There are some interesting differences of the doctrinal, organizational and ceremonial aspects among the Orthodox Church, Catholicism and Protestantism. We would like to draw your attention to the most significant ones.

1. Church structure and organization.

• Attitude towards other Christian confessions.

The Orthodox Church considers that they are the only true Church in the World. Catholics think the same. However, after the second Vatican Council (in 1962-1965) they say that all Orthodox Churches are Sisters, as for the Protestant Churches they treat them as Church consolidations. Due to variety of views in Protestantism a Christian has a free choice whether to belong to a confession or not to belong at all to any confession.

• Internal Church structure.

Orthodox has Local Churches, in Russia there are several different Orthodox Churches. Consequently, there is a range of differences regarding ceremonial and canonical issues (for example, recognition or non- recognition of the Gregorian calendar – the New Style). Under the aegis of Moscow patriarchate are 95% of the religious. The Old Belief is the most aged alternative confession in Russia. Catholicism is organizationally united by the Pope authority alongside with the considerable autonomy of monastic orders. But the Old Catholic Church as well as Catholic- Lefevrists (traditional ones) do not admit papal infallibility. But they are not numerous. Centralization is prevailed in Lutheranism and Anglicanism. Baptist Church is organized on the federative principle: Baptist commune is autonomous and sovereign, is subordinated only to Jesus Christ. Unions of communes sort just organizational matters.

• Relations with temporal power

Over history (in various epochs and in different countries) the Orthodox Church was in alliance with temporal power (“in symphony”), and subordinated to power in civil aspect. Right up to the new period Catholicism competed with temporal power, and even the Pope had temporal power over vast territories. Protestantism has various models of relations with temporal power: for example, it is the Established (State) religion; in other countries- Church completely separated from the State.

• Clergy attitude towards marriage


In Orthodoxy Secular clergy (thus all clergy except monks) has the right to marry just once in their lives. In Catholicism clergy takes celibacy (vow of chastity), with the exception of priests from Churches of the Eastern (Oriental) rite, based in alliance with the Catholic Church. Marriage is possible for all the religious in the Protestantism.

• Monkhood or Regular / black clergy

The Spiritual Father of monkshood in the Orthodoxy is St. Basil the Great. There are cloisters in cenobitical monasticism (goods in communion as well as spiritual discipleship) or cloisters living separately without any cenobitical rules. Since 11-12 centuries Catholic monkshood began to turn into orders. The most influential was Order of St. Benedict. Other orders are divided into monastic orders like Dominican, Franciscan or religious and military ones as Knights Templar or Knights Hospitallers. Protestantism denies any monasticism or monkshood.

• Superior Authority

The Superior Authorities in Orthodoxy are the sacred Scriptures and the Holy tradition, including Father’s works as well as Doctors` of the Church writings. The Pope and his point of view towards the faith (the infallibility dogma) are the Superior Authorities. Also the sacred Scriptures are treated as influential. Roman Catholic canon law states their Churches as ecumenical council. Bible is the Superior Authority in Protestantism.

2. Dogmas

• The Holy Spirit

Christianity considers that the Holy Spirit comes from the Lord through his Son. In Catholicism the Holy Spirit comes from the Lord as well as form his Son, so from both. The Eastern-rite Catholics have rather different point of view. Confessions- members of the World Council of Churches adopt a short and general Christian (Apostolic) Symbol of the Faith, not touching this question.

• Doctrine about the Virgin Mary

The Orthodox believe that Mother of God did not have her own sin, but carried the original sin (the old Adam) like all other people. She ruptured to heaven after her assumption. There is a doctrine about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Catholicism. That proves the lack of the original sin. Mary image is the ideal and perfect woman in the Protestantism.

• Purgatory

There is this doctrine of purgatory (severe sufferings of the soul after death because of sins) and the Last Judgement in the Orthodoxy as well as in the Catholicism. Protestantism denies the doctrine of purgatory.

3. Bible


• Correlation between the Holy Script and the Holy Tradition

In the Orthodoxy the Holy Script is considered as the part of the Holy Tradition. In the Catholicism the Holy Script is equal to the Holy Tradition. Protestantism regards the Holy Script beyond the Holy Tradition.

4. Church Practice

• Ordinance

The Orthodoxy and the Catholicism have identical points of view regarding the Ordinance. They accept 7 sacraments: christening, anointing, confession, the Eucharist, marriage, the ordination to the Holy Orders and the Anointing (Unction) of the Sick (last rite). Most of the confessions in the Protestantism admit just two sacraments: the Eucharist and the Christening.

• Admission new members into the fold of the Church

Orthodox Church performs a christening usually in the childhood. Anointing and the First Communion are made immediately after the christening. A Catholic enters all these sacraments at more conscious age (7-12 years age). Along side with this factor a child ought to know the fundamentals of the faith. Protestantism follows the same rules as the Catholicism.

• Peculiarities of the Eucharist sacrament

Eucharist is performed with kvass bread (bread cooked with yeast). Clergy as well as layman celebrate Eucharist by the body of Christ and his Blood (bread and wine). The Catholics perform Eucharist with unleavened bread (no yeast). Priesthood can take bread and wine, layman – only bread. Different confessions of the Protestantism use various sorts of bread.

• Confession

If for the Orthodox Church the confession in the priest presence is obligatory, in the Catholicism- a person, is desirable, to confess once a year in the presence of the priest, then Protestantism does not admit any mediator between a man and the Lord. Nobody has the right to confess and to remit sins.

• Public liturgy (Divine service)

The main public liturgy in the Orthodoxy Church is by the Eastern (Oriental) rite. The Catholic Church follows the Eastern (Oriental) rite and the Latin (Roman) one. Protestantism pursues various kinds of public liturgies.

• The language of public liturgy

The language of Orthodox liturgies is the national language of the country; in Russia- you may hear the Church Slavonic language. Catholics- the national language of the country, also Latin language is used for these purposes. Protestantism applies various languages.

5. Piety

• Icons and cross. The Saints and the Prayers for the Deceased.

The Orthodox worship icons and cross. The Catholics are devoted to Jesus Christ, cross and the Saints. The prayer is permitted in front of the icon, but not to the icon. In Protestantism icons are not esteemed. You may just see a cross in some prayer houses. The Orthodox and the Catholics revere the Saints. The Prayers for the Deceased is normal for the both religions. The Protestantism does accept neither Saints nor any Prayers for the Deceased.

• The Virgin Mary cult

A man can pray to the Virgin Mary as to the Mother of God or the Heavenly Mediatress in the Orthodoxy as well as in the Catholicism. There is no any cult to the Virgin Mary in the Protestantism.


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