A Brief History of the Orthodox Faith
Scholars estimate there are over 2600 groups today who lay claim to being the Church, or at least direct descendants of the Church described in the New Testament. Repeat: 2600!
But for the first thousand years of its history the Church was essentially one. Five historic, "Patriarchal" cities-- Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople -- formed a cohesive whole and were in full communion with each other. There were occasional heretical and schismatic groups going their own way, to be sure, but the Church still remained united. Then, in events culminating in 1054 A.D., the Roman Patriarch (the Pope) pulled away from the other four Patriarchs, pursuing his long-developing claim of universal headship of the Church.
Today, however, nearly a thousand years later, the other four Patriarchs still remain united, maintaining the Orthodox, Apostolic Faith of the New Testament.
(Adapted from A Time Line of Church History
Published by Conciliar Press, P.O. Box 76, Ben Lomond, CA 95005-0076
Time Line from Pentecost to Present Day
The Early Church
Age of the Apostles Through the work of Jesus Christ and His Apostles the Church Spread throughout the world.
Age of Persecution Christians were persecuted sporadically until about 313 A.D., under Roman emperors such as Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Decius, and Diocletian. Still, the Church continued to thrive in spite of persecution.
Age of Councils During this time seven "Ecumenical" Councils were held to defend and uphold the true belief of the Church about Jesus Christ. The Church continued to thrive in spite of heretics.
The Great Schism After centuries of a gradual pulling apart following the Age of the Councils, the Church split into two parts, when the Pope of Rome broke communion with the other historic centers of the Church. This is the beginning in the West of ROMAN CATHOLICISM.
Age of Upheaval and Division That it was Roman Catholicism which departed from the faith of the early Church is partly evident from the great upheaval of the PROTESTANT REFORMATION. This movement, which began in the 1500's, was an attempt to rediscover something that had been lost. However, little agreement could be found as to what that "something" was. So instead of reform there occurred only more, drastic division, and the Western church fractured into hundreds of denominations.
The Orthodox Church
Age of Persecution and Preservation The churches in the historic "Patriarchal" cities of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople remained united after the Roman church broke away. Today the churches which share continuity and communion with them are called the ORTHODOX CHURCH. In spite of renewed persecution this Orthodox Church has preserved intact the true Faith of the early Church.
"The Orthodox Church" by Timothy Ware
"Becoming Orthodox" by Peter Gillquist