Teaching Is the Task of the Clergy
Teaching was the task of the
Apostles and then of their
disciples the bishops, priests and deacons. It was never the
work of the laity. The Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the task of
teaching to the Apostles when He said to them: "Go therefore
and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded
you" (Matt. 28:19,20) and "Go into all the world and preach
the gospel to every creature" (Mark.16: 15). He did not say this
Apostles considered preaching, teaching, ministry of the
word and entrusting the faith to others, their main task. On the
occasion of ordaining the seven deacons, St. Peter the Apostle
said: "...but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to
the ministry of the word" (Acts 6: 4) and he said about the
Lord: "...He commanded us to preach to the people"(Acts 10:
42). St. Paul the Apostle said about the Gospel: "...to which I
was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the
Gentiles" (2Tim. 1: 11). Thus this Apostle lived preaching the
kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts
St. Paul the Apostle
entrusted the task of teaching and
preaching to his disciples the bishops. He said to his disciple St.
Timothy: "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of
season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and
task of teaching was entrusted to bishops, then to priests
and clergymen in general, as we will mention in detail in due
course, since the Law is sought from the mouth of the clergyman.
councils of bishops were formed and had the authority to
legislate laws and canons in the holy Church. The replies of many
of the bishops on religious affairs were considered sacred canons
recognised by the Universal Church. A vivid example of this is
what occurred during the visit of Pope Timothy Alexandrus, the
22nd Pope of Constantinople, to the Ecumenical Council held in
381 A. D. All his replies were considered Church canons. (See
Volume 14 of Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers series).
As for the laity, they were always in the position of learners. The clergymen became teachers not only because they preached from the Church pulpit but also because of them being spiritual counsellors in confessions and the like.
and doctrine were the task of the Church, represented by
her councils and bishops, and were interpreted by the clergymen to
the people. Preachers are not entitled to teach their own opinions on
the subjects of faith and doctrine but they must teach what is
recorded in the Church doctrine entrusted to them. For if the
freedom is given to every person to spread his own opinions, we
will have differing dogmas and we cannot call this the Church
Man has freedom of belief but he does not have the freedom to teach according to his own thoughts because heresies sprang from the different schools of teaching.
Luther started to teach according to his own thoughts and
was followed by Calvin, Zwingli and others, a new schism
occurred in the Church. As time passed, many contradicting
dogmas were formed, and what the Church knew as "one faith"
began to fade away.
is free in his belief. But the freedom of belief might
divert and turn into heresies and heterodoxies that are exterior
to the one faith of the Church. The Church, who has been alert
over the faith to maintain it, does not allow this to happen nor
does she give the authority of teaching to everyone, but
examines the sayings of the teachers against the faith entrusted
to the saints. Thus the saying of St. Paul the Apostle (Gal. 1:9)
remains a fixed criterion.
the reason for an error in faith or teaching is due
to mixing with different dogmas, or being influenced by them
and their teachers, or by being disciples of such teachers or their
writings. Sometimes the reason for an error in faith is due to
one's sticking to one's own opinion, neither accepting any
change nor obeying the Church. Most probably the reason
behind this is pride in the heart convincing the person that he is
right and whoever objects to his opinion is wrong, and that he
understands what no-one else does.
Throughout her history, the
Church has been cautious to
safeguard the teaching from distortion. Just one wrong teaching
of one ex-priest such as Arius, caused two popes, namely, Pope
Peter the Seal of the Martyrs and Pope Alexandrus, to
intervene. A council was held in Alexandria attended by a
hundred bishops from Alexandria and Libya and another council
was held at Nicea in 325 A.D. attended by 318 bishops from all
over the world. All this was caused by one priest's error in teaching. There was a danger of his teaching spreading and
nobody said: "Leave the matter alone; there is freedom of belief "!
The first schism in the Church occurred in the middle of the fifth century, in 451 AD, due to the different teachings on the Nature of Christ. Another schism occurred in the 11th century between the Roman Catholics and the Byzantine Orthodox due to the different teachings on the procession of the Holy Spirit. A third major schism occurred in the 15th century caused by Luther, the establisher of Protestantism. Different dogmas sprang up afterwards within Protestantism.
Hence arises the necessity
of presenting a comparative
theology to compare the various beliefs attributed to
Christianity, to study the points of differences, and to reply to
every teaching that does not conform to the doctrine of the
|| The Orthodox Faith (Dogma) || Family and Youth || Sermons || Bible Study || Devotional || Spirituals || Fasts & Feasts || Coptics || Religious Education || Monasticism || Seasons || Missiology || Ethics || Ecumenical Relations || Church Music || Pentecost || Miscellaneous || Saints || Church History || Pope Shenouda || Patrology || Canon Law || Lent || Pastoral Theology || Father Matta || Bibles || Iconography || Liturgics || Orthodox Biblical topics || Orthodox articles || St Chrysostom |||| Bible Study || Biblical topics || Bibles || Orthodox Bible Study || Coptic Bible Study || King James Version || New King James Version || Scripture Nuggets || Index of the Parables and Metaphors of Jesus || Index of the Miracles of Jesus || Index of Doctrines || Index of Charts || Index of Maps || Index of Topical Essays || Index of Word Studies || Colored Maps || Index of Biblical names Notes || Old Testament activities for Sunday School kids || New Testament activities for Sunday School kids || Bible Illustrations || Bible short notes
|| Prayer of the First Hour || Third Hour || Sixth Hour || Ninth Hour || Vespers (Eleventh Hour) || Compline (Twelfth Hour) || The First Watch of the midnight prayers || The Second Watch of the midnight prayers || The Third Watch of the midnight prayers || The Prayer of the Veil || Various Prayers from the Agbia || Synaxarium