Some Comparison between Orthodoxy, Protestantism & Roman Catholicism

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  • Orthodox :

Bible : 78 books – The word Of God.

Clergy – Qualification : Priests and Bishops must be male, but deaconesses are permitted, though the order is dormant.Priests and deacons may marry before ordination but not after. Bishops, on the other hand, must be celibate.

Holy Spirit :The third person of the Trinity, proceeding from the Father alone as in the original Nicene Creed. The Father sends the Spirit at the intercession of the Son. The Son is therefore an agent only in the procession of the Spirit.

Mary – Position :Mary is venerated as Theotokos (Greek: ‘God-bearer’). By this is meant that the son she bore was God in human form. She is first amongst the saints and ‘ever-virgin’.

Pope – Authority :As the Bishop of Rome, he has a primacy of honour when Orthodox, not of jurisdiction. At present, his primacy is not effective as the papacy needs to be reformed in accordance with Orthodoxy. His authority is thus no greater or lesser than any of his fellow Bishops in the church.

Saints :A special group of holy people, who are venerated. They may act as intercessors between God and Man and may be invoked in prayer.

Salvation :Salvation is “faith working through love” and should be seen as a life long process. The Ultimate aim of every Orthodox Christian is to obtain Theosis or union with God. This is done through living a holy life and seeking to draw closer to God.

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  • Protestant:

Bible : 66 books – The word Of God.

Clergy – Qualification :The majority of Protestants do not require celibacy as a condition of election to the clergy. Many churches practice female ordination, including those within the Anglican communion, where the issue of female episcopacy is currently being discussed.

Holy Spirit :The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. The Nicene creed includes the filioque (Latin: ‘and the son’).

Mary – Position :Mary was a holy woman who was chosen to bear the Son of God. Her perpetual virginity and intercession are denied.

Pope – Authority :The Pope is the leader of the Catholic church, having no authority to speak for the church as a whole.

Saints :All Christians are saints, called to imitate Christ. Only Christ may mediate between God and Man.

Salvation :Salvation is the free and unmerited gift of God to man. It is obtained by grace through faith in Christ alone. Through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we are rendered acceptable to God and judged righteous (justified) in his sight.

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  • Roman Catholic :

Bible : 73 books – The word Of God.

Clergy – Qualification :All clergy are required to be male. Priests and Bishops must also be celibate, with the exception of Eastern Rite Catholics and Anglican married clergy who subsequently convert to Catholicism. These groups are allowed to have married priests.

Holy Spirit :Agrees with the Protestant view.
Ambrose of Milan (340-397) wrote: ‘When the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, He is not separated from the Father, He is not separated from the Son’.

Mary – Position :The view is similar to the Orthodox church – the title ‘Mother of God‘ being used more commonly than Theotokos. This title forms one of the ‘Marian Dogmas’ of the Church. The others are Mary’s perpetual virginity, assumption and immaculate conception.

Pope – Authority :The Pope is the ‘Vicar of Christ’ i.e. the visible head of the church on earth and spiritual successor of St. Peter. He has supreme authority (including that over church councils) within Christendom (The Power of the keys).

Saints :The position is very similar to Orthodoxy. For sainthood, it is also required that at least two verifiable miracles have occured as a result of the intercession of that person.

Salvation :Salvation is by grace, specifically sanctifying grace, which is given initially through Baptismal regeneration and then maintained through the Sacraments, which are ‘channels of grace’.

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