What is Orthodox Christianity?

A good place to start is to understand ‘what Orthodox Christians do and believe’.

  • Worship God, the Holy Trinity, every Sunday and throughout our daily lives? 
    Of course, . . . the world got its concept of ‘Sunday Services’ from us. 
  • Bible-based? 
    Absolutely,  . . . we gave the world the Bible it uses, and it is the backbone of our 2000 year history.
  • Preach Jesus Christ? 
    Like no one else, we know the Lord, God who became man, that all men may be saved. 
  • Saved from what?
    Death.  We, who were created in His Image, should not know death.  He did not come to make bad men good, He came to make dead men live; to be restored to the fullness of His Glory.

Look at the following quotations of Sacred Scripture:

  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us ….” (John 1:1&14)
  • “But as many as received him, to them He gave power to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name” (John 1:12); 
  • ” . . . in order that all may be one; even as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us . . . the glory that You have given Me, I have given them, so that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected into one. . . .”  (John 17:21-22)
  • “. . . you may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). 
  • Christ willtransform the body of our humiliation [i.e., our fallen, animal-like body]  that it may be conformed to the body of His Glory . . . ” (Philippians 3:21)
  • “We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2)
  • And, in John 10:34, Jesus defends himself against a charge of blasphemy by stating: “Is it not written in your  law, ‘I said, You are gods.’ ?” It is widely believed that Jesus is referring to Psalms 82:6 in saying “Ye are gods and children of the most high.”

Saint Athanasius summed them up thus: “The Son of God became man so that we might become God” 

How then was it given to His disciples, and to us now, to live in the fulfillment of this Gospel? And what does this mean in light of St. Paul’s admonition to “continue to work out your salvation “, as well as the commission that Jesus’ teaching and Sonship be preached “even unto the ends of the earth”?

It is what we Orthodox Christians strive for: understanding that salvation is not ‘once and done’, rather salvation encompasses an understanding that through Jesus Christ we have been saved, are being saved and will be saved.

St. Jacob Orthodox Church is a new mission parish, part of the historic Eastern Orthodox Churches who were founded the day Pentecost in 33 A.D.  However, Orthodox Christianity is more than the ‘right church’, with the right worship, doctrine, dogma, ritual, etc.  It is not a ‘flavor of Christianity’, nor the oldest denomination, cultural expression, ethnocentric assembly – it is none of that in reality.  It is not even the most traditional Christian confession.  It is, however, the Way, as it was called in its first centuries. It is the path of Salvation, and therapy for the restoration of man’s relationship with God.  It is the only way of becoming a true Christian; we must be living a Spiritual Way of Life within the Church as given by our Lord, established by His Apostles, taught by the Holy Fathers, and preserved in our Orthodox Church. According to the lives and counsels of contemporary Elders, the Orthodox Church is not a religion in the sense the world would categorize it

The Church is, in truth, the very Body of Christ, where living a Christian Life, communing with God, is the purpose of it all.   This raises an important question for the broad tent of contemporary Christianity: What is the definition of “Christian life”? The most obvious answer comes from Holy Scripture:

  • “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:6-7)
  • “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53)

In other words, our Lord emphatically states that true Christian life begins with Baptism and continues with regular Communion in the Holy Mysteries. And according to the Holy Fathers, these Mysteries are precisely what follows baptism and following Christ.  It brings us into a life of purification, with the possibility of Theoria (illumination), on the Way to fulfill the purpose of human life – Theosis (deification, union with God)

It is, for this reason, we immerse ourselves in personal prayer and take time for: regular Divine Worship, the study of Scripture, fellowship with our brothers and sisters,  serving those in need around us, reading the lives of saints, pursuing a life of virtue and humility . . .  and even participate in the classes and study together.  Join us in exploring the Spiritual Life.

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