Scope: There were various disagreements that led to the establishment of
Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox churches are led
by patriarchs, and they emphasize the "Johannine school" of Scriptural
writings and theology. This school emphasizes the role of Jesus as
ruler of the cosmos, incarnational thought, and the centrality of the
Holy Spirit. The Eastern Church, which was founded in Constantinople
in the fourth century, broke formally with Rome in 1040. The breach
was a result of disagreements over icon veneration, the papal primacy,
and whether or not the Holy Spirit emanates from both the Father and
the Son. The discussion then turns to monasticism and its importance
to Eastern Orthodoxy.
I. Characteristics of Orthodox Christianity today:
A. It predominates in the East.
B. It is led by patriarchs—there are four ancient and five modem
C. Orthodox Christians number 45 million worldwide and 3 million in the
United States. Overall, the Orthodox constitute some five percent of
the world's Christians.
II. New Testament sources of orthodoxy—the "Johannine school."
A. The "Johannine school" consists of the New Testament documents
attributed to St. John—the Fourth Gospel, the three Johannine epistles,
and the Apocalypse.
B. The main themes of the Johannine documents:
1. They emphasize Jesus' status as the preexistent ruler of the
cosmos. The beginning of Fourth Gospel states that Jesus is the
divine logos (the cosmic creative principle or blueprint).
2. They emphasize incarnational thought.
a. John 1: 14—"and the word was made flesh."
b. The significance of the Incarnation underlies the worship of
icons in Eastern Orthodoxy.
c. During the "Iconoclastic controversy" of the eighth and ninth
centuries, the Western church condemned veneration of icons as
idol-worship, while the Orthodox responded that such veneration
was a worshipful response to the Incarnation.
3. They stress the significance of the Holy Spirit:
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a. After the logos reascends to the Father, the helper or counselor
(Paraclete) will descend to keep alive the significance of the
logos until the Parousia.
b. The Holy Spirit plays far bigger role in Eastern than in .1!
III. History of the Eastern Church.
A. The Eastern Church has its origin in the founding of Constantinople in 330
as the new imperial capital—Rome was seen as too connected with
1. Constantinople hosted a series of ecumenical councils between
the third and the eighth centuries.
a. The Fifth Council condemned the view that Jesus
existed as an individual separate from the incarnate
b. The Sixth Council condemned monothelitism (the view
that Jesus had just one will) and declared that Jesus had
both a divine and a human will
c. The Seventh Council formally approved the continued
veneration of icons.
B. The formal breach between Orthodoxy and Rome in 1040 resulted from
1. Icon veneration.
2. The papal primacy—the Orthodox regard the pope as merely .famong
3. The Filioque (filius + que, or "and from the Son").
a. Western church added this phrase to the Creed between the
sixth and tenth centuries to support the doctrine of the
"Double Procession of the Holy Spirit"—i.e., the Holy Spirit
emanates from both the Father and the Son.
b. The Eastern church rejected the Filioque as inconsistent with
monotheism; it insisted that each divine Person emerges from
the unified being of the deity—i.e., from the Homoousion.