One Lord, One Church

July 24, 2016

There is a line of singularity, or oneness, that runs through the entire length of the Creed.

 

It begins with the confession of belief in “One God, the Father Almighty.” In keeping with God’s revelation given to Israel in the Old Testament, Orthodox Christians continue to confess not only the oneness of God but also that that there is, in fact, only really one God at all.

 

Then we quickly come to the confession of belief in “One Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of the God.” Already our mathematically oriented thinking puts “One God” with “One Lord” and we begin to think of two, a God and a Lord. But this is to miss what the Creed is trying to say: “the Lord” was another biblical word, a synonym, used for “God”. The Orthodox confession is that the one divinity of God the Father is the same one divinity shared with His Son, Jesus Christ (He is “Light of Light, true God of true God.”) And with the Holy Spirit, whom we also confess to be “the Lord,” there is no other thing that is at all like this One Triune, or three-person, God.

 

But the line of singularity, of oneness, continues: In the third Article of the Creed on the Holy Spirit we find the affirmation of faith “in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” By this time we should be clued in to the fact that when we talk about “One” in the Creed we are not just doing math. This is a oneness that is related to the other “One”s. In the Creed, when we confess that the Church is One, we are confessing, among other things, the Mystery that it is essentially rooted in the Divine One Himself. The point of connection to the One God comes through the Son, who became human and in that way united humanity to himself. Anyone, then, who unites themselves to Christ (through “one baptism”) becomes a “member” of what St. Paul calls the “Body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:7) The Church is not a separate entity but the human participation in the “One Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

The Church, then, is One simply because Christ is One. The Church cannot be divided because Christ Himself cannot be divided. The Church is not just a “spiritual” reality disconnected from “man-made organizations” because Christ is not just a spiritual reality but a man with a flesh and blood body who has completely risen from the dead. (Luke 24:39) The Church is not a collection of groups who hold conflicting beliefs because Christ is not in conflict with Himself. The Church is not overcome by suffering, death and corruption because Christ has overcome them all. The gates of Hades cannot prevail against the Church because Christ has trampled them underfoot.

 

In the end, all of this is just another way of saying what St. Paul said to the Ephesian Christians (4:4–6): There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

 

In Christ,

Dn Basil Ferguson

 

 

“Give me a word!”

 

Try to fill your soul with Christ so as not to have it empty. Your soul is like a cistern full of water. If you channel the water to the flowers, that is, to the virtues, you will experience true joy and all the thorns of evil will wither away. But if you channel the water to the weeds, these will grow and choke you and all the flowers will wither.

-St Porphyrios

 

Abraham, the disciple of Abba Sisoes, was once tempted by a demon and the elder perceived that he had fallen. He got up, stretched his hands to heaven and said, "O God, whether you want to or not, I am not letting you go until you heal him.” - and he was healed immediately.

-Sayings of the Desert Fathers

 

The grace of repentance, which acts in those who struggle, is a patristic inheritance. It is a divine transaction and exchange in which we give dust and receive heaven. We exchange matter for the Spirit. Every drop of sweat, every pain, every ascesis for God is an exchange.

-Elder Joseph the Hesychast

 

Sin makes man a coward; but a life in the Truth of Christ makes Him bold.

-St John Chrysostom

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