Jesus Christ founded His Church through the Apostles. By the grace received from God at Pentecost, the Apostles established the Church throughout the ancient world. St. Paul founded the Church of Antioch; St. Peter and St. James, the Church of Jerusalem; St. Andrew the Church of Constantinople; St. Mark, the Church of Alexandria; St. Peter and St. Paul, the Church of Rome. For one thousand years the Church was one (East and West), unbroken and undivided! After the Great Schism of 1054 A.D., when the Latin or western church tragically separated from eastern Christendom (at Constantinople), the eastern non-Oriental churches became known as the Eastern Orthodox Churchï¿½, to distinguish them from what subsequently became known as the Roman Catholic Church.
- Our entire hope is Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul says:by the commandment of God our Savior, and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope(1 Tim. 1:1). We receive and will receive everything through him.
- Our Lord Himself teaches:And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13) Our hope is based on the sovereign grace of God, since it was given through Christ, as Scripture says:For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christï¿½John 1:17.
- But we also have our part to play! First, there is the following of God's will, that is, the commandments. Christ himself tells us: He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to himï¿½John 14: 21. Second, through the communion of the holy mysteries of the body and blood of Christ, through which Christ the Lord abides. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in himï¿½ (John 6:56); and unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in youï¿½ï¿½ (John 6: 53). And third, through persevering prayer, as the Apostle Paul teaches: But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal lifeï¿½(Jude: 20-21).
- Orthodox Holy Tradition, Orthodox theology and the Holy Scriptures are intertwined. They all speak of the same Orthodox Christian life and faith.
- They come from the same apostolic and patristic sources of the early Church. Frankly, it is barely possible to fully understand the Bible without understanding the historic, ecclesiastic, liturgical and theological context of the early Church. For example it was on the basis of a common knowledge of authenticâ Church Tradition that the church fathers of the pre-Reformation Church were able to agree on the content that became the New Testament biblical canon we have today.
- The canon was compiled from myriad ancient text sources, many of which were spurious or even heretical. As we affirm, the Bible was given to the historic Church.
There are five basic sources that comprise Orthodox Tradition, passed down from one generation to the next, from Christ to the Apostles, in written and unwritten forms.
- The first is Holy Scripture, both Old and New Testaments.
- The second source is the Liturgy, which includes the entire body of the Church's common and public worship (including the sacraments of the Church).
- The third are the councils of the Church, the first one recounted in the Book of Acts (Acts 15), and their subsequent creeds and canons.
- The fourth are the Saints of the Church, especially the writings of a particular group of saints called the church fathers.
- The fifth source of Church Tradition is Church art. Saint John of Damascus said that words written in books are images, as are material images like icons. Art is the use of the material to express the intangible and the revelation of God.
His Grace Alexios Mar Eusebius.