Difference Between Orthodox and Catholic
Orthodox vs Catholic
The doctrines of Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism have been separated for over a thousand years. In an attempt to differentiate between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, many, especially from the Orthodoxy doctrine, have used the terms Pope, filloque or even Purgatory, to show the diversion between the two. However, there are many differences, and most are significant.
To explain the concept of Faith in Orthodoxy, science and philosophy are used. The Catholic Church puts a lot of value on human reason, as if to make it consistent with human reason and science. The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, does not seek to make human reason and faith reconcile, but will support the findings of science or philosophy if they shed light, or lend support, to Christ’s teachings.
Catholic doctrine believes in the theory of doctrinal development, where the belief is that Christ’s teachings changes with the times. The church believes that Christ only ‘planted’ an original seed of faith, that then grew and matured with the centuries. As the church encountered new situations, the Christian faith was made stronger by the Holy Spirit and, therefore, more needs were acquired. Although Orthodoxy acknowledges changes, it will not add or subtract from its Faith to accommodate ‘acquired needs’ that come with change.
With regards to proving the existence of God and His divine being, Orthodoxy teaches that God’s knowledge is planted in human nature, and that is how humans know that He exists. Human reason can never tell more than that, unless God speaks to the human. This hugely contrasts with the catholic teachings of God, which state that the eternal existence of the Almighty can be proved by human reason. Roman Catholics believe that God is the ‘most real being’, and that humans have a likeness to Him, except that we are imperfect.
Regarding mysteries, both doctrines recognize at least seven sacraments, including Chrismation, Penance, Ordination, Marriage, Baptism, the Eucharist and the Holy oil for healing. Although, in general, Orthodoxy teaches that the material becomes filled with grace by calling the Holy Spirit. For the Catholics, they believe that the efficacy of the sacraments lies with the priest, that acts ‘in the person of Christ’. In addition, the catholic’s interpretation of the sacraments is legal and philosophical.
Concerning marriage, Orthodoxy’s holy matrimony is not a binding contract like in Catholicism. The Orthodox take holy matrimony as some imitation of the bond between the church and Christ, witnessed by all ‘God’s people’ through the presbyter. Although divorce is not allowed, it is permissible in adulterous cases. The Catholics do not permit divorce under any circumstance, as the holy matrimonial contract ostensibly binds the man and woman to the church. Only if some canonical defect is found therein, may it be rendered null and void, as if it never happened.
1. Catholicism employs human reason in explaining the concept of faith, while Orthodoxy doesn’t reconcile human reason with faith.
2. The Catholic doctrine evolves with change in time, and needs to fit in with prevailing circumstances, while Orthodoxy does not change it’s doctrine to fit with situational needs.
3. In holy matrimony, for Catholics, divorce is not permitted under any circumstances, while for Orthodox, it may be permitted when adultery is committed.
4. Catholics believe that human reason can prove the existence of God, while the Orthodox believe that God’s knowledge is planted in human nature.
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