For Orthodox Christians, the faith that we hold as a precious treasure is simply “the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). It is the Good News that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…”(2 Cor 5:19). It is the joyous tidings that God’s long work of preparation since the creation of the world had reached its fulfillment in the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And it is the promise that through the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost a new community has been born which gives us the assurance that Christ is still with us today, feeding us with His Body and Blood, enabling us to witness for Him in the world, and leading us back to the Father from whom we have become alienated.
However, what we believe cannot simply be articulated in an abstract and purely intellectual way, for it is integrally related to how we live, how we pray, and how we are drawn into communion with God and with others in the fellowship of the Church. To understand Orthodox Christianity one needs to enter into its life of prayer, to allow one’s life to be shaped by its seasons and disciplines, and to gradually learn that salvation is both a gift from God and also a life-long task, as we work together with God to rediscover His Image in us.
The Orthodox Church is both hesitant and confident in speaking of God. Orthodox theology is profoundly aware of our human inability to speak of God, who is beyond all our words and concepts. Yet it is equally aware that God has spoken to us in the history of revelation, culminating in the definitive revelation of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, who “proceeds from the silence of the Father” in the words of Saint Ignatius of Antioch.
While the Church is wary of needless theological speculation, it is insistent that right belief matters. Those beliefs that it has insisted on and which have been defined as dogmas are not arbitrary, but are directly relevant to our salvation. Central to these have been the correct understanding of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ which is vital because in the Person of Christ we discover the truth of our own humanity and the way to salvation.
Thus dogma exists not to define or to capture what we can say about God, but rather to guard the life which is within and to enable our ascent to God.
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,
begotten of the Father
before all ages.
Light of Light;
true God of true 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 He was crucified for us
under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered, and was buried.
And the third day He rose,
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 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.
In 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.
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