I have started a weekly Orthodox blog on facebook where I discuss one topic related to Orthodoxy every week mostly aimed toward an Evangelical Protestant audience. I got the inspiration from all the annoying Evangelical blogs on the internet, so I thought that I would reverse it and start an Orthodox blog. I just thought I'd share the entries here every week for anyone who is interested. So far I have uploaded two entries. Also fair to mention--since most of you are more intelligent than the average reader of this blog--I have dumbed down and simplified many things in this blog so that the average Evangelical does not get overwhelmed or too confused. For example, in the first blog when I discuss history I did not mention the Oriental Orthodox schism nor did I mention the controversy surrounding St. Constantine's Arianism. In the second entry, when discussing Matthew 16:16-18, I only explained the Orthodox view and did not mention the Roman Catholic view, instead only stating that I would cover their view in a future entry. Anyhow, I hope that you guys enjoy these, feel free to leave your feedback.
I have had this idea for quite a while to start an Orthodox Christian blog, but seeing how technologically un-savvy I am, that failed miserably because I could not properly customize and manage a blog. However, I thought that since facebook notes can get the message across even easier albeit without cool colors, pictures and customization, along with the fact that most of you are on facebook anyway, that using facebook notes for my 'blog' is better than nothing.
That being said, I have titled this blog series 'Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy', named after the blog series of the same name by Fr. Andrew Damick which is available here for anyone who is interested. The purpose of this blog series is to explain and defend the positions of the Orthodox Church to my best ability and explain the differences between these Orthodox positions and the positions of heterodox (non-Orthodox) forms of Christianity. For the most part I am assuming that the majority of readers to this blog will come from a Protestant/Evangelical/'Non-Denom' background, so I will try my very best to explain and write this blog in terms that people of this disposition can understand.
The purpose of this first entry is to explain what the Eastern Orthodox Church is and its present status in the world, along with a very brief overview of its history. Hopefully this will prepare you for the deeper stuff that we will eventually get into.
"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."-(Acts 2:2-4 NKJV)
The Eastern Orthodox Church was established in AD 33-34 on the day of Pentecost when the Apostles had received the Holy Spirit and first began their ministry--the lifelong task that Jesus Christ Himself had left them with before His Holy Ascension into Heaven. While this may seem like a bold and even arrogant claim; that is, to state with confidence that we were established by the Apostles themselves and are the Church of the New Testament, it is still the truth nonetheless. We have archaelogical, written and oral evidence to prove this claim--which I will eventually explain in detail in a future entry. But for now, assuming that this is true, let us continue.
Around the latter half of the Apostolic era (the 1st century) Roman emperor Nero Germanicus--who ruled from AD 54-68--saw the exponential growth of the Orthodox Church as being a threat to his empire. Out of fear, he outlawed Christianity in the Roman Empire and the great persecution of Orthodox Christians began. Many martyrs died around this period for their faith and the Church was forced into hiding. The Divine Liturgy--the main worship service of the Orthodox Church--was performed inside of caves and/or inside of peoples' homes in secret to avoid persecution. It is even believed that the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul died under Neroian persecution. This lasted for about two hundred years until the unthinkable happened.
In AD 312, while riding into battle, the young Roman emperor Constantine the 1st had a miraculous experience. After looking into the sky, the young Constantine saw a large, brightly illumined Cross above the sun, along with the Greek insignia Ἐν Τούτῳ Νίκα! (That is, 'In this sign conquer!'). In a last minute decision, he had ordered the soldiers of his legion to imprint the insignia of the Cross onto their shields; and remarkably they came out of the battle victorious. This led to the conversion of the young emperor from Roman neo-paganism to Orthodox Christianity. And thus, a new era had begun.
Two years later in AD 313, emperor Constantine had issued the Edict of Milan, that is, the legalization of Christianity within the Roman Empire. Orthodox Christians could now worship in public without the fear of persecution and/or death. But that is not all, twelve years later in AD 325, Constantine had called together the first Ecumenical Council of the Church to solve the Arian-Trinitarian conflict.
An Ecumenical Council is when all of the Bishops, Patriarchates and major intellects of the Eastern Orthodox Church come together in a council to discuss and solve a major problem being faced by the Church. It is in these councils that the truth of Jesus Christ is more clearly defined and universally binding dogmas and doctrines are clarified for the sake of the faithful. It is believed that God Himself is truly present within these councils and is guiding the leaders of His Church in making their decisions which will come out of these councils. The Ecumenical Councils are regarded as the highest Church authority next to the Bible and oral teachings of the Apostles in the Church when it comes to making a decision and/or clarifying theological positions. The decisons which come out of them are seen as infallible. The Orthodox Church has had only seven Ecumenical Councils within its history and still to this very day has the power to call together one whenever it wants--however, there has not been an Ecumenical Council since AD 747 because since then, the Church has not faced a problem serious enough to constitute having one.
I will not get too much into it right now, as it would take too long and may overwhelm those reading this blog, but contrary to popular belief being espouted by Evangelical Protestants, there is actually a biblical basis for the Ecumenical Councils. In Acts 15 we see that a conflict had arisen within the Church about whether Jewish customs and practices still applied to Christians. '...Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter...' (Acts 15:6). There is also the fact that Proverbs 9:1 states that 'Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars.' Many Orthodox Christians believe that the seven pillars mentioned in Proverbs are a vague reference to the seven Ecumenical Councils of the Church in which wisdom and truth was clarified. It is also fair to mention that just because something may not directly have a basis in the Bible, it is not necessarily condemned and/or less important or 'bad'. Orthodox Christians do not adhere to the heretical notion of Sola Scriptura which is self-refuting; however, we will save this topic for another future entry.
Getting back on topic, the main agenda of first Ecumenical Council of AD 325 called together by emperor Constantine was to deal with the Arian-Trinitarian which had been plaguing all of Christendom. To be more specific, the term 'Arian' refers to an early but prevalent Christological heresy about the nature of Jesus Christ. It was developed by a theologically incorrect Christian Bishop named Arius from Antioch who lived from around AD 256-336. The heresy of Arianism taught that Jesus Christ the Son was inferior to God the Father and thus was not fully God. This is in contrast to the essential Christian doctrine of the Trinity which states that God is divided into three persons, or 'hypostasises' yet is still one entity. How is this possible? We do not know; it is a mystery. But as Christians we know that it must be true. The doctrine of the Trinity leads us to believe that Jesus Christ is fully God and is equal to the Father in a literal, albeit confusing way that defies human understanding.
To clear up a potential red herring, it is important to mention that contrary to what many may understandably be led to believe, the Ecumenical Councils did not just create or 'make-up' doctrines on the spot. That is not how doctrine develops in the Orthodox Church; but we will get into that on a further entry about doctrinal development. Rather, the Ecumenical Councils only formalized, articulated and more clearly defined doctrines which had already been directly or indirectly taught by Jesus Christ Himself and the Apostles. The faithful leaders of the Church who participated in these Councils did not just discuss the problem and make up the solution by themselves, but rather they looked back toward the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles and through heavy prayer, reached a conclusion together. The doctrine of the Trinity was not a new theologican invention that came out of the first Ecumenical Council, but rather the Trinity has always been an essential truth about God. The Council only formalized it and more carefully articulated and clarified it amonst the time of confusion.
It is also generally believed that the first Christian canon of the Scriptures also came out of the first Ecumenical Council. Prior to this Council, there was no full Bible like we have today. Rather, the individual books and documents that constitute the Bible were spread out throughout the empire--along with a few inaccurate, heretical documents which were not included in the Bible--and a complete collection of them was extremely rare. Say, one Church would have a Gospel or another an Epistle etc. After the first Ecumenical Council, we finally see the first complete documents of the Bible.
Moving forward, besides legalizing Christianity and calling together the first Ecumenical Council, emperor Constantine also moved the Roman capital to the eastern Greek city of Byzantium--establishing Churches along the way--and built the capital city of Constantinople (Now known as 'Istantbul') which, to this very day, is regarded as one of the most Holy sites in all of Orthodox Christianity, being home to the Ecumenical Patriarchate--that is, the main Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, all of our Bishops are seen as equal to each other with none being infallible and/or superior to the other. As of right now, there are four main Patriarchates (Main Bishops) in the Orthodox Church; Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople/Istantbul. Rome used to be the fifth Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but after the Great Schism of 1054 (which we will discuss later) the Roman Patriarchate heretically declared supremacy and broke away from the rest of the Orthodox Church, becoming what is now known as the 'Roman Catholic Church'. There are also several other Patriarchates in the Orthodox Church; like that of Moscow--capital of the Russian Orthodox Church--Romania, Albania and several other eastern European countries. But what separates the 'main four' from the rest of these is that these four Patriarchates--Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople--have all played the largest roles within the history of the Church and each were directly established by an Apostle.
Within the next four hundred years, there were six more Ecumenical Councils each dealing with a major problem being faced by the Church. And in the 10th century, following the historical conversion of St. Vladimir--the grand prince of Russia at the time--to Orthodox Christianity, we saw the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church; which, to this very day is still the largest Orthodox Church in the world. As much as I would love to explain in detail the history of the conversion of Russia to Orthodox Christianity, it is for a different entry and we have to move further.
In AD 1054, after years of estrangement, some doctrinal disputes and feuds, the Roman Patriarchate broke away from the rest of the Orthodox Church, primarily due to the fact that he attempted to assert total dictatorship above all of the other Patriarchates and when they had refused and attempted to correct him, he broke away. Those in the west who accepted the Roman Patriarchates' authority became known as the Roman Catholic Church and those in the east who had remained loyal to the rest of the Orthodox Patriarchates became known as the 'Eastern Orthodox Church'. It may interest you to know that most Orthodox Christians will never simply refer to the Roman Catholic Church as just 'the Catholic Church' without the 'Roman' prefix because from a theological and semantic standpoint, we believe that we are truly the Catholic Church and that the Roman Catholic Church is actually not Catholic at all in anything but name. We refer to ourselves as the 'Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church'. We are Holy because we are the community of Christ's believers; the visible body of Christ on Earth, Catholic because we are universal and sufficient, as well as Apostolic because we contain the faith of the Apostles along with the fact that we were literally established by the Apostles.
About 500 years, the Roman Catholic Church struggled with the Protestant Reformation. That is, when a German monk named Martin Luther broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and instead of coming to the Eastern Orthodox Church--which he should have done--started his own Church known as Lutheranism and many others followed in his footsteps and broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to establish their own Churches. These Churches all fall under the umbrella term 'Protestantism'. Among these Protestant Churches are the Lutheran, Baptist, Prestbyterian, Methodist and modern 'Non-Denominational' Churches to name a few. There are also literally thousands of others as Protestantism further divides itself into more denominations on a daily basis.
Essentially, when one examines history they see a pattern of schism; that is, heretical individuals individuals breaking away from the original Orthodox Church to try and establish their own Churches, and then further deviating into even more Churches because they trusted themselves over the real truth about God contained in the Eastern Orthodox Church, starting with the power-hungry Patriarchate of Rome establishing the Roman Catholic Church and then the Reformers who started the Protestant Churches and to modern Protestant tele-evangelists further establishing their own Churches even further dividing Protestantism to this very day.
In next week's entry, we will go into the details about how the Orthodox Church can claim to be established by the Apostles and why it matters. For now, pray and contemplate on what you have read, and keep in mind that nothing I say should be taken as the authoritive positions of the Church because I am only a layman prone to potentially making mistakes in defining our positions and because I have extremely simplified everything for the sake of easy reading.
"...And I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" (Excerpt from Nicene Creed)
The Apostolic Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church considers herself to be the Apostolic Church in the sense that a) we were established by the Apostles and b) we have preserved the faith of the Apostles. Both of these go hand in hand--which I will explain later. I want to discuss history with you today. There seems to be very much confusion about which Church you ought to belong to and the role of history within the Church. One the one hand, you have the Roman Catholics who are very dogmatic in regards to history, while on the other hand you have the mainstream Evangelical Protestant view which generally tends to ignore history altogether as being irrelevent. But not very often do you ever hear the Eastern Orthodox view in regards to history. We believe that history is detrimental to our salvation in the sense that it is the key factor to take into consideration when trying to decide upon which Church tradition to belong to. History--to be more specific--being able to show ourselves as having been established by the Apostles directly, is how we determine whether the faith is pure or not. However, we will get to this later on.
Before I begin explaining the Orthodox Church's view on history, I should probably explain our history first and then move forward from there. In last week's entry, I gave an extremely simplified timeline of the history of the Church. This time, I want to explain the history of how the Apostles established the Church, hence to prove our claim as being the Apostolic Church. So let us begin. Last week I explained that there were four main Patriarchates within the Orthodox Church (Originally five until the Schism of 1054), and those Patriarchates are: Constantinople (now Istantbul), Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Constantinople claims to have been established by St. Andrew the Apostle, Alexandria by St. Mark the Apostle, Antioch by St. Peter the Apostle and finally Jerusalem by St. James the Brother of Jesus. (Half Brother or Cousin actually, but that is a different subject) How are they able to trace themselves back like that? They each possess a document that carefully lists their Patriarchates starting from the Apostle who established them down to the present Patriarchate. For example, the Church of Constantinople's list starts from St. Andrew the Apostle--whom first established them--and ends at His Holiness Bartholomew; their present Patriarchate.
These lists are supported by a plethora of historical evidence in both written and oral form, such as Church History by Eusebius of Caesarea--a professional historian of the fourth century who wrote one of the first fully comprehensive historical accounts of the Church. Eusebius' historical work on the Church covered the first four centuries of the Church and it was later continued by other historians of later centuries such as Socrates of Constantinople (not to be confused with the famous Greek philosopher of the same name) and Sozomen of Gaza. The written works of these historians are regarded as--in the very least--extremely important; the reason being that these historians had access to several other ancient sources of knowledge that have long been forgotten, such as the famous Library of Caesarea which was destroyed by radical Muslims in the 7th century, personal letters, excerpts from earlier Christian works and even lists of Bishops. Apart from these historians, we also have Saints in the Church who came from the Apostolic era (first century) and some who even knew the Apostles personally, such as St. John Polycarp (AD 69-155) an early Bishop in the Church who was a personal disciple of St. John the Apostle himself and St. Ignatius--an early Bishop of Antioch--who was also a student of St. John the Apostle. Not only did many of these early Saints who belonged to our Church know the Apostles personally, but many of them even left behind several writings and documents that give us insight into how the early Church--that is, the Eastern Orthodox Church--functioned in its earliest days and make references to the Apostles establishing Orthodox Churches as they spread the faith and appointing our early Bishops. The writings of all these early Saints can be found composed into a collection of books known as the Ante-Nicene Fathers, which is available on Amazon for about $200 and certain Orthodox websites that have them in free PDF form for anyone to read.
Having established that the Orthodox Church's claims to have been built by the Apostles themselves are true, the main question still remains: provided these claims are true (as we have proved), why do they matter and why are they important to my salvation? I will explain why. Since we only worship one God, there can only be one proper faith about Him; indeed, Jesus Christ Himself proclaims that "...wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction...narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life..." (Mat. 7:13-14) Jesus Christ alone is life. Therefore the faith that leads to Him is narrow, so how can multiple Churches each professing a different faith really all be correct? For Jesus also says that "...Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven..." therefore not all Churches can be correct. Going even further, the Scriptures also compare the relationship Christ has with His Church to the relationship that a husband has with his bride. "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church...Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church...that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church." (Eph. 5:23-27) and "...the holy city, New Jerusalem [The Church], coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband..." (Rev. 21:2) Notice that the Church--when compared to a Bride--is regarded as a singular entity; NOT Bride(s) but a singular Bride. One Bride, One Church. In other words, the Scriptures refer to the Church as a singular Bride adorned in glory--that is, a single body of believers who profess the same, one true faith; not a filthy harem composed of multiple harlots all claiming to be the Bride of Christ.
That being said, knowing that only one Church can be true and that the path to salvation is narrow, two questions still remain; first, does the true Church still exist on Earth and is it really physical? Secondly, if the answer is yes to the previous question, then how do we decide upon which Church is the correct one? Jesus Christ leaves us with the answer. "...I [Jesus] will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Mat. 16:18). Jesus NEVER added "...until the end of the apostolic era" or "...for a short amount of time" but boldly stated that the gates of Hades would NOT prevail against it. Since Jesus makes no reference to time, we can conclude that His promise to not allow the gates of Hades to prevail against the Church is eternal and still in affect to this very day. In other words, Jesus Christ is still protecting His true Church--the Eastern Orthodox Church--from the gates of Hades today just as He was protecting it during the Apostolic era recorded in the New Testament. That being said, let us move onto the second part of the question; is the Church really a physical thing on Earth or was Jesus being metaphoric referring to something spiritual and/or transcendant? Many Protestants of the Evangelical camp believe that Jesus was merely referring to an 'invisible' or 'spiritual Church'--that is, a solely spiritual body of believers who are 'not of this world', therefore, the Church is not a physical place or body on Earth to them, but a transcendant concept. The Eastern Orthodox Church does NOT adhere to this heresy because the Church is NOT just a 'spiritual' thing; but BOTH spiritual and physical. Essentially this heretical concept of a 'spiritual Church' presents a false dichotomy to believers because it makes the assumption that the Church has to be one or the other. But the Church transcends such silly dichotomies because it is both spiritual and physical.
Let me explain why. The Church must have a physical element to it because humans are physical creatures--that is, we are still composed of flesh and matter. Spirituality without physicality is IMPOSSIBLE for humans because of this fact. Salvation is not just a mere abstract, spiritual concept that is not physical. For if it was, then it would be inaccessible to us as humans because we are physical creatures. We do not attain salvation merely by thinking about it as if it were just a mere abstract thought anymore than we become faithful just from thinking about faith. But we attain salvation and practice spirituality through our physical nature. We use our physical bodies to attain salvatian via living out and practicing the message that Jesus Christ instructed us to follow. As you can see, for humans there is a VERY close correlation between physicality and spirituality; we become spiritual and attain salvation through using our physical bodies and likewise our physical bodies are pointless unless we use them for a beneficial spiritual purpose. Therefore, the Church has to have a physical element to it or else it becomes inaccessible to us humans as salvation to us is so intertwined with our physical natures. A Church that is just spiritual is not a Church for humans at all. Therefore the Church must have some physical element to it, thus refuting the Evangelical notion of a purely 'spiritual Church'.
That being said, it is also fair to mention that while the Church is physical, it is also spiritual--as the Evangelicals believe. But it is NOT just spiritual--as we refuted that notion in our last paragraph. But the Church is also spiritual because humans are also spiritual creatures as well. For we were made "...in the image of God..." (Gen. 1:27) and God Himself became human, further sanctifying and spiritualizing humanity. Likewise, Jesus Christ even bluntly states that "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing..." (Jn. 6:63)--that is, just as spiritualism without physicality is inaccessible to humans, physicality or 'flesh' without being accompanied by the redeeming power of the spirit is also pointless and will profit us nothing. Therefore, the Church must be spiritual as well as physical, or else it would not profit us anything. Likewise, the thought of a Church that is just physical is also misleading because it ignores the Christians before us who have departed this life. Are we to say that St. Peter, St. Paul and the other eleven disciples along with two-thousand years worth of Christians--many of whom are Saints--do not belong to the Church anymore because they have departed? That the Church is only a physical phenomenon for those on Earth? Of course not! That would be a blasphemy. Death has been defeated; the Church is spiritual and physical transcending all time and petty human occurences like death or disease. Those who have departed this life are still a part of the Church united to us in spirit from the afterlife, worshipping with us from above. The Church includes all believers who share the proper faith; whether in this realm or the next realm.
In conclusion, after having established that the Church is still a living reality that is both physical and spiritual; along with the fact that Jesus Christ made an eternal promise to protect the Church, we may proceed to the final question--that is, how do we determine which Church is the true one to whom Jesus' promises apply to? Once again, the answer to this question can be found within the same passage, Matthew 16:18, behold "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Mat. 16:18). Notice the underlined part specifically. Here Jesus explains to us the 'rock' that He will build His Church upon and in essence, how we can determine which Church is the true Church. The answer is the faith of St. Peter--that is, the faith of the Apostles. The faith which says Jesus is "...the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Mat. 16:16). St. Peter possessed this faith, in fact, all of the Apostles possessed this faith, and St. Peter--acting as the representative--answered on behalf of all the disciples whom also shared this faith. It is the faith of the Apostles that is the 'rock' upon which the Church is built--the Church that Jesus Christ promised to protect from the gates of Hades through the ages. At this point, it is fair to mention that the Roman Catholic Church has a different interpretation of this passage, but we will not go into it right now. We shall save that for a future entry.
So how do we determine which Church possesses the faith of the Apostles? The answer is obvious. It is the Church which the Apostles themselves established--the Eastern Orthodox Church. In essence, history itself is the tool we can use when it comes to deciding upon which Church to choose. Anyone can claim to possess the faith of the Apostles--that is, the faith which says that Jesus is "...the Christ, the Son of the living God." But just because a Church claims to have this faith does not really mean that they possess this faith. For when you have false ideas and doctrines concerning Jesus Christ, and worship Him in the wrong way, then you are not really worshipping Jesus as the Christ and Son of the living God, but you are merely worshipping your own false delusion about Jesus Christ, which in turn is idol worship opposed to worship of the one true Jesus Christ. Who better than the Apostles themselves would know what the true faith of the Apostles is? No one. We know that the Apostles possessed the true faith because Jesus commended them for it, and He sent them to establish His Church upon that faith. Behold "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...baptizing them...teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you...and I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mat. 28:19-20). So would it not logically follow that since the Apostles possessed the proper faith upon which the Church that Jesus promised to protect is built on, and that since Jesus Christ was always with them and even sent them to establish the Church, that the true Church would be the one that was historically established by the Apostles? That is, the Eastern Orthodox Church, which was established by the Apostles--as we discussed in the opening few paragraphs of this entry. Bear with me, in other words, we know that the Apostles possessed the proper faith, and that the Apostles established a Church, and that they most likely built that Church upon the proper faith. Therefore, the Church that the Apostles historically established--the Eastern Orthodox Church--is the Church that possesses the faith of the Apostles. And if we possess the faith of the Apostles, then would it not follow that we are the true Church that Jesus Christ promised to eternally protect from the gates of Hades?
What more convincing would one need? The Eastern Orthodox Church--as we have proven--was historically established by the Apostles themselves upon the proper faith of the Apostles and thus because of this fact, Jesus Christ's promise that He would eternally protect the Church from the gates of Hades applies to the Eastern Orthodox Church--because we were built upon the proper faith that Jesus was referencing. If you can believe every other promise made by Jesus Christ--that He would rise from the dead (which He did), that we will taste eternal life and/or that He was the Son of God, why is His personal promise to protect His Church from the gates of Hades through all the ages so hard for you to believe? Has Christ not kept all of His past promises and is it not perfectly within the Son of God's power to protect His Church forever? To deny Jesus Christ's promise to protect His Church through all of the ages leads you to one of two heresies, either you believe that a) Jesus was a liar who did not keep His promise, or b) evil has prevailed over Jesus Christ's promise and all hope is lost. Pick your poison. Essentially, it comes down to a matter of how faithful you are. If you truly believed in Jesus Christ and had faith in everything He said, then you would believe Him when He promised to protect His Church through all of the ages. To doubt this promise is to doubt Jesus Christ's own words, and to choose a different Church other than the one Jesus Christ Himself promised to protect is an act of pride and faithlessness; it is to deny our Saviour's own promise and to trust ourselves over Jesus Christ Himself.
Not everyone who does this is full of pride and faithlessness; for I know that many people with a true genuine desire to worship our Lord Jesus Christ are truly just ignorant--that is, they are not aware of Jesus Christ's promise or they were mislead by another false Church into believing that they possessed the true faith of the Apostles. This is why it is detrimental for us as Christians to diligently think and investigate a Church before we become a part of it. Remember, men lie but history does not lie. And history tells us that the Eastern Orthodox Church is the Church that was established by the Apostles upon the proper faith of the Apostles and thus is the Church that Jesus Christ promised to protect from the gates of Hades through all the ages, the Church which possesses the true faith and guidance needed to remain upon the narrow path "...which leads to life..." (Mat. 7:14). I hope that I have shed some light upon this topic for anyone who has read this and that you will come to the Eastern Orthodox Church, nevertheless, I will continue to pray for all of you. We have been discussing the Church a lot in our last few entries, but we have never really defined what exactly the Church is. In next week's entry we will discuss the definition of the Church and how the Church relates to your salvation.