Fascination with wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
Wisdom of Solomon 4:12

Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Overview of the Orthodox Faith


By Carlos Miranda

The views presented here are my own observations, which I admit may unintentionally fail to hold to the fullness of the Orthodox faith.  If so, please forgive me and feel free to correct me; please use legitimate Orthodox sources & not personal opinion, or scriptural quotes interpreted outside the Orthodox faith.

Orthodox Christianity is the author of the original Nicene-Constinopalitan Creed wherein the ultimate statement of its faith is contained.  A particularly exquisite statement of the orthodox faith can also be found in the anaphora to St. Basils Divine Liturgy. Below is my attempt to capture that faith in a concise but clear way.


Orthodox Christians believe in:

·          A God in Trinity, the uncreated Father, the eternally begotten Son, & the life creating Holy Spirit, who is totally united in mind, and will.

·          A God who is righteous: perfect, passionless, love, mercy, kind, patient, just, and unchanging.

·          A God who creates from nothing, not even from archetypes.

·          A God who did not create evil or death.

(Evil and death were created by the devil, a devil who was created by God with the freedom to do so.)

·          A God who willfully created mankind with the freedom to choose, & to do or not to do.

(Hence, every act is always a free choice. To love God and each other is never pre-chosen and imposed by God upon mankind.)
·          A God who desires to be united in communion with his creation and particularly with mankind.

·          A mankind who was made for the wholeness that comes from being filled with the energies (grace) of God, and thus to have unceasing communion With God.

·          A mankind who was deceived by the devil and freely choose to walk apart from God, and thus to experience evil, corruption, and death.

·          A mankind who by choosing to depart from life in God was darkened in the eye of the soul (the nous often, but improperly translated mind), and lost their proper order of heart over all mind and body.

(Fallen man now has a darkened heart; consequently, the intellectual mind and the body rule over the heart resulting in sin, corruption, and death- this is the primary consequence of the fall.)
·          A God of suffering who was slain from the foundation of the world, and who suffered united to mankind before the incarnation, during the incarnation, and even now after the incarnation.

·          A salvation/healing that results in the total satisfaction of Gods righteousness.

(Gods righteousness is all that God is: he is love, mercy, kind, long-suffering, just, etc)

·          A God who in Christ assumed flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit and the willful participation of Virgin Mary (Theotokos) so that men might become like God.

·          A God who desires to save/heal mankind (soter) by way of the Lord Jesus Christ; namely, to heal the darkened heart so that we may have life which is a proper ordering of the image of God, and to do so by His presence within mankind.

·          A salvation/healing that unites man to God by way of atonement (the making of one: at-one-ment) through Christs prophetic, priestly, and kingly work.

·          A Prophetic work of Christ that brings the light and truth of God to the world.

·          A priestly work of Christ (life, passion, crucifixion, and death) that recapitulates mankind in himself as the new Adam (man) and by his perfect self offering in life & death has formed a new race of humans in himself satisfying all righteousness.

·          A kingly work of Christ that is victorious over sin, corruption, and death.

·          A salvation/healing that heals the 1st the heart, 2nd the mind, & 3rd body; once the healing is completed renders man whole and completely perfect, united to God.

·          A salvation/healing that delivers us from personal delusion, and from the tyranny of having to determine truth on our own in the midst of our own brokenness.

·          A salvation/healing that is by pistis (faith/faithfulness) in and to Christ.  

(This faithfulness results in Christ-likeness, and is brought about by believing and acting on those beliefs.  No believing = no healing, & no acting = no healing. Pistis is faithfulness of the heart over both the mind and in the body.)

·          The Holy Spirit who now dwells in every baptized and believing person in Christ, purifying and guiding that person to Christ-likeness.

·          A God who by His Holy Spirit gives His revelation (THE TRUTH) to His One, undivided, and right believing  (Orthodox) church & not to any one individual over or apart from His church.

·          In a God who by His Holy Spirit makes His one church the ground and pillar of the truth, & from her flow:

-The scriptures.

-The apostles, evangelist, teachers, prophets, and their heirs: Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, and spiritual

-fathers and mothers.

-The Saints, both with a big S, and a small s.

-The writings of the church fathers.

-The ecumenical councils, creeds, encyclicals, and canons.

-The liturgies of the one church.

-The hymnody of the one church.

-The icons.

-The local and global pieties that are practiced.

All of these are the TRUTH that flow from the Orthodox Church!

·          A world wherein those who believe and dwell in the life and faith of the one church can presently live united to the heavens (in small or great degree).

·          A God of love who allows each person to choose to live in Him or apart from him.

·          A God whose wrath has no similitude to human wrath.

(God is unchanging and without passions. His wrath is merely his whole being or righteousness- love, mercy, just etc. experienced by someone who chooses to experience God without salvation/healing. In short, the light of God is for these persons a consuming fire.)

·          A final judgment by God, granting to all person that which they desire and deserve

(For those united to God in Christ, total healing and union, light, & life.  For those not united to God in Christ, & a self-chosen isolation and darkness in the midst of Gods love that causes them to experience the light & love of God as A consuming fire.)

The above list is by no means complete. There are many critical areas of Orthodox doctrine that are not even touched in the list above.  Topics such as Gods essence & energies, hesychasm, the Theotokos, mysteries/sacraments, apostolic succession, monasticism, concilliarity, prayer of the heart, nepsis, and scores upon scores of others topics. Nevertheless, the above does present a very basic portrait of Eastern Orthodoxy for those exploring it.

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