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Title:Tradition wars: The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches make the identical claim of apostolic succession, yet are so different they are not even in communion!
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Body:Let the "church tradition" wars begin! Roman Catholics and Orthodox nuke it out, each claiming the other's tradition is wrong, while sola Scriptura advocates point them back to the Bible as the only hope for unity! Both Roman Catholics and Orthodox view the other churches tradition as invalid. We merely highlight the fact that, contrary to their claims, "church tradition" does not bring about uniform doctrine and interpretation of scripture.

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The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches make the identical claim of apostolic succession, yet are so different they are not even in communion! Click to View Sola Scriptura home page

Roman Catholics and Eastern Greek Orthodox differences based upon tradition:

Roman Catholics and Eastern Greek Orthodox churches accuse the other of false doctrines both base upon tradition:

The Catholics reject several of the specific canons of the early ecumenical councils, but the orthodox accept them as inspired.

Catholics and Orthodox disagree on the dates of Christmas and Easter. While the Orthodox church claims council at Nice was inspired, yet is rejects the canons of Nicea on the date of Easter which the Catholics accept.

The Catholics teach purgatory, yet the Orthodox reject it.

Universal papal jurisdiction was a rather large dogfight in 588-606 AD.

Although the Orthodox reject Papal infallibility, the decisions of the orthodox synods are considered infallible.

The Immaculate Conception is utterly rejected by the Orthodox.

The orthodox baptized by full immersion (thrice), the Catholics sprinkle.

In the Orthodox Church married men can become priests. In the Catholic church men are forbidden to marry. (except for one small part of the world)

The Roman Catholic church introduced instrumental music no earlier than the 7th century and the Orthodox church has never used instrumental music, but like the apostles, sang without instrument.

In Catholic communion, the cup is withheld from the members, while the Orthodox float the "crouton looking" bread cubes in the wine. Catholics believe the bread and wine (transubstantiation) become the literal body of Christ when the priest says, "this is my body". The Orthodox disagrees and says the change takes place at prayer. Catholics use unleavened bread, while Orthodox use leavened bread. Orthodox must keep a ridged schedule of fasts in order to have communion every week, but the most common practice is a minimum of four times a year during the four Orthodox Lents "Christmas, Easter, Peter and Paul, The virgin Mary. Catholics on the other hand, must not eat the hour before, to have communion every day. In the end, Orthodox offer communion weekly and Catholics daily. In practice most Orthodox laity have communion four times year and Catholics weekly. So which of these two traditions is the one the apostles used? All this proves that they have no valid "apostolic tradition", otherwise they would all agree! They differ on the frequency of communion, the fasting requirements and the actual method of partaking.

Transubstantiation is a false doctrine that says the bread and grape juice of the Lord's supper actually molecularly change to become the flesh and blood of Jesus. Of course this old doctrine was formulated before the advent of molecular microscopes which see no change. For Catholics the "Transubstantiation" occurs when the priest says the words, "this is my body". For Orthodox the change occurs when the priest offers the prayer of thanks.

The "Filioque" scandal: Following the Nicene creed, the Orthodox Church believed the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father alone. Then in 1054 AD the Roman church added to the wording of the Nicene creed "And the Son" or the "Filioque." The Roman church believed the Holy Spirit proceeded from BOTH the Father and the Son.

Orthodox keeps the original Nicene Creed, accepted by the Universal Church, East and West, during the first millennium without the addition of "And the Son" or the "Filioque." It accepts, on faith, Christ's words in the Gospel, that the Father is the Unoriginate Source of the Life of the Trinity, with the Only-Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit Proceeding from the Father Alone. We cannot know how the Begetting of the Son and the Proceeding of the Spirit from the same Father is different, only that it is and this distinguishes the two Persons.

War #1

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370 AD: Basil's approach: Forget Tradition Wars: Let Scripture Decide!

A. Basil wrote in 370 AD:

"What then? After all these efforts were they tired? Did they leave off? Not at all. They are charging me with innovation, and base their charge on my confession of three hypostases, and blame me for asserting one Goodness, one Power, one Godhead. In this they are not wide of the truth, for I do so assert. Their complaint is that their custom does not accept this, and that Scripture does not agree. What is my reply? I do not consider it fair that the custom which obtains among them should be regarded as a law and rule of orthodoxy. If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth." (Basil, Letter 189, 3)

B. Our comments on what Basil wrote in 370 AD:

What a "flagship passage"! Every Roman Catholic and Orthodox priest should be required to hand scribe this text by Basil on parchment, rolled up and placed in a little clear bottle and hung around their neck!

For the Roman Catholics who refuse to believe that such words could fall from the lips of a Catholic bishop, the Pope describes Basil as, "one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church".

One side of the debate cried, "my tradition is right". The other side replied, "No, our tradition is right".

But Basis says something far more important, "custom is to be taken in proof of what is right", except in those cases when the opponent rejects this custom. Basil continues, in this case, "let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth."

We do not dispute that Basil clearly believes that "church tradition" is authoritative, (ie. something that has been practiced for a long time should take precedence over some new doctrine.) But Basil's next statement should send chills up the spine of Orthodox and Catholic leaders. Basis says that when unity cannot be attained by first appealing to "church tradition", then the highest court of appeal is to debate the matter directly from scripture!

This is exactly what Protestants have been saying all along! Furthermore, Catholic and Orthodox bishops are forbidden to even debate Protestants! Sure some powerless but ambitious pew-dwelling Catholic might want to debate, but what's the point, when they don't even believe they can even understand the scriptures themselves! But Protestants know just how easy it is to defeat such "defenders of Orthodoxy" in scriptural debates.

In the end, Basil gives good advice to all Catholics who just say, "the Pope is right, forget the scriptures".

War #2

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Orthodox leaders accuse the Roman Catholics of heresy!

A. Clark Carlton, Orthodox defender, wrote this about Catholic doctrine:

"In defending sola Scriptura, Protestant apologists invariably use Roman Catholic theology as a foil. It is asserted that Roman Catholics accept two sources of authority-Scripture and tradition-and that tradition is given equal weight with Scripture. Second, it is asserted that Roman Catholic reliance on tradition has resulted in the modern doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and papal infallibility. From these premises, Protestants conclude that sola Scriptura is the only safeguard against aberrant doctrinal developments. First of all, the doctrinal aberrations of the Roman Catholic Church are manifestly not part of the universal tradition of the Church. The Orthodox Church opposes the Roman doctrines of universal papal jurisdiction, papal infallibility, purgatory, and the Immaculate Conception precisely because they are untraditional. Furthermore, the Orthodox Church has never accepted the Roman Catholic assertion that there are two sources of authority. The Church recognizes one and only one source of authority for Her faith and practice: the apostolic tradition. The Divine Scriptures are part-albeit the most important part-of that tradition. To set Scriptures up as something over and apart from tradition is to have the tail wagging the dog. (THE WAY: What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox Church, Clark Carlton, 1997, p 135)

B. Our comments about what Clark Carlton said:

First, we completely agree with Clark Carlton's criticism that the Catholic doctrines of "universal papal jurisdiction, papal infallibility, purgatory, and the Immaculate Conception" are false because they violate the record of history. In other words, they are doctrines that clearly never entered the minds of the apostles. The earliest Apostolic Fathers also knew nothing about them. But Carlton misses the most important proof they are false: Forget tradition, they are not taught in the Bible and if they are not in the Bible, they are false man-made theology!

Carlton is walking a very fine tightrope in his criticism of the Catholic false doctrine. Carlton really shows his true colours when he says: "To set Scriptures up as something over and apart from tradition is to have the tail wagging the dog." Wrong Carlton, the Bible is the dog and the church is the tail! You have it all backwards!

Yet the Roman Catholic church will argue with the Orthodox church over whose tradition is the pure apostolic bloodline! Notice that while Carlton criticizes the Catholics for being untraditional (a charge Catholics accuse of the Orthodox) he still can't let the scriptures be the king of the hill! He still has to squeeze in his tradition... which in the orthodox case, as i the Catholic, is whatever the Orthodox church is teaching today.

While Carlton says, the "Immaculate Conception" of the virgin Mary, is "not part of the universal tradition of the Church", he knows that the doctrine of praying to the saints and Mariolatry are also as untraditional as they are unscriptural.

War #3

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Orthodox leaders accuse the "Classical Reformers" of heresy!

A. Clark Carlton, Orthodox defender, wrote this about Catholic doctrine:

"The Reformation did not do away with tradition; it merely substituted the traditions of sixteenth-century nominalists and humanists for the tradition of the Apostles and early Church Fathers." (THE WAY: What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox Church, Clark Carlton, 1997, p 109)

B. Our comments about what Clark Carlton said:

This is a rather short sighted comment. The abuse of indulgences and a host of other unbiblical, untraditional doctrines is what sparked the reformation movement in the first place.

It is well documented that the Orthodox and Catholic view of indulgences and purgatory are different. We wonder why Orthodox defenders would not praise the reformers for criticizing a view, they themselves deny as false!

So in fact, the reformers bypassed tradition and went straight back to the bible and rejected a host of things that never entered the minds of the apostles.

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