Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian: Conversion Process
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What is the conversion process to become an Orthodox Christian?
There is no formal catechism for inquirers or seekers that desire to become members of the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, the process to become a member of the EOC begins by contacting the priest of any Orthodox parish who will assist you in your desire to become an Orthodox Christian. Should you decide to commit as a catechumen (one who plans to become a member of the Church), your journey involves self-examination, counseling, and education of the faith, determining what is best for you and those in your life.
The Orthodox faith is not a religion; it is “a way of life” with guideposts to aid in each person’s life experiences. This journey that one has chosen is not so much a conversion process by the adoption of a different set of religious norms and beliefs, but rather a willing process of personal transformation known to Orthodox Christians as theosis. This synergistic cooperative experience of becoming more like Christ, by His grace and mercy, is not easily understood by most non-Orthodox, yet it is so plainly evident.
Our journey in life is not so much a destination, but more importantly, becoming like Christ as we are “partakers of the divine nature of God” (2 Peter 1:4). We become, by His divine energies, what God is by nature, “children of God” (John 1:12), and we “…are being transformed into that same image” of God (2 Cor 3:18) for God is Love.
Catechumens are received into the Church by the Holy Sacraments of Baptism or Chrismation or both. Membership in the Orthodox Church is open to all persons.
Baptism is an outward sign of an inner belief, a profession of faith, the rite of passage, the dying of the worldly person and the resurrection of a new person in union with Christ, opening the gateway to enter the Kingdom of God.
Christmation is receiving the Seal of the Holy Spirit immediately following baptism, by the anointing of the newly illumined catechumen with this blessed oil. Any catechumen having been baptized in another recognized Christian faith does not have to be re-baptized and may enter the Church through the anointing of the Holy Sacrament of Chrismation.
In addition, one needs to confess and believe in the profession of faith of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church known as the Nicene Creed.
The Nicene Creed of the Eastern Orthodox Church
I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made.
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; And He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead. His kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets.
In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come.
Nick Damascus is one who seeks to discover and apply the proverbial question of what is truth and wisdom, to fill that gaping hole, to become complete and to become realistically and synergistically functional. In an attempt to live the Christian life, which he says is a definite work in progress, he has discovered that he’s created the Christ that fits his lifestyle and agrees with his ego (and boy what an ego, he says), often finding himself avoiding what God intended him to be.