Eastern Orthodox/Led to Orthodox - questions
Good afternoon. I was baptized Catholic as a child, and was not practicing. I became a 'floating' non denominational protestant of sorts, and now am being drawn to learn about, research, and discover the Orthodox Church. My confusion, is in choosing a church to visit, with the matter of Orthodox vs Oriental Orthodox and the debate of the position of Mary and also Christ's true nature. Also, which branches are Eastern Orthodox, and which are Oriental Orthodox as the names are also - well, confusing? To simplify, #possibly oversimplify# I believe Jesus is God in human form. In regard to His nature, or will - I believe His to be a fully human Will aligned perfectly with the Will of God the Father, for example - it is shown in the Bible how He called out to The Father on the cross, yet submitted to God's Will, and overcame human temptation. I rally do not understand the difference in teaching of these two churches, as both sides seem to get very historical, rather than offer a simple Biblical justification for the differences/beliefs. It is very in depth, and as a result, to me, very confusing in the semantics of their belief, yet each seems to claim the same thing. #As in, Jesus is God in human form.# I do not want to get bogged down in ancient debates, I simply want to explore a true church to better deepen my faith, and find and walk the narrow road. Any clarity would be welcomed as I continue my research and questions.
Glory to Jesus Christ!
The difference between the Orthodox and the "Oriental" churches is a bit complicated, but ultimately, as with our differences with the Catholic Church, it is one of authority more than anything else.
The Orthodox Church holds to the authority of the Ecumenical Councils and the consensus of the Church. The Oriental Church disagreed with the 4th Ecumenical Council and rejected the idea of consensus over the "nature" of our Lord Jesus. They went with a "rational" explanation, that Jesus had only one "will"; the monophysites. However, certain other Oriental churches believe that while God had both a human and divine will, His human will was basically "overpowered" by His divine will so that He only has, in effect, one will; these we refer to as "miaphysites". This makes "rational" sense because if God is of "two wills", doesn't that make Him schizoid? However what is of God does not have to submit to our human reason. It was the proclamation of the 4th Council at Chalcedon that Jesus had two wills, one human and one divine, and that both wills work in concert, in harmony with each other so as to act as one. It may seem like just semantics, but there really is a subtle difference that has profound theological consequences. When we choose to follow Christ, we work to conform our will with His will, but He does not dominate us or "take over" us. He does nothing without our full consent. We are partners in as much as we freely choose to act according to His will rather than our own. This is the part that the Oriental Church doesn't quite seem to grasp. There have been some very fruitful discussions between the churches of late, but it still remains a question of authority than anything else. How can we agree with them without rejecting the authority of the Councils and how can they agree with us without submitting to the authority of councils which they have rejected for so long?
Do you have a specific question about Mary the Mother of God, whom we call the Theotokos which means "Christ-Bearer"?
May our Lord, God, and Savior, Christ Jesus, both fully man and fully God, be with you in your spiritual journey. May He guide you through the Holy Spirit, in spirit and in truth, that you may know His Peace and salvation!