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|Doctrines||Eastern Orthodox theology is strongly Trinitarian. God exists in the three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Humanity is believed to be created in God's image, but is corrupted through sin. Death is conquered by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and new life is given through the Holy Spirit. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, which regards the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and the Son, the Eastern Orthodox Church claims that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. Only the first seven ecumenical councils are recognised as authoritative. As in Roman Catholicism seven sacraments are recognised: baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, holy orders, and matrimony.|
|History||The Eastern Orthodox Church emerged as a result of disagreements between Greek speaking eastern churches and Latin speaking western churches over doctrine and ecclesiastical authority. Tensions grew in the eleventh century over the increasing claims of the Roman church to universal authority. The refusal of the patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, to allow Rome any authority over the eastern church led to mutual recriminations and in 1054 to mutual excommunication. The collapse of the Byzantine empire in 1453 meant that, apart from Russia, the Orthodox Church lay under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. The Ottomans placed the eastern churches under the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople. However, with the demise of the Ottoman empire in the nineteenth century a series of independent churches emerged in eastern Europe. While remaining in communion with one another, Eastern Orthodox churches retain their independence.|
|Symbols||The Eastern Orthodox Church has an extremely rich history of icons.
The icon often depicts a Biblical scene, the Virgin Mary, local saints, or
Jesus. The icon is of particular importance for the Orthodox Church since
it is seen as the dwelling place of God's grace, creating in the faithful
a sense of the presence of God.|
The Church's calendar revolves around thirteen Great Feasts, each of which is represented iconographically. These Great Feasts are:
The two principal images of Christ are the Pantocrator (Ruler of All) and Deisis (Interceder). The image of Christ as Pantocrator is located in the principal dome of a church. His head is always surrounded with a halo bearing a cross inside. In his left hand He holds the Bible. His right hand is raised to bless in the manner of priests in the Byzantine tradition. The first two fingers of the right hand are joined, symbolising the two distinct natures of Christ. The other two fingers touch the thumb, symbolising the Trinity.
The Deisis icon shows Christ surrounded by saints who intercede on behalf of the faithful. In some icons only the Virgin Mary and John the baptist are with Christ. In others, the twelve disciples and the archangels Michael and Gabriel are there.
|Adherents||The Eastern Orthodox Church has over 150 million members world-wide (Harris et al. 1994, 176).|
|The patriarch of Constantinople has the precedence of honour in the Orthodox Church.|
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