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Apostolic Christianity and the 23,000 Western Churches. by Steven Kovacevich

Apostolic Christianity and the 23,000 Western Churches. by Steven Kovacevich

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Published by Иоанн Дойг
This book started out as a correspondence course on Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the ancient faith that the popular Time-Life series on the great religions of the world calls “Christendom's oldest Church” [Christendom and Christianity, vol. 3 of The World's Great Religions, New York: Time, Inc., 1963, p. 266]. The author took the course many years ago after a long and vain search for the fullness of truth along the highways and byways of Western Christianity, all of which proved dead-end paths where one encounters truth in varying degrees, plus falsehood in one concentration or another.
This book started out as a correspondence course on Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the ancient faith that the popular Time-Life series on the great religions of the world calls “Christendom's oldest Church” [Christendom and Christianity, vol. 3 of The World's Great Religions, New York: Time, Inc., 1963, p. 266]. The author took the course many years ago after a long and vain search for the fullness of truth along the highways and byways of Western Christianity, all of which proved dead-end paths where one encounters truth in varying degrees, plus falsehood in one concentration or another.

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Published by: Иоанн Дойг on Sep 30, 2010
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Apostolic Christianityandthe 23,000 Western Churches
Steven Kovacevich
Contents
Foreword.
This book started out as a correspondence course on Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the ancientfaith that the popular Time-Life series on the great religions of the world calls “
Christendom'soldest Church
[
Christendom and Christianity
, vol. 3 of 
The World's Great Religions
, NewYork: Time, Inc., 1963, p. 266]. The author took the course many years ago after a long and vainsearch for the fullness of truth along the highways and byways of Western Christianity, all of which proved dead-end paths where one encounters truth in varying degrees, plus
 falsehood 
inone concentration or another.In the passage of time, it became obvious that there are many Roman Catholictheologians who do not agree with the teachings of the first and second Vatican Councils, and
 
Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
who are grappling with the problems of papal primacy, papal infallibility, and Catholicecclesiology. It also became apparent that there are many Catholic and Protestant liturgicalscholars, clergy and laity today who are interested in learning about the Orthodox Church and itsmaintaining the form of early Christian worship and its Divine Liturgy. Among these peoplewere friends and co-workers of the author.Still later, it became increasingly clear that this work could be turned into a book inquestion and answer format for these individuals. In making this change, the author rewrote largesections of it for the benefit of Western Christians so that they could ask themselves what kind of historical connection does their particular Church have with the Apostles when it was founded inschism in 1054 by a fallible man called the pope, or founded a few centuries ago by someonenamed Joe Smith? For those with more than an idle curiosity, the doctrines of the WesternChurches are frequently compared and contrasted with those of another much older Church, theOrthodox Christian Church. This Church is the original Church and the depository of ApostolicChristian Truth, and a Church that until recently remained something mysterious andinaccessible for Western people.Although this study does not force anyone to accept the Orthodox faith, still every truth-seeking person who read it came to the ineluctable conclusion that alone among the Churches,the Orthodox Church has retained the continuity and purity of ancient Christian teaching and preserves the oldest, fullest and most accurate traditions of all. The same readers also came tounderstand that the ancient Church founded by Christ through the Apostles is still present in theworld today, just as it has been without interruption for two thousand years. They nowunderstand that that ancient Church is the Orthodox Church, the Church of the Apostles andmartyrs, and the only Church that has an unbroken line back to the Apostles. With this insight,all went on with their lives with a new clarity of thought, like a pure mountain spring.As the pages of this book show, the Orthodox Church has maintained a living connectionwith the Apostles through Apostolic Succession. The Apostles chose as their successors bishopsfor local congregations (Phil 1:1). To these bishops, they imparted the Apostolic grace they hadreceived from Christ Himself, which is the process of Apostolic Succession, something prominently discussed in the New Testament (cf. Titus and 1 and 2 Timothy).There is a twofold nature to Apostolic Succession. First, there is an unbroken historicalconsecration of the bishops from the hands of the Apostles. A bishop must be able to trace hislineage through a continuous, uninterrupted chain of ordinations through the Apostles. Secondly,there is an uncompromising fidelity to the correct doctrines and correct practices established bythe Apostles. A bishop must be able to demonstrate that the faith and practices of the Churchhave not changed.While the Roman Catholic Church can trace its bishops' lineage, it cannot demonstrate anunchanged faith or unchanged practices, for it does not adhere to the Apostolic teaching or Apostolic practices. After the Latin Church severed itself from the true Universal Church in1054, the West entered into the Middle Ages, which marked the gradual transition between theancient Christian worldview and the modern godless one. During that period, and continuing intothe present time, the Latin Church made many
deviations
and
changes
from the ancientChristian faith and ancient Christian practices going back to the time of the Apostles.One of Rome's many innovations
without Apostolic foundation
is its proclamation of  papal infallibility, a doctrine that caused the Christian world to reel in shock. According to thisteaching, when the pope speaks
ex cathedra
(“from the throne” [of Peter]), that is,
officially
,concerning matters of faith and morals, he is incapable of speaking falsehood. However,
papal
2
 
Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
infallibility
 
was vehemently denied by popes and faithful laymen alike for almost nineteencenturies. (
It was not invented until 1870). Moreover, as chapter six of this book notes,
papalinfallibility continues to be denied by the very Church that invented it
. It is an indisputablefact that many Roman popes were heretics and that they spoke
falsehood
when making
excathedra
pronouncements concerning faith and morals. The Roman Catholic Church itself 
admits
this fact, and in this admission, it altogether 
negates
this false teaching. (To this time, papal infallibility is denied in the Catholic Church. For example, according to an in-depth survey by the
 National Catholic Reporter 
dated September 11, 1987, only 26% of Roman Catholics inthis country believe in the infallibility of the pope).Of further note, while Roman apologists make much of the Apostle Peter's supposedlyexalted position, Holy Scripture makes it plain that Peter himself made grave errors both beforeand after Christ's death and Resurrection. The second chapter of Galatians shows that Peter spoke
falsehood
at the Apostolic Council held at Jerusalem, that he had to justify his actions before the Church, that Paul rebuked Peter “to his face” sternly and publicly, and that as a result,Peter turned from his
erring ways
. Clearly, there is neither “papal supremacy” nor “papalinfallibility” here. Given the fact that Peter, who the Latin Church proclaims was its first pope,spoke falsehood at the Apostolic Council, Rome's argument of papal infallibility
collapses
. Aschapter six additionally goes on to point out, the Roman Catholic Church is presently involved ina
frenzied effort
to explain its fraudulent papal claims in the face of a growing awareness amongits clergy and laity that these claims are
impossible
 
to defend
.Some years back, a Catholic seminarian struggled with Rome's papal claims. When heasked the seminary's rector if Rome's claims were valid, the rector replied that they were not.The seminarian then asked that, given the fact that the crux of Rome's claim to be the trueChurch hinged upon the matter of its papal claims, which of the two Churches actually
is
theancient Church going back two thousand years — Rome or Orthodoxy? The rector replied thatwhen the positions of Rome and Orthodoxy are examined, Rome's claim is altogether spuriousand falsified, while Orthodoxy's claim is entirely valid. To the seminarian's query as to how therector could remain in the Catholic Church if he did not believe it was the true Church, the rector replied that he was comfortable with his spirituality and that his family expected him to beCatholic. The seminarian could no longer feel comfortable, however, and he began a search thateventually brought him to the Orthodox Church and its priesthood. His conversion is but one of thousands of others like it, for when exposed to Orthodoxy's ancient teachings, people come tounderstand that the Eastern Orthodox Church alone has not distorted or falsified any singledoctrine of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ. They alsounderstand that the same Orthodox Church is that very Church that has maintained the sameexact faith delivered to the Apostles.There were myriad deviations without Apostolic foundation that developed in the Westover the course of its thousand-year separation from Orthodoxy. In addition to the doctrinaldivergences, there were also departures from Apostolic practices as well. One of these changesinvolves the sign of the Cross, an important practice to examine.An Orthodox Christian makes the sign of the Cross by putting the thumb and first andsecond fingers of the right hand together, which represent the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.At the same time, the fourth and fifth fingers are folded against the palm, and these represent thetwo natures of Christ. Then, in keeping with
the most ancient tradition of the Holy Apostlesand Holy Fathers
, he or she touches the tips of the thumb and first two fingers to the forehead(for the blessing of the mind), and then the
abdomen
(for the blessing of one's internal feelings).3

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