SCHISM HERESY APOSTASY vs ORTHODOXY
Jesus Christ spoke of the sower of seeds, and seeds that fell in various places. He defined the seeds as the word of God, and the different areas of reception was the hearts of men. Schismatics, heretics, and apostates, may have received good seed, but they corrupted his words.
With the advent of the Great Fast, which all Orthodox Christians ought to keep, so as to celebrate with great joy the glorious Resurrection of Christ, the most important thing is to be certain we avoid the above pitfalls mentioned in the title, and herein is some clarification.
A schism is the departure of a person or group from legitimate and canonical authority. Any layman, deacon, priest, bishop, in fact, any member of any rank in the Church who rejects such authority places himself in schism. Schism is so serious an offense, that a saint said: “Even the blood of martyrdom does not wash away the stain of schism.”
A deacon can create a schism with his priest; a priest with his bishop, and a bishop with a synod of bishops; and a synod of bishops by a higher synod, such as a regional over a local synod. The highest authority in the Church is the decisions and Canons of the Seven Ecumenical Synods, which are binding and accepted by all Orthodox Christians. No one, with impunity, can separate himself from the authority over him, the only exception is if heresy is being preached without shame in the Church or Churches.
Heresy is the holding of one’s own opinion regarding dogmatic truths of the Church, established by the Holy Scripture or the Church through its dogmas and declarations of the truths we hold as the Church of Christ. The word “heresy” is from the Greek and means, an opinion. We cannot remain in the Church and have our own opinion regarding its dogmatic and canonical truths. There is a canonical method to deal with these matters. The grace of God does not sanctify the actions of those in heresy or schism.
Apostasy is not schism or heresy, although it can be derived from either of these. Apostasy means standing apart and away from, in this case, the Church. It means that there is a complete break and severance of ties all to the true Church, nor are any mysteries or sacraments of apostates of any credence. In the history of the Church, Apostasy sees itself as the true church and denies the the true Church which she abandoned. The Papacy is the largest apostasy in history.
ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH
ONE: Our Lord Jesus Christ founded on earth but one church; the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is today known as Orthodoxy or the Orthodoxy Church.
ONE: Comprised of all Christian churches that retain the pure and unadulterated doctrine of the Apostles, which they received from Christ, and adhere to the apostolic traditions; for the saints of whom it is composed and consists are one.
ONE: Because it has one head, Jesus Christ and one Guide, the Holy Spirit. One because it is of one mind in all dogmas and doctrine, accepts one Head and one Guide.
HOLY: Because the Holy Spirit dwells therein being the Guide and Assigner of tasks, promised by Christ, who reminds the Church of everything he said and did. Holy because she sanctifies the faithful. Christ promised the Comforter and Spirit of truth, saying that He would not leave us orphans.
HOLY: Because her faithful members become holy and struggle for sanctification and perfection.
CATHOLIC: Because each local Church is Catholic, having everything needed for salvation and eternal life, and each local Church is part of every other Church worldwide, for although Catholic in itself, it is also Catholic in its entirety, with the same unadulterated teaching and dogmas
CATHOLIC: Because its laws and canons apply to everyone equally without distinction of race, sex, wealth, power, title, or anything of a similar nature, for there is no respect of persons with God.
CATHOLIC: Because unlike the OLD Testament which was for one people, the Hebrews, the New Testament is for everyone, seeking to bring all men into her arms.
APOSTOLIC: Because the Church was established and spread through the oral preaching of the Holy Apostles, and adheres to the Apostolic Traditions. The purity of the Apostolic doctrine and the observance of the Apostolic traditions is a characteristic feature and a sure token of the true Church of Christ, as the Lord said to His disciples and apostles: “Therefore, go and preach to all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you” (Mat. 28:19).
Orthodox Christians worldwide, repeatedly express their beliefs about the Church with these words: “I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Nothing can ever destroy the Church that Jesus Christ founded with His firm promise that it would prevail. Despite the Hagarenes and Crusaders, Holy Orthodoxy confirms Christ's promise.