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St. Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church


Church Review
Scriptural View: 2/5
Missional View: 3/5
Community: 4/5

Website Review
Site Usabilility: 3/5
Site Design: 3/5
Site Content: 2/5

Summary: St. Gregory of Nyssa is a recent Greek Orthodox church plant in the East County of San Diego. The Greek Orthodox tradition dates back over 2,000 years to the founding of the Christian church. In 1054, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church split into two over issues of Papal authority. Services have a ancient liturgical feel which connects people today to generations that have gone before us. The Orthodox have done a great thing in maintaining their identity and tradition over hundreds of years- they have not compromised- and that is admirable in many ways.

Many in the Greek Orthodox tradition feel their church is the best and closest representation to God’s church. From St. Gregory’s website:

Orthodoxy believes that she has preserved and taught the historic Christian Faith free from error and distortion, from the time of the Apostles. She also believes that there is nothing in the body of her teachings which is contrary to truth or which inhibits real union with God.

At the service, the Father Demetri Tsigas, spoke much about the Kingdom of God and the need for the church to be missional to the world. I was encouraged by his preaching and his message called people to live out what was preached. The preaching was more topical than exegetical though.

The Greek Orthodox communities are notorious for their family-atmosphere and at the service I attended several people invited me to events. I felt a real warmth at the church. There is much that this church is doing right and for that I commend them.

The point that we (as Protestants) differ is we hold to sola scriptura, that the Bible alone is God’s special revelation to mankind. The earth and all of creation are God’s general revelation but only through the Holy Spirit and Scripture are we to base our beliefs. This is where we differ from the Greek Orthodox church who holds that ” The Bible is viewed as only one expression of God’s revelation in the on-going life of His people. Scripture is part of the treasure of Faith which is known as Tradition.” Other minor points over praying to Saints, Mary being a perpetual virgin consubstantiation (that communion literally becomes Jesus body and blood) also differ from traditional Protestant positions.

Because of our difference of how we view Scripture as well as a few other differences we do not recommend this church to Protestants.

7 Responses to “St. Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church”

  1. anonymous Says:

    What church gave us the Bible? The Bible is a product of the church, the church is not a product of the Bible. Asking a layperson to pray for you is just as you would ask a saint to pray for you. The Orthodox do not worship saints, we reverence them and ask for them to intercede for us, as they are great examples of a Christian life.Further, why is it so hard to believe that the Holy Spirit can change simple water, wine and bread into Christ’s body and blood? Man’s understanding is finite, while God is infinite. The traditions of western culture try too hard to dissect and “understand”, while the eastern mind realizes how limited we are and asks for God to show us how to understand. God bless us all as we work together to do God’s work in this life.

  2. Deborah Blake Says:

    Praying for unity in heart and mind, I offer up my humble point of view that our focus should remain on those things that bring us together in one Holy Catholic and Apostalic Church is at the heart of the new covenant and command to love one another as He loved us.

    I pray for the reunification of the Church as the body with Christ as our head.

    May God grant his grace and mercy upon those who struggle to analyze the mysteries of God in effort to gain knowledge on which to basis thier prideful intellectual judgement. May He grant them addition strength of faith to accept all the sacraments through which He touches us even without understanding and explaination. May the HolySpirit stir in us a true love for one another demonstrated through patience and respect.


  3. Catholic Man Says:

    Where do Protestants get the idea that SOla Scriptura is right? It is not in the Bible. You criticize our Traditions when you have your own tradition of thinking that the Bible is the only source.
    Best regards

  4. AC Says:

    I know that this is long overdue, but this last idea is completely old style. It is a Roman Catholic or maybe it is an Eastern Orthodox notion. The Bible was created apart from the church. If the Eastern Orthodox church didn’t exist the Bible still would. The Bible is the story of many different people who have existed under God’s will. You have to say at least that. Tradition is not right. Just because the church did it one way at one point doesn’t mean that it was the right way. The Catholic church continues to change what it thinks on certain things, so that proves that tradition is not right. Tradition is never on the same level as the Bible. Scripture alone leads you to understand salvation. It is not the church that does this.

  5. James of England Says:

    Just a small note to say that consubstantiation is the traditional Lutheran view of the eucharist, and is one of the areas where the reformation brought many western Christians closer to Orthodoxy. It’s not the position of all protestants, and the other differences are also important, but it seems worth celebrating the ways that time can bring us closer together as well as further apart.

  6. M in Korea Says:

    As someone who has studied and been a part of Protestant, Muslim, and Orthodox communities and has followed each faith for a period of time in my life (respectively), I can say that what made me accept the Orthodox faith was exactly that which the protestant churches could not offer me–a feeling that I must really analyze my own heart and behavior, that I must really try to be a good person (by my own conscience). Of course, anyone in the world can do this, even without religion, but the point of having priests instead of just pastors in the Orthodox church is to be able to have a “spiritual father” to help and guide you to do that–not just someone you say “hey what’s up! let’s pray to good ol’ JC” to once a week, but someone who is sincerely committed to helping you strive toward the happiness and love in your heart that we all are striving for. A priest must be elected to be a priest by other priests as well as the community which he wants to serve. There is no such requirement for many protestant pastors, so I feel like there isn’t a lot of potential for a pastor to move me spiritually, aside from the fact that my experience with protestant churches seemed to be a barage of narrowly-based research interpretations by whomever. Regardless, I don’t want to preach against anyone’s relationship with God, whatever it may be. Love thy neighbor, whoever they are!

  7. John Carter Says:

    Eastern Orthodoxy, of which the Greek Orthodox Church is a consituent member, does not understand the changing of bread and water into God’s Body and Blood in terms of Consubstantiation. It is insisted that while this process is a participation in the “real presence” it cannot be explained. It is a great mystery and when Orthodox speak among themselves, they do not speak of sacraments but of the Mysteries.

    While you *might* find someone “worshipping Mary or the saints” out of ignorance, the Orthodox reserve that special relationship that man has with God to God. We might honor a great man or woman as you would honor your mother and father. For us, Mary is to be honored “as if” she was our own mother. The apostles are honored “as if” they are our teachers and brothers. In our understanding they are. But while we honor Mary as our mother, at our best, we don’t talk about her in the marketplace. It is personal. Beliefs about Mary are not dogmatized except insofar as we understand her title to be “Theotokos”.

    Similarly, in that spirit, if we are called upon by the nations to burn incense before the Emperor, it is not simply a matter of principle that we do not. It is a matter of family integrity. We believe the saints are alive with our Lord (He is the God of the living) and that they are not absent any more than God is absent although they are no longer perhaps in time as we are. Again, the mystery. We don’t try to explain what cannot be explained but neither do we deny the reality. It is a personal matter. How can we betray what they died for? We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. No man lives unto himself. No man dies unto himself.

    It is in the context of this great cloud of living witnesses in the very presence of God in which you and I live…in which the apostles wrote the gospels and epistles. Tradition (with a capital T) is not understood as a sentimental attachment to the way things have “always been done” but as this context in which we live, move, and have our being. It is the life of the Holy Spirit within the Church. It is the life of the Church within the Holy Spirit.

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