Addition or Subtraction.
That’s really the issue in theology isn’t it? It’s the simplest way possible to explain how we all got here theologically (the reason behind the 42,000 denominations of Christianity today), for it can be truly said that when the Roman Church, the Bishop and the Church founded in the city of Rome, broke away from the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in the 11th century… the biggest result was ‘addition’. Rome added to the Nicene Creed, the teachings, dogmas, and doctrines of the received sacred apostolic tradition and thus divided, or separated itself from Christ’s one Body, the one church confessed in the Creed. And yet, as is almost always the case, the pendulum then swings wildly back in the other direction. As a knee jerk reaction 500 years later, a German Monk named Martin, along with other ‘reformers’, overreacted in the opposite manner… by taking away from the sacred tradition – deleting, subtracting, rejecting, ignoring…and removing faith, practice, doctrine, and apostolic tradition; throwing the proverbial ‘baby out with the bath water’. Both addition and subtraction are death to the true faith, to the faith once delivered for all by the apostles.
Addition. Subtraction…. and yet there is the ‘middle way’ the better way … The Orthodox Way. A path of fervent and faithful adherence to the faith passed down from the apostles, through 2,000 years to this present day neither adding or subtracting the fullness of the faith, but knowing, living, and passing on this sacred trust to the next generations unsullied and unchanged. The more things change – the more the Apostolic faith and church stay the same… neither adding to, nor deleting from the received fullness of faith from our fathers and mothers.
So what is this 2,000 year old Apostolic Faith? What does the Orthodox Church continue to believe, confess, practice, proclaim and defend? Read here….
Here is a practical example, evidence of the ‘addition’ and/or ‘deletion’ of faith: Mary, the Mother of God, the Theotokos. The Orthodox honor her, and call her blessed…as the Bible clearly instructs us to do, and as the church has done for millennia. Yet in Roman Catholicism non-apostolic dogmas such as the immaculate conception, and the co-redeemer status of Mary (mediatrix) are added. In Protestantism, Mary is almost always deleted, forgotten, minimized, ignored, and perhaps brought out once a year for the annual Christmas Pageant Extravaganza whereas in Orthodoxy the Mother of God is remembered always, in every liturgical service, and in 4 major Feasts throughout the church year.
To pray it is to be free, and to give honor to her who gave birth to Him who is the Savior of our Souls. This is a prayer that gives peace. A prayer of beauty. This version which I include below is the traditional Orthodox prayer to the Theotokos, adding the final phrase “Holy Mary, Mother of God… pray for us…” from the Latin, West, Roman tradition. To simply prove that not everything in the Roman West is wrong. For who among us would not want the Mother of God to pray for us, now, and at the hour of our death?
What pleases God most is not our divisions. He weeps over them. But the call to unity is ever fresh, ever new, always available. But the unity is a call back to the beginning before there was addition and subtraction… a call that every person must study and consider to be truly honest with whatever they presently believe or practice.
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee, O Virgin Theotokos.
Blessed art Thou among women, and Blessed is the Fruit of thy womb – Jesus – for thou hast born the Savior of our Souls.
Holy Mary – Mother of God – pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.