By Archbishop Averky(+) of Syracuse
Reprinted from Orthodox Christian Witness (Edited By B.C. Chrysostom)
|Few people today know that the Orthodox Church is nothing less than that Church which has
preserved untainted the genuine teachings of Jesus Christ, the very teachings delivered
to every subsequent generation of believers. These teachings came down the centuries from the Holy
Apostles, explicated and carefully interpreted by their legitimate successors (their disciples and
the holy Fathers), traditioned and conserved unaltered by our Eastern Church which is alone able to
prove her right to be called "the Orthodox Church."
The divine Founder of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, said clearly, "I will build My Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against Her". To the Church, He sent the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descended upon the Apostles, the Spirit of Truth Who "manifests all things" to Her and guides Her, protecting Her from error. Indeed, it was to declare this Truth to men that the Lord came into the cosmos, according to His own words. And St. Paul confirms this fact in his letter to his pupil, the bishop Timothy, saying that, "the Church of the living God is the ground and pillar of the Truth" (I Tim 3:15).
Because She is "the ground and pillar of the Truth," "the gates of Hell cannot prevail against Her." It follows, then, that the true Christian Church - unique since Christ established but one Church - has always existed on earth and will exist to the end of time. She has received the promise of Christ, "I will be with you even unto the end of the age." Can there be the slightest doubt that the Lord refers here to the Church?
Any honest and sane judgment, any act of good conscience, anyone familiar with the history of the Christian Church, the pure and unaltered moral and theological teachings of the Christian religion, must confess that there was but one true Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, and that She has preserved His Truth holy and unchanged. History reveals, moreover, a traceable link of grace from the holy Apostles to their successors and to the holy Fathers. In contrast to what others have done, the Orthodox Church has never introduced novelties into Her teachings in order to "keep up with the times", to be "progressive", "not to be left at the side of the road," or to accommodate current exigencies and fashions which are always suffused with evil. The Church never conforms to the world.
Indeed not, for the Lord has said to his disciples at the Last Supper, "You are not of this world." We must hold to these words if we are to remain faithful to true Christianity. The true Church of Christ has always been, is and will always be a stranger to this world. Separated from it, she is able to transmit the divine teachings of the Lord unchanged, because that separation has kept Her unchanged, that is, like the immutable GOD Himself. That which the learned call "conservativism" is a principal and, perhaps, most characteristic index of the true Church.
Since the Truth is given to us once and for all, our task is to assimilate rather than to discover it. We are commanded to confirm ourselves and others in the Truth and thereby bring everyone to the true Faith, Orthodoxy.
|© 1968 Orthodox Christian Witness|
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