IS THERE ( OR CAN THERE BE ) UNITY IN CONSTANTINOPLE ?
This Article is broken up in to four parts
PART #1 THE QUESTION
PART #2 THE PROBLEM
PART #3 IS UNITY NECESSARY ?
PART #4 CAN THERE BE UNITY WITHOUT AUTHORITY ?
PART #5 THE CONCLUSION
The Schismatic Greeks have rejected the rightful authority of Rome which Christ established as the head of his church (see Part one). Like the Protestants the schismatic Greeks do not have any unity. There is no common authority (which reminds the reader very much of the Protestants), thus rendering a unity of faith and obedience impossible. In the confession of faith edited in the middle of the seventeenth century and commonly accepted, these schismatic Churches attempted to point out a center of unity, thus:
1. The Church of Jerusalem is the mother Church and the head of all others.
2. Christ alone is the head of the whole Church.
3. There is common authority and it consists in a general council of all the Bishops of the Greek and Latin Churches.
The problems with this argument is obvious the Church of Jerusalem does not as a matter of fact rule the other Schismatic Churches. Christ Himself, while remaining the invisible head, appointed a visible head as His vicar on earth (MATT,16-18) , St. Peter and his successors. A general council without the Primate appointed by Christ is impossible, as these very Churches admit in practice, for from the time they separated from the Primate (867) not even one such council was held, and hence there would be no organ of infallibility in the Church of Christ for all these centuries.
These ( highly nationalistic ) Schismatic Churches are split up into many independent sects, that of Russia, of Jerusalem, of Constantinople, of Alexandria, of Antioch, the Greek, Serbian, Roumanian, Bulgarian, etc. The largest of these is the Russian, and this in itself is split up into various sects and would disappear altogether if it were not upheld by the political power. It seems clear that the Bolshevist in control of Russia and the other Communist countries anxiously fostered these Schismatic Orthodox sects (strictly under the Athiestistic state control of course) ."in 1712 Czar Peter the Great abolished the patriarchate and put the church under strict state control. The patriarchate was re-established just before the Russian Revolution of 1917 but, during both Lenin's and Stalin's regimes, as part of Stalin's new policies during WW II, the church was revived and encouraged to expand. "(Concise Dictionary of World History, 1986, p. 573 Vol. 2.)
The Schismatic Greek Orthodox sects follow the Byzantine Rite, i. e. the rite developed at Constantinople between the fourth and tenth centuries. In the beginning, the only language of these sects was Greek. Later, however (the exact date is uncertain), it was introduced among the Georgians, or Iberians, of the Caucasus and was translated into the Georgian vernacular of the country. In the ninth century, through the efforts of Sts. Cyril and Methodius and their disciples, the Moravians and the Bulgarians were converted to Christianity, and as the missionaries were Byzantines they introduced their own rite, but translated the Liturgy into Slav, the mother tongue of those nations. From Bulgaria this Byzantine-Slav Rite spread among the Servians and the Russians. In recent times the Byzantine Rite has been translated into Rumanian for use by the faithful of that nationality. Lastly, the Orthodox Syrians of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt have adopted a hybrid Byzantine Rite in which, according to the whim of the celebrant, either Greek or Arabic is used. Hence we have five divisions of the Byzantine Rite, and consequently five divisions of Orthodox Greek Churches: — "The Eastern curches are largly autonomous (I.E. independent one from another complete lack of unity), and the major divisions of the church are known as patriarchates. Chief among these are the patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, all formed in the early history of the Christian church. From these, through missionary work and emigration, sprang numerous other Orthodox curches in Eastern Europe. The greatest of these was the Orthodox church of Russia (q.v.), which was originally governed through the patriarchate of Constanople. It became an independent patriarchate in 1589."(Concise Dictionary of World History, 1986 p. 575 Vol. 2.)
(1) The Greek-Byzantine Rite, which includes the pure Greeks subject
(a) to the Patriarchate of Constantinople,
(b) to the Holy Synod of Athens, and
(c) to the Archbishopric of Cyprus.
(2) The Arabic-Byzantine Rite, which includes the Christians under the Patriarchates of
(c) Alexandria, and
(d) the Archbishopric of Sinai.
(3) The Georgian-Byzantine Rite, which, up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, included the Churches of the Caucasus Range now absorbed by the Russian Church and obliged to use the Slavonic Liturgy instead of their own native Georgian.
(4) The Slavonic-Byzantine Rite, comprising
(a) the Russian,
(b) the Servian, and
(c) the Bulgarian Churches.
(5) The Rumanian-Byzantine Rite, used by the Rumanian Churches.
IS UNITY NECESSARY ?
YES, UNITY IS NECESSARY. The Bible is very specific on this matter. The true church MUST BE UNIFIED. Christ taught only ONE set of truths, and established only ONE church. This church would have the authority over the rest.
The Bible teaches that Christ ascribed to his Church qualities and gave to it the names that proved it to be a VISIBLE organization with VISIBLE UNITY among its followers.
And he hath subjected all things under his feet, and hath made him (Christ) head over all the church, Which is his body, and the fullness of him who is filled all in all. (Eph. i. 22,23)
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12-5:)
+++Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4. There is ONE BODY, AND ONE SPIRIT even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. 5. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, etc. (Eph. 4-3 to 5-3:)
+++And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10-16:)
+++For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread.(1 Cor. x. 17)
+++For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also in Christ.For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink. . . . But now there are many members indeed, yet one body. . . .
Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.(1 Cor. xii. 12,13,20,27)
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach to you a gospel, besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: if any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. (Gal. i. 8,9)
And he hath subjected all things under his feet, and hath made him head over all the church,
Which is his body, and the fullness of him who is filled all in all. (Eph. i. 22,23)
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, etc. (Rom. 12, 4-5:)
That they may be one, as thou Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that (as a consequence) the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. (John 17-21:)
In many places of scripture, Christ's Church is compared to a house, a body, a city built on a mountain, a sheepfold, etc.; but these are all visible things. Hence Christ's Church besides being one spirit is also "One Body." The Catholic Church alone has this two-fold unity. The "invisible" theory is therefore false on the face of it.
Contrast the unity of Faith, Fold and Shepherd in the Catholic Church with the dissenting, contradictory tenets of the many Schismatic Orthodox organizations and the divinity of the former becomes obvious and certain.
CAN THERE BE UNITY WITHOUT AUTHORITY ?
NO, there can not be unity without a centralized authority. The Bible is very specific first true church MUST be unified and it MUST have authority. The schismatic Orthodox rejected the authority which Christ himself put in charge of the church (St. Peter). Because of this the Orthodox have not had any unity. The schismatic Orthodox churches are traditionally very nationalistic leading to inter church problems based upon national politics. Clearly, this is not the way Christ instituted his church to function. And goes strictly against Christ's teachings in the Bible.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good thing! (Rom. x.13-15)
Like the Protestants the schismatic Orthodox have rejected the unifying religious authority which Christ (God) established as the head of his (Christ's) church. And just like their Protestant consort's the schismatic Orthodox church has over the years fractioned into many independent sects, clearly these schismatic sects lack unity and cannot be considered ONE once again we see the Orthodox dishonesty as they attempted to claim the titles and attributes of the TRUE church founded on Peter.
Pope Gregory XVI pointed out in his encyclical Mirari Vos; "Therefore "without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate."[Symbol .s. Athanasius. ] Let them hear Jerome who, while the Church was torn into three parts by schism, tells us that whenever someone tried to persuade him to join his group he always exclaimed: "He who is for the See of Peter is for me."[St. Jerome, epistle 57. ] A schismatic flatters himself falsely if he asserts that he, too, has been washed in the waters of regeneration. Indeed Augustine would reply to such a man: "The branch has the same form when it has been cut off from the vine; but of what profit for it is the form, if it does not live from the root?" - [St. Augustine, in psalm. contra part. Donat].
In simple conclusion; as the well known liturgical historian, Fr. Adrian Fortescue, PhD, DD., put it "All that is asked of them is to come back to where their Fathers stood, to treat Rome as Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom treated her. It is not Latins, it is they who have left the Faith of their Fathers. There is no humiliation in retracing one's steps when one has wandered down a mistaken road because of long-forgotten personal quarrels. They too must see how disastrous to the common cause is the scandal of the division. They too must wish to put an end to so crying an evil. And if they really wish it the way need not be difficult. For, indeed, after nine centuries of schism we may realize on both sides that it is not only the greatest it is also the most superfluous evil in Christendom." Eastern Schism”, Catholic Encyclopedia .
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