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November 24, 2008

Accuracy, Part VIII

I had an original idea about how I would wrap up this endeavor, but it changed several times along the way.

At first, I'd do a summary, ending by tying in everything to how the Republicans are screwing up the information that hits the public. Then I decided that was too political for this site.

Then, I wanted to go into how big business is screwing its employees over. Then I thought about how that could affect any job I get in the future.

The next idea was to discuss how children are not being raised right. But the wrath of parents is too great.

There were other ideas, all of which were not satisfying. Then it dawned on me that I would not be satisfied until I'd gone into every last detail . . . which is exactly what the last blog was about.

So, these past few months, I was sitting at home a loooooooong time before it hit me. What I should talk about is . . . nothing.

Screw that. I'm going to talk about why I'm joining the Orthodox Church.

-:-:-enter soapbox mode-:-:-

I was raised in the United Church of Christ. The church, which is generally liberal, has a very strong conservative congregation. Most of them followed and taught what I would later find out is called "Sole Scriptura", which is Greek for "only what is written", a reference to "Scripture only".

I had too many questions, and I wasn't getting answers. My friends felt the same way. Now, over twenty years later, only two of us are still there, and I don't know how dedicated they are. I was the first to leave, in 1985. I've only been back twice: My nephew's baptism and my niece's confirmation. Then, there was my mother's funeral service, which really doesn't count.

For years, I practiced Sole Scriptura, mainly because I didn't know anything else. It all changed when I was reading about Egypt (one of my favorite history subjects) and discovered the iconoclast controvery. The iconoclasts were Christians who believed all images were idolatrous, and went so far as to smash ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics in the sixth and seventh centuries until they were handled by the Seventh Ecumenical Council. I had never heard about these "Ecumenical Councils". I looked them up and realized these ten councils (Orthodoxy only recognizes seven) shaped the modern church in unbelievable ways, but they were not part of Scripture! I looked for more and more, finding the works of Josephus, Africanus, St. Basil the Great, and many more--none of them in Scripture, but all agreeing with it!

Then, knowing the debate over who split off from who between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, I made a discovery: Rome has continually changed their canons and created dogmas, while Orthodoxy has stayed basically the same, except for those seven Ecumenical Councils that changed very little about the Church (except one major thing, which I won't go into, not even in a future blog). Having decided that Orthodoxy was more like what the Christian Church should be (I'd made my decision at this point), I looked into the still further. The problem began at the Second Ecumenical Council in 381. It was the interpretation of the third church canon that led to the problem:

Rome took this to mean the Pope has authority over the others, while all the other churches considered Rome "first among equals". This grammatical confusion was clarified by the Fourth Ecumenical Council in 451 when Canon XXVIII gave that authority to Constantinople, but Pope Leo protested because the Roman legates were not present for the ballot despite the fact they were outnumbered. Further, the first canon of the same council enforced all canons of the previous councils, including the wording of the Nicene Creed (Second Council), which did not include the word "filioque", as practiced in the West.

Flash forward: July 16, 1054. A Papal envoy to Constantinople, lead by one Cardinal Humbert, considered his delegation to be treated with disrespect. During the service, at an uncertain point (probably during the part of the Nicene Creed where Rome adds "filioque"), Cardinal Humbert had enough and slammed a write of anatheme and exommunication for "Patriarch Michael Cerularius, and those in league with him" on the altar--the holiest part of any Church! He sited married clergy, ignorance of the word "filioque", and liturgical errors. The Patriarch responded in kind the next day.

Side note: Despite all this, he commended Cerularius for his ability to keep the entire city in line with Orthodoxy.

What happened? Who broke away? I have concluded that neither broke away. What happened was the result of a simple lack of clarification of the original canon at the Second Council. Instead, it could another seventy years for a vote to even take place, and it was protested, though with reason. What happened was that the fabric of the controversies of Roman/Constanipolitan authority and the Filioque Clause was finally stretched out so far that the fabric of the situation finally ripped.

The Crusades were fought afterward the Fourth Crusade sacking Constantinople, and then came the Great Inquisition until 1908. The excommunications were mutually rescinded in 1969. And in 2007, there was a joint Roman/Orthodox service. Things are looking better.

But why did I choose Orthodoxy? Simple: Rome changed, Constantinople didn't. I wanted the one more like the early church, and that's what I went with.

And I got all my facts first, just like this series of blogs has told you to do.

That ends what was supposed to be a two month series that became two and a half years because so much was going on in my life. I'm going to go over my past blogs and see if there's anything I said I'd talk about and do it next time.

The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome because Constantinople is New Rome. [taken from Wikipedia, November 5, 2008]

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