Theology

I suspect most of those who come to this page will be visitors, inquirers, and the curious – not those who are already Orthodox Christians.  In my thinking, there are at least two reasons for this.  First, those who are already Orthodox are not indifferent to the theology – quite the contrary – but, for the most part, they understand theology as how they live as opposed to what they should think.  Thinking is important, obviously, but being an Orthodox Christian encompasses the entirety of our being – body, soul, and spirit.  It should be what we do.  Our faith should be genuinely reflected in what we do, say, eat, share, and handle.  Mental “belief” is not enough.  Consequently, most Orthodox Christians, particularly those who are pious, learn the theology best by doing it in their lives – corporate worship, personal prayer, alms-giving, fasting, feasting, etc.   And the theology is continually reintroduced and reinforced in the hymns, services, worship of the Church, and their own ascetical struggle to know God.  So . . . clicking on the “Theology” tab is less important to them than making sure they know when we pray, keep or break the fast, etc.  However, rest assured, the theology of the Orthodox Church has been exquisitely articulated over the millennia by the Holy Fathers, and there is much to study and learn.

Second, those who are not already Orthodox certainly have formed some view of what is “proper” theology, a proper and right belief about God.  They want to see if the theology of the Orthodox Church is somewhere close to their own beliefs, which is very understandable.  To that end, their inquisitiveness is most often very sincere and seeking God.

 

It is, however, impossible to speak exhaustively about God, His Kingdom, and even His creation.  For us as persons created in the image of God, the limitations are great.  No theological statements can encompass the entirety of God.  The Church has always recognized this, and often speaks of the ineffability of these things.  Nevertheless, the Church has repeatedly put into words its understandings of the Truth as God has revealed it to man. The basic statement, or symbol of Faith, is the Nicene Creed, which follows:

           “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 worlds. Light of Light; very God of very 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 was crucified also 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 worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

“And I believe 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.”

For those looking for a little more definition in religious terms, the overview provided by Wikipedia is actually very accurate.

Eastern Orthodox Christian theology is the theology particular to the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is characterized by monotheistic Trinitarianism, belief in the Incarnation of the Logos (Son of God), a balancing of cataphatic theology with apophatic theology, a hermeneutic defined by Sacred Tradition, a concrete ecclesiology, a robust theology of the person, and a therapeutic soteriology.”

Most who read the preceding will find it a bit intimidating.  At the risk of oversimplification, we would say our theology includes, but is no way limited to, a belief in:

The incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God;

God in Three persons, but one Nature;

The virgin birth;

Man made in the image of God;

The resurrection of the Crucified Son of God;

Salvation is possible because of the birth, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

There is much more that should be said, and we hope to add more to this page as time goes on.  In the meantime, we hope you will “Come and See” how sinners try to live out these realities at St. John.  Come pray with us!

Fr. John