The Instigator
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The Contender
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0 Points

The Orthodox Church and The Catholic Church are based on two different religions

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 593 times Debate No: 48188
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I will argue that the differences betweenThe Orthodox Church and The Catholic Church are big enough to consider they are based on two different religions, and not a single one.The reason for this debate is that Christianity is considered the largest religion in the world[1][2] only because these churches claim to share the same religiondespite the fact that they are very different.

religion = a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

Round 1- accept
Round 2- arguments(3-4)
Round 3 - debunk your opponent's arguments
Round 4 - additional arguments


I have decided to debate this topic with you. I do not believe that the fundamental differences between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy are great enough for one to conclude that they are different religions.
Debate Round No. 1


1. The first problem with these churches is their origin, as they both claim to be founded by Jesus Christ :
The Catholic Church : " The Church teaches that it is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles.."
The Orthodox Church:" It teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission to the disciples almost 2,000 years ago."

It is obvious Jesus wouldn't have founded two different churches, but as they both claim to be the one founded by Jesus, it is clear that The Catholic Church must consider the origin of The Orthodox Church false and vice versa. One of these churches was clearly founded in the 11th century as a result of the Great Schism. It is clear one of this churches is a hoax and is not indeed based on the teachings of Jesus.
The christian religion is considered to had been started by Jesus, so Jesus is the one who directly gave mankind "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practice" to follow. Only one of these churches can be based on Jesus's religion, because their beliefs and practices differ, as I will prove next.
I cannot and will not argue that these churches don't share some beliefs and practices, but most religions in the world share some of these beliefs and practices.Most religions believe in the afterlife, most religions teach us to pray etc. However, you can't say that christianity and islam are the same religion just because they both believe in a single god and in the afterlife.

2.So my objective is the prove the practices and beliefs of these two churches differ greatly.I will start with crossing, a very important aspect of the christian life. The Orthodox Church teaches its followers to cross themselves differently from the catholics and claim the way catholics do it is wrong. If christianity was founded by Jesus, then there is obviously a right way to cross yourself and it is taught by the church based on the "right" christian religion, the one based on Jesus' teachings.
The afterlife is definitely the most important aspect of every religion, as that is where you are going to spend eternity.The Orthodox Church doesn't believe in the Purgatory, as it claims we are purified during our live.Salvation is also seen differently, as the Orthodox Church teaches life's goal is to gain salvation and it's a process that takes your entire life, while the Catholic Church teaches salvation is something you are given and have to maintain.If these churches are both based on the same religion they would have at least agreed on the afterlife, the most important belief of a religion.

3.The Holy Fire -
I am not sure catholics are taught about The Holy Fire, but as an orthodox I was taught about this in school. The Holy Fire is a miracle the Orthodox Church uses to prove that The Catholic Church is wrong.The Catholic Church treats The Holy Fire as a hoax while millions of orthodox people go to Jerusalem every year to watch it.
I believe this is the ultimate proof that these two churches are based on two different religions.If these churches were based on the same religion, there couldn't have been a miracle that only one of them agrees with.
A belief in a miracle is a lot more important than the belief in an afterlife, or anything else, because it means you believe god himself performs that miracle.

A religion is defined by a number of beliefs.There can be different religions with similar beliefs: christianity and islam share the belief in an afterlife, in a single god, in heaven and hell, in a judgement day and so on, yet are considered very different religions.So, there can be two different christian religions that share a lot of beliefs, yet disagree on important topics.



My argument is that Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy are not substantially different enough in fundamental beliefs to be called different religions.

First of all, both religions accept the same documents as scripture. Both churches recognize the 66 books of the main biblical canon as well as at least seven books of the deuterocanon (or apocrypha, a set of books accepted by some Christians as scripture but not by Jews) as scripture [1]. Orthodoxy accepts three more books than Catholicism, but that is not a significant difference.

Secondly, both denominations practice the Eucharist/Lord's Supper (one of the seven sacraments) with a literal interpretation of Jesus saying "This is my body and my blood [2]." While talking about sacraments, both churches have the same sacraments, or a fundamental religious ceremony. These sacraments are the Eucharist (Lord's supper), baptism, chrismation, confession (or reconciliation), marriage, unction (or healing of the sick), and holy orders (ordination) [3], [4].

Thirdly, both denominations have the same basic doctrines [5], [6]. Both denominations are centered around the teachings of Jesus. Both use the Nicene creed as a basic summary of their beliefs. Both believe in a God who exists as a trinity of three beings with one essence. Both practice baptism. Both teach that there is a stage between earth and heaven, which is an unpopular belief to many protestant Christians [2]. In Christian history, there were seven original ecumenical (or universal) councils. These councils laid down the basic accepted interpretations of scriptures and also lay down some of the most significant heresies. Both Orthodoxy and Catholicism accept all seven of the councils, and therefore both of them believe in the same basic doctrines and reject the same basic heresies [7].

Fourthly, both Orthodoxy and Catholicism have a list of saints, or highly respected Christians who lived noteworthy lives. Both denominations teach that saints can pray for you in heaven, and both churches highly venerate the saints in their worship and ceremonies.

In conclusion, the basic beliefs and practices of Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism are identical to one another. They have the same scripture, the same view of saints, the same tenants, the same sacraments, and very similar views on the afterlife. Most religious differences between the two denominations are so small that an average follow of the two religions would not notice unless they were looking for differences. The main thing separating Catholics from Orthodox is the belief that the Pope (Bishop of Rome) is the leader of the church, which is more of a political issue than a religious one. Therefore it is my belief that Roman Catholicism and orthodoxy are no more separate religions than American and British English are separate languages.

Debate Round No. 2


1) The Bible is a poorly written document with huge flaws regarding morality and a lot of contradictions[1]Because our moral standards changed in the last 2000 years, apologists started claiming the Bible can't be taken literally. It is now widely believed the Bible is not meant to be taken literally[2] Given that these churches have been separated for about 1000 years their interpretation of the Bible are very different. If the Bible was a document that could have been taken literally, the interpretations of both the Orthodox and the Catholic churches would have been the same. but considering the nature of the Bible, their interpretations differ a lot.

2)It is true they both practice the same 7 sacraments, but in a different way. In the orthodox view, one can receive the Eucharist only after fasting and after confession. Confession is also different:

Catholics believe priests can forgive their sins
"Since he would not always be with the Church visibly, Christ gave this power to other men so the Church, which is the continuation of his presence throughout time (Matt. 28:20), would be able to offer forgiveness to future generations. He gave his power to the apostles, and it was a power that could be passed on to their successors and agents, since the apostles wouldn"t always be on earth either, but people would still be sinning. "[3]

on the other hand, an orthodox priest can only listen to one's sins, as god himself directly forgives the sins.[4]

Baptism is also different both in practice (in orthodox baptism the person receiving it is dipped entirely in the water 3 times[5]) and belief, as the orthodox don't believe in the original sin, but they believe that human nature is meant to make every human sin in his life.[6]
These practices might be similar, but they are not identical and they serve a very different moral purpose.

3) The 7 councils were mostly about heresies. The one thing they agree on is the trinity and the nature of Jesus. Nobody can deny they worship the same god, but a religion is not determined by a god. Islam worships the same god as christianity, but the beliefs and practices differ a lot, so there can be 2 religions worshiping the same god in a different way. A basic doctrine isn't enough to consider them the same religion.

4) Actually, there are very few saints that are accepted by both churches.[7] The Orthodox Church claims every person in heaven in a saint[8] and even is someone is not considered a saint on earth, he is a saint if he is in heaven. Again, these are serious differences in beliefs about the afterlife.



Bordenkircher forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


I hope my opponent can post his rebuttals in the last round.


Bordenkircher forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by dmussi12 2 years ago
And why did you use the second definition from I seems like you're setting a semantics trap.
Posted by dmussi12 2 years ago
I'm assuming you're referring to the Eastern Ortho Church and not Oriental Ortho? Or both?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Geogeer 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited the debate.