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Orthodox Doctrine

MEANING OF "ORTHODOX"
Orthodoxy literally means "right worship". For us, the term means much more. “Orthodox” means “Conforming to the Christain faith, as formulated in the early ecumenical creeds and confessions" (Ref: Webster's New World Dictionary).  Orthodox Christians have preserved the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, without change over the centuries.  Our Liturgies, Order of prayers and rites are developed in accordance with the practices set by the Apostles and early Church fathers.
FUNDAMENTALS
After Christ’s ascension into Heaven, the Apostles received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  They set out to build the Church by spreading His word and extending the authority from Jesus to others who devoted themselves to teaching and worship.  As a result, Christianity came to be based on:

  • New Testament
  • Apostolic ministry
  • Celebration of Eucharist, and
  • Seven Sacraments that strengthened the bond of believers with God.

The focus in Orthodox worship is on God.  The objective of worship is not personal fulfillment or fellowship.  We approach God with awe and reverence.  Being aware of our own faults and God’s endless mercy, we ask for His forgiveness and express our gratitude for His gift of salvation. 
At the first Synod at Nicaea in AD 325, the Church Fathers codified the “True Christian Doctrine” as “The Nicene Creed”.   We recite the Nicene Creed at the Liturgy during our worship. Two more Ecumenical Synods were held subsequently one in Constantinople and the other in Ephesus to reinforce the Church doctrines.  Oriental Orthodox Churches (including us) recognize only three Ecumenical Synods, while Eastern Orthodox Churches were part of four more subsequent  Synods.
NATURE OF GOD
"Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh. " (I Tim. 3:16).
The Lord Jesus Christ is God Himself.  Words are inadequate to describe the union of the Divine and human natures of Christ.  The Divine nature (God the Word) was united with the human nature which He took of the Virgin Mary by the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit purified and sanctified the Virgin’s womb so that the Child to whom she gave birth would inherit nothing of the original sin; the flesh formed of her blood was united with the Only-Begotten Son. As a result of the unity of both natures-the Divine and the human-inside the Virgin’s womb, one nature was formed out of both: "The One Nature of God the Incarnate Logos" as St. Cyril described it.
NATURE OF CHURCH
Church is a permanent, divine body.  There is only One Church. Our beliefs are passed on to us by Jesus and the Apostles.  The Church is Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.  The Church is Holy because Christ, the Head of the Church is Holy.  All members of the Church have the opportunity to become Holy, by practicing the faith truly and faithfully.  The Church is Catholic which means “universal”.  The Church is the same wherever you are in this world.  The Church is Apostolic because it follows the teachings of the Apostles and worships God accordingly.
In today’s world, with many different denominations and practices of Christianity, the pronouncement of Church as being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic may not sound realistic. However, many of the Churches have the same core beliefs.  Most Orthodox Churches have very similar beliefs and doctrines, even though they are administered independently for reasons of ethnicity and nationality.  Also, the core beliefs of the Orthodox Churches do not differ much from those of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), even though the RCC’s approach to matters of belief is more by rules and laws- to a much greater extent than in Orthodox Churches.  Other major differences are in certain practices and in the claim to administrative authority. However, Protestant denominations and other newer Churches have significantly re-interpreted Christian doctrines and there are major differences between them and us.
TRADITION
Tradition plays an important part of Orthodox Christian practice.  This tradition is passed on within the Church from the time of Christ and His Apostles right down to present days. Some Traditions are written but many are not. Some traditional practices in the Church are of temporal nature.  While they may not have any spiritual value in themselves, they are not sinful or wrong.  Nonetheless, they are designed to be helpful to the life of the Church.
ORTHODOX WORSHIP
Orthodox worship is highly liturgical and is central to the history and life of the church:
By its theological richness, spiritual significance, and variety, the worship of the Orthodox Church represents one of the most significant factors in this church's continuity and identity.

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