The Theosis Christian Project is a ministry working on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Therefore, the Project needs to produce a statement defending the truth of Orthodox Christianity during the early days of its existence.
This is that defense.
My defense is presented in two stages: an initial argument used to reaffirm the faith of Christians who are already Orthodox, and a second defense used to convince Christians that Orthodoxy, and not some other form, is the correct version of Christianity. The second portion addresses Protestantism and Catholicism as the competitors to Holy Orthodoxy.
Neither defense will convince a person who rejects Christ’s divinity that Eastern Orthodoxy is the right religion. This does not mean that an argument advancing such a position could not be constructed, but the arguments which need to be given to defend Christianity before non-Christians are different from those needed to defend Orthodoxy before the Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants.
It is with this understanding that the reader should approach the following arguments.
The Reassuring Argument Given to the Orthodox
I begin my defense of the faith with a word to my Orthodox brethren and sistren.
Now, Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the right form of the right religion. Jesus was real, he taught his apostles the proper way to come to the Father, the apostles taught their successors what they had learned directly from Christ, and the Orthodox have retained Christ’s original practices and teachings.
These teachings, the practices which form the core of Orthodox worship, came from Christ. Therefore, they cannot be wrong. To say otherwise is to deny the divinity of Christ by claiming that he erred in His teaching, and to assert this view is to reject the First Commandment.
Now, the Orthodox have added a small number of things to what they had been given, but these additions do not invalidate the faith. This is because the few novelties which the Orthodox have adopted since the time of Christ have not removed anything which was originally present.
The Catholic Church knows the truth of Orthodoxy, and it is for this reason that its leaders recognize the validity of Orthodox sacraments. They differ from us on account of their scholastic theology. The monks of the catholic Church have asked a great many questions which they did not have sufficient knowledge to answer throughout the history of Christianity. Yet these monks, despite lacking the knowledge required to answer the questions which they confronted, attempted to provide those answers anyway. The Summa Theologica is the magnum opus of the mistakes of the Catholic monks.
The Catholics have thereby introduced error into their teachings by exaggerating their knowledge. The result of the Catholics’ centuries of scholasticism has been the accumulation of a large number of views which are supported more by human arrogance and assumption than by revelation or sound reason.
Simply stated, the Catholics pretend to know a lot more than they do. It is this insincerity, a failure born from Catholic scholasticism, which the Orthodox rightly reject. The Catholic Church in the modern age is finally starting to see the error of its ways, the errors which the Orthodox have seen for centuries, and the church is beginning to renege on many of its accumulated teachings.
Meanwhile, in those countries where Protestantism and its ten-thousand offshoots has become the dominant form of Christianity, the religion is rapidly dying out and being replaced by secularism, Progressivism, and Islam.
Moreover, church attendance is collapsing among the Protestants because they no longer value their religion, and the Protestants who remain with their institutions are rapidly changing their practices in order to better accommodate the increasingly secular world in which they find themselves.
This tendency of the Protestants to change their teachings in order to accommodate the world around them proves that the Protestants do not believe they possess the truth. For if they believed that their churches offered truth, then they would be quite averse to altering their own teachings. If their teachings are correct, and if those teachings change, then their validity is thrown into question; and if these changes happen frequently, then they will inevitably become false.
So we may recognize if the followers of a sect believe that they possess proper doctrines by observing the frequency with which their doctrines change. People who believe that they are right will be averse to change. This is because they risk falling into error whenever a change is made. Meanwhile, people who are already in error do not mind changing, because they do not risk losing anything by doing so.
And Protestants change their practices frequently. This proves that they do not believe they’re right, and if the Protestants don’t believe that they’re right, then why should we?
So we Orthodox may say with certainty that our religion contains the proper teachings given by Jesus Christ. The Catholics were once able to say the same, but they have added many uncertain teachings to their faith and thereby rendered it false. Meanwhile, the Protestants actively deny, both in word and in deed, that their sects offer the truth. Therefore, if Jesus Christ truly is God, then only Holy Orthodoxy can certainly claim to possess the truth which comes from the Almighty.
The Defense Before the Catholics
I now proceed to my defense of the faith before the Catholics.
The defense consists of a proof soundly refuting the notion that Catholicism is the church which Jesus founded, i.e., the True Church. It then holds that Protestantism is wrong and asserts the view that Orthodoxy, as the only remaining form of Christianity, must therefore be right. The claims made by Protestants can be easily refuted, but I do not include these refutations in the argument given to Catholics because Catholics already accept the falsity of Protestantism.
Let us begin.
The pope has the ability to declare Papal Infallibility. He may enter a certain process, engage in a certain ritual, and then proceed to issue declarations which are to be deemed infallible. These declarations must be accepted as dogma of the Church on account of their infallibility. Moreover, the pope may only make declarations regarding religious matters. Any Catholic who rejects the dogma of infallibility is, at best, in error, and, at worst, a heretic or an apostate.
Now, suppose that the pope were to proceed through the rituals required to invoke papal infallibility. Let us assume that he took his position upon the Throne of Saint Peter and proceeded to issue a declaration that only pertained to religion.
Next, let us assume that his declaration was, “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”
If this were to happen, then the pope would have committed apostasy, and the fact that the Shahada had suddenly become a dogma of Catholicism would require all Catholics to become apostates as well.
In order for a Catholic to remain Catholic, they would have to convert to Islam.
Moreover, the invocation of Papal Infallibility does not possess any constraints which would prevent this from happening. The ritual which the pope must enter in order make an infallible declaration does not contain any safeguards which would prevent him from uttering the Shahada. The sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which pertain to Papal Infallibility do not contain any safeguards to prevent this.
Moreover, the proclamation that Islam is the right religion is most certainly a religious matter which the pope may rule on.
So the pope could refute Catholicism because of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, which means that Catholicism could be refuted according to its own standards.
And the fact that Catholicism can be refuted according to its own standards proves that it isn’t the right religion.
If Catholicism were true, then its own dogma would render the faith refutable. Moreover, anything which could be disproved must not be true. Truth cannot be disproved, so the fact that the pope has not yet refuted Catholicism by infallibly affirming the Shahada does not matter. The mere fact that he could refute Catholicism proves that Catholicism is refutable and, therefore, false.
Moreover, the fact that Papal Infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church means that it can never be discarded or changed.
Truth can never be refuted. Truth is irrefutable. Yet the dogma of Papal Infallibility can refute both itself and every other dogma within the Catholic Church.
Catholicism disproves itself, and the problem which causes the faith to refute itself can never be changed and, therefore, fixed.
Therefore, Catholicism is not the right faith.
And if Catholicism is not the right religion, then the True Church must either reside with the Protestants or with the Orthodox. Yet the Protestants lack apostolicity, while the Orthodox keep it. Therefore, Catholics, who must affirm the Nicene Creed and the Apostolic Church, cannot acknowledge that the True Church resides with the Protestants.
So the process of elimination proves the truth of Holy Orthodoxy.
Defense Against the Protestants
I now move into my defense of Orthodoxy against the Protestants.
This one is trickier because the Protestants do not have consistent teachings across their ten-thousand factions. Therefore, in order to make my defense of Orthodoxy valid against all Protestant groups simultaneously, I need to address the thing(s) which they all have in common.
What Do Protestants Believe?
So… What do all Protestants have in common?
Well… Most Protestants will, I think, agree on the following three points:
- A rejection of the papacy and papal indulgences
- A rejection of Apostolic Succession
- Belief that the Bible alone is sufficient for establishing doctrine.
Now, every Protestant sect has its own teachings, each individual Protestant has their own views, and these sects and people often pretend that their views are representative of Protestantism as a whole, so I anticipate that a great many Protestants would, if given this list, take issue with it.
However, the… let’s call them ideas… advanced by the various factions within the Protestant community are such a shifty, formless, self-contradictory, incoherent and poorly defined collection of opinions that this disappointing list of views which the Protestants hold in common really is the most coherent description of Protestant views.
The fact that the list is so unimpressive says more about the chaos of the Protestant world than ti does about the competence of the writer.
So, because it is not possible to provide a coherent description of Protestant views beyond the brief list which I have given, I will address the three points therein.
The Protestants and the Pope
First, the Protestants are right to reject the supremacy of the pope and the sale of indulgences. The Orthodox do as well. They are in error though when they pretend that the pope is devoid authority to rule on religious matters, and this brings us to the second point.
The Protestants and Apostolic Succession
Protestants reject apostolicity. They believe that the apostles whom Jesus had chosen to lead His church were rightly chosen, because they were chosen by Christ Himself. However, Protestants do not believe that the authority to lead the church was passed down by the apostles to their successors.
This belief is an error.
We know that the Protestants’ rejection of apostolicity is an error because the apostles themselves, the people whom Jesus hand-picked to lead the church, believed that they had the authority to pass the authority to lead the church to their successors.
Apostolic succession is a proper practice because it was unanimously established by the surviving apostles whom Jesus had chosen to guide the church. To reject apostolic succession is to reject the judgment of the apostles who created it. No Christian may do this. The apostles were chosen to lead the Christian community by Jesus himself, so to reject the soundness of their judgment when they established apostolic succession is to pretend that Jesus made a mistake when he gave the leadership of His church to them.
If the apostles were wrong to establish apostolic succession, then Jesus was wrong to have chosen them for leadership roles. Jesus is God. Therefore, he was not wrong, so the apostles must have decided rightly when they created apostolic succession. To argue otherwise is to violate the First Commandment, and Christians are not permitted to do this.
The Problem with Sola Scriptura
Now we proceed to the third point, i.e., the Protestant delusion that the Bible alone is sufficient for establishing church doctrines. This belief is named Sola scriptura, and I will be referring to it as such in the following lines.
First, let us address the self-contradiction of the Sola scriptura heresy. The Bible never states that the Bible alone may be used to construct church teachings. Therefore, the idea that something else would be the case must have an extra-biblical source. The Sola scriptura teaching is not to be found in the Bible, so if it were true, then it would reject itself and become false.
When Protestants are confronted with this contradiction in the foundation of their beliefs, they often point to a certain verse in Paul’s letters to Timothy in which Paul writes that scripture is a good tool for understanding God. Then the defending Protestant pretends that Paul’s assertion of the value of scripture is equivalent to saying that scripture alone is sufficient for producing theology.
Yet to say that a thing is good for a purpose and to say that only that thing may be used for the purpose are two different statements entirely. Most of the Protestants who advance this view are competent enough to understand its falsity, so when they do so, they lie. These liars are not to be debated with. Debate is only of value when the parties involved care about the truth.
The People Who Wrote the Bible Think the Protestants Are Wrong
Next, let us proceed to a more important refutation of Sola scriptura. The people who wrote the Bible all died hundreds of years before the book was constructed. Therefore, they did not believe that the Bible alone should be used to establish church doctrines, nor could they. Therefore, anyone who believes that the Bible alone may be used to construct church teachings is in conflict with the people who wrote it.
To Use the Bible Alone Is Technically Impossible
Now let us consider the case of the impossibility of putting Sola scriptura into practice. If it were true that the Bible, and only the Bible, could be rightly used to construct church teachings, then nobody anywhere could ever produce doctrine.
The reason for this is that the Bible requires a person to read it, a person to interpret it, a person to translate it, people to have written the original materials, and people to determine which books the Bible in question is going to contain. Each of these entities, the translator, the reader, the interpreter, the writers, the compiler, and any others involved, exerts some influence over the conclusions which are drawn from the Bible. This is because they affect the contents of the Bible in question and the proper method for interpreting it.
So the Bible alone could never be used to construct church doctrines because the Bible is not a sentient being which compiles, translates, understands, and expresses itself. We have these things called people who are responsible for doing so, and each of the persons involved in the exegetical process introduces some extra-biblical perspective into the understandings produced.
Therefore, even if the Sola scriptura premise of Protestant theology was true, then Protestantism would still be false because the standards Protestants pretend to follow are technically impossible to meet.