What makes Orthodoxy different?

I come across people who ask me what's different about the Orthodox Church compare to other traditions. 

Posted June 16, 2023 by at United States » California in Theology



Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

This statement is the starting point for Orthodox Christians and from which all our understanding of reality as well as our doctrine, worship and spirituality begins and ends.

Orthodox Christianity is the true faith, passed down from the apostles of Christ, unchanged and unbroken. This is verifiable not only historically but more importantly when we look at its doctrines. Orthodoxy is not a religion but a way of life. It engages the whole person, being cognizant and deeply knowledgeable about his intellectual, emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions and powers as discerned by the Church Fathers.  It does not differentiate, operate or observe reality from a science versus faith paradigm but embraces both as two sides of a single coin.

We do not have a pope nor any teachings about infallibility. We see all human beings, even the Patriarch, as fallible and prone to making mistakes. The leadership of the Church is not concentrated in one man such as is the case with the Pope for the Roman Catholics. The Orthodox teaching is that “The Church” is the manifestation of the life of the Holy Trinity in all that is visible and invisible. The Church is not a man-made organization but a reality that existed before the creation of the world. At its most basic level, a person chooses to either live on earth in a manner that acknowledges this reality or in a manner that denies it. We understand faith as the personal journey and experience of this reality.

In Greek, the word heresy or heresia means to lift up something exclusively. During the debates about Christ’s identity and divinity that occurred in the early centuries, the heretics were those who fixated on one aspect or teaching about Christ that they formulated and spread at the expense of keeping intact and in harmony the total understanding and received teachings that had been preserved and passed down, i.e. the holy tradition. So for example, the notion of “human rights” could be considered a heresy because it is usually defined by or limited to a very specific “cause” such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or economics and fails to represent the whole person as described above.

The concept of freedom is at the heart of Orthodox spirituality. Christ came to set us free from sin and death. We decry the destructive power on societies when secularization is abused and imposed for leftist agendas. We certainly believe in the freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and what could be called “American principles.” But we also understand that these things are not mutually exclusive. The founding fathers, freemasons and the like, at least had a core spirituality that informed the basis for these principles. They understood that without accountability to a higher power, the democratic system and society would collapse.

We believe that the goal of human beings is to become fully human. We are broken and wounded in both soul, spirit and body. The chaos and evil in the world around us is the manifestation of our inner ailment. The basic tenet of Orthodox Christianity is that God doesn’t want to punish us for our sins but wants to heal us and through us to heal the world. This healing takes place in the Church and through the efforts of each believer who works in synergy with the grace of God. In short, this healing of the human person and his growth in becoming pure and holy is considered the journey and a process of salvation.

We believe that we were saved on the cross, that we are being saved through the grace of God and our efforts (prayer, fasting, good works), and that we will be saved at the second coming of Christ.

Added June 16, 2023
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Alyson d'Arms
wow - so many things. It is different from other world religions in that it involves relationship with a God that can be known and experienced. It is different from other Christian faiths, namely Protestant ones in that it is traditional, liturgical and has a lovely deep connection with the sacre... View More
July 23, 2023