This is the 11th blog in this introductory series to the Orthodox Faith. The First blog is Orthodoxy in the World & Light to the World. This blog continues the section on basic teachings of Orthodoxy, the previous blog is Orthodoxy in the World: Teachings (B).
Humans are created in the image and likeness of God. But what do we know about this God? The Orthodox believe the basic revelation about God is a self revelation – it is what God has chosen to reveal to us, and while what can be known about God is revealed in creation itself, it is made most clear through the scriptures, but specifically the scriptures as revealed in and through Jesus Christ.
The most basic claim of the Orthodox is that God is love. Since, in Orthodoxy love always is other oriented, it is natural that God should also be Creator. God calls into existence others whom He can love. But since God is love, the Orthodox believe this basically means God is not a monad. God does not engage in self-love, but always is love. How is it possible for God to be love if He existed before there was anything else to love? The answer to this question is found, so the Orthodox believe, in what Jesus Christ revealed about God, namely, God is a Trinity of co-equal divine Persons (thus “God is love” means God is a relational being). Orthodoxy believes the witness of Christ and the scriptures is that God (divinity) exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Officially in theological terms there is one divine nature (monotheism) which exists in the three persons of the Trinity. Each of the persons of the Trinity completely shares in the divine nature of love. Whatever makes the Father God also makes the Son and Sprit to be God. The three persons of the Trinity are true personal beings and relate to each other and to creation.
Each of the persons of the Trinity is unique and not confused with the others. The Father is the source of all things including the divine nature. The Son is begotten by the Father and the Spirit proceeds from the Father. God the Son has the unique role of becoming incarnate. He became flesh (not just indwelling in it, but actually becoming flesh). This is the witness of the Gospel of John which says “the word became flesh.” This is exactly what the Christians argued and debated in the first several hundred years of the Church’s existence: Who is Christ? What is the implication of the answer to this question for our understanding of God and humanity?
Jesus Christ is understood in Orthodoxy as being the Word of God. Thus in Him is found the true understanding of scriptures and God’s revelation. And what God has revealed in Christ is that God is Trinity and God is love. What has also been revealed is that humanity – creation itself – is fully capable of union with God. Whatever role sin played in separating humans from God, that separation has been overcome in Jesus Christ. Whatever role death has in separating humans from God or each other, this too has been overcome in Jesus Christ. In whatever way God became unknowable to humans, Jesus Christ has overcome that division both revealing God to us and reuniting us to God.