12 Reasons Why I Became and/or Remain an Orthodox Christian

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Lists like this are usually so much clickbait, I know, but I thought it was nevertheless worthwhile to compile a list of most of the reasons why I became and/or remain an Orthodox Christian. Some of these things were not really on my radar when I became Orthodox in 1998, but they are part of the reason why I genuinely do love belonging to the Orthodox Church (which is why “and/or Remain” is in the title).

The nature of lists like this is such that they can’t constitute apologetics, really, nor is this one (at least) intended to be universally applicable — these are my reasons. They may not be someone else’s. It will also become apparent that my background as an Evangelical prior to becoming Orthodox is a major factor here. So, all that said, here’s the list.

1. I believe the Orthodox Church really is the one, true Church of Christ.

There’s a lot that could be said here, but the reason why I believe this is that I examined both the Scriptures and the early history of Christianity, and I became convinced that the only church that matches them both is Orthodoxy. Particularly formative for me were the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John. The church life he described was definitely not what I saw in Evangelicalism. Since he was someone who learned how to be a Christian from the Apostles themselves, I wanted to be in his church.

Orthodoxy takes history seriously and doesn’t gloss over the hard stuff. It also doesn’t pick and choose from early Christian witness to develop a streamlined “system” of theology that is easy to swallow. Rather, because Orthodoxy is truly the community descended from the Apostles, within its theological memory are centuries of dogma, doctrine and theological reflection. Not all of it is totally consistent or easy to sort out, but it is nevertheless one great river of truth with an overall unified direction. One doesn’t see that in the same way in Roman Catholicism (there are several major turns in history), and it is impossible to find that in Protestantism. Most Protestants aren’t even concerned with it.

None of that means I regard non-Orthodox Christians as damned, nor do I even regard all Orthodox Christians as definitely destined for eternal bliss. And Orthodoxy’s truth is no testament to me. Orthodoxy is true, but not because of me.

2. Orthodoxy gives me something to do.

I don’t mean that I was bored and needed something to entertain me. I mean that the Christian life as I had been taught it prior to becoming Orthodox was essentially non-critical. I had been “saved,” and there was really nothing critical to do after that. I should try to be moral, of course, and get other people to get saved, too, but those things weren’t really necessary to the big question, which was: “Do you know what would happen to you if you died tonight?” Well, I knew. I was “saved.” I was going to Heaven.

But what if spiritual life is actually all critical? What if you need to endure to the end to be saved? What if being a Christian means working out your salvation with fear and trembling? Orthodoxy provides a full-bodied, full-souled spiritual life that assumes that everything you do as a Christian makes you either more like God or less like Him, and because becoming like God is what salvation consists of, that means that everything you do is critical. You haven’t “arrived” in this life. You should be moral and you should be evangelistic not because they get you bigger rewards in Heaven but because those things are part of what it means to cooperate with God so that you can be saved.

3. Orthodoxy gives me a way to see and touch God physically.

The Son of God became the Son of Mary, and that means that He became visible and touchable. In Orthodoxy, the implications of the doctrine of the Incarnation are that the divine presence — holiness — actually becomes present in the material world. Now, one can argue that that presence is uniquely present only in one physical place — the human body of Jesus — or one can be consistent and see how holiness shows forth in lots of other physical places both in the Bible and in subsequent Christian history. Saints’ bones, apostles’ shadows and even handkerchiefs touched by apostles have all showed forth the power of God.

Within that context, when Jesus said “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood,” it makes more sense to take Him seriously and not just metaphorically. That’s why St. Paul warned that people who received Holy Communion unworthily could get sick or even die. If it’s “just” a symbol, why would it do that?

The physicality of Orthodoxy — sacraments, incense, vestments, church architecture, icons, etc. — don’t get between me and God. They put me in touch with God. A bridge between two cliffs does not get between the cliffs but rather connects them. Orthodoxy’s many physical elements not manmade magic, but the working out of God’s gift of the Incarnation, the reconnecting of God and man.

4. Change is really hard.

People sometimes joke that Orthodoxy is not really an “organized religion,” with emphasis on “organized.” There is no pope handing down uniform instructions to the whole Church; our chiefest prelates often can’t seem to get along; and it seems like we’re never going to get around to holding that Great and Holy Council we’ve been talking about for nearly a century. But all those things don’t bother me. For one thing, it means that sheer logistics make it nearly impossible for us to alter what we do.

And if all that Eternity and Truth stuff is really true, why should we even think about altering it? It can’t get voted on democratically, and it can’t get imposed monarchically. So change doesn’t much happen. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature. Orthodoxy is not going to change out from under you.

That lack of organization also leads me to love Orthodoxy for another reason, too:

5. Orthodoxy really is one Church.

Unlike the denominationalism of the Protestant world, the various churches of Orthodoxy really do have to talk to each other and work things out. A Presbyterian and a Lutheran may each recognize each other as Christian, but they have almost no stake in each other’s internal church life. The same even holds true of someone belonging to the PCA and someone belonging to the PCUSA (both Presbyterian denominations). They don’t have to work anything out between them. A PCA church plant does not in any way infringe on the territory of the PCUSA, because they’re not the same church.

Orthodoxy may often bicker and fight (though most parishioners never see this unless they happen to be in a dysfunctional parish), but the fact that we have such bickering and fighting with each other means that we recognize in each other that we are one Church, that we have a problem and that we need to fix it. Protestants always have the option of just splitting (and once splits occur, they don’t have to bother with each other), while Roman Catholics can ultimately appeal to the Vatican, who can impose solutions that work for the Vatican but might not work for everyone else involved.

6. Orthodoxy is a faith for the whole life.

Because Orthodoxy comes with a vast set of expressions of its tradition, you can never exhaust it all. There is always something new not just to learn but to become. While we don’t really “arrive” until the next life (and I’d argue even that is not an arrival; that is, it’s not the end of the road of salvation), there are many way-stations in this life that delight and grant joy. The difference between Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism in this regard is that I’m talking about not just growing in wisdom, which is common to all religious traditions, but that Orthodoxy tracks many stages of spiritual development throughout a whole lifetime.

I remember one time hearing a monk explain the response he got from a holy elder on Mount Athos after asking him many questions. The elder replied that some things just wouldn’t make sense to him until later, until he’d received some level of illumination (theoria). It’s true. One cannot read a “Statement of Faith” from Orthodoxy (not even the Creed) and say, “Ah, yes. That is everything Orthodoxy teaches. I understand it now.”

Again, that’s not a bug. It’s a feature. Yes, we like things to be simple, to be readily accessible to everyone, but any faith that is not complex enough to address all the complexities of human experience is not worthy of the dignity of mankind. Orthodoxy provides that in a way that I haven’t found anywhere else.

7. Orthodoxy is a faith for the whole world.

There are no “target demographics” for Orthodoxy. We don’t do market research to figure out how to attract young people, old people, urban people, suburban people, or whatever particular demographic we might desire for our parish. A parish can often have a certain degree of commonality among members, but that isn’t by inherent design. There was no committee that met saying, “How do we get the 30-something suburbanites?”

Yes, Orthodoxy is sometimes plagued with ethnocentrism. But that’s a distortion of Orthodoxy, not faithfulness to it. And it’s not everywhere. I’ve belonged to both more ethnically focused and less ethnically focused, as well as ethnically non-focused Orthodox parishes, and none of them had an ethnic membership card check at the door. Orthodoxy is really a universal faith that has shaped numerous cultures and languages over many centuries.

If people as diverse as Arabs, Greeks, Serbs, Georgians, Russians, Estonians and Finns can all sing the same faith, and if both their young and old can sing it together, then truly, anyone is welcome. (Some Orthodox need to remember that more than others, though.)

8. Orthodoxy is a faith for the whole person.

Mankind is not just emotionally moved by beauty, but he aches to be near it, to create it as much as that is possible. More than any other iteration of Christian faith, the Orthodox Church knows how to envelop the worshiper with beauty in all five (or more!) senses, both otherworldly beauty that transports the worshiper and otherworldly beauty that transforms the earthly.

One might describe this as aesthetic, but it is not “mere” aesthetics in the sense of something that appeals only to the senses, perhaps for entertainment value, but goes nowhere in particular. This is aesthetic in the sense that God Himself is beauty. That is why Orthodoxy, while sometimes homely or homey, is never cheesy. It is timely and timeless, but not “contemporary.”

The beauty of Orthodoxy addresses the whole human person in multiple ways. It is not a faith just for the “soul” or the “heart,” but for the body, as well, including our ability to apprehend beauty.

9. God really does love you the way you are, and He loves you so much, He won’t leave you that way.

There seems to be a constant battle these days, especially within Protestantism, over whether God should be perceived as loving or as a judge. Even those who preach that God is love still tend to preach a God Who is angry at you for your sins and has to be appeased. But Orthodoxy preaches the God Who is consistently loving, a God Who loves with such strength that His love will change you, if only you will cooperate with it. The change won’t be lousy, either, turning you into some goody-goody prude. Rather, it will be a change into authentic personhood, where virtue is striven for because of communion, not because of adherence to arbitrary rules.

10. Orthodoxy is both mystical and rational.

Some Orthodox will oppose the mystical to the rational, but that’s a mistake, I believe. For all the apophatic theology (theology which emphasizes our inability to know God with our minds), there is also a lot of cataphatic theology (theology that makes clear, positive truth claims) in the tradition of the Church. We don’t have to choose one or the other, nor are the two really alternatives to each other. Apophatic theology is also not merely a “corrective” to cataphatic theology. Rather, both are simply ways of talking about theological emphases within Orthodoxy.

It is not as though, when I am serving the Divine Liturgy, I switch on the “rational” part when preaching the Gospel and then toggle the switch to “mystical” when I drink from the Chalice. All these things are in play simultaneously. I love that, and I haven’t really encountered that anywhere but in the Orthodox Church.

11. Orthodoxy is ascetical.

No Christian body takes asceticism as seriously as Orthodoxy does. Roman Catholicism has it in its tradition, but it is mostly ignored. Yet Orthodoxy expects all Christians to fast, to stand vigil, to be as non-possessive as possible, etc., and it provides a programme for how to do that. You don’t have to make it up for yourself, because the tradition is already established. And it’s also customizable according to the pastoral discernment of your father-confessor.

Asceticism is a way to do real battle with the broken modes that the human will functions in. It allows a man to take control of himself in a powerful way so that he can redirect his God-given powers and energies back toward God and away from his base appetites. Asceticism doesn’t save anyone, but it certainly does help. Why? Because we are only saved to the degree that we want it. Asceticism helps us to want it.

And as anyone who has really fasted for all of Lent and then tasted that first taste of roast lamb at Pascha can tell you, asceticism actually makes the good things of this earth taste better. Far from being a denigration of God’s good creation, asceticism returns the creation to us and opens up its beauty in ways that consuming it without restraint cannot ever do.

12. Orthodoxy aims higher than any other Christian faith.

While theosis (deification/divinization) is not the only model of salvation in Orthodox Christian theology, it certainly makes some of the strongest claims. There are hints at doctrines of theosis in Roman Catholicism. (I am not aware of any Protestant groups that teach it.) Yet it is only in Orthodoxy that one is taught that salvation means to become by grace what Christ is by nature, that “God became man so that man might become divine” (Athanasius, On the Incarnation) that becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4) is actually expounded upon. “I have said, ‘ye are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High’” (Ps. 82:6) is taken very seriously. You won’t find that anywhere else.

Even Pentecostals who teach that you can be chosen by God, spoken through by God, etc., aren’t really teaching that you can enter into such union with God that you begin to take on the divine attributes. But that is exactly what Orthodoxy teaches, that the transfiguration, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ are all what it truly means to be a Christian, that mankind is now seated on the very Throne of God Himself, and being in Christ means being seated there, too.

Pretty daring. But why settle for less?

So those are some of my reasons. What are yours?

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31 thoughts on “12 Reasons Why I Became and/or Remain an Orthodox Christian

    Holly Kirouac said:
    February 11, 2014 at 5:22 am

    Ditto x twelve! My own list would also include the fact that Orthodoxy brings you to the Trinity. Evangelicals focus on the Son, Charismatics focus on the Holy Spirit, and Fundamentalists focus on the Judge (as their portrayal of the Father) – but in Orthodoxy the Trinity is revealed. This has such far-reaching doctrinal and relational effects for the Church and for each of us personally.

    vfinnell said:
    February 11, 2014 at 8:07 am

    My reasons were similar to yours, but especially point #5. I came from Anglicanism which is forever splitting and subjecting things to discussion and vote that should not even be considered in the first place. For example, the current debate over women’s ordination in the Anglican Church in North America may result in another split along these lines.

    MLee said:
    February 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Good list! But for me, the hymn “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down Death by death” says it all. It says what and who the real problem is, it forms our goal and endgame, and it guides our actions (both individually and corporately). Forgiveness is meaningless if we are dead and life in this world makes no sense if we — those in the tombs — have not been bestowed Life. That He is risen and we are given Life is the precious jewel that we must all meditate on continuously. Only Orthodoxy drives home that message.

    Ephraim said:
    February 11, 2014 at 11:42 am

    …because ever since I began attending an Orthodox parish full time, even as an inquirer, but certainly continuing throughout this neophyte year so far, my need for and path of repentance has become more and more clear, as though a sort of spiritual fog is being blown away or burned away by the morning sun. My ability to recognize my need for salvation, along with my ability to ask God for the grace to participate in that salvation through active repentance has never been stronger. My “self-esteem” has, in one way, diminished so greatly that it seems useless, which has made much more room for the action of Great Mercy in me. Today, I look far worse to myself than I ever did as a very active Roman Catholic, engaged in ministry on parish and diocesan levels, and this current “self-esteem” is more clearly true than my former delusion. (This takes nothing away from my fellow Roman Catholics (I grew up that way, and they are all still brothers and sisters to me, even though I have now “married up”) who are engaged in a life of sincere repentance, because I have known a few who are; I thought they were basically overwrought kooks, because that’s how they looked by comparison to the vast majority of clergy and laity.)

    Although this self-concept will undoubtedly sound very grim to many, if not most people, what I have come to know is a much friendlier, much more loving and merciful God than I ever “got” before becoming Orthodox. Now, my sense of existential security, if you will, does not depend at all on my ability to justify myself. While I will ever strive for moral rectitude, compassion, emotional sobriety, etc., I will rely not upon my own strength, but on the grace of God, so that where I succeed, I know to give thanks for that work done in me, and where I fail, I know that it is because I, once again, stupidly tried to live as though I didn’t need grace working inside every breath I take.

    Pertaining somewhat to what you wrote in #6 above, I could never, at the outset of this journey, have imagined what a relief it is to confess, in the face of the Holy Mysteries, that I am the chief sinner. Somehow, I can grasp at this point that this life of repentance we pray for will always turn out to have “something more” no matter how long nor how well I have persevered in it. Of course, at this point, I think that I can be, at best, faithful to repenting as soon as I become aware that my perseverance has collapsed; after all, I have to drive a car almost every day, while other people are doing the same thing.

    Lubo Atanasov said:
    February 11, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    The healing and restoration of the soul that take place in the Orthodox Church I have not seen anywhere else. All sacraments of the Church and the entirety of the day to day church life come together to put back the pieces where they belong and make me capable of true communion with the divine. Protestants are very knowledgeabpe in scripture and apologetics but their general expression of compassion is “get over it”. I can not describe the power of the realization how much I am being loved despite my ignorance, cruelty, and ungratefulness.

    Potpourri 2/12/14 | Tipsy Teetotaler said:
    February 12, 2014 at 6:17 am

    […] (12 Reasons Why I Became and/or Remain an Orthodox Christian) […]

    Susan Cushman said:
    February 12, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    This is informative, but I would leave off Numbers 1 and 12…. There’s just no need to be elitist or make sweeping judgments about other faiths. I’ve been Orthodox since 1988, so I’ve got ten years on you. In my early years I tended (as do many converts) to be a bit radical, but I’ve mellowed with age. If I had to choose two of your reasons as ones I can relate to, they would be Numbers 8 and 10. You can read a bit about why I feel so strongly about beauty here, “Icons Will Save the World.” http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2007/12/icons-will-save-the-world

      Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick responded:
      February 12, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Thanks, Susan. For whatever it may be worth, as I said, these are twelve of my own reasons. I wouldn’t be being honest if I left off #1 and #12 (especially #1), because they were and are major reasons that I am an Orthodox Christian.

      That said, is it really elitist or sweeping to believe those things? #1 really is part and parcel of the Orthodox faith—we only believe in one Church, and Orthodoxy is it. Indeed, if someone doesn’t believe #1 in particular, I don’t think it would be a good idea for him to become Orthodox. It’s also not elitist to believe that, because Orthodoxy’s truth is not because I’m a better Christian. (I’m not.) Like I said, Orthodoxy is true, but not because of me.

      And #12 is a pretty objective statement of fact that is true independent of whether one believes it. Other Christians’ teachings just aren’t aiming as high as theosis—they may believe it’s wrong but aren’t proposing something higher. (The notable exception is the Mormons, of course, who aim far higher, but I wouldn’t regard them as Christians since they do not believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation.)

      Antonia Colias said:
      February 13, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Posting this in a mindset of peacefulness. I think it irrelevant that I converted to Orthodoxy in 1976. Points #1 and #12 happen to be true. That is no more “elitist” than is Christ’s direct speech in John 14:6.

    Cathy Davison said:
    February 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I still do not understand praying to these icons. Why would you pray to anyone but God. Jesus is the only one who was raised from the dead… Mary is dead. The “saints” are dead. There is nowhere in my Bible that says you should pray to anyone/anything except our Lord. So I can understand the veneration of the icon representing Christ Jesus…anyone else…no.

      Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick responded:
      February 12, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Cathy, thanks for your comment.

      In response, first you should know that we do not pray “to” icons. One might say we pray “through” them or “with” them, but icons themselves are not the object of prayer.

      In any event, regarding the saints — they are not dead! Indeed, we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1), who are very much alive and aware of us. They experience a foretaste of the Resurrection even though they are not yet raised from the dead. But they are alive in Christ — indeed, in a sense, they are more alive than we are. We see them, for instance, offering up the prayers of those on earth at the throne of God (Rev. 5:8).

      As to whom we should pray to, there is of course one kind of prayer that is to God alone, but there is another sort we offer to fellow Christians. The reason we ask the saints in Heaven to pray for us is the exact same reason we ask each other to pray for us. And pray really just means “ask.” It does not mean “worship,” which is due to God alone. So we are asking for the saints to do for us what we ask those in this life to do for us — though I would submit that they are better at it, since they are unencumbered by sin and are close to the throne of God.

      If you are interested in a much more thorough treatment of this issue, I very much recommend Dr. David Ford’s excellent article on it, which is available online and written in a very accessible fashion: Prayer and the Departed Saints

        Antonia Colias said:
        February 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm

        I don’t know, of course; however, I wonder if Ms. Davison believes in what is called “soul sleep”, an error which leads Protestants to consider it impossible for the saints to hear our prayers, as well as impossible for them to pray to God on our behalf.

        Cathy Davison said:
        February 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm

        Thank you for the reply. I have been wanting to discuss this with someone. So you say the saints are all around us, but the only resurrection that has happened is Jesus. All others according to what I read in the Bible are in paradise awaiting the coming judgement. I believe Angels are all around us, but does the Bible say something about the Saints being around us? I am not trying to be obstinate, I try to study the Bible. Cathy

        Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick responded:
        February 13, 2014 at 7:42 pm

        Hebrews 12:1 says “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” and that “since” refers to everything that came before, which in Hebrews 11 is a description of many Old Testament saints (the only departed “saints” at the time of most of the New Testament).

        Also, at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the Lord appears with both Moses and Elias, who are certainly quite alert and not dead as they speak with Him in the sight of Peter, James and John.

        Cathy Davison said:
        February 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm

        I am very much interested in this. I will see if I can get the book you recommend. I do believe that your services are much more in line with the way the original Christians worshipped, but I don’t think they stood up all the time as I think the Orthodox Church does?

        Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick responded:
        February 13, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        No ancient church has pews or seats, which pretty much indicates that they stood. It’s also apparent in literature from the period, too, as well as being the cultural norm even outside the Church — students stood while the teacher sat, for instance.

        Cathy Davison said:
        February 14, 2014 at 8:15 am

        Ah. I knew they met in houses to begin with. I assumed they sat on the floor. Thank you.

        Priest Christopher Johnson said:
        February 19, 2014 at 2:42 pm

        Matthew 22:31-33

        “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.”

        Still astonishing to this day, and I am always struck by it.

        -Fr. Chris Johnson

      Julia Jay said:
      February 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      I never thought we prayed to the ICONs rather they are stories, symbols, guide us to memory of past just as the word does- praying the scriptures is not praying to the scriptures rather uniting with them- why make up own words if there is nothing like reiterating the Word , I am new convert tho so that’s just my opinion.

    padrerichard said:
    February 13, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Reblogged this on padrerichard.

    Mrs. Mutton said:
    February 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    None of these is among the reasons I *became* Orthodox. But all of them are the reasons I remain Orthodox, a Faith for which I thank God every day.

    Laura said:
    February 14, 2014 at 6:55 am

    I love these 12 reasons, and there are many more besides! I left the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod 4 years ago and became Orthodox and have never regretted a minute. I thank and praise God that He led me to His Church. I am finally in a safe place to work out my salvation with people who love me and don’t judge me. May God continue to bless His Church!

    cool blog entry by Fr Andrew Damick - Christian Forums said:
    February 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    […] […]

    Joseph Hess said:
    February 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Thank you for sharing. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I enjoyed reading all of your reasons for Orthodoxy. My walk with God has brought me many wonderful, peaceful, kind, and loving Orthodox Christians who were critical to my spiritual walk. I am exploring an Orthodox gathering in my area and school for my children.

    George Moshen said:
    February 23, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    It is by a miracle that I have been an Orthodox Christian for 28 years. I came in skeptical at first, and found a beauty of worship and people that are constantly changing me for the better. It isn’t a faith for the casual or squeamish. The Christian life is a struggle as we fight against our own passions and sinful nature. Orthodoxy gives you the tools to climb the ladder of “Theosis”(God likeness). After all these years, I am finally beginning to understand this. Born and raised Jewish and first saved in an all Black Baptist Church, I thank God every minute of every day for showing me HIs Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    Michael Bauman said:
    March 30, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    One reason: the overwhelming constant and continuing presence of Jesus Christ. Not my emotion or feeling but the unmistakeable reality of Him despite silly, corrupt abusive people and my own unworthiness.

    He called me, welcomed me through an icon of His Mother, blessed me to be received by the hands of an unfortunately unstable priest and to stay despite my pride anger and sloth and the ethnocentric hatred of some in my first parish.

    In the process He has blessed me beyond anything I imagined including being the least in an outstanding parish.

    Ric Ballard said:
    April 8, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    In regards to reason 12 you have been miss informed about Catholicism. Just like many Orthodox there are a great deal not aware of their own teachings. Just read this from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “#460 The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:”For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”. ………As you can read this is a central teaching of Catholicism so it might be a good idea to retract your statement in order to maintain intellectual integrity.

      Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick responded:
      April 8, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      There’s not really space here to go into this in detail, but what you write is very much taken into account in #12. I didn’t say that theosis is utterly absent in RCism, but where it does exist it does not really go as far as it does in Orthodoxy. As for it being a “central teaching of Catholicism,” well, that is an evaluative statement that is not representative of the official presentations of RC soteriology that I have seen, which are far more focused on the question of satisfaction of divine justice (which figures quite large in the CCC). The section you quote from the CCC is on the Incarnation, and of course the Orthodox would agree with that, but while deification/divinization is mentioned here and there, it really never goes as far as the Orthodox doctrine but is usually only mentioned in passing and certainly doesn’t figure very large in the sections on salvation. Even when it is mentioned there, it is the result of “supernatural grace” and not direct union with God Himself

      I see from your website that you’re probably Eastern Catholic, which definitely is a different perspective from the other 98+% of Catholicism. But I think a thorough look at the teachings of the CCC will show that theosis is not the primary Catholic understanding of salvation. “Merit,” for instance, is mentioned 17 times in nine different paragraphs the CCC, but deification/divinization is mentioned only once in one paragraph.

      So, forgive me, but I won’t be making any retractions.

        Mrs. Mutton said:
        June 13, 2014 at 5:36 am

        As a former Catholic and current (grateful!) Orthodox, I can state without reservation that the first time in my life that I ever heard of theosis was after becoming Orthodox. It is not any part of Catholic teaching. And I attended Catholic schools for thirteen years of my life.

    Kevin Murphy said:
    June 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Father – Wonderful article. My one difficulty with Orthodoxy is the teaching on divorce. Even if I were not Roman Catholic, I could not understand what seems to be a direct contradiction to Christ’s teaching. I say as someone who wishes to understand. Please explain. Thank you.

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