The Greek Orthodox ChurchThe Greek Orthodox Church is one of the three major branches ofChristianity, which “stands in today’s society as one of the communities createdby the apostles of Jesus in the region of the eastern Mediterranean, and whichspread by missionary activity throughout Eastern Europe” (Meyendorff 5).
The wordorthodox comes from Greek, meaning right-believing. currently the orthodoxreligion has more than 174 million followers throughout the world. The Greek Orthodox church is autocephalous, that is, governed by its ownhead bishop. The head bishops of this autocephalous church may be calledpatriarch, metropolitan, or archbishop. These clergymen are much like the Popein that they decide church doctrine and generally make the important decision oncontroversial topics.
In its doctrinal statements, the Greek Orthodox church strongly affirmsthat it holds the original Christian faith, which was common to East and Westduring the first millennium of Christian history” (Meyendorff 18). More particularly, it recognizes the authority of the ecumenicalcouncils at which East and West were represented together. These were thecouncils of Nicaea I (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus(431), Chalcedon(451),Constantinople II (553), Constantinople III (680), and Nicaea II (787) (Encarta1996). The power of teaching and guiding the community is bestowed on certainministries, particularly that of the bishop of each diocese or is directedthrough certain institutions, such as councils. Because the church is composednot only of bishops, or of clergy, but of the whole laity as well, “the Orthodoxchurch strongly affirms that the guardian of truth is the entire people of God”(Encarta 96). The doctrine of seven sacraments is accepted in the Greek Orthodoxchurch, although no supreme authority has ever limited the sacraments to thatnumber.Order now
The central sacrament is the Eucharist; the others are baptism, normallyby immersion; confirmation, which follows baptism immediately in the form ofanointment with chrism; penance; Holy Orders; marriage; and anointment of thesick. The Greek Orthodox church admits married men to the priesthood. Bishops,however, are elected from among celibate or widowed clergy. The Greek Orthodox religion differs for many other religions in thatthey express prayers and worship with pictures.
This central function ofreligious images, called icons, received its full definition following the endof the iconoclastic movement in Byzantium (843). The iconoclasts were lookedupon as sacrilegious in that they resemble idols, which were prohibited in theold testament . “The Orthodox theologians, on the other hand, based theirarguments on the specifically Christian doctrine of the incarnation: God isindeed invisible and indescribable in his essence, but when the Son of Godbecame man, he voluntarily assumed all the characteristics of created nature,including describability”(Meyendorff 21). Although there are many differences between the Eastern and WesternChurches, there is always the possibility of the two churches combining in thefuture.
If each church is willing to make small corrections in their doctrine,the two churches that have been separated for hundreds of years, could possiblycombine in the decades ahead. Works CitedMicrosoft Encarta. Computer software. Microsoft, 1996. Gateway PC-DOSMeyendorff, Rev John.
The Orthodox Church. New York: Ballantine, 1984.