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Re: Apostolic Succession

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May 29, 2002 01:14PM
Hello Jake

These are pretty tough questions for a lay person but I will do my best to answer them. I believe the answer to questions 1 and 2 can be addressed together. The question of "validity" is something the Orthodox Church really does not pass judgement on. Orthodoxy looks at various faiths in their proximity to Orthodoxy.

In other words, the Orthodox Church sees all of the RC and Protestant sects has having "part of the truth" but not the entire truth. We like to say that "we don't know where the Holy Spirit isn't, but we do know where He is". Because we do not view salvation as a "one time event" but a journey, no one can really say for sure he is "saved" until Christ Himself acknowledges him at the last judgement.

Indeed there are many Believers who will be saved who never set foot in an Orthodox Church, and there will be many Orthodox who will be condemned at the last judgement. We believe Christ will judge humanity based on the light they have been given. I believe St. Paul makes mention of those " not having the fullness of the truth receiving a lesser beating".

Our Father desires all men to be saved, and at the final judgement the question will be, did we DO the will of the Father. IE, did we actually express love toward God and our neighbor by doing whatever was necessary for their own good.

The sacrament of the Eucharist, like all sacraments, is seen as a mystery. It is the point at which Christ Himself comes to earth and actually communes with those partaking in its gift. We do not attempt to explain how it occurs as the RC does. Orthodoxy uses the metaphor of the Church being a hospital and the sacraments as medicine for both soul and body.

We as Orthodox do not allow those outside the Orthodox Church to partake of the sacraments because of their sacredness. They are only to be given to those who believe what the Church has always taught and submit to its authority and doctrine. On the other hand, we do not participate in the sacraments of other sects as we do not see them (the sects) as having the fullness of the faith, hence we do not believe we can have true communion with them.

In regards to achieving reunification, I do not speak for the Church obviously, it appears to me that the Orthodox Church does not really see itself as having left the true faith; therefore there is nothing it needs to do in terms of "bending". We see the Western Church as having separated itself from us and can return anytime it wants to do so by renouncing the heresies which have been taught and believed ever since the Great Schism of 1054.

The primary heresies we speak of are the "filioque" (addition of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Son as well as the Father) clause in the Nicene Creed, and the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. Papal infallibility is really the key to all of the heresies. Once the Pope assumed he was the Vicar of Christ, he paved the way for all subsequent innovations being introduced to the faith.

I hope this poor response to your questions sheds some light and serves to bring you closer to the truth. I suggest you contact an Orthodox Priest, and make an appointment with him, to get a true Orthodox answer. I always encourage seekers to put themselves under the guidance of a true Priest when starting to make enquiries into the Faith. They can answer most any question and will be able to suggest a number of good books for examining questions more in depth.

God Bless

Subject Author Posted

Apostolic Succession

jake May 10, 2002 07:05PM

Re: Apostolic Succession

Thomas May 29, 2002 01:14PM

Re: Apostolic Succession

Maximos May 30, 2002 03:07PM

Re: Apostolic Succession

ron June 01, 2002 04:10PM

Re: Apostolic Succession

Maximos August 18, 2002 08:26PM