True Orthodoxy

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True Orthodoxy, or Genuine Orthodoxy (Greek: Γνησίων Ὀρθοδόξων Χριστιανῶν, "True Orthodox Christians", Russian: Истинно-Православная Церковь, "True Orthodox Church"), often pejoratively[ citation needed ] referred to as "Zealotry", [1] is a movement within Orthodox Christianity that has been separated from the mainstream Eastern Orthodox Church over issues of ecumenism and calendar reform since the 1920s. [1]

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 200–260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Ecumenism Cooperation between Christian denominations

The term "ecumenism" refers to efforts by Christians of different Church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings. The term is also often used to refer to efforts towards the visible and organic unity of different Christian denominations in some form.



Those who consider themselves a part of this movement are a minority of those who consider themselves to be Orthodox Christians, [2] [ unreliable source? ] but True Orthodox writers have argued that in missionary areas such as the United States, Orthodox membership numbers may be overstated, with the comparative number of True Orthodox as up to 15% of the Orthodox population. The number of official Orthodox in America is approximately 415,000, whereas True Orthodox may comprise up to 40,000 Americans combined. [3] [ unreliable source? ] In Russia, it has been claimed by some clergymen that up to a million Russians may be True Orthodox of different jurisdictions, though the Greek Old Calendarists and True Orthodox Russians are often cited at 1.7-2 million together.


Most True Orthodox Christians hold to a reading of history from the age of the Apostles to the 1920s virtually identical to that of the mainstream Orthodox Church. True Orthodox Christians added the additional word "True" to distinguish themselves from those whom they believe to have abandoned Orthodox doctrine after this period. (The term orthodoxy, from Greek ὀρθοδοξία, orthodoxia, already means "correct belief" or "right opinion".)

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Most True Orthodox historians agree that the rise of the Ecumenical movement manifested through the change of the church calendar in the 1920s throughout the Orthodox world, as well as the 1927 capitulation of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragadorsky) to the Soviet authorities marked the formative period for True Orthodoxy, where those Orthodox who either would not go along with changes to the calendar or were disobedient to the civil authorities began to organize against the official church in earnest and create parallel hierarchies. While the early period in the history of True Orthodoxy marked a "grey area" in terms of how to regard those who went along with the innovation, today most True Orthodox disregard "World Orthodoxy"—at least the hierarchy—as part of the church at all.

The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 708 AUC (46 BC/BCE), was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on 1 January 709 AUC (45 BC/BCE), by edict. It was the predominant calendar in the Roman world, most of Europe, and in European settlements in the Americas and elsewhere, until it was gradually replaced by the Gregorian calendar, promulgated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

Patriarch Sergius of Moscow Patriarch of Moscow

Patriarch Sergius was the 12th Patriarch of Moscow and all the Rus', from September 8, 1943 until his death. He was also the de facto head of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1925-1943, firstly as deputy Patriarchal locum tenens (1925–1937) subsequently as Patriarchal locum tenens (1937–1943).

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Because of the late departure of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) into union with the Moscow Patriarchate with the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, some jurisdictions glorify saints who are still well-regarded among mainstream Orthodox, such as St John of Shanghai and San Francisco (†1966) and St Philaret of New York (†1985).

Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, or ROCOR, is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Act of Canonical Communion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia with the Russian orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate reunited the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church: the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Moscow Patriarchate. The accord was signed on 17 May 2007, which for the Orthodox Church in that year was the Feast of the Ascension of Christ.

John of Shanghai and San Francisco Eastern Orthodox ascetic

Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, was a prominent Eastern Orthodox ascetic and hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) who was active in the mid-20th century. He was a pastor and spiritual father of high reputation and a reputed wonderworker to whom were attributed great powers of prophecy, clairvoyance and healing. He is often referred to simply as "St. John the Wonderworker".


Like mainstream Orthodox Christians, True Orthodox remain Chalcedonian in their Christology and accept the doctrinal authority of the Church's Seven Ecumenical Councils. However, they strongly reject the ecumenical movement and consider most ecumenical dialogues, such as those with the non-Chalcedonians and Roman Catholics, to be invalid and unacceptable, citing canonical prohibitions against joint prayer.

Chalcedonian Christianity refers to the Christian denominations adhering to the christological definitions and ecclesiological resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon, the Fourth Ecumenical Council held in 451. Chalcedonian Christians follow the Definition of Chalcedon, a religious doctrine concerning the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. The great majority of Christian communions and confessions in the 21st century are Chalcedonian, but from the 5th to the 8th centuries the ascendancy of Chalcedonian Christology was not always certain.

Christology Study of Jesus Christ in Christian theology

Christology, literally "the understanding of Christ," is the study of the nature (person) and work of Jesus Christ. It studies Jesus Christ's humanity and divinity, and the relation between these two aspects; and the role he plays in salvation.

Non-Chalcedonianism is a religious doctrine of those Christian churches that do not accept the Confession of Chalcedon as defined at the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451. The doctrine contrasts with Chalcedonian Christianity, which accepts the doctrines of the first seven Ecumenical Councils. Some Christian denominations do not accept the Confession of Chalcedon, for varying reasons, but accept the doctrines of the previous council at the Council of Ephesus in 431.

Nevertheless, True Orthodox Churches are considered to have certain characteristic views and positions distinct from the Eastern Orthodox Church:

  1. They reject the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Moscow Patriarchate, and those Churches in communion with them, accusing them of heresy and placing themselves under bishops who do the same.
  2. They use the Old Julian liturgical calendar exclusively and denounce the Revised Julian calendar as a wayward, Latinising innovation.

Among those satisfying these two characteristics, there is the historically disputed requirement that they consider the sacraments of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate to be invalid and ineffectual for salvation. For the most part, True Orthodox repudiate such communion under a rejection of ecumenism and Sergianism [4] (Named for Metropolitan Sergius) as heresies, and many Churches have added those alleged heresies to the anathemas on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

There is less dispute on the issue of the rejection of official mysteries in the present day after the change of the Cyprianites (who openly rejected this principle), however, historically this issue has been a source of disagreement. The issue of whether the EP and MP are graceless or simply viewed as incorrect persists to the present day in differences in baptism and chrismation policies (official and unofficial) among the so-called True Orthodox Churches.


As Eastern Orthodox Christianity is both collegial and local in structure, there is no single organization called the "True Orthodox Church" nor is there official recognition among the "True Orthodox" as to who is properly included among them. [2] While some unions have taken place even up to the present, the majority of True Orthodox are only secondarily concerned with reunion as opposed to preservation of Eastern Orthodox teaching.

Organisations that are usually included in the True Orthodoxy are:

Inter-church relations and intercommunion

Many True Orthodox synods do not publish information concerning other synods, citing limited interest outside of their locality. Some are open to dialogue, whereas some hierarchies are more insular and prefer to keep to themselves. For example, the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) through the late Metropolitan Valentine, stated informally that they no longer actively seek to join other True Orthodox churches, but would not refuse incoming dialogue. [5]

A number of unions, however, between different True Orthodox bodies have taken place for limited periods of time in recent decades, even to the present. The most notable of these was the reunion between the Greek Old Calendarists and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (1971–85) and the current union of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians, ROCOR under Metropolitan Agafangel (Pashkovsky), and the Old Calendar Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

See also

Related Research Articles

Eastern Orthodox Church organization Wikimedia list article

The Eastern Orthodox Church, like the Catholic Church, claims to be the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Greek Old Calendarists

Greek Old Calendarists, also known as "Genuine Orthodox Christians", are groups of Old Calendarist Orthodox Christians that remained committed to the traditional Orthodox practice and are not in communion with many other Orthodox churches such as the Orthodox Church of Greece, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, or the Church of Cyprus. The split began with a disagreement over the abandonment of the traditional church calendar in preference to the adoption of the Revised Julian calendar which is similar to the papal Gregorian calendar but will pull ahead by one day in the year 2800 and over other liturgical reforms that were introduced.

The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) was an organization of bishops from Eastern Orthodox Christian jurisdictions in the Americas. It acted as a clearinghouse for educational, charitable, and missionary work in the Americas. In 2010, it was replaced by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.

Old Calendarists an Eastern Orthodox Church body which uses the historic Julian calendar (“Old Calendar”), and whose Church body is not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches that use the New Calendar

An Old Calendarist is any Eastern Orthodox Christian who uses the historic Julian calendar, proposed by the Roman statesman Julius Caesar, and whose church body is not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox churches that use the New Calendar.

Church of St. Edward the Martyr, Brookwood church in Brookwood, Surrey, UK

St. Edward the Martyr Orthodox Church is a True Orthodox Church in Brookwood, Surrey, England.

Russian Church may refer to:

Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod in Resistance)

The Orthodox Church of Greece, Holy Synod in Resistance was a traditionalist Greek Orthodox jurisdiction following the church calendar.

A schism is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, such as the East–West Schism or the Great Western Schism. It is also used of a split within a non-religious organization or movement or, more broadly, of a separation between two or more people, be it brothers, friends, lovers, etc.

Eastern Orthodoxy in Greece

Eastern Orthodoxy is by far the largest religious denomination in Greece.

Holy Orthodox Church in North America

The Holy Orthodox Church in North America (HOCNA) is an Orthodox Christian church located primarily in the United States and Canada, with additional communities in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Republic of Georgia. Many of HOCNA's clergy had been part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). HOCNA was incorporated in 1987 by a group of former ROCOR clergy, and received its first two episcopal consecrations from the synod of bishops of Archbishop Auxentius of Athens of the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece. HOCNA's current Primate is Gregory, Metropolitan of Boston.

Eastern Orthodoxy in North America represents adherents, religious communities, institutions and organizations of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in North America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and other North American states. Estimates of the number of Eastern Orthodox adherents in North America vary considerably depending on methodology and generally fall in range from 3 million to 6 million. Most Eastern Orthodox Christians in North America are Russian Americans, Greek Americans, Arab Americans, Ukrainian Americans, Albanian Americans, Romanian Americans and Bulgarian Americans with Americans from other Eastern European countries and growing minorities of converted Americans of Western European, African, Latin American, and East Asian descent.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate in America comprises five separate jurisdictions, along with a number of stavropegial institutions, and includes roughly two-thirds of all Eastern Orthodox Christians in America. The archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, by far the largest of Constantinopolitan jurisdictions in the US, is considered the local primate and may convene a Holy Synod of all the hierarchs of the Ecumenical throne in America.

Oriental Orthodoxy Branch of Eastern Christianity

Oriental Orthodoxy is the communion of Christian Churches that adheres to Miaphysite Christology and theology, with 60 to 70 million members worldwide. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Armenia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and parts of the Middle East and India. An Eastern Christian communion of autocephalous churches, its bishops are equal by virtue of episcopal ordination, and its doctrines can be summarised in that the communion recognizes the validity of only the first three ecumenical councils.

Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles

For the Russian-American Metropolia (1924-1970), see Orthodox Church in America.

The Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church is a non-canonical Russian Orthodox church body. ROAC referred itself as part of True Orthodoxy. It was formed in 1994 when a number of ROCOR parishes left it and formed an independent jurisdiction.


  1. 1 2 Beoković, Jelena (1 May 2010). "Ko su ziloti, pravoslavni fundamentalisti" [Who are Zealots, Orthodox Fundamentalists]. Politika . Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  2. 1 2 "About us - Directory of True Orthodox Christians". Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  3. "Blogger". Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  4. "THE PELAGIAN ROOTS OF SERGIANISM". Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  5. "Nathanael Kapner's 2006 "Church News" interview with Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir". Retrieved 27 October 2017.