What do we believe?
What is Orthodoxy?
Ortho-doxy is a two-part word that literally translates to right worship. The term Eastern Orthodox is a term relative to other Christian denominations and is mostly used to differentiate Orthodox Christians from the Roman Catholic church. Many people think of a particular jurisdiction when they think about the Orthodox Church. "Oh yeah, Greek Orthodox!", is a common response. However, it is very important to understand that The Orthodox Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic despite various national jurisdictions. Russian, Greek, Antiochian, OCA, Bulgarian, Romanian, etc. all hold to the same faith and creed. Theologically, there is no difference between these jurisdictions.
The Orthodox Church is also referred to as the "Ancient Church" in that Orthodox Christians hold to the Tradition of the Faith as handed down by the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ.
The Biblical text used by Orthodox Christians includes the Greek Septuagint and the New Testament. Orthodox Christians believe scripture was revealed by the Holy Spirit to its inspired authors. The scriptures are not, however, the source of tradition associated with the Church but rather the opposite. The biblical text came out of that tradition. Therefore, we believe that the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth and that a correct interpretation of the scriptures is gained only through the context of the Church.
GOD & The Trinity
Our belief on God and the Trinity is best summed through the Nicene Creed:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten,
begotten of the Father before all ages.
Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one
essence with the Father, by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven,
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man.
And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried.
And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended
into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall
come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom
shall have no end.
And [I believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who
proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is
worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the
remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the
life of the world to come. Amen.
We believe that human beings were created in the image and likeness of God, perfect and without sin. Through Adam, sin entered the world as a sickness, not as a sentence. Adam and Eve are guilty of the original sin which brought about the consequence of death in the world. While we are not held guilty by that original sin, our existence is drastically affected by it's consequence - death. Therefore, all human beings are in need of a Savior to attain eternal life.
Orthodox Christians believe that salvation is a process, typically referred to as "theosis", rather than a point in time. At the root of salvation, we have the word safe or healed. This is the analogy that best fits the Orthodox understanding of salvation. Sin is a sickness that has entered the world through Adam and now has infected the entire human race. We believe that Christ is the physician of souls and through him we have victory over death, the ultimate consequence of sin.
Salvation is a gift of God whereby we are delivered from sin and death, made One with Christ, and made a member of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is a lifelong process and demands faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot save ourselves through anything that we do. Our salvation is only because of Jesus incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection. We must remember that faith without works is dead, but still realize the importance of things like attending church, confession, daily prayers, as an important part, not means, of our process of Salvation.
We believe that the Orthodox Church is the One, True, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and that we hold to the theology and practice of the Christian Church as established by Jesus Christ and handed down by his apostles. This means that to be an Orthodox Christian is to attain the fullness of the faith. It does not mean that non-Orthodox are not "saved" and it certainly does not mean that all Orthodox are "saved".
We believe in the Apostolic Succession of the Bishops of the Church by the laying on of hands through the twelve apostles.
While it is understood that God theoretically can do anything instantly and invisibly, it is also understood that he generally chooses to use material substance as a medium in order to reach people. The limitations are those of mankind, not God. Matter is not considered to be evil by the Orthodox. Water, oil, bread, wine, etc., all are means by which God reaches out to allow people to draw closer to him. How this process works is a “Mystery”, and cannot be defined in human terms. These Mysteries are surrounded by prayer and symbolism so that their true meaning will not be forgotten.
Those things which in the West are often termed Sacraments are known among the Orthodox as the Sacred Mysteries. While the Roman Catholic Church numbers seven Sacraments, and many Protestant groups list two (Baptism and the Eucharist), the Orthodox do not limit the number. However, for the sake of convenience, catechisms will often speak of the seven Great Mysteries. Among these are Holy Communion (the most direct connection), Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Unction, Matrimony, and Ordination. But the term also properly applies to other sacred actions such as monastic Tonsure or the blessing of holy water, and involves fasting, almsgiving, or an act as simple as lighting a candle, burning incense, praying or asking God's blessing on food.