A Brief History of the Holy Orthodox Church
A more detailed outline of the history of the Orthodox Church in North America may be found in the
July 2006 issue of The Cloud of Witnesses (Web-master note: Bp. Tikhon (Belavin) of the earlier sections of the history in the July 2006 Cloud is one and the same person as St. Tikhon mentioned in the later section.)
- Pentecost -- the manifestation of the Church of the New Covenant. (Sometimes called the "Birthday of the Church", but this is not really correct: The Fathers teach that the Church is the first of creatures, its first members being the Honorable Bodiless Powers of Heaven created in the Divine command "Let there be light".)
- The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), St. James, first Bishop of
Jerusalem presides. Decision taken by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit not to lay the whole
Old Covenant Law on gentile converts to Christianity.
- The Books of the New Testament written.
- St. Ignatius consecrated Bishop of Antioch, succeeds St. Peter.
- Edict of Milan---Christianity legal in the Roman Empire.
- St. Constantine moves the Imperial capital to Constantinople
(New Rome),beginning of the (Orthodox)
Christian Roman Empire in the East.
- The First Council of Nicea upholds the doctrine of Christ's Divinity,
begins writing the Nicene Creed (First Ecumenical Council).
- The first list of the books of the New Testament occurs in a
letter of St. Athanasius of Alexandria.
- Council of Constantinople upholds the divinity of the Holy Spirit and completes the Creed (2nd E.C.).
- Synod of Carthage ratifies the Biblical canon.
- Council of Ephesus affirms the unity of Christ's person, condemns
Nestorius for denying that unity, affirms the appropriateness of calling the Blessed Virgin Mary "Theotokos" (sometimes Englished as "the Mother of God") as an affirmation of the unity of Christ's person -- the person born of Mary is God -- declares the Creed to be unchangeable (3rd E.C.).
- Council of Chalcedon affirms the Apostolic doctrine of two natures in Christ, condemns Eutychius for denying Christ's dual nature, confirms Biblical canon in a vague reference to the ancient canons, understood as including those of Carthage (4th E.C.).
- Second Council of Constantinople, condemned Nestorius's teacher Theodore
of Mopsuestia, and the certain writings of two Chalcedonian Fathers as Nestorian. Also condemns the
doctrine of Pelagius that we can be saved by our own efforts, and speculations found in the writings
of Origen. Only Ecumenical Council
attended by a Pope of Rome (5th E.C.)
- A Spanish synod inserts "and the Son" ("the filoque") in the Creed in the section concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit. This error spreads in the West,particularly among the Franks.
- Third Council of Constantinople, upheld the reality of Christ's dual nature by condemning monothelism and monergianism, heresies which compromised the reality of Christ's humanity by asserting He has only one will or only one energy (principle of activity). Both Pope Honorius of Rome and Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople were condemned by the Council (6th E.C.)
- Disciplinary session of the 6th Ecumenical Council, called the Trullan Synod or
Quinsext Council by Western scholars established the rule of celibate bishops, while confirming the
propriety of the advancement to the diaconate and priesthood of married men. Explicitly confirmed
the Biblical canon by inclusion of the Synod of Carthage in a list of councils whose canons were accepted throughout the Church.
- Second Council of Nicea restores the use of icons after a period of Imperial opposition, defending the reality of both the Incarnation and of the Eucharist against the denial of the first implicit in refusing to depict Christ in His humanity and the explicit denial of the latter by the iconoclasts who argued that the Eucharist was the only permissible icon of Christ (7th E.C.).
- Attempts by Pope Nicholas of Rome to overturn the election of St. Photius the Great as Patriarch of Constantinople lead to a brief schism between the Patriarchates of Rome and Constantinople.
- A General Council at Constantinople accepted by all the Patriarchs, including Pope John VIII of Rome, condemns the Western addition to the Creed, confirms limits on Papal jurisdiction. (some Orthodox commentators consider this to be the 8th E.C.)
- The Conversion of the Rus.
- First Frankish Pope elected at Rome, use of the erroneous creed with the filioque at Rome results in the Bishops of Rome being dropped from the Diptychs of Constantinople (list of bishops regarded as Orthodox by the Patriarchate of Constantinople).
- Attempts to restore Rome to the Diptychs collapse (conventional date for separation of Patriarchate of Rome from the Church).
- Beginning of the Crusades---throughout the 1100's forcible replacement of indigenous bishops with Latin bishops by the Crusaders leads to the severing of ties between the other patriarchates (Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria) and (Old) Rome.
- The Fourth Crusade---Constantinople Sacked by Crusaders. Latin Emperor and Patriarch forcibly installed at Constantinople.
- Crusaders attack Russia, but are decisively defeated by St. Alexander Nevsky in the "Battle on the Ice".
- Reconquest of Constantinople by the Orthodox Christian Roman Empire, restoration of Orthodox Emperor and Patriarch.
- False Union Council of Lyons attempts to impose reunion on Latin terms (acceptance of the filoque and Papal supremacy) on the Church. Council is rejected by the Orthodox Faithful.
- St. Gregory Palamas defends traditional Orthodox spirituality, the use of the Jesus prayer, and the Orthodox doctrine of salvation as theosis by elucidating the distinction between God's essence and God's energies. His teachings are condemned by the Western papacy.
- A General Council at Constantinople upholds St. Gregory Palamas's teachings. (some Orthodox commentators consider this to be the 9th E.C.)
- False Union Council of Florence-Ferrar attempts to impose reunion on Latin terms. Its Acts are accepted by all the bishops in attendance, except St. Mark of Ephesus, and briefly imposed by Imperial edict, but rejected by the Orthodox Faithful.
- Russian Church becomes autocephalous (independent).
- The Fall of Constantinople to the Turks, the end of the Christian Roman Empire.
- Tsar Peter ("the Great") replaces Patriarch with a "Holy Synod" constituted along Protestant lines. The ancient patriarchates protest, but remain in communion with the Russian Church.
- The first Orthodox missionaries arrive in North America, led by St. Herman. Orthodox missionaries defend native Alaskans against exploitation by Russian commercial interests throughout the Russian colonial period.
- The Priest Juvenal becomes the first Orthodox martyr in America, dying at the hands of pagan native Alaskans.
- The martyrdom of Peter the Aleut by Latin inquisitors in California.
- St. Innocent of Alaska establishes a seminary at Sitka.
- Seward Purchase. Period of persecution of Alaskan Native Orthodox Christians
by the United States government begins, including forced conversion of children to protestantism, ended only by the Supreme Court decision which outlawed state-sanctioned school prayer in 1963.
- St. Tikhon serves as Archbishop of Alaska and All North America, encourages the use of English in services.
- Restoration of the Patriarchate of Moscow, St. Tikhon elected Patriarch. The Bolshevik Revolution begins persecution of the Church in Russia.
- At the height of the Russian Civil War, St. Tikhon issues a ukase directing Russian Orthodox dioceses outside Russia to govern themselves.
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese established in North America in response to the diaspora of Faithful from the Patriarchate of Constantinople following the loss of the Second Greco-Turkish War and the Rape of Smyrna. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is organized under the terms of St. Tikhon's ukase.
- The Patriarchate of Moscow grants autocephaly to the American Metropolia, which had broken with ROCOR over the Metropolitan's right to govern the local church, and to the Church of Japan. The Metropolia becomes the Orthodox Church in America, the Church of Japan subsequently requests a return to autonomous rather than autocephalous status.
- Mass conversion to Orthodoxy by a large group of Evangelical Protestants lead by Peter Gilquist, converts come under the omophorion of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
- The collapse of the Soviet Union. Religious revival in Russia begins. Monasteries are again full with new professions. Rebuilding of churches destroyed under Stalin. Some regions of the Russian Far-East experience demands for baptisms outstripping the ability of local clergy.
- Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook lists Orthodox Christianity as the fastest growing religious grouping in North America.
- The Patriarchate of Antioch grants self-rule (autonomy) to the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.
- The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is reconciled with and rejoins the Patriarchate of Moscow.
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