Faith & Belief

“In the Church itself, all possible care must be taken that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always and by all.”  St. Vincent of Lerins, AD 450

Largest Orthodox Church in the World, Christ the Savior, Moscow, Russia

The story is told of a Protestant believer who asked an Orthodox priest to explain his theological beliefs.  His response was that it is better to ask “not what we believe, but how do we worship.”

“Lex orandi est lex crendi” The rule of faith is the rule of prayer.  (Pope Celesite (422-32))

While Orthodox theology can be captured to some extent in a textbook, it is still best experienced and understood in worship.  Knowledge of God, i.e. Orthodox theology is in the end beyond words, it is mystical. God is best known and experienced through prayer and the spiritual life.  Ultimately knowledge about God arises not from a textbook, but from an encounter.

An analogy can be made with a pool of water.  Western Christians tend to study, analyze and explain the water.  As Orthodox we tend to look at the water, maybe say a few things about it, but we prefer to jump in and experience the water.

Having said that, below are some suggested links on Orthodox Christian doctrine:

Doctrine, Volume I, or The Orthodox Faith: The main doctrines of the Orthodox Church presented as a commentary on the Nicene Creed, and an explanation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

What Orthodox Christians Believe:  Fundamental definitions of Orthodox Doctrine.

A Brief Catechism by Fr Alexander Schmemann

Facing Up to Mary “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48 RSV).  The Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, the person with whom the Son of God, Jesus Christ shares DNA is largely misunderstood.

Icons:  Characteristic to Orthodoxy is the use of icons.  The use of icons in Orthodox is often misunderstood and has even been misrepresented by the uninformed.   The article No Graven Image deals with these mistaken notions.  Remember it is God who told Moses to make cherubim for the Ark.  (Ex 25:17ff)

Prayers for the Departed—Often times when someone dies it is as if they ceased to exist.  As Orthodox Christians we do not say someone has died, but fallen asleep, imitating the words of Paul, (1Cor. 15:6, 1 Thes 4:15).  Because they are still alive in Christ we continue to pray for them as if they were standing next to us here today.  God hears our prayers in eternity and it does not matter if our prayers are said after their death.  God heard our prayer for them before we uttered a word.