THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
LIKE HER HEAD IS
BOTH DIVINE AND HUMAN
The Holy Church is a society of men confessing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Godman, who is the Head of the Body. The Church is not organized with a power structure having blind obedience to a Bishop, Patriarch, or Pope, but with the entire Body who have freely chose to be obedient to the commandments of Jesus Christ, and who do His will. Christ alone has pre-eminence, and directly beneath Him, are not necessarily Patriarchs or Bishops, but those of any rank or no rank, who love Him with all their hearts and souls, and keep His commandments as proof of their love. The law of Christ guides all members throughout their lives, and they constantly rejoice in Jesus Christ crucified, risen on the third day and ascended into heaven. Truth of Christ is the rule of every member, and is known through His words, and the words of His Evangelists, and Saints.
The Church, like her Lord, is both divine and human, and, guided by the Holy Spirit is the continuation of Christ’s work in the world. No man, patriarch, pope, bishop, can be the head or man in charge, or guide of the Church due to its being a divine human institution.
Jesus Christ founded His Church on the confession of Peter speaking for all the Apostles: “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God!” “Upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” It is not possible for Peter to qualify as the head of the Church, for the Head and Guide of the Church is the divine portion, while its members and servers are the human portion. It is necessary that Christ be the Head and the Holy Spirit be the Guide of the Body for lacking this, it would not be divine human as is its Head. Nor could it be simply human, being the Body of Christ, for as the Head is divine and human , the Body must have the same nature. The Papacy usurped these offices and established a competing church which is totally human, having no divine entity, They displaced Christ replacing Him with a man as both its head and its guide.
Orthodoxy, recognizing Christ as her Head, receives her laws from Him, and in her obedience she receives His strengthening and divine protection, as He promised: “Behold, I am with you to the close of the age” (Mat. 28:20). Jesus also says: “Where two of three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mat.18:20). He did not leave us and “go up to heaven” nor did He leave heaven and “come down to earth,” for everything is done according to divine providence and He remains our Head, perfect God and perfect man.
Orthodoxy being the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Synods, is perfectly governed by the dogma and sacred Canons received from all Seven Ecumenical Synods, and those synods and individuals whom they accepted These are collected in the book and CD: The Rudder of the Holy Orthodox Church. (CD is available through this site).
We can never turn the calendar back and return to the original church, for the Church was infantile in the beginning and needed to advance and increase. Before Pentecost, the Church held the true faith but lacked fearlessness and power, which descended on them from heaven with the sound of a rushing mighty wind and with cloven tongues of fire. This emboldened the disciples and filled them with Holy Spirit, who is now became their strength, Guide and Comforter. The disciple also became the Apostles and began to fearlessly and mightily preach the Gospel.
Now the Church was ready and able to fulfill what the Lord had commanded and destined her to do. “Go forth and preach the Gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit . . . ” The divine human Church could be likened to an army going to battle against the troops of Satan, her Commander in chief is Jesus Christ, Her Guide is the Holy Spirit who sharpens the two-edged sword, coming from their mouths, enabling them to deliver mortal wounds to the enemy. This double-edged sword, not being steel but the powerful truths from heaven, instead of killing men it seeks to transform its worst enemies into Christian Saints and Martyrs. The infantile Church grew into full knowledge of the divine Savior. She was united as one with Christ through the sharing of His own Body and Blood.
What is the nature of the Church? It is the same dual nature as Christ, loving what Christ loves, hating what Christ hates, thinking what He thinks, desiring what He desires, joyfully keeping His commandments and honoring His holy will. The Church is the Kingdom of God on earth and can be likened to a giant divine human transformation institution in which ordinary men are changed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ the Godman.
Saints constantly arise in the Church in every era, not so much by miracle working, but by that which leads to glorification which is the preservation of the pure Orthodox Faith, without which no man can be glorified or saved. The Church and Scripture establish that her members will be saved and judged, and this is accomplished in the following manner. Believing in truth entails consequences, and this is why few choose the believe or have faith, knowing that they will have to change their lives. Salvation does not come about by anything we do, that is by our works. It is the free gift of God to those who believe in and have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We are justified and saved by faith, and some may say that the sectarians agree. But they reject “works” as being a necessity for salivation and this is their great error, because they cannot escape sin.
The Holy Scripture repeatedly declares that we are saved by faith and justified by our works. These two are inseparable, because faith in Christ, necessarily requires the many works we must do. It is by these works that we will be judged: “Each man will be judged by what he has done.”
The Church is not only headed by Christ, but is God’s perfect work which St. Paul describes, saying: “And he gave some apostles; some prophets; and some evangelists; and some bishops and teachers. For the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ; until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we henceforth no longer be children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness; whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up to Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph 4:11 -16).
All these are required to be loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ, for this is the plan of God from the beginning, and the church’s organization is unchangeable, for God builds it up and eventually will complete it.
The Church is the divine human body of Christ being organized in a similar manner to our physical bodies as the Holy Spirit decides. The Church breathes in Christ, thinks in the Logos of God, and eats and drinks divine food, and we walk in the footsteps of Christ. The Bishops and Priests are like the hands and feet and are vital to the Body.They instruct, listen to confessions, perform the Mysteries, and sanctify the people through the special gracious gifts of Holy Spirit granted them for their important work.
Believing in the Orthodox Church should prompt us to continuously honor her as the only Holy One on the face of the earth. As there is one Lord and Head there is also one Body, the Church. There can be no duplicate, for either we are in communion with her or we are outside the Church. In the Church all of us and our children were churched, baptized, chrismated, communed, our sins were forgiven, we married and died and were buried, then remembered by the Church.
In the Church everyone from the highest rank to the lowest has one huge responsibility, to become more and more like Christ day by day, always seeking His moral perfection and thus become perfect images and likenesses of God, this being the reason for all creation! To those who pursue this goal, St. Paul promises that eye has not seen nor has ear heard nor did it enter into the heart of man, what God has prepared for them!