Assumption Greek Orthodox Church
East Moline, Illinois
Teachings of the Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church throughout the ages has maintained a continuity of faith and love with the apostolic community which was founded by Christ and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Orthodoxy believes that she has preserved and taught the historic Christian Faith free from error and distortion, from the time of the Apostles. She also believes that there is nothing in the body of her teachings which is contrary to truth or which inhibits real union with God. The air of antiquity and timelessness which often characterizes Eastern Christianity is an expression of her desire to remain loyal to the authentic Christian Faith.
Orthodoxy believes that the Christian Faith and the Church are inseparable. It is impossible to know Christ, to share in the life of the Holy Trinity, or to be considered a Christian apart from the Church. It is in the Church that the Christian Faith is proclaimed and maintained. It is through the Church that an individual is nurtured in the Faith.
The Orthodox Faith does not begin with mankind's religious speculations, nor with the so-called "proofs" for the existence of God, nor with a human quest for the Divine. The origin of the Orthodox Christian Faith is the Self-disclosure of God. Each day the Church's
Morning Prayer affirms and reminds us of this by declaring: "God is the Lord and He has revealed Himself to us. " While the inner Being of God always remains unknown and unapproachable, God has manifested Himself to us; and the Church has experienced Him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which is central to the Orthodox Faith, is not a result of pious speculation, but the over whelming experience of God. The doctrine affirms that there is only One God in whom there are three distinct Persons. In other words, when we encounter either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, we are truly experiencing contact with God. While the Holy Trinity is a mystery which can never be fully comprehended, Orthodoxy believes that we can truly participate in the Trinity through the life of the Church, especially through our celebration of the Eucharist and the Sacraments, as well as the non-sacramental services.
INCARNATION OF JESUS CHRIST
By manifesting the Holy Trinity, by teaching the meaning of authentic human life, and by conquering the powers of sin and death through His Resurrection. Christ is the supreme expression of the love of God the Father, for His people, made present in every age and in every place by the Holy Spirit through the life of the Church. The great Fathers of the Church summarized the ministry of Christ in the bold affirmation: "God became what we are so that we may become what he is.
The New Testament is centered upon the person and work of Jesus Christ and the out pouring of the Holy Spirit in the early Church. The four Gospels are an account of Christ's life and teaching centering upon His Death and Resurrection. the twenty-one epistles and the Acts of the Apostles are devoted to the Christian life and the development of the early Church. The Book of Revelation is a very symbolic text which looks to the return of Christ. The New Testament, especially the Gospels, is very important to Orthodoxy because here is found a written witness to the perfect revelation of God in the Incarnation of the Son of God, in the person of Jesus Christ.
COUNCILS AND CREED
Only when the fundamental truths of the Faith are seriously threatened by false teachings, does the Church act to define dogmatically an article of faith. For this reason, the decisions of the seven Ecumenical Councils of the ancient undivided Church are highly respected. The Councils were synods to which bishops from throughout the Christian world gathered to determine the true faith. The Ecumenical Councils did not create new doctrines but proclaimed, in a particular place and a particular time, what the Church has always believed and taught.
The Nicene Creed, which was formulated at the Councils of Nicaea in 325 and of Constantinople in 381, has been recognized since then as the authoritative expression of the fundamental beliefs of the Orthodox Church. The Creed is often referred to as the "Symbol of Faith." This description indicates that the Creed is not an analytical statement, but that it points to a reality greater than itself and to which it bears witness. For generations the Creed has been the criterion of authentic Faith and the basis of Christian education. The Creed is recited at the time of Baptism and during every Divine Liturgy.
TREASURES OF ORTHODOXY
Copyright: © 1983-1996 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Department of Religious Education