Orthodoxy simply means original Christianity, or the straight Christian life. Being Orthodox is being an “original” Christian before there were any denominations. There were no Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox etc. Everyone was just Christian following the real and holy faith received by tradition from Christ Himself through the apostles, spread to all the churches and all the nations.
Being Christian means you pray and you worship the Holy Trinity, God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And as a Christian you follow Jesus Christ because He is God incarnate. Being a Christian means you have a mission in life, and that you are the light of this world, and the salt of this earth. Being Christian also means you believe in eternity, by believing in Christ your Savior. This is the meaning of being Christian.
However, when we speak about being Orthodox Christian, we start to speak about more details like the purest faith and belief. When we speak of this pure faith, we must look at the book of Acts where it all started with the early church after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. What did that church look like? What kind of faith and life did they have and how did they worship God? When we study the book of Acts and the writings of the early saints, we can see Orthodox Christianity, and that it was related to the Holy Sacraments. For example people started to have liturgies as they prayed all together as members in the same body of Christ. There was an altar but no more animals for sacrifice but rather the Holy body and blood of the Lord Himself. In order to be a member of the church you had to be born again in the Holy water in the Holy baptism and you have to live your life in repentance as we do our part to obtain the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” (Acts 18:24-26)
Apollos walked with God and he taught the scriptures. However, Aquila and Priscilla explain to him the way of God “more accurately.” This “more accurately” is what we define as Orthodoxy.
In the fifth century, some people started deviating from the straight way of Christianity and created different denominations based on their interpretations, which in some cases were heresies. To be an Orthodox is to study the history and to understand what the original Christians were like. The exact way of living as good Christians, how the worship God in a spiritual perfect way as meant by the Holy Spirit.
Some heresies merged philosophy with theology. Theology is the knowledge of God given by God himself through his church. But when we enter philosophy into the theology, it is not orthodox anymore and it is not sound and pure. All christians believe in the same Bible, but some understand and interpret the Bible differently. We have to understand the Bible with historical references from the forefathers of the original church.
In 2 Timothy 2:2, Saint Paul said to Timothy “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” This is the Holy tradition that has been handed from generation to generation in a very faithful way without additions of new ideas.
Again when Saint Peter spoke to the Thessalonians he said “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thes. 2:15). It is clear that traditions were there in the early church and there was a commandment to keep these traditions safe.
Finally to Timothy again, Saint Peter says “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5). Orthodoxy is withdrawn from all deviations, from all heresies, from all false teachings.
Being Orthodox Christian we believe in the Christian faith, but with the Orthodox sound doctrine referring to the fathers of the church and the early counsels of the church and the interpretations of the saints and the early fathers so that we can follow the message given by Christ as exact as all the martyrs and saints.
- From A Sermon of Father Daoud Lamei