The Orthodox Tradition

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The Orthodox Tradition is based on perpetual loyalty to the faith of the Fathers of the Church, sealed by the first seven Ecumenical Councils, and on loyalty to the doctrine of the Church. The indispensable principle of this continuity of faith resides within the apostolic succession of the episcopate, through which each local church maintains its organic unity and its status as being part of the unique, saint, catholic and apostolic Church. It also resides within the purity if the faith and the catholicity of its life, which safeguards its unity in time and space.

This loyalty also resides within the theological and spiritual Tradition of the Church, which is the manifestation of life through the Holy Spirit “giving each part of the Body of Christ the ability to hear, receive and know the Truth in Its own light and not the natural light of human reason”[1].  The loyalty also resides in the filiation of local churches. “To say that one local Church draws its canonical status from the universal Church for example and not from another local Church means denying spiritual filiation, which is a fatal blow at the ecclesiastical and personal level. Filiation is necessary to the spiritual being’s creation and its growth; it is essential for spiritual rebirth.

The Church’s Tradition relies on the “transmission” of the gift of the Holy Spirit; this, as all other processes taking place in the Divine Trinity Church, can only be personal, transmitted from one person to another, in the unity of obedience which comes with love. “This Tradition is our Fathers’ Tradition, who opened our spiritual consciousness.” [2]

As Vladimir Loosky said, Tradition also ensures “critical thinking on the part of the Church”, that is to say that the Church does not cling to a sterile and fixed way of thinking, but it is, in the grace of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of richness and creativity. Hence, “patristic theology is never repetitive”, but due to “its loyalty to apostolic succession” it is the evidence of loyalty to the Writings, which, in the midst of the new essential challenges and questions that the modern world brings about, summons a re-evaluation of the evangelical message. This message is ancient, but it is renewed at every era and it echoes in the heart of the people because it is modern and because it is the evidence of the infinite flow of love that bursts forth from God’s heart into the world, love for His creation and for its redemption and salvation. The Orthodox Church is the gift, the manifestation, the growth and the fullness of this modernity which remains faithful to the Gospels, the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church, while maintaining its divine creative vitality.

Orthodoxy is the true faith and due to its universality it embraces all people of all nations, regardless of their cultural, national and ethnic backgrounds and, through its conformity to the Tradition, it spreads the fullness of faith in the Holy Trinity in each nation that it seeds its life-giving seeds in. It is a source of life and richness, through its loyalty to the Gospels, to the Apostles’ and the Holy Fathers’ teachings, through its profession of the true faith and the safeguarding of the dogmas of which the senior figures, the clergy and the believers, monks or laymen ensure the transmission of and the safeguarding against deviations and heresy. Every component of the Orthodox Church conforms to the Tradition, not only the clergy, but also each layperson- each is called upon to profess and defend the truth of the Tradition[…] »[3].  The Church “unanimously professes a sole Truth- safeguarded for always, everywhere and by everyone” (Saint Vincent de Lérins).

[1] Vladimir Loosky, La Traditions et les traditions, (typed text)

[2] Emilie van Taack, La fondation de la Paroisse des Trois Saints Hiérarques : les fondements théologiques et spirituels du retour à l’Icône. 1925-1945, in L’Iconographie de l’Église des Trois Saints Hiérarques, page 28, Moscow Partiarchate Edition, Diocese of Chersonèse, Paris 2001.

[3] To safeguard the truth, the believers “can even disagree with bishops if they become heretics” Vladimir Lossky, Essai sur la théologie mystique de l’Église d’Orient, Introduction, page 14, Les Éditions du Cerf, 1990