Despite their differences, Eastern Orthodox Church quotes agree that the Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets and apostles, and that the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. These quotes also point to the fact that the Ecumenical Council is the highest authority in settling doctrinal disputes.
Table of Contents
- Holy Spirit expressed the Scriptures through the prophets and apostles
- The sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ
- Old Believers are groups which do not accept the liturgical reforms
- Schism of 1054 between papal legates and the patriarch
- Chrismation is followed by Holy Communion
- Patriarchate of Alexandria split into two groups following the Council of Chalcedon
- Ecumenical council is highest authority in settling doctrinal disputes
- Patriarchate of Constantinople granted autocephalous status to Moscow
Holy Spirit expressed the Scriptures through the prophets and apostles
Historically, the Eastern Orthodox Church has held a very high view of the deity of Christ. Consequently, they have a major theology built around the concept of deification.
Moreover, the Orthodox Church holds that chrismation is the beginning of salvation. However, salvation is not permanent, and it is viewed as a lifelong process.
The Orthodox also have a very sacramental tradition. They baptize infants, adults, and converts, and they participate in the Eucharist three times in succession. They also have a scripture guide, which they use to study the Bible.
The sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ
Using the term “transubstantiation” in the context of the Eucharist has caused much debate over the years. In general, the Catholic Church believes that the bread and wine change into the body and blood of Christ.
On the other hand, the Eastern Orthodox Church discusses the Sacred Mystery of Eucharist using alternative terms. However, the Eastern Orthodox do not believe in the aforementioned miracle. Instead, they believe in a more mystical approach.
The Eastern Orthodox view the Eucharist as the central focus of the Orthodox Church. They also believe that the sacrificial meal was the earliest Christian feast. The Eucharist is the culmination of all the other sacraments and the goal of all Church institutions. Hence, the institution of the Eucharist is kept with the utmost care.
Old Believers are groups which do not accept the liturgical reforms
Besides Russia, Old Believers also exist in Bulgaria, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine, and other parts of the world. In Russia, they have around 2 million members. In the early twentieth century, they played a significant role in the development of the economic relations between the state and the church.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the state and church tried to solve the problem of Old Believers in a variety of ways. But violence and prohibitions were not an effective solution.
Schism of 1054 between papal legates and the patriarch
During the year 1054, a major break occurred in Christian history: a schism between the papal legates and the patriarch of the eastern orthodox church. The break resulted in the division of the Christian church into two sections: the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The split was a result of disagreements between the papacy and the Patriarch of Constantinople on several issues, including disciplinary matters and liturgical practices. The two churches also disagreed on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
Chrismation is followed by Holy Communion
Often referred to as “personal Pentecost”, Chrismation is the sacrament that gives an Orthodox Christian the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is also a personal participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, chrismation is administered shortly after baptism. This sacrament may also be administered to converts from non-Christian religions.
The Orthodox Church believes that baptism and chrismation have no meaning without each other. Therefore, a person is not baptized without receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in Chrismation.
Patriarchate of Alexandria split into two groups following the Council of Chalcedon
Patriarchate of Alexandria was one of the first Christian centers in Egypt. Alexandria was also known for its famed libraries and schools of philosophy. Besides Egypt, Alexandria possessed more than 100 bishoprics and was sometimes even more important than the new Christian capital, Constantinople.
Alexandrian Christians divided into two groups, the Chalcedonians and the anti-Chalcedonians, following the Council of Chalcedon. Patriarchs were appointed by the Byzantium emperor. Patriarchs were responsible for the unity of the flock and passed on the teachings of Our Lord. Their responsibility was also heavy. They had to watch over their flocks and bless insults and persecution.
During the early history of the church, there were seven ecumenical councils held to settle disputed matters of faith. These councils formulated statements of faith and issued canons of discipline.
The Ecumenical Synod is the highest authoritative body within the Orthodox Church. The Synod’s decisions are considered infallible on matters of faith. These decisions are not permanent until they are accepted by the Conscience of the Church. The Synod may also decide to change canons.
The Conscience of the Church is the Church at large, which includes all the faithful. It is the highest authority for appeals within the Orthodox Church. It introduces ever-existing truths of the Revealed Word and identifies necessary truths for the faithful.
Patriarchate of Constantinople granted autocephalous status to Moscow
Patriarchate of Constantinople granted autocephalous status to the Russian Orthodox Church in January, 2019. The decision had tremendous consequences for ecumenism and Orthodox Christianity in general.
Moscow has exercised considerable influence over Eastern Orthodoxy for centuries. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) opened monasteries, convents and seminaries and baptized people, and confessed its Liturgy. It has been recognized as canonical by the Holy See, but does not fully receive recognition from other Orthodox Churches.
The Russian Orthodox Church suspended participation in multilateral commissions and theological dialogues. It argues that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has no right to bestow autocephaly on its “canonical territory”, which includes Ukraine.