A Catechism of the Christian Doctrine of the Holy Eastern Orthodox
Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of New York and
All North America, 239-85th Street, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Seveneth edition, 1960 Copyright 1949 by Syrian Orthodox
Archdiocese LICENSE This "CATECHISM" is hereby approved and authorized for the use of the faithful Orthodox Christians
of our Archdiocese. -- ANTONY BASHIR, Metropolitan-Archbishop of the Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of New York
and All North America. Brooklyn, New York, January, 1960
INTRODUCTION FAITH, KNOWLEDGE, AND REVELATION
"Faith is a means to knowledge of the supernatural and eternal trth revealed
in Jesus Christ. It has a different foundation from that of human reasoning, an independent basis apart from man himself:
the truth of God's own word, which is constant and unchanging. Faith never changes into knowledge but rather precedes it,
making possible an ever-widening sphere of knowledge. We must first believe, that we may know.
"Knowledge is ordinarily concerned with things comprehensible to the unaided
human reason, and is founded on experience obtained by examination of those things. There is, however, a body of knowledge
outside the limited area of purely human experience and reasoning. This material is presented to man by the Holy Spirit and
must first be seized by faith. It is guaranteed by phenomena in the regular world of experience, which phenomena we call miracles.
We recognize that miracles are normal occurrences in the sight of God, although they surpass our limited understanding. We
accept them on faith, because they help us to know something about God.
"We may come to some knowledge of God by contemplation of created things,
but this knowledge is imperfect and insufficient in itself. Since God is not only above His creation, but also working in
it, in His goodness, wisdom, and power, it is in accordance with His nature to reveal Himself to man. He created man in His
image and likeness; this likeness is chiefly in the soul of man, which is a deathless spirit. Man is capable of receiving
God's revelation of Himself, especially as the Holy Spirit of God quickens the spirit of man and strengthens his powers of
perception and understanding.
"The content of Divine Revelation is a supernatural truth above and beyond
that discoverable by man alone and unaided. This truth, when revealed, complements other truths which man has discovered for
himself, aiding him to a better understanding of himself, his world, and above all, of God. God has revealed himself to us,
that we may rightly believe in Him and worthily do Him honor, and receive in return eternal salvation.
"God's revelation of Himself is embodied in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.
"HOLY SCRIPTURE AND HOLY TRADITION"
"The sources of Orthodox Catholic teaching are Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.
Holy Scripture is a collection of books written by inspired men, in which is contained the Divine revelation. This collection
of books is called the Bible, and is made up of the Old Testament, the books written before the birth of Christ, and the New
Testament, the books written after the birth of Christ.
"The official text of the Old Testament for the Orthodox Catholic Church
is the Septuagint version, translated from the Hebrew into the Greek language in the third century before Christ. It has the
same authority for the Church as the original, and was the text used by the Apostles.
"The official text of the New Testament is the original Greek; no translations
into modern Greek are allowed, and no translation has the authority of the original. Many untrustworthy translations have
been published by various religious groups to further their own peculiar interpretations of the Scriptures; these translations
are forbidden to be used by the Orthodox Catholic faithful.
"The Bible may not be used by individuals as a source from which to
derive any desired doctrine; its meaning is not self-evident, and it must be interpreted in the light of the Church's teachings.
The church is the only infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture. To the Church our Lord Jesus Christ gave His teachings
by word of mouth and example, and the Church has faithfully preserved them. The Bible assumes the existence of oral tradition,
which preceded and always supplemented it. The Apostles first taught orally, and when their teachings were written down it
ws the Church which approved as authentic those writings known to be consistent with the apostolic tradition preserved in
I. THE CREED
1. Q. What is the Creed? A. The Creed is the
Symbol of the Faith, a statement of the chief truths which the Church teaches, and which all Orthodox Catholic Christians
are bound to believe.
2. Q. How is the Creed set forth?
A. In twelve parts, or articles, as follows:
1) I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; 2) And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of Very God, Begotten,
not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made: 3) Who for us men and for our salvation came down
from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man; 4) And was crucified also for us
under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; 5) And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; 6) And
ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; 7) And he shall come again with glory to judge the quick
and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end. 8) And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceedeth
from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets; 9)
And I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. 10) I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. 11) I look
for the Resurrection of the dead. 12) And the Life of the world to come. Amen.
THE FIRST ARTICLE OF THE CREED.
3 Q. What is the first article of the Creed?
A. "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven
and earth, and of all things visible and invisible."
4 Q. Why must we believe in God?
A. If we do not believe in God we cannot save our soul, which
is from God; if we lose our soul, we lose God and eternal happiness in the world to come.
5 Q. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, perfect beyond measure.
6. Q. Why is there but one God?
A. Because God, Who is supremely perfect and infinite, cannot have
7. Q. Can we know the true essence of God?
A. The true essence of God is beyond our understanding, but we can have an
idea of the perfect qualities of God, as He has revealed them to His Church.
8. Q. What idea of God's perfections can we obtain from His Divine
A. From the Divine Revelation we learn that
1) God is a spirit.
2) God is eternal: He is without beginning and without end,existing forever,
and forever unchanging.
3) God is everywhere and knows all things, even our innermost secrets.
4) God can do all things: for Him nothing is difficult or impossible.
5) God is infinitely perfect, and self-sufficient in His perfection.
6) Because God is all-perfect, He is also all-holy, all-good, all-just, and
9 Q. What is man?
A. Man is a creature of God, made in His image and likeness, and composed
of body and soul.
10 Q. Wherein lies the chief likeness of man to God?
A. In the soul of man, because it is a deathless spirit and has understanding
and free will.
11 Q. Why did God create man?
A. To know God, to love Him, to serve and glorify Him in this world, and
to obtain everlasting happiness with Him in the next world.
12 Q. What do we call that will of God which intends eternal happiness for
A. We call it Divine Predestination.
13. Q. Since man is not now completely happy, does God's Predestination of
man to happiness remain unchanged?
A. Yes, for although man of his own free will left the way of happiness,
God in His infinite mercy opened for man a new way of happiness, through His Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
14. Q. Does God predestine anyone to evil?
A. No, God's predestination of man is to good only; those who make proper
use of their free will are predestined to glory, but those who make wrong use of their free will bring condemnation upon themselves.
15. Q. If God is everywhere, why do we say that He is in heaven, or in the
A. God reveals His presence in many special ways; to the Saints in heaven
He is manifested in glory; in the Church His presence is discerned by the faithful in the Holy Mysteries, especially in the
Holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
16 Q. What is the Most Holy Trinity?
A. In God there are three Divine Persons: God the Father, the first Person
of the Most Holy Trinity; God the Son, the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity; and God the Holy Spirit, the third Person
of the Most Holy Trinity.
17 Q. Are the three Divine Persons of the Most Holy Trinity equal in all
A. The three divine Persons are equal in all things, and have one and the
same Divine nature and essence.
18 Q. What difference is there between the three Divine Persons of the Most
A. God the Father is neither begotten nor proceeds from any other Person;
God the Son is from all eternity begotten of the Father; God the Spirit from all eternity proceeds from the Father.
19 Q. Why is God called the Almighty?
A. Because He maintains all things by His power and His will.