Theology Of The Modern Greek Church -- By: Albert N. Arnold

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 021:84 (Oct 1864)
Article: Theology Of The Modern Greek Church
Author: Albert N. Arnold


Theology Of The Modern Greek Church

Rev. Albert N. Arnold

The religion of “the Orthodox Eastern church” —for that is the title by which it chooses to be known — is professed by not far from seventy-five millions of the human family. Nearly sixty millions of these are the subjects of the Czar of Russia; about eleven and a half millions are found in the Turkish Empire; nearly three millions in Austria; not quite one million in Greece; and about three hundred thousand in Montenegro and the Ionian Islands.

As one of the three great parties into which Christendom is divided, the Greek church is justly entitled to a proportionate share of the attention of Christian scholars. It has, indeed, on several accounts, a stronger claim than that which is derived merely from the relative number of its adherents. As the most ancient branch, or rather the original stock, of Christianity in its visible and organized manifestation; as occupying the regions where the apostles chiefly labored, and to which most of their inspired letters were directed; as the scene of all the early general councils of the church, and the depository of their original decrees; as retaining still the very language in which the New Testament writings were composed; and, finally, as having, in all likelihood, no inconsiderable part to perform in the future history of those classic and sacred lands which it occupies; the Greek or Anatolic church fairly challenges a larger share of the attention and study of Christian scholars than it has hitherto obtained.

Though for many centuries united with the Western church in one ecclesiastical communion, yet it had from the beginning its own peculiar spirit and its own distinct law of development. The same germ of divine doctrine, en-

grafted on stocks so different, as the subtile, speculative Greek, and the practical, organizing Roman, bore fruit of the same species, indeed, but of a somewhat different flavor and quality. The divergence began to appear in the very-first centuries; but the actual separation did not take place till the latter half of the ninth century, when the patriarch Photius and the Pope of Rome mutually excommunicated and anathematized each other (a.d. 867). The two churches were afterwards nominally united again; but the breach was never healed; and less than two centuries later (a.d. 1054) the separation was solemnly re-affirmed by the patriarch Michael Cerularius. This may be regarded as the final rupture between the Eastern and Western churches. Attempts to re-unite them were renewed from time to time, even down to the period of the overthrow of the Eastern Empire by the Turks in 1453; but these attempts on...

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