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|Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky|
Orthodox dogmatic theology
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The beginning and purpose of the Church.
The Church of Christ received its existence with the coming to earth of the Son of God,
“when the fulness of the time was come” (Gal. 4:4), and with His bringing of salvation to the
The beginning of its existence in its complete form and significance, with the fulness of the
gifts of the Holy Spirit, was the day of Pentecost, after the Ascension of the Lord On this day,
after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, in Jerusalem there were baptized about
three thousand men. And, further, the Lord each day added those being saved to the Church.
From this moment, the territory of the city of Jerusalem, then of Palestine, then of the whole
Roman Empire, and even the lands beyond its boundaries, began to be covered with Christian
communities or churches. The name “church” which belongs to every Christian community, even
of a single house or family, indicates the unity of this part with the whole, with the body of the
whole Church of Christ.
Being “the body of Christ,” the Church “increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2:19).
Comparing the Church with a building, the Apostle teaches that its building is not completed, it
continues: “All the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph.
2:21). This growth is not only in the sense of the visible, quantitative increase of the Church on
earth; in even greater degree, this is a spiritual growth, the perfection of the saints, the filling up
of the heavenly-earthly world through sanctity. Through the Church is accomplished “the dispensation
of the fulness of times” foreordained by the Father, so that “He might gather together in
one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Eph. 1:10).In the sense of its earthly growth, the Church develops in the spheres of Divine services and
the canons; it is made richer by Patristic literature; it grows in the outward forms which are necessary
for its earthly conditions of existence.
The Church is our spiritual Home. As with one’s own home . and even more than that — a
Christian’s thoughts and actions are closely bound up with the Church. In it he must, as long as
he lives on earth, work out his salvation, and make use of the grace-given means of sanctification
given him by it. It prepares its children for the heavenly homeland.
As to how, by the grace of God, spiritual rebirth and spiritual growth occur in a man, in
what sequence these usually occur, what hindrances must be overcome by him on the way of salvation,
how he must combine his own indispensable labors with the grace-given help of God .
special branches of theological and spiritual learning are devoted to all these matters. These are
called moral theology and ascetic theology.
Dogmatic Theology proper limits the subject of the Church to an examination of the
grace-given conditions and the mystical, grace-given means furnished in the Church for the attainment
of the aim of salvation in Christ.