One of the major qualifiers of the Orthodox Church is its Apostolicity. Its theology is informed by significant and diverse tributaries of Apostolic Tradition (both written and unwritten) which encompasses scripture, liturgy, patristic heritage, iconography, canonical corpus, decrees of ecumenical synods and the like that subsume the spirit of all the formative factors of theology.
St. Basil the Great expatiates: “Of the dogmas and proclamation that are guarded in the Church, we hold some from the teaching of the Scriptures and others we have received in mystery as the teachings of the traditions of the apostles. Both hold the same power with respect to true religion…For if we attempt to reject non-scriptural customs as insignificant, we would, unaware, lose the very vital parts of the Gospel, and even more, we would establish the proclamation merely in name.”
The apostolicity of the Church rests not just on the hierarchical succession but more strongly and vividly on the apostolic kerygma. We are called to proclaim not our own idiosyncratic faith but the faith of the apostles taught by our Lord Jesus Christ. The probable digression from the true faith which we see in today’s modern world was warned by St Paul;
“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (2 Tim 4:3-4).
Thus apostolic kerygma becomes the decisive hallmark that determines the apostolicity of the Church. I conclude with a hymn from our Holy Eucharist;
“I have heard Paul,
The Blessed Apostle, say:
‘If any man or angel
Teaches a gospel to you,
Other than what we had preached
Let him be cut off – from the Church’
Behold how perverse doctrines
Are springing forth from all sides
Blessed is he who begins
And ends in the Lord’s teachings.”
Blessed Feast of the Apostles!
Aboona Basil Paul
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