Arriving in Mumbai as traders in the late 17th Century and early 18th Century, Armenians built a Church nestled in the lanes of Fort. Named St Peter’s Orthodox Church, it was built in 1796 by Armenians. Besides Kolkata, where they continue to be in large numbers, presence of Armenians can also be seen in Surat, Delhi, and Agra.
The members of the St. Peters Orthodox Church (Colaba Parish) had the privilege to see the Armenian Holy Liturgy held on August 3rd , 2017 at the St. Peter’s Armenian Church in Fort. Rev Fr. Movses Sargsyan ( Manager of Indian – Armenian Spiritual Pastorate Armenian College & Philanthropic Academy) who on his 2 day visit to Mumbai had visited the Armenian Church on August 3rd, 2017. Fr. Movses Sargsyan celebrated the Holy Mass in Armenian language. There were members from other Orthodox Parishes too who came to attend the Holy Liturgy.
Two years ago there was a small prayer service in Armenian language but this is happening after six years,” said Zabel “Bella” Joshi, one of the few Armenians living in the city. Joshi, now 70-years-old came from Juhu where she now lives. “I came to India in 1972 after my marriage to my Indian husband. I am originally from Beirut in Lebanon. A lot of Armenians live there, too. For me, praying in Armenian language is something that is me. My grandfather was a priest,” said Joshi who now speaks different Indian languages.
Considered Orthodox, Armenia was the first Christian nation over 18 centuries ago in 310 AD. “Back then, the Armenian ruler’s daughter was unwell. The King vouched to convert to Christianity if his daughter is healed. That is when the nation became the first Christian nation,” said Thomas Varughese of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who is looking after the Armenian Church for the last 12 years. The church opens only once a week for service by the Malankara Church followers.
“We are sister churches. Unlike Roman Catholics, Orthodox do not have one head. In each region we have heads. Our head is in India. Their’s is Catholicos (Supreme Head of Armenian Church). Since we are both Orthodox and have mainly everything similar, when the population of Armenians thinned out in city, we were looking for space and they gave the church when we asked for it,” said Fr Benjamin Philip, Vicar (head) of the St Peter’s Church Orthodox Church. Both orthodox churches do not use idols and have only icons (pictures) of Jesus and Mary.
Fr Movses Sargsyan, pastor manager of Indian-Armenian Spiritual Pastorate who flew from Kolkatta thanked the Malankara community for taking care of the Church.”It was excellent being here. It was like a pilgrimage for us. Mass was not done for and I look to doing one every year,” said Fr. Movses.
(excerpts from DNA Newspaper dated 6th August 2017)
(St. Peters Orthodox Church – ARMENIAN CHURCH)
Easter eggs are associated with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Eggs symbolize the empty rock tomb from which Jesus arose after his crucifixion and are used as universal means of greeting and presentation for Christian believers, while also foretelling the eternal life experience which awaits true believers after death.
The choice of red — the color of life and victory — bears a long history and dates to ancient Mesopotamia, where early Christians stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Jesus, who was crucified for the salvation of all mankind.
The most renowned story links Mary Magdalene to the red Easter eggs custom, who being the first to have seen the empty tomb of Jesus after his resurrection, went to the Roman emperor to inform him of the miracle.
The emperor, however, didn’t believe what he was told and announced that he would believe the claims of Mary Magdalene only if the eggs in a basket next to him would turn red instantly, which they did.
A second story has it that the Virgin Mary offered her son’s guards a basket of eggs so that they would treat him well. The eggs turned red when Virgin Mary soaked them with her tears.
According to a variation of the story, an unknown woman would believe in the news of Jesus’ resurrection, only if the eggs she was holding in her hands would turn red. Miraculously, the eggs changed color as soon as she formed her doubt.
The Greek Orthodox tradition is for eggs to be dyed red on Holy Thursday in commemoration of the Last Supper, the final meal which Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
It is common belief that dyed Easter eggs can stay edible forty days without being refrigerated. If, however, a priest blesses the eggs on Easter Sunday, they are said to last a whole year without turning bad.
Today is January 8, the memorial day of St.Stephen, one among the first deacons and first martyr of the early Christian Church. His story appears Acts 6:1-8:2.The other reference to Stephen in the NT refers to this story (Acts 11:19; 22:20).
According to Acts 6:1-6, a dispute had developed in the Jerusalem between the “Hellenists” (Probably Jewish Christians from the Diaspora whose first language was Greek) and the “Hebrews” (Palestinian Jewish Christians who spoke Aramaic). In order to resolve the dispute, seven Hellenists were chosen for positions of leadership, one of whom was Stephen. Thus, Stephen functions in Acts as the key representative for the very significant Hellenistic Jewish element in the primitive Jerusalem Church.
Stephen is portrayed in Acts as a bold man, wise, full of faith, and possessed of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5, 8, 10).The ecstatic aspect of Stephen’s short Christian career is highlighted in the account. It was by the power of the Spirit that Stephen confronted his fellow Hellenists who did not believe in Jesus as Messiah. They, in turn, brought Stephen’s activities to the attention of a wider audience: the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:11-15).
Apparently, the opposition to Stephen was based primarily on a deduction he had made from his messianic faith in Jesus: that, with the vindication of Jesus as Messiah, the religion of the Temple had outlived its usefulness and the Mosaic law should now be seen in a new and different light (Acts 6:11-14, Mathew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 2:16).Stephen’s opponents undermine the basic legitimacy of the religious practice associated with the Temple.
The speech of Stephen in Acts 7:2-53 is presented as Stephen’s defense of his position. It also functions, however, as a model of early Christian apologetic to Hellenistic Judaism. The essential point is that Israel has always been slow to accept a dramatic new activity of God in fulfilling his promises. After the promises were given to Abraham (Verses 2-8), Israel systematically rebelled against the call of its inspired leaders (verses 9-43) and was too prone to isolate the presence and activity of God to local places such as the Temple rather than see God in crucial historical events such as the recent case of Jesus’ exaltation in Jerusalem (verses 44-53).Once again, Israel was in danger of misperceiving a new expression of God’s activity. According to Acts, this message angered Stephen’s audience and he was stoned to death without judicial hearing before either Jewish or Roman authorities (verses 54-58).
It is clear that the writer of Acts wished to draw a close parallel between Stephen’s death and that if Jesus ( Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).Stephen and Jesus, both filled with the Spirit, died unjustly with a word of forgiveness on their lips.
As Stephen, especially in his death, is linked to Jesus, so also Acts links him to the future with the mention of Saul’s (i.e Paul) consenting presence at the martyrdom (Acts 7:58; 8:1; 22:20).Stephen’s death and the subsequent scattering of this fellow messianic Hellenists led to the mission of Philip in Samaria and elsewhere (Acts 8:4-40) and ultimately to the wider mission spearheaded by Paul throughout the eastern part of the Roman Empire (Acts 11:19)
Thus, although Stephen appears in only one episode in Acts, the author of Acts was conscious of the immense theological and historic significance of the early Hellenistic Jewish Christians in Jerusalem of whom Stephen is exemplary figure.
By Fr.Thomas Philipose
Many people do not know that there is an essential difference between the Protestant Bible and the Original Bible (The Orthodox Bible). The Orthodox Bible contains 73 books, divided is among the Old and New Testaments.
How many books are in the Old Testament?
There are 46 books in the Old Testament. Among these 46, 39 books are written in Hebrew and remaining 7 Deutro-Canonical books are written in Greek.
Why the Protestant Bible has only 39 Old Testament Books?
The term Old Testament is coined bt the Christians and it indicates the Bible of Jews. During the time of Jesus there were two types of Jews based on their cultural heritage. One group had its base in Palatine and they used the Hebrew Bible. Acouncil of Rabbis (Teachers of Jews) held in Jamnia completed the Canon of this Bible only in AD 90. This Bible had only 39 books which is the reason why the Bible used by the Protestant doesnot include the seven books mentioned above
Why the Original Bible contains 46 Old Testament Books?
A great number of Jews lived in the different parts of the Roman Empire outside Palestine. Alexandria was their cultural centre and they used Greek as their language for communication. It can be seen that the new generation of Malayalees who are living outside Kerala, who are using English or Hindi, instead of Malayalam. The Bible of Jews was prepared in Greek language during the reighn of King Ptolemy II (285-247 BCE). This was called the Septuagint, which means Seventy in Greek, because of the seventy people who were engaged in its formation.
What are the specialties of Septuagint ?
It is the oldest translation of Old Testament. It was not merely a Greek transalation of the Hebrew Bible, Instead it had three changes in comparison with the Hebrew Bible:
- It contained 7 additional books namely, 1-2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Bara Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon.
- There were some additions and changes in the books like Esther and Daniel.
- The order of books in Septuagint was different from that of the Hebre Bible. For eample, II Chronicles was the last book of the Hebrew Bible. The numbering of Psalms was also different in the Septuagint.
What was the Bible (OT Books) used by Jesus and his disciples?
None of the books of the New Testament was written during the time of Jesus; the Bible, which was used, was that of Jews. Once the new scriptures were written by the Early Christians, the Church reffered to it as the Old Testament rather than the Hebrew Bible of the Palestinian Jews. Since the Canon of the Hebrew Bible was finalized only in 90AD there is every reason to conclude that Septuagint was used during that time. Moreover, the modern researchers have proved that the new Testament writers like St Matthew and St Paul quoted not from the Hebrew Bible but from the Septuagint. It means the Bible used by Jesus and his disciples has 46 books.
Is the Bible containing the unbroken word of God?
Yes the original Bible (Orthodox Bible) contains the unbroken word of God. But not the Protestant Bible.For them the divine revelation came to a stand still period of 400 years, from Malachi (400 BCE) the last prophetical voice of the Old Testament to John the Baptist who broke the prophetical silence. Our problem is: Can this be true? If our Bible should contain the unbroken Word of God from the Beginning of the World (Genesis) towards the End of the World (Book of Revelation) how can there be a silence of 400 years?
Why the Deutrocanonical Books are considered as scriptural texts?
Deutro canonical books makes a good bridge between Old and the New Testament. They tell us how God interacted with His people during the inter-testamental period of 400 years. We also understand the Judaism of the time of Jesus in a better way if we read those books.
Which is the official Bible of Orthodox Church of India?
The Orthodox Church of India considers the Syriac Peshitta version as its Bible. This was originated in the Aramaic –speaking world of the Jews of in the dawn of the modern age. The word Peshitta means “simple” and the version was more or less same as Septuagint in content. That is why we teach the 46 Old Testament books and include the seven books in our liturgical lfe.
How many books are in the New Testament?
There are 27 books in the New Testament.
What does “testament” mean?
Testament means “covenant” or “contract.”
Who wrote the Bible?
Holy Spirit is the real author of the Bible.The Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by over 40 different authors from all walks of life: shepherds, farmers, tent-makers, physicians, fishermen, priests, philosophers and kings. Despite these differences in occupation and the span of years it took to write it, the Bible is an extremely cohesive and unified book.
Which single author contributed the most books to the Old Testament?
Moses. He wrote the first five books of the Bible, referred to as the Pentateuch; the foundation of the Bible.
Which single author contributed the most books to the New Testament?
The Apostle Paul, who wrote 14 books (over half) of the New Testament.
When was the Bible written?
It was written over a period of some 1,500 years, from around 1450 B.C. (the time of Moses) to about 100 A.D. (following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).
What is the oldest book in the Old Testament?
Many scholars agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, written by an unknown Israelite about 1500 B.C. Others hold that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) are the oldest books in the Bible, written between 1446 and 1406 B.C.
Which is the last book in the Hebrew Old Testament?
The book of Malachi, written about 400 B.C.
What is the oldest book of the New Testament?
Probably the book of James, written as early as A.D. 45.
What is the youngest book in the New Testament?
The Book of Revelation is the youngest book of the New Testament, written about 95 A.D.
What languages was the Bible written in?
The Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek.
When was the Bible canonized?
The entire New Testament as we know it today, was canonized before the year 375 A.D. As far as the Canon of the New Testament is concerned, all the Churches in the East and West follow the list prepared by St.Athanasuis of Alexandria, an Orthodox Bishop and the stalwart of the Council of Nicea in his Easter letter of AD 327. It put an end to the disputes between Eastern and Western Churches concerning the content of the New Testament and it was established that 27 books from St Mathew to the Book of Revelation would form the New Testament.The Old Testament had previously been canonized long before the advent of Christ.
What does “canon” mean?
The contents of the Bible are known as the Canon in its technical sense.”Canon” is derived front the Greek word “Kanon,” signifying a measuring rod. Thus, to have the Bible “canonized” meant that it had been measured by the standard or test of divine inspiration and authority. It became the collection of books or writings accepted by the apostles and leadership of the early Christian church as a basis for Christian belief. It is the standard by which all Christians throughout the ages live and worship.
When was the first translation of the Bible made into English?
1382 A.D., by John Wycliffe.
When was the Bible printed?
The Bible was printed in 1454 A.D. by Johannes Gutenberg who invented the “type mold” for the printing press. It was the first book ever printed.
What is the oldest almost-complete manuscript of the Bible now in existence?
The Codex Vaticanus, which dates from the first half of the fourth Century. It is located in the library of the Vatican in Rome. There are older fragments of the Bible that are still preserved however– the oldest being a tiny scrap of the Gospel of John was found in Egypt, dating back to the beginning of the second century. (It is currently in the Rayland’s Library in Manchester, England).
What is the longest book in the Bible?
The book of Psalms.
What is the shortest book in the Bible?
What is the longest chapter in the Bible?
What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
What is the longest verse in the Bible?
What is the shortest verse in the Bible?
Which book in the Bible does not mention the word “God?”
The book of Esther.
Who was the oldest man that ever lived?
Methuselah who lived to be 969 years old (Genesis 5:27).
Who does the Bible say was the meekest man in the Bible (not including Jesus)?
Moses (Numbers 12:3).
How many languages has the Bible been translated into?
The Holy Bible has been translated into 2,018 languages, with countless more partial translations, and audio translations (for unwritten languages). (This is an enormous amount of In comparison, Shakespeare, considered by many to be the master writer of the English language, has only been translated into 50 languages.)
Is the Bible still the best-selling book in the world?
I hope these questions and answers help u to know our sweet bible..
Save it and share to many..
So open the Bible
Read the Bible
Meditate the Bible
And to become a Holy Bible.
Lets be Bible lover
The 33 important things We Orthodox Christians believe understand and teach”. Please read carefully and try to understand about Orthodox Church Faith and Practices.
- GOD THE FATHER is the fountainhead of the Holy Trinity. The Scriptures reveal that the one God is Three Persons–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–eternally sharing the one divine nature. From the Father the Son is begotten before allages and all time (Psalm 2:7; 2 Corinthians 11:31). It is also from the Father that the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds (John 15:26). Through Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, we come to know the Father (Matthew 11:27). God the Father created all things through the Son, in the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1; 2; John 1:3; Job 33:4), and we are called to worship Him (John 4:23). The Father loves us and sent His Son to give us everlasting life (John 3:16).
- JESUS CHRIST is the Second Person of the Trinity, eternally born of the Father. He became a man, and thus He is at once fully God and fully man. His coming to earth was foretold in the Old Testament by the Prophets. Because Jesus Christ is at the heart of Christianity, the Orthodox Church has given more attention to knowing Him than to anything or anyone else. In reciting the Nicene Creed, Orthodox Christians regularly affirm the historic faith concerning Jesus as they say, “I believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made, who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end.”
- THE HOLY SPIRIT is one of the Persons of the Trinity and is one in essence with the Father. Orthodox Christians repeatedly confess, “And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified. . .” He is called the “Promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4), given by Christ as a gift to the Church, to empower the Church for service to God (Acts 1:8), to place God’s love in our hearts (Romans 5:5), and to impart spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-13) and virtues (Galatians 5:22, 23) for Christian life and witness. Orthodox Christians believe the biblical promise that the Holy Spirit is given in chrismation (anointing) at baptism (Acts 2:38). We are to grow in our experience of the Holy Spirit for the rest of our lives.
- INCARNATION refers to Jesus Christ coming “in the flesh.” The eternal Son of God the Father assumed to Himself a complete human nature from the Virgin Mary. He was (and is) one divine Person, fully possessing from God the Father the entirety of the divine nature, and in His coming in the flesh fully possessing a human nature from Mary. By His Incarnation, the Son forever possesses two natures in His one Person. The Son of God, limitless in His divine nature, voluntarily and willingly accepted limitation in His humanity, in which He experienced hunger, thirst, fatigue–and ultimately, death. The Incarnation is indispensable to Christianity–there is no Christianity without it. The Scriptures record, “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God” (1 John 4:3). By His Incarnation, the Son of God redeemed human nature, a redemption made accessible to all who are joined to Him in His glorified humanity.
- SIN literally means “to miss the mark.” As Saint Paul writes, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We sin when we pervert what God has given us as good, falling short of His purposes for us. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1,2), leaving us spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). To save us, the Son of God assumed our humanity, and being without sin, “He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). In His mercy, God forgives our sins when we confess them and turn from them, giving us strength to overcome sin in our lives. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
- SALVATION is the divine gift through which men and women are delivered from sin and death, united to Christ, and brought into His eternal Kingdom. Those who heard Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost asked what they must do to be saved. He answered, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Salvation begins with these three “steps”: 1) repent, 2) be baptized, and 3) receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. To repent means to change our mind about how we have been, turning from our sin and committing ourselves to Christ. To be baptized means to be born again by being joined into union with Christ. And to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit means to receive the Spirit who empowers us to enter a new life in Christ, be nurtured in the Church, and be conformed to God’s image.
- BAPTISM is the way in which a person is actually united to Christ. The experience of salvation is initiated in the waters of baptism. The Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 6:1-6 that in baptism we experience Christ’s death and Resurrection. In it our sins are truly forgiven and we are energized by our union with Christ to live a holy life.Nowadays, some consider baptism to be only an “outward sign” of belief in Christ. This innovation has no historical or biblical precedent. Others reduce it to a mere perfunctory obedience to Christ’s command (cf. Matthew 28:19, 20). Still others, ignoring the Bible completely, reject baptism as a vital factor in salvation. Orthodoxy maintains that these contemporary innovations rob sincere people of the important assurance that baptism provides-namely that they have been united to Christ and are part of His Church.
- NEW BIRTH is receiving new life and is the way we gain entrance into God’s Kingdom and His Church. Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). From the beginning, the Church has taught that the “water” is the baptismal water and the “Spirit” is the Holy Spirit. The New Birth occurs in baptism, where we die with Christ, are buried with Him, and are raised with Him in the newness of His Resurrection, being joined into union with Him in His glorified humanity (Romans 6:3,4). The historically late idea that being “born again” is a religious experience disassociated from baptism has no biblical basis whatsoever.
- JUSTIFICATION is a word used in the Scriptures to mean that in Christ we are forgiven and actually made righteous in our living. Justification is not a once-for-all, instantaneous pronouncement guaranteeing eternal salvation, no matter how wickedly a person may live from that point on. Neither is it merely a legal declaration that an unrighteous person is righteous. Rather, justification is a living, dynamic, day-to-day reality for the one who follows Christ. The Christian actively pursues a righteous life in the grace and power of God granted to all who are believing Him.
- SANCTIFICATION is being set apart for God. It involves us in the process of being cleansed and made holy by Christ in the Holy Spirit. We are called to be saints and to grow into the likeness of God. Having been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, we actively participate in sanctification. We cooperate with God, we work together with Him, that we may know Him, becoming by grace what He is by nature.
- THE BIBLE is the divinely inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), and is a crucial part of God’s self-revelation to the human race. The Old Testament tells the history of that revelation from Creation through the Age of the Prophets. The New Testament records the birth and life of Jesus as well as the writings of His Apostles. It also includes some of the history of the early Church and especially sets forth the Church’s apostolic doctrine. Though these writings were read in the churches from the time they first appeared, the earliest listing of all the New Testament books exactly as we know them today is found in the Thirty-third Canon of a local council held at Carthage in A.D. 318 and in a fragment of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria’s Festal Letter for the year 367. Both sources list all of the books of the New Testament without exception. A local council, probably held at Rome under Saint Damasus in 382, set forth a complete list of the canonical books of both the Old and New Testaments. The Scriptures are at the very heart of Orthodox worship and devotion.
- WORSHIP is the act of ascribing praise, glory and thanksgiving to God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All humanity is called to worship God. Worship is more than being in the “great out-of-doors” or listening to a sermon or singing a hymn. God can be known in His creation, but that doesn’t constitute worship. And as helpful as sermons may be, they can never offer a proper substitute for worship. Most prominent in Orthodox worship is the corporate praise, thanksgiving and glory given to God by the Church. This worship consummates in intimate communion with God at His Holy Table.
As is said in the Liturgy, “To You is due all glory, honor and worship, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.” In that worship we touch and experience His eternal Kingdom, the age to come, and join in adoration with the heavenly hosts. We experience the glory of the fulfillment of all things in Christ as truly all in all.
- EUCHARIST means “thanksgiving” and early became a synonym for Holy Communion. The Eucharist is the center of worship in the Orthodox Church. Because Jesus said of the bread and wine at the Last Supper, “This is my body,” “This… is… my blood,” and “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19, 20), His followers believe-and do–nothing less. In the Eucharist, we partake mystically of Christ’s Body and Blood, which impart His life and strength to us. The celebration of the Eucharist was a regular part of the Church’s life from its beginning. Early Christians began calling the Eucharist “the medicine of immortality” because they recognized the great grace of God that was received in it.
- LITURGY is a term used to describe the shape or form of the Church’s corporate worship of God. The word “liturgy” derives from a Greek word which means “the common work.” All the biblical references to worship in heaven involve liturgy.In the Old Testament, God ordered a liturgy, or specific pattern of worship. We find it described in detail in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus. In the New Testament we find the Church carrying over the worship of Old Testament Israel as expressed in both the synagogue and the temple, adjusting them in keeping with their fulfillment in Christ. The Orthodox Liturgy, which developed over many centuries, still maintains that ancient shape of worship. The main elements in the Liturgy include hymns, the reading and proclamation of the Gospel, prayers, and the Eucharist itself. For Orthodox Christians, the expressions “the Liturgy” or “the Divine Liturgy” refer to the eucharistic rite instituted by Christ Himself at the Last Supper.
- COMMUNION OF SAINTS. When Christians depart this life, they remain a vital part of the Church, the Body of Christ. They are alive in the Lord and “registered in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23). They worship God (Revelation 4:10) and inhabit His heavenly dwelling places (John 14:2). In the Eucharist we come “to the city of the living God” and join in communion with the saints in our worship of God (Hebrews 12:22). They are that great “cloud of witnesses” which surrounds us, and we seek to imitate them in running “the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Rejecting or ignoring the communion of saints is a denial that those who have died in Christ are still part of His Holy Church.
- CONFESSION is the open admission of known sins before God and man. It means literally “to agree with” God concerning our sins. Saint James admonishes us to confess our sins to God before one another (James 5:16). We are also exhorted to confess our sins directly to God (1 John 1:9). The Orthodox Church has always followed the New Testament practices of confession before a priest, as well as private confession to the Lord. Confession is one of the most significant means of repenting and of receiving assurance that even our worst sins are truly forgiven. It is also one of our most powerful aids for forsaking and overcoming those sins.
- DISCIPLINE may become necessary to maintain purity and holiness in the Church and to encourage repentance in those who have not responded to the admonition of brothers and sisters in Christ, and of the Church, to forsake their sins. Church discipline often centers around exclusion from receiving Communion (ex-communication). The New Testament records how Saint Paul ordered the discipline of ex-communication for an unrepentant man involved in sexual relations with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). The Apostle John warned that we are not to receive into our homes those who willfully reject the truth of Christ (2 John 9, 10). Throughout her history, the Orthodox Church has exercised discipline with compassion when it is needed, always to help bring a needed change of heart and to aid God’s people to live pure and holy lives, never as a punishment.
- MARY is called Theotokos, meaning “God-bearer” or “the Mother of God,” because she bore the Son of God in her womb and from her He took His humanity. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, recognized this reality when she called Mary, “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43). Mary said of herself, “All generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). So we, in our generation, call her blessed. Mary lived a chaste and holy life, and we honor her highly as the model of holiness, the first of the redeemed, the Mother of the new humanity in her Son. It is bewildering to Orthodox Christians that many professing Christians who claim to believe the Bible never call Mary blessed nor honor her who bore and raised God the Son in His human flesh.
- INTERCESSORY PRAYER TO THE SAINTS is encouraged by the Orthodox Church. Why? Because physical death is not a defeat for a Christian. It is a glorious passage into heaven. The Christians does not cease to be a part of the Church at death. God forbid! Nor is he set aside, idle until the Day of Judgment.
The True Church is composed of all who are in Christ–in heaven and on earth. It is not limited in membership to those presently alive. Those in heaven with Christ are alive, in communion with God, worshiping God, doing their part in the Body of Christ. They actively pray to God for all those in the Church–and perhaps, indeed, for the whole world. So we pray to the saints who have departed this life, seeking their prayers, even as we ask Christian friends on earth to pray for us.
- APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION has been a watershed issue since the second century, not as a mere dogma, but as crucial to the preservation of the Faith. Certain false teachers came on the scene at that time insisting they were authoritative representatives of the Christian Church. Claiming authority from God by appealing to special revelations, some were even inventing lineages of teachers supposedly going back to Christ or the Apostles. In response, the early Church insisted there was an authoritative apostolic deposit passed down from generation to generation. They detailed that actual lineage, showing how its clergy were ordained by those chosen by the successors of the Apostles chosen by Christ Himself.
Apostolic succession is an indispensable factor in preserving unity in the Church. Those in that succession are accountable to it, and are responsible to ensure that all teaching and practice in the Church is in keeping with her apostolic foundations. Mere personal conviction that one’s teaching is correct can never be considered adequate proof of accuracy. Today, critics of apostolic succession are those who stand outside that historic succession and seek an identity with the early Church only. The burgeoning number of denominations in the world can be accounted for in large measure because of a rejection of apostolic succession.
- COUNCILS OF THE CHURCH. A monumental conflict (recorded in Acts 15) arose in the early Church over legalism, the keeping of Jewish laws by the Christians, as means of salvation “Now the apostles and elders came together [in council] to consider this matter” (Acts 15:6). This council, held in Jerusalem, set the pattern for the subsequent calling of councils to settle problems. There have been hundreds of such councils–local and regional-over the centuries of the history of the Church, and three,namely Nicea, Ephesus and Constantinople councils specifically designated “Ecumenical,” that is, considered to apply to the whole Church. The Orthodox Church looks particularly to these Ecumenical Councils for authoritative teaching in regard to the faith and practice of the Church, aware that God has spoken through them.
- CREED comes from the Latin credo, “I believe.” From the earliest days of the Church, creeds have been living confessions of what Christians believe and not simply formal, academic, Church pronouncements. Such confessions of faith appear as early as the New Testament, where, for example, Saint Paul quotes a creed to remind Timothy, “God was manifested in the flesh. . .” (1 Timothy 3:16). The creeds were approved by Church councils, usually to give a concise statement of the truth in the face of the invasion of heresy. The most important creed in Christendom is the Nicene Creed, the product of two Ecumenical Councils in the fourth century. Fashion in the midst of a life-and-death controversy, it contains the essence of New Testament teaching about the Holy Trinity, guarding that life-giving truth against those who would change the very nature of God and reduce Jesus Christ to a created being rather than God in the flesh. The creeds give us a sure interpretation of the Scriptures against those who would distort them to support their own religious schemes. Called the “Symbol of Faith” and confessed in many of the services of the Church, the Nicene Creed constantly reminds the Orthodox Christian of what her personally believes, keeping his faith on track.
- ICONS are images of Christ, of His angels, of His saints, and of events such as the Birth of Christ, His Transfiguration, His death on the Cross, and His Resurrection. Icons actually participate in and thus reveal the reality they express. In the image we see and experience the Prototype. An icon of Christ, for example, reveals something of Christ Himself to us. Icons are windows to heaven, not only revealing the glory of God, but becoming to the worshiper a passage into the Kingdom of God. The history of the use of icons goes back to the early Church-Tradition tells us Luke the Evangelist was the first iconographer. Orthodox Christians do not worship icons, but they honor them greatly because of their participation in heaven’s reality.
- SPIRITUAL GIFTS. When the young Church was getting underway, God poured out His Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers, giving them spiritual gifts to build up the Church and serve each other. Among the specific gifts of the Spirit mentioned in the New Testament are: apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, pastoring, teaching, healing, helps, administrations, knowledge, wisdom, tongues, interpretation of tongues. These and other spiritual gifts are recognized in the Orthodox Church. The need for them varies with the times. The gifts of the Spirit are most in evidence in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church.
- SECOND COMING. With the current speculation in some corners of Christendom surrounding the Second Coming of Christ and how it may come to pass, it is comforting to know the beliefs of the Orthodox Church are basic. Orthodox Christians confess with conviction that Jesus Christ “will come again to judge the living and the dead,” and that “His Kingdom will have no end.” Orthodox preaching does not attempt to predict God’s prophetic schedule, but to encourage Christian people to have their lives in order that they might have confidence before Him when He comes (1 John 2:28).
- HEAVEN is the place of God’s throne beyond time and space. It is the abode of God’s angels, as well as of the saints who have passed from this life. We pray, “Our Father, who are in heaven. . .” Though Christians live in this world, they belong to the Kingdom of heaven, and that Kingdom is their true home. But heaven is not only for the future. Neither is it some distant place billions of light years away in a nebulous “great beyond.” For the Orthodox, heaven is part of Christian life and worship. The very architecture of an Orthodox church building is designed so that the building itself participates in the reality of heaven. Saint Paul teaches we are raised up with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), “fellow citizens with the saint and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). At the end of the age, a new heaven and a new earth will be revealed (Revelation 21:1).
- HELL, unpopular as it is among modern people, is real. The Orthodox Church understands hell as a place of eternal torment for those who willfully reject the grace of God. Our Lord once said, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched–where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched’ ” (Mark 9:43, 44). He challenged the religious hypocrites with the question: “How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). His answer is, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). There is a Day of Judgment coming, and there is a place of punishment for those who have hardened their hearts against God. It does make a difference how we live this life. Those who of their own free will reject the grace and mercy of God must forever bear the consequences of that choice.
- CREATION. Orthodox Christians confess God as Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1, the Nicene Creed). Creation did not just happen into existence. God made it all. “TB faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. . .” (Hebrews 11:3). Orthodox Christians do not believe the Bible to be a scientific textbook on creation, as some mistakenly maintain, but rather God’s revelation of Himself and His salvation. Also, helpful as they may be, we do not view scientific textbooks as God’s revelation. They may contain both known facts and speculative theory. They are not infallible. Orthodox Christians refuse to build an unnecessary and artificial wall between science and the Christian Faith. Rather, they understand honest scientific investigation as a potential encouragement to faith, for all truth is from God.
- ABORTION is the termination of a pregnancy by taking the life of the baby before it comes to full term. The Scriptures teach, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). When an unborn child is aborted, a human being is killed. There are at least two effective alternatives to abortion: 1) prevention of conception by abstinence or contraceptives, or 2) giving up an unwanted baby for adoption. For the Christian, all children, born or unborn, are precious in God’s sight and a gift from Him. Even in the rare case in which a choice must be made between the life of the child and the life of the mother, decision-making must be based upon the recognition that the lives of two human persons are at stake.
- CULTS. The world “cult” has several meanings. The usage to which we refer designates a group of people who focus on a religious doctrine which deviates from the Tradition of the historic Church as revealed by Jesus Christ, established by His Apostles, and guarded by the three Ecumenical Councils of the Church. A cult usually originates around a particular personality who proclaims a heresy as truth. The error itself assures the separation of the group from historic Christianity. Many cults claim the Bible as their basis, but they alter the historic interpretation of Scripture to persist in their own idea. Cults may do some things that are good (e.g., care for the poor, emphasize the family) and thus at least initially appear to be part of true Christianity to casual observers. Saint Paul’s counsel on cults is, “From such withdraw yourself’ (1 Timothy 6:5). The danger of a cult is that it removes those in it from the life of Christ and the Church, where the blessings and grace of God are found. All cults die; the Church lives on.
- MARRIAGE in the Orthodox Church is forever. It is not reduced to an exchange of vows or the establishment of a legal contract between the bride and groom. On the contrary, it is God joining a man and a woman into “one flesh” in a sense similar to the Church being joined to Christ (Ephesians 5:31, 32). The success of marriage cannot depend on mutual human promises, but on the promises and blessing of God. In the Orthodox marriage ceremony, the bride and groom offer their lives to Christ and to each other–literally as crowned martyrs.
- DIVORCE. While extending love and mercy to divorcees, the Orthodox Church is grieved by the tragedy and the pain divorce causes. Though marriage is understood as a sacrament, and thus accomplished by the grace of God and is permanent, the Church does not deal with divorce legalistically, but with compassion. After appropriate pastoral counsel, divorce may be allowed when avenues for reconciliation have been exhausted. If there is a remarriage, the service for a second marriage includes prayers of repentance over the earlier divorce, asking God’s forgiveness and protection for the new union. A third marriage is generally not granted. Clergy who are divorced may be removed, at least for a time, from active ministry, and are not permitted to remarry if they are to remain in the ministry.
- PREMARITAL SEX. The Orthodox Christian Faith firmly holds to the biblical teaching that sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage. Sex is a gift of God to be fully enjoyed and experienced only within marriage. The marriage bed is to be kept “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4), and men and women are called to remain celibate outside of marriage. Our sexuality, like many other things about us human beings, affects our relationship with God, ourselves, and others. It may be employed as a means of glorifying God and fulfilling His image in us, or it may be perverted and abused as an instrument of sin, causing great damage to us and others. Saint Paul writes, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body. . .” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
Ann: Hello, Pastor, Hope you are doing fine
Pastor: I am fine in Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!
Ann: So how is the ministry?
Pastor: I came to convey a message to you. I am convinced that by the grace of God that you have some Biblical knowledge. Therefore you have to be baptized and be anointed in the Holy Spirit and need to be in communion with, saved sons of God. I have come to convey this message of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ann: I am already baptized!
Pastor: That was when? Long time ago when you were a baby, isn’t it? You didn’t know what faith was at that time, and certainly you could not have believed in Christ. Bible commands ‘believe and be baptized’. Therefore Bible commands adult-baptism.
Ann: I say, your opinion is contradicted in the 4:3 verse of the Letter to Laodiceans by St. Paul
Pastor: Letter to Laodiceans ? We can refer…. (Sings a song as a he turns the pages of the Bible.Ann smiles. After a while looking at Ann). There is no such book in the Bible.
Ann: If I show such a letter in the Bible, would you believe?
Pastor: I say there is no such letter by Paul in this Book? Are you making fun of me?
Ann: You could only tell me that there is no such book in the Bible after turning over all these pages? There is a letter written to the Laodicenas and the Bible talks about such a letter, but probably you may not have read it. Even if you did read it, you may not remember it. Any way read Colossians 4:16.
Pastor: “And when this letter is read before you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans and you yourselves read the one from Laodicea”.
Ann: So what do you think? Is there such a letter or not?
Pastor: I understand now that there is such a letter. I had never heard this before. But it has not been added in the bible.
Ann: Apostle Paul wrote both these letters, one to the Colossians and the other to the Laodicenas. One has been added to the Bible and the other was not. Who’s fault is this? Actually, church members were commanded to read both. There also are other books which are not included in the Bible.
Pastor: That is new to me. Which are these?
Ann: Ok, I will explain. Before we discuss infant baptism and other theologically controversial subjects, we need to understand the Early Church and the Bible. Without this, it is difficult to explain these subjects.
Pastor: This is interesting. The letter to Laodicenas is Biblical. Likewise I need to hear about books or letters, which are referred to in the Bible but are not in the Bible.
Ann: Ok, read 1 Corinthians 5:9
Pastor: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral people”.
Ann: In which letter did Paul write this? There is no such verse in 1 Corinthians. Then where did Paul write this verse? So Paul might have written a letter before this one, which we consider as 1 Corinthians. But we misplaced or lost that letter and was not included in the Bible.
Pastor: I agree. Any more letters like this?
Ann: Yes. 1 Chronicles 29:29 “Now the deeds of King David, first and last, can be found written in the history of Samuel the seer, the history of Nathan the prophet and the history of Gad the seer”. Again 2 Chronicles 9:29 and 2 Chronicles 20:34 refers to some books. (a) Prophesy of Ahijah the Shilonite and (b) in the visions of Iddo the seer son of Nebat; and (c) Chronicles of Jehu”). None of these books are included in the Bible. And we have not got it. In Mathew 2:23, the author says that prophets have mentioned “He [Jesus] shall be called a Nazorean”. But none of the present Old Testament books have this verse. Jude (1:14) mentions Prophesy of Enoch, which is not in the bible. (This is quoted from the Apocryphal Book of Enoch 1,9).
Pastor: Ok I agree to all this. Let us talk with what is available now
Ann: Please don’t be mistaken. I will prove my point only with Biblical verses. All I am telling here is that, there are so many books we are suppose to read and obey, but are not included in the Bible. In other words, Bible is not complete.
Pastor: Let us talk about the ‘Church, the bride of our Lord’
Ann: Read Ephesians 1:22-23
Pastor: “And he put all things beneath his feat and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way” (As God ‘fills’ Christ, Christ in turn ‘fills’ the church and the believer).
Ann: Here two things are said about the church: 1) Church is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ 2) The church is complete and is filled with the Holy Spirit. Now read Ephesians 4:11-13.
Pastor: “And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers to equip the Holy One for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ until we all attain the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God to mature mankind”.
Ann: What this says is Jesus has appointed in his Church apostles, evangelists, and pastors for ‘filling’ the Church or they are appointed for the spiritual enrichment. Now read Colossians 1:24
Pastor: “in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church”
Ann: Here also it is said that the Church is the body of Christ. In Colossians 1:18 it is said that Jesus is the head of the church and church is His body. In Ephesians 5:23 it is said, “For husband is head of his wife just as Christ is the head of the church “. In Ephesians 3:21 it says “to him glory in the church and in Christ to all generations.” All this verses says church is Holy, Complete, and gracious. Now Read 1 Timothy 3:14, 15.
Pastor: “You know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”
Ann: We can learn three things from this: 1) Church is the pillar of truth 2) Church is the foundation of truth 3) Church is of living God. Now read Mathew 16:18
Pastor: “And I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”.
Ann: This is the command from our Lord. We have to note two things. 1) The church is established on Faith proclaimed by Peter. 2) The forces of netherworld will not prevail against it, because church is so powerful and rock solid. Now read Mathew 18:17
Pastor: “If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a gentile or a tax collector”
Ann: This is also very significant. Our Lord commands that any one who does not obey the church, which is the pillar and foundation of truth, and which is established on the faith proclaimed by Peter and which cannot be defeated by any forces, should be expelled from the church. Please read Acts 20:28.
Pastor: “(to the presbyters of the church) Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood”
Ann: This verse says Holy Spirit appoints the presbyters or overseers of the church. Our Lord told the Apostles that he chose the apostles and not vice versa. Holy Spirit selects the anointed presbyters.
Pastor: I agree with all this. But the basis of the church is the Bible. Then why is that teachings of your church not according to the Bible. This is what I want to know.
Ann: Let us look at the Bible itself to learn the truth. The basis of faith is not the Bible but the Church. We learned from 1 Timothy that the pillar and foundation of truth is the church. But you say it is not. Do you know that the Bible was compiled 300 years after the church was established?
Pastor: We have to talk based on the Bible. Show me the proof from the Bible. Praise the Lord.
Ann: First, you have to understand that everything that Christ taught and did is not in the Bible.
Pastor: Ann, you should not say so. It is an unforgiving sin. This is the word of God and it contains everything Christ taught and did. I will not agree to anything not in this Bible. Praise the Lord. If this is your faith, let us not continue. Praise the Lord.
Ann: I am sorry Pastor. This is not my opinion. Actually I quoted from the Bible.
Pastor: Where does it say so?
Ann: Read John 21:25
Pastor: “There are so many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”
Ann: What do you think now? Didn’t I quote from the Bible? John 20:30 also says that Jesus did “many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.” Every thing I said is as per the Bible.
Pastor: That is… (Keeps quiet)
Ann: You did not answer me. You told me that you would agree to the evidences from the Bible.
Pastor: This verse says that there is lot more to be written about the life of Jesus. But it does not say that any of his teachings are missed. May be they added all his teachings!
Ann: Why you are saying like this? Jesus taught through his life. Read Acts 1:3
Pastor: “…Until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God”
Ann: I hope that it is clear now. Jesus was teaching the apostles for 40 days about the kingdom of God. But the 4 epistles contain only things up to the resurrection. So what ever Jesus taught in those 40 days are not in the Bible. Don’t you think we have to obey the things He taught during those 40 days also? Don’t you agree with me that the Bible is incomplete? Even Jesus said “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he come, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth”. (John 16:12,13). These things, which our Lord should have taught and which subsequently taught by the Holy Spirit, are not in the Bible. Still our Lord has commanded as to obey and do as per those teachings from the Holy Spirit.
Pastor: I agree many teachings are not in the epistles. But they are in letters. Bible does not mean epistles alone.
Ann: The letters in the Bible were meant as reply to letters the apostles received and/or doubts asked to them. Those letters are not complete. We saw a letter to Laodicenas before. Any way read Philippians 4:9
Pastor: “Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you”
Ann: I am sure this verse is very clear. Paul says that the church members should obey not only what is written to them, but also what ever he taught them orally or even observing what he did. So the things written in letters are necessary things. But Paul clearly says that this is not enough. So don’t you agree that everything that we should do and practice is not in the Bible? So think of it. You base your faith on the Bible. But the Bible says your faith should be based on the apostles oral teaching and even by observing them.
Pastor: Since it is a Biblical verse, I will agree. But since it is not in the Bible how do we know all those things?
Ann: That I will say later on. But for now read 2 Thess 2:15
Pastor: “therefore brothers stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter to ours”.
Ann: From this verse we can learn three things. 1) The teachings to the church were delivered by letters or orally. (By mouth). 2) The church member have to obey both teachings, not one. 3) If some one says that he will accept only the written teachings and not oral one, it is disobedience to Gods commands. It is disrespectful to these Biblical verses. Can you agree to this truth?
Pastor: I agree, this is what we can infer from these verses. But how do we know what is being taught orally or what the early church members learned by observing the apostles? There is no way we could know all this.
Ann: There is a way for everything. In 2 John 12: “Although I have much to write to you, I do not intend to use paper and ink. Instead I hope to visit you and speak face to face so that our joy may be complete”. That was John’s opinion. He says he has to teach many more things, which is not written, which he will visit them and teach them. Now Read 3 John 13,14.
Pastor: “I have much to write to you, but I do not wish to write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, then we can talk face to face “
Ann: Are you listening to all this pastor? All this things, which John says that he will teach face to face, is also required for salvation. He says he does not wish to write down those things. So it is clear for you that every thing that is required for salvation is not in the Bible. And so the basis of faith is not the Bible, but the church. Now Read 1 Corinthians 11:34.
Pastor: “ The other matters I shall set in order when I come.”
Ann: Paul writes to Corinthians that they are some things, which need to be set in order, and he would do it when he visits them. Isn’t it obvious that those things are not written in the letter to Corinthians? Now read 2 Timothy 2:2
Pastor: “What you have heard from me through many witness entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well”
Ann: It is also clear that – such things heard or witnessed from Paul is not in this letter. So I have a question. By learning the Bible in full, can someone learn everything about the faith in complete?
Pastor: Ann, All these are Bible verses. I understand and I agree. These are all new information for me. I had never thought this way before. I am surprised. But you still did not tell me how to understand the faith that is given orally. Is this Bible unimportant or incomplete?
Ann: Whatever books are included in the Bible are complete and holy. But to learn Christian faith in total, we have practices and faiths that are not described in the Bible. We must receive them also. Bible commands this.
Pastor: We believe that basis of faith and church is the Bible.
Ann: Many new churches believe so. But I will show the foolishness of that thinking. Do you know when the epistles and letters were written?
Pastor: That is many years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first epistles were written by Mark at around AD 60 and 65 and last one by John at around AD 100
Ann: Good. But when was the beginning of the church?
Pastor: On the day of Pentecost, when Holy Spirit came down and anointed the apostles.
Ann: So, wasn’t the Church established before the Bible books were written?
Pastor: Yes, I have no doubt in it.
Ann: So how is this possible? How is that Bible that was no were around when the Church was established; be the foundation of the church? How can we build a house with out proper foundation? Can we build a foundation after the house is built? So how did the church start when there was no Bible? We have found that the Bible is incomplete. But our Lord is complete and so His church is also complete. Therefore Bible, which is incomplete, cannot be the basis of Church, which is complete.
Pastor: Since there was no Bible, how did the Church establish the faith of the church?
Ann: The disciples taught the believers things that they learned from our Lord by seeing and hearing from Him. The practices of the church were shown to these church members. Paul commanded to the believers “Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.”(Philippians 4:9) And they did. And as ordered in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, ‘stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by oral statement or by a letter of ours” and they obeyed. The Church grew that way. Bible was never written as a constitution for the church nor was the church created based on the Bible. “I am sending you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful son in Lord; he will remind you of my ways in Christ, just as I teach them everywhere in every church” 1 Corinthians 4:17”
Pastor: Then what is the relevance of the Bible?
Ann: Bible is a Holy Book approved by the Church. It is accepted by the Church for meditation, prayer, improving one’s faith and improving ones knowledge. It is read and studied with great reverence. These holy books inspired by the Holy Spirit have been written in different era proves that the practices and faith of the church are right and true. Every faith and practice of the church is Biblical. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let the one be accursed.” (1 Galatians 1:8). So whoever it is, you should not be obeying any thing other than what is being taught. Or else one is cursed.
Pastor: How do we know for sure that the practices and faith not in the Bible, are truly taught by the apostles?
Ann: We have to learn the early church practices through the Bible. Luckily we have letters and articles written by early church fathers also. Our Lord promised us that he will send us the Holy Spirit and that the Spirit will be with us forever. He sent us the Holy Spirit. Because of this, the Holy Spirit dwells in the church and leads the church in truth. Church is always faultless. To lead the church and its folks in truth and justice, Holy Spirit has anointed Presbyter and leaders. God separates them. “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has pointed you overseers” (Acts 20:28). The apostles asked Timothy to entrust to the faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well, what Timothy had learned from apostles. (2 Timothy 2:2). “As they (Paul and Timothy) traveled from city to city, they handed on to the people for observance the decisionsreached by the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem.” So the people “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The people where also given a command to “Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you “ (Hebrews 13:17). The teachings entrusted to those people have been preserved and is passed on from one generation to another. Paul said “I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them to you.”(1 Corinthians 11:2). “Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the holy Spirit that dwells within us.” (2 Timothy 1:13). It is our Lords command that “to Go and preach to world.” Thus apostolic faith has been passed on from generations to generations till this date.
Pastor: So we don’t have to follow the teachings in the Bible?
Ann: No, we have to obey everything in the Bible. Along with that we have to obey what is being taught to us orally also. This is what the Bible teaches us. You also practice some things which are handed down orally.
Pastor: Me? Practicing things not in Bible. No, I only live as per the Bible.
Ann: Is Sunday a Holy day for you?
Pastor: Yes. It is Lord’s Day.
Ann: The Bible tells us to observe Saturday as Holy Day. But you are observing it on Sunday. Why is that?
Pastor: Because every one does so. All Christians do.
Ann: It was the early church fathers that decided that the Lord’s Day should be Sunday and not Saturday. Though it was against Bible instruction, we all accept it because the church decided it. Like that we have to accept every thing the church taught us.
Pastor: I learned a lot about the Bible and its relevance to the Church. I am glad I did. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah
Ann: The teaching and prayers of the church has been shaped based on the Bible and as per teachings of the apostles (Philippians 3:8). All orthodox churches all over the world have practices that are learned thus. These are as per the teachings of the apostles. None of the churches prayers or practices are against the Bible. We are asked to obey both written and oral teachings. But what is being taught orally cannot be found in written teachings. Isn’t it? Therefore we should not demand that every church practice should be shown in written teachings. Church is a visual institution. Our Lord established it and appointed presbyters and elders in various positions to guide and grow it. They were entrusted to guard and teach the teachings and practices of the church. They are asked to make disciples of the people who believed them. Those who believe and saved were added to the church. Our Lord decided an act or procedure called baptism as a necessary first step for joining the church. He gave them his blood and bread for spiritual prosperity and to be one with Jesus Christ. He sent the Holy Spirit to lead the church till the end of the world. Our Lord promised “I am with you always, until the end of the age” and promised that “You ask any thing in my name and it will be given”. Our Lord established the church and commanded to obey the church like one would obey our Lord. Dear Pastor, one has to obey this Church and not a book which this church has approved. The Bible supports and proves teachings of the church, its practices and procedures. It is not meant for interpreting as one pleases or to create confusion among people and to lead them astray. That is why Augustine said, “I believe in the Bible because it belongs to the church”. Therefore, one has to obey the church and learn the book of the church, which is the Bible.
Pastor: I am very glad to hear it. I learned a lot. Praise the Lord. Every thing that you told me is as per the Bible. To tell you the truth, I had grossly mistaken the Orthodoxchurch and its practices. I am convinced that I am wrong and I deeply regret it. I will rejoice in Christ that I am able to learn this Biblical truth. Praise the Lord.
Ann: Bye, See you later. Please come back and visit us.
Courtesy: This is an English translation of the book “Ann ammayumPastarum” originally written in Malayalam, by Late Fr.Geevarghese Anchal.
In the Holy Tradition of Christianity, making of sign of cross is a rich and meaningful practice. For We orthodox Christians it’s a sacrament, because when oneself make a sign of Cross, this action itself purifying that person, because making the sign of the Cross sums up the whole Christian faith in a single ritual act. The sign of the cross is made on one’s body, the body, mind and soul of that person are consecrated to God and that person will be protected from the trap of Satan and visible means can be achieved invisible grace.
But in each tradition of churches having different style of making of cross. We Malankara Orthodox Christians, will put together the fingers of right hand symbolizes the Holy Trinity, touching the forehead first and then moving down to the chest, then moving from the left shoulder, to the right shoulder. At the same time, the Byzantine Orthodox Churches like Russian Orthodox,make the sign of The Cross from right to left., it’s basically a difference in culture/cultural understanding. While we make the sign of cross from left to right emphasizing the He incarnated so that we who were sinful (represented by the left side) could taste salvation (symbolized by right side). However, in the Byzantine Churches, the meaning is that the Gospel of salvation was first proclaimed to Jews (symbolized by right side) and then passed onto Gentiles (symbolized by left).
While the Roman Catholics do it in a different way, After making the cross with their right hand they kiss their hand. Asked a explanation about this to Fr.Milton George, who is a Catholic Priest and a friend of mine. Achen gave this explanation…”The sign of the cross is closely tied to baptism. Jesus told the apostles, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that when Catholics are baptized “the sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the Redemption Christ won for us by his cross” .Thereafter, each time we make the sign of the cross we remember that we belong to Christ.
The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the sign of the cross: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God and calls on the Savior’s grace which lets him act in the Spirit as a child of the Father. The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties.Why do Roman Catholics make the Sign of the Cross when they say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”?Making the Sign of the Cross may be the most common of all actions that Catholics do. We make it when we begin and end our prayers; we make it when we enter and leave a church; we start each Mass with it; we may even make it when we hear the Holy Name taken in vain and when we pass a church where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.
But do you know why we make the Sign of the Cross? The answer is both simple and profound.
In the Sign of the Cross, we profess the deepest mysteries of the Christian Faith: the Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–and the saving work of Christ on the Cross. The combination of the words and the action are a creed–a statement of belief. We mark ourselves as Christians through the Sign of the Cross. And yet, because we make the Sign of the Cross so often, we may be tempted to rush through it, to say the words without listening to them, to ignore the symbolism of tracing the shape of the Cross on our own bodies. A creed is not simply a statement of belief–it is a vow to defend that belief, even if it means following Our Lord and Savior to our own cross.”Whatever the understanding may be, we ought to remember that while making the sign of cross all our faculties (mental and physical) are dedicated to the Triune God.
“Holy art Thou, O God!
Holy art Thou, Almighty,
Holy art Thou, Immortal,
† Crucified for us, Have mercy on us.”
“Some say that it has been taken and introduced from Isaiah the Prophet, for he saw a marvelous vision and was made worthy of a revelation from God, and heard from the Seraphim sanctifying the Lord of glory saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth” (Isaiah 6:3) and from him certainly holy men adapted it and appointed it in the Church. But others say that at the time of the Crucifixion, after Christ had given up His Spirit into the hands of the Father, the holy Seraphim came together round about the body of Christ, and sang thus hymn: “Holy art Thou, O God! Holy art Thou, Almighty, Holy art Thou, Immortal. They left out the phrase ‘who was Crucified for us…” ; very rightly did they leave out this phrase since it was not for them that He was crucified but for the whole race of men. At that time, Joseph the Councilor was present, who asked for the body of Christ from Pilate the judge and embalmed it and when he heard them (the angels) saying “Holy art Thou, O God!, Holy art Thou, Almighty, Holy art Thou, Immortal, his mind was enlightened and he added – “ who was Crucified for us, Have mercy on us” Others say it was fixed in the Church by Ignatius the fiery, the disciple of Paul the Apostle. He fixed it in the present manner of singing the service in two choirs. They say he was rapt in his mind even to heaven, and saw choirs of angels, one singing praise and the other answering to it and he heard this hymn there and fixed it in the Church. But again, it is said that by the shores of the sea, there is a bird that is ever singing this song of praise. But however this may be, it was by this holy man (Ignatius) that it was fixed in the Church.”
[Ref: (edited) Pg 13, 14; Moses Bar Kepha: Commentary on the Eucharist; Translated by Rev Fr Dr. B Varghese, 2014 edition, MOC Publications Kottayam.], article by Rincy Raju, Ahemedbad.
It was in the year 2009, April, 3rd, the Consecration of the Holy Chrism (Holy Mooron) was held in Malankara Church, by His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Didimos I, the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan. It was held at Devalokam Aramana Chapel, at the Head Quarters of Malankara Orthodox Church. Besides His Holiness, all their Graces the Metropolitans participated in the service. 12 specially deputed priests, 12 Full Deacons, and 12 Sub Deacons assisted them in the service.
Given below a list of Myron Koodasha held in Malankara.
|1.||1876||Patriarch Mar Ignatius Patros III||Marthoman Church, Mulanthuruthy|
|2.||1911||Patriarch Mar Ignatius Abdulla II||Marthoman Church, Mulanthuruthy|
|3.||1932||Catholicos Mar Baselios Geevarghese II||Old seminary Chapel, Kottayam|
|4.||1951||Catholicos Mar Baselios Geevarghese II||Old seminary Chapel, Kottayam|
|5.||1967||Catholicos Mar Baselios Augen I||Old seminary Chapel, Kottayam|
|6.||1977||Catholicos Marthoma Mathews I||Old seminary Chapel, Kottayam|
|7.||1988||Catholicos Marthoma Mathews I||Old seminary Chapel, Kottayam|
|8.||1999||Catholicos Marthoma Mathews II||Develokam Aramana Chapel, Kottayam|
|9.||2009||Catholicos Marthoma Didimos I||Develokam Aramana Chapel, Kottayam|
For the preparation of the Holy Chrism, either His Holiness the Patriarch or His Holiness the Catholicose will be the chief celebrant. The Holy Chrism is prepared by mixing olive oil with more than ten types of fragrant materials are mixed in a certain proportion. A Metropolitan will be spending time in special prayers and meditation for 40 days prior to the main day of consecration. His Holiness Pathros III was the chief celebrant for the consecration of Holy Mooron at Mulanthuruthy in 1876. H.H. Abdullah II Patriarch was the Chief celebrant of the Mooron Koodasa held at Mulanthuruthy in 1911. H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Geevarghese II, Catholicose was the chief celebrant for the preparation held at Old Seminary in 1932 and 1951. H.H. Moran Mar Baselios Augen I, Catholicose was the chief celebrant of the preparation held at Old Seminary in 1967. His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews I Catholicose was the chief celebrant of the preparation held at Old Seminary in 1977 and at Devalokam Aramana Chapel in 1988. H. H. Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews II was the chief celebrant of the preparation held at Devalokam Aramana Chapel in 1998. In substance Holy Mooron is like perfumed oil. In all Orthodox Churches Holy Chrism (Mooron) which literally means perfumed oil, is administered along with the Holy Baptism. The anointment of the Holy Mooron is considered as the anointment of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Mooron is used to consecrate the Church buildings, including the altar and the Tablaitos (Portable altars).
|Ingredients and preparation of Holy Mooron (Holy Chrism)|
H.G.Geevarghese Mar Coorilos and H.G.Dr.Abraham Mar Seraphim representing Malankara Church at Holy Muron Koodasha of Armenian Church.
On behalf of His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Paulos II, Catholicos of East, H.G.Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, the Diocesan Metropolitan of Bombay and H.G.Abraham Mar Seraphim went to Aremenia for attending the Eccumenical meeting and for the consecration of Holy Muron on 28th September, 2015. On September 26, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; an Ecumenical meeting was held in the Auditorium of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, with the participation of 39 heads and representatives of Christian Churches who traveled to Armenia on the occasion of the Blessing of the Holy Muron. His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Martirosyan, representing His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople; Bishops of the Mother See; Diocesan Primates of the Armenian Church and members of the Brotherhoods of the Mother See and the Hierarchical Sees were in attendance.Attending the Ecumenical meeting from the Christian churches and organizations were delegations and representatives of the Coptic Orthodox Church; Syrian Orthodox Church; Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church; Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East; Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria; Russian Orthodox Church; Serbian Orthodox Church; Romanian Orthodox Church; Orthodox Church of Cyprus; Czech Orthodox Church; Albanian Orthodox Church; Roman Catholic Church; Greek Catholic Church; Syrian Catholic Church; Armenian Catholic Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland; Community of Sant’Egidio and the World Council of Churches.
The blessings and consecration of the Holy Muron will be held today. The blessings and consecration of the Holy Muron (Chrism) is a sacred and mysterious service, which is traditionally held once every 5 to 7 years. Muron has two essential elements: olive oil and balsam, which are mixed with more than 40 varieties of incense, flowers, spices, flower essences, oils and leaves. 40 days before the Blessing and Consecration of Muron the caldron filled with pure olive oil, is placed on the altar of the Mother Cathedral and covered with a woven veil. During each of the 40 days, a special service is offered after the evening worship, in preparation for the upcoming Muron Blessing Ceremony.
In the Armenian Church, the right to Bless and Consecrate the Holy Muron is reserved for the Catholicos of All Armenians, who blesses it with three traditional Holy relics of our Church: the Relic of the True Cross, which contains a piece of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord; the Holy Lance ‘Geghard’ which pierced the side of Christ; and the reliquary of the Right Hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator.
The use of holy Muron (Chrism), in the Armenian Church dates back to the times of the Apostles. According to tradition, the oil blessed by Christ was brought to Armenia by the first Enlightener the Apostle St. Thaddeus. He anointed sick King Abgar with the oil he brought with him, and healed him. The Apostle then went to Taron, where he buried his bottle of oil under an evergreen tree. Later through the vision of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the first Armenian pontiff found it and mixed it with the Muron which he blessed. Each time the Catholicos of All Armenians blesses new Muron, the old Muron inherited from St. Gregory the Illuminator is mixed with the new Muron, as the graces contained in the old Muron are conveyed to the new Muron.
The sacraments of Baptism, and the Ordinations of Priest, Bishop and Catholicos are carried out with Muron. In ancient times the coronation ceremony of Armenian kings also used Muron. For new churches, foundation stones with carved crosses, the exterior dome cross, the Holy Altar, the traditional painting of the Christ child and Virgin Mary, the columns of the church, and icons are also consecrated with Muron. Each year on January 6, on Christmas, the Muron is dripped from a dove shaped vessel into a basin of water symbolizing the River Jordan, in remembrance of the Holy Spirit who descended on Christ during his baptism in the River Jordan.
The blessing of the Holy Muron is a sacred act for every Armenian. It is a uniting force for Armenians spread all over the world and a powerful tie between the past and present of this small nation. Holy Muron constantly reminds the faithful that they as Christians are born from the Holy font of the Armenian Church, carrying on their forehead the symbol of the Holy Spirit: through the seal of the Holy Muron. Over centuries and today, the Armenian nation is led by this exalted thought, and has always lived under the auspices of the blessings of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. For the Armenian bearing a forehead marked by the Holy Muron, it has become a symbol of blessedness and a national symbol, which is reflected in the disposition and mindset of the nation.