The Discovery of True Orthodoxy
There is a dizzying array of Christian beliefs out there, and there always has been. Even in the New Testament, the Apostles Peter and Paul had spiritual disagreements. Nevertheless, due to a meticulous ethic of preserving the Faith, there has always been an original Apostolic spirituality and theology that have never changed. This is the heritage of Eastern Orthodoxy.
Eastern Orthodoxy is not the best term to use to describe the Apostolic Church. Though the Early Christians used the word "Orthodox" and "Orthodoxy" as synonyms for the Church, as well as the word "Catholic", modern divisions have made it necessary to ascribe particular names to each sect. Thus, the western Christians of the Romans identified themselves as Roman Catholics after the Great Schism of 1054, while the eastern Christians called themselves Eastern Orthodox. These separate terms point as much to their Apostolic origins as to their spiritual separation. Similarly, but in a more worldly way, Protestant denominations give themselves names that associate themselves with their own particular human and modern origins, with only a minor sense of their Apostolic source. Hence, there are people who identify themselves as "Lutherans", "Baptists", "Methodists", "Presbyterians", "Calvinists", "7th Day Adventists", "Christian Scientists", "Evangelicals", etc. These names are not merely convenient descriptions or simply differing paths to Christ's salvation; they reflect signs of spiritual degradation.
All religions since Adam and Eve have believed that the spirituality of truth, prayer, virtue, worship, mysticism, etc. has been degrading with each century. Even Jesus wonders if there will be Faith on the earth when He returns (Luke 18:8). However, He does teach that His Church, which in Early Christianity involved the Apostolic succession and authority of bishops and priests and the original Apostolic Doctrine and its Tradition, will never be changed and conquered by the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18). For this reason, understanding that the existence of the Apostolic Church has never changed or disappeared for 2000 years, nor has required a restoration or reformation of any kind, is important.
The Eastern Orthodox Church has never changed its authoritative structure, its doctrines, its traditions, and its spirituality for 2000 years. Historical documents prove this to be a fact with only a few dogmas causing doubts among modern scholarship. This cannot be said for Roman Catholicism and all the Protestant denominations. Roman Catholicism, though having a strong connection with the original Apostolic Doctrine and spirituality, has nevertheless altered the Faith by promoting new dogmas over the last 1000 years, like papal superiority and the Virgin Mary's immaculate conception, and infusing into it carnal spiritual notions that the first 1000 years of Christianity abhorred, such as praying by imagining sensual experiences with Christ, the Apostles, the saints, etc. Meanwhile, Protestantism goes even farther by literally inventing doctrines, like faith alone brings salvation or simply believing in Christ brings immediate salvation in this lifetime, thereby changing the spirituality even more, such as praying without believing that the quest for spiritual perfection (complete imitation of Christ) equals salvation. This is why the names for all Christian denominations describe their spiritual divorce from the Apostles more than their association with them.
The Eastern Orthodox spirituality and doctrine, therefore, are the most original, the most ancient, and the most Apostolic of all Christian churches. Since it has not altered the Apostolic Tradition in any way, it is the fullness of the Faith as it was originally taught and practiced. All Roman Catholic and Protestant churches claim to be directly and 100% in obedience to the Apostles, but none of their newer doctrines and spiritual teachings, all of which can be documented to have appeared only in the last 1000 years through man-made speculations, can be found in Early Christianity. Thus, it is not intellectually honest to declare anything but the Eastern Orthodox Church to be the Apostolic Church of the 1st century.
Because Roman Catholicism and Protestantism have veered away to some extent from the Apostolic Faith, though retaining some degree of it, some Christians notice and realize something empty about these churches. They intuitively perceive in Protestantism how all its churches are almost totally ignorant of the vast spiritual wisdom of Christianity before Martin Luther's religious rebellion 500 years ago. They also recognize that this contrived, partially man-made spirituality has no basis in Apostolic thought, nor does it have any long-term spiritual sustenance. Even Catholics and Protestants complain among themselves about the spiritual deficiencies that they experience in their theology and worship, though many of them are unaware of how to resolve this problem. Thus they go from church to church, book to book, cassette to cassette, denomination to denomination, never quite being satisfied in discovering deeper Christian spirituality. Since their Catholic or Protestant types of theology have trained them to interpret Scripture only according to a diminished system of spiritual perception, they have no idea that the Bible actually teaches a wealth of information in striving for and receiving the spiritual depth and meaning that they crave. This is because they do not know about Eastern Orthodoxy, which is the continuation of the Early Church's spiritual power, and they do not realize how the Roman Catholics and the Protestants have distorted and degraded the Apostolic spirituality in ways that seriously weaken the Faith.
Christians who do seek the fullness of the Faith and find Orthodoxy discover it to be the total force of the Apostolic preaching. Thus, after long-term exposure to Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholics and especially Protestants whenever they go back to their churches are amazed at how spiritually empty and devoid of spiritual wisdom that Roman Catholicism and Protestantism truly are. This reaction is quite wide-spread and it is so realistically obvious that many converts to Orthodoxy, even though they know very little about spiritual perfection, often exclaim that they feel like experienced theologians whenever they talk to Catholics and Protestants. This is because, though there are exceptions, in general Eastern Orthodoxy is designed to promote spiritual perfection in prayer and divine knowledge, whereas Roman Catholicism promotes spiritual maturity (due to an over-focus on human reasoning) and Protestantism only promotes spiritual infancy (due to an ethic of under-interpreting the Faith). This is how people who have gone through all the searching for the Apostolic Church describe it.
Whoever is seeking spiritual perfection and the original Apostolic Church must take into serious consideration Eastern Orthodoxy. The more one studies it, the more spiritually advanced he becomes. It is a phenomenon that is popularly cited in Orthodox circles with the phrase "Orthodoxy is Christianity's best kept secret". Just as the Early Christians taught the Gospel openly and publicly to all, yet purposely kept the Sacraments secret, like Baptism, Communion, Chrismation, etc., not even discussing these doctrines with the unbaptized Christians, even preventing them from seeing these Sacraments during Liturgy, so is Eastern Orthodoxy the holy of holies. Nevertheless, though we are shy about our Faith, we do allow our Faith to be heard and seen by anyone desiring to find and discuss the fullness of the Apostolic Faith, the unadulterated Truth that Jesus transmitted to the Apostles, who then transmitted it to their disciples, bishops, and priests. Thus, as Jesus established it, Eastern Orthodoxy is the Gospel's eternal transmission, untouched by the gates of Hades.