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688A Quickie Definition of Orthodoxy

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  • Christopher Orr
    Sep 1, 2008
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      The following is a suggested emendation of a brief introduction to Orthodox
      Christianity on the back of the wedding program of good friends, most of
      whose friends and family are not Orthodox. Thoughts?*


      About the Eastern Orthodox Church*

      Orthodox Christianity � most familiar to Americans as the traditional
      Christian churches of Russia, Greece, Serbia, Georgia, Jerusalem, etc. �
      became seen as a distinct branch of Christianity after the 11th-century
      'Great Schism' between the bishops of the Eastern Mediterranean - led by the
      bishop of New Rome-Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) - and the bishop of
      'Old' Rome (the Pope).

      The Eastern Orthodox Church is often described as a 'mystical' church less
      interested in dissecting and defining dogmas *about* God than in
      prayer *to*and worship
      *of* God the Holy Trinity. While true to an extent, the Orthodox Church does
      not set doctrine over and against personal spirituality; she simply follows
      the ancient dictum that "the law of prayer is the law of faith" (not vice
      versa) and is, therefore, zealous in maintaining her ancient, apostolic
      traditions (cf. 2 Thess 2:15).

      Religious authority in Orthodox Christianity is not centered on an
      infallible bishop, as in Roman Catholicism. Instead, the Orthodox Church
      considers Jesus Christ himself to be the present and active head of His very
      own Body, the Church. Orthodox bishops - especially when they meet in an
      ecumenical or universal council - together with the entire Church (clergy,
      monastics and laity; living and reposed) are responsible for guarding and
      keeping "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude

      Salvation is the purpose - "the one thing needful" (Luke 10:42) - of
      Orthodox Christianity. But, salvation is not seen as the mere forgiveness of
      sins or as the satisfaction of God's 'justice' or 'honor'. Salvation to the
      Orthodox Christian is the deifying of the human person, i.e., the process
      whereby we are united with God becoming more and more like the God-man,
      Jesus Christ, in whose image we are created (cf. Genesis 1:26).


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