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The Orthodox Church

Some people say the Orthodox Church is like the Roman Catholic Church because of the elaborate services and similar approach to sacraments and saints. Others say the Orthodox Church is like the Protestant Church because of the rejection of papal claims and married priests.

In fact, neither of these ideas about the Orthodox Church is accurate. The Orthodox Church has services which are almost identical to the Roman Catholic Mass of the 12th century. (If you recall, the Orthodox and Roman Catholic church split in 1054 A.D.) Today, because of changes in the Roman Catholic Mass, there are great differences, but it is still possible to see common roots.

The Orthodox Church rejects the papal claims that there is a vicar of Christ, infallible head of the Christian Church. It would, if union occurred with the Roman Catholic Church, consider the Pope as the first Bishop among equals. The other "equals" being the primates of the Orthodox Churches around the world. The Ecumenical Councils, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and attended by all Bishops, is the highest legislative body on matters of faith and morals. Decisions of the Ecumenical Councils are considered infallible and inspired by the Holy Spirit, only if consistent with the Apostolic Faith and accepted by the entire Church. Therefore, every person within the Church is responsible for Christian truth.

The Orthodox Church ordains married men, but does not allow marriage after ordination. Bishops are not married because they are monks who have taken vows of celibacy.

What then is the Orthodox Church? It is the first Christian Church in history, the Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, described in the pages of the New Testament. Her history can be traced in unbroken continuity all the way back to Christ and His twelve Apostles. She expresses the fullness of the New Testament faith. For persons who are seriously desire this fullness, the Orthodox Study Bible* suggests three ways of becoming acquainted with Orthodox Christianity: Visit - St. Luke Orthodox Church or look up Eastern Orthodox in the Yellow pages and attend a liturgy and meet the priest. Read - the Priest in the parish you visit will suggest a number of books and periodicals.

* The Orthodox Study Bible, Conciliar Press, PO Box 79 Ben Lomond Ca. 95005


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