Convictional Protestants know that Roman Catholicism is a departure from biblical Christianity with its infallible papacy and indulgences. But far fewer Protestants know what to think of Eastern Orthodoxy. People are looking for something ancient and authentic to believe in and the smells and bells of Eastern Orthodoxy appeal to the sensory experiences of many seekers. The emerging church movement has attempted to embrace the mysticism and contemplative prayer within Catholicism and Orthodoxy to appeal to this desire. Eastern Orthodoxy is seen as a less radical alternative to Roman Catholicism since many within Protestantism don’t understand how wide the divide is between what they believe and what Eastern Orthodoxy teaches.
But how do biblical Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy differ from each other? Eastern Orthodoxy teaches: 1. Scripture alone is not sufficient. The traditions and liturgy of the church which they believe come through apostolic succession are the lens through which the Bible is interpreted. 2. The canon of Scripture is even bigger than Roman Catholicism. 3. Justification is not by faith alone but is through a synergistic combination of faith and works. 4. The penal substitutionary atonement of Christ is rejected. 5. The imputation of the righteousness of Christ in justification is rejected. 6. Augustine’s doctrine of original sin is rejected in favor of semi-Pelagianism. 7. Salvation results in divinization or theosis where we become gods by grace. 8. Icons should be venerated and there are many tales of icons performing miraculous deeds. 9. Mary was a perpetual virgin and lived a sinless life. 10. The saints and Mary are to be prayed to. Eastern Orthodoxy has saints we should pray to on every occasion like Catholicism. 11. We should pray for the dead. 12. Infants are regenerated in baptism. 13. The Eucharist is a sacrifice resulting in the forgiveness of sins. 14. People can be saved apart from belief in the gospel message. Many in Eastern Orthodoxy believe that it is possible that everyone in the end will be saved. 15. Bishops are not allowed to marry. 16. There is a sacramental priesthood distinct from the priesthood of all believers.
For these reasons, Eastern Orthodoxy, like Roman Catholicism, should be seen as a corruption of biblical Christianity and the result of man-made tradition being added to Scripture (Matt 15:6) which obscures the clarity of the gospel (Rom 10:9; 11:6). Equip.org used to have a decent article critiquing Eastern Orthodoxy until it got taken down but Answers in Genesis has a better one. May God lead his church away from all unbiblical traditions to the true faith found in Scripture.