Catholic means Universal

When reading My Orthodox Journey, I’m fascinated by the honesty and straight-forward attitude. Or maybe it is just that I see reflections of my own thinking there. Still, when he talks about claims of exclusivity, I find myself disagreeing. It is true that many conservative Orthodox claim that the Eastern church is the “one true church”. But it is just as true that not all orthodox (in fact, probably most) do not believe that. Maybe it is because I was exposed to the the Nicene Creed before I considered orthodoxy seriously, back when I was trying hard to be a Christian in the Reformed tradition. So I already understood “the one holy, catholic and apostolic” church to be the universal church — that is all Christians everywhere. Yes, people in the traditions I came from and people in the tradition I arrived in think that the Orthodox claim exclusivity and that the claim is a dogmatic one. But my teachers have taught me that there is very little Dogma in Orthodoxy. In fact, the dogma that there is consists of two items:

  1. God is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
  2. Christ has two natures: Fully God and Fully Man.

So, when Edward Moore, in “Kerygma and Dogma” writes:

The problem is that Christians all-too-often speak of themselves and for themselves […] Theocratic bigotry is often the end result.

we see the problem of paying too much attention to small dogma and ignoring the proclamation (kerygma) to live out our response to God. I’m really not interested in deciding who is or is not in “serious error” when I have so many of my own sins to attend to.

3 thoughts on “Catholic means Universal”

  1. Just a question or two

    I agree that it is utmost to ‘work out our own salvation’ – but what of the importance of dogma and tradition. I guess what my question comes down to is – why be Orthodox? Should I not believe that it is the fulness of the Faith ‘once delivered’? Perhaps it would have been better to remain a Pentecostal.

  2. my point about frederica m-g is that she is purely an amateur historian/church buff/whatever…i didnt finish her first book, facing east, and have no desire to read any of her others…i guess just too much fluff; and one editorial she wrote two or three years back for C.Today, I wrote that magazine and her about some kooky stuff he wrote–and never got a reply…she seems to me to be a pop theologian, and ultimately untrustworthy as a source of facts (i feel i have to have a 2nd source to validate any assertion she makes) and interpretation…whatever happened to the idea of not naming teachers quickly less they become puffed up? or, to take james, few should seek that position.

    1. point made..

      I get your point about fmg being an amateur (in the worse sense of the word). I can’t say that I’ve gained any deep insights from her writing.

      But she writes (and seraphimsigirist seems to confirm) that there is nothing especially un-christian about some of things in the recent book on gnosticism. That helps me in thinking about neognosticism.

      I don’t think I’d consider her a teacher, though. She isn’t someone I’ve sought out, but I’ve found her stuff interesting when I came across it. Maybe she is the sort of writer that I like because they express what I think better than I can?

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