Two Paths: Orthodoxy & Catholicism

Rome’s Claims of Papal Supremacy in the Light of Orthodox Christian Teaching




Michael Whelton’s Two Paths, Papal Monarchy-Collegial Tradition (now titled: Two Paths: Orthodoxy & Catholicism), was initially published in 1998. We first read Two Paths on the recommendation of a friend, who described it as “the best book on Catholicism from an Orthodox perspective.” We believe that this is still the case, which is why we wanted to make sure that it remains available in print. One of the benefits of republishing a book is that it has been reviewed and, if necessary, revisions can be made. This edition represents a heavily edited and lightly revised version of the original.

Praise for TWO PATHS

Two Paths is a historical record of the Roman Catholic claim regarding papal primacy and infallibility. As a member of the Orthodox Christian Church under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, I must admit that I am truly saddened by the efforts taken by the Roman Catholic Church to cast aside the importance of history, tradition, and even the New Testament in order to sustain a teaching that has no basis in these three areas. I am disturbed because history is important to God Himself Who entered it, so that mankind might have the opportunity of knowing the Creator.

I am convinced that much of the information in Two Paths is unknown to most people. Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians alike, who may have dreamed of a reunion of the two churches, will awaken to reality when they read this book.

I encourage all who believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church to read Two Paths. It is not easily put aside once one begins to read it. I am truly impressed by the historical documentation that it contains. It is a must read book.”

– Metropolitan Isaiah, Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver

Two Paths is an ardent, thorough examination of the devolution of Rome’s legitimate ‘primacy of honor’ in the ancient Christian Church into the ill-founded, problematic, and divisive doctrine of papal infallibility in the 19th century and its modem repercussions.

Although humbly offered as the result of personal research by an ex-Catholic convert to Orthodoxy, this cogent volume nevertheless synthesizes the welter of important evidence on the issue of papal authority, and newly problematizes both the liturgical reforms of the Vatican and the current discussions of a reunion of the Western and Eastern branches of Christendom. It will surely – and ought to – provoke a Roman Catholic response, perhaps inaugurating a more informed discussion of the theological legitimacy of Roman claims to ecclesiastical supremacy in contradistinction to the conciliar model retained in the East.”

– Kimberley C. Patton, Professor of the Comparative and Historical Study of Religion, Harvard Divinity School

TWO PATHS: Orthodoxy & Catholicism

Two different paths. In the West, for about a thousand years, the Roman Catholic church has claimed papal supremacy over the entire Christian world. In the East, since the first centuries, the Eastern Orthodox Church has remained faithful to the Church’s original conciliar vision: local churches meeting together in council. How did these two paths develop? What were the cultural, historical, and theological issues that led to their development? What are the Roman Catholic claims about the Orthodox and vice versa? In Two Paths, Michael Whelton dives deeply into Roman Catholic sources to document the development of papal supremacy by addressing issues such as:

  • Saint Peter and the papacy
  • The ecumenical councils and the papacy
  • The Filioque
  • The Gregorian Revolution and its effect on Roman Catholicism
  • The influence of falsified documents such as the “Donation of Constantine” on the rise of the papacy
  • Papal infallibility, the Council of Constance, and the First Vatican Council
  • The Second Vatican Council

Whelton also uses ancient Christian sources to document the development of the Orthodox conciliar vision of the Church, from the First Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) through the Seventh Ecumenical Council. For layman and scholar alike, Whelton’s monumental work is the best and fullest work dealing with this topic from an Orthodox perspective in the English language.

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Two Paths: Orthodoxy & Catholicism