5 Ways Eastern Orthodox Differs From Other Christian Denominations

Source: Newsmax


Eastern Orthodox Christianity predates Protestantism by about 500 years. Their core beliefs are similar to those of Catholicism.

In fact, the creeds of the two denominations are nearly identical. However, there are key differences between Orthodox Christianity and other Christian denominations.

Here are five ways Eastern Orthodox differs from other Christian denominations:

1. The Authority of the Pope: Unlike Catholics, Orthodox Christians reject the authority of the pope as Christ's representative on earth. They see the pope as no greater than nor less than any other bishop (the pope is the bishop of Rome). However, this also sets them apart from Protestant denominations, who reject the notion of apostolic succession completely, believing that each individual church is obligated only to itself and to God.

2. The Communion of Saints: Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that those who have died in Christ are alive today in heaven and that we can communicate with them through prayer. They don't see this as worship of the saints; they believe that the saints can't act on their own power but only through interceding with Jesus on our behalf.

3. Christ's Presence in the Eucharist: Orthodox Christians believe that the bread and wine of the Eucharist are literally transformed into the real body and blood of Christ. Conversely, most Protestant denominations, if they celebrate the Eucharist at all, believe it to be only a symbolic reminder of the Last Supper.

4. Role of Mary as the Mother of Jesus: Like Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that Mary was deserving of veneration as the mother of Jesus. They also believe Mary was assumed bodily into heaven. Most Protestant denominations don't attribute a great deal of significance to Mary.

While Catholic beliefs are similar to those of Orthodox Christians, there is one important distinction. Catholics believe in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which teaches that Mary herself was conceived without original sin. Orthodox Christians, on the other hand, reject altogether the concept of original sin that is passed from one generation to the next. Therefore, they believe there was no need for an Immaculate Conception.

5. The Nature of Salvation: Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that salvation is achieved both through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus and a lifelong effort to lead a holy life and to become closer to God. This is much closer to the Catholic concept of salvation than to that of the Protestants, who believe that it is impossible to "earn" salvation and that it can only be gained through faith in Jesus.


Stacy4/24/2024 8:14 pm
Thank you Max(4/28/2016)...you have led me to where my heart has been searching. Thank you also to the original author of the post, as it has led me to Max's comments. Thank you both.
Bert Clayton6/12/2023 4:56 am
No, the Orthodox precedes Protestants by several centuries. Understand there were 5 bishops, all of equal footing. But the bishop of Rome was known as the first among equals. In 1054, there was a schism, originally said to be with the filoque, where the holy spirit would come at the request of Jesus, from the father. The western side, the bishop of Rome said, no, from the father and the son. There's probably more involved, however, the bishop of Rome excommunicated the other 4 bishops and these 4 reciprocated with a mutual excommunication of the bishop of Rome. Where the Eastern Orthodox has been as long as the Roman Catholic. Then there's a closer relationship with Judaism too, which Jesus was. Regardless of the filoque, there's still the basic tenants of the faith as well as virtues and vices. Which the churches are not going to judge us, but we will be judged by G-d. Did we do good to our brothers and sisters of faith when it was in our hands? Or to others to exemplify G-d when it was in our hands? These are the important things. Theres always those that want others to do for them, where someone else has it worse, they'll always wiggle through these things invalidating someone else, which is very invalidating. These are not of G-d. These are the important matters. Also understand some already are tied down with their obligations as well as being distant from others along with trying to hold their lives together. So when others criticize churches, they do not really have a full picture. Just saying. Yet, it's important for seekers to know the truth about the churches as the Orthodox does have a rich heritage. Let's hope it does not get corrupted.
Angie1/14/2023 9:22 pm
Please see Matthew 23:9
Deborah Lazar12/19/2021 7:19 pm
So is orthodox Christian closer to Catholicism or Protestant religions?
Despina4/15/2021 8:44 am
Yes the churches are the same age, but the Orthodox church lives and continues as they did back then before the split where as the Catholic made changes and keeps making changes. If a Catholic wants to really feel the Ancient Catholic church, she should come to the Orthodox faith for it lives within. I wanted to add something that no church leader discusses and I ask why ? I said this to a girl who is Italian ( catholic) and she says " oh my God" yes my grandmother follows this to this day and she said she doesn't know why no one does anymore. Not only during lent are we suppose to not eat meat or fish on Wed and Fridays, but every Wednesday and Friday of our life. Only babies, elderly and sick are excused. I mean its only 2 days out of the weak. In the bible somewhere SAID " CURSED IS THE LARYNX THAT EATS MEAT AND FISH ON WEDNESDAYS AND FRIDAYS." I THINK THAT GOD IS SAYING THIS BUT CLERGY ARE NOT REMINDING ANYONE IN EITHER CHURCH. "I WAS BETRAYED ON WEDNESDAY AND CRUCIFIED ON FRIDAY. ISN'T GOD SUPPOSE TO BE RESPECTED ??????
Drake Mitri10/23/2020 3:35 pm
Thank you for attempting to discuss the differences between the churches. Yes, more study is needed but I admire your intent in trying to figure out and simplify the differences. Christianity is a doctrine (understanding who God is and His place in your life) and discipline (praying, fasting and offering your body as a living sacrifice). Performing these two simple things is the beginning in developing ones love for God. I really hope we can all forget each other and focus on God.
Zee6/7/2019 9:24 am
Orthodoxy predates Protestantism by 500 years?

The author completely lost me there and I could not proceed.
Cynthia L Etchen12/7/2018 11:20 pm
The East-West Schism was in 1054, however, the final straw which caused the break off from the Roman Catholic church was in 1204 during the 4th Crusade when it became known that the Knights of Romania and crusaders had raped and killed nuns, and killed clergymen from a Eastern Orthodox Cathedral called the Hagia Sophia when it was converted to a Roman Catholic Cathedral by the Fourth Crusaders during the Latin Empire, then the building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum in 1935. You can find details in this Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sack_of_Constantinople_(1204).

isidora10/17/2017 7:10 pm
Thank you, Pravoslavie, for reprinting this entirely ignorant article so that its stream of errors could be corrected in the comments section.
John Novak 6/28/2016 5:50 pm
Sorry mr hodges but you are wrong many Eastern Orthodox priests teach that faith and good works go hand and hand in salvation and they teach you can pray to the saints and get a answer one orthodox priest I knew and his wife claimed to have seen the saints two in particular Who have a shrines that are located on either corners of the front entrance of ST George antiochen church 26 n Rosalind ave Orlando and you have silly traditions that are not. Biblical and your church is full of dead rituals and as Jesus said to the Pharisees about the cup its looks beautiful on the outside but is full of corruption and filth on the inside you hypercritical you make the kingdom of attainable to most by making people jump through rituals to gain salvation you wear costumes and give each other unbiblical titles to make yourself sound more important the title bishop, elder, Presbyter, Deacon are biblical. Archbishop metropolitan patriarch Cardinal Monsignor pope are man made titles and unbiblical
Max4/28/2016 5:59 pm
You can find the truth about Orthodoxy in "The Longer Catechism of The Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church" http://www.serapion.org/index.shtml?4.en

And by the way the Orthodox Church exists from the first century,the Day of Pentecost (the Acts of the Apostols,chapter 2). Because the word "orthodox" means: right faith,right glory,right opinion. Therefore we can say that Our Lord Jesus Christ is Orthodox and his Apostols are orthodox and it is true that the orthodox faith remains unchanged from the first century. We can see it in the works of the pupils of the Apostols and throughout the next generations of holy fathers. For example,read an epistle of Saint Clement of Rome,epistles of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna and Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

The Holy Bible does not exist without Holy Tradition.
Please read "ON HOLY TRADITION" http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/38631.htm
"Sola Scriptura vs. Holy Tradition: Is There a Difference?" http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/74181.htm
Sally Iloff4/19/2015 5:11 am
The Orthodox Church is the Church of Christ. There is no doubt. But the Christianity according to the Americans begins with their Pilgrims. Interesting how those Pilgrims became Christians, but no comment. The Catholics are anything but Christians, according to those people. Orthodoxy for them is Judaism. what write is what I can hear almost every Sunday in the church I attend. There is no Orthodox church here. saying that the Orthodox Church ad Catholic Church are the same or from one and the same time can be expressed only by an American with semi-intellectual ability
Rdr Andreas Moran4/17/2015 10:54 am
The author shows no evidence of being qualified to write about such matters. It ought to be said that Orthodox Christianity is not a 'denomination': it is the truth. Ryan's comment is, if I may say so, not very helpful; the Orthodox Church is Catholic, as we say in the Creed. The Roman Church gradually departed from the Orthodox faith until it separated from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the date for that separation conventionally being set at 1054. Fr Mark's last comments advert to this but it must be said that the Church cannot be divided: it always has been, is, and always will be One. The Pope of Rome is a bishop of his own Church but has no standing in and therefore no authority in relation to the Orthodox church.
Ken Jennings4/17/2015 8:06 am
I'm confused by the sentence, "Eastern Orthodox Christianity predates Protestantism by about 500 years." Didn't the Great Schism occur in 1054 A.D.?
Anthony4/16/2015 7:15 pm
Father Mark, The Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory". The completion of our earthly life is death. They teach that Mary, is a symbol of the Church and the assumption is another promise of our being with God in heaven. The popular piety of some say that because Mary was most holy, most pure (which they call the Immaculate Conception)she never died. But the Official Teaching does not say that. Many Orthodox Fathers believed in the Immaculate Conception. However, when it was defined by Rome, and given the media at that time stating that it was an "infallible" declaration, many Orthodox backed off ...perhaps more for political reasons than theological. Are we not saying the same thing but using different words?
Editors4/16/2015 12:43 pm
Thank you Fr. Mark for taking the time to comment so thoroughly!
FrMark Hodges4/16/2015 1:15 am
6. Orthodox do NOT believe "salvation is achieved," at all, period. First of all, salvation is a much more wholistic term, including our physical, spiritual, psychological being, here and now, as well as Heaven. But more importantly, salvation is by UNION with God. We believe there's no such thing as Faith Alone, or Works Alone. Salvation is a RELATIONSHIP --a growing relationship wherein we seek him and He seeks us. So salvation is not just by confessing a bunch of beliefs, nor is salvation just by praying a prayer once (no matter how sincerely), nor by reciting the Protestant formula, "I receive Jesus as my Savior" (although, salvation certainly can *start* that way!). Furthermore, salvation is not at all by works in the sense of being merited or earned or achieved. This topic, too, requires much more than can be said now --if interested, just look up "synergy" or "theosis" or "salvation" or "faith" in any canonical Orthodox webpage.

Thank you for the opportunity to rebut some of the author's misleading statements.


v. Rev. Dr. Mark Hodges
St Stephen Orthodox Church
in response to http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/78677.htm
FrMark Hodges4/16/2015 1:15 am
4. Orthodox do not believe as the Catholics do that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven, but that she indeed died, but that's a peripheral issue.

5. While we do believe that the Immaculate Conception idea is "a poor solution a non-existent problem," as Fr Alexander Schmemann would say, we nevertheless do NOT reject "altogether" the concept of Original Sin. This is way too complicated to go into here, but what we reject is St Augustine's interpretation and explanation of Original Sin, that it is transmitted through sex, that it is the personal guilt of Adam unjustly imputed to all human beings, etc. We certainly embrace the Biblical idea of sin and fallenness and propensity toward evil being passed on from generation to generation.
FrMark Hodges4/16/2015 1:14 am
We also do believe that those who have drawn close to Christ in this life and have fallen asleep in the Lord pray for us, as "the Church Triumphant" praying for "the Church Militant." This simply means, for example, that a Godly mother who dies leaving four tiny babies or toddlers does not, upon death and entrance into the presence of Christ our eternal Intercessor, stop caring about her children. Of course not! Of course, if she has any genuine love, she would continue to pray --all the more fervently being unincumbered by this world's distractions and all the more effectively since she is in the Lord's presence-- continue to pray for her loved ones (which, as she grows in pure love, will come to include all mankind without exception!). Bottom line: seance-like communication with the dead? No. The Church Triumphant praying for us? You bet!
FrMark Hodges4/16/2015 1:14 am
3. Orthodox do not believe we can "communicate" with the dead through prayer. At best, this is very misleading. We do believe that those who have fallen asleep are not obliterated but their souls are alive ("to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord," St Paul wrote), but it is the occult which believes in communicating with the dead. We do believe, however, that we can pray for loved ones who are believers and have died, since we all for all eternity will need each other and each other's support and prayers (Jesus "lives to make intercession for us," Hebrews says) even in Heaven, which is not a static place but where we will be changing "from glory to glory," as St Paul teaches in the Bible. Love is infinite, and since we are human we are finite, and always will be finite, and therefore we can always grow in greater, deeper, purer love --and we need each other to do that! That's why Heaven will not be isolated cells, but a complete intercommunion with God and each other.

FrMark Hodges4/16/2015 1:13 am
2. Orthodox do not, in fact, reject the authority of the Pope. In fact, Orthodox have a very high view of hierarchical authority. Rather, what the Orthodox reject is the Western doctrine of Papal Supremacy: that the Roman bishop, affectionately called "papa," or "pope" --as other leading bishops are, such as the Pope of Alexandria and the Pope of Egypt-- that he is over other bishops. We hold to the apostolic principle that Bishop, Priest (presbyter, really, since Jesus is the only priest) and Deacon are the clerical orders of the Church. The author is correct in his later explanation, both that we oppose the idea that anyone can be the "vicar of Christ on earth," and that the Roman bishop ("Pope") is no greater in terms of supreme authority than any other bishop, in the sense that no bishop is over other bishops in that bishop's territory.

FrMark Hodges4/16/2015 1:12 am
I don't have much time, so this will be brief. The author is no doubt well intentioned, but the article is quite inaccurate on many points:

1. Orthodox Christianity does not predate Protestantism "by 500 years," but by 1500 years. The modern-day Orthodox Church and the modern-day "Catholic" were at one time united, and were together the one, catholic and orthodox, worldwide Church. Orthodoxy began at Pentecost, not a thousand years later. Tragically, East and West split over several differences, officially in 1054 AD. But the Orthodox Church did not originate in 1054 --that would be the same schism-denying logic that would say the catholics started in 1054. While it is true that the Orthodox would say the Catholics deviated from the one, unchanging, apostolic faith, the Catholics would say the same thing. So, division, yes, but genesis in 1000? No.
Ryan4/15/2015 10:22 pm
Catholicism and Orthodoxy are the same age.
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