Eastern Orthodox Christianity Is Not Christianity?

ImageThe other day I was told by a young lady, a Calvinist mind you, Orthodoxy is not Christianity. Verbatim she said, “I believe it’s a false Christianity, yes. Christian in a broad sense though.”

Besides the clear oxymoron of this statement, the lack of historicity it presents is mind blowing.

Courtney and I were talking while on our date last night about folks who say such things about Orthodox Christians. Courtney had a great metaphor for such folks:

Saying that Eastern Orthodoxy is not Christianity is like a baby growing up and questioning it’s mother’s humanity despite it is the mother and her humanity that gave this child life.

To say Orthodox Christianity is not Christianity is to deny the Church who gave the Christian faith the Scriptures. To say Orthodox Christianity is no Christianity is to deny the Church that set in place the orthodoxy concerning Christ’s humanity, divinity, and incarnation!

To say Orthodox Christianity is not Christianity is to deny the Christians who gave us the Creeds, of which many Protestants, dare I say even Reformed folks, accept.

This is the thing about certain aspect of Protestants that get into this “let’s decide who is and is not Christian” game when it comes to those who accept and affirm historic, apostolic Christianity whether in its fullness, Orthodoxy, or in the other half full cases (which are found in Catholicism and Protestantism); it is a game of judgment really.

There is not a single canon or belief in Orthodoxy that states that Catholics or Protestants are not Christians. Granted, we do have our raging Fundamentalist, but they do not reflect what Orthodoxy believes and are not a full representation.

Orthodoxy fully recognizes that there are other Christians. We do not deny there faith, just its fullness. We do not deny that they believe in Jesus. We do not deny their faith or belief at all. We simply deny their ecclesiology and the false unity of Ecumenism that is found there. We do not deny that they are Christians or make judgments that they are not since in most cases they recognize, accept, and affirm much of orthodox belief such as the fact that Christ is the Son of God, fully man, fully human, and died on the Cross and resurrected. We acknowledge in most cases that they are baptized and have faith.

This notion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity not being Christianity is completely bogus. And anyone who has had a basic introduction to Church History knows that this assertion could not be more historically ignorant.

That is one thing that I find great about Orthodoxy. Of course Rome, Churches of Christ, and many Protestant groups claim they are the one, true, apostolic, and Catholic Church. Of course history has shown me and COUNTLESS others that Orthodoxy is the only one with the claim that is true.

But while some other groups claiming that will tell you that you are going to hell and have no salvation for not being part of the Church, Orthodoxy does not.

We have never made such pronouncements on other Christians nor will we ever. We cannot say where the Church is not, only where it is. The Church will be determined at the Dread Judgment of Christ.

This sort of silliness found in some folks (and not all Protestants are like this, so please do not see me as lumping them all together) is just completely unfounded.

I do not think this helps either side, Orthodox or Evangelicalism (Protestantism), in any way. I do not believe it is okay to say of those who profess the apostolic, basic beliefs of Christianity that they are not Christians. Now, clearly there are some folks who call themselves Christians, but they really lack any connection or similarity with ancient, apostolic Christianity. I am not talking about cults like Mormonism or Jehovah Witnesses.

I know that not all Protestants believe this, but I wanted to address this idea nonetheless.

It is extremely inaccurate historically to say of Eastern Orthodox Christianity that it is not Christianity.


About Joel

Joel is a 32 year old currently residing in the southeastern United States. His interests lay in philosophy and theology. He is a writer for The Christian Watershed.

9 thoughts on “Eastern Orthodox Christianity Is Not Christianity?

  1. Presbyterian though I may be (but not the ultra-left-let’s-scruple-everything-and-throw-out-the-Bible type), I find many Evangelical Protestants damnably and inexcusably shallow. No, Luther, Calvin, etc. did not invent God. My love for pre-Reformation historical theology and some more modern Catholic voices often puts me on the “wrong” side of an arguments with people who are willing to throw out 1500 years of Christian thought (and often the Old Testament). The first thing I would have asked her as a follow-up would be what she thought of the Catholic church. Then I would have asked abouther favorite theologians. Her shallowness would have become very apparent at that point. Frankly it’s as inexcusable as it is pathetic. I have a strong commitment to Christian Education, and I will never understand why some people will settle for indoctrination.

    • Now would I understand that. You would very much on the wrong side. Kind of like poor Tim Keller who like Catholic mysticism and such. I am glad you are not ignorant and ahistorical. It’s quite sad to see a Protestant ignorant of the theological history that birthed her own movement lol. But sometimes it happens to be how it is I suppose.

      • Try to explain Hildegard von Bingen to most people…yikes. Yes, I am unabashedly Augustinian, and while I may not always agree with every aspect of the theology of all the mystics, they often have a perspective that can very much enlighten. Smart Protestants “get” what is ecumenically valuable, as the story of the people of God is a rich one, and the pool of knowledge is a very deep well…if and only if you’re willing to venture across the marker for the “3ft” section. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for example, understood that there was value in the life led in communities of religious, which he synthesized well in Life Together. And I still think Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ is the best and most challenging devotional ever written, everybody else just pack it up and go home.

        Also, I cheated. My family is — historically — Catholic on both sides. Historically…but even as a Protestant I think I am still the most Catholic of all my cousins on both sides. My home church, of course, only holds worship on Sunday mornings, but I live in a wonderful parish, and go to mass usually at least once a week. Eventually I will be finishing my undergrad work at a Jesuit university as well. My immediate family are all some sort of rogue Protestant though, so I’m still odd. But God’s people are God’s people, and worshipping with faithful saints is a beautiful thing.

      • I don’t know about that. The Ladder of Divine Ascent and much of the Desert Fathers and Hesychastic Father’s writings revile Thomas on that 😉 hahaha.

        I grew up Protestant. Only recently became Orthodox. My journey is a blog on here if you scroll down through you’ll see it.

  2. Pingback: The Argument from (Dis-)Similarity | Finite Reflections of Infinity

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