Your Majesty

The True Ethiopian

Pharoah Khufu and The Temple of Isis

Ethiopia

Ancient Architecture

Lalibela

The Queen of the South

Makeda of Ethiopia

Susneyos

The

Nine Saints


Doctrine and Practice of the Church

The Christological Basis: Tewahedo

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 it’s head Eyesus Kristos Medhane Alem (Saviour of the World). 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 only one Church of Him on earth. It is necessary, therefore for all Christians to admit that God is not a Roman Catholic or Protestant. He is neither Monophysite nor Dyophysite or any other kind of indicated denomination that refers to political authorities and nationalistic ideals, which are contrary to the high principles of equality, unity and Christian love. Eyesus Kristos, Our Lord and God, is one Creator, one Saviour, 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 as the Creator and Saviour of the world and on the conviction that the Holy Spirit is in the church. (The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church, Yesehaq, p.101)

The Confession and Prayer of Faith

The Following is the creed the apostles gave in Jerusalem as is written in the Ethiopic Liturgical Book in the original Geez, It is used in Divine Services, especially during the Anaphora of the Apostles. (Liturgy,p.40, p.63, English translation). We believe in one God, maker of all creation, Father of our Lord and Saviour Eyesus Kristos, because his nature is unsearchable. As we have before declared, He is without beginning and without end, but He is ever living, and He has light which is never extinguished and He can never be approached. He is not two or three, and no addition can be made to Him; but He is only one, living forever, because He is not hidden that He cannot be known, but we know Him perfectly through the law and the prophets that He is Almighty and has authority over all the creations. One God, Father of our Saviour Eyesus Kristos, who was begotten before the Creation of the world, the only begotten Son, coequal with Him, Creator of all the Hosts, the principalities and the dominions. Who in the last days was pleased to become man, and took flesh from Our Lady Mariam, the Holy Virgin, without the seed of man, and grew like men yet without sin or evil; neither was guile found in his mouth.

Then he suffered, died in the flesh, rose from the dead on the third day ascended unto heaven to the Father who sent Him, sat down at the right hand of power, sent to us the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit who proceeded from the Father, and saved all the world, and who is coeternal with the Father and the Son. We say further that all the creatures of God are good and there is nothing to be rejected, and the spirit, the life of the body is pure and holy in all. And we say that marriage is pure and childbirth is undefiled, because God created Adam and Eve to multiply.

We understand further that there is in our body a soul, which is immortal and does not perish with the body. We repudiate all work of heretics and all schisms and transgressions of the law, because they are for us impure. We also believe in the resurrection of the dead, the righteous and sinners; and in the Day of Judgment when everyone will be recompensed according to their deeds. We also believe that Christ is not in the least degree inferior because of his Incarnation, But He is God, the word who truly became man and reconciled mankind to God being the High Priest of the Father. Henceforth, let us not be circumcised like the Jews.

We know that He who had to fulfill the law and the prophets has already come.



The Sacramental Theology

There are seven sacraments (mysteries) in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Communion, Unction of the Sick, Matrimony and Holy Orders. According to the teaching of the Ethiopian Church: “…The Sacraments are holy ordinance through which the believer receives an invisible grace under the form of an outward sign.” And in the performance of each sacrament the Divine Majesty Himself is present.

Baptism

A regeneration and is the sacrament through which a person is born again and is accepted into the membership of the church after being baptized by the pouring on or immersion in water three times in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is listed as the first sacrament because it is considered the door through which the believer enters the church and the Kingdom of Grace, accordingly to what was said by the Lord Eyesus Kristos (John 3:5). Baptism brings salvation: “…even baptism does now save us” (1 Peter 3:21);
“ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).
The Ethiopian Church believes that baptism was commanded, directed and instituted by our Lord Eyesus Kristos, as all Christian Churches agree. It is the firm belief of the church that the original sin of the person is driven out through this sacrament. The person is then committed to the Christian cause as a citizen in the Kingdom of God, and a new life is bestowed upon the person.



Mateb (Neck Cord)

Mateb is given to the candidate during baptism. The priest must bless it before he ties it around the neck of the candidate. Mateb, which is worn by all Christians, is the badge of faith. It is made of a black, blue or white silken cord, carrying a cross to signify the Crucifixion of Christ. There are at least two important uses of the mark:

  1. To distinguish Christians from Moslems and pagans
  2. As a guard against evil spirits



Confirmation

The first three sacraments – baptism, confirmation and communion – are administered one after the other on the same occasion. Confirmation is received immediately after baptism to signify the Holy Spirit’s decent upon the Lord Christ directly after baptism (Mathew 3:16) Through confirmation, the believer receives the gift of the Holy Spirit: “ But ye have been anointed by the Holy One, and ye know all things.”(1 John 2:20)



Penance

The sacrament of Penance is necessary for repentance and sorrow for sins committed. It is administered before receiving Holy Communion; “ Let a man examine himself, and let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation unto himself not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:28-29). “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins maybe blotted out”(Acts 3:19). Through this sacrament, remission of sins and reconciliation with God are granted (Luke 15:18-24; John 8:11, 6:37, 1 Timothy 2:4; Acts 3:19).



The Lord's Supper

The Ethiopian Church through the ages has regarded the Lord’s Supper as the supreme act of life, when devout believers hold intimate communion with their Living Lord through the consecrated elements of bread and wine. This is not the manna that Israel ate in the wilderness, the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Table, the Eucharist, the Flesh and Blood of Christ: “ Verily, Verily I say onto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven but my Father giveth you the true bread from Heaven” (John 6:32) “ This is the bread which came down from Heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live forever” (John 6:58).
This sacrament brings true and eternal life to the believer: “ Whosoever eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. He that eateth of this bread shall live forever” (John 6:54-58) “ except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53). The Ethiopian church believes that Our Lord Eyesus Kristos is present in this sacrament, not by way of granting His Grace, but by actually being there in the form of bread and Wine.



Matrimony

The sacrament of Matrimonyis important for the Life of mankind. It is holy and ordained by God. Through it the husband and wife are united and given divine grace that sanctifies their union and makes perfect and spiritual, like the unity of Christ and the Church. This order is significant not only for the life of the couple but further demands the moral support and protection of all nations and their states. Moreover the Kingdom of God and the church are involved in this great mystery. Marriage is important for at least three reasons:

  1. For the propagation of humanity as it was commanded: “ Be fruitful and multiply.”
  2. To keep man and woman from the temptation of carnal lust.
  3. For the good relationship and mutual help between husband and wife.

The intention of marriage is that one husband should have one wife and one wife should have one husband.
It is a gift for the preservation of man’s health in this world and for his salvation in the world to come.



Holy Orders

This is the sacrament for ordaining and consecrating the clergy. Through this sacrament, the ordained clergy are granted a divine gift appropriate for the various services to which they are called: “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands”(2 Timothy 1:6). “ Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy with the laying on of hands in the presbytery.”(1 Timothy 4:14).   
The institution of this sacrament took place: First, when our Lord Eyesus Kristos appointed the twelve apostles and seventy disciples; second, when he commanded the apostles to preach and baptize all nations (Mathew 28:19-20); third, when Saint Paul said that it was Christ Himself who appointed some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11).


New Testament

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable and unmerciful:
who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
(The Holy Bible: Romans:1 22-31)

Amistu A-emade Mystir (Five Pillars of Mystery)

The Pillars of Mystery are five in number and are regarded by the church as basic knowledge for all faithful and the cathechism in particular. The following are simple literal translation from the Geez and Amharic text.

Mystire Selassie (Mystery of Trinity)

The Mystery of Trinity is to believe in the Father the begetter, in the Son the begotten, in the Holy Spirit the one who proceeds, one in three and three in one. They are three in name, in person, in work. In name they are called Father, Son, the Holy Spirit. The Father has a perfect person, perfect face, and perfect form. The Son has a perfect person, perfect face, and perfect form. The Holy Spirit has a perfect person, perfect face, and perfect form. As far as their work is concerned, the Father is the begetter, the Son is begotten, and the Holy Spirit is the one who proceeds. The Father begets and causes procession, but is neither begotten nor proceeds. The Son is begotten, but neither begets nor proceeds nor causes procession. They are one in nature, in essence, in fullness, in substantiality, in divinity, in heart, in word, in breath. They are called Ab, Wold and Menfes Qidus. Ab means “ the Father,” Wold means “ the Son” and Menfes Qidus means “ the Holy Spirit,” one who proceeds from the Father. Ab: Wold: Menfes Qidus - Holy Triniy (The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church, Yesehaq, p.124)

Mystire Seggawe (Mystery of Incarnation)

Mystery of Incarnation deals with the creation of man and the birth of our Lord Eyesus Kristos Medhane Alem (Saviour of the World). Man has seven works or seven elements, four natures of the flesh and three natures of the soul. The four natures of the flesh are wind, fire, water and earth, and the three natures of the soul are rational thought, the power of speech and the property of life. “  He is called man by reason of his created nature.” as Gregory Thaumaturgus said. 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 Mariam, without a father. He was born of two births, son of the Father, son of Mariam, and was honored in the union, the union of Godhead and manhood. “…He was united being one person from two persons, one nature from two natures”. Being one of the Trinity the Son became man and put on flesh; as was said: “ This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
“That word became flesh; he continually abides in us. We behold his Glory in accordance with his being the only son of his Father.”
By what is it known that he is born before the world, from a father without a mother? It is known by his being born latterly from the Virgin Mariam without a father: “ His first birth was made known by his latter birth.”

Mystire Timqet (Mystery of Baptism)

What is the Mystery of Baptism? It is to believe that the Lord Eyesus Kristos was baptized at the age of thirty to be an archetype for all men and all men are to be baptized in the water of life, which flowed from the right side of our Lord Eyesus Kristos on Friday and to obtain adoption from the Trinity, to eat his flesh and drink his blood and live a Christian life. How can one obtain the water of life that flowed from the right side of Our Lord Eyesus Kristos on Friday? The priest recites the Book of Baptism over water. He celebrates the preanaphora and reads some chapters from the Holy Scriptures. At the end, when the priest blesses it, saying, “ One is the Holy Father; One is the Holy Son; One is the Holy Spirit,” the water changes and becomes the water of life that flowed from the right side of Our Lord Eyesus Kristos on Friday.
The baptized person will be freed from condemnation and released from bondage to the devil: “ By baptism men will be completely freed from bondage to Satan and from servitude to impure demons.” We are baptized after the manner of baptism by which our Lord Eyesus Kristos was baptized in the river Jordan, at the hand of John. One might ask why the Lord was baptized when he was pure and righteous. The answer is: He did this to be an example to us and “ that He might give us, by His baptism equality of righteousness.”



Mystire Qurban (Mystery of Eucharist)

The mystery of Eucharist is somewhat identical to the sacrament of Holy Communion. What is the Mystery of the Eucharist? It is the body and blood of our Lord Eyesus Kristos 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: “ This bread which I give to you is my flesh, this is the bread which came down from heaven, if any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever.”; “ This is my blood which will be shed for you and for many people which is the surety of the new covenant.”
The flesh and blood we receive is the Godhead proclaimed, the freedom of spirit having descended into Sheol together with the Spirit, and the Godhead abides with the flesh in the tomb. Whoever receives the flesh and blood of Christ, having cleansed his conscience from grudges and vengefulness and 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.

Mystire Tensaea Mutan (Mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead)

The mystery of Resurrection teaches that after death there will be resurrection. When a person dies, he will not remain destroyed and rotting, but rises again. How does he rise? There will be a proclamation saying: “ You who are dead arise.” There will be three invisible sounds of horns. At the first sound all flesh will be gathered together at the second the flesh and bones and blood will be united, and they will be perfect bodies without any movement or signs of life and at the third the dead will rise in the twinkling of an eye. They will rise with all their works written out before them whether good or bad. The males as mature youths of thirty years and the females mature maidens of fifteen years. The dead will arise following the example of the Lord Eyesus Kristos, the firstborn who arose destroying corruption and the grave, having remained in the depths of the grave three days and three nights. He is the firstborn of all who died.
As Severus said “… during resurrection, they do not rise, as the tall, tall; the short, short; the fair skinned, fair skinned; the dark skinned, dark skinned; the fat, fat; and the thin, thin. Instead each person will have the same body and form.”  Those who did good will arise resembling Christ shining seven times brighter than the sun. Those who did evil will rise resembling the devil, clothed in darkness.
“… The righteous will stand on the Lord’s right hand, and those who did evil on the Lord’s left hand.” Then he will make judgment, saying to those on his right hand, “ Come blessed of my Father, and inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” To those on His left hand he will say "...Be separated from me, enemies of my father, impure of soul to the fire of Gehannam where the fire is not quenched, where the worm does not sleep, and where is eternal mourning, But the righteous into life eternal."

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