Overview of Bible Study

Eastern Church


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Eastern Orthodox ChurchThe Eastern Church

With their differing emphases, the Eastern and Western wings of the church gradually grew further apart, the Eastern church developing its own traditions of spirituality, worship, and church life.

From the time of the Council of Chalcedon, two traditions were developing, one centered on Rome, the other on Constantinople. For the Eastern church, the pattern was set by the Emperor Constantine, who chaired the Council of Nicaea, guaranteeing the church's unity but at the price of its independence. The John Chrysostombishop of Constantinople operated under the direction of the emperor. Those who, like John Chrysostom, criticized the emperor, were punished - as he was, by execution.


As the Eastern and Western church grew apart, so did their answers to theological questions. In the East, discussion of the nature of Christ emphasized His divine side.

The Eastern Church faced a greater threat than the West. After the return of Muhammad to Mecca in AD 622, Islam grew rapidly, and with great hostility toward the Christian church. Islamic forced under the leadership of Abu Bakr swept through the east, engulfing the lands of Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and many of the Mediterranean islands. The Christian church suddenly found itself again facing persecution, whereas the Western Church experienced its impact only as the Muslims moved along the North African coast, taking the former strongholds of North African Christianity.


The Eastern Church differed visually from the Western Church in its glory of images and respresentations of God, Christ, His mother, and the saints.Ikons of the Eastern Church

These images were used to help the believers to worship, and as a means of expressing the mystery and the power of holiness.

Even in the East, this was not without controversy. Emperor Leo III raged against such images, fighting to destroy them, while opposed by the monasteries. Eventually, the issue was resolved in the favor of ikons, and has continued to be a defining point of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

East-West Schism

In AD 1015, a schism took place between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches which was both theological and political. Pope Leo IX of the West and Patriarch Michael Cerularius of the East excommunicated one another, orders which remained in effect until they were annulled in 1965. Although relations have improved in recent years, the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches continue to operate separate from one another.













Overview of Bible Study