Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The other Eastern churches

From Christian Century- (Philip Jenkins)

Most Americans know the basic Christian division between Prot­es­tants and Catholics, and they are at least aware of the Orthodox tradition of the faith, even if they might not be too clear about the exact differences separating them. But besides these three great Christian families there is the distinct (and numerous) group of Orien­tal Orthodox churches, which will be an increasingly visible part of the Western religious spectrum in years to come.

The Orthodox divisions date to fierce conflicts that raged when the Roman Empire was a superpower faced with the clear and present danger posed by Goths and Huns. Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox all accept the authority of a series of four church councils that met between 325 and 451 to define Christian doctrine and belief, and in each case the decision was enforced by imperial authority. That sequence of councils culminated in 451 with the Council of Chalcedon, which proclaimed that Christ is both fully divine and fully human. The pro-Chalcedonian churches based in Rome and Constantinople evolved into what we would later call the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. The 16th-century Reformers accepted the Chalcedonian settlement, which was fundamental for Protestants, Catholic and Orthodox alike.

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