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The Statues Of God And His Kingdom


The Statutes in the Old Testament

The first books in the Old Testament are called ‘torah’. The term means; instruction, teachings, directions. ‘Torah’ is the code of laws that showed the right path to the people of Israel. In the New Testament the Greek term ‘nomos’ is used to mean ‘the law’. These terms are used in the Holy Bible to mean the will of God expressed through His commandments and injunctions.

If before the time of Moses, there was a kind of tribal law, from the time of Moses up to the time of the exile it was the covenant law that was in force (Genesis 12 :3). The Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:2-17, Deut. 5:6-12) and the statutes of the Covenant (Exod. 20:22-23, 33) were given during this time. The people of Israel received the unwritten and written laws of God. These laws were the expressions of the will of God.

The Law of the Lord and the Law of Christ

In the Synoptic Gospels, the law of the Lord is connected with the Incarnation. Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfill a promise. The early Church in general reacted favorably and at the same time unfavorably to the claims of the law of the Lord.

St. Paul pointed out that the law of the Lord requires sincere repentance and perfect obedience. Perfect obedience is not slavish; nor is it a state of being bound within the limits of the law. On the other hand, it is a means to attain Christian freedom. The New Testament is not a Jaw, but a contract of love and freedom leading to sonship. Phrases like ‘the law of faith, (Rom 3:27), and ‘the law of Christ’ (Gal. 6:2), ‘the law of sin (Rom. 7:23), ‘the law of life’ (Rom. 8 :2) illustrate this truth. St. Paul explains how the law of the Lord becomes the expression of His will. St. Paul also lays great emphasis on its role in the act of redemption; he connects it to man’s freedom and to his faith in God.
Conception of the Kingdom of God

‘The Kingdom of God’ is the translation of the Greek words “he basileia tou theou.” ‘Basileia’ literally mean rule, supervision or kingship. It does not mean kingdom. Nor does it mean the territory under God’s rule. It means the rule of God. The conception of God’s kingship was part of the Hebrew tradition. The prophets of Israel interpreted this idea’ in detail. The expectation of the Israelites of the coming of Messiah was nourished by this idea.

The Universality of God

The Jews were looking forward to the establishment of the Kingdom of God in Judea with Jerusalem as the centre. But the trials and tribulations of the period of exile shattered their hopes. They came

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The Principles Of Orthodox Worship

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1. Transfiguration of the whole being

Human mind is provided with conscious, sub conscious and unconscious layers. Worship is not only the transfiguration of the conscious mind. It transforms the whole being . St. Paul expresses this process as follows: “ And we all, with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory , just as by the spirit of the Lord”.  ( 2 Cor.3:18). The three representatives of the Apostles could experience this glory of the Lord in their Taboric Transfiguration. Christian witness is not only to see the glory of God, but also to become glorified. Human beings , created in the image of God are transfigured from glory to glory through incessant prayer and worship. This process is not intellectual but experiential. The whole being is involved in this process. In other words, worship is infinite growth in goodness. It is theosis or Deification.

2. Communication with the five senses.

The five sense help us in human communications. The same is applicable to our communication with God. In real worship we see, hear, smell, taste and experience the divine communion. Preaching the word of God and listening to it are not the exclusive factors of worship. Take the example of the three fold colors by which the Holy Altar is decorated. The red covering at the altar indicates the universe and the solar system. The green coloring denotes the earth with the greenish variety of biological species. The white covering indicates the Church made sanctified and pure through the blood of the unblemished lamb of God , Jesus Christ. The blood and body of Christ  were given to  the Church and the whole creation is sanctified through the Church. In worship we listen to the word of God , smell the odor of incense ,touch the hands of our brethren in Kiss of Peace and taste from the divine chalice perceiving the mysteries of the liturgical scenario.

3. Rituals, offerings and incense

God became man. He took flesh, matter was used in the redeeming process of  incarnation. Rituals offerings and material objects were given sufficient role in the ministry of Jesus. St. Luke chapter 5 verse 14 states , “ And he charged him to tell no one : but go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing as Moses commanded for a proof to the people”. Thus Jesus commanded to give offering and rites of thanks giving. Jesus is serious towards those who disobeyed the commandments. Jesus taught that offerings and rituals must help to be firm in faith and for the glorification of God. Jesus was respectful towards priesthood , offerings of thanks giving and vows . Even St.Paul cut his hair at Cenchreae, for he had  a vow ( Acts 18:18) .Bread , wine , water, oil and soil are all seen  used in the redemptive process according to the Bible.  “ You do this in remembrance of me, this is my  body and this is my blood” commanded Jesus. The offering of the incense is practiced in Christian worship ( See Rev. 8 : 3,4 Rev. 5:8, Heb 9:4, Mt.2: 11). Offering of the incense is to get rid of the plagues to remove the foul smell of sin, to please the Lord with complete dedication and to keep the Biblical commandments ( See Num. 16:46- 50 ) . Ex. 35: 8, 2 Chron 2: 4, 1 kg 9: 25, Malachi 1:11 etc.) With the offering of incense we are mingling with the prayers of all the saints. ( Rev, 8:4)

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Fr. Dr. V. C. Samuel: A Theologian of Oriental Orthodoxy

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Fr. Dr. V.C. Samuel is the most eminent historian in the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Church. He acquired knowledge in Syriac language and theology at a younger age and became a Malpan (Teacher of Syriac and ecclesiastical studies) in the Church. As a priest in the Indian Orthodox Church he actively represented the Church in various theological commissions and ecumenical forums which includes the Joint commission for theological dialogue between Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches in Aurhus, Bristol, Geneva, Addis Abeba, the Faith and Order commission of WCC, the great council of the Oriental Orthodox Churches held in 1965 in Addis Abeba under the initiative of Emperor Haile Selassie and Pro Oriente, Vienna. An elegant teacher and the “guru” of many bishops and priests in the Indian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, he taught and served as a dean at the Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, India and Holy Trinity Theological Seminary, Addis Abeba. He also served on the staff of the Serampore College, India and the Union Theological Seminary, India and Christian Institute of Religion and Society, India.

He learned Syriac and Anthiocian Syrian Orthodox ecclesiastics at the Monastery of St. Stephen’s, Manjinikkara, India. He started teaching Syriac and theology there at the age of 24 along with Ramban Abdul Ahad (later H.H. Ignatius Yakub 111, the Patriarch of Anthioc). He secured the S.T.M degree in 1954 from the Divinity school of Yale University, New Haven and Ph.D from Yale University in 1957, both with great distinction. His field of study was Christology and the history of the council of Chalcedon.

As a submission to the persuasion of the love from both the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Haile Selassie University, he went to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church appreciated his role as a theologian of Oriental Orthodoxy and expressed its recognition and confidence in him by appointing him as the Dean of the College of Theology, Addis Abeba in 1976.

He wrote many articles and books on Indian Church history, history of the council of Chalcedon and Christology. Perhaps his greatest contributions were on the history of the council of Chalcedon and the history of Indian Orthodox Church. His book “The Council of Chalcedon re-examined” was denied publication in the West and was published in India. In writing this book he relied on the original minutes of the council available in Greek and Syriac.

Fr. V.C. Samuel passed away in Bangalore, India on 18th November 1998. He was aged 86. The funeral at the cathedral of St. Gregorios in Bangalore was officiated by H.G. Philipose Mar Eusebius (Thumpamon) and H.G. Mathews Mar Severios (Kandanad) in the presence of chor-episcopas, priests and faithful.

Following are some of the works of Fr. Dr. V.C. Samuel

Papers

1. The Council of Chalcedon (Malayalam), Church Weekly

2. A Brief Historical Survey of the Council of Chalcedon, Indian Journal of Theology.

3. Christ and Creation, Religion and Society, CIRS, Bangalore.

4. One Incarnate Nature of God the Word, Greek Orthodox Theological Review

5. Does Chalcedon divide or Unite?

6. Proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon, The Ecumenical Review, October 1970. Abba Salama, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, 1970.

7. Humanity of Christ in the Syrian Tradition, Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 1967

8. Euthycus and his condemnation, Bangalore Theological Forum, United Theological College, 1967

9. A brief history of efforts to reunite the Chalcedon and non-Chalcedon Sides, a paper presented to the Addis Ababa meeting of
joint commission and published in Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 1971

10. The Understanding of the Christological Definition of both Oriental Orthodox and Romans Catholic Traditions in the light of Post-Chalcedonian Theology: An Analysis of Terminologies. Pro Oriente Vienna, 1973

11. The Christology of Severus of Antioch, Abba Salama, Addis Abeba, 1973

12. Further Studies in the Christology of Severus of Antioch, ed. by Metropolitan Methodios of Axum, 1976

13. Christology and Terminology, International Syriac Conference, Kottayam, 1987 SEERI, Kottayam.

14. The witness of Orthodoxy, St. Thomas 19th centenary souvenir, Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, 1972

15. The Christian goal in life (Malayalam), Church weekly January 1951

16. Homoousious, Church weekly, Malayalam, April 1995

17. The Faith of the Church, a chapter in a volume on The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life, Addis Abeba, 1970

18. The Faith once delivered to Saints (Malayalam), Church Weekly, October 1950.

19. The Mission implications of Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, International review of Mission, Geneva, 1983

20. An Oriental Orthodox assessment of the First Vatican council’s infallibility Doctrine, Pro Oriente, Vienna, 1978

21. The goal of life implied in religious faith, Church Weekly, 1983

22. Cosmas on the Church of Malabar, Church Weekly, 18 Dec. 1955.

23. Malankara Sabhayaude Antiochian Bandham (Malayalam), 20 th Century Malankara Church, Kottayam, 1977.

24. Severus of Anthioc, Church Weekly, Dec 1972.

25. Four important works of Severus, Church weekly Dec 1972.

26. Severus’ refutation of Julian, Church Weekly, dec 1972.

27. The See of Anthioc and some of its jurisdictional claims (part 1, 2, 3, ..10), Church Weekly, May, June 1976.

28. Arabic Canons, Divyabodhanam Souvenir, OTS, Kottayam, 1986.

29. On Cannon Laws, (part 1, 2,3 … 11), Church Weekly, Aug-Oct, 1958.

30. Tradition, Community and Hermeneutics, Indian Journal of Theology, July-December, 1982.

31. The Syriac Bible, Church Weekly, 27 May 1983.

32. Some thoughts on the Nineveh, or the Three-day fast, Deepthi. The orthodox Seminary Magazine, 1986.

Books

1. An Orthodox Catechism on the Faith and Life of the Church, MGOCSM, Kottayam, 1983

2. The Council of Chalcedon re-examined, Indian Theological Library no.8, CLS, Madras, India.

3. Yeshu Christu Aru? (Who is Jesus Christ?), CLS, Thiruvalla, India

4. The Anthiochene connection of the Malankara Church (Malayalam), Orthodox Theological Seminary(OTS), Kottayam, 1982

5. The Church Grows, Divya Bodhanam Series No:2, OTS, Kottayam, 1984

6. Truth Triumphs: Life and Achievements of Metropolitan Mar Dionysius VI, MOC Publications, Kottayam, 1986.

7. Modern Indian Church, Divyabodhanam Series, OTS, Kottayam, 1987.

8. Is this an Indian Church? CLS, Thiruvalla, India 1975

9. Swanubhava Vediyil (Autobiographical Sketches), MGOCSM, Kottayam, 1996.

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The Mystery Of The Holy Trinity

holy-trinity

We learn from Eusebius, the Church historian, that the Church conferred the title of ‘Theologian’ on St. John the Evangelist and on St. Gregory of Naziansus. St. John proclaimed the ‘Theosness of Logos’ and St. Gregory advocated the faith in the Holy Trinity. It was under certain special circumstances that they proclaimed that Logos is God. On the one hand, while the Greek thinkers accepted Logos only as a representative force proceeding from God, on the other, the Arian heretics denied the Theosness’ of Jesus Christ , the second person in the Trinity. These incorrect views urged the early Fathers of the Church to a proper study of the true relationship of the persons of the Holy Trinity. Thus they were led to develop theology as a branch of learning that defines the true nature of the Trinity.

The word theology was widely used by the Classical Greek thinkers to describe their Gods. Great poets like Homer and Hasius have often used this term while describing the gods and their deeds. In ‘The Republic’, Plato uses ‘theology’ to refer to the Supreme Reality or the Ultimate Ground of all things (The Republic 379A)

Aristotle uses the term, ‘theology’, to mean the branch of philosophy that connects the universe to the Ultimate Reality that is the Unmoved Mover (‘Metaphysics’102). He speaks of the three fields of knowledge, namely physics, Mathematics and Theology, In his opinion, theology is the most important of the three branches.

The Stoics of the pre-Christian times divided theology into three branches: mystical, natural and civil, and described theology as the science explaining the knowledge obtained by spiritual exercises. St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen are two of the early Christian writers who have attempted a definition of theology. According to them, theology deals with the Incarnation of our Lord. Origen in his book interpreting the Gospel according to St. John asserts that the true theologian is the one who witnesses the Lord. Later in the 4th centaury A. D with the rise of the Arian heresy the term ‘theology’ is seen to have been used in the Church to refer to the relationship of the persons in the Holy Trinity.