Most people think of religion in terms of the "Big Three"—Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. But the Orthodox like Protestants, they are not one monolith with uniform beliefs. On the other hand, there are distinctives that set them apart from Protestants.

The Orthodox Church is one of the three major branches of Christianity, which stands in historical continuity with the communities created by the apostles of Jesus in the region of the eastern Mediterranean, and which spread by missionary activity throughout Eastern Europe. The word “Orthodox” means “true or right belief and worship.” It. implies the claim of doctrinal reliability with apostolic truth. The Orthodox Church has also established communities in Western Europe, the western hemisphere, and, more recently, Africa and Asia, and it currently has more than 174 million adherents throughout the world. Other designations, such as Orthodox Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox, are also used in reference to the Orthodox Church.

The ancient patriarchates of the Orthodox Church were often the locus of large religious gatherings and the administrative organization of the patriarch. Though not the head of the church like the pope in Roman Catholicism, patriarchs perform administrative functions that include organizing councils for their communities. The four great ancient patriarchates (besides Rome) were Constantinople, Alexandria, Damascus, and Jerusalem.  

The Orthodox Church is not a single church but rather a family of 13 "autocephalous," or self-governing, churches. They are united in their understanding of the sacraments, doctrine, liturgy, and church government, but each adjusts its own affairs. The Orthodox Church claims to be the one, true church of Christ. Orthodox thinkers debate the

spiritual status of Roman Catholics and Protestants, and a few still consider them heretics.

        The Orthodox have experienced more brutal and lasting persecution than any other Christian body. The outbreak of World War II, some 50,000 Orthodox priests were martyred.

        Orthodox worship can last two or more hours. Since Orthodox churches do not usually have pews, worshipers variously stand, kneel, and lie prostrate, depending on what the liturgy calls for.

Many Orthodox churches still follow the Julian calendar, authorized by Julius Caesar. Many Orthodox celebrate holy days almost two weeks after the West.

The five largest Orthodox churches in the world are:

Russian (70 to 100 million)

Romanian (15 million)

Greek (13 million)

Serbian (8 million)

Bulgarian (8 million)

The Orthodox Church has always seen itself as the organic continuation of the original apostolic community and as holding a faith fully consistent with the apostolic message. Orthodox Christians have, however, adopted different attitudes through the centuries toward other churches and denominations. Orthodox thought has adopted a positive attitude toward the modern ecumenical movement.

Positively, Orthodoxy believes that the Spirit of God speaks to his people through apostolic tradition. This tradition is expressed through Scripture, to be sure, but also through the seven ecumenical councils, and to a lesser degree, the church fathers, liturgy, canon law, and icons.

Join now!

They say that, “God became man so that men might become God’s”.

The Orthodox Church is a fellowship of independent churches. Each is governed by its own head Bishop. These churches share a common faith, common principles of church policy and organization, and a common liturgical tradition. Only the languages used in worship and minor aspects of tradition differ from country to country. The head bishops of the autocephalous churches may be called patriarch, metropolitan, or archbishop.

The Orthodox Church strongly affirms that it holds the original Christian faith, which was common to East and West during ...

This is a preview of the whole essay