What is Orthodoxy?

I know very little about them, but from what I gather, they’re different from other protestants. Is it true that basically they believe that their Church is the one that Jesus handed the keys to Peter, similar to Catholics? From what I gather, Catholocism and Orthodoxy split back hundreds of years ago, and nobody is certain exactly which one is really the unbroken chain because it happened so long ago and is lost in history?

Any sources where I could get more information on Orthodoxy?

A good entry level book is Metr. Kallistos Ware’s book “The Orthodox Church”


We are not Protestants at all - Union between us and the Western Catholics ended nearly 1,000 years ago, and even before that we had been an entity independent from Rome since the time of the Apostles.

I was recommended another book:



In addition to independent study of Orthodoxy (and the two books mentioned already are excellent resources), I’d encourage you to explore what the Church teaches on the Orthodox Churches. The Catechism itself contains many references.

Thank you for your input, but are there any free and easy to read sources on the internet?

And you never answered if my current understanding is even remotely correct.

You have to be cautious about any source on the internet. Some websites which cover this subject matter are highly polemic and should be avoided, or at least read with skepticism. For that reason, I would recommend that you start with articles available of the websites of some of the major, well established Orthodox Churches. One such is the site of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (www.GOARCH.org). There is a page on the The Fundamental Teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church which might be a good place to start.

I would also recommend any of the lectures you might find on YouTube or elsewhere given by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, a well regarded speaker and theologian who has a stellar reputation for scholarship and fairness. If for no other reason, I’m sure you will find his voice and manner of speech to be rather pleasant, and thus would enjoy his lectures.

You can go to the OCA website, they have a Q&A section there.


Well, I wouldn’t say " nobody is certain exactly which one is really the unbroken chain because it happened so long ago and is lost in history". The Orthodox are sure that the Orthodox Church is the one true Church, and the Catholics are sure that the Catholic Church is the one true Church! :smiley: You’re right about the “split hundreds of years ago” part. The conventional date given for the East-West Schism (or “Great Schism”, as it’s often called, though I fail to see what’s so great about it :p) is 1054 AD, but that’s really a matter of convenience, because that was the year when legates from Rome, who were representing a Pope who had actually died while they were on their journey to Constantinople (so some people say they had no authority), placed a “bull of excommunication” on the altar of the Hagia Sophia basilica in Constantinople, excommunicating all of the Eastern (Orthodox) churches over various issues that the Latin and the Byzantine churches had grown estranged over. The Byzantines responded in kind, excommunicating the Latin Church. These mutual excommunications were lifted in 1965 under Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople, who met in Jerusalem in 1964 to discuss matters and eventually issued the “Catholic-Orthodox Joint Declaration of 1965”, which rescinded the excommunications of 1054. This did not end the Schism however, as it was about much more than that initial act by the Pope’s legates (indeed, the issues surrounding the division, such as the Filioque or the place of Constantinople in the Pentarchy, had been simmering for centuries before 1054).

That, in a nutshell, is how “Roman Catholicism” and “Eastern Orthodoxy” came to be distinct, separate churches and communions.

You might be able to get the book I recommended in a library, it is probably the most common and easiest to acquire book on Orthodoxy. It isn’t a long read. I can’t speak for Constantine’s recommendation as I haven’t read it myself, though I have no reason to doubt it.

The OCA website has a nice Q&A FAQ (already linked to), but that’s obviously somewhat limited. There is also orthodoxwiki.com, but like all Wiki’s they aren’t the easiest to navigate and the information isn’t that in depth.

My recommendation is that you read one of the books recommended here to get the basics, and then participate in discussion here with Orthodox posters to answer the additional questions that arise.

If you really want to see where Orthodoxy differs with other religions I suggest Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy by Father Damick. He covers all the major religious groups and he breaks is down in detail on specific faith issues.

If you want a free version you can listen to his lectures that the book is based on on itunes ( same name as the book) or here at Ancient Faith Radio


I suggest you start with the oldest one as they built on each other.

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