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5 Major Differences Between Russian Christianity and Protestantism (VIDEO)

A popular American priest explains how the original Christian church, which is called Orthodoxy (the Christianity practiced in Russia), differs from modern Protestant teachings

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

This article originally appeared on a new site about the Christian renaissance in Russia, called Russian Faith. Their introductory video is at end of this article.

(Editor's note: Fr. Andrew is neither affiliated with Russian Faith, nor involved in RF content creation - in any capacity.)

This fantastic video features Father Andrew Stephen Damick, a well-known and popular Antiochian Orthodox Archpriest. He grew up the son of Evangelical missionaries.

Fr. Andrew is a great speaker and apologist, famous for his blog, his podcast, and his book Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, which we highly recommend.  It explains how Orthodox Christianity differs from Protestantism, Catholicism, and other world religions. You can listen to the book for free in podcast form.

In this video, he explains 5 major differences between Evangelism and Orthodox Christianity. While he speaks about Evangelicals, in particular, most of the points he makes apply to Protestant doctrine overall.

His main points:

  • Services

    • In Orthodox Services

      • The sermon is not a feature of every single Orthodox Service and is considered to be a lesser part of the service

      • Much more Scriptural readings used as prayer

      • There are rituals

      • Prayers are sung

    • Evangelical worship
      • Sometimes has contemporary music

      • Tends to be focused on a sermon

  • Holiness and the World

    • Orthodox believe that holiness can reside in physical objects and places (like relics)

    • Most Evangelicals would probably not affirm that idea

  • Interpretation of the Bible

    • For Orthodox Christians, Bible reading often happens during church services. While the question “what does this mean to me?” is important, one’s own opinion and sense of what the Bible means is not the most important thing for Orthodox Christians. For the Orthodox, the Bible is always contextualized within what the Church believes and what saints have said about it. Orthodox reading of the Bible is informed by:

      • Holy Tradition (the wisdom passed on by the members of the Church from one generation to the next), 

      • How Saints interpret the Bible

      • What the Church Fathers have Said

      • The Ecumenical Councils

      • Church services

      • History

    • For Evangelicals, the interpretation of the Bible can take multiple forms, but largely speaking, the way an average Evangelical interprets the Bible is by simply reading it and asking himself the question “What does this mean to me?

  • Views on the Church

    • Orthodox believe there is just only one Church

      • That church is governed by bishops, whom the Orthodox believe are direct successors of the Apostles. In other words, there is a historical genealogy: the Apostles passed down the Grace of the Holy Spirit down to the contemporary Orthodox bishops

      • They don’t believe that multiple denominations are ‘truly Christian’ in the fullest sense. For them, there’s only one true Church, and that’s the Orthodox Church

    • Evangelical Churches usually governed by a congregationally, even if they do belong to a part of a denomination, so the local congregation tends to have the highest say in most matters

  • What is Salvation?

    • For the average Evangelical, salvation

      • Is a single event ‘ like I was saved on this day” or “that day” and therefore I’m going to Heaven

      • means “what happens to you when you die”: that you go to Heaven and not to hell

    • For Orthodox Christians, salvation

      • Is a process that begins with the work of God in the person. It begins with Baptism and is continued as he continues receiving the Grace of God through Sacraments. God gives all the tools that one needs to engage in the long-term process of salvation, but it’s not automatic. Ultimately, salvation is a work of God, but it is done only with the person’s active cooperation. The more one cooperates with him, the more like Him he becomes.

      • Salvation is a long-term engagement with God that lasts into eternity. So even after (God willing), Orthodox Christians do go to Heaven, after the Resurrection, and so forth, they believe they become more and more godlike throughout the ages. This is often referred to with the technical term “theosis.”

A video introducing Russian Faith

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