Seen on the web: Catholic – Orthodox – or other?

Comment by JefZef

Years ago, some of my best friends left the Church to follow, what they believed to be, a more “biblical” path.  Their incessant character assassinations of Catholicism led me to investigate their claims.

I’m not a scholar or theologian.  This may seem simplistic to some, but in the end, it was the mere existence of Eastern Orthodoxy that provided, what to me at least, was the greatest worldly proof that Catholicism is the one, true Church instituted by Jesus Christ.

I began by temporarily removing the Catholic Church from the equation and looking only at the two schisms, one in 1054 and the other in 1520, and examined their fruits in the modern age.  They are profoundly different.

On the one hand, you’ve got one multinational Church, united under one Patriarch, that has remained unified and consistent in its doctrine, liturgy and traditions for nearly a millennium.

On the other hand, the Protestant Reformers couldn’t agree from day one.  There were Radical Reformers (Calvinists and the like) and Magisterial Reformers (Lutherans and Anglicans).  All of which have splintered into the 25,000+ denominations we have today.

All of these schismatics are Christians and none of them are Catholic, so why has one remained unified and consistent, while the others have fractured and splintered into so many varied parts as to be nearly unrecognizable as one religion? What is it that the Orthodox Church has that the Reformers do not?

I think the answer lies in the Apostolic priesthood.  Because the Orthodox retained a valid, Apostolic priesthood and all seven Sacraments, as well as a devotion to Mary, they had the perpetual protection of the Holy Spirit to keep them from chaos, confusion and division. Without that divine protection, I don’t think it would have been possible for them to last a century, let alone a millennium. A thousand years of consistency is just not possible for humanity alone. We are not even consistent in our interpretation of the US Constitution after two hundred years.

If I had any useful math skills, I’d try to calculate the odds. Two separate Churches agree on 99% of their doctrines then go their separate ways. After 50 generations apart, they come together in 1965 to discover that the only doctrinal difference they have is the very same 1% that they had a thousand years before. How does that happen, when Calvinists couldn’t last one generation, and Pentecostals can’t even do it on the same day in two churches a mile apart from each other?

In the end, I was left with, not 25,000 denominations to choose from, but two.  Since Jesus clearly gave authority to Peter and not to Andrew, the choice was obvious.  The current custodian of the keys to heaven is Pope Benedict XVI.

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