Here are some frequently asked questions about the Orthodox Church and its teachings:
What is the Holy Trinity?
There are three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – in one God. While separate
and distinct personally, each
- shares fully and equally in the divine nature and will;
- is equally infinite, perfect, all-powerful, all knowing, ever-existing, and eternally the same; and
- is united to the other persons of the Trinity in perfect Love.
What is a Creed?
The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which has been professed by Orthodox Christians since the fourth century, summarizes the Church’s teaching on the Holy Trinity.
- God the Father is the Source of all things, the “Maker of heaven and earth and all things
visible and invisible.” The Father sent
- God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world “for us men and for our salvation.” Jesus Christ is “the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages.” He took on our human nature and became man – while not forsaking His divinity. He was “crucified for us under Pontius Pilate ... and on the third day He arose again ... and He shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Jesus Christ, then, is our Savior, Who leads humanity into God’s eternal Kingdom.
- God the Holy Spirit is “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.”
What is Holy Scripture?
Holy Scripture is the inspired word of God and the written record of His revelation.
- The Old Testament relates the manner in which God prepared the world for the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ.
- The New Testament completes and fulfills God’s revelation by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord, God, and Savior.
Holy Scripture is the foremost product of Holy Tradition
That which is passed on or given over within the Church, from the time of Christ and the apostles to the present, is known as Holy Tradition, which
- is the ongoing life of God’s People;
- embraces that which is essential to God’s revelation and necessary for our salvation; and
- is the living link by which Orthodox Christians of all ages are united together in a common faith, life, and experience.
Other elements of Holy Tradition include prayer and liturgical worship, the accepted creeds and acts of the early Church councils, the writings of the Holy Fathers, the lives of the saints, and the Church’s artistic and musical expressions.
What is the Church?
In the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, Orthodox Christians also profess their understanding of the Church as
- One – because it is one body with one head, Jesus Christ. The Church cannot be divided or separated because Christ cannot be divided or separated. Holy – because the Holy Spirit dwells in God’s People inasmuch as they respond to His call to salvation and eternal life.
- Catholic – because it is whole, complete, lacking in nothing, and universal.
- Apostolic – because it continues in the apostles’ teaching, mission, ministry, and experience.
Are Orthodox Christians saved?
Salvation is the process by which we enter into eternal life with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Orthodox Christians, salvation
- ends our separation from God, enabling us to begin a new life lived in accordance with His will;
- is ultimately attained through faith – and by putting our faith into action by recognizing God’s presence in others, even “the least of the brothers”;
- is to be proclaimed to all by God’s People through evangelization, mission, and witness.
The Orthodox Church is people – God’s People – who
- gather together in His Name;
- share a common faith and hope rooted in the love of God;
- affirm the truth and fullness – the orthodoxy – of their faith, belief and experience; and
- proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to all.
What is Orthodox Christianity?
- Orthodoxy was established on Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles;
- subsequently spread to every corner of the world; and
- was planted in North America by missionaries who arrived in Kodiak, Alaska, in 1794. Today, there are from 2 to 3 million Orthodox Christians in more than 2,500 parishes across North America.
How do Orthodox Christians worship God?
Private prayer is essential for spiritual growth. It is inseparably linked to the Church’s Liturgical worship, which is the public proclamation of God as Lord and the common action, or liturgy, of God’s People.
The Divine Liturgy is the central worship experience for Orthodox Christians, during which we proclaim God’s word as revealed in Scripture and respond in thanksgiving through the reception of Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ.
What are Sacraments?
The liturgical actions which bring God’s presence into our lives as we
- become members of His Church through Baptism and Chrismation.
- proclaim, through Communion (the Eucharist), Christ’s death, resurrection, and Second Coming.
- are forgiven by and reconciled with God and those around us through Penance (Confession).
- share His love through Marriage.
- dedicate our lives and our work to Him through Ordination.
- receive His healing grace through Holy Unction.
Within the Orthodox Church, there are many other items which are referred to as being sacramental including prayer, icons, architecture, liturgical music, and other things which brings God's presence into our lives.