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Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian: Converting To Orthodox Christianity

Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian: Converting To Orthodox Christianity

What would you like to know about the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith? Submit your question.

By Nicholas Damascus

How do I convert to Orthodox Christianity?

Before converting to the Eastern Orthodox Church, one should understand the following:  

The Orthodox faith is not a religion; it is “a way of life” with guideposts to aid in each person’s journey in life. Becoming Orthodox is not a conversion but more so a work in progress of a transformation of self. It is not so much a destination but a journey where one, through their behavior and attitude, strives to live a holy life in the likeness of Christ. This transfiguration is known to Orthodox as theosis, where one strives to acquire a repentant mind, an open and clean heart, and a humble attitude, opening the door to receive the fullness of all that our Father in Heaven wants to give us.  

There is no formal catechism for inquirers/seekers that desire to become members of the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, becoming a member 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 pursue this endeavor, your journey involves self-examination, some counseling, and some education of the faith, determining what is best for you and those in your life. 

 A catechumen (one who plans to become a member of the Church) is received into the Church by the Holy Sacraments of Baptism or Chrismation or both. 

Baptism

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. It is opening the gateway to enter the Kingdom of God. 

Chrismation

Chrismation is receiving the Seal of the Holy Spirit immediately following baptism by anointing 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. 

 The purpose and intent of becoming an Orthodox Christian is NOT to think that one could score enough points to slide into heaven but rather to allow the manifestation of the existence of Christ within us. God became man so that man could become “god-like” (John 10:34 & Psalm 82:6). We are “children of God” (John 1:12), “sons and daughters of God” (2 Cor 6:18), and “partakers of the divine nature of God” (2 Peter 1:4).  

 We approach our relationship with Christ from a transition of worldly thinking of “being right” to “right being,” the reality of the eternal. Making an effort to understand and learn Christ’s real intention and purpose is a major step in our journey.   

As Orthodox Christians, we believe in the profession of faith known as the Nicene Creed, established in the early ancient church when the church was one. 

List of books for inquirers:

  • “Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives” by Elder Thaddeus 
  • “The Orthodox Way by Metropolitan” Kallistos Ware 
  • “The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church” by Vladimir Lossky 
  • “Courage To Pray” by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom 
  • “Knowledge of God” by Harry Boosalis

About Nicholas Damascus

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.

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