Isn’t it amazing how something a fraction of the size of a pea can have a huge impact? In the practical sense, I’m speaking about kidney stones – so tiny but capable of causing as much pain as childbirth (so I am told at least). In a different sense, the same thing is true about doctrine. The smallest variations in what you hold as doctrines (which everyone has by the way, not just Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc.) make an enormous difference in the direction you end up.
In the Christian world, the landscape of American Christianity is increasingly fractured, revealing seemingly infinite possibilities for schisms. The interesting part about the many heresies that are purporting to be “true” Christianity is: 1 – They usually base their ideas on the Bible and a “new” interpretation, 2 – The “new” interpretation isn’t new at all, I promise, & 3 – The heresy involves elevating one side of an issue that Orthodox Christianity holds in tension. The later refers to doctrines like Jesus Christ being fully God and fully man or the doctrine that we are all made in the image of God and therefore have some godliness within us all, but we are still sinfully human. Christianity is a belief system wrought with tension and Orthodox Christianity, I believe more than any other branch (Roman Catholic or Protestant), strives to hold all apparent contradictions in place together.
Yes, we believe Jesus was fully God and fully man. Yes, we believe the Eucharist becomes the actual body and blood of Christ though it still looks and tastes like bread and wine. Yes, we believe that God became like man so that man could become like God but we never cease to be human and created (2 Peter 1 – we participate in the divine nature). And yes, we believe that you need tradition (which includes everything passed down to us from the Church, including the Scripture) in order to have a relationship with God.
Rather than running from apparent contradiction, we believe that things are more complicated than our human minds can understand, that God is bigger and the only way to truly describe Him is from the point of view of negation (negation = the things we don’t know about Him, not negative = bad). As Pseudo-Dionysius, a sixth-century figure says:
“the inscrutable One out of reach of every rational process. Nor can any words come up to the inexpressible Good, this One, this Source of all unity, this supra-existent Being. Mind beyond mind, word beyond speech, it is gathered up by no discourse, by no intuition, by no name.”
Any other view of God reveals our hubris and puts us on some level with Him. And that is heresy.