Why haven't I heard of the Orthodox Church before?
Beats me! It's been around since the day of Pentecost. You
probably haven't heard about it because we are a conservative
Church that sounds no trumpets in our social programs but rather
attempts to lead individuals, each in his or her own
circumstances, into communion with God, the very purpose for
which the Church exists. Believe it or not, there are perhaps
three million of us in North America, and at least 150 million
throughout the world.
Are you like the Catholics or the Protestants?
Well, the Orthodox Church is "catholic" in the
fullest meaning of the word: "whole and not confined."
But some 500 years before the reformation split western Europe
into Protestant and Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christians protested
against the Pope of Rome and his attempts to become supreme over
the Church in the 11th century, as well as some doctrinal
innovations. The Orthodox Church remains unchanged in doctrine
and faith since the early Church of the Apostles (yes, we've been
around that long.)
That's a pretty bold claim, isn't it?
It is a bold statement, but when you consider that Jesus
Christ promised that he would found His Church and that it would
endure unchanged in faith and practice, the gates of hell not
prevailing until he came again, it's altogether refreshing (and
confirms one's faith!)
Do you believe in the Bible?
No. We believe in God! We do, however, believe the Bible to be
God's inspired word, a part of the Tradition of the Church. (II
Thessalonians, 2:15) In fact, it was the Church which gave us the
Bible as we know it today! (You didn't think it just fell from
heaven as we have it, did you?)
Why should I come to the Orthodox Church or any church for
Why should you go to work or school, "for that
matter"? It is totally natural! As a child of God you must
worship him in some way, somehow, with your Christian brothers
and sisters. This is a scriptural teaching. The Orthodox Church
offers the most meaningful and rich expression of faith and
worship there is (you'd have to see it to believe it)! Why settle
for less? (Another bold statement, right?)
I thought you had to be Greek or Russian to be Orthodox?
Come on, did you really believe that? the Orthodox Church is
not a country club! The Kingdom of Heaven is "equal
opportunity". You are welcome regardless of where your
ancestors came from. You are also welcome to bring with you your
national customs and culture. Just keep the Gospel of Jesus
Christ first and foremost. The Orthodox Church adopts the culture
and language of the country she finds herself in.
Do you have to confess your sins to a priest?
No. You confess your sins to God in the presence of a priest
who will help you overcome them and proclaim God's forgiveness,
as promised in Holy Scripture. If you choose, you may confess to
the entire congregation, following the practice of the early
Church. (Admitting that you have sins is the beginning of
repentance - that's half the battle already!)
If I joined your Church, would I have to come to every
The only things we have to do in this world are to pay taxes
and die! Coming to Church will give you a deduction for the
former and prepare you for the latter. You come because you want
to come, whenever there is a service. Shotgun Christians are
doubters of their own faith. No one forces you. Your attendance
and participation is your natural response to God's place in your
personal spiritual life, as well as a testimony to faith in His
existence in His Body, the Church and Community of Believers.
How long is one of your services?
Not long enough for those striving for spiritual growth and
renewal. In minutes, the Divine Liturgy (the fairly standard Sunday
service) is a bit longer than an episode of General Hospital (but
without the corruption and commercials!)
What does it cost to be a member of the Orthodox Church?
It costs you your life!
No, I mean in dollars and cents!
It costs you all that you have!
You must be joking!
No, it's the truth. When you commit yourself to Jesus Christ
and His Church, you will come to understand that everything you
possess is a gift from Him to be used for His glory. For example,
if you are living as best you can according to Jesus Christ's
teachings, your life is giving glory to God. Then even your
grocery bill for the food which sustains and nourishes your life,
is a contribution to the glory of God. This is the Orthodox
understanding of the term "stewardship".
Come on now, how much are "the dues"?
Okay, enough theology! The scriptural ideal is 10% (a tithe)
of your gross income. But unless you submit last year's tax
return, no one would know how much you earn. You give as much as
you can conscientiously, on a regular basis but not because God
"needs" the money. Man does have a need, however, to
give - we know that from our day-to-day experience (particularly
All right, now on to your worship. I was told that the
Orthodox worship pictures. Isn't that against the Commandments?
Sorry, you were told wrong! The Holy Icons
("pictures") are honored as reminders of the Glory and
Presence of God, and venerated as such. ONLY God, the Father, His
Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are due worship. (How can
the Church practice what is so contrary to God's Law?) That is
one reason you will find no statues in Orthodox temples - their
inclusion in our tradition never developed as that too closely
resembled the pagan piety of the early days of our Church, during
the time of the Apostles. But icons, rather than attempting to
depict reality, point to the Kingdom of God. They are often
referred to as "picture windows to Heaven". In other
words, you will not only hear the Gospel in an Orthodox Church,
you will see it! The icons act as tools in our
spiritual worship and witness to the sanctification of all
creation and matter that occurred when Christ Jesus, the Son of
God, took on human flesh. The Divine/Human Person of Jesus became
the living icon of God (John 10:30; 14:6-11) in the flesh.
You keep mentioning "The Church" over and over
Basically, Jesus Christ did not come to establish such a thing
as "Christianity". Even the word is not in the Holy
Scriptures. What Christ Jesus did do was to establish the Church,
which Scripture calls both His Body and His Bride. The communion
which man seeks with God is found by being part of the Church,
something which St. Paul calls a "great mystery",
whereby we become members of Christ: "of His flesh, and of
His bones." (Ephesians 5:30) The Bible also tells us that
such as were being saved were added to the Church (Acts 2:47).
They were not merely making "decisions for Christ" --
again, not a Scriptural term -- but they were repenting, being
baptized for the remission of their sins, and being added to the
Church. (Acts 2:38 ff.) There, they were continuing steadfastly
in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, the Breaking of Bread
(what is commonly called Holy Communion today), and prayer.
Finally, from the day of Pentecost, the "birthday" of
the Church, the Bible never speaks of Christians who were not a
part of it. This sort of sums up why we speak so much of
Where can I find more information?
You can check the Religion section at the public library.
Especially helpful is a book called The Orthodox Church, by
Timothy Ware. It's also available at many book stores. Or, you may
The Monks at
Orthodox Church in America
P. O.. Box 397
Resaca, Ga. 30735
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