Son, and Holy Spirit
Christians' beliefs are
summarized in a creed (statement of Faith) called Nicene
Creed. We will explain some key beliefs of Christians below.
Concerning God the Father
Christians believe in God the Father, Who is without beginning, indescribable,
incomprehensible, Who is beyond every created essence, Whose essence is
known only to Himself, to His Son and the Holy Spirit. No one has seen Him.
God the Father never became the likeness of any
material form nor was He ever incarnate. Jesus said, "No man hath seen
God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father,
He hath declared Him," (John 1:18) and "Not that any man hath seen the
Father, save He Who is of God, He hath seen the Father" (John 6:46).
Christians further believe that God is the cause of all things as well as the end purpose of
all things. From Him all visible and invisible creatures have their
beginning and there was a time when they did not exist. He created the
universe out of absolutely nothing. The earth too had a beginning and man
was created by God's love. The creation of man and of the universe was not
out of necessity. Creation is the work of the free and unconditional will
of the Creator.
love is not one which gives Him satisfaction. God has no need to be
satisfied. He needs nothing. God's love cannot be compared to human love,
even as His other attributes such as paternity, justice, goodness cannot be
compared to their human counterparts. God's love is a love which
constitutes a mystery unfathomable to man's reason or intellect. God has no
"emotions" which might create passion, suffering, need or necessity in Him.
Nevertheless, although the nature of divine love remains incomprehensible
and inexplicable to human reason, this love is real and genuine.
Christians believe in the One, Holy,
Indivisible, Consubstantial, Life-Creating and Most Holy Trinity. In the
Trinity are three persons, that of the Father,
that of the Son and that of the Holy Spirit. The Father, the Son, and
the Holy Spirit are not three masks of a single person. None of
the persons is alienated from the others, but each has the fullness of the
Most Christians believe that from the moment of His conception in the virginal womb, Jesus
Christ was one person, yet having two natures. From His conception, He was
God and Man before birth, during birth and after birth. (Some Christians believe
that when Jesus was on the earth, he was only a man. In other words, the divine
and human natures were quite distinct and separate.)
While the two natures that came into the true union were different, yet He became
one Christ, the only Begotten Son. This is a Mystery that surpasses any
description or explanation.
St. Cyril of Alexandria
Holy Virgin Mary received the fire of the
Godhead in Herself without being consumed by it. She gave of Her own blood and of Her own flesh to the Incarnate
Word and that She fed Him with Her own milk.
Jesus Christ was, in His Godhead, begotten of the Father
outside of time without assistance of a father. He is without mother in His
divinity, and without father in His manhood.
Through the Incarnation, Virgin Mary became
truly the Theotokos -- the Mother of God -- in time. She was a Virgin
before, during and after birth.
Christians believe that matter is not co-eternal with the Creator. There was a
time when it did not exist, and that it was created out of nothing and in
time by the will and the Word of God.
Matter was created
good by God. Sin and corruption entered because of man, who was established
initially as the ruler of the material world.
Christians believe that creation will be purified by the fire of the Last
Judgment at the moment of the glorious Advent of our Savior Jesus Christ
and that it will be restored and regenerated and that it will constitute a
New Creation, according to the promise of the Lord:
"Behold, I make all
things new" (Rev. 21.5). "New heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth
righteousness" (II Peter 3:13).
Only God is eternal and immortal by nature and in essence.
The angels and the souls of men are immortal only because God bestows this
immortality upon them by grace. If if were not for the immortality which
God bestows by His divine will, neither the angels nor the souls of men
would be immortal of themselves.
Men's souls have no pre-existence. The how of the soul's birth, as well as
separation from the body at the moment of the latter's biological death that
it might be reunited to the body when the dead are raised at the Second and
glorious Coming of our Savior is a mystery which has not been revealed to us.
Man and Sin
God created man neither mortal nor immortal,
but capable of choosing between two states. Man's bad
choice and ill use of his free will caused his nature to be defiled by sin
and become mortal.
Human nature's defilement and alienation from God are
caused by sin which entered into the world through a single man, Adam. The
sacrament of baptism liberates us from the effects of sin and enables
us to "work" for our salvation. Unfortunately, even after our Baptism our
nature preserve our weakness. Baptism makes us eligible for the Divine adoption.
The actual adoption only happens at the glorious coming of Lord Jesus Christ.
Man and His Free Will
This is an area where different denominations of Christians disagree.
Some believe that man "works" for his salvation. Salvation is not imposed upon
him in spite of himself. Some believe in predestination. (All the events in
history are predetermined by God.) Some teaches that salvation is obtained solely by the endeavors
of human will.
Salvation is synergetic, that is, man
co-operates in the work of his salvation. God does not take upon Himself
the role which belongs to man; likewise, man can attain to nothing by his
own efforts alone, neither by his virtue, nor by observing the commandments,
nor by a good disposition. None of these things have any value for
salvation except in the contest of Divine Grace, for salvation can not be
Man's labors and the keeping of the commandments only
demonstrate his will and resolve to be with God, his desire and love for
God. Man cannot accomplish his part of co-operation in his salvation by his
own power, however small this part may be, and he must entreat God to grant
him the strength and grace necessary to accomplish it. If he perceives that
he does not even wish his own salvation, he must ask to receive this desire
from God "Who gives to all men and disregards none."
Thus, grace is granted only to those who are worthy of it.
Faith and Works
This compliments our beliefs about salvation and grace.
Man's natural virtue -- whatever its degree -- cannot save a
man and bring him to eternal life. The Scriptures teach: "All our
righteousness is like unto a menstrual rag" (Isaiah 64:6). The fulfillment
of the works of the Law does not permit us to demand or to merit something
from God. Not only do we have no merits or supererogatory works, but Jesus
Christ enjoins us that when we have fulfilled all the works of the Law, we
should esteem ourselves as nothing but "unprofitable servants" (Luke 17:10).
Without Jesus Christ, a man's personal virtue, his repute, his personal
value, his work, his talents and his faculties matter but little; they
matter only insofar as they test his devotion and faith in God.
in Jesus Christ is not an abstraction but rather a communion with Him. This
communion fills them with the power of the Holy Spirit and their faith becomes a
fertile reality which engenders good works in them as the Scriptures attest
"which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).
Thus, according to the Apostles, faith engenders true works; and true works,
which are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, bear witness and prove the existence
of a true faith. Since faith is neither abstract nor sterile, it is
impossible to dissociate it from good works.
Faith is a gift of God, and a man relying on his own
efforts, his own piety, or his own spirituality, cannot of himself possess
this faith. Yet faith is not imposed: to those who desire it, God grants
it, not because of a fatalistic predestination, but because of His Divine
foreknowledge and His disposition to co-operate with man's free will.
One of the
attributes of faith is the "lack of curiosity." It is neither works nor
faith, but only the Living God Who saves us.
The exact role of Virgin Mary is also an area different denominations
of Christians do not agree on.
Orthodox Christians and Catholics
believe that the nature of Virgin Mary is identical to our
own. After Her free and conscious acceptance of the plan of salvation
offered to man by God, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Her and the power of the
Most High covered Her, and "at the voice of the Archangel, the Master of all
became incarnate in Her." Lord Jesus Christ, the New Adam, partook
of our nature in all things save sin, through the Theotokos, the New Eve.
this birth, the nature of fallen man, the nature of Adam, which bore the wounds of sin,
of degeneration, and of corruption, was restored to its former beauty, and
now it partakes of the Divine nature. Man's nature, restored and regenerated
by grace, surpasses Adam's state of innocence previous to the fall, since, "God became man so that man could become God."
represented all humanity when she accepted the salvation
offered Her by God. Thus, God is the Savior of the Most Holy Virgin as
well and She is saved by the same grace whereby all those who are redeemed
are saved. She is the Mother
of all the faithful of the Church, of Which She also is a part.
All the Scriptures are inspired by God. St. John
Chrysostom says, "It is impossible for a man to be saved if he does not read
the Scriptures." The Holy Scripture
was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is
solely through the Holy Spirit that we can read and understand It.
According to Apostle Paul, the written and oral Traditions are of equal value;
for it is not the means of transmission that saves us, but the authenticity
of the content of what has been transmitted to us. Furthermore, the
teaching of the Old Testament as well as that of the New Testament were
transmitted orally to God's people before they were written down.
Therefore, the Holy Scriptures themselves are a part of Holy Tradition which
is a unified whole and we must accept it as a whole, and not choose bits and
parts according to our private opinions or interpretations.
The Church of Jesus Christ is One, Holy, Catholic and
Apostolic, and that It was instituted by God through the power of the Holy
Spirit and by revelation. The Church is instituted by God and is
a tree which is rooted in the Heavens. We receive nourishment of its
fruits, although the planting remains supernatural.
One can not dissociate Jesus Christ
from His Church, which is His Body. St. Cyprian of Carthage stated that the man who does not have the Church for his Mother cannot have God as
his Father, and that outside the Church there is no salvation. Outside of the Church there is
no true Baptism, nor any other Mystery.
Life After Death
Christian beliefs about one's destination after death vary greatly depending on which denomination of church they belong to.
Many conservative Protestant Christians believe that people are born and remain sinful; they will end up being eternally punished in Hell unless they are "saved" by trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Roman Catholics also believe that salvation comes from God. But they believe that it is channeled through church sacraments to sinful but repentant persons. Most people, at death, enter Purgatory, which is a type of temporary Hell; a few go directly to Heaven; others go permanently to Hell.
Religious liberals generally interpret hell symbolically, not as an actual place. They reject the concept of a loving God creating a place of eternal torment for the vast majority of humans.
Orthodox Christians believe in the existence of eternal life. They also believe in the Second
Coming of Jesus. This is the glorious return of the Lord when He shall come to judge the
living and the dead, and render to each man according to the works that he
did while living in the body. On the second coming, Jesus will establish the Kingdom
of His righteousness.
Christians look forward for the resurrection of the dead when they will be resurrected in the body.
they further believe that both the
Kingdom of God and Hell shall be eternal.
Both the righteous and the
sinners who are departed now enjoy a foretaste of their final destiny, but
that each man shall receive the entirety of what he deserves only at the
Last Judgement. God loves not only those who dwell in Paradise, but also
those who are in Hell; in Hell, however, the Divine love constitutes a cause
of suffering for the wicked. This is not due to God's love but to their own
wickedness, which resents this love and experiences it as a torment.
In his Epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul states, "and these
all (i.e., all the saints), having obtained a good report through faith,
received not the promise, since God has provided some better thing for us,
so that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. 14:40).
Therefore, all the saints await this resurrection of their bodies and the
commencement of Paradise in its perfect and complete sense, as St. Paul
declares in the Acts of the Apostles, "I believe all things which are
written in the law and in the prophets, and have hope in God, which they
themselves also accept, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both
of the just and the unjust" (Acts 24:14-15).
and Hell will be twofold in nature, spiritual and physical. At present,
because the body is still in the grave, both the reward and the punishment
are spiritual. Hades is the place of the souls
of the dead and Hell is the place of everlasting
spiritual and physical torment. Hell has not yet commenced. Hell shall be eternal.
On His second coming, Christ shall say unto those on
the left, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for
the Devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41).
See Also: The Nicene Creed
Adapted From: I Believe...: A Short Exposition of