The doctrine which divides Protestantism also unites Protestants is the same ancient heresy. This heresy was held by the Acephalites and was called the Severian heresy. This heresy is exactly what Protestant sects practice to this day. Instead of returning to the one, true Church, they follow the Severians who were condemned as heretics in the 4th century.
This false teaching held:
1. The Church does not need bishops, priests, or deacons.
"The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly,[a] not for dishonest gain but eagerly;3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." 1Peter 5
1Tim 3, Philippians 1:1, John 20:23, Matthew 23:1-3
2. Each man is his own bishop and priest.
"Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." 1Tim5:17
1Cor 12:28-29, 1Tim1:6-7, Eph 4:11, James 3:1, 2 Peter 2
3. Each man has the right to interpret the Holy Scripture in his own way.
"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:19-21
"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." Acts 20:28-30
We are to depend on the shepherds, teachers, elders and bishops of the Church to teach us, guide, watch over us and protect us from false teachers and wolves that will draw us away from Christ and the true Church.
4. Each can teach others as he himself understands and believes.
"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness." Romans 12:3-8
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9
Thus we need the accountability that comes from being within the Orthodox Church which is the true Church that embodies the fullness of God's riches and gifts for His people.
Protestants also ally themselves with the arch-enemies of Christ and the Church being iconoclasts, that is, against honoring sacred images and the Cross. Iconoclasts throughout the periods of history when they had influence within the Orthodox Church, imprisoned and martyred Christians who honored sacred images, whereas, when the Iconoclasts were not in positions of influence within the Orthodox Church, they were condemned as heretics but never did the Orthodox Church imprison or execute heretics or Iconoclasts.
Protestants do not show honor to those to whom honor is due. Protestants do not honor what Christ honors; the Saints, the Apostles, the Church Fathers, the Martyrs, the Theotokos and Virgin Mary.
If a teacher who teaches well is worthy of double honor, (1Tim 5:17), how much more so those followers of Christ, the Saints, the Apostles, the Church Fathers, the Martyrs, the Theotokos and Virgin Mary, who far exceeded the requirements for double honor among elders?
There is nothing new under the Sun and every heretical doctrine that has arisen through the Church ages was dealt with by the first Seven Ecumenical Synods of the Church as they were guided by the Holy Spirit of God.
"Even if God determines the chief lines of our life, He, according to our prayers and merits, can change them. Thus, He prolonged King Hezekiah's life for fifteen years: "Go and say to Hezekiah, thus said the Lord, the God of David Your father, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold I will add unto your days fifteen years" (Isaiah 38:5), and to the Venerable Dius (July 19) he likewise prolonged his life for fifteen years. God extended the life of St. Basil the Great, according to the prayer of the saint for one day until he baptized the Jew, Joseph, his physician. But, as God can, by prayer, prolong life, so He can shorten it because of sin. Emperor Anastasius adhered to the Severian heresy, so called the Acephalites (the headless ones), who spread the foolishness that the Church does not need bishops and priests but rather that everyone unto himself is a bishop and a priest and that everyone has the right, in his own way, to interpret Holy Scripture and to teach others as he understands and believes. In vain did St. John the Patriarch counsel the emperor to return to the truth of Orthodoxy, and not only did the emperor not accept the counsel but rather ill-treated the patriarch in various ways and contemplated to have him banished. One night, the emperor saw in a dream an awesome man on an exalted throne, who held a book in his hand. This man opened the book, found the name of Emperor Anastasius and said: "I have wanted to permit you to live for a while longer but, because of your heresy, behold, I am erasing fourteen years from your life." And he erased something from the book. Terrified, the emperor jumped up from his dream and related his dream to his followers. After a few days, thunder struck the emperor's palace and killed Emperor Anastasius.
From the Prologue from Ohrid, compiled by Nikolai Velimirovic.
A Call To Repentance
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
These are the words of St John the Baptist and of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Matthew 3:2 & 4:17.
The Orthodox Church is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The true Christ can only be known by entering into the Kingdom of Heaven and the gates that open up to the Kingdom of Heaven are one and the same as the gates that lead into the Orthodox Church.
The Ancient Orthodox Church holds the keys to heaven and the shepherds appointed by God through the workings of the Holy Spirit have been appointed as gatekeepers to protect the church from wolves and thieves.
"If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:23
Unless You Eat My Body And Drink My Blood, You Can Have No Part Of Me
53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed,[h] and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
Many Disciples Turn Away
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
The sacramental mysteries can only be known within the Orthodox Church. Modern day Romans and Protestants are descendants of those believers that fell away from the Church so long ago having rejected the true Christ, embracing a Christ of their own making.
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Final Closing Comment
20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. Ezekial 18:20
We have many friends and family members who have never heard of the Orthodox faith or have not given an accurate explanation of what it is. Each of us will only be accountable for what we know and not what we don't know. God is just and merciful and will show mercy and judge accordingly.
"For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." 1 Cor 3:9-15