A reader asks about the Orthodox

A reader asks about the Orthodox December 28, 2011

He writes:

Boy do I have a question from you! Not sure if you will be able to answer it or not, but you’ll know more than me! Now I am a convert to the faith (R.C.), for many reasons, including it’s historical claims. Now I know that the Eastern Orthodox (of all Christian groups) are probably the closest to us. My opinions about the relationship between the two have varied over the years, from the initial idea that they were hostile to each other, and then a gradual ‘not that wide a gap between the two’ kind of sentiment. That later sentiment was, in part, helped by people like you, who I have seen point out that we are not that far apart. But I have noticed a tendency in E.O. to bear a grudge against, and that a hostility does exist in the hearts of at least some of its members. This is also historical. Historically speaking it seems more animus is directed at the Catholic by the Orthodox, then vice versa. And please don’t make me mention how they blame so much on us (the sack of Constantinople in the 4th Crusade is complicated, but it was neither devastating nor unprovoked, and the Teutonic Knights who went to war against Russia sought to bring Russia back in communion with Rome and Christendom as a whole).

As of just today I came across something I found very odd (this is where you come in).
I was reading John C. Wright’s blog, and in one of them a E.O. and a Mormon got into a discussion of original sin, it prompted the E.O. to post a link that showed the differences between the Roman Church and the Eastern Orthodox. Needless to say I read it, and to be frank was quite blown away by it. I knew we had our differences, but at least according to this source, I had no idea the Orthodox thought that we believed in a DIFFERENT GOD THEN THEY DID?!! What?! And that is only one of several WHATS in the thing. So here it is:

What do you make of this? Is this really the differences between us, or are these guys E.O.’s version of our “Trads” and are just causing some stink. Now I am very confused. Please help!

Yeah, this is an Eastern manifestation of the Any Idiot with a Keyboard phenomenon that also plagues the Catholic Church when its members go on line and start pontificating about What the Church Teaches. Eastern Christians can say stupid stuff just as Western ones can, including blather about how Christians who don’t belong to My Little Eastern sect worship strange gods and so forth. Pay it no mind. You can also find any number of Eastern Christians who recognize that other baptized Christians are (obviously) Christian and not Zoroastrian or Buddhist. Oh, and five’ll get you ten that sect also rejects an awful lot of other Orthodox as worshipping false gods too. There is no such thing as “Orthodoxy” just as there is no such things as “Protestantism”. There are lots of “Orthodoxys” and lots of “Protestantisms”.

You are right that the Eastern Churches are closest to us and the Catholic communion greatly desires reunion with the East so that the Church might “breathe with both lungs” as JPII put it. Certainly this has been a priority since the Council. God alone knows if it will ever happen. Meanwhile, we approach the immense complexities of the different Eastern Churches with respect and with the understanding that, online, anybody can say any crazy thing they like. Take it with a huge grain of salt.

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