NATURE OF THE CHURCH
The Church occupies the heart of the Bible, for she is the object of the redemption which the Bible proclaims. God purchased her at the cost of Christ’s Blood (Acts 20:28).
Understanding the Church means understanding the relationship between God and man, manifested in, the divine plan of salvation, God’s Fatherhood, the kingdom of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, the means of grace, the lessons from the history of mankind, the destiny of men … etc. It is through the church that God makes known His redeeming wisdom even to the heavenly hosts (Eph. 3:10).
The fathers of Alexandria adopted the spiritual concepts of the Church and did not consider it a political or a human organization, for many reasons:
a. Throughout the past twenty centuries, the Church of Alexandria was isolated from politics and had no civil authority.
b. The Alexandrines” view of knowledge (gnosis) as a divine gift constantly granted by the Fattier through His Son, attracted the clergymen to practicing contemplation, studying the Holy Bible and worshipping without being involved in church administration.
c. Even before the appearance of the monastic movement, the Egyptian clergymen and laity practiced the ascetic life. Their minds and hearts were more often lifted up to the heavenly kingdom than to church administration.
1. COVENANT WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD: In the Old Testament, believers looked at the community as a whole, as the people of God and the children of Abraham who enjoyed a covenant with God (Gen. 17). In the New Testament Christ offered a new covenant giving HIS Blood and Body, and presenting them as food to His people thus capable of granting them eternal life (Matt. 26:28; 1 Cor. 11:25).
The Church of the New Testament inherited the promises that were given through the Old Testament, but in a new and deep concept. Therefore the church is ancient and is new at the same time. We, the members of the Church enjoy the ancient prophesies through the new life which we practice in Jesus Christ who never ages.
2. THE MOTHER OF BELIEVERS: The Church is virgin because of her Purity (2 Cor. 11:2), and at the same time she is a mother who brings forth children of God unceasingly. Her children are a fruitful witness to Christ.
3. THE BODY OF CHRIST: The Church is the Body of Christ that grows towards perfection; her children enjoy communion in the Body and Blood of the Lord.
4. A new creation in Christ: The believer receives the rebirth in baptism, and he becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), he dies with Christ and also rises with Him (Eph. 2).
The work of the Holy Spirit is the continuous sanctification of the believers so that they might become in the likeness of Christ, the Head.
5. THE BIRTH OF CHRIST: The Church waits for her Christ who will come to perform His eternal spiritual marriage with her (Rev. 19:7). Christ called Himself the Bridegroom (Matt. 9:14,15; Mark 2:18-20; Luke 5-33-35- Matt. 25:1-3). Through this concept we acknowledge that the Lord who is the Judge, is cming not to judge us but to grant her to be close to Him, to unite with Him and to enjoy His glories. As the Groom, He is jealous (Exod. 20:5; 34:24; Deut 4: 25; 5:9; 6:51), for He cannot be in communion with sin. Every sin we commit is a crime not only against His law but rather against His love, for by sin we break the heart of our Heavenly Groom. This concept also means that our unity with God is eternal and indissoluble.
6. THE DWELLING PLACE OF CHRIST, that grows as the holy temple of God (Eph. 2:21 etc.), a spiritual temple, and a sanctuary in which the Holy Trinity dwell.
7. THE CHURCH IS THE HOUSE OF FAITH, the house that preserves the deposit of faith without deviation.
8. THE CHURCH IS THE HOUSE OF SALVATION, like the house of Rahab (Jos. 2). There is no salvation outside it
9. THE COMMUNITY OF LOVE : The Church reveals the kingdom of God on earth, as the pure kingdom of love, her goal is that every soul may enjoy eternal life.. Whoever belongs to the church but has no love, is truly outside the church, for he does not know God (I John 3:14, 16; 4:7,8). This love unites us all in God who is Love, and unites the earthly creatures with the heavenly hosts, men with angels, the militant members with those who are victorious.
10. THE ICON OF HEAVEN: The Heavenly One descended to our land, made of us His heavenly Church. Thus we live on earth
with a heavenly heart and high thought, participating with the heavenly creatures in their hymns, joy and peace.
11. EVER-YOUTHFUL CHURCH: The Church never ages (spiritually) nor weakens, for she is united with her Groom who never ages. The Groom grants her His Holy Spirit which renews her
unceasingly, therefore her youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Ps. 103:5). “Even though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” 2 Cor. 4:16.
12. THE FIRST-BORN CHURCH: Her Groom, the First-Born One, grants all her members the glory of becoming first-born in Him.
THE CHURCH CHARACTERISTICS:
- The Alexandrian Fathers spoke about Church democracy.
It is the peoples’ right to choose their shepherds, and it is the duty of the clergyman to show his loving fatherhood and not his authority.
Every member of the church – man, woman or a child – has his own role in the church, as we shall explain when we speak about “the Church of the People.”
- Spirituality is the common feature of all aspects of church life and activities.
- The Alexandrian Fathers- like St. Cyril The Great- state that “Unity,” based on the “One faith” without deviation is a characteristic of the church.