The Greek Orthodox religion teaches that there is only one God. That God, however, is made up of three distinct persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Trinity is eternal, all-powerful and equal with one another. In addition, Greek Orthodox teach that the three persons of the Trinity are equal with the entire Godhead as well. In this way, the Trinity in Greek religious belief is a mystery that can't be understood by reason alone.
Symbol of Faith
The Greek Orthodox religion articulates its beliefs in the Trinity through the Nicene Creed. Christians gathered together at councils in Nicaea in AD 325 and Constantinople in AD 381. Greek Orthodox often refer to the creed as the "Symbol of Faith," and accept its ideas as essential to Christian faith. The Nicene Creed lays out the doctrine of the Trinity in explicit terms. It also affirms the virgin birth, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Other doctrines, such as the second coming, final judgement, baptism and heaven are also affirmed in the Nicene Creed.
The first person of the Trinity in Greek Orthodox religion is God the Father. God the Father created everything that exists, and he created it from nothing. God the Father conceived Jesus Christ by the Virgin Mary. He is to be worshipped and he reigns in heaven. God created human beings in his image and intended for them to participate in his own divine nature. For Greek Orthodox Christians, salvation ultimately means being reunited with that divine nature.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God in Greek Orthodox belief. He is the second person of the Trinity, equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ wasn't created, but existed before the creation of the universe in harmony with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He became a human being through the incarnation, and was born to the Virgin Mary. He led a sinless life, performed miracles, was crucified and died. On the third day, he rose from the dead. Jesus has two natures: he is fully God and fully man at the same time. Greek Orthodox often refer to Jesus as the "God-Man." Like the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the incarnation is a mystery, and beyond mere rational understanding.
The third person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit in Greek religious belief. He is equal with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Scriptures, empowers and comforts believers, helps believers live sanctified lives and provides them with gifts they use to serve God. Greek Orthodox believe that the Holy Spirit is eternal and that he proceeds from God the Father. This is distinct from the Catholic and Protestant view that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.
- Teachings of the Orthodox Church
- Orthodox Christian Information Center: The Doctrine of the Orthodox Church: The Basic Doctrines
- Patheos Library: Eastern Orthodoxy - Afterlife and Salvation
- Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada): The God-Man
- Greek Orthodox Archidiocese of America: The Holy Spirit and His Varieties of Gifts
- New Advent: Filioque
- Stephen Chernin/Getty Images News/Getty Images