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Christianity /
Orthodox


Term denoting a true opinion; it comes from Greek "orthodoxos" which may be translated with "of the right opinion".
Orthodox is often paired with "heretical" and "heterodox", where the orthodox are the carriers of the truth, while the heretics or heterodox are the carriers of the untruth. The other term often used, "Catholic", but with its meaning being "universal", it denotes something that neither is similar nor in oppostition to what is "orthodox".
Orthodox is a commonly misused term, and except for indicating churches which are commonly named "orthodox", it should be avoided. In general, orthodox is used politically, as indicating that one orientation is true in comparison with the non-orthodox orientation(s). But the fact is that, for the outsider, truth is seldom a matter, and by avoiding the use of the term "orthodox", one also avoids taking side with one of the orientations.
Orthodox is sometimes attempted used as a neutral indication of the mainstream orientation within a religion. It may then attempt to indicate the orientation with the longest continuous history, the one closest to the original concepts, and often also the largest number of adherents. This is a difficult application of the term, involving discrimination of the other groups.
The term "orthodox" may, however, be allowed to indicate the original Coptic orientation of the Egyptian church, in order to distinguish it from the Roman Catholic branch. The most common name is still only Coptic Church.
Orthodox is part of the commonly used name of a few churches in the Middle East (and some churches in other parts the world too). These include the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church
Orthodox is is commonly used for a branch of Judaism, this time in a sense not seen as discriminately, Orthodox Judaism. This application is similar to the term "fundamentalist".
The term is rarely used in Islam, although it sometimes is erroneously applied to Sunni Islam. A more common, but little known application is when relating to the theological battle in the 8th and 9th centuries. Orthodox is here used for the Ash'ari theology of Sunni Islam in comparison with the losing Mu'tazili theology. This is also an example of "orthodox" not being a good term.




By Tore Kjeilen