The Eastern Orthodox Church

Three-barred cross, Eastern Orthodox Church

Eastern Orthodox Church

She is now, as she was from the beginning, multiplex in her arrangements, simple in her faith, difficult of comprehension to strangers, easily intelligible to her sons, widely scattered in her branches, hardly beset by her enemies, yet still and evermore, what she delights to call herself, One, Only, Holy, Catholic and apostolic.

Such she is: and yet being so, she has not escaped, any more than her great Head escaped, the tongue of calumny. Protestant controversialists attack her, because she holds uncorrupted the Faith of S. Athanasius and S. Chrysostom; Roman theologians condemn her as a withered and sapless branch, cut off from the communion of the first See, and now ready for the fire; infidel travelers contrast the ‘noble simplicity’ of the Impostor of Mecca with the ‘complicated superstitions’ of the Christian East. Everywhere is the cry against her, that her Priests are sunk in ignorance, her people enslaved to bigotry; that she exists only because she has so long existed, and acts with the mechanism of an automaton; that her want of missionary zeal proves her deficiency in vital energy, and that the hour of peril will crush her, like a hollow image, to dust.

For eighteen hundred years, it might be answered, this venerable Communion has fought the good fight, and born about in her body the marks of the LORD JESUS. Since she armed Athanasius against Arius, and sent forth Cyril against Nestorius, unnumbered heresies have assailed her; foes in every shape have surrounded her; without have been fightings, within fears; her existence itself has oftentimes been a very agony; yet the gates of hell have never prevailed against her.

Rev. John Mason Neale, M.A.

A History of the Holy Eastern Church: Part I; General Introduction

1850

General Introduction to the Eastern Orthodox Church