Introduction To The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a fountain of truth which has not been diminished over the two thousand years since Jesus began this divine movement. We believe that this truth is not a mere system of ideas or philosophy. We believe that Jesus taught that the truth of the church comes from God Himself, and has never been diminished by sinful people or heretical teachings. The reason we believe this is because the church is the fount of the grace of the All-Holy Spirit. Jesus promised to guide the church into all truth. The Holy Spirit has protected that truth since Jesus revealed it two thousand years ago.
What is the Orthodox Church?
It is a place where people participate in Jesus' divine nature (2 Pet.1:4). It is a place where holiness is not just talked about, but a proven pathway is laid out for how to achieve a genuine, life changing relationship with God. The church frees us from the tyranny of the devil, destroying the power of sin in our lives. It is a place where the sick are brought to receive the loving therapy of a healing God. Jesus comes alive in the Orthodox church as a Shepherd, Physician, Lover, Redeemer, and Warrior. The key to all this is the incarnation. Jesus heals the entire humanity he assumed when he took on human flesh. This healing restored us to our original state of spiritual health. All the powers of our soul are returned to God through our Baptism into Him in the church. This healing is a work of the Holy Spirit, but it is only a potential healing. It must be assimilated into our hearts by spiritual discipline and faith. We must change our way of life, by entering into the uncreated energies (God's grace) that Jesus purchased through his incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension. This is a synergy between grace and our faith filled efforts. The church provides ascetical therapy in order to help us. Each day we take steps toward deeper repentance, and move forward into an ever deeper assimilation of this grace of the Holy Spirit which incorporates us more and more into the resurrected Christ. Things like prayer, fasting, alms giving, vigil, psalmody, Bible study, patience in suffering, etc, are not legalistic attempts to get God to act. They are the doors of grace, moving us onto the pathway of God's love and power. God is forever turned towards us in love. We are the ones who constantly need to turn toward Him. Ascetical or spiritual discipline is one way the church teaches us to receive healing therapy and turn away from the pathology of sin, the unnatural state of our dark heart. This therapy returns us to our correct orientation, and our eternal destiny, holiness, or the likeness of God. For this purpose, the church also provides sacramental therapy. It is through the sacraments that we come into a deeper relationship with Jesus through the energy of the Holy Spirit invoked in all the sacraments. In the sacraments we are purified and cleansed by the Holy Spirit's grace. This is why all the sacraments are vital to our spiritual progress. They are powerful weapons against sin and the devil. The goal of the Orthodox church since the time of Christ is simple but profound: first, we seek to return to our natural state of health, as God created us to live, in union with Him. Second, we desire to be used by God's grace to help heal others. This is the vision of Christ the Good Shepherd Orthodox Church.
In the world there are more than 200 million Orthodox Christians practicing this ancient faith. They share a common belief and participate in the mystery of the Lord's Supper together. Orthodox Christians are members of the Church founded by Christ.
The Orthodox Church is exactly what we confess in the Nicene Creed:
ONE: With the unity of God Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This unity has remained unbroken since the time of Christ. The Holy Spirit maintains this unity around the truth, not the people.
HOLY: The Church is endowed with the holiness of the Most Holy Trinity. This Church is filled with the charismatic power of the Holy Spirit.
CATHOLIC: While not meaning Roman Catholic (they broke away from the Orthodox Church in 1054 AD), this word means universal. Orthodoxy is the fullness of the faith believed everywhere, by all faithful Christians, at all times throughout history.
APOSTOLIC: We trace our doctrine, Tradition, and authority to the time of Christ and his Apostles. Orthodox Christians belong to their own churches, each headed by patriarchs, metropolitan archbishops, and bishops.