The Church Founded by Jesus Christ
When God our Creator saw the human race perishing through sin, He sent His Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ the God-Man, to save us through His sacrifice on the Cross and His Resurrection from the dead, by which He overcame the power of sin, the devil, death, and hell, and enabled those who believe in Him to become immortal children of God and citizens of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. After His Ascension, 40 days after His Resurrection, Christ sent the Holy Spirit from the Father upon His Apostles, who went everywhere to preach, establishing a communion of local Churches who together make up the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ, which He promised will endure to the end of time and will be the safe haven of eternal salvation for all who believe in Him. Known today as the True Orthodox Church, Christ’s Church still stands firm, and She invites all who desire to know the Lord and to find their happiness in Him to enter her saving enclosure.
History of the Church
The Apostles first went forth to preach from Jerusalem into all parts of the Roman Empire and bordering lands. They established local Churches everywhere they went, united in doctrine, worship, morals, and apostolic authority. For the first three hundred years, the Christians underwent fierce persecution, but their indomitable faith conquered in the end, and “the blood of martyrs became the seed of Christians.” In the fourth century, the Roman Empire itself became Christian, and the Church became the great formative institution and influence of all Greco-Roman civilization, both in the Latin West and the Greek-speaking East, and the Mother of countless other nations who later were converted to Christ by Her missionaries.
The Church affirmed Her basic doctrines between the years 325 and 787 AD in seven great councils called the Seven Ecumenical Synods. To this day, the Orthodox Church keeps, teaches, and defends these essential teachings; She is “the Church of the Seven Councils.” Despite later deviations in the Christian West which produced what became known as Roman Catholicism and the countless divisions of Protestantism, the Orthodox Church in the East preserved the doctrine, worship, spirituality, and entire ethos of the Church of the first thousand years of Christianity. Despite all the enormous changes that have occurred in the world for the past thousand years, She remains the original, undivided, and unchanged Church of Christ.
The Orthodox Church is the guardian and teacher of the true Christian doctrines: God as Holy Trinity; the Incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ; His Virginal Conception and Birth; His Saving Death and Life-giving Resurrection, His Ascension into Heaven and His Second Coming to judge the living and the dead; the Coming of the Holy Spirit and creation of the New Testament Church governed by the Apostles and their successors the Bishops; Baptism, the Eucharist, and the entire life of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments); inner conversion through Faith and prayerful communion of the soul with God; the right relationship of Faith to good works for our salvation. All of these great realities, these great truths, which in the various Western confessions have become competing ideologies unrelated to life, are still alive, whole, and life-giving in the Orthodox Church. They are as fresh and dynamic today as when the Holy Apostles first preached them to the nations.
Orthodox worship is traditional, formal, profound, and rich liturgical worship that transcends the bounds of earthly experience and transports the worshipper to the Heavenly Kingdom. Stepping into an Orthodox Church is simultaneous to steping into the luminous Christian life of the early centuries and to step into the future world, the mystery of the age to come. Through symbolic action, theologically rich texts and chants, and sacramental initiation, the Orthodox believer is, in an ongoing life of faith and grace, transformed by the Spirit of God from a corruptible and mortal citizen of earth into an immortal and incorruptible inhabitant of Paradise. In Orthodox worship, we come to God, but, above all, God comes to us.
Tradition and Authority
The Orthodox Church is governed by the three-fold priesthood established in the New Testament: bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons. But every member of the Church is the bearer of the Holy Tradition, which is the life of the Holy Spirit that enlivens and teaches the hearts of the faithful in every generation, and every member of the Church is a witness to Her faith, worship, and life. No single man or group of men is an infallible authority in the True Church: the whole body of the faithful, which is the Body of Christ in the world, defends and preserves the Faith.
Where is the Church Today?
We all know that the witness of Christianity has been shaken to its foundations in the past 100 years. It seems that all the official leaders of official churches of every description have caved into all the latest fads, bizarre new teachings, and social revolutions. Sadly, within the historical structures of Eastern Orthodoxy the same has occurred: the great “official” institutions of the historical patriarchates and synods have joined the movement towards a one-world religion and one-world government, embodied in the ecumenist adventures of the Vatican and in the World Council of Churches. But there remains a remnant, the True Orthodox Church, which teaches the Faith without compromise, and whose bishops and clergy have nothing at all to do with the modern ecumenical movement. It is essential for every Christian of conscience, and every person of good will who seeks the truth, who is sincerely seeking to know God and do His will, to find and to join this One, True Church.
(Original text by Father Steven Allen)