbury.
If we look to the sins of our fathers for excuses, we cannot see the wisdom of the fathers who are saints.
It is also interesting to note that the RC, ELCA, EO, OO and an assundry of others are permitted to commune at the AC.
The Catholic Church allows members of both Churches to recieve the Eucharist, or communion. It sounds almost like an avoidance of the schism. If we recieve communion as one Church what seperates us? Is not the Eucharist the essence of communion? How is it worse that some EO and some OO feel like they are essentially the same? It seems to be the same thing that some EO and OO might do except it is on a wider scale.
You will find stories ALL OVER THE WORLD of CC’s, EOC’s, OOC’s and ACEC’s communing members of each other’s Churches ON A LOCAL LEVEL, on the condition that it is an extenuating circumstance and a member of one Church does not have access to the Eucharist in his/her own Church. I think the general rule of thumb is as follows:
CC’s, OOC’s and ACEC’s will commune visitors and permanent residents.
EOC’s are less likely to commune visitors, but they will commune permanent residents who do not have access to the Eucharist in his/her own Church.
You will find EOC’s less likely to commune Catholic visitors in general because there is generally a Catholic Church in areas where EO churches are. I have read articles of RO’s permitting communion to Catholics in the Siberian region, for the reasons stated above.
It isn’t quite that simple, really. Not only do there need to be extenuating circumstances for the CC to admit an Orthodox Christian to communion, the Orthodox person has to “agree” to certian Catholic understandings about the Eucharist. Doing so, however, would actually take that individual outside of the Orthodox Church.
Not to mention, the Orthodox are not allowed to take part in what they consider to be invalid Eucharistic rites, just as Catholics aren’t allowed to take part in them, for example in an Anglican Church. So the Orthodox person would have to admit that the Eucharist administered by the Catholic was valid, which would again take him outside of Orthodoxy.
I don’t think this is any kind of sign of closeness.
I think your first paragraph is wrong. I think I recall that the canons or the ccc says basically, ‘Orthodox Christians are welcome to present themselves for communion’. It is with the understanding that the Orthodox teaching of the Eucharist is orthodox. I don’t see why you say that professing the same view of the Eucharist as the Catholic Church would put someone outside of the Orthodox Church.
The second paragraph is correct though. If an Orthodox Christian were to recieve the Eucharist at a Catholic Church he would be automatically excommunicated from his Church.
I wasn’t trying to put down the EO or the OO. I think both are good churches. But I couldn’t sincerely become a member of either one. To be in the EO, I would have to hold as dogma that Chalcedon is a binding council and anybody who rejects it is, at least formally, a heretic. That is a step I just couldn’t take in good conscience.
As to the Anglican Church. I do recognize that the AC has backtracked (I assume that is what you meant) but the AC has never said that it was the one true Church as the RCC, EOC, and the OOC continue to say today. I sincerely believe that while all three are politically divided, they are all mysteriously members of the one Catholic Church. That is what the Anglican Communion believes and I find that position to be more true than singling one church out of those three as the Mystical Body of Christ and the Holy Catholic Church.
The Orthodox view of the Eucharist is not quite the same as the Catholic - they reject the doctrine of transubstantiation. Now, of course the Catholics haven’t always had it either, but they now consider it to be a “fact”. I believe there are also differences with regard to the understanding of the Eucharistic sacrifice - for the Orthodox I think it is a one-time thing, whereas for Catholics it happens at each Eucharist. I am a bit fuzzy on this.
Also, since the Orthodox don’t think that the Catholics have a valid Eucharist or valid Holy Orders, we could say their understanding of these things differs from the Catholic understanding, which says of course that they do.
All that being said, I have read some of the requirements for admittance and in a few places they seem different - sometimes it seems like it is no big deal, and then other sources seem more strict. Unfortunately I can’t remember where they are - I will have to hunt around and see if I can find them.
What part of the dogma do you suppose the Orthodox reject?
Is it the part that says the bread and wine TRANSFORM into the True Body and Blood of Christ?
Is it the part that says that Jesus Christ is TRULY PRESENT under the APPEARANCE of bread and wine?
Unless you can show us any EO or OO document which rejects these two Truths, which comprise the dogma of Transubstantiation, then I pray you stop misrepresenting the matter.
[quote=]Now, of course the Catholics haven’t always had it either, but they now consider it to be a “fact”.
Catholics have ALWAYS believed in the Truths comprising the dogma of Transubstantiation.
[quote=]I believe there are also differences with regard to the understanding of the Eucharistic sacrifice - for the Orthodox I think it is a one-time thing, whereas for Catholics it happens at each Eucharist.
Yes, that would be a misunderstanding.
[quote=]Also, since the Orthodox don’t think that the Catholics have a valid Eucharist or valid Holy Orders.
But they have no patristic rationale for saying so.