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If you were to drive down the streets of Nashville, you would see a plethora of churches. To the point where you would have one church from a different denomination right next to each other. Being from the North, this is a very different experience. True story, before COVID-19, I could walk into Panera on a Friday night, and you could tell there were many people there with their Bibles out in small groups. You couldn’t find that if you tried in the North.

A question I always get when I tell people I’m an Orthodox Christian is, “do you believe in Jesus?” And then I pray that He stops me from facepalming. I mean, c’mon, Christ? Orthodox CHRISTian? But then I tell myself the word history. History is essential, and when you think about it, the United States is not that old. The U.S. is only 244 years old. Ancient Egypt lasted for about 30 centuries until Alexander the Great conquered it. 30 centuries equates to 3,000 years, FYI. So if the country isn’t that young, then it follows that American Christianity isn’t that old either. Clark Carlton, a former Protestant who became Eastern Orthodox, states, “The typical American Christian has very little, if any, historical consciousness. He may know a few things about the history of his denomination, but it is not until he is confronted with a church of great antiquity that he begins to consider the origins of his own faith. When encountering the Orthodox Church, the Protestant Christian comes face to face with a form of Christianity three times as old as his own.” 

Roots are important. If I brought you the car and said this is the original car Henry Ford invented, I would ask you to show me the line of succession from Ford to whoever owns it now. Likewise, we have to look our where denominations have originated from. Carlton goes on to say, “The origin of most Protestant denominations can be traced back to one or two founders. Thus, the Lutheran Church is traced back to Martin Luther, the Reformed Church to John Calvin, the Presbyterian Church to John Knox, the Methodist Church to the Wesleys (although they never actually left the Anglican Church), and the Churches of Christ to Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell. Although Baptist Churches cannot claim one founder, their history is traceable through the English Separatist Movement back to the Church of England. In every case, the trail stops dead in the sixteenth century with the Protestant Reformation.”

Now someone may say, but non-denominational churches are “not” Protestant. I find that it follows the very ideology of Protestantism, to begin with, i.e., that the Bible is the sole authority. The fact of the matter is non-denominational churches have a considerable overlap with Protestantism. Claiming to be non-denominational gives them the freedom to adapt their doctrine however they want to separate from a specific Protestant denomination. So when a church says they’re “non-denominational,” they still have core Protestant beliefs; they don’t subscribe to a particular “flavor” of it.”

So who’s the OG non-denominational Church? The Orthodox Church. Actually, when you think about it, Orthodoxy is not even non-denominational; it is PRE-denominational. Carlton beautifully says, “The Orthodox Church, in contrast, traces its history back to the first century Church of Jerusalem, founded by Chris Himself. The Church is fully conscious of this history. Indeed, She celebrates it, marking important events in Her history throughout the year with special celebrations. This concern with history is an important element of the Orthodox Faith, for it underscores the fact that the Church is a historical community. When Christ ascended to heaven, He did not leave behind a system of philosophy or a school. He left His Church, which was a concrete, historical community there in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, the Christian Gospel spread throughout the known world, and local Churches were created. All of these local Churches, however, sprang from and were dependent upon the original Church in Jerusalem for their faith and practice. Christianity is not a philosophy; it is not a set of rules that one may follow on one’s own. It is a life which can only be lived in community, in the Church that Christ Himself founded. Our Lord made it perfectly clear that this Church would overcome the gates of hell itself. So the question that faces the modern Christian is, ‘Which community is the authentic Church?'”

Lastly, one of the most important things that makes the Orthodox Church the OG is “the Orthodox Church teaches the same things today that it did in the year 1000, the same things it taught in the year 100; there is a perfect continuity of faith and life. This is easily contrasted not only with the novel teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, but with the doctrines of the various Protestant denominations. All Protestant sects have changed considerably since their founding. Many denominations do not even teach the same things they taught fifty years ago, much less four hundred years ago.”

If we are going to worship God for Who He is, we need to seek the truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, NKJV). Always pray that God reveals to you the truth.