How to Become an Orthodox Christian?

Sometimes people baptized in a particular faith decide to switch to another confession or even a different religion. Is it a sin to convert? Can a Catholic convert to Orthodoxy?

How to convert to Orthodox Christianity? 

Becoming Orthodox is easy for those who desire it in their hearts. The most important condition for this is professing the faith of the Orthodox Church. Other conditions depend on how far your Christian denomination has departed from the Orthodox faith and tradition. In some cases, it is sufficient to participate in the sacrament of Repentance, while in others it is necessary to be catechised (undergo preparatory instruction in the truths of the Orthodox faith), as well as to be baptized and anointed. Technically, it takes from one day to a much longer period of time to convert to Orthodoxy. Now let us discuss this in more detail.

Conversion to Orthodoxy from Catholicism and non-Chalcedonian churches

Catholics and non-Chalcedonians can convert to Orthodoxy quicker than representatives of other Christian denominations. All it takes is speaking with a priest (to determine the conformity of your faith to Orthodoxy) and participating in the sacrament of Confession where you must renounce your past beliefs. 

After Confession, unconfirmed Catholics must undergo the sacrament of Chrismation.

The convert’s unity with the Orthodox Church is ultimately manifested and affirmed in his participation in the Eucharist.

Old Catholics join the Orthodox Church in the same way.

Catholicism, like most Christian denominations and other religions, views conversion to Orthodoxy as a sin and betrayal of faith. You may therefore face misunderstanding and condemnation on the part of your former community.

Patriarch Kirill with the Pope

Conversion to Orthodoxy from Protestantism

Due to the diversity of teachings within Protestantism, the requirements for its converts to Orthodoxy may vary. 

If your denomination holds faith in the God-manhood of Christ and the Holy Trinity, baptising in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with threefold immersion, pouring, or sprinkling of the water, then Repentance and Chrismation will be sufficient for your conversion.

However, baptisms performed in certain denominations will not be recognised. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. At the same time, they neither recognize Jesus as God and the Son of God, nor perceive the Holy Spirit as a separate Divine Person. Such baptism, although outwardly correct, is false in its essential nature and cannot be recognized. 

For this reason, Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of similar communities, where the doctrine of the Trinity and the Divine Humanity is distorted, convert to Orthodoxy by receiving the holy Baptism.

Conversion to Orthodoxy from non-Christian Religions

The requirements in this case are the same as for the pagans of antiquity. Non-Christians join the Holy Church through Baptism and become confirmed through subsequent participation in the sacraments. As a rule, in such cases, a catechization is necessary before Baptism.

Universal Chart

If you are still not sure what to do, refer to the following diagram:

Christian denominations that have preserved the apostolic succession, correct Baptism and Chrismation: Roman Catholicism, Old Catholicism, ancient Eastern non-Chalcedonian Orthodox churches (the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and others). 

Christian denominations that have preserved the correct Baptism: Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran and Anglican churches. 

Why Convert to Orthodox Christianity?

In Matthew 16:18, Christ speaks about building His church that “the gates of Hades will not prevail against”. He mentions one Church, not many. The Orthodox Church is the only Church, originally founded by Christ and still retaining the apostolic succession and the undistorted teaching of the Lord and the apostles. Only in it, the truth is preserved in fullness.

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About the author

John Malov,
Reader, theologian, member of The Catalog of Good Deeds team.

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