The Roman Catholic (Western) and Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine) Churches


Both are Traditional churches: i.e., the Christian message is mediated by traditional interpretation and authoritative leadership.


Roman Catholic Church Eastern Orthodox Church
Style of Spirituality Emphasis on grandeur of God.

Consciousness of utter sinfulness of human nature (Augustinian tradition).

Jesus' death as key to God's redeeming activity.

Deification (=sharing Jesus' divinity)
Mystical goals: Knowledge of God.

Focus on restoration of God's image in humans through the incarnation of Christ.

High Christology: By sharing in Christ's perfect humanity humans can be raised up to God.

Distinctive Modes of Worship Canon law, personal discipline. Icons, Monastic spiritual discipline: Interior contemplation focuses on illumination of the soul with divine Light.

Solemn recapitulation of drama of salvation.

Theology Holy Spirit issued from Father and Son ("fiolioque). Holy Spirit Proceeds only from Father
Church Structure Headed by Pope (=successor to Peter); exclusion of laity; Power of excommunication Spiritual head: the Patriarch of Constantinople. More democratic: Strong lay influence, synods
Relationship to State Competition with secular government Subject to Emperor (=official head of the Church)

Some sample icons

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