Justin Taylor | Genesology


The Orthodox Church

The doctrine of the Christian Church was founded over the course of centuries during which the councils were represented at the leaders of all Christian communities. The Eastern Church recognizes the authority of the Councils of Nicea 325 AD, Constantinople I (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451), Constantinople II (553), Constantinople III (680) and Nicaea II (787) .

Although initially the Eastern and Western Christians shared the same faith, the two traditions began to divide after the seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 AD It is commonly believed that the separation had become final with the so-called "Great Schism" of 1054, which sharply divided the east from the west. They each still claim Apostolic Succession ... started and executed by the original Apostles of Jesus.

In particular, this great schism happened during the papal claim of supreme authority and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The break became final with the failure of the Council of Florence in the fifteenth century. However, for most of the Orthodox, the decisive moment was the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 (commissioned by the Western Christians). The sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1453 eventually led to the loss of the Byzantine capital by the Ottoman Muslims. This has never been forgotten.

The divisions between the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western Churches (Catholic) took place gradually over the centuries, the fragmentation of the Roman Empire. In the end, while the Eastern churches accepted the principle that the Church would maintain the local language of the community, Latin became the language of the Western Church. Until the Great Schism - the five great patriarchal sees were Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. After the break with Rome became the orthodoxy of "Eastern" and the dominant expression of Christianity in the eastern Mediterranean, most of Asia Minor, Russia and the Balkans.

The Orthodox Church is one of the three main Christian groups (the others are Catholics and Protestants). About 200 million people follow the Orthodox tradition. It consists of a series of self-governing churches that are "autocephalous" (which means they have their head) or "autonomous" (meaning self-government).

The Orthodox Churches are united by faith and a common approach to theology, tradition and worship. They draw on elements of Greek culture, Middle Eastern, Russian and Slavic. Each church has its own geographic boundaries (rather than national) that typically reflect local cultural traditions of its believers.

The word "Orthodox" derives its meaning from the Greek, and consists of the words "orthos" (right) and "doxa" (creed). Hence the meaning of orthodoxy as "correct faith" or "right thinking".

The Orthodox tradition developed from the Christianity of the Roman Empire and was then shaped by the pressures, politics and the population of each specific geographic area. Since the capital was Byzantium Eastern Roman Empire, this style of Christianity is sometimes called "Byzantine Christianity". The Eastern Church leadership stayed in Constantinople (Istanbul) while the Western Church remained in Rome, where they both still operate from today, and although still divided, talks have been restarted to fix some of the animosity and disagreement over the years.

The Orthodox Churches share with other Christian Churches in the belief that God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, faith in the Incarnation of Christ, his crucifixion and resurrection. The Orthodox Church differs substantially from other Churches for the lifestyle and worship, and for some aspects of theology. The Holy Spirit is seen as present in the Church and the Church as a guide and working through the entire body of the Church, as well as by the priests and bishops. The Orthodox Church in it's size, is second to the Catholic Church as far as world followers. A great deal of the services are still presented in the original languages from the original doctrines. Not much has changed since the beginning. If you would like to see how things were presented back in those times, the Orthodox Church is the closest example that you will find.

Just a thought ...

~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.