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Eastern Orthodox Christianity: Home

A guide to researching the churches of the Eastern Orthodox tradition

Eastern Orthodox Christianity

This LibGuide contains a wealth of material for those studying aspects of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.  Due to space limitations, it does not include material on the Oriental Orthodox Churches or the Assyrian Church of the East. It is hoped that, eventually, another guide will be developed to include those ancient apostolic Churches as well.

Acknowledgements

This very full  LibGuide owes most of its content, decoration and arrangement to David Cassens, director of the Pius XII Library at St. Louis University, whose Eastern Orthodoxy LibGuide is used as a template here, as it has been for LibGuides at other institutions.  Our thanks to David for his permission to use his inspiring work!

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Huffington Ecumenical Institute Archive

 The Huffington Ecumenical Institute at LMU exists to bring Orthodox and other Eastern Christians into closer dialogue with Roman Catholics.  It works to strenghthen service to the Catholic and canonical Orthodox Churches of all jurisdictions throughout the region, enriching the holdings of the Loyola Marymount University library in the areas of ecumenism and Orthodox theology, and publishing the proceedings of the Huffington Symposia.

Eastern Orthodox Church

Three Bar Cross 

The Three Bar Cross Explained

The Orthodox Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ and his apostles, begun at the day of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit in the year 33 A.D. It is also known (especially in the contemporary West) as the Eastern Orthodox Church or the Greek Orthodox Church. It may also be called the Orthodox Catholic Church, the Orthodox Christian Church, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, or simply the Church.

The bishops of the Orthodox Church trace unbroken succession to the very apostles themselves, therefore ultimately receiving their consecrations from our Lord Jesus Christ. All the bishops of the Church, no matter their titles, are equal in their sacramental office. The various titles given to bishops are simply administrative or honorific in their essence. At an ecumenical council, each bishop may cast only one vote, whether he is the Ecumenical Patriarch or simply an auxiliary bishop without a diocese. Thus, there is no equivalent to the Roman Catholic papacy within the Orthodox Church.

As with its Apostolic succession, the faith held by the Church is that which was handed by Christ to the apostles. Nothing is added to or subtracted from that deposit of faith which was "handed once for all to the saints" (Jude 3). Throughout history, various heresies have afflicted the Church, and at those times the Church makes dogmatic pronouncements (especially at ecumenical councils) delineating in new language what has always been believed by the Church, thus preventing the spread of heresy and calling to repentance those who rend asunder the Body of Christ. Its primary statement of faith is the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

The Orthodox Church of today consists of fourteen or fifteen autocephalous churches and five autonomous churches, sometimes referred to as jurisdictions. Autocephalous churches are fully self-governing in all they do, while autonomous churches must have their primates confirmed by one of the autocephalous churches, usually its mother church. All the Orthodox churches remain in full communion with one another, sharing the same faith and praxis. There have been occasional breaks in communion due to various problems throughout history, but they generally remain brief and not developing into full schism. The Patriarchate of Constantinople is also the Ecumenical Patriarchate and has the status of "first among equals" among the Orthodox Churches.

The most common estimates of the number of Orthodox Christians worldwide is approximately 225-300 million individuals.