Comparative Religions – Christianity 2


These are many different approaches to the Oneness with God or the Divine Presence, don’t let words mislead you! Everyone is right! All faith and spiritual movements, religions included, were created by a group who were in search for God following the example of someone inspiring.

We must always remember that everyone is in search for God in their own way. It is because what we call God is an energy source that is pure Love and Compassion amongst many other wonderful qualities.

Everyone wants to be Loved unconditionally, however, that kind of Love only exists in the realm of the Spiritual. No human being can love another person unconditionally. It is because of our own personal limitations and karma (issues to learn or let go of). Our vision is blurred by these therefor we cannot see anyone in their purity of Spirit.  

What we can do is to have compassion; compassion for self and others, knowing that regardless how it may look, we are all in search for our best selves and for God’s Living Loving Spark within.

Because the Unity Movement finds its roots in Christianity I decided to start investigating different aspects of Christianity and see how relevant they are to Unity today.

We have just celebrated Orthodox Easter. I have been investigating the differences between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.I found this amazing article. I have copied out some of the article that I found interesting. You can read the entire article HERE (CLICK)



Perhaps the most important difference between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches is their approach to doctrine itself. The Roman Catholic church believes that the Holy Spirit causes “the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of the faith is able to grow in the life of the Church” (CCC, 94). The Roman Catholic church takes this to mean that the Church progresses in its understanding and expression of doctrine, not that new dogmas are introduced. In other words, doctrine can develop over time, growing from the “seed” that existed in the days of the early Church.

However, the Orthodox Church asserts that Rome has indeed introduced new dogmas over the years and that Roman Catholicism is not “backwards compatible”. Dogmas appear in the catechism today that simply did not exist in previous centuries (the immaculate conception or papal infallibility, for example). The Roman Catholic catechism seems to suggest that this change is proper. This becomes problematic, though, because the language there suggests that simply because you were born further along the timeline of history, you can understand the faith better than those who came before you, including the Apostles themselves!


The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, practices the development of the expression of doctrine, but not of its meaning and substance, which are eternal and unchanging. Whenever Orthodoxy formulated or declared dogmas in the days of the early Church, it was specifically for the purpose of responding to heresy. It was not an opportunity to codify speculation or systematic imagination into doctrine, which is the common practice in Roman Catholicism. Orthodox dogma never claims to expound the whole truth about anything. Instead, it only delineates the borders of the mystery, which God Himself revealed to us in the way He chose to reveal it.


The Roman Catholic church places reason at a much higher level in the spiritual life of the Christian than the Orthodox Church. Pope John Paul II calls faith and reason “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth”. He goes on to say:

God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know Himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.

1998 encyclical, Fides et Ratio

His language here is the reason the Orthodox view Roman Catholicism as rationalist, subjected to the demands and limits of human rationality. In Roman Catholicism, reason becomes the very criterion of Truth, not just a tool to help one ascertain Truth.  This relationship between faith and reason is also why much of Roman Catholic spiritual life is legalist. Because spiritual life for Roman Catholics is more often concerned with satisfying requirements than healing spiritual illness.

In Orthodoxy, rational thought is a useful tool that helps us come to the knowledge of the truth. But reason is not a required element in Christian life. You can be intellectually disabled and still come to know God, because knowledge of God comes from the prayer of the heart, not from the mind.


At one time, liturgical worship in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches looked almost identical. But throughout the last 70-80 years, the Roman Catholic church has seen significant changes in its liturgical life. The Second Vatican Council introduced many contemporary revisions to the normal worship life of the average Roman Catholic. The structure and language of the mass changed, along with other parts of their worship lives. A “good Catholic” from the 1800s would no longer be considered a “good Catholic” in the current Roman Catholic church.

The Orthodox Church has never have experienced anything like this. Certainly both the Eastern and Western Church experienced liturgical change over the centuries, but typically those changes were very slow. If there were reforms, they were subtle things. It was nothing anywhere near what Catholics experienced in the late 1960’s and the early 70’s. For the Orthodox Christian, there’s very little difference between the spiritual lives of the early Christians and our spiritual lives today. The question instead becomes how much we actually participate in what is the normal Orthodox Christian life.


The filioque (Latin: “and the Son”), is an addition to the Nicene Creed. This phrase changes the nature of the Holy Spirit’s procession, stating that He proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, rather than from the Father only. Rome officially declared this doctrine at the Second Council of Lyons. Despite Rome’s official position, many Catholics argue that the filioque refers to the Spirit’s temporal mission, not His eternal procession. The Orthodox can agree with this approach, though they ultimately reject the way the filioque was inserted into the Creed.

It goes without saying, but the Orthodox do not share Rome’s official position here. They object to the filioque for several reasons. First, it deliberately changes the words of Christ in John 15:26. Christ specifically says that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, not the Father and the Son. Second, it violates the perfect balance of Trinitarian theology. In this balance, any particular attribute can belong either to the divine Nature (the Godhead) or to one Person (Father, Son, or Holy Spirit). If eternal procession belongs to the Father and the Son but not the Spirit, the Spirit is subordinated. And thirdly, the addition of the filioque was uncanonical. The Second Ecumenical Council ratified the Creed as it now stands. Its inviolability was confirmed by several popes anathematizing any changes to it. Therefore, Rome’s deliberate altering of the Creed without the consent of an Ecumenical Council spells conflict.


Another difference between the Orthodox and Catholic understanding of God is absolute divine simplicity.

Catholicism claims the essence of God (who He is in Himself) is identical to the attributes of God (what is said about Him). Absolute divine simplicity classifies God philosophically as a “substance,” and it insists that God’s oneness is an undifferentiated singularity, with no facets, aspects, or distinctions. This makes the Catholic version of God far less approachable or near to us, because He is only Himself. We cannot experience Him in any tangible, realistic way.

The Orthodox faith, on the other hand, teaches that God is both unknowable essence and knowable energies, following the teachings of Gregory Palamas and the ancient Church Fathers (i.e. St. Basil the Great). While being both unknowable essence and knowable energies, God is still Himself, One God in Three Persons, undivided. Imagine the sun. The sun is unknowable in its essence/primary substance, because any human being who attempts to get close enough is destroyed. Yet as human beings, we can interact with the sun through its energies, the heat it radiates, the light it provides, and the energy it gives off to feed plants, which in turn provide oxygen for us to breathe). The same is true of God. We will never know Him in His essence, but we can know Him through His energies, most particularly Grace.


Because of Catholicism’s doctrine of absolute divine simplicity, problems arise in the understanding of both the presence of God in the believer and the effects that occur because of His presence. Unlike the Orthodox, who believe grace is uncreated, Catholics believe grace is both uncreated and created. 

Roman Catholic theology teaches both uncreated grace (God) and created grace, which, when granted or conferred upon the believer, gives him “merit”. In other words, created grace is an effect. 


The Immaculate Conception (IC) is a Catholic dogma that says the Theotokos was conceived without the stain of original sin (per St. Augustine). This, therefore, is what made it possible for her to assent to Christ’s Incarnation. While the Orthodox agree Mary’s womb was sanctified to prepare for Christ, they believe this took place at the Annunciation.

The Orthodox maintain the approach of the Church Fathers, viewing sin as an illness in need of healing, not a condition of guilt requiring retribution. Augustine thus believed the guilt of Adam’s sin, which all are born with, deserves a sentence of condemnation and separation from God. Unless that stain is removed (via baptism after Christ), every man is in a condition of gracelessness and damnation. Mary came before Christ, yet she was holy and blameless before God. To maintain consistency, the Virgin must somehow be conceived without original sin to be a pure vessel for the Christ. But, if God could do this for her, why not for everyone else? 


The final difference between the Orthodox and Catholic churches we’ll discuss here is about what happens when we die. According to Catholicism, the “saved” go to purgatory when they depart this life. In the most basic terms, purgatory is a place of temporal punishment, which allows those who “die in God’s grace and friendship” to “achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC, 1030). In other words, even after you are saved and God has forgiven your sins, after death you must still make satisfaction for them.

The Orthodox Church does not believe in purgatory. While they agree with the idea that they experience a “waiting time” between now and the Final Judgment, they object to the Catholic satisfaction model, which states that God requires payment even after He forgives our sins. Within the Orthodox theological paradigm, there is either forgiveness or punishment, not both.