OK. I’ve explained the wall – briefly. And if you’ve read my conversion story you know that I was pretty ignorant of Church history for most of my life (still ignorant – still learning). However, when I began to investigate what Jesus truly meant when He said, “This is my body”, I soon discovered that the Early Church was not exactly the “Early Church” we were trying to recreate in the Pentecostal movement. So, I went on a journey that led me past Catholicism straight to Orthodoxy.
I remember briefly considering the Catholic Church. I would logon to PalTalk and visit the Catholic rooms and the Orthodox rooms. The Catholics were always nice and welcoming, very gracious and understanding – and clear defenders of the Catholic faith. The Orthodox were enigmatic, different, exotic. The music they shared in the room was beautiful. Soon I was doing plenty of self-study. The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware was my first read. It truly just felt right. The Orthodox arguments against the Catholic Church fit perfectly with my ill-formed perceptions: Rome was a usurper of power; corrupt beyond repair; the mother of heresies. Of course I visited the most Orthodox websites: OrthodoxInfo.com being one of the most frequented. I was a member of a theology discussion forum and several other members were making the journey to Orthodoxy, so I began learning from them as well. All of us were converts or potential converts, and all of us were eager to buy into all that the most orthodox of Orthodox could teach us. I would argue with Protestants. I would argue with Catholics. I was becoming quite the apologist for the Orthodox cause. All of this before I had even visited an Orthodox parish. Of course I eventually did attend a wonderful OCA parish, and my education continued apace.
These are the things of which I became convinced. All of them I learned from Orthodox Christians.
1. The Catholic Pope was always the first among equals – never considered anything more.
2. The filioque was an innovation in the West and a necessary cause for schism.
3. The Catholic Church were innovators of doctrine that found no basis in ancient, Christian thought. The Immaculate Conception is one of the best examples of this.
4. The reunion councils of Lyons and Florence were failures from the start and had no real support in the East.
5. The Catholic Church has a distorted view of the atonement.
And there’s so much more I could relate. These are just a few of the things I learned as I was coming into Orthodoxy. I will begin in the next post to examine how each of them, as portions of the wall between me and the papacy, fell (like the walls of Jericho) and became instead my path to Catholicism.