Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy
by Fr. Viktor Potapov


I. What is Orthodoxy?

First of all, Orthodoxy is right faith in God; it is that mighty power which makes each truly believing Orthodox Christian unwavering on the righteous and pious path of his life. To be Orthodox means to know correctly with the mind, to believe correctly with the heart, and to confess correctly with the lips all that God Himself has revealed to us about Himself, about the world and man, and about the tasks and aims of our life in the teaching on the attaining of our spiritual union with Him and our eternal salvation. Without such right faith, according to the word of the Apostle Paul, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Orthodoxy is not only right faith and a right confession of the fundamental truths and dogmas of the Church of Christ, but also a right and virtuous life, founded on an unshakable law: the fulfilling of God’s commandments, the permeating of the heart with humility, meekness and love for one’s neighbor, the rendering of help to the needy and unfortunate, and the serving of one’s church. The Apostle James teaches: “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the future Judge of the whole world, promises to “reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). The Apostle Paul testifies that “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:8). Here is the Orthodox point of view. Right faith must be expressed in deeds, and deeds must serve as a manifestation of faith. One must be closely united with the other indissolubly, like soul and body. This only, then, is the Orthodox, the correct way leading us to God.

Orthodoxy is not only right faith and a life according to faith, but also correct service to God. Our Lord Jesus Christ expressed the essence of the right worship of God in these brief but profound words: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Only the inspired divine service of the Holy Orthodox Church, which is permeated by prayer, has realized this sacred worship of God in truth. Moreover, Orthodoxy is strict proportionality and correctness in the manifestations of all the powers of soul and body. In Orthodoxy, a proper place is allotted to everything: to the intellect, to the wants and needs of the heart, to the manifestations of man’s free will, to labor and prayer, to abstinence and watchfulness, in a word, to everything of which man’s life consists.
©V.Potapov 1996-98