Differences between the Orthodox and Protestant Christians

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    Orthodox vs Protestant Christian

    Christianity was void of denominations up until the 11th century, however as a result of the ‘Great Schism’ the Christian church was divided into the Eastern Church and western church. The western church was the original (Catholic) church while the Eastern Church came to be known as Orthodox Church. The second major division resulted from a Protest in 1529 which the Lutheran princes gave in to the diet of spires and the followers of this sect began to be known as the Protestants (Wylie 1).

    The fundamental reasons for the emergence of the Christian sects were the difference in the interpretation of the Christian texts and the manner of conducting the services (Walter 30). Both denominations consider the 39 books of the old testament and the 27 books of the New testament as their bible however the orthodox also accept a collection of books called the Deut erocanonicalsÀ (i.e. a second canon of scripture) which the Protestants do not consider to be a divinely inspired scripture and call it Apocrypha (Greek: ‘Hidden Things’)(Walter 31). The authority of church is another point of disagreement between the two denominations. The protestants believe that the divine authority only comes from the 66 books of the Bible alone while on the flip side of the coin, the orthodox Christians consider the ‘holy tradition’ of the church to be divinely inspired along with the Bible.

    Furthermore, the rank and the position of Mary are also debated by the two sects. The orthodox believe Mary to be Theotokos, the bearer of god, and emphasize that Mary was a virgin and she is venerated however unlike Catholics the orthodox reject the idea of Immaculate Conception. On the other hand the protestant consider Mary to be a holy woman but they reject the idea of her perpetual virginity. They claim that the veneration of Mary as done by Orthodox or Catholics is not Biblical in nature (Bonagura). The concept of salvation is also different in the two sects. The orthodox associate the concept of deification with salvation and believe that salvation is a process through which man’s body and soul is deified and the complete deification does not take place till the last day. They argue that salvation is available to all people and all humans can potentially manifest signs of a spiritual unity with the Holy Trinity (Davies-Stofka).  Although the Protestants also believe in the day of judgment (the last day) when all the humans will be resurrected but they accentuate that salvation is not just an experience for the afterlife; it is a journey that gradually results into transformation into the likeness of the Christ and filling of the Holy spirit (Vial). Another related point of disagreement is regarding purgatory. The Orthodox acknowledge the existence of an intermediary stage between this life and the afterlife, however the Protestants reject the existence of any such intermediate stage between earth and heavens (Vial).

    Moreover, Icons play a very central role in the Christian Orthodox belief framework to the extent that it is impossible to understand the Orthodox teachings without studying the icons. Icon is a Greek word meaning Image, and these icons are of sacred personalities including Jesus, Mary and the saints (Davies-Stofka). These images take the center spot in the churches and are venerated. Protestants on the contrary do not invoke saints, venerate them or use icons and the most common symbol is the empty cross which could be found in abundance in their churches.

    To sum up the arguments, although there are only small differences between the two denominations but these small differences have led to a major disagreement and division within the Christian community. Orthodox and Protestant Christians differ in terms of their beliefs, practices, symbolism and religious understanding. Many of their concepts including that of salvation, position of Mary, authority of church, saint veneration and importance of Apocrypha are markedly different in the two denominations.

    Main differences:

    • Orthodox Christianity originated in the 11th century and the Protestantism in the 16th century.


    • Orthodox Christians consider Apocrypha as divinely inspired and important- Protestants don’t.

    • The Orthodox consider the ‘Holy tradition’ of the church to be divinely inspired along with the Bible but the Protestants only consider Bible as divinely inspired.

    • The Orthodox Christians consider Mary to be the bearer of god and a virgin. While the Protestants disagree.

    • The belief of salivation differs significantly. Orthodox Christians have the concept of deification and purgatory while the Protestants reject both.

    • The Orthodox Christians venerate saints and Icons play an important part in their religious belief framework while the Protestants reject both ideas.

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