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A fork in the road

April 8, 2011

When I first left the reformed faith, I was dumb enough to throw out the identity of the church I thought was correct in front of my old elders at the reformed church, which gave them an excuse to find issue in what I was saying, rather than defending their doctrines too me.   During this time, some people in my family decided to go Roman Catholic, and were wondering as to why I was not jumping the gun like them, and my reply was “I never thought reformed theology was wrong, but it was, and I refuse to rush into another view without studying at least the Orthodox church”.

Most people hate this reality, and they make Rome into something it is not, which is an answer to protestantism without any issues. They cannot stand the fact that there is a church that is also huge in size, has apostolic succession, and has not agreed with Rome for the past 1000 years. It really puts a damper on their excited journey towards Rome, and only puts them back into a place where they have to actually make a thoughtful decision between two churches…again.

If you actually look at the atmosphere of converts to Rome, you will notice a popular theme. Nobody ever thinks about the East when they decide to jump into the Vatican’s lap. This is because the mindset is the same with them all, in that they find Rome to be a place where the theological debates can come to an end.

Well, there is a problem. Rome isn’t the only church to think about when pondering where to go now that one denies the solas of the reformation. One must study Orthodoxy before they enter Rome, or are they arrogant enough to say that “There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Churchand leave themselves open for the same caricature being made of them from the Orthodox?  Can we Orthodox say  “To be deep in history, is to cease to be a Western Christian”?  No? Why not?

The reality is, is that Rome has spent a good amount of time on promoting their new found converts, and completely covering up the reality that Rome is a dying church. Sure, Rome is getting some protestants here and there, but the other side, is that the people who are not converts are leaving in droves. In fact,more people are leaving the Catholic church in America than any other church, but that is not to be talked about.  see  here, here, here, here

Orthodoxy however is the fastest growing church in America for the past 15-20 years, and it has happened without a TV channel dedicated to glorifying these people, who are infants in the faith to be honest (like me).

Is this really important? Not really, protestantism was the fastest growing church at one time, but that doesn’t make the solas true. However, it does give rise to the importance in recognizing that Orthodoxy needs to be addressed.

I am writing this out of witnessing people jump ship from reformed or protestantism and just rush right into one church without even looking both ways. Didn’t you just get a hard dose of reality when you realized you were tithing in the wrong church for so many years? Didn’t you experience your fallibility, and realize your mind cannot be trusted to be a conduit of divine truth?   Weather the pope is infallible or not, that doesn’t give me or anyone else anymore clarity as to divine inspiration. So running to the pope is not going to cure ones anxiety of possibly being wrong, but studying the early church, and actually knowing how they thought seems to be vital.

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4 Comments
  1. sermonwriter permalink

    Amen to that, well said. As you know I had a similar experience. I recently have been ridiculed (again), for leaving Rome so “quickly” after I landed their for a while because God had used Rome to rescue me from “sola damnation”. It seems to be an honest and common ‘mistake’, and I tried to explain it to my accusers like this:

    “What “proof” did I have that Rome was Christ’s Church convincing me to “re-join” Rome after 28 years of Protestantism? Answer => plenty when compared to Protestantism, ZERO when compared to Orthodoxy. So anyone wanting to claim I accepted Rome over Protestantism as if I also knew the arguments of Orthodoxy, is simply not being honest.

    Once I started hearing from the Orthodox, I realized I didn’t know Rome that well at all. The only way I knew Rome was in its relationship to the Reformation, an extremely myopic piece of theological history, hardly enough to be convinced of Rome’s claim to be “THE” Church, but plenty to leave the Protestant camp.”

  2. Canadian permalink

    The default position in the West is Rome. Not only because she is at the root of Protestant existence and has a deep presence in the protestant psyche, but she is practically ubiquitous here, too. Every town and village seem to have a Catholic church.
    As you point out so well, however, this is no excuse to just dismiss Orthodoxy. My intentions to enter the Orthodox catechumenate have come through long years of Catholic and Reformed examination with the attending confusion, uncertainty, despair, hope, joy, excitement and everything else. But this seems to me the last stop on the Christian road and it appears to retain that which I see in the ancient fathers and Councils.

  3. Eric Castleman permalink

    It is great to hear about your deep interests in Orthodoxy. I, like you, am also just entering, and am very excited. Though it is a very tough thing, seeing that Orthodoxy produces a culture that for us in the West is almost a completely alien reality to fit into. I do however feel that Orthodoxy is the true church, and have been overwhelmed with how absolutely holy the Orthodox saints are, how completely penetrating to my soul their theology is, and that it is patristic, and completely Christ centered, seeing that Orthodoxy is very much cemented in Christology.

    Rome for me was a nice daydream, but it isn’t a reality. It seemed too me, that Rome found a way to put Christ on a conveyor belt, and cut away everything else, in order to feed the huge amount of believers they coerced into joining. Now they beg for Orthodoxy to give them approval for their actions, rather than repent and change, and come into unity with the Orthodox church.

    The patristics for me, are quite clear in their views of church authority. In Orthodoxy, authority is a holy thing, where as in Rome, it is a right of Rome’s. Nobody has the right to the Christian church, but it is by grace. Orthodoxy has not lost this.

    Reformed theology, once applied to the ecumenical councils is quite freaky,if I may say so myself. The Christological issues that spring up in their views of the atonement were enough for me to leave them forever. I just pray that the West can see the beauty of the Orthodox church.

    Thanks for you input Canadian!

    -Eric

  4. reyjacobs permalink

    Most Calvinists I’ve seen leave Calvinism on the Internet go to the ‘Orthodox’ church. (Sorry, putting ‘orthodox’ in quotes is just a convention of mine whether capitalized or not; same with ‘heresy’.) I think the reason may be just being fed up with ‘original sin’ — since the ‘Orthodox’ don’t trump up ‘original sin’ as much as Rome, go for the ‘Orthodox’ and get away from one of the most absurd features of Calvinism as best you can. But I think the thinking here is over simplistic as in the end the ‘Orthodox’ will not condemn Augustine, so I doubt their views on ‘Original’ sin (at least today) are all that different. There is cross-polination from Rome to Constantinople. I mean, because the ‘Orthodox’ church refuses to translate a lot of its stuff into English, ‘Orthodox’ churches end up using Romans Catholic study materials, chock full of the Roman view on ‘original sin’ and so on. In the end, therefore, it ends up much less different from Rome than what you would have thought.

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