A well-known Orthodox priest explains the differences between Russian Christianity and modern Protestantism in a video released last year.
Father Andrew Stephen Damick, an Antiochian Orthodox Archpriest who grew up in an evangelical family, highlights the five key differences between Evangelicalism and Orthodox Christianity practiced in Russia.
Here are his main points.
1. Orthodox Services v. Evangelical Services
Evangelicals put a great emphasis on the sermon, while Orthodox worship services are more liturgical and focus on singing, prayer, ritual, and scripture reading.
Evangelical services also usually feature contemporary music, while Orthodox services do not.
2. Holiness and the Word
Orthodox worshipers believe holiness can reside in physical places and objects, while evangelicals typically do not believe this.
3. Biblical Interpretation
When many evangelicals read the Bible they ask, "What does this mean to me?" However, Orthodox biblical interpretation resides within the context of:
- How Saints interpret the Bible
- How the Church Fathers interpret the Bible
- The Ecumenical Councils
4. Views on the Church
The Orthodox believe there is only one Church, which is governed by bishops with Apostolic succession. Meanwhile, the average Evangelical church is governed within the congregation.
The average evangelical views salvation as a single event that allows someone to go to Heaven after they die. However, the Orthodox view salvation as a long-term process and relationship with God.
"For us, it's a process that begins with the work of God in us and with Baptism, with the Sacraments, with the Grace of God in us," Damick explains. "We're given all the tools that we need to engage in the long term process of salvation, which is ultimately a work of God, but it is only done without cooperation. In other words, God is not going to force us to be saved."
The Orthodox also believe that salvation is a process that lasts into eternity because believers will be continually transformed into Christ's image beyond death and through the ages.