Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church is an international group of Patriarchal, Autocephalous and Autonomous churches. Each church is independent in her internal organization and follows her own particular customs. However, all the churches are united in the same faith.
Each Church is led by a Synod of Bishops. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is regarded as "First among Equals."
The Great Schism
The Great Schism is the title given to separation between the Western Church (the Roman Catholic) and the Eastern Church, (the Orthodox), which took place in the eleventh century.
By the ninth century legitimate differences were intensified by political circumstances, cultural clashes, papal claims, and the introduction in the West of the Filioque phrase into the Nicene Creed.
The Orthodox Church claims to have inherited it's traditions from the Apostolic Church. Dr. John B. Carpenter has challenged that claim by trying to show that icons (from the Greek eikona, meaning images) were not originally accepted in the Christian Church. He claims that the early church appears to have inherited the opposition to icons from second temple, Talmudic Judaism. Hence, early Christians were accused of being "atheists" by Romans who assumed the absence of images meant the absence of belief in gods. Origen (184-254) responded to the charge of "atheism" by admitting that Christians did not use images in worship, following the Second Commandment. Canon 36 of the Council of Elvira (c. 305) states, “Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration.” About the year 327 the early church historian Eusebius (c. AD 263 – 339) wrote, "To depict purely the human form of Christ before its transformation, on the other hand, is to break the commandment of God and to fall into pagan error." Epiphanius (inter 310–320 – 403), bishop of Salamis, in Cyprus wrote, in Letter 51 (c. 394), to John, Bishop of Jerusalem about an incident of finding an image in a church in his jurisdiction: "I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of the said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loath that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ's church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person." He goes on to tell John that such images are “contrary to our religion” and to instruct the presbyter of the church that such images are “an occasion of offense.” Carpenter concludes that the issue of icons arose some time after the fourth century and they were originally opposed, only being accepted by the second "Seventh Ecumenical Council" (787) which he says constitutes the true beginning of the Orthodox Church.
Persecution and the Soviet Union
Eastern Orthodox churches, such as the Russian Orthodox Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church, were heavily persecuted under the atheistic, communist Soviet Union (see: Communism and religious persecution).
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- ↑ John B. Carpenter, "Icons and the Eastern Orthodox Claim to Continuity with the Early Church," Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2013, pp. 107-122.
- ↑ For example, Martyrdom of Polycarp, chapter 9; cited by John B. Carpenter, "Icons and the Eastern Orthodox Claim to Continuity with the Early Church," Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2013, p. 111.
- ↑ Origin, Contra Celsus, Book VII, Chapter 64; according to John B. Carpenter, "Icons and the Eastern Orthodox Claim to Continuity with the Early Church," Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2013, p. 112.
- ↑ David M. Gwynn, From Iconoclasm to Arianism: The Construction of Christian Tradition in the Iconoclast Controversy [Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 47 (2007) 225–251], p. 227.
- ↑ John B. Carpenter, "Icons and the Eastern Orthodox Claim to Continuity with the Early Church," Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2013, p. 118.
- ↑ Carpenter, ibid. p. 122.