A Church Without Schism VII- A Modern Push for Unity

Our Lord Jesus Christ, speaking to his apostle Peter: And I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven to you. And And whatever you may bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven, and whatever you may loose on earth shall occur, having been loosed in Heaven. Mat 16:19

Our Lord, speaking to all his apostles: Truly I say to you, Whatever you shall bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven; and whatever you shall loose on earth shall occur, having been loosed in Heaven. Mat 18:18

The apostle John, from his vision of the New Jerusalem: And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Rev 21:14

In 1995, a remarkable profession of faith was put forward by a group of mainstream hierarchs. It proclaims:

The Church of Joachim and Ann, Yabroud, Syria

The Church of Joachim and Ann, Yabroud, Syria

“I believe in everything which Eastern Orthodoxy teaches; I am in communion with the Bishop of Rome, in the limits recognized to the first among the bishops by the holy fathers of the East during the first millennium, before the separation.”

This profession originated with an archbishop of an apostolic church of the East, in fact, from the largest Christian community in the Holy Land and Middle East. It was signed by all but two of the bishop members of their Holy Synod. It became the genesis of a movement by that synod to concretely rebuild a church of the First Thousand Years.

Who were these hierarchs and where were they from? The Church of Antioch, where Christians first received that name (Acts 11:26); today they are known as Melkite Greek-Catholics. The profession of faith originated with Greek-Melkite Catholic Archbishop Elias Zoghby.

Here were churchmen who realized that the schism of 1054 A.D. is only shadow, not form.

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4 thoughts on “A Church Without Schism VII- A Modern Push for Unity

  1. Perhaps you can explain what Eastern Orthodoxy teaches on the “heresy” of Papal supremacy and infallibility, teaches on the heresy of the “Filioque”, the “heresy” of the use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist, the “heresy” of purgatory, and the “heresy” of the just seeing in Heaven the Essence of God. Surely, these “heresies” denounced for centuries by Eastern Orthodox voices maintaining a tragic Schism –cannot be acceptable to Catholics as among “everything which Eastern Orthodoxy teaches”. In view of the prevailing confusion among them, there is obvious need for the Eastern Orthodox themselves to declare once and for all “what Eastern Orthodoxy teaches” on all the above.

    • Nepsis says:

      In his book The Soul of Christianity, Huston Smith offer a cogent observation: that the Eastern Christian mind is most concerned with the continuity of apostolic doctrine, while the Western Christian mind is more comfortable with innovation. The West includes developments that are felt to be called for by the spiritual condition of the time. Some in the East see the Church of Christ as standing outside time; rather it is the Christian living within the Church community that is called on to adapt to a timeless Christian message. Perhaps the West has been too ready to innovate? Perhaps the East has tried to “freeze dry” doctrine and thereby it has lost some of its freshness?
      So what is this doctrine that Eastern Christianity so tightly clings to? 1) God the Father Almighty; The Word of God, the Logos, our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Lord, the Giver of Life, the Holy Spirit. 2) The record and revelation of their interaction within this Trinity and with their earthly creation, which is found in Holy Scripture, the Bible. 3) Those things that John tells us that “the world could not contain the books” should they all be written down (Joh 21:25) and the teachings of the Fathers of the Church. These source materials, under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit and the acquiescence of the body of the faithful, constitute the Holy Tradition of the Church. 4) The doctrinal expression of the Church as again led by the Holy Spirit, which resulted in the deposit of faith and dogma created through the seven Ecumenical Councils that were held between 325 and 787 A.D.
      The “heresies” outlined above are held to be such by some in the Eastern Church because, they argue, the tenets are not to be found within any of the points 1-4. For others, myself included, these may or may not be heresies, but they are certainly “innovations” that could not be accepted outside of another ecumenical council – all canonical Orthodox churches and the Church of Rome and its uniates together in universal council.
      The Church of Rome has seen fit to elevate the “heresies” of James’ comment to the level of dogma on its own authority, in keeping with its sense of developing the fullness of the faith. Orthodoxy makes what I believe to be an equally grave error when it declares them heresies and reject them as incompatible with the received faith, rather than insights that might be included on the agenda of some future ecumenical council.
      In the Church of the First Thousand Years, the Church was in a position to decide dogma vs. heresy. For the past thousand years and still today, it cannot. And yet both West and East claim the power and point fingers in judgment, proclaiming set dogma on the one hand and heresy on the other. The emperor has no clothes, at least as I see it.
      Holy Mother Mary, Theotokos, pray for the unity of the faith and the reconciliation of our churches.
      Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner

  2. Dear Nepsis,
    IF both the Catholic Church in communion with Rome and the Eastern Orthdoox communion are in error on their truth-claims, where does that leave us except to reject Christianity as embodied in one visible Church and the Church itself as no constituting “the Pillar and Ground of the truth”? But Christ Himself did say that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church which He specifically built on the Rock-foundation of the chief Apostle, Peter. The words of Matt. 16:18-19 cannot be emptied of their power, for anyone can see that Church built on Peter stands before the entire world in its indefectible Catholic Unity. The true Church of Christ cannot be rendered so paralyzed and crippled that it can no longer speak with the Voice of Christ to the seekers of truth. That same Catholic Church built on the Rock of Peter remains ready to decide questions of faith and morals today as it did during the 4th to 8th centuries. Vatican I and II are as ecumenical as any of the first Seven, for as the papal legate Philip declared before all the Eastern bishops gathered at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431): “There is no doubt and,in fact,it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince (exarkos) and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and Foundation (themelios) of the Catholic Church, received the Keys of the Kingdom from Our Lord Jesus Christ,the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins; who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors. The holy and most blessed pope Celestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place…”
    Alas, any aggregate of bishops unfortunately separated from the Successsor of that Peter who was commissioned by Christ to feed all the lambs and sheep of Christ and made the head of the entire Church cannot be said to be the “Undivided Church” and the “unchanging Church” of the First Millennium.

    • Nepsis says:

      James,
      I appreciate your fevor in defense of the Roman view of the position of the Pope. All of the points you raise resonate with the majority of Roman Catholics today. However, Pope Paul VI himself is said to have realized that the modern office of the pope – as understood by Catholics – was the main obstacle within ecumenism, a belief maintained by most of the Orthodox today.
      In my view, the sister churches of Rome and its Uniates and of Constantinople and its canonical affiliates ARE maintaining Christ’s church against the onslaughts of Hell. Granted our effectiveness and our fidelity may wax and wane over the ages, but nevertheless we prevail. I do not believe that any myopic “errors” in which these sister churches persist betray Christ or the Holy Spirit acting through the Seven Ecumenical Councils, or the foundation of our New Jerusalem that was laid by ALL the apostles (Rev 21:14.)
      This comment forum is too limited to detail the Orthodox objections to what it sees as an “imperial papacy” in opposition to the prerogatives of the local churches. An excellent and very thorough review of the Orthodox position is found in the book “The Primacy of Peter,” John Meyendorff, Ed., St. Vladimar’s Seminary Press, 1992.
      May God bless you and yours!
      Holy Theotokos, pray with us for the unity of the faith and the reconciliation of our churches.

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