Christianity vs. Orthodox Christianity

What's the Difference?

Christianity and Orthodox Christianity share a common foundation in their belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the savior of humanity. However, there are some key differences between the two. Orthodox Christianity places a strong emphasis on tradition and the authority of the church, while Christianity as a whole encompasses a broader range of denominations and beliefs. Orthodox Christianity also places a greater emphasis on the sacraments and liturgical worship, with a strong focus on icons and the veneration of saints. Additionally, Orthodox Christianity tends to have a more hierarchical structure, with the Patriarch of Constantinople serving as the spiritual leader. Overall, while both Christianity and Orthodox Christianity share many core beliefs, Orthodox Christianity has its own distinct practices and traditions that set it apart.


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AttributeChristianityOrthodox Christianity
FounderJesus ChristJesus Christ
ScriptureBible (Old and New Testament)Bible (Old and New Testament)
Belief in TrinityYesYes
Worship PracticesVaries (depending on denomination)Liturgy, Icons, Sacraments
AuthorityVaries (depending on denomination)Hierarchical structure with Patriarchs, Bishops, and Priests
View on SalvationThrough faith in Jesus ChristThrough faith in Jesus Christ
View on Virgin MaryVaries (depending on denomination)Venerated as Theotokos (Mother of God)
View on SaintsVaries (depending on denomination)Venerated as intercessors and examples of faith
View on SacramentsVaries (depending on denomination)Seven sacraments: Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist, Confession, Holy Orders, Matrimony, Anointing of the Sick
View on Original SinVaries (depending on denomination)Belief in inherited ancestral sin
Orthodox Christianity
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Further Detail


Christianity and Orthodox Christianity are two major branches of the Christian faith. While they share many core beliefs, there are also significant differences in their practices, traditions, and interpretations of scripture. In this article, we will explore the attributes of both Christianity and Orthodox Christianity, highlighting their similarities and distinctions.

Doctrinal Beliefs

Both Christianity and Orthodox Christianity affirm the central tenets of the Christian faith, such as the belief in the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the salvation through his death and resurrection. However, Orthodox Christianity places a stronger emphasis on the mystery and transcendence of God, often referred to as the "mystical theology." This mystical approach is rooted in the Eastern Orthodox tradition and is characterized by a deep sense of awe and reverence towards God.

In contrast, Christianity, as a broader term, encompasses various denominations and interpretations of scripture. While some Christian denominations may also embrace the mystical aspects of faith, others may focus more on personal relationship with God and the practical application of biblical teachings in daily life.

Worship and Liturgy

One of the most noticeable differences between Christianity and Orthodox Christianity lies in their worship practices and liturgical traditions. Orthodox Christianity places great importance on liturgy, which is a structured and formalized worship service. The Divine Liturgy, central to Orthodox worship, is characterized by its rich symbolism, use of incense, and elaborate rituals. Icons, sacred images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and saints, are also prominently displayed in Orthodox churches and play a significant role in worship.

On the other hand, Christianity encompasses a wide range of worship styles, from highly formalized liturgies to more contemporary and informal services. While some Christian denominations may incorporate elements of liturgy and use icons, others may adopt a more casual and spontaneous approach to worship, emphasizing personal expression and communal participation.

Church Hierarchy and Authority

Another key distinction between Christianity and Orthodox Christianity is the structure of their church hierarchy and the authority within their respective traditions. In Orthodox Christianity, the church is organized in a hierarchical manner, with the Patriarch or Metropolitan serving as the highest-ranking bishop. The Orthodox Church places great importance on apostolic succession, tracing its leadership back to the apostles themselves.

Christianity, on the other hand, encompasses a wide range of ecclesiastical structures. Some Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, also have a hierarchical structure with a Pope as the supreme authority. However, many other Christian traditions, such as Protestantism, emphasize the autonomy of individual churches and the priesthood of all believers, rejecting the need for a centralized authority.

Sacraments and Practices

Both Christianity and Orthodox Christianity recognize the importance of sacraments as visible signs of God's grace. However, there are differences in the number and understanding of these sacraments. Orthodox Christianity recognizes seven sacraments, including baptism, chrismation, Eucharist, confession, marriage, holy orders, and anointing of the sick. These sacraments are seen as transformative encounters with God, leading to spiritual growth and salvation.

Christianity, on the other hand, has varying views on the number and nature of sacraments. Some Christian traditions, such as Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, also recognize seven sacraments, while others, like most Protestant denominations, may only acknowledge two sacraments: baptism and the Eucharist. The emphasis on sacraments can also differ, with some Christian traditions placing more emphasis on personal faith and the inward experience of grace.

Scriptural Interpretation

Both Christianity and Orthodox Christianity regard the Bible as the inspired word of God. However, there are differences in their approach to scriptural interpretation. Orthodox Christianity places great emphasis on the authority of tradition, viewing it as a necessary guide for understanding and interpreting the Bible. The teachings of the early Church Fathers and the decisions of ecumenical councils hold significant weight in Orthodox theology.

Christianity, on the other hand, encompasses a wide range of interpretive approaches. Some Christian denominations, such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, prioritize tradition and the teachings of the early Church. Others, particularly within Protestantism, emphasize the importance of individual interpretation and personal study of the Bible. This diversity of interpretive methods has led to various theological differences among Christian denominations.


In conclusion, while Christianity and Orthodox Christianity share many fundamental beliefs, they also have distinct attributes that shape their practices and traditions. Orthodox Christianity emphasizes the mystical and transcendent nature of God, embraces formal liturgy, and upholds a hierarchical church structure. Christianity, as a broader term, encompasses a wide range of worship styles, ecclesiastical structures, and interpretive approaches to scripture. Understanding these similarities and differences can foster greater appreciation and dialogue among Christians of different traditions.

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