For those desiring to learn more about the Holy Orthodox Church we recommend the following literature:
- The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware. A clear, detailed introduction to the Orthodox Church, written for the non-Orthodox, as well as for Orthodox believers. Part One describes the history of the Eastern Church over the last 2,000 years and particularly its life in 20th century Russia. Part Two explains the beliefs and worship of the Orthodox today. Available to buy when you attend our service and also you can buy it here
- The Orthodox way by Timothy Ware. A classic accounts of the belief, worship and life of the Orthodox Church. Discusses God as hidden yet revealed, the problem of evil, the nature of salvation, the meaning of faith, prayer, death and what lies beyond. Available to buy when you attend our service and also you can buy it here
A Word About Church History
The Orthodox Church and her history is described herein, from Pentecost to the present day.
33 Pentecost (A.D: 29 is thought to be more accurate).
49 Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) establishes precedent for addressing Church disputes in Council. James presides as bishop.
69 Bishop Ignatius consecrated in Antioch in heart of New Testament era–St. Peter had been the first bishop there. Other early bishops include James, Polycarp, and Clement.
95 Book of Revelation written, probably the last of the New Testament books.
150 St. Justin Martyr describe’s the liturgical worship of the Church, centered in the Eucharist. Liturgical worship is rooted in both the Old and New Testament.
325 The Nicene Creed is established. The Council of Nicea settles the major heretical challenge to the Christian faith when the heretic Arius asserts Christ was created by the Father. St. Athanasius defends the eternality of the Son of God. The Arians continue their assault on true Christianity for years. Nicea is the first of Seven Ecumenical (Church-wide) Councils.
451 Council of Chalcedon affirms apostolic doctrine of two natures in Christ.
589 In a synod in Toledo, Spain, the filioque, asserting that the Holy Spirit procedes from the Father and the Son is added to the Nicene Creed. This error is later adopted by Rome.
787 The era of Ecumenical Councils ends at Nicea, with the Seventh Council bringing the centuries-old use of icons back into the Church.
988 Conversion of Russia begins.
We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know, that God dwells there among men, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty. – Envoys of the Russian Prince Vladimir, after experiencing the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in the year 987.
1054 The Great Schism occurs. Two major issues include Rome’s claim to a universal papal supremacy and her addition of the filioque clause to the Nicene Creed. The Photian schism (880) further complicated the debate.
1095 The Crusades begun by the Roman Church. The Sack of Constantinople by Rome (1204) adds to the estrangement between East and West.
1333 St. Gregory Palamas defends the Orthodox practice of hesychast spirituality and the use of the Jesus prayer.
1453 Turks overrun Constantinople; Byzantine Empire ends.
1517 Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of the Roman Church in Wittenberg, starting the Protestant Reformation.
1529 Church of England begins pulling away from Rome.
1794 Missionaries arrive on Kodiak Island in Alaska; Orthodoxy introduced to North America.
1854 Rome establishes the Immaculate Conception dogma.
1870 Papal Infallibility becomes Roman dogma.
1988 One thousand years of Orthodoxy in Russia, as Orthodox Church world-wide maintains fulness of the Apostolic faith.
Teachings of the Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church throughout the ages has maintained a continuity of faith and love with the apostolic community which was founded by Christ and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Orthodoxy believes that she has preserved and taught the historic Christian Faith, free from error and distortion, from the time of the Apostles. She also believes that there is nothing in the body of her teachings which is contrary to truth or which inhibits real union with God. The air of antiquity and timelessness which often characterizes Eastern Christianity is an expression of her desire to remain loyal to the authentic Christian Faith.
Orthodoxy believes that the Christian Faith and the Church are inseparable. It is impossible to know Christ, to share in the life of the Holy Trinity, or to be considered a Christian, apart from the Church. It is in the Church that the Christian Faith is proclaimed and maintained. It is through the Church that an individual is nurtured in the Faith.
INCARNATION OF JESUS CHRIST
While the Bible is treasured as a valuable written record of God’s revelation, it does not contain wholly that revelation. The Bible is viewed as only one expression of God’s revelation in the ongoing life of His people. Scripture is part of the treasure of Faith which is known as Tradition. Tradition means that which is “handed on” from one generation to another. In addition to the witness of Faith in the Scripture, the Orthodox Christian Faith is celebrated in the Eucharist; taught by the Fathers; glorified by the Saints; expressed in prayers, hymns, and icons; defended by the seven Ecumenical Councils; embodied in the Nicene Creed; manifested in social concern; and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is lived in every local Orthodox parish. The life of the Holy Trinity is manifested in every aspect of the Church’s life. Finally, the Church, as a whole, is the guardian of the authentic Christian Faith which bears witness to that Revelation.
COUNCILS AND CREED
“I believe in One God, Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.And in One Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages.
Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father, through whom all things were made.For us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became Man.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and He suffered and was buried.On the third day He rose according to the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke through the prophets.In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I expect the resurrection of the dead; and the life of the age to come.
TREASURES OF ORTHODOXY is a series of pamphlets written for the non-Orthodox, especially those who are considering becoming members of the Orthodox Church and who wish to deepen their appreciation of her faith, worship and traditions. The pamphlets are authored by Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald, a faculty member of Hellenic College-Holy Cross School of Theology.