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What makes Orthodox Christianity different from other churches? — A.A.
Western Christians easily observe that Orthodox Christians believe, understand and do things uniquely and then label them as “differences.”
For Orthodox, we simply see ourselves as continuing in that which we received from Christ more than 2,000 years ago.
Since there have been violent conflicts between Western groups over “differences,” the presupposition of violent disagreement gets projected onto the Orthodox.
The Orthodox get oversimplified as “just another “different” Christian group caught in the trappings of “differences.”
This is a logical fallacy, which prevents one from really examining Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, I will focus on two internal distinctions, rather than on external trappings.
As a convert, I have observed two distinctions, which sets Orthodoxy apart from other Christian groups. The first is a certain preservation of the seriousness and profundity of God, his incarnation, and his effects on humanity and the cosmos.
The profundity and radical sense of “the holy,” totally transforms each individual.
This is hard to accept in an egocentric world. One who accepts the God-man on his terms, and who can be grafted into his own body, is more and more able to say the words of Paul, “ I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal 2:20.
Another distinction, is that Orthodox insist on maintaining Christ’s humanity and divinity.
There seems to be a tendency to overemphasize the humanity of Christ, where we make Jesus “just another one of the guys.” We may desire God to function as our personal genie, or our personal “superman,” who swoops in when we are oppressed. We can fall into the problematic tendency to make God our servant rather than the other way around.
When we minimize Christ’s divinity, or subject him to our ego, or choose to believe he is merely a man, we essentially lose the concept of the holy, the good and the beautiful, not to mention what it means to be “the body of Christ” in the first place.
For Orthodox, we never allow the profundity of Christ, Christmas or the holy to be diminished or over simplified.
If we did, we would essentially begin to misunderstand the Trinity and all that he has given to us.
If we do not, the implications of this reality will not only effect each individual holistically, but also the cosmos.