The doctrinal teaching of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is firmly grounded in the five pillars of mystery, namely: the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Mystery of Incarnation, the Mystery of Baptism, the Mystery of Holy Communion and the Mystery of Resurrection.
5.1 The Mystery of the Holy Trinity: The Mystery of the Holy Trinity is the belief in the Triune God and is the core of Christian faith. This doctrine is a mystery since it could never be known unless revealed by God. “No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). The One God in whom we believe, as is one in divinity and three as distinct persons. The Ethiopian Church accepts this teaching as absolutely central to its theology and spirituality. “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).
5.2 The Mystery of the Incarnation: The Mystery of the Incarnation is the saving entrance of God into human history. The main reason for the incarnation is because our disease needed a physician (Luke 19:10), our darkness needed illumination (Matthew 4:12-17; John 8:12), and our captivity needed a redeemer (Galatian 5:1). Thus, the Creedal confession reads, “For us men and for our salvation the Word of God came down from heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” The Ethiopian Orthodox Church upholds the miaphysite Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria: “One United Incarnate Nature of God the Son.” In other words, when the two natures, “humanity and divinity,” united, Christ thus became one person and one nature from two natures. The union of the Word of God and humanity took place in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Therefore because of the incarnation, all the attributes of the flesh can be given to the Word of God and vice versa.
Due to this perfect union, which took place without division, separation, confusion and mixture, we can no longer speak of two natures. The Johannine prologue says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14) Thus, Christ is truly human and truly divine. Theologically, this happened through communicatio idiomatum – the exchange of properties. As St. Athanasius of Alexandria notes, “The Word was made man in order that we might be made divine.” This in turn makes possible the divinization of humanity, which enables us to become partakers of the divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4).
Due to this perfect union, which took place without division, separation, confusion and mixture, we can no longer speak of two natures. The Johannine prologue says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Thus, Christ is truly human and truly divine. Theologically, this happened through communicatio idiomatum, the exchange of properties. As St. Athanasius of Alexandria notes, “The Word was made man in order that we might be made divine.” This in turn makes possible the divinization of humanity, which enables us to become partakers of the divine nature of God (2 Peter 1:4).
5.3 The Mystery of the Baptism: The mystery of baptism is the main entrance into the Church and participation in its sacramental grace. It is called mystery because we receive the invisible grace of spiritual adoption through the visible performances of the sacrament. “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16; John 19:34-35; Acts 2:38) Being the sacrament of initiation into Christian faith, Baptism is performed only once and never repeated (Ephesus 4:4-7; John 3:3-8).
5.4 The Mystery of the Holy Communion: Christ instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion during the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. Our Lord Jesus Christ commands the disciples to remember His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection in their Eucharistic celebration. In Matthew 26:26-30; Luke 22:19 St. Paul also says, “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink the cup, you do show the Lord`s death till He comes” (1Corinthian 11:26). Because man does not offer it to God, but God to humankind, the Eucharist is a sacrament through which we are far off from the dominance of sin and attain to communion with God (John 6:53-57). The Eucharist stands at the heart of the early Church*s faith and life. Subsequently, a sacrament became a meeting point on which all the issues of theology converge.
5.5 The Mystery of the Resurrection: The Mystery of the Resurrection is the mystery of the eternal life in the world to come after our bodily resurrection from dead. This happens at the glorious Second Coming of Christ. Just as every seed must decay first, and then germinate (John 12:24; 1 Corinthian 15:26), so also we all will die and then rise up again to enjoy the eschatological hope of the Kingdom. The Church’s belief in our resurrection is based on the triumphant resurrection of Christ, the first fruit of our resurrection (1 Corinthian 15:20-22). The concluding phrase of the Creed affirms; “And we believe in the resurrection of the dead.”