The Evangelical Universalist Forum

An interesting theological opinion

#1

Well, I came across this - when exploring Eastern Orthodoxy. I’ll share it here, from

What’s the difference between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism and different branches of Protestant Christianity (i.e. Evangelical Christian)?

Let me share one LONG answer, as it’s a bit “controversial” - even for me!

I’ve been waiting for this one.

They are too numerous to mention, but I will give a roundabout so you can get a feel for it. We’ll start with the most varied.

PROTESTANTS:

Protestants believe in whatever they choose to believe. This is a highly inflammatory statement on its face, but in the end it is true. They can be as extreme on one end as enjoying a Divine Liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church, standing for 2 hours, walking out at the end and saying, “Wow, I agreed with 100% of what I just witnessed,” and continuing to follow their Protestant path, to refusing to step foot into an Orthodox Church because only they know the truth and the Orthodox are Satan’s tool, and everything in between.

Overwhelmingly, most all Protestants are exceedingly ignorant and vastly, vastly misinformed about Orthodoxy and their beliefs. And they are happy to remain so. Protestantism ranges in belief and practice from highly liturgical and theologically deep, like the Church of England and some Lutherans, all the way to an individual sitting under a tree talking to the leaves, believing he is communing with God and refusing to read the Bible because he believes it “corrupt”. And everything in between. The main difference between all Protestants and the Latins and Orthodox is the demand from Protestants that they, individually are the final arbiter of Truth.

If this is a difficult thing to read, and is about to create a firestorm of backlash, consider this: how often after a sermon do the congregants get together and discuss what they did and didn’t like about what they heard? Always. They will discuss with one another what was right, wrong, new or traditional, and will feel free to disagree completely with what they just heard. And what did they just hear? They just heard a person’s opinion based on what that person thought up this week to say. And the congregants know it, and feel free to disagree because they know the sermon is of no authority, but is an opinion. And every sermon is always critiqued by a congregant or two afterwards right to the preacher. Yet, still, the next week they will come again as they see fit.

If things get too out of hand, Protestants will “Church shop” for a Church that fits their own vision of God. They will go from one to another church until they find a place they feel reflects their own understanding of God. And this makes perfect sense to them. Not that God is immutable, unchangeable, and that He has set His ways within a Church that His Son created and still exists, but that they have the truth of God within them and they just have to find a Church which agrees with them.

All Churches which are not of the Ancient Churches are some form of Protestant, although most little independent Churches refuse to call themselves Protestant. They call themselves “free churches” or “independent” or “charismatic” or, my favourite, “spirit filled” churches. But all of them are spawned from the individualistic pursuances of Martin Luther. In the end, most all of them are their own Pope, their own Bishop, their own Priest, their own confessor and their own Ecumenical Council. They are their own Church Fathers and monks, and determine for themselves that which they wish to adhere to and that which they ignore or reinterpret for their own needs. The followers of a preacher who take his word as Gospel are following a man’s ideas and opinion. He himself will disagree with other preachers and even his own Church administration if he is a part of a larger denomination. Synchronicity of mind in this aspect is utterly devoid.

Followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints deserves a special mention here. There are few, extremely few, congregants of Protestant Churches who take what their preacher says, and what the theology of their church says, as Gospel. They exist, but they are very few. The Mormon Church is one who is overwhelmingly like this. Usually a congregant in a Protestant Church who goes along with everything they are taught are in the extreme minority, but in the Mormon Church and a very few other highly organised Churches, like Mennonites, that is the rule, not the exception. Mormons can’t be properly called Christian, because their arbiter is never Christ and the Bible inspired by God, it is Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon which holds the final word. They firmly believe that the Bible was corrupted by the Latin Church in the Dark Ages, and where the Book of Mormon and the Bible disagree then the Bible is incorrect. They have absolutely no understanding that there was no Dark Ages in the East, and that the Latin Church did not corrupt the Bible in lands where the Latin Church did not exist. They have a fantastic series of beliefs which are nowhere to be found in the 1987 year Tradition of the Ancient Church, but were invented in the last 200 years. They are about as Christian as a Wiccan who has Jesus in his personal pantheon of gods to appeal to; but out of respect for their organisation and widespread evangelism, I’ll include them for this purpose. One thing they absolutely have, in spades, is uniformity of belief and doctrine. And, they too have schisms.

Protestants vary, therefore, in their beliefs about as widely as people in general. All you can be sure of is that they think the Latin Church is wrong, the Orthodox have somehow been corrupted (if they think of Orthodoxy at all) and that they are seeking for the Truth. They also believe, to a man, that no one has all the Truth.

LATINS:

The Latin Church, also known as the Roman “Catholic” Church, is an interesting specimen. In 1054 A.D., the Latin Church split from all the other Churches She was in Communion with, and declared Herself Supreme. The Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Bulgaria, Russia and others, who were all in accord, found themselves being told by the Bishop of Rome who their Patriarchs should be. Most notable was the Patriarch of Constantinople being told that he was not allowed to be Patriarch because the Bishop of Rome didn’t like it. The Bishop of Rome had never had authority over other Churches before, but the Pope of Rome declared that he always had held such authority but had never had to use it. The other Churches were understandably in disagreement, and demanded proof. The proof given was that Peter had been the leader of the Apostles, and Peter had been the first Bishop of Rome. Also given as proof was the fact that Paul had died in Rome. Continuing down the proof trail, the Latin Church offered a document called the “Donation of Constantine”, in which Constantine the Great demanded that all Churches be subservient to Rome. It was proven a forgery in the 16th Century by an Italian monk, but in 1054 it was “proof”. Further proof was that it had always been so……except that it hadn’t. Rome had always been given a Seat of Honour due to the historical significance of Rome being the Original Capitol of the Roman Empire, but this Seat of Honour was not a position of power.

Rome did not dictate what the Canon of the Bible was to be, a council did that in 391. Since a Roman legate wasn’t even present, the list was sent to Rome, who merely concurred.

Rome did not dictate the findings of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, either. In some of those Councils, Rome did not even participate.

Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch before he even went to Rome, yet Antioch never claimed primacy in anything.

Peter may have been a leader of the Apostles, but the Book of Acts clearly demonstrates that James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, is the speaker and leader of the Jerusalem Council. Peter Lent his voice, but dictated nothing.

Honorious. Look him up.

So, and for many other reasons, Rome went her own way. Even the Bishop of Rome to this day will and has openly acknowledged that the Orthodox Churches left behind in 1054 have not changed in practice, dogma or substance, and are as pure in theology as they were then.

However……

The Latin Church has adopted an addition to the Nicene-Constanipolitan Creed which by its new wording is not only unsupported by Scripture, but if were true would fundamentally alter the Nature of God Himself. The filioque adition was invented in the 6th C. in Toledo, Spain, in an attempt to combat a heresy. The filioque means “and the Son”, and is unsupported by Scripture, and it is utterly undefendable. The Nicene-Constanipolitan Creed reads “And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who, with the Father and Son is worshipped, and glorified,” The Latins say “proceeds from the Father and the Son,” which is exactly what Scripture and the Nicene-Constanipolitan Creed does not say. The only place in Scripture where the Holy Spirit is said to have proceeded from anything is when Jesus Himself said that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father”. This is an abjectly false addition invented and propagated by the Latins.

So, the Church of Rome believes in a God Who has the Father and the Son both dominating a subservient Holy Spirit. Not Triune, but Biune with a Slave.

The Latin Church, at its core, is an absolute monarchy. The Bishop of Rome is the Emperor, and what he says goes. Ever since 1054, when things were already strained between Rome and all the other Churches She was in communion with, the various Bishops of Rome have invented many ideas and declared that things were always that way, but no one just knew it. The most famous example is of Pope Pious IX who invented the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Pious declared himself infallible when he spoke and certain conditions were met. This had never been accepted before, even in the Roman Church. In fact, in 1832 a Latin Catechism was published in English which directly stated that the Bishop of Rome is not infallible. The Bishops writing the Catechisms literally laughed, and printed that they were laughing, when the idea was brought up as a frequently asked question. As if that weren’t enough, the overwhelming majority of clergy, bishops and priests alike, in Ireland, were relieved of duties and expelled after this declaration of Infallibility was made doctrine because they revolted against the idea so violently……because it was a new invention, not an “elaboration upon already existing fact.” Pious stated, directly, that all previous Popes had also enjoyed infallibility when meeting the correct criteria, but that they just didn’t know it.

So, the Bishop of Rome believes himself to be infallible when he declares himself so and meets the criteria.

The Latin Church believes in a concept called “Original Sin”, which has also been proven to be erroneous by their own theologians. Still, it persists and has been built upon. This doctrine is so pervasive and so perverted that it is what most people viscerally react to when they hear of the “fire and brimstone, hell and damnation” of preachers who believe that people are inherently evil. While this is a Latin doctrine, this has become a mainstay of Protestant theology as well. John Calvin took this idea to its natural conclusion, and created a series of theological treatises which are fundamentally at odds with the Church Fathers, Ancient Church, Scripture and even the original author of the idea of Original Sin itself. Augustine of Hippo wrote of his idea of Original Sin almost 1500 years ago in Africa. When his works were published, the Orthodox Bishops in the area (which weren’t even called Orthodox yet, as they needn’t to distinguish themselves from the teachings of Rome at that time) found that his conclusions were exceedingly incorrect, and damnably heretical. When they confronted Augustine on this, he produced his Bible from which he had come to the understanding. Turns out his Bible was translated from Greek into Latin incorrectly. What should have said “in that all sinned” was translated to “in who all sinned”, and Augustine was wrong. He repented, and declared himself and his conclusions in error, yet his books remained. When John Calvin got ahold of Augustine’s works a thousand years later, he declared that Augustine was correct, and took it even further. He created the TULIP system off of it. To this day, hundreds of million of Protestants and over a billion Latins believe in the depravity of mankind, the shame of sin from birth, and the condemnation of our species from within the womb based upon a book that the author himself declared incorrect because of a mistranslation. The Latin Church even created a doctrine about it to cover themselves, called the “Immaculate Conception”. Just before the declaration of Infallibility, Pious declared that the Virgin Mary was in fact born without the stain of Original Sin, thusly Jesus was able to be born without Original Sin and was therefore sinless.

So, the Latins believe that all humans are born fundamentally evil, and that only God can save them from themselves, even though the author of this idea created it from a mistranslation which he himself condemned and apologised for, and no other Church Father agreed with.

We owe an entire concept to the Latin Church, without which we absolutely would not have the world we have today. Scepticism was born from her, unwittingly, and has bitten her hand with a venomous vengeance. “Scholasticism” is a concept which began a little over 1000 years ago in the Latin Church. People will argue this, but scholasticism as an accepted form of theological pursuit did not exist prior to the Latin Church engaging in it. Scholasticism gave birth to the modern Scientific Age, where proof and quantifiable realities are requisite for possible belief. The Latin Church engaged in Scholasticism in order to be able to “prove” God’s existence, ostensibly to know Him better. The top two theological questions 1000 years ago, debated and considered by all the most brilliant minds in Latin Christendom, were “How many Angels can dance on the head of a pin at one time?” and “How much Grace is ingested by a mouse who eats a breadcrumb from the Communion Bread which falls on the floor?” And they came up with answers for both. Everything about God had to be quantifiable, everything pigeonholed, everything understood, and everything provable. This demand for absolute logic when dealing with the supernatural mysteries of the universe forced the Latin Church to invent yet another idea called “transubstantiation”. This is an explanation of when, where, and how exactly the “body and blood of Christ” goes from being a piece of bread and a chalice of wine into the Eucharist. At point A, it is nothing but bread and wine…after we do x and y and z, this becomes this and that becomes that, and that’s what makes it work. Understandably, when Protestants were looking for logical fallacies of the Latin Church to strip from their own services, this became one of them. Not all, but most Protestants consider the “body and blood of Christ” to be mere symbols of an idea, certainly not the actual body and actual blood. (Even though that’s exactly what Jesus said they are). This demanding of proof and quantification have had the effect of annihilating the allowance of Mystery within the Latin Church. Because they tried to use logic to prove the illogically unprovable, they lost all authority in the field, and Protestants went an entirely new direction which no one ever thought of before, that the Eucharist is only a symbolic representation and not a real Mystery.

So, the Latin Church believes that God and all of his Supernatural Mysteries are quantifiable, understandable and explainable by people if they think hard enough.

There is much, much more, but here are the basics;

Everything is quantifiable; you are born with the stain of sin; when the Pope declares himself correct and fulfills the requisites of creating a definitive statement then he is correct because he says so; the Virgin Mary was born without Original Sin so that Jesus could be born similarly; the body and blood of Christ only becomes so when and how the Priest says it does; the Pope can unilaterally change Ecumenical Creeds and alter our understanding of God because it suits his needs; the Latin Church is the Supreme Church and that all others are illegitimate and unfulfilled; there is a place called Purgatory where redeemable souls go, and if your living family or friends pay the Church enough money (or if you do an important service for the Church somehow) then Christ’s Bounty of Grace can be used to bail them out and they can go to heaven; you can give a large sum of money or provide a valuable service to the Church and then commit an act against the teachings of the Church and be forgiven in advance, then go out and do it (sale of indulgences); the Holy Spirit is a slave to God the Father and the Son, Who both have the Holy Spirit proceeding from Them.

ORTHODOX:

Read an Orthodox Study New Testament, then talk to an Orthodox Priest. Nothing I say here will matter or make sense unless you do that. Orthodoxy is as different from both Protestants and Latins as Judaism is from Mormonism. Both Latins and Protestants are two sides of the same coin. They ask the same questions, then whatever one says about one the other says the opposite. Usually it is basically Latins telling parishioners what they are supposed to believe, and Protestants deciding that if thats what they believe, then we have to believe differently. Orthodox don’t even ask the same questions. The questions asked by Protestants and Latins have been understood and answered for 1900 years in Orthodoxy, and for whatever reason the Latins have rejected their old understandings in lieu of new doctrine which leads to a requestioning of previously answered questions.

Orthodoxy is inexplicable on an internet app to people not exposed to Her. If you want to know what Orthodoxy is, come and see.

#2

Gee Randy, why don’t you post something provocative? :grin: That was a fun read, thanks.
I’ve read a few books on EOx, a couple by Timothy Ware, one by Lossky, and a short series on repentence, love, and Orthodox Psychology (very interesting).
It’s a different thought-world for sure.