Orthodoxy is that form of Christianity which gives “right glory” or “right worship” to God the Holy Trinity. Orthodoxy is the Christian Church, in succession to the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Priests of the Old Testament, which was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ when He ordained His Apostles and sent the Holy Spirit upon the faithful gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost. The followers of “the Way” were first called “Christians” at Antioch (Acts 11:26b); and the Christian Church was first referred to as “Catholic” in a letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrneans in about the year AD 98 (Smyrn 8:7). The Orthodox are the original Christians, the first Catholics, the Church of the Apostles, and the Community of the New Testament.
The Western Churches, including that of Rome, were part of the unity of Orthodoxy through the whole of the first 1,000 years. Rome only separated from the unity of the church by making extraordinary claims for the earthly powers of her patriarch (Pope) at the beginning of the 11th century and completed the break with the Orthodox by the 13th century. The usual date of the great schism is given as AD 1054, with the mutual ex-communications of the Roman Cardinal Humbert and Patriarch Michael, but it can not be disputed that by the year AD 1204, when the great city of Constantinople was sacked by the Roman Crusaders, that the two Churches had become separate expressions of the Christian Faith and that the so-called “Great Schism” had indeed taken place. This sad division still is unfortunately in effect to this day. The ancient churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople are all still Orthodox and still operate, along with other Patriarchates, as a collective and unified whole within the frame-work of a conciliar government with Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church. About 250 million people now living around the world are members of the Orthodox Church making it the second largest group of Christian after Roman Catholics. Today the Orthodox Church is growing steadily in the USA.
The Orthodox Church is universal in nature (ie. catholic, meaning “whole”), and has Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Laity, and a rich Monastic life with Communities of Monks and of Nuns in nearly every country. Most Priests and Deacons are married. Bishops are not married because they are elevated from celibate monastic life for the most part.
Orthodox Teaching & Doctrine
During the first thousand years following the birth of Christ numerous variant teachings arose attempting to replace Christianity with some religiosity of human invention and convenience. All these variant teachings (heresies) were answered by the Church with the Seven Great Ecumenical Councils. At the first of these Councils in AD 325 at Nicaea the assembled Fathers proclaimed the Creed (from the Latin Credo meaning “I believe”) which summarises the True Christian Doctrine. This Nicene Creed as originally formulated is faithfully recited by the Orthodox at the Liturgy in all the churches in all places of Orthodox worship:
I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and our Salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father; Who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe in one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the life of the world to come. Amen.
Orthodox Worship & Liturgy
Orthodox Christian worship is focused on God, not on our own enjoyment, fulfillment, or fellowship. We come into the presence of God with awe, aware of our fallenness and His great mercy. We seek forgiveness and rejoice in the gift of salvation. Orthodox worship is formed by repentance, thanksgiving, and unending praise. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.