Christianity dates back to the first century and is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christianity has three main branches of belief and practice: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Christians worship one God as the Holy Trinity, consisting of the Father (creator of the universe), Jesus Christ (the savior of the world), and the Holy Spirit (which has worked to sanctify and transform lives throughout history and continues to do so today).
The Orthodox church, or the Eastern half of the Christian church, split with the Roman Catholic Church in 1054 A.D. Orthodox Christians are incredibly diverse, and among the nationalities and cultures represented are Antiochian, Carpatho-Russian, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian.
- God: "God" refers to a single, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal deity. God is triune, meaning that God is One in Three Persons, without division or distinction. God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This belief is not meant to be grasped in a mathematical way, but contemplated through a lifetime. Like Jews and Muslims, Christians are of the Abrahamic tradition and worship the God who made a covenant with the ancient Hebrew people.
- Christ: From the Greek Christos and Hebrew Messiah, which means "annointd one." A messiah is sent by God to bring the salvation of the people, and Chrisitians consider Jesus of Nazareth to be the ultimate messiah. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, He made Heaven available and attainable for the faithful, bringing ultimate salvation in eternal life with God.
- Eucharist: For Orthodox, bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus through transfiguration at the "Liturgy of the Eucharist" within Mass. Communion is the central act of Christian worship.
- Sacraments: Visible signs of God's grace in the world. The Orthodox Church recognizes seven sacraments. The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Penance, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Annointing of the Sick.
Important Religious Texts
The Holy Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Catholic and Orthodox traditions also include seven apocryphal books.
- The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible contains the Torah (the first five books, also called the Law, include Genesis, Exodous, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These are the most important texts in Judaism). Histories, psalms, proverbs, poetry, prophets, and for Catholics and Orthodox, apocrypha are also included.
- The New Testament contains the Gospels, (the story of Jesus' life, includes Mattew, Mark, Luke and Joh) the Acts of the Apostles, epistles of disciples and one apocryphal writing.
The life of the Orthodox church revolves arond the church calendar, and each day is dedicated to a particular saint. Some Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar as opposed to the Gregorian calendar, meaning that some Christian feast days like Easter and Christmas, fall on different days than Catholic or Protestant observances.
Worship, Prayer, and Practice
Worship is a central feature of the Orthodox Christian faith. The liturgy in the Orthodox church is transcendent, meant to take the worshiper to the heavenly realm with God. Worship services also emphasize the nearness of God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ.
Orthodox liturgy is spoken in the native language of the particular community, and is rooted in ancient tradition.
Ways to be Involved at BenU
Here are a few classes offered at BenU about this faith tradition. Please visit the Course Catalog for more information and click here to learn about the Interfaith Studies Emphasis.
- IDS 201 Jesus and Mary in the Qu'ran and Bible
- RELS 130 Abrahamic Faiths
- RELS 120 Eastern Traditions
- RELS 265 Eastern Christianity
- THEO 212 Land, Justice and Peace