During the recent years, there has been an increasing division between the Greek Orthodox church and the Catholic church. These churches differ in many ways, but the main difference is that the Catholic church teaches that Jesus is the incarnated second person of the Trinity, while the Orthodox church teaches that the incarnation of Jesus is the only way to God. Those differences have led to a lot of animosity between the two churches.
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Believe in the same God
Despite their differences in religious belief, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church both believe in the same God. But do they believe in the same gospel message? The difference is in how the two denominations view the salvation process. While the Orthodox believe in salvation by faith, the Catholics believe in salvation through works. And while the Orthodox believe that the church has ultimate authority, the Catholics believe that the Pope of Rome has that authority.
While both churches believe in the triune God, the Greek Orthodox believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the triune God. They also believe that the Holy Spirit indwells Christians. The Catholic Church also believes that the Bible is inspired by God.
Jesus of Nazareth is the incarnated second person of the Trinity
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth is presented as the incarnated second person of the Trinity. His human nature subsists only for the purpose of union with the divine nature. His divine nature is unchanged.
The Nicene creed speaks of Jesus as the only begotten Son of God from God, the Word from God, and the Light from Light. It is a powerful expression of Christian belief. The phrase “Son of God” is familiar to Jews, and is often used interchangeably with “Son of Man”. The phrase has evolved in meaning over time.
A third century heresy, Modalism, is related to the doctrine of the Trinity. Sabellius of Rome is associated with this heresy. Unlike Arians and Docetism, Modalism holds that Jesus’ human nature subsists only for the purposes of union with the divine.
Accept other books that do not appear in the Catholic Bible
Several claims have been made that the Bible was the only game in town, a claim that is contested by both sides of the aisle. The Catholic Church has not been shy about its commitment to the written word, albeit one that is not as dogmatic as it seems. For instance, the Bible is not a unified text but is instead an amalgam of books and pamphlets culled from the early Church fathers. For proof, just ask your favorite priest and you might well be surprised by his answer. That same priest might also have a sneaky suspicion that a non-catholic version of the Holy Bible exists. Indeed, the Catholic Church is the first in line to defend its preeminence.
Accept Communion as the body and blood of Christ
Taking communion as the body and blood of Christ is a very important practice in the church. There are a variety of different rules and guidelines regarding who can participate in this sacred ritual. Some churches require a certain degree of piety or formal membership in the church before being eligible to receive the Holy Eucharist. Others practice more open communion.
The Bible is filled with instructions on taking communion. Specifically, the Bible states that you should be baptized before taking communion. Didache, an early Church writer, wrote that baptism was a prerequisite for receiving the Eucharist.
The church also teaches that the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ. This is called transubstantiation. It is an important concept because it explains the real presence of Jesus.
Overcoming the rift between the Orthodox and Catholic churches
Almost 30 years after the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic and Orthodox churches in Greece continue to be in a state of official schism. The Orthodox reject the pope’s authority, while the Catholics consider communion with the bishop of Rome to be a prerequisite for full membership in the church. The schism is a long-standing issue, but its doctrinal dimensions are not yet fully resolved.
One of the first steps toward reunification of the two churches is to pursue forgiveness. This is particularly important for the Serbian Orthodox Church, which suffered a great deal from war wounds in the Balkans. It should also pursue healing from past abuses.
The Orthodox and Catholic Churches share similar social doctrines. They also have similar views on the essence of God and the energy of the spirit. Consequently, their system of morality is similar. But, there are differences in their understanding of apostolic succession.