What Will I Study? Program Content
Orthodox Christianity begins with the human encounter with Jesus Christ: the incarnate Son of God the Father, who sends His Holy Spirit into the creation He has fashioned. From this encounter of humanity with its Maker, the Holy Trinity, the Church draws all creation towards its God — giving birth to what St. Tikhon of Zadonsk called the ‘Life in Christ’: the living out of man’s redemptive relationship to God in the midst of creation.
The Institute’s Certificate Program in Orthodox Studies by Distance Learning aims to draw students into a deeper understanding and experience of this Life in Christ. Beginning with the earliest days of the Church, her whole heritage and life are examined in a sustained, detailed and pious way, incorporating the study of Church history; doctrine and belief; Scripture, the Church Fathers and sacred texts; worship and practice; culture and community; iconography, music and art; pastoral practice in the modern world; prayer and asceticism; and a wide variety of other themes. The Certificate Program’s modular design allows you to engage with these topics in an organized, carefully progressive manner.
In everything, the Certificate Program is aimed at fostering a deepening engagement with Orthodox Church life. This means that Church history is never just studied for history’s sake: it is always seen as a resource for understanding the life that must be lived by Christians today. Doctrine is never studied simply to be able to grasp theological points or principles intellectually: it is always approached as a means of guiding the heart so that it can encounter God more purely, more concretely. In everything studied, whether ancient or modern, the ultimate fruits are borne out in lives that are lived more completely in the embrace of the Church.
In taking up your studies with the Certificate Program, you will find yourself drawn into the whole of Orthodoxy’s rich history, theology, worship and practice over the course of a two-and-a-half to three-year program, guided by expert instructors whose pastoral committment to supporting Church life is coupled with their desire to help you learn. Whatever your starting point — whether you’re a life-long Orthodox who has never studied the Church in a formal way before; a convert who seeks to know the faith more deeply; a cleric who wants to further his educational formation; a student who is adding to studies from school, college or seminary — you will conclude the Certificate Program with a deeper understanding of the Orthodox faith, a stronger desire to continue to grow in your Christian zeal, and a strengthened foundation to continue taking steps through the Life in Christ.