Orthodoxy (from Greek ορθοδοξία, orthodoxía – "right
opinion") is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in
religion. In the Christian sense the term means "conforming to the
Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church."
The first seven Ecumenical Councils were held between the years of 325
and 787 with the aim of formalizing accepted doctrines.
In some English speaking countries, Jews who adhere to all the
traditions and commandments as legislated in the
Talmud are often
called Orthodox Jews, although the term "orthodox" historically first
described Christian beliefs.
2 Related concepts in religion
3 Non-religious contexts
4 See also
Main article: Theravada
The historical Buddha was known to denounce mere attachment to
scriptures or dogmatic principles, as it was mentioned in the Kalama
Sutta. Moreover, the
Theravada school of
Buddhism follows strict
adherence to the
Pāli Canon (tripitaka) and the commentaries such as
the Visuddhimagga. Hence, the
Theravada school came to be considered
the most orthodox of all Buddhist schools, as it is known to be highly
conservative especially within the discipline and practice of the
The Orthodox Cross, flanked by the Greek letters "ICXC NIKA" which
means "JESUS CHRIST CONQUERS".
In classical Christian usage, the term orthodox refers to the set of
doctrines which were believed by the early Christians. A series of
ecumenical councils were held over a period of several centuries to
try to formalize these doctrines. The most significant of these early
decisions was that between the
Homoousian doctrine of Athanasius and
Eustathius (which became Trinitarianism) and the
Arius and Eusebius (called Arianism). The
which defined Jesus as both God and man with the canons of the 431
Council of Ephesus, won out in the Church and was referred to as
Orthodoxy in most Christian contexts, since this was the viewpoint of
previous Christian Church Fathers and was reaffirmed at these
councils. (The minority nontrinitarian Christians object to this
Following the 1054 Great Schism, both the Western Church and Eastern
Church continued to consider themselves uniquely orthodox and
catholic. Over time, the Western Church gradually identified with the
"Catholic" label, and people of Western Europe gradually associated
the "Orthodox" label with the Eastern Church (in some languages the
"Catholic" label is not necessarily identified with the Western
Church). This was in note of the fact that both
Catholic and Orthodox
were in use as ecclesiastical adjectives as early as the 2nd and 4th
Oriental Orthodoxy had split from Chalcedonian
Christianity after the
Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), because of
several christological differences. Since then, Oriental Orthodox
Churches are maintaining the orthodox designation as a symbol of their
Main article: Orthodox Hinduism
Orthodox Hinduism commonly refers to the religious teachings
and practices of Sanātanī, one of the traditionalist branches of
Main article: Sunni Islam
The term Orthodox Islam generally refers to the doctrinal teachings
and religious practices of traditional Sunni Islam. As of
2009[update], Sunni Muslims constituted 87–90% of the world's Muslim
population. Its adherents are referred to in Arabic as ahl
as-sunnah wa l-jamāʻah ("the people of the sunnah and the
community") or ahl as-sunnah for short. In English, its
doctrines and practices are sometimes called Sunnism, while
adherents are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis, Sunnites and Ahlus
Sunni Islam is sometimes referred to as "orthodox
Islam". However, other scholars of Islam, such as John
Burton believe that there's no such thing as "orthodox Islam".
Main article: Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism is the approach to religious
Judaism which subscribes
to a tradition of mass revelation and adheres to the interpretation
and application of the laws and ethics of the
Torah as legislated in
the Talmudic texts by the
Tannaim and Amoraim.
Orthodox Judaism is
split into various different movements and factions. They have
different ways of interpreting and following the laws and traditions
of Judaism, and include movements such as Modern Orthodox Judaism
(אורתודוקסיה מודרנית) and Ultra-Orthodox or Haredi
Judaism (יהדות חרדית).
Orthodox Judaism is distinct from
Related concepts in religion
Orthodoxy is opposed to heterodoxy ("other teaching") or heresy.
People who deviate from orthodoxy by professing a doctrine considered
to be false are called heretics, while those who, perhaps without
professing heretical beliefs, break from the perceived main body of
believers are called schismatics. The term employed sometimes depends
on the aspect most in view: if one is addressing corporate unity, the
emphasis may be on schism; if one is addressing doctrinal coherence,
the emphasis may be on heresy. A deviation lighter than heresy is
commonly called error, in the sense of not being grave enough to cause
total estrangement, while yet seriously affecting communion. Sometimes
error is also used to cover both full heresies and minor errors.
The concept of orthodoxy is prevalent in many forms of organized
monotheism. However, orthodox belief is not usually overly emphasized
in polytheistic or animist religions, in which there is often little
or no concept of dogma, and varied interpretations of doctrine and
theology are tolerated and sometimes even encouraged within certain
contexts. Syncretism, for example, plays a much wider role in
non-monotheistic (and particularly, non-scriptural) religion. The
prevailing governing norm within polytheism is often orthopraxy
("right practice") rather than the "right belief" of orthodoxy.
Outside the context of religion, the term "orthodoxy" is often used to
refer to any commonly held belief or set of beliefs in some field, in
particular when these tenets, possibly referred to as "dogmas", are
being challenged. In this sense, the term has a mildly pejorative
Among various "orthodoxies" in distinctive fields, the most commonly
used terms are:
The terms "orthodox" and "orthodoxy" are also used more broadly to
refer to things other than ideas and beliefs. A new and unusual way of
solving a problem could be referred to as "unorthodox", while a common
and 'normal' way of solving a problem would be referred to as
Four Marks of the Church
Heresy in Christianity
History of Oriental Orthodoxy
History of the Eastern Orthodox Church
Rule of Faith
^ Harper, Douglas. "orthodoxy". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved
^ orthodox. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage Dictionary of the
English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.
Dictionary definition (accessed: March 03, 2008).
^ Robert M. Wills (2013). Taking Caesar Out of Jesus: Uncovering the
Lost Relevance of Jesus. Xlibris Corporation. p. 246.
ISBN 1-4931-0810-7. [self-published source]
^ "Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas". www.accesstoinsight.org. Retrieved
^ Meyendorff 1989.
^ Krikorian 2010.
^ "Mapping the Global Muslim Population". Retrieved 10 December
^ Michael E. Marmura (2009). "Sunnī Islam. Historical Overview". In
John L. Esposito. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
(inactive 2018-03-23). (Subscription required (help)). Sunnī Muslims
have thus referred to themselves as ahl al-sunnah wa al-jamāʿah
(people of the sunnah and the community).
^ Lucas, Scott C. (2011). "Sunnism, Sunni". Encyclopedia of
Christianity Online. Brill. doi:10.1163/2211-2685_eco_SI.100.
(Subscription required (help)). The terms “Sunnism” and
“Sunni” are anglicizations of Arab. ahl al-sunnah (the people of
the Sunna [lit. “custom, way”]) or ahl al-sunnah wa-l-jamāʿa
(the people of the Sunna and community).
^ "Sunnism". -Ologies & -Isms. The Gale Group. Retrieved Oct 5,
^ John Richard Thackrah (5 Sep 2013). Dictionary of Terrorism (2,
revised ed.). Routledge. p. 252.
^ Nasir, Jamal J., ed. (2009). The Status of Women Under Islamic Law
and Modern Islamic Legislation (revised ed.). BRILL. p. 11.
^ George W. Braswell (2000). What You Need to Know about Islam &
Muslims (illustrated ed.). B&H Publishing Group. p. 62.
^ An Introduction to the Hadith. John Burton. Published by Edinburgh
University Press. 1996. p. 201. Cite: "Sunni: Of or pertaining sunna,
especially the Sunna of the Prophet. Used in conscious opposition to
Shi'a, Shi'í. There being no ecclesia or centralized magisterium, the
translation 'orthodox' is inappropriate. To the Muslim 'unorthodox'
implies heretical, mubtadi, from bid'a, the contrary of sunna, and so
Henderson, John B. (1998). The Construction of
Orthodoxy and Heresy:
Neo-Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, and Early Christian Patterns. Albany,
NY: State University of New York Press.
Krikorian, Mesrob K. (2010). Christology of the Oriental Orthodox
Churches: Christology in the Tradition of the Armenian Apostolic
Church. Peter Lang.
Meyendorff, John (1989). Imperial unity and Christian divisions: The
Church 450-680 A.D. The Church in history. 2. Crestwood, NY: St.