I have held many things in my hands and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
- All hold the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed to be the most essential statement of the Christian faith.
- Churches are governed regionally and universally by bishops (episkopos) in the lines of apostolic succession. Bishops in higher administrative ranks may have other titles, such as archbishop, metropolitan, pope, patriarch, catholicos, etc. –
- A priest (presbyteros) is ordained by a bishop for the guidance of the faithful and the administering of the holy sacraments. Bishops also ordain deacons (diakonos).
- Apostolic churches hold that sacraments are visible means, through which God extends his divine grace. All Apostolic Churches agree that Baptism, Eucharist (Divine Liturgy / Holy Mass), Chrismation (Confirmation), Matrimony, Holy Orders (Ordination), Reconciliation (Confession) and Unction (Anointing) constitute the major Sacraments. Others, such as blessings and rituals, are considered Sacramentals.
- Churches have a traditional liturgy, which changes somewhat throughout the liturgical year by emphasizing different aspects of God’s teaching and Christian life.
- All Churches recognize the apostolic authority of at least the Jerusalem Council of 50 A.D. and the first three Ecumenical Councils (gatherings of the Apostles’ successors, the bishops) of Nicea (325 A.D.), Constantinople (381 A.D.) and Ephesus (431 A.D.).
- All but a few of the smaller independent apostolic churches have communities for Religious (monastic) life.
- All uphold the belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
- All baptize infants.
A Christian is an utterly free man, lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is an utterly dutiful man, servant of all, subject to all.
[On the Freedom of a Christian (1520 A.D.) by Martin Luther]
As the seventh Ecumenical Council (787 A.D.) restored Icons in the church as objects of veneration, the Church Fathers emphasized the visible form of God’s revelation to humankind.
The prototype of the Icon is God becoming human form in Jesus Christ, i.e. visible to our senses. So are his mother, the Theotokos, and all the saints, including biblical themes and events depicted on Holy Icons for our edification and thus being a tool to salvation.
Holy Scriptures (Bible) themselves are iconographic, just not pictorial but in form of letters, words and sentences. This was less of a value until such times (a few centuries ago) when the average person was actually able to read. Until then, Icons were the powerful way to convey God’s word to humankind.
Most importantly, God gave us all our senses to comprehend His message, such as through incense, church music, the taste of His Body & Blood (Eucharist), Icons, art — all given to us, so we may grasp His wisdom.