The faith of Believers Eastern Church is rooted in the Apostle's doctrines and Holy Tradition of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” We believe the Bible to be the inspired and infallible Word of God, given to us by the Holy Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). We believe that the Holy Church has continued unbroken through the teachings of the the Apostles’ doctrines, the Holy Tradition and the teachings of the Orthodox Fathers, as preserved in the Nicene and Apostle's Creeds and affirmed by the first seven Ecumenical Church Councils: The first council of Nicaea, first council of Constantinople, council of Ephesus, council of Chalcedon, second council of Constantinople, third council of Constantinople, and the second council of Nicaea .
Adhering to the biblical faith of the ancient Church is Orthodoxy; therefore, we hold fast to that which has been the common, Scripturally-based faith from the beginning. However, each generation needs to practice and teach this Orthodox faith without compromise in a way that is understood and applicable by its culture and era.
The ancient Creed established at the Councils of Nicaea (325 A.D) and Constantinople (381 A.D.), known as the Nicene Creed, is the plumb line for the true, Orthodox faith. It summarizes and preserves the over 2,000-year-old core beliefs of Christianity, especially regarding the nature of Christ, the Trinity and the Church.
Believers Eastern Church affirms the Nicene Creed as the official statement of faith for our church. It is confessed by the faithful as part of our Divine Liturgy.
We believe in one God, the 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 worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made; being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and died and was buried; and the third day He rose again, 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.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. And we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.
Believers Eastern Church holds that the eternal truth of God’s revelation of redemption and restoration of humanity is in Jesus Christ and is preserved in the apostolic teaching and Holy Tradition of the Holy Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The Holy Scriptures are the heart of the tradition and the touchstone of the faith and worship of the Holy Church. While the Bible is the written testimony of God’s revelation—inerrant and infallible—the Holy Tradition is the living experience of the Church.
For the authentic, historical Church of 2,000 years, the Nicene Creed has become the symbol of faith. The Nicene Creed, also known as the Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed, was formally drawn up at the first council of Nicaea (AD 325) and at the second ecumenical council of Constantinople (AD 381).
The early Church made the historical and decisive decision to protect the purity of the Orthodox teachings of the holy faith, setting out all the absolutely non-negotiable truths in the Nicene Creed, which has become the constant guide and plumb line for the authentic faith, worship and practice of the Holy Church. The Creed has several points that articulate the doctrines of the Holy Church.
1. About God and the creation of the world.
We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance. Creation is the work in time of the Blessed Trinity. The world is not self-created, neither has it existed from eternity, but it is the product of the wisdom, power and will of the one God, the Holy Trinity.
2. Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the second person in the Holy Trinity. He is the Son of God, not created from another substance as is the case of mankind, but a Son – begotten of the very substance of the Father before all time and thus consubstantial with the Father.
He is also truly man, just like us in every aspect except sin. The denial of either His divinity or His humanity constitutes a denial of His incarnation and thus a denial of our salvation.
3. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father.
The faith of the Holy Church regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit was confirmed by the second ecumenical council, which added to the Creed the following clause, “And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father.”
4. The Church is the holy institution founded by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church was instituted to be the body of Christ, to live as He lived, proclaiming the message of salvation to the world. It is comprised of the people of God having one and the same faith and partaking of the sacraments. The clergy and priests are called to be shepherds of the people of God. They trace their descent by following an uninterrupted succession from the Apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. The Church is one because our Lord Jesus Christ founded not multiple, but only one Holy Church.
The Church is catholic (universal) because she is above local limitations. It is apostolic because she was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).
6. There are seven sacraments of the Church.
We recognize seven sacraments of the Holy Church: Holy Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Eucharist, confession, ordination, marriage, and holy unction.
• Baptism and Chrismation are the doors through which one becomes members of the Holy Church. During the sacrament of Baptism, by rejecting Satan, and accepting Christ, and through the act of immersion, the baptized person publicly declares that he is dead to the world and alive to Christ. In the sacrament of Chrismation (also called Confirmation) the baptized individual receives the ‘seal of the Holy Spirit’ by the anointing of Holy Chrism on his body.
• In the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, with the bread and the wine, we partake of the very body and the very blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and promise of eternal life. The Holy Scriptures and sacred traditions bear witness to the real presence of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
• In the sacrament of confession, Jesus Christ, through the confessor, forgives the sins committed by the person who confesses his/her sins and who sincerely repents of them.
• In the sacrament of ordination, through prayer and the laying on of hands by an episcopa, divine grace comes down upon the ordained person and enables him to be a worthy servant of the Church. Apostolic succession assures authentic continuity of the true Church.
• In the sacrament of marriage, divine grace sanctifies the union of a husband and wife.
• In the sacrament of holy unction, the sick person is anointed with sanctified oil and divine grace heals his/her body and spiritual ills.
7. There is resurrection of the dead.
Because man is created by God for life, we humans cannot reconcile the concept of death. Death was a consequence of the first man’s sin. St. Paul teaches us that “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin” (Romans 5:12). The fall marred man’s inner spiritual nature, as well as the entire visible world. The connection between human freedom and divine grace was destroyed. The original purpose of God was for man to experience deification. After the fall, man could no longer return to his previous condition by his own power.”
Yet, by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord conquered death by His death on the Cross and revealed to man the path leading from death and corruption to eternal life (Acts 2:24, 27-28; 2 Timothy 1:10).”
Although man remains mortal as before, death now has no power over him, for it was defeated by the risen Christ, the first fruit from the dead, the author and finisher of our faith. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep . . . so in Christ all shall be made alive . . . at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23; see also 1 Corinthians 15:53).”
All of Christianity is built on Christ’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:14). When brought into communion with Christ, man becomes whole with Him in the body of the Church, which is at once both human and divine. The sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist attest to this mystery (St. John 6:54-57; Romans 8:20-21).”
8. There is hope in the life of the world to come.
The Nicene Creed ends with the absolute hope for all followers of Christ: “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.” This is talking about the life that will be after the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s last judgement.
Man is given the freedom to choose his/her eternal destiny. It is in our life on earth that we lay the beginning of that life which will begin when our body dies. Man’s fate depends on how he lived his life on earth. If he has always been with Christ, joined closely to Him through faith and the holy sacraments in His visible organism of the Church, then after his death he shall also be with God, experiencing the blessed and eternal joy of living in communion with God (St. Matthew 5:3-10, 8, 11; St. Luke 13:28-29, 23:43; St. John 14:2; 1 Corinthians 15:50).
No human mind can comprehend or explain in earthly language or physical experience the ineffable joy that we will inherit in the world to come (St. John 17:3; 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4).
Only those who deliberately and willfully are stubborn and refuse the loving offer of God by hardening their hearts from repenting and trusting in God’s mercy through the Lord Jesus, remain outside communion with God at death, deprived of light and grace (Matthew 5:22, 29, 8:12, 22:13; Luke 16:23; Philippians 2:10).
The ideas and thoughts in this section are derived from the following websites: www.oca.org, www.goarch.org and www.stgeorgeor.org.
Scattered across our various dioceses, our centres for theological formation (seminaries) train both women and men to serve God by continuing Jesus mission of love and service for the glory of God.
Ten of these centres focus on imparting special training specifically to serve the poor and needy in downtrodden areas. The rest cater to training the seminarians to study the Word of God and learn all that is required to carry on the vision and mission of the Church.
Located in our Synod Secretariat campus, the St Ignatius Orthodox Theological Seminary (SIOTS) is the flagship seminary of the Church and provides bachelor's and master's degree programs that are recognized by renowned theological accrediting agencies.
Our training focuses on building a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus, providing practical ministry tools, teaching the fundamental tenants of the Church and establishing the groundwork for knowing and living out God's Word. This formation effectively equips our students to grow in their pastoral calling and enables them to become the future shepherds of our church.
While the rest of our seminaries offer theological diplomas, St Ignatius Orthodox Theological Seminary offers Bachelor of Theology, Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees that are accredited by the the Senate of Serampore College (University) and the Asian Theological Association. SIOTS's approach to teaching the Bible focuses on actively following Jesus rather than imparting intellectual knowledge alone. Classes cover a wide range of topics including theology, Church history and liturgical training as well as providing practical ministry opportunities.
As in all our seminaries, SIOTS's primary concern for each student is their spiritual life and character formation. The seminary is led by a group of clergy and teachers who are deeply involved with each one of them, ensuring that the students are mentored to live as followers of Christ.
The spiritual life in the seminary includes celebration of the Eucharist thrice a week, weekly times of fasting and specific time taken for studying and meditation on God's Word, throughout the day. Students spend one day of each month in silence and meditation. Apart from this, the students join with the community in prayer on all Tuesday evenings and once in a month, for a special whole-night prayer.