Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and founded the Church, through His Apostles and disciples, for the salvation of man. In the years which followed, the Apostles spread the Church and its teachings far; they founded many churches, all united in faith, worship, and the partaking of the Mysteries (or as they are called in the West, the Sacraments) of the Holy Church.
The Holy Orthodox Church is not only here and now, with a long and inspiriting history to look back on. It is already in the next world, where dwell all the inhabitants of Heaven. This is not just a matter of looking ahead to something wonderful to come. The Church transcends time, and we share in the glories of the past and the future now, here on earth.
To paint another picture: The Church is often likened to an ark. We Orthodox Christians believe that we should always be spiritually aware, and through prayer, fasting, and witnessing, enable people of our generation to come to know who we are and what we believe when it comes to the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Faith. The “ship of salvation,” the ark which is the Church, is available for anyone who desires to confess the faith with us. We seek always to help and guide the loving, faithful Christians within the Holy Orthodox Church to be zealous to fulfill her commandments and ordinances, not least to draw in with love and humility those who are crying out for help and salvation. And in the Holy Orthodox Church we and they may obtain that eternal salvation through Christ Our Lord.
The Genuine Orthodox Church throughout the ages has maintained a continuity of faith and love with the apostolic community which was founded by Christ and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Genuine or True Orthodoxy believes that she has preserved and taught the historic Christian Faith, free from error and distortion, from the time of the Apostles. She also believes that there is nothing in the body of her teachings which is contrary to truth or which inhibits real union with God. The air of antiquity and timelessness which often characterizes Eastern Christianity is an expression of her desire to remain loyal to the authentic Christian Faith. To the heretical ecumenistic encyclical of 1920, this statutory charter of the schismato-heresy of new calendarism and ecumenism, together with those who wrote it, and those who accept it, and those who proceed according to its commands: Anathema!
Ecumenism refers to the syncretistic movement seeking intercommunion between all Christian denominations, despite doctrinal differences. Under the false pretenses of “love” and “peace,” the Ecumenists even promote the union of Christianity with non-Christian religions. As a gesture of “love” the Ecumenists have forsaken the truth of Christ, forgetting that love without truth is false love. The fundamental belief of Ecumenism is that the whole truth does not exist in any single denomination or religion, but that all sects and cults contain a portion of the truth, and that the whole truth can only be found when all denominations, cults, sects and even religions unite. Since external unity cannot be achieved due to the sense of power each religion desires to retain, the Ecumenists have sought to form a union of all religions through compromising matters of the faith. Thereby all religions may keep their individual doctrines and traditions, but all should unite under the banner of a common belief in a divine power, whether this be God, Buddha or the numerous deities of Hinduism and other pagan faiths.
A Brief History of the Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church was formed on the day of Pentecost The word “Orthodox” is derived from two Greek words, “orthos”, meaning correct, and “doxa”, meaning belief. The church follows the teachings of the early fathers in an unbroken tradition. She is the original form of Christianity that emphasizes Apostolic tradition and continuity nearly a 2,000 year history. The Orthodox church is the church handed down by Christ through his Apostles.
The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church was ruled by five patriarchs: those of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, each having authority over bishops in a specified geographic territory. Although the five split from each other, none was a newly founded organization. Each group took (and still today takes) the view that it is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the other group left that church at the time of the schism.
The followers of Jesus were first named Christians in Antioch. These Christians were also first called Catholics in Antioch around AD 98. The word Catholic comes from a Greek word katholikos which means universal. The Orthodox are the original Christians of the Catacombs, the first Catholics, and the Church of the Apostles. The Orthodox Saints, Martyrs, Patriarchs and Bishops have forged an unbroken chain to the day of Pentecost and the Apostles.
All Christian including that of Rome, were part of the unity of Orthodoxy through the first 1,000 years of Christianity. The Church of Rome, now called the Catholic Church separated from the unity of the church by making heretical claims for the earthly powers of her Pope (Patriarch) at the beginning of the 11th century and completed the break with the Orthodox by the 13th century.
The Protestant reformation began the break from the Roman Catholic Church in 1517. As the centuries passed, many contradicting theologies were formed. The Church of “one faith” faded away. These early schisms from the Roman Church were centered around perceived earthly Papal powers and the continued changing theology of the Roman Church. Sadly, these reforms resulted in the eventual formation of thousands of Protestant denominations each with their own theology.
Out of the Five original churches that were formed by the Apostles through their travels, four remained Orthodox. These are the ancient churches of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Only the Church of Rome following the erroneous teachings of her Popes left the original Apostolic Church. Today there are over 250 million people who are members of the various Orthodox churches.
The Orthodox Church is universal (catholic) and diversified. From the ancient Churches of Africa and the Mid East to the more recent Churches in the Americas these Churches follow the unchanged faith passed on by Jesus through his Apostles. The church directly follows the teaching of the Apostles, the wisdom of the early fathers and the cannons of the Ecumenical Councils.
The various Orthodox Churches all have Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Laity, and an unbroken chain of Monastic life which started with the desert fathers of the third century.
We live in an era that preaches “New is Better” around every corner. We need to realize that not everything “old” should be thrown out and replaced. Religion is the foremost example of such lack of prudence.
You can always find a religious channel, if not several of them, when you turn on the TV or radio. People yearn for a deeper meaning and ways to simplify their stressful lives. They often turn to these mediums to find a solution to their problems. After listening to one of these channels for a short period of time you’ll most likely hear the phrase “ancient church”, “old church” or “original church”. Ever wondered exactly who they are referring to? Well, we want you to know that the church they are referring to is still very much alive and beating today. For Christ’s Church will never die…it has always been, it is today, and it always will be.
Pentecost was the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ They were gathered together and given the ability to each speak in a language other than his own, in order to go to different lands, spreading the message of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the teachings that Christ had imparted to them. Thus was the beginning of the evangelism of the Orthodox Church, which preceded the New Testament and the written Bible by three centuries. The New Testament, in fact, was compiled by the Orthodox Church in the fourth century, lead by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostles baptized thousands and ordained the first Bishops of the Orthodox Church. This process of ordination and “laying on of hands” is one of seven sacraments in the Orthodox Church. It has provided an unbroken chain of bishops and priests from the time of Christ, through his Apostles, to this very day.
Offered on this website is valuable information about the One, True Church of Jesus Christ You’ll find sources that reveal how we should worship, as handed down by Jesus Christ through his Apostles, rather than the minds of intellectuals–centuries removed from the days of Christ
It is important for one to understand that there was only ONE Christian church throughout the first 1,000 years after Pentecost. It was the Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox Church compiled the New Testament in the fourth century. Some of the early writings were chosen to become the New Testament of the Bible. Others were preserved as part of church “Tradition”, a significant part of the Orthodox Church. Many others were deemed to be heretical and discarded. Many of these heretical writings, all known to the Church for centuries, are now being “discovered” and promoted as new information by those who care nothing of the truth but only about profits and ratings.
Holy tradition, which guided Christianity for the first three centuries of it’s existence, together with the sacraments, the Bible and the icons make up the fullness of the Orthodox faith which cannot be found elsewhere.
Orthodox Christianity, from the very beginning saw both Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition as complementary to one another. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle” (II Thes. 2:15). Likewise, Orthodoxy remains on guard to the Apostle’s admonishment: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). Thus, while Orthodoxy is a Bible believing and Bible based church, its belief and interpretation of the Bible is not left to individual opinion but is tempered by the wisdom of Holy Tradition, the Church Fathers, and the Church Councils.
In conformity with the first century Church, Orthodox worship focuses on celebrating the Eucharistic Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ’s Sacrifice with hymns, Psalms, prayers, and teaching. The Divine Liturgy remains the forms and prayers of the early Church, having changed little in the last fifteen centuries.
The Genuine Byzantine Orthodox Archeparchy of Nigeria and Exarchate of Africa is under the Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece. We are not in communion with ecumenical world.
The History of True Orthodoxy By Stavros L. K. Markou
According to the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples of Christ and the first converts to the Apostolic Faith became commonly known as the ‘Christians’. St. Ignatius of Antioch and many other early Church Fathers began using the term ‘Catholic Church’ in reference to the Universal Body of Christ. The First Ecumenical Council affirmed the belief in ‘One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’ — ‘One’ just as Christ is One; ‘Holy’ because God is Holy; ‘Catholic’ as the Church is Universal and for all tribes and tongues; and ‘Apostolic’ because Christ founded the Church on the confession of His Apostles.
Due to heresies (i.e., false teachings) which arose in the first and second centuries, and continue to rise even in our times, the Church took on the name ‘Orthodox’ (‘aright-believing’) to distinguish Itself from the false believing heretics. Unfortunately, many times in the history of the Church, the heretics were in power, taking control of the Patriarchal Sees and falsely calling themselves “Orthodox”. In such cases, the true Orthodox were persecuted and driven underground or into the wilderness for the sake of preserving their pure confession of the Orthodox Faith. But our loving and compassionate Lord has always given signs of hope and assurance to the true Orthodox Christians, strengthening them, so that they may endure until the end and stand fast and keep their confession, even until their last breath.
One such sign was the Holy Cross which appeared in the heavens over the Holy Land during the reign of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, at a time when the Church was plagued by the Arian controversy. Such dark times were those of St. Gregory the Theologian. At this point in time, St. Gregory and his followers broke off ecclesiastical communion with the heretics, so as not to be corrupted by them. The heretics however, having control of the patriarchal sees, continued to call themselves “Orthodox”, even though in reality they were not. Therefore the followers of St. Gregory the Theologian called themselves “Genuine” or “True” Orthodox Christians, so as to distinguish themselves from the false so-called “Orthodox”. In reply to why the “Genuine Orthodox Christians” warded themselves off from the heretics, St. Gregory the Theologian wrote: “For we are not striving to conquer, but to bring our brothers—separation from whom brings us great distress—to our side.” —Patrologia Graeca, Vol. xxxvi, col. 440B (Oration 41: “On Pentecost”).
Another True Orthodox hierarch who was a contemporary of St. Gregory the Theologian was St. Basil the Great, who wrote: “A Church pure and untouched by the harshness of our times is not easily found and from now on rarely to be seen—a Church that has preserved the apostolic doctrine unadulterated and inviolate!… Beloved brethren, we are small and humble, but we have not accommodated our faith according to changing events. We do not have one faith in Seleucia, another in Constantinople, another in Zelis, another in Lampsake, and a different one for Rome. The faith that is professed today is not different from the one that came before; it is the one and same faith.” —St. Basil the Great, to the Evaisenians. (A.D. 376) After the Second and Third Ecumenical Councils, the Church was finally restored, and Orthodoxy triumphed once again.
Yet another great champion of Orthodoxy against Arianism was St. Athanasius the Great. In his letter to the fourth century True Orthodox Christians, he wrote, among other things, the following words: “May God console you! … What saddens you … is the fact that others have occupied the Churches by violence, while during this time you are on the outside. It is a fact that they have the premises—but you have the apostolic faith. They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true faith. You remain outside the places of worship, but the faith dwells within you. Let us consider: what is more important, the place or the faith? The true faith, obviously. Who has lost and who has won in this struggle—the one who keeps the premises or the one who keeps the faith? … No one, ever, will prevail against your faith, beloved brothers, and we believe that God will give us our Churches back some day. Thus, the more violently they try to occupy the places of worship, the more they separate themselves from the Church. They claim that they represent the Church but in reality they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray. Even if Christians faithful to tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.” —Coll. Selecta SS. Eccl. Patrum. (Caillu and Guillou, Vol. 32, pp 411-412).
Another terrible apostasy occurred during the life of St. Maximus the Confessor. Although only a monk, he broke off communion with all those who fell into the heresy of Monothelitism. When questioned as to why he was not in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Maximus replied: “Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching.” —The Life of St. Maximus the Confessor, Boston, 1982, pp. 60-62. When the Sixth Ecumenical Council was finally convened, all the heretics were anathematized. During all those years, that one simple monk was right, and all those notable bishops were wrong.
Among the most well-known times of apostasy are the dark years of the Iconoclastic Periods. The Iconoclasts were condemned by the Seventh Ecumenical Council, but Iconoclasm was not brought to a final end until the Council of the Triumph of Orthodoxy was convened under Empress St. Theodora.
Other confusing times include those of the false councils of Lyons and Florence. At Lyons, all of the Orthodox delegates signed the heretical declaration of union with the heretical Pope of Rome. However, several of the delegates retracted their signatures upon returning to their dioceses. At the false council of Florence, however, St Mark of Ephesus was the sole bishop that refused to submit to the heretical Pope.
Regarding the Latin-minded “Patriarch” Gregory III (1392-1445), St. Mark of Ephesus wrote: “For I am absolutely convinced that the more I distance myself from him and those like him, the closer I draw to God and all the faithful and Holy Fathers; and to the extent that I separate myself from these people, even so am I united with the truth and the Holy Fathers and theologians of the Church.” —St. Mark of Ephesus, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. clx, cols. 536c and 537a.
It is interesting that St. Mark of Ephesus not only resisted communion with the heretical Patriarch while alive, but even after death he refused any form of communion. “I neither desire,” this Atlas of Orthodoxy declares, “nor accept communion with him [i.e., the Latin-minded Patriarch] or his lackeys, in any manner whatsoever, whether during my lifetime or after my death’; ‘just as throughout my life I was separated from them [viz., the Latinizers], so also at the time of my departure from life, and even after my death, I reject communion and union with them; and I adjure, I command, that none of them approach either at my funeral or at memorial services for me, nor even those of anyone else belonging to our faction, so as to attempt to associate and concelebrate with our clergy. For this is to mix what cannot be mixed. For it is necessary that they [viz., the Latinizers] be completely separated from us, until God grants the good amendment and peace of His Church.” —St. Mark of Ephesus, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. clx, col. 536c.
However, the greatest apostasy of all times was definitely that of the early 20th century. In the past, the Church has been attacked by several christological heresies [viz., heresies regarding Christ’s person, divinity, humanity, etc]. However, the turn of the 20th century marked the manifestation of various ecclesiological heresies [viz., heresies regarding the Church, Divine Grace, the Mysteries and Holy Tradition.] These modern ecclesiological heresies include Rennovationism, New Calendarism, Sergianism, Modernism and the Pan-heresy of Ecumenism. (For more information on these heresies, go to the Heresies Section.) These heresies became powerful forces, and, in collaboration with one another, eventually seized control of the patriarchal sees, of which they continue to occupy to this day. Another ecclesiological heresy, less severe than those listed above, is that of Florinism (or Cyprianism), which caused further schisms.
Nevertheless, those who were truly faithful defended their Orthodox confession and remained pure in Faith, just as in the previous times of apostasy. The contemporary confessors of Orthodoxy are known as the “True” or “Genuine” Orthodox Christians, just as in the time of St. Gregory the Theologian, so as to distinguish themselves from the heretics. The True Orthodox Christians have received divine assurance, just as in the time of the Arian controversy, as the sign of the precious cross once again miraculously appeared in the heavens, in this instance, above a True Orthodox chapel just outside Athens, Greece, in 1925 to comfort the faithful True Orthodox Christians and strengthen them in their sacred struggle.