Tuesday, 2 August 2016
Orthodoxy and Catholicism, by Dave Armstrong
I believe this is a revised edition of an earlier book by Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong. Armstrong examines the key issues on which Eastern Orthodox Christians and Catholics disagree such as the filioque, original sin, the papacy and in more recent times, the issue of artificial contraception. He offers clear and well presented arguments for the Catholic position. On a more positive note, he demonstrates that Catholics entirely agree with the Orthodox doctrine of theosis.
This is arguably a 'two views' book, as it includes contributions to each chapter by Fr. Deacon Daniel Dozier, a Byzantine Catholic. Dozier offers reflection on Armstrong's arguments from an Eastern Catholic perspective. His contributions are somewhat more nuanced than Armstrong's, offering criticism of western Catholicism as well as apologetic arguments. The difference in tone was so striking that at times it felt like Dozier would have liked Armstrong to calm down a little bit! I particularly liked the fact that Dozier challenged the tendency in Catholicism to view clerical celibacy as the apostolic norm (implying it is the superior discipline). I have seen a number of Catholic apologists refer to the work of Fr. Christian Cochini, who made an historic case for clerical celibacy as the apostolic norm. The problem with Cochini's argument is that it proves to much and ends up undermining both the tradition of married priests in the Eastern rites and married deacons in the Latin rite. It is Fr. Deacon Dozier who concludes the book with a broad essay on relations between Catholics and Orthodox, prospects for unity and the place of Byzantine Catholics in bridging the two sides.
This is a good book for those unsure about why and how Catholics and Orthodox disagree, or who are unsure which of the ancient churches they should join. It provides both apologetic clarity and ecumenical respectfulness.