Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Five Pillars of...Orthodoxy?

I have no idea what the background of this is, but I think it's the first time I've heard the term "Five Pillars" applied to Orthodox Christianity. From the website of the late Abuna Yesehaq (formerly of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, "Oriental Orthodox"):

Amistu A-emade Mystir (Five Pillars of Mystery)

The Pillars of Mystery are five in number and are regarded by the church as basic knowledge for all faithful and the cathechism in particular. The following are simple literal translation from the Geez and Amharic text.

Mystire Selassie (Mystery of Trinity)

The Mystery of Trinity is to believe in the Father the Begetter, in the Son the Begotten, in the Holy Spirit the One Who proceeds, One in Three and Three in One. They are three in name, in person, in work. In name they are called Father, Son, the Holy Spirit. The Father has a perfect person, perfect face, and perfect form. The Son has a perfect person, perfect face, and perfect form. The Holy Spirit has a perfect person, perfect face, and perfect form.

As far as their work is concerned, the Father is the Begetter, the Son is Begotten, and the Holy Spirit is the One Who proceeds. The Father begets and causes procession, but is neither begotten nor proceeds. The Son is begotten, but neither begets nor proceeds nor causes procession. They are one in nature, in essence, in fullness, in substantiality, in divinity, in heart, in word, in breath.

They are called Ab, Wold, and Menfes Qidus. Ab means “the Father,” Wold means “the Son,” and Menfes Qidus means “the Holy Spirit,” One Who proceeds from the Father. (Yesehaq, 124)

Mystire Seggawe (Mystery of Incarnation)

Mystery of Incarnation deals with the creation of man and the birth of our Lord Eyesus Kristos (Jesus Christ).

Man has seven works or seven elements, four natures of the flesh and three natures of the soul.

The four natures of the flesh are wind, fire, water, and earth, and the three natures of the soul are rational thought, the power of speech, and the property of life.

“He is called man by reason of his created nature.” as Gregory Thaumaturgus said. The mystery teaches the two births of the Son, that is, His birth before the world from a Father without a mother and his birth from the Virgin Mariam, without a father. He was born of two births, Son of the Father, Son of Mariam, and was honored in the union, the union of Godhead and manhood. “…He was united being one person from two persons, one nature from two natures.” Being One of the Trinity, the Son became man and put on flesh; as was said: “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” “That Word became flesh; He continually abides in us. We behold his Glory in accordance with his being the only Son of his Father.”

By what is it known that he is born before the world, from a father without a mother? It is known by His being born latterly from the Virgin Mariam without a father: “His first birth was made known by his latter birth.”

Mystire Timqet (Mystery of Baptism)

What is the Mystery of Baptism? It is to believe that the Lord Eyesus Kristos was baptized at the age of thirty to be an archetype for all men and all men are to be baptized in the water of life, which flowed from the right side of our Lord Eyesus Kristos on Friday and to obtain adoption from the Trinity, to eat His flesh and drink His blood and live a Christian life. How can one obtain the water of life that flowed from the right side of Our Lord Eyesus Kristos on Friday? The priest recites the Book of Baptism over water. He celebrates the pre-Anaphora and reads some chapters from the Holy Scriptures. At the end, when the priest blesses it, saying, “One is the Holy Father; One is the Holy Son; One is the Holy Spirit,” the water changes and becomes the water of life that flowed from the right side of Our Lord Eyesus Kristos on Friday. The baptized person will be freed from condemnation and released from bondage to the devil: “By baptism men will be completely freed from bondage to Satan and from servitude to impure demons.”

We are baptized after the manner of baptism by which our Lord Eyesus Kristos was baptized in the river Jordan, at the hand of John. One might ask why the Lord was baptized when He was pure and righteous. The answer is: He did this to be an example to us and “ that He might give us, by His baptism equality of righteousness.”

Mystire Qurban (Mystery of Eucharist)

The mystery of Eucharist is somewhat identical to the sacrament of Holy Communion.

What is the Mystery of the Eucharist? It is the Body and Blood of our Lord Eyesus Kristos Who was crucified on Friday for the salvation of all; it is what believers receive in the form of bread and wine. The bread and wine are changed into the real flesh and blood of Christ when the priest blesses them with the liturgical prayers: “This bread which I give to you is My flesh, this is the bread which came down from heaven, if any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever.” “This is My blood which will be shed for you and for many people which is the surety of the New Covenant.”
The flesh and blood we receive is the Godhead proclaimed, the freedom of spirit having descended into Sheol together with the Spirit, and the Godhead abides with the flesh in the tomb. Whoever receives the flesh and blood of Christ, having cleansed his conscience from grudges and vengefulness and persevered in faith and good works. It will be to him salvation of the flesh and of the soul, and by it he will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mystire Tensaea Mutan (Mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead)

The mystery of resurrection teaches that after death there will be resurrection. When a person dies, he will not remain destroyed and rotting, but rises again.

How does he rise? There will be a proclamation saying: “You who are dead arise.” There will be three invisible sounds of horns. At the first sound, all flesh will be gathered together. At the second, the flesh and bones and blood will be united, and they will be perfect bodies without any movement or signs of life. And at the third, the dead will rise in the twinkling of an eye. They will rise with all their works written out before them, whether good or bad. The males[will be resurrected] as mature youths of thirty years and the females mature maidens of fifteen years. The dead will arise following the example of the Lord Eyesus Kristos, the firstborn who arose, destroying corruption and the grave, having remained in the depths of the grave three days and three nights. He is the firstborn of all who died.

As Severus said, “during resurrection, they do not rise, as the tall, tall; the short, short; the fair skinned, fair skinned; the dark skinned, dark skinned; the fat, fat; and the thin, thin. Instead, each person will have the same body and form.” Those who did good will arise resembling Christ, shining seven times brighter than the sun. Those who did evil will rise resembling the devil, clothed in darkness.

“…The righteous will stand on the Lord’s right hand, and those who did evil on the Lord’s left hand.” Then he will make judgment, saying to those on his right hand, “Come blessed of my Father, and inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” To those on His left hand he will say “Be separated from me, enemies of my father, impure of soul to the fire of Gehanna, where the fire is not quenched, where the worm does not sleep, and where is eternal mourning, But the righteous into life eternal."



Blogger Jon Marc said...

Forgive me, but what's unusual about this? I'd assumed it was just traditional Ethiopian Orthodox teaching (I lived in Ethiopia during my high school years), but the way you refer to it makes me wonder if it was inspired from abroad. Is there a parallel teaching/classification in another church?

12:11 PM  

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