The Orthodox Church – another “true” Church?

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.
Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Orthodox Church (or Orthodox Churches)¹ is a body of self-governing churches recognizing the primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople and abiding by the doctrine of seven Ecumenical Councils from Nicaea I (327 CE) to Nicaea II (787 CE). As such, the Orthodox Church recognizes the Nicene Creed.

As a whole the Orthodox Church includes the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople and Jerusalem. It’s mostly found in Russia, the Ukraine, Serbia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Poland, Greece, Moldova, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Cyprus and throughout the Middle East.

The Orthodox Church emerged within the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire; it was united with the Latin Church until formally splitting away in the Great Schism of the 11th century. Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church sees itself as the authentic Church, disseminating valid teachings given by Jesus and his Apostles. The two Churches differ on some organizational and theological points, however, making this claim problematic.

Can both the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches be the only true Church? From the standpoint of traditional logic, either

  • both of these truth claims are are false; or
  • one is right and the other is false
English: The inside of an Orthodox church. Gre...
The inside of an Orthodox church. Greek Orthodox Church. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a more contemporary approach to logic (that deals with probabilities and quantities)² one could argue that both truth claims are partially true.

Related » Greek Orthodox Church

¹ See Wikipedia for a list of titles

² For a readable, not too intricate, account of how the study of logic has evolved over the centuries, see John Passmore’s A Hundred Years of Philosophy. Reading the relevant passages in this book helped me to better understand something that I have intuitively grasped for a long time. When hard-nosed people say, “it’s just logic” or “it’s a fact,” I usually have some kind of inner reservation. I tend to feel their claim is simplistic but sometimes don’t have the words, energy or time to try to articulate my position—especially if the other person has already made their mind up. No point in spending hours banging your head against a brick wall. Better to dismantle the wall, piece by piece.


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