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Subject Is there a hierarchical link to the ancient Apostolic Christian church (Christ's actual church)?
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Original Message We already know that Rome introduced plenty of unscriptural error into Christ's church (indulgences, Purgatory, celibacy of priests, the papal system, delaying the reception of the Holy Spirit through their "Confirmation", switching communion to the use of unleavened bread, denying the reception of communion to little children, adding "original sin" and then claiming that Mary was miraculously born without it, claiming that Mary didn't die before being taken to heaven, adding the Cardinals, the Vatican, and the Magisterium to essentially replace the proper hierarchy of deacons, presbyters, and bishops, replacing the liturgy with the Novus Ordo Mass, etc...), but the Reformation was essentially new churches being born out of Rome's errors. Between Zwingli, Calvin, and Luther (the major Reformers), who got it right?

I started looking into this and wondered if there was any other major Christian church beside the Roman Catholic church before the Protestant Reformation. The next largest (almost equal in size at that point) was the Eastern Orthodox church comprised of churches in Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) and Jerusalem. They've now expanded into Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and many other places around the world. Curiously enough, they subscribe (even to this day) to none of the errors that Rome subscribed to back when Luther nailed up his "Ninety-five Theses or Disputation on the Power of Indulgences".

Looking at Eastern Orthodoxy, they apparently have Apostolic succession in ALL of their churches for each and every bishop (which is in itself astounding). Even the smaller and earlier breakaways (the Armenian Church, the Coptic Church, and the Oriental Orthodox churches) have doctrinally paralleled the Eastern Orthodox (which some people mistakenly call only the "Greek Orthodox Church"). Those churches have been physically separated for over a thousand years yet look almost identical in every respect.

Why are there so few Eastern Orthodox churches in America? They can best be described as a liturgical-type church with more of a Protestant mindset (they're not legalistic but they still hold to the original 'sacraments' which they simply call "mysteries"). They've maintained everything in the form of the original Apostolic tradition but read MUCH MUCH more from the Bible (Holy Scripture) in all of their services (most of which is beautifully chanted, as opposed to straight reading).

I asked an Orthodox priest about all their glittery vestments and he smiled and simply said they're meant to take away from people concentrating too much on the priests or bishops as individuals as opposed to servants of God and the church. He also pointed out there is a scriptural precedent for each article of clothing they wear and reminded me of the beautiful cloth and adornments of the original Temple and Holy of Holies:

"It contained two cherubim of olive-wood, each 10 cubits high (1 Kings 6:16, 20, 21, 23–28) and each having outspread wings of 10 cubits span, so that, since they stood side by side, the wings touched the wall on either side and met in the center of the room. There was a two-leaved door between it and the Holy Place overlaid with gold (2 Chr. 4:22); also a veil of tekhelet (blue), purple, and crimson and fine linen (2 Chronicles 3:14; compare Exodus 26:33). It had no windows (1 Kings 8:12) and was considered the dwelling-place of the "name" of God." - from Wiki

They still know precisely where some of the original churches were in Jerusalem, where Christianity was actually born on the day of Pentecost back around 30 - 33 A.D. They still have churches in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria as well as the Great Schism-controversial (according to Rome) Istanbul, which used to be Constantinople (and Byzantium). I asked about the origin of the monks and he said they're simply offshoots of the practices and way of living of John the Baptist (and to a large extent, Jesus, Himself).

They have a site that will find Eastern Orthodox churches around various cities in America. Just plug in the city and state and the search radius (1 to 25 miles or more):

[link to www.assemblyofbishops.org]
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