Spiritual Warfare Forum: Orthodox Christians
Orthodox Christians QUESTION from Sophia September 2, 2001 I was reading some of your emails and replies and came across one where you said that even Orthodox Christians are protestants because the are protesting the Catholic Church. An Orthodox Nun I know addressed this issue in the following way:
From Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the twelve apostles and those gathered in the upper room and by afternoon, three thousand souls believed in Christ and were baptized. This first Christian community continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). Eventually, there were five seats of the Christian church including Rome. In these 5 areas were 5 Bishops who were equals (e.g. no bishop was supreme). One of those Bishops claimed supremcy over the other bishops and eventually, the result was the schism of 1054 (of course I am leaving out many details for the sake of brevity).
If 4 Bishops remained true to the doctrine and fellowship and one bishop demanded change and left ... who than is protesting the True Faith ... the four who remained or the one who demanded change and left?
I think all Christians should be united in Christ. I hope I was not adversarial ... it is sometimes frustrating to be an Orthodox Christian in America - so many Christians do not know the history of Christianity and it was disconcerting to read that you consider Orthodox Christians protestants - especially from you - a Christian who does know the history of our church.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 31, 2001 Dear Mrs. Sophia:
I am not a diplomat and so my answer to this question is going to be abrupt and matter-of-fact. When confronted with repeated and continued error I believe that one must counter that trend with bold no-holds-barred language so there can be no misunderstanding. Diplomatic language tends to confuse issues. This I am going to call a spade a spade here. If that offends anyone, I apologize, but truth is truth.
Yes, I know Church history which is why I must debunk the ridiculous delusion of the re-writing of history that the Orthodox continually and falsely assert. Your Orthodox nun is wrong. But I understand why the Orthodox must insist on this fantasy -- it is the only way for them to save face. But facts and history prove another story.
First off, one bishop did not leave the other four, the four left the one.
Christ established ONE Church with ONE visible head. Christ did NOT say, Thou art Peter and with four other rocks I will establish my Church. He said Thou art Peter (changing Simon's name to the ROCK) and upon this ROCK (singular) I will build my church. The keys were given first to Peter, not a committee of bishops. Isaiah 22:21-22 proves that Jesus was thinking of a singular Prime Minister.
God has ALWAYS had a Prime Minister. In the Old Testament this seat of authority was the Chair of Moses. Jesus himself mentions the Chair of Moses in Matt 23:2. The New Covenant brought with it a new Chair. This Chair is not a bench sitting many people, it is a Chair, for one person, and that one person is Peter.
Peter cannot split from Peter. By definition, the four eastern bishops split from the head of the Church, the Bishop of Rome, who is clearly the head of the Church as proven from Scripture and from history and from the writings of the Church Fathers.
The Eastern Bishops, in a fit of ego, took their toys and rebelled against papa like a bunch of teenagers. Yes, there was immaturity on both sides, but to split from the True Church like the Eastern Patriarchs did is, frankly just as silly as what Martin Luther did. At least the Eastern bishops remained true to the essential faith unlike most other schismatics who usually end up down the slippery slope into heresy, as Martin Luther did.
But to say that Rome split from the four eastern Bishops is like saying the United States of America was the one to split with the Confederate States of America. Such an assertion is nonsense. The U.S. cannot split from itself. If a group decides to split from the United States, it is THEY who are splitting, not the United States.
Likewise, if the eastern Bishops wish to split from the Chair of Peter, it is THEY who are leaving. The Chair of Peter hasn't moved anywhere.
The Bottom Line is that the True ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, and APOSTOLIC Church is found with the Chair of Peter. Those faith apostolic communities with valid sacraments in union with the Chair of Peter are with the Church that Jesus founded, those who are not are schismatic.
By the way, the Eastern Orthodox Churches without Rome cannot even qualify as the genuine Church that Jesus intended. The Church of Jesus is a universal church and the Orthodox churches are ethnic or national churches, not universal ones. While they meet the Holy and Apostolic categories in the four marks of the True Church, they fail in the the ONE and CATHOLIC categories.
It is a scandal that the Church is split. The legacy of Martin Luther is even a greater sin and scandal.
We pray for unity and that unity will come someday when all the prodigal sons return to Rome, to union with the Bishop of Rome, God's personally appointed Prime Minister of ALL the His Church -- whether or not the non-Catholics like it or not.
This never-ending debate reminds me of a scene in a silly Steve Martin movie. In the movie Martin's wife is dead but he has this huge painting of her on the wall enshrined to her memory. Eventually he meets this other woman that he wants to marry. So Steve Martin goes to his wife's picture and asks his wife if she approves of this upcoming marriage. If she does not approve he asks his dead wife to give him a sign, any sign.
All of a sudden he can hear a noooooooooo, nooooooo and the painting began to spin on the wall and the wall cracks and shakes. Martin just stares at the spinning painting and says, Any sign, anything. He takes down the painting and puts it in the closet. The next scene he is marrying the woman.
Obviously Martin's character was determined to marry the woman and even though his dead wife gave him so many obvious in-your-face signs of her disapproval. He was utterly blind to the signs.
That is the Orthodox on the subject of the Pope and who split from who.
We shall pray that all these prodigals return home to Rome someday.
Back to Index Page