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Second in size only to the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Christian Church (Eastern Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Orthodox Church) is the oldest Christian Church in the world, with its beginnings in the New Testament, although Roman Catholics may argue with that.

The true beginnings of either the Orthodox or the Roman Catholic churches are indeterminable because they were one and the same prior to their separation. Inarguably, the New Testament Church was centered in Jerusalem, not Rome, while the Orthodox Church is conciliar rather than monarchical, with Orthodox patriarchs each holding equal authority in the Church, which has no centralized headquarters.

The Orthodox Church does not view itself as an organization, but a living organism that lives wherever believers reside. But because the Ecumenical Patriarch, believed to be first in honor among Orthodox patriarchs, is the Patriarch of Constantinople, Istanbul might be considered the spiritual center of the Church.

The Orthodox Church considers the Church to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of history.

The Orthodox Church has deep roots in Christian antiquity, yet many Christians raised in Western Christian traditions are almost wholly unfamiliar with Orthodoxy.

The separation began over questions of the papacy and some changes that were made to the Nicene Creed, but over the centuries the Roman Catholic Church developed a mindset and approach to Christianity that is foreign to those of the Orthodox faith. To those in the Orthodox churches, Roman Catholicism is centered in human logic and speculation rather than on prayer and union with God, the result being that the two branches of the Christian Church have widely diverged. Not only do they speak a different language, but many of the words that are shared are not commonly defined.

Beginning with the Great Schism of 1054, and exacerbated with the Protestant Reformation of 1517, a process of splintering was set in motion within the Christian Church, one that has resulted in a variety of theological opinions that have led to confusion regarding the Church, which has themselves led to denominationalism and non-denominationalism.

On the large issues, the Orthodox Church remains similar to the Roman Catholic Church, and most Protestant Churches. They share a belief in the Trinity with Jesus Christ being God's only incarnation, as the Son of God and God. They believe that God created life and the universe, but that the Bible was not intended to be a scientific revelation. They believe that after death, God will immediately determine who will experience happiness, unhappiness or temporary punishment, and that Christ will return to resurrect and judge all for eternity either in heaven or hell, with the level of reward relative to one's deeds during life. They believe that God created people righteous by nature, but that the original sin of Adam and Eve corrupted that nature. They believe that all have been saved through the death of Christ, but that those who are not in Christ are vulnerable to being with the devil. They believe that some suffering is a consequence of the Fall of Adam and Eve, but that suffering also comes because Satan rules the earth, and God allows suffering in order to test, teach or strengthen the faith of a believer.

On contemporary issues, they believe that abortion and homosexuality are a sin. They believe that while marriage is considered a sacrament, divorce and remarriage are not condemned if attempts at reconciliation are exhausted. However, the wedding ceremony for a remarriage must include prayer and repentance for the sin of divorce. On the Holy Communion, the Orthodox Church holds that the sacrament is not only a communion with Christ, but also with the Church, and that a Christian cannot commit himself two distinct church bodies. Although they make no judgement as to the salvation of individuals who are part of the Roman Catholic or Protestant churches, the Orthodox belief is that those who have become schismatic are separated from the apostolic Church.

Other Orthodox Christian churches that are not necessarily so closely related, but which will be contained within this category, or subcategories, are the Syriac Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Oriental Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, the Nestorian Churches, Saint Thomas Christians, Serbian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East, Church of Greece, and the Ancient Church of the East.

While these churches share much in common with the Eastern Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, and the Greek Orthodox - largely, that they broke away from the larger Christian Church before the Catholic schism - there are differences.


Armenian Apostolic Church

Assyrian Church of the East

Coptic Orthodox Church

Eastern Orthodox Church

Greek Orthodox Church

Orthodox Church in America

Romanian Orthodox Church

Russian Orthodox Church

Serbian Orthodox Church

Syriac Orthodox Church



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