A Brief Guide to the Eastern Orthodox Religion

The Eastern Orthodox church, sometimes referred to as Orthodox Catholic, separated from the Catholic church in what is known as the Great Schism. Although similar to the Catholic church, the Eastern Orthodox religion holds different beliefs and traditions from the Catholic church. Two of these beliefs are the reasons for the separation. These are:
The primacy of the Pope – Eastern Orthodox believe all bishops have equal authority The procession of the Holy Ghost – the Catholic church included the Holy Ghost in the Niceen Creed as proceeding from the Father and Son; the Eastern Orthodox church believes the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone

Both religions believe they can draw their Christian lineage directly from the apostle Paul whom on the day of Pentecost developed the first Christian church as he followed the edicts of Jesus to go and spread the gospel.This is known as the Holy Tradition. It is believed that on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended onto these early Christians. The Greek translation of orthodox is, “correct believing”. Eastern Orthodox believe they are the one true church.


One defining belief of the Eastern Orthodox religion is how God is referred to with uncertainty. It is believed within this religion that since God is infinite, he cannot be explained. Therefore, Eastern Orthodox Christians believe in not declaring positive statements about God. Instead, it is a better proof of faith to admit not knowing the qualities or actions of God.

Other beliefs are:

Fulfilling all the sacraments for atonement All bishops are theoretically successors of the apostle, Paul There are two sources of religious truth: The Bible and tradition The trinity; the Father, Son and Holy Ghost


A traditional Eastern Orthodox home will have an area set aside for depictions of the saints and holy objects such as dried Easter flowers. The traditional Eastern Orthodox home may also have the east corner of the front room of the house designated for pictures of the saints. When a person of the same faith enters the house they kiss the pictures and make the sign of the cross.

When entering the church one would kiss the picture of Jesus first, then Mary (the Blessed Mother), and then make the sign of the cross.

Traditions within the liturgy (mass) itself are:

One liturgy per day No three-dimensional statues

Other traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church are:

The permitting of divorce for certain reasons and remarriage The requiring of celibacy for bishops only; Clergy are permitted to be married Communion is the actual body and blood of Christ. In the Eastern Orthodox Church it is bread in the wine, given with a spoon. Infants and converts given three-fold baptism and immediate confirmation

It’s interesting to note that the Eastern Orthodox religion is so called because historically the churches were in Slavic nations, which are eastern areas of Europe. Constantinople brought Christianity to the Slavic peoples. Many Germanic peoples fled to the eastern region of Europe. Because each church is a self-governing unit, some traditions may vary due to the customs of the region.

The Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that tradition as set by the bishops and council is to be followed first. This is done in accordance with the Bible and other sacred writings. Eastern Orthodox is a religion that is parallel to Roman Catholic in some beliefs and traditions; such as, following the sacraments, observing similar holidays, and belief in the saints. Major differences in theology, such as not accepting the Pope in Rome as the finite ruler, separated the two religions in early Christian history.


Backman, Milton Vaughn. Christian Churches of America; Brigham Young University Press; 1976

Gough, Michael. The Early Christians; Frederick A. Praeger; 1966


credit: acrylicartist / copyright: http://morguefile.com/acrylicartist caption: Romanian Orthodox

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