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9 years ago  ::  Mar 19, 2009 - 12:06PM #1
Posts: 2,483

Hello everyone


What are the differences between the Greek orthodox church and the Anglicain (Episcopal) and Catholic Churches?

"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."  Dave Berry
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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 12:26AM #2
Posts: 798

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 11:27AM #3
Posts: 2,483

Thank you.

"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."  Dave Berry
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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 10:59PM #4
Posts: 798

What is the Difference Between Orthodoxy and Western Confessions?

 Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and Galich, 1863-1936, was one
of the most highly respected and deeply loved Orthodox hierarchs of our
times, a candidate for the restored Patriarchal See of Moscow in 1917,
organizer and first primate of the Russian Church Abroad, and the spiritial
father of the whole generation of Orthodox, most of all -- of St. John the
Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco . A careful and discerning reader
of this article, first published in 1911 in St. Petersburg, will not only
learn much about the historical ways of Christianity, but also gain insight
into the legacy of the past century and the challenges we are about to face
in the next one.

1. Answer Incomplete
2. Western Theology and Christian Life
3. A Case of the Two Teachers
4. Sublime and Basic Principle
5. Controversy over Perfection
6. Love, and How to Keep It
7. Ignorance vs. Reason
8. Moral Values Revisited

New translation and publication of this brochure has been accomplished by
the joint efforts of

- contributors to the Orthodox e-mail list and its American Orthodox Book
- parishioners of the the churches of St. John the Russian of Ipswich, MA
and of the Holy Epiphany of Boston, MA
- Alpha & Omega Information Services of Lowell, MA

Titles and comments in square brackets were added by the translators.

1. What is the Difference Between Orthodoxy and Western Confessions?

Answering this question, quite a few educated Russians would mention the
rites, -- but we hardly need wasting time on this sort of nonsense. Not much
closer to the truth, however, is another opinion, fairly common among those
who are better versed in theology. They would tell us about the filioque,
about Papal supremacy and other teachings rejected by Orthodoxy, and also
about the teachings of both Latin and Orthodox faiths which are rejected by
the Protestants. It would turn out that Orthodoxy has no specific substance
of her own, equally unfamiliar to all of the European confessions. But
because they have originated one from another, we might expect that there
are certain treasures of Christ's truth which cannot be found in any of
them: a heresy born of another heresy must keep some part of the parent if
it is not returning to the True Church.

The Slavophile theologians , Khomiakov in particular, were the first to draw
the line between the true Church and the Western denominations based not on
any particular dogmatic element, but rather on the general preference of the
inner ideal of Orthodoxy. This is Khomiakov's outstanding contribution to
theology, to the Church, as well as to the enlightened West, which
appreciated it as high as the Russian religious writers. It is most clearly
seen in the fact that all European theologians friendly to Orthodoxy speak
of her in Khomiakov's terms, using precisely his formulations of the
confessional differences. Specifically, the Old Catholics, who have been
attracted to Orthodoxy and got involved in lengthy official correspondence
concerning a rapprochement with us, follow his views in their presentation
of the main questions which, in their opinion, divide us and Old
Catholicism -- that is, the filioque as an innovation contrary to Church
discipline, which calls us to "guard the unity of the spirit in the bond
of peace", and transubstantiation in the Eucharist as a borrowing from
Western theologians, foreign to the Church tradition (which speaks about

Khomiakov's short book [ The Church Is One and a few other essays] is the
most popular of all Russian theological works, both among our own learned
men and abroad. We shall not, therefore, elaborate on it. Just let us recall
that he makes the distinction between the denominations based on their
understanding of the ninth clause of the Creed -- that is, on their teaching
about the Church. Presenting the Orthodox teaching on the Truth, severely
distorted and almost lost everywhere in the non-Orthodox West, Khomiakov
aptly demonstrates the moral significance of our spiritual ideal, the
overall preference of our faith in contrast to the Western confessions which
have lost one of the most holy, uplifting truths of Christianity.

Khomiakov sees the Church not so much as an authority, but rather as a union
of souls, complementing one another by their mystical communion with Christ
Who reveals Himself to the faithful only in their mutual love, in their
unity (epitomized by the the Ecumenical Councils). In all issues of Church
discipline, and in the very process of exploring the divine truth -- just as
this has been established by Church tradition -- he brings a spirit of joy,
a spirit alien to subjugation, a spirit carrying us into the boundless space
of communion with the whole world of the faithful, with all eternity.

Thus, we admit without reservations that Khomiakov has correctly presented
the Orthodox teaching about the Church, and that he has clearly shown the
value of Orthodoxy compared to the Western denominations, which have lost
the understanding of the moral union of the faithful both in life and
teaching, and which have reduced the Kingdom of God to the level of either a
personal achievement or an external government-like organization. While
recognizing this, and paying homage to Khomiakov for his great theological
and missionary works, we have to note that his definition of Orthodoxy or,
in other words, of true, divinely-revealed Christianity, as opposed to the
Western denominations, is incomplete. It has long been our wish to complete


~~~end of Part 1

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 11:01PM #5
Posts: 798

2. Western Theology and Christian Life

Actually, the difference between them is much deeper.

The teaching about the Church is, of course, extremely important, as our
communion has to be renewed continually in our minds. But even apart from
the Church question, in the way one approaches God and one's own life, a
great difference is felt between a non-Orthodox Westerner and an Orthodox.

Things great and small are permeated by this difference. Take for example
the sources of instruction in our personal spiritual life. One part of them,
which we study in schools as dogmatic and moral theology, is a borrowing
from the Catholics and Protestants: only the plainest errors of
non-Orthodoxy, known to all and condemned by the church authorities, are
deleted. Another part, well known both to educated and common men, in our
time and in the past, back to the IX century and earlier, is in our prayers,
hymns of the divine services, and the moral teachings of the Holy Fathers.

But what a remarkable thing! There is almost nothing in common between the
two sources. Certified theologians do not know our Prologues, our dogmatic
hymns (stichera and canons), our Lives of the Saints -- except, maybe, as
simple church-goers, as lovers of church music, but not as religious
scholars. Meanwhile, these Slavonic writings in thick, clumsy books are the
main, if not the only, origin and nourishment of the living Russian faith,
for both the common men and the more educated. But official theology cannot
tap this source, even out of mere curiosity.

Now look at the best Christians among us, our teachers of Christian life:
Hieroschemamonk Ambrose of Optina [+1891], Father John of Kronstadt [+1909],
Bishop Theophan the Recluse [+1894; all three have since been glorified as
saints]. By no means can they be called narrow-minded or ignorant; they are
grateful graduates of our seminaries and academies, but try to find
borrowings from and references to academic theology in their writings.
Except for a few scattered instances, there are none.

Offer them mountains of scholarly volumes to help in their teaching; they
will treat them with respect but, believe me, will find nothing to borrow.
The same will be true for the ordinary Christian who seeks understanding of
any event or religious experience. It is quite obvious that our scholarly
theology, having been built upon Western principles, even though free of the
Western errors, is so far removed from the Orthodox spiritual reality, so
little related to it, that not only is it useless as a source of
instruction, but it cannot even come close to the real spiritual life.

This could not have happened had the Western theology been different from
the Orthodox only in the Church-related teachings. As we see, the Western
religions have altered the very notion of Christian life, of its aims and


3. A Case of the Two Teachers

Once, as the Rector of the Theological Academy, I gave an assignment to a
gifted student: Compare and contrast the moral teachings of Bishop Theophan
with those of Martensen. Martensen is a venerable Protestant preacher,
recognized as an outstanding moral theologian, influenced less than others
by confessional errors. Bishop Theophan is an educated Russian theologian,
former rector of St. Petersburg Theological Academy. And you know what? It
turnes out that the two authors present Christian morality in a totally
different, often opposite way. Here is the summary of the results:

Bishop Theophan teaches how to make one's life meet the standards of
Christian perfection, while the Western Bishop (sit venia verbo) takes from
Christianity only as much as is consistent with the standards of modern
secular life. That is, the former accepts Christianity as the eternal
foundation of normal life, and demands that we forcibly change ourselves to
bring our lives into compliance with that norm; the latter accepts the
realities of modern secular life as unchangeable, and only where they allow
some variations does he indicate which options are preferred from the
Christian viewpoint. The former calls for moral heroism, for a life-ling
struggle; the latter selects whatever elements of Christianity are suited to
us in our current way of life. For the former, the true life to which man is
called is the life eternal, while our current life on earth with all its
historically shaped devices is all but an illusion; for the latter the
notion of the future life is merely an uplifting, noble idea, an idea which
contributes to continual improvement of our real life here on earth.

In the difference between these two teachers of morality is manifest the
difference between the Orthodox faith and Western religions. One is based
upon the concept of Christian perfection, or sanctity, and from this
standpoint evaluates the present reality; the other is firmly established on
the status quo of the earthly life and strives to determine the minimum of
religious practice which still allows for salvation -- if eternity truly

~~~end of Part 2

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 11:05PM #6
Posts: 798

4. Sublime and Basic Principle

-- You are pointing not at the false belief, but at the poor religious
attitudes in the West! -- our critics will say.

-- That's correct, -- we will reply, -- thus far we have been concerned with
the attitudes, with the degeneration of Western religious life and thought;
now let us look into a sublime principle which they have lost.

Christianity is a life-long pursuit of virtue. Christianity is a pearl for
which the wise merchant of the Gospel parable has had to sell all his
possessions. It would seem that in the course of history this self-denying
step, this taking up of the cross, meant different things: at the time of
the earthly life of the Savior it was joining His disciples and following
Him; later it became confession of faith and martyrdom; then, from the
fourth to the twentieth centuries, -- seclusion and monasticism. In fact,
however, these various exploits were only the means towards one end, one
goal -- gradual attainment of spiritual perfection on earth, of the freedom
from passions, of all virtues, -- just as we ask in the prayer of St.
Ephraim, repeating it over and over during Great Lent with many bows and

[ O Lord and Master of my life, the spirit of idleness, despondency,
ambition, and idle talk give me not. Prostration.
But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love
bestow upon me Thy servant. Prostration.
Yea, O Lord King, grant me to see my own failings and not to condemn my
brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen. Prostration.]

"This is the will of God, your sanctification," -- says the Apostle; we can
attain to it only by setting this as the main and the only goal of our life,
by living for the sake of holiness. This is what the true Christianity is
all about; this is the essence of Orthodoxy vs. the heterodoxy of the West.
In this respect (and, consequently, by their nature) the Oriental heresies
such as Monophysites and Armenians are much closer to Orthodoxy than are the
Western: like us, they have set spiritual perfection as the goal of a
Christian life, but they differ from us in the teachings about the
conditions for the attainment of that goal.


5. Controversy over Perfection

-- Do the Western Christians really say that there is no need for moral
perfection? Would they deny that Christianity commands us to be perfect?

-- They would not say that, but they don't see it as the essence of
Christianity, either. Moreover, in their view of perfection and the means to
attain it they would disagree with us on every word; they would not even
understand, let alone agree, that it is precisely moral perfection that is
the goal of a Christian life -- and not merely the knowledge of God (as
Protestants would say) or service to the Church (Roman Catholics), for which
virtues, in their opinion, God Himself gives us moral perfection as a

Moral perfection is gained by intensive, strenuous effort, by inner
struggle, by deprivations, and most of all -- by self-humiliation. An
Orthodox Christian, by virtue of sincerely and diligently following the
spiritual discipline, participates to a large extent in that struggle: the
discipline itself is designed to facilitate our gradual mortification of
passions and acquisition of blessed perfection. In this we are assisted by
our divine services, by the efforts in preparation for the Holy Communion,
by fasting, and by that almost monastic order of Orthodox life, codified in
our Typicon and followed by our ancestors before Peter the Great, and by all
those who live by the tradition up until this very day.

In short, the Orthodox faith is an ascetic faith; Orthodox theological
thought -- that which does not lie a dead scholastic baggage, but influences
our life and spreads among the people -- is a study of the ways of spiritual
perfection. As such it is manifest in our church services through
theological statements, references to Biblical events, commandments and
reminders of the Last Judgement.

This, of course, is not foreign to the Western denominations either; but
they understand salvation as an external reward given either for a certain
amount of good deeds (also external), or for an unflinching faith in the
divinity of Jesus Christ. They have no knowledge, nor interest, in how a
soul should gradually free itself from the bondage of passions, of how we
should go from strength to strength on our way to freedom from sin and
fullness of virtues. There are ascetics in the West, to be sure, but their
life is dominated by dejected, senseless obedience to the age-old rules and
requirements, for which they are promised forgiveness of sins and future
eternal life. Eternal life has already appeared, as Apostle John says, and
blessed communion with God is obtained by unflinching asceticism right now,
in the words of St. Macarius the Great, -- all this is unknown to West.

This ignorance is growing worse and cruder. Thus, contemporary Western
theologians have lost understanding of the aim of Christianity, of the
reason for Christ's incarnation being just that -- the moral perfection of
man. They have, as it were, lost their minds over the fable of Christ's
coming to earth to give some sort of happiness to a mankind of some future
ages -- even though He said with all clarity that His followers must bear a
cross of suffering, that they would be continually persecuted by the world,
by their own brethren, children, and even parents, especially towards the

The good things, which the believers in the "superstition of Progress" (a
witty phrase by S.A.Rachinsky) are looking forward to, are in fact promised
by the Savior in the future life, but neither the Latins nor the Protestants
are willing to accept this for the simple reason that, frankly speaking,
they believe quite feebly in the Resurrection, and quite strongly -- in the
happy life here and now, which the Apostles, on the contrary, call a
vanishing vapor (James 4:14). That is why the pseudo-Christian West will not
and cannot understand the renunciation of this life by Christianity, which
commands us to struggle "having put off the old man with his deeds and
having put on the new, which is renewed after the image of Him that created
him" [Col 3:9-101]


~~~end of Part 3

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 11:07PM #7
Posts: 798

6. Love, and How to Keep It

-- But Christianity is love of one's neighbor, and love is compassion in
sorrows, -- modern men and especially women would say, -- and asceticism is
a fabrication of monks.

I will not argue the first point as K. Leontiev [+1891, Russian author close
to the Optina Elders] once did; moreover, I will admit that if love were at
all possible without spiritual effort, without inner warfare, and without
external labors, then neither of these would be necessary. But love dried up
among men just when Luther began speaking on their behalf. The prediction
came true that "for the multiplication of lawle***ess the love of many will
dry up." In the absence of external labors and inner struggle, passions and
lawle***ess reign, and where sin is in control, love dries up and men begin
to hate one another [Matt 24: 10]

Now let us turn to the second point. It is quite true that love is expressed
most of all in compassion, but not so much for the material troubles of our
fellow men as for their sinfulness, and this compassion is possible only for
someone who is weeping for his own sins, that is, for a struggler.

Asceticism is a fabrication of monks... A Muscovite lady once made this
point even move vividly: "Your whole religion is a fabrication of churchmen.
I recognize only the Iveron Mother of God and Martyr Triphon (l'Iverskaya et
Triphon le martyr) [like most of the nineteenth-century Russian nobility the
lady spoke French rather than Russian]; the rest is nonsense." This, of
course, is a testimony to the ignorance of the meaning of asceticism among
our educated class.

This concept does not in general predetermine the way of our life; it
requires neither virginity, nor fasting, nor seclusion. Asceticism, or
spiritual struggle, is a life filled with work on oneself, a life aimed at
the destruction of one's own passions -- adultery, fornication, self-love,
spite, envy, gluttony, laziness, etc., -- and filling the soul with the
spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love; love never survives as a
stand-alone virtue, but always follows and helps accomplish other traits of
a human soul mentioned above.

Certainly, a Christian willing to pursue his own way will discover that he
has to withdraw from worldly distractions, to humble the flesh, and pray
much more to God -- but these actions have no ultimate value in the eyes of
God. They have value for us only as means to the acquisition of the gifts of
the Spirit. Of much greater value is the spiritual struggle inside the human
soul -- self-reproach, self-humiliation, self-resistance, self-constraint,
introspection, vision of the Last Judgment and future life, control over
feelings, struggle against evil thoughts, repentance and confession, wrath
against sin and temptation, etc, -- things totally unfamiliar to our modern
learned men, and so clear and well-known to any faithful villager, present
or past. This is precisely the spiritual alphabet mentioned by Bishop Tikhon
of Zadonsk [+1783, glorified as saint] --

"There are two kinds of learned and wise men: some study in schools from
books, and a great many of them are less intelligent than the simple and
unlettered, since they do not know the Christian alphabet; they sharpen the
mind, they correct and adorn words, but they do not wish to reform their
hearts. Others who study in prayer with humility and diligence and are
enlightened by the Holy Spirit are wiser than the philosophers of this age;
they are devout and holy and beloved of God; although these do not know the
alphabet, they well comprehend everything; they speak simply, crudely, but
they live beautifully and auspiciously. These, O Christian, emulate". (III,

-- and this is the essence of true Christianity as a life-time effort.
Disregarded by the Western denominations, it is still at the center of all
Orthodox theology which interprets the entire Divine revelation, all events
and proverbs of the Bible, in the context of these stages of spiritual

Having been incarnate, humiliated, and afflicted by our sins, the Savior has
granted us, in His Person and in communion with Him, an opportunity for this
spiritual effort, which is the way to our salvation. Some follow it [Phil
2:12] voluntarily and consciously, living a spiritual life; others pass
through almost against their will, reformed by sufferings sent from God and
by the Church discipline; still others only facing their death correct their
straying by repentance and receive enlightenment in the future life, but the
meaning of the Christian endeavour is always in asceticism, in the work on
one's soul; such is also the essence of Christian theology.

~~~end of Part 4

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2009 - 11:12PM #8
Posts: 798

7. Ignorance vs. Reason

If we trace all follies of the West, those developed in its religion as well
as those rooted in its customs, which are transmitted to us through the
"window of Europe," we will see them all stemming from ignorance of the
nature of Christian faith as a personal struggle for gradual
self-perfection. Such, for instance, is the Latino-Protestant concept of the
Redemption as the revenge of the Divine Majesty, once offended by Adam, on
Jesus Christ -- a concept which grew out of the feudal notion of knightly
honor, restorable by shedding the blood of the offender; such is the
material teaching about the Sacraments; such is also their teaching about
the new instrument of Divine Revelation -- the Pope of Rome, whoever he
might be in actual life; such, likewise, is the teaching of works of
obligation and of supererogation. Such is, finally, the Protestant dogma of
salvation through faith, which rejects the Church and her structure.

In all these fallacies Christianity is seen as something foreign to us, to
our minds and hearts, some sort of negotiated agreement between us and the
Godhead, stipulating, for reasons unknown, that we accept certain obscure
statements and rules, and receive in return a reward of eternal salvation.

To defend themselves against obvious objections, Western theologians have
reinforced their teachings on the alleged incomprehensibility not only of
the nature of God, but also of the Divine Law, and sought -- like the
scholastics, Luther, and even Ritschel in our times -- to condemn reason as
the enemy of faith, while the Fathers of the Church, like St. Basil the
Great and even St. Isaac the Syrian, see the enemy of faith not in reason,
but rather in human stupidity, neglect, light-mindedness, and stubbornness.


8. Moral Values Revisited

Turning from religious errors to the moral values of the West, we see in
some of them direct opposites of the Christian commandments, and these
perversions are so firmly rooted in the foundation of Western social and
personal life that even the greatest upheavals, which have toppled Christian
altars and destroyed royal thrones, have not affected those savage and
brutal prejudices. Thus, the Lord commands us to forgive -- but Western
morality calls for revenge and bloodshed; the Lord demands that we humbly
think of ourselves as great sinners -- but the West puts "self-esteem" above
all; the Lord calls us to rejoice and be glad when we are persecuted and
cast out -- but the West seeks the "restoration of honor"; for the Lord and
His Apostles pride is a demonic sin but for the West it is nobility.

The lowest Russian beggar, or even a half-believing native, a recent convert
who has not yet completely parted with his pagan practices, can tell good
from evil better than the moral authorities of the thousand-year old Western
culture, a dismal mess of the shreds of Christianity with the delusions of

And the reason for these follies is the failure to grasp the simple truth
that Christianity is an ascetic religion, a teaching on gradual liberation
from the passions, on the means and conditions of gradual acquisition of
virtues, conditions both internal, that is, personal struggle, and external,
that is, dogmatic tenets and grace-filled Mysteries, all having one purpose:
to heal human sinfulness and lead us to perfection.

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 23, 2009 - 5:28PM #9
Posts: 50

Mar 19, 2009 -- 12:06PM, Jupiter6208 wrote:

Hello everyone


What are the differences between the Greek orthodox church and the Anglicain (Episcopal) and Catholic Churches?


So many it's hard to know where to start or end

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9 years ago  ::  Mar 24, 2009 - 10:42AM #10
Posts: 3,689

Exactly, iane.

Jupiter - this is a huge subject. It is so different. TAlthough to outsiders the Orthodox Church may appear to be Catholicism with icons and married priests, it is truly a startlingly different theology, ecclesiology, praxis and understanding. The Orthodox Church actually views the RCC and various Protestant churches as two sides of the same coin - and thus totally different from itself.

Could you narrow it down a bit for us?

“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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