Tag Archives: Zachary Ugolnik

Names Matter: An Argument for “Orthodox Christianity”

by Zachary Ugolnik

Chalcedon

People prefer to name themselves rather than to define themselves in the terms dictated by others. But this is often a complicated exchange as the history of the term the “Orthodox Church” illustrates. “Eastern Orthodox,” for example, is not an official name. It is a description. In most contexts, then, we should drop “Eastern” when describing the “Orthodox Church.”

As a scholar of religion, I find no reason to refer to my church as “Eastern” unless I also describe the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches in similar geographical terms. Names matter. This is especially true since the history of what is called “Eastern” Christianity is so often omitted. Describing these churches as “Eastern” (though unavoidable at times) often provides an invitation for these omissions by subscribing to a default understanding of “Christianity” as Western. Continue Reading…