Facts about Eastern Orthodox Church

18 facts about Eastern Orthodox Church

Second-largest Christian church

Orthodoxy is one of the major denominations of Christianity, basing its doctrine on the Scriptures and Tradition of the Eastern Church. It is universal Christianity, and its Greek name "orthodoxia" means true glory and true faith; it upholds and proclaims true faith in God. The number of Orthodox Church believers worldwide is estimated at 250-300 million.
Orthodoxy is one of the three major branches of Christianity, along with Catholicism and Protestantism.
The theology and practices of the Orthodox Church are similar to those of the early Church.
Orthodoxy bases its doctrine on Scripture and the Tradition of the Eastern Church.

Eastern Churches are defined as all Christian Churches that have their roots in the territories of the ancient patriarchates: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

The Eastern Churches proper, known as the Orthodox Churches, are divided into three groups formed by different interpretations of the person of Jesus Christ in the light of the Christian faith (Christological dogmas).

The Orthodox Church is organized into autocephalous (the head of this church is not responsible to any other hierarch of higher rank) churches independent of each other from a legal point of view.

Currently, there are sixteen of them. They elect their own primate, whose pastoral jurisdiction depends on a patriarch chosen by a synod. Many of these jurisdictions correspond to the territories of one or more countries - for example, the Moscow Patriarchate corresponds to the territory of Russia and some other post-Soviet states.

They may also include metropolises, bishoprics, parishes, monasteries, and even be outside the country where the patriarch resides. An example is Constantinople, whose jurisdiction is partly in northern Greece and the east. In Bessarabia (part of Moldova and Ukraine), the patriarchs of Bucharest and Moscow jurisdictions overlap.

Orthodoxy was formed from early Christianity.

In the second century, Christianity was forced to choose the way of development - isolation or opening to new ideas. The choice was to further develop by incorporating the achievements of ancient culture into the Christian religion.

Many Eastern bishops did not agree with the Christian primacy of Rome. Conflicts arose between the Eastern and Western Churches, eventually leading to schism.

Underlying the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches were cultural differences between the Eastern and Western parts of the Christian world at the time. The cultural differences were expressed in different approaches to the content of the Gospel. In fact, the differences in the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are minor.

The principles of Orthodoxy were shaped from the first to the eighth century at universal councils and synods, except for Nice I and Constantinople.

At one of these synods, held in Orleans in 533, it was determined that women could not participate in the church hierarchy and could not be ordained to the priesthood.

The formation of Orthodoxy was accompanied by heresies (rejection of erroneous religious doctrines) and schisms. It was also accompanied by polemics with numerous religious movements. Its spread began in the eastern Mediterranean within the Greek culture.

The basis of Orthodoxy is life and worship, as well as doctrinal teaching of faith and morals.

The principal truths of faith in Orthodoxy are the statements contained in the Apostolic Creed (the earliest confession of faith of the Catholic Church).

For the Orthodox, the supreme authority in matters of faith is not the pope but the universal council. Soborism in church administration is the main feature that distinguishes Orthodoxy from other denominations. 

Another unique feature of the Orthodox Church is that all bishops are equal. The metropolitan or patriarch is "first among equals."

A feature of the external system of the Orthodox Church is autocephaly, or the independence of the local Church as a separate entity that is part of the whole Universal Church. All local Orthodox churches are united by a common faith, common canon law and liturgical worship.

Orthodox Christians believe in the Trinity, three distinct divine persons, each of whom is a single divine being, uncreated, immaterial, and eternal.

These three persons are distinguished by their relationship to one another. The Father is eternal and uncreated and proceeds from no one. The Son is eternal and proceeds from the Father. The Holy Spirit is eternal and proceeds from the Father (and not "from the Father and the Son" as in Catholicism - a divergence between Orthodoxy and Catholicism).

God is one in three Persons. In God, there is a unity of nature and essence, but a triplicity of Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The incarnate Jesus Christ is true God and true man. In him is all the fullness of divinity and humanity.

The source of the Orthodox faith is the Holy Scriptures along with Tradition forming a unity.
The basic book for the faithful is the Holy Scriptures.
Orthodoxy also teaches specific moral principles in marriage.
The relationship between spouses is to be guided by virtue of chastity, the basis of which is love, which consists of skillfully combining human passion with the gift of piety. According to Orthodox doctrine, sexual intercourse between spouses is an expression of faithful love vowed in the sacrament of marriage, and procreation is not a necessary but only one of many goals of marital life. The union of the spouses is paramount.
Contraception not based on abortion methods is permitted in Orthodoxy.