It has at various times been a cause for rejoicing, an inspiration to love, and a life of joyful sacrifice. It has enabled the humble poor to lead millions to salvation and lowered mighty rulers from their worldly power. It proclaims to the peoples of the world the news of the God Who is shrouded in mystery, and it is something to which its adherents have clung so dearly that they have often endured persecution, torture, and even death.
So what exactly is the Orthodox Christian faith?
Well, first and foremost, it is a way of life in Jesus Christ. It is something that can only truly be grasped through the experience of living it. Yet each of us has to begin somewhere, and if you have come as far as this page, we hope that these resources, which have been hand-picked by us, will give you some glimpse into the life that the first Christians called simply "The Way", for to them, there was no other.
'I think I might believe in God, or at least a higher power, but I'm completely new to all of this. Is there anything to help me?'
Are you curious about church and what Christians believe? Do you believe in God but aren't sure how to express that in your life? Or maybe you have no faith background and you're not sure what you believe.
Then you're not alone. In fact, you're in the company of hundreds of thousands of people in Britain today, and maybe even more. A large number of people have something of God in their hearts or an idea of God in their minds and just don't know how to develop it. Many people today were not raised with a background in a community of faith so don't necessarily have the tools to explore their beliefs or the language to express them. Yet this doesn't mean that they do not want to.
There are plenty of books, many video and audio recordings, and all manner of other resources about Christianity. Maybe you have already opened any of the well-known books written to introduce people to the Orthodox Christian faith, and have been disheartened to find that you didn't get past the third page before being confronted with obscure words, concepts, and references to people and events in history that it seemed you were expected to know about already. These books were probably written by people who have been Christians for as long as they can remember, and they were intended to be read by similar people who are exploring joining the Orthodox Church. You probably wanted something that helped you to understand a little without confusing you with jargon.
So what is there for you?
Well, we can't pretend that there are libraries full of books that meet your needs, (perhaps there ought to be), or that we have been able to read all of what is available. However, these resources in particular stand out as ones that you might just find helpful.
- An Introduction to God (ISBN 9781936270996) - A beautiful exploration of Who God is, what faith in God means, and why any of it matters, by Fr Andrew Stephen Damick. A preview may be viewed here.
- The Orthodox Way (ISBN 9780913836583) - A gentle introduction to the quest for faith, by Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.
- The Faith (ISBN 9780964914117) - This is a Christian catechism, good for new Christians to learn the basics of the Faith, by Dr Innocent (Clark) Carlton.
- Orthodox Christianity for Absolute Beginners - An online resource. Explore the questions or the links down the left-hand side.
'But I'm already a Christian! I've believed in God my whole life. What about me?'
Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Maybe you go to church every Sunday, or perhaps not. You may be heavily involved in the life of your church or perhaps you find that praying on your own or in small groups is closer to your regular experience. You could be Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal, Congregational, non-denominational, or any of many different types of Christian under the Protestant umbrella.
Why should you look at the Orthodox Church? Well, there are many reasons why you might want to. Perhaps you have made friends with, married, or hope to marry an Orthodox Christian and want to understand more about your friend's or partner's faith. Perhaps you yourself may be curious about the exotic things that you've heard Orthodox Christians do in church and want to understand a little about what lies behind it. After all, it isn't the meat-and-two-veg kind of Christianity that most Christians in Britain are accustomed to.
Maybe your interest comes from something more than curiosity. It could be that you have seen something in Orthodoxy that you find touches your heart or engages your spirit. Perhaps you are even thinking about joining the Orthodox Church yourself.
What is there for you?
Due to the various backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, and intentions of those who seek to follow Christ, it is impossible to take a one-size-fits-all approach that can satisfy everybody. However, the resources below have been found to be very helpful for many of our own people who have come into the Orthodox Church from other Christian backgrounds.
- The Orthodox Church (ISBN 9780140146561) - A more in-depth look at the Church, by Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, best read after The Orthodox Way (listed in the previous section).
- The Mystery of Faith (ISBN 9780881413755) - A catechism of the Orthodox Christian faith, by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. The text of this book may also be read online.
- Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (ISBN 9781936270132) - A superb book by Fr Andrew Stephen Damick (of the Roads from Emmaus podcast and blog), in which he explains in a matter-of-fact but sober and respectful manner what makes the Orthodox Church distinct from other confessions of faith.
- The Way (ISBN 9780964914124) - Tailored to help those from Protestant traditions approach Orthodoxy, this will also help Orthodox Christians to better grasp how their Protestant friends understand things. (Part of The Faith series).
- The Truth (ISBN 9780964914186) - Intended for those from Catholic traditions, this will be helpful to those of Roman Catholic and Old Catholic traditions, as well as some Anglicans, Methodists, and Lutherans. (Part of The Faith series).
- The Life (ISBN 9781928653028) - An explanation of the doctrine of salvation. This is a good introductory book to Christianity but also helpful for Christians wishing to develop an understanding of what Orthodox Christians mean when they talk about salvation. (Part of The Faith series).
- The Orthodox Faith series by Fr Thomas Hopko - ideal for enquirers, catechumens, and new Orthodox Christians.
- Coffee with Sister Vassa - With her delightful warmth and charm, Nun Vassa (Dr Vassa Larin) explores some of the feasts and saints of the Christian calendar in her YouTube channel. (You don't have to be a coffee drinker to watch.)
- On Becoming and Remaining an Orthodox Christian - Archpriest Andrew Phillips writes about some of the common pitfalls of converts to the Church, and how to avoid them.
- Artcles about Orthodoxy - Bits and pieces about Christian teaching, history, worship, and all sorts, really.
- Ancient Faith Radio - A 24-hour internet radio station. Listen to Orthodox music, interviews, and teaching. You can also stream/download podcasts and install the app.
- Orthodox Christian Network - similar to the above.
- Orthodox Christian Information Center (sic.) - A goldmine of writings about our faith.
- Death to the World - Click to find out.