Tewahedo: The Christological Basis
To be true to the Gospel, the total teaching of any Christian church must proclaim the truth according to the great purpose of the church and its head, Jesus Christ.
The church’s main task must be to maintain an interest in helping people in their responses to the one true God, who suffered for our salvation and who established unity and only one Church of God on earth. It is necessary, therefore, for all Christians to admit that God is not a Roman Catholic or a Protestant. God is neither Monophysite nor Dyophysite or any other kind of indicated denomination that refers to political authorities and nationalistic ideas, which are contrary to the high principles of equality, unity, and Christian love. But Jesus Christ, Our Lord and God, is one Creator, one Savior, for all mankind, who has the blood of all races in His veins, as He is the universal redeemer.
The teaching of the Ethiopian church is founded on the Apostles’ experience of the Lord Eyesus Kristos (Jesus Christ) as the Creator and Savior of the world and on the conviction that the Holy Spirit is in the church.
The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: An Integrally African Church
Diocese of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere
Vantage Press: New York, NY, 1989
The Creed or Prayer of Faith
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and all things visible and invisible. And, we believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, Who was with Him before the creation of the world; light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made, and without Him was not anything in heaven or earth made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, was made man and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and from the Holy Virgin Mary; became man, was crucified for our sakes in the days of Pontius Pilate, suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day, as was written in the Holy Scriptures; ascended in glory into heaven, sat at the right hand of His Father and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. There is no end of His reign. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the life-giving God Who proceedeth from the Father. We worship and glorify Him with the Father and the Son, Who spoke by the prophets. And we believe in one Holy universal apostolic church. And we believe in one Baptism for the remission of sins, and wait for the resurrection from the dead and the life to come, world without end. AMEN.
Basic Requirements for Ethiopian Orthodox Church Members
Members must know and understand:
– The Seven Sacraments
– The Five Pillars of Mystery
– The Creed and Prayer of Faith
– The Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer of the Virgin Mary
– The Ten Commandments
– The Six Words of the Gospel (or Parables of Jesus Christ)
The Five Pillars of Mystery
1. The Mystery of the Trinity
The Mystery of the Trinity is the belief in the Father, the begetter; in the Son, the begotten; and in the Holy Spirit, the one who proceeds – one in three, three in one; three names and one God, three prosopa and one appearance, three persons and one essence.
God is the only eternal Being. He alone is beyond time, space and all limitations. He abides without a beginning and without an end.
The divine Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God, one Kingdom, one authority and one government.
2. The Mystery of the Incarnation
The Mystery of the Incarnation deals with the creation of man and the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Incarnation of God the Son is primarily for the salvation of the world.
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 Mary, without a father. He was born of two births – Son of the Father and Son of Mary – and was honored in the union (oneness), the union of Godhead and manhood.
3. The Mystery of Baptism
The Mystery of Baptism is to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized at the age of thirty to be an example for all men and that all men are to be baptized in the water of life, which flowed from the right side of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Friday. All men are also to obtain adoption from the Trinity, to eat His flesh and drink His blood and live a Christian life. Except we are all born again from water and the Holy Spirit, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The baptized person will be freed from condemnation and released from bondage to the devil.
4. The Mystery of the Holy Communion
The Mystery of the Holy Communion is the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 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. Whoever receives the flesh and blood of Christ, having cleansed his conscience from grudges and hatred and having 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.
5. The Mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead
The mystery of resurrection teaches that after death there will be resurrection. It speaks about the second coming of Christ, that Christ shall come again with great power and glory. At that time, all the dead bodies will rise. Those who did good will rise resembling Christ, shining seven times brighter than the sun. But those who did evil will rise resembling the devil, clothed in darkness. Those who have good works will enter into life everlasting, and those who have done wrong shall go away into everlasting condemnation (Matthew 25:1-46).
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, which are in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us and rescue us from all evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. AMEN.
Prayer of the Holy Virgin Mary
O Virgin Mary, in the peace of the Angel Gabriel, peace be unto thee. Thou art virgin in spirit as well as in body. O thou Mother of Perfect God, peace be unto thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Rejoice, O thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Ask and pray for us to thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, that he may have mercy upon our souls and forgive us our sins. AMEN.
The Ten Commandments
1. I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
3. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
4. Honor thy father and mother.
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet.
10. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The Six Words of the Gospel (The Parables of Jesus)
1. But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement (St. Matthew 5:22).
2. But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (St. Matthew 5:28).
3. But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery, and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery (St. Matthew 5:32).
4. But I say unto you, swear not at all, but let your communication be yea, yea and nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh by evil (St. Matthew 5:34-37).
5. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you (St. Matthew 5:44).
N.B.For further information and study, read Abuna Yesehaq’s book, The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church.