Is Catholicism considered orthodox Christianity? Things like praying to saints, the pope, praying to Mary, etc could be considered heretical... no?
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Seeing as Catholics adhere to the first seven ecumenical councils, I think it would be very difficult to make a case that they aren't. Even their Orthodox brethren never doubted they were Christians- they just got annoyed at how uppity the Pope would get.
On the other side, it is true that Cromwell and many of the English theologians really thought the Pope was the AntiChrist. Again, however, it tended to be more for their behavior then for their theology. This is not to say that there were no differences in theology- but in the essentials (the Creeds would summarize this well), there was never any doubt that Catholics were closer to the truth than, say, the "Hindoos" or the "Mohammedans".
Additional note: My definition of orthodoxy has a pretty long pedigree. According to the entry in Liddell & Scott, orthodoxos first occurs in the Codex Justinian I.5.21; Code of Justinian: "We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed." The State Church of the Roman Empire (meaning that Christianity which was first recognized by Constantine the Great after Milvan Bridge in 312AD, then codified and formalized by these Councils tends to be the most commonly accepted definition of 'orthodoxy' amongst secular scholars.) I've historically used Chalcedon instead of Nicea (I wish I had stuck with Nicea, incidentally) mostly because I was trying to be more generous in my definition of "mainstream" Christianity.
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Yes, Catholicism is the only form of Christianity, or any religion for that matter, that contains the fullness of truth, but others certainly have a share in it.
But no, Catholics don't pray to the Pope, they do often pray for him. They don't pray just to Mary, but beg that she prays for us and the same goes for the saints.
Not sure why this answer generated any hubbub since "fullness of truth" is a very common Catholic explanation for the differences between us and everyone else. But, for the sake of orthodoxy, I will quote the heck out of Chesterton's eponymous epic and redeem myself.
On things you don't believe, yet the Catholic church teaches that are in fact true:
On the hidden meaning and reason for orthodoxy (right teaching):
And, a defense of the symbolism, mystery and tradition taught through Catholicism:
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It's an intersting philosophical problem to try to classify Catholiics as "heretical". By far the majority of Christians in the world are Catholic. To classify them as 'unorthodox' means you first have to establish a standard of orthodoxy. If you are starting from an evangelical protestant perspective then you might manage to do that — but first you have to establish that evangelical protestantism is the correct form of Christianity.
Frankly even then the vewpoint that Catholics are heretics is a minority one.
Secondly you have to decide how much someone disagrees with you before the become "a heretic". Are they a heretic if they disagree about the timing of the rapture? Infant baptism? The right colour robe to wear during Easter? Christians disagree about many things, and 'heretic' is a strong word to use without a really good cause.
Most non-Catholics would consider those things as heresies but even then they are established, widely accepted heresies within Christian history, so they are a form of orthodoxy. Orthodoxy does not mean true, just standard norms of historical acceptance.The basic idea of 'orthodox' is adhering to traditional and established faith. Well that simply means being part of a historical majority. Therefore, Catholic faith (I say this from someone very much opposed to its doctrines as I am a Protestant) -- is very orthodox.
I will quote one of our own members as providing a very clear definition of who is mainstream Christian (i.e. 'orthodox' or 'widely recognized historical types' of Christianity as the world understands it):
This member also adds other 'Christian' groups that are not orthodox from the standpoint of history as they are more or less recent sects, so can't by definition be orthodox but non-orthodox with non traditional views found in the orthodox historical bodies:
As I have it from Catholic encyclopaedia this practice of asking fellow Christians, Saints etc to pray for us, dates to earliest days of Christianity and is shared by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, other Eastern Christians and some Anglicans. It does originate from Bible.
John in Rev 5:8, depicts the saints in heaven offering prayers to God under the form of golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints. Meaning that saints offer our prayers to God, meaning they hear our petitions and present them to God by interceding for us.
The intercessory requests to Virgin Mary and Saints are akin to everyday life instances. When we need to pray to God for any of our intensions, we would ask our friends and well wishers also to pray for us. So those in heaven have even greater confidence and devotion to God than anyone on earth. Also God hear the prayers of righteous.
It is similar to saying of a son humbly at his mother’s grave, “Mom, please pray to Jesus for me. I am having a real problem right now.” We in our daily prayers, pray for our children as they being young, would not exactly know how to pray and that does not mean we are taking Christ place for our children while directing our prayers to God for them.
Something similar is said by Paul in four verses immediately preceding 1Timothy 2:5.
Elsewhere Paul directly asks others to pray for him: Rom. 15:30-32; Eph. 6:18-20; Col. 4:3; 1Thess. 5:25 and 2 Thess. 1:11
And finally Jesus himself required us to pray for others, and not only for those who asked us to do so:
Also Jesus regularly supplied for one person, based on another person’s faith.
See also Matt. 15:28; Matt. 17:15-18; Mark 9:17-29; Luke 8:49-55
Having said that and as I know of it, this practice of asking saints for intercessory prayers was extensive with Catholics earlier. It now exists, but Catholic Church, over the last several decades has weaned its flock away from it and more towards Jesus and that I find is a right step. Even when it was so, Christ was always a unique mediator for Catholic Church incomparable with human mediator ship as He is both God and Man and is the only bridge between God and us. However, to say this practice is heretic is an extreme view.
Let’s not waver in our cause, the cause to give Jesus to the whole world. The fact that we have different traditions indicates that we are having some differences of opinions among us. But these are nothing compared to that which unites us together. The blood of Christ unites us, because we acknowledge that we have been saved by same Jesus dying on the cross and who has risen from dead to give us life everlasting. We (all traditions) are not to forget about our strong, unwavering and steadfast belief in Jesus as the Christ and that He is God incarnate. Let’s not be judgemental in who is heretic and who is not because then each tradition will come up with their own issues they have with each other.
What better verse to quote here than what Paul said in 1Corinth. 1:12.