Ever wonder what other denominations of “Christians” believe? While serving as missionaries in Romania, we encountered a culture of over 80% Orthodox Christians and their beliefs. Orthodox Christians hold to some of the same doctrines as Protestants such as the Trinity, and Jesus as the Son of God. Their theology however, is more similar to the Catholics than Protestants.
Included in their beliefs, but not an exhaustive list, are:
- Baptism of Infants – I once asked about this directly and was told that is to remove the guilt of original sin, there was no personal faith involved. For Orthodox Christians baptism is also part of salvation, not just a public display of obedience, dying to self and rising to new life in Christ.
- Praying for dead people – Our neighbor once shared with us how she was going to the church in order to pray for her sister who had died 6 months earlier. There is no Biblical teaching for this practice. In fact, the bible teaches that what we do in this life determines what happens at death. Do you remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus? The Orthodox Christians believe in praying for the dead because they believe in a chance to be saved after death, kind of like purgatory for Catholics, which is ironic since they also believe that salvation can be lost.
- The Virgin Mary – Not quite as severe as Catholics, but close, is the exalted position of the Virgin Mary. It is believed that she remained a virgin her whole life, which is not taught in the Bible. The Bible says that Jesus had brothers and sisters (Matthew 13:55-56). Many of their beliefs stem from elder tradition rather than the Bible.
- Church Tradition – For the Orthodox there seems to be a balance of scripture and tradition, both having authority. Traditions are where most of the above practices come from.
These are just a few interesting beliefs that we encountered on the mission field. Keep in mind that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus, and if one truly places their trust in Christ (Orthodox or not) they will be saved.