Meeting The Orthodox
An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Questions and Answers on the Orthodox Faith
by Father Thomas Hopko
1.The Orthodox Church
I have seen the inside of an Orthodox church building. I have attended the Divine Liturgy. It all looks very mystical to me with the vestments, incense, candles, singing…. How would you compare the Orthodox Church to the other Christian Churches of the West?
The Orthodox Church is an Eastern Church in the sense that, at least humanly speaking, it is the product of Middle Eastern, Hellenic and Slavic history and culture. In a word, the Orthodox Church has a historical and spiritual development worked out in almost total isolation from the Christian Churches of Western Europe and America, namely the Roman Catholics and the Reformed Protestant Churches
The formal break between the Christian East and West cannot be easily pinpointed. It may be put formally in the 11th or 12th centuries. However from as early as the 4th century the Christians of the East were already living with very little contact with the Christians of the West.
The liturgy of the Orthodox Church as celebrated today developed within those centuries when the East was already in a certain isolation from the West. The liturgy stands at the center of the church’s life and bears witness to the central experience of the Orthodox Faith, namely that man is created for communion with God in the everlasting life of His Kingdom.