Doctrines And Creeds
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DOCTRINES AND CREEDS. - The Greek Church has no creeds in the modern Western use of the word, no norincttive summaries of what must be believed. It has preserved the older idea that a creed is an adoring confession of the church engaged in worship ; and, when occasion called for more, the belief of the church was expressed more by way of public testimony than in symbolical books. Still the doctrines of the church can be gathered from these confessions of faith. The Greek creeds may be roughly placed in two classes, - the cecumenical creeds of the early undivided church, and later testimonies defining the position of the Orthodox Church of the East with regard to the belief of the Roman Catholic and of Protestant Churches. These testimonies were called forth mainly by the protest of Greek theologians against Jesuitism on the one hand and against the reforming tendencies of Cyril Lucaris on the other. The Orthodox Greek Church adopts the doctrinal decisions of the seven cecumenical councils, together with the canons of the Concilium Quinisextum or second Trullan council ; and they further hold that all these definitions and canons are simply explanations and enforcements of the Nicmo-Constantinopolitan creed and the decrees of the first council of Nima. The first four councils settled the orthodox faith on the doctrines of the Trinity and of the Incarnation ; the fifth supplemented the decisions of the first four. The sixth declared against Monotheletism ; the seventh sanctioned the worship (8ovXei.a not dATIOLv7) Arurpda) of images ; the council held in the Trullas (a saloon in the palace at Constantinople) supplemented by canons of discipline the doctrinal decrees of the fifth and sixth councils.
The Reformation of the 16th century was not without effect on the Greek Church. Some of the Reformers, notably Melanchthon, expected to effect a reunion of Christendom by means of the Greeks, cherishing the same hopes as the modern Old Catholic divines and their English sympathizers. Melanchthon himself sent a Greek translation of the Augsburg Confession to Joasaph, patriarch of Constantinople, and some years afterwards Jacob Andrea; and Martin Crusius began a correspondence with Jeremiah, patriarch of Constantinople, in which they asked an official expression of his opinions about Lutheran doctrine. The result was that Jeremiah answered in his Censura Orientals Bcdeske condemning the distinctive principles of Lutheranism.
The reformatory movement of Cyril Lncaris brought the Greek Church face to face with Reformation theology. Cyril was a learned Cretan, who, having travelled extensively in Europe, and having become acquainted with and devoted to the Reformed faith, was afterwards elected patriarch of Alexandria in 1602 and patriarch of Constantinople in 1621. He conceived the plan of reforming the Eastern the Turks at the instigation of the Jesuits. The church anathematized his doctrines, and in its later testimonies repudiated his confession on the one hand and Jesuit ideas on the other. The most important of these testimonies are Russia. Founding on these doctrinal sources the teaching of the Orthodox Greek Church is :-1 Christianity is a Divine revelation communicated to mankind through Christ ; its saving truths are to be learned from the Bible and tradition, the former having been written, and the latter maintain.ed uncorrupted through the influence of the Holy Spirit ; the inteip•etation of the Bible belongs to the Church, which is taught by the holy Spirit, but every believer may road the Scriptures.
According to the Christian revelation, God is a Trinity, that is, the Divine Essence exists hi Three Persons, perfectly equal in nature and dignity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; THE HOLY GHOST PROCEEDS FROM THE FATHER ONLY. Besides the Triune God there is no other object of divine worship, but homage (u7repSovAla) may be paid to the Virgin Mary, and reverence (beside) to the saints and to their pictures and relics.
Man is born with a corrupt bias which was not his at creation ; the first man, when created, possessed IMMORTALITY, PERFECT WISDOM, AND A WILL REGULATED BY REASON. Through the first sin Adam and his posterity lost IMMORTALITY, AND IIIS.WILL RECEIVED A BIAS TOWARDS EVIL. In this natural state man, who even before he actually sins is a sinner before Cod by original or inherited sin, commits manifold actual transgressions ; but he is not absolutely without power of will towards good, and is not always doing evil.
Christ, the Son of God, became man in two natures, which internally and inseparably united make One Person, and, according to the eternal purpose of God, has obtained for man reconciliation with Cod, and eternal life, inasmuch as He by His vicarious death has made satisfaction to God for the world's sins, and this satisfaction was PERFECTLY COMMENSURATE WITII THE SINS OF THE WORLD. Man is made partaker of reconciliation in spiritual regeneration, which he attains to, being led and kept by the Holy Ghost. This divine help is offered to all omen without distinction, and may be rejected. In order to attain to salvation, man is justified, and when SO justified CAN DO NO MORE THAN THE COMMANDS OF GOD. He may fall from a state of grace through mortal sin.
Regeneration is offered by the word of God and in the sacraments, which under visible signs communicate God's invisible grace to Christians when administered cum intention,. There are seven mysteries or sacraments. Baptism entirely destroys original sin. In the Eucharist the true body and blood of Christ are substantially present, and the elements are changed into the substance of Christ, whose body and blood are corporeally partaken of by COMM unicants. ALL Christians should receive the bread and the WINE. The Eucharist is also an expiatory sacrifice. The new birth when lost may be restored through repentance, which is not merely (4) sincere sorrow, but also (2) confession of each individual sin to the priest, and (3) the discharge of penances imposed by the priest for the removal of the temporal punishment which may have been imposed by God and the Church. Penance accompanied by the judicial absolution of the priest makes a true sacrament.
The Church of Christ is the fellowship of ALL THOSE WHO ACCEPT AND PROFESS ALL TILE ARTICLES OF FAITH TRANSMITTED BY THE APOSTLES AND APPROVED BY GENERAL SYNODS. Without this visible Church there is no salvation. It is under the abiding influence of the Holy Ghost, and therefore cannot err in matters of faith. Specially appointed persons are necessary in the service of the Church, and they form a threefold order, distinct jure divino from other Christians, of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. TI1E FOUR