WHAT WE BELIEVE
"Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." (Chronicles, 16: 29)
PLEASURE AND PAIN
God's creation is truly beautiful and the Church as a living organism, reflects this beauty in her services and ceremonies. In the Church, especially in the physical temple, the harmony between creation and the spiritual world is expressed in its architecture and in its atmosphere of holiness.
An Orthodox temple has its origin in the divine worship of the Temple in Jerusalem. To enter an Orthodox church is to enter a holy place. Emphasis is on the experience of God first, followed by scriptural readings and teaching.
In St John's Gospel, we read: God is a spirit and they who would worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4: 24)
True devotion must be internal and come from the heart. But we are not to infer from this that exterior worship is to be condemned because interior worship is prescribed as essential. On the contrary, the rites and ceremonies which are enjoined in the worship of God and in the administration of the mysteries are dictated by reason and are sanctioned by God in the Old Law (Zechariah 14:17) and by our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles in the New. Our worship is not human based but based on the heavenly.
The Church is a divine-human- community in which the eternal worship of Heaven is always present and ceaseless. The heavenly servants, the angels being pure spirits without body, render to God a purely spiritual worship. The sun and moon, and stars of the firmament pay to Him a kind of external homage.
In the Prophet Daniel, we read: Sun and moon bless the Lord...stars of heaven bless the Lord, praise and exalt Him above all forever.
But man, by possessing a soul or spiritual substance, partakes of the nature of angels and possessing a body, partakes of the nature of material bodies. It is therefore his privilege, as well as his duty, to offer to God the twofold homage of body and soul; in other words, to honour Him by internal and external worship.
Genuine piety cannot be concealed in the heart without manifesting itself by exterior practices of religion; and hence, though interior and exterior worship are distinct, they cannot be separated in the present life.
The fire cannot burn without sending forth a flame and heat. Neither can the fire of devotion burn in the soul without reflecting itself on our countenance, and even in our speech.
It is natural for man to express his sentiments by signs and ceremonies for, from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh. And as fuel is necessary to keep the fire alive, even so the flame of piety is nourished by the outward forms of religion.
The nature of man
What is man that Thou art so mindful of him? Psalm 8: 4
Your true self, that which is principally man, is not the visible body but the invisible soul, the inner man. -St Basil the Great
Physically man is extremely vulnerable. The slightest fluctuation in temperature can cause death. Disease, heart attack, and viruses - a whole list of calamities can terminate our life, often in an instance. And yet the true man, according to St Basil the Great, is by the grace of God, immortal.
Man's soul is far greater than this physical universe in which we live. Although our physical body may perish, our souls live on in the spiritual world. Our Lord says: What does it profit a man if should gain the whole world and lose his soul? (Matt 16: 26).
The soul is therefore more precious than our feeble body and is immortal, not by nature, but by the will of God, passing from this life to eternal life. Caring for and nurturing the soul is therefore more important than caring for the body which is corruptible and will return to the earth.
St Symeon the New Theologian writes that man is a mortal and immortal creature, visible and invisible, sensible and intelligible. St Macarius of Egypt says that the soul is a spiritual creation, great and beautiful, marvelous and good, a likeness and image of God. St Gregory the Theologian affirms that God places man on the earth like a second cosmos or universe within a smaller, physical universe. St Gregory Palamas writes that man is a cosmos, which encompasses universes, the visible and the invisible.
That the body is corruptible and will dissolve like other forms of matter is not a natural condition. Man's totality consists of both body and soul. Death is contrary to nature, being the result of the Fall.
In paradise Adam's body together with his soul made up his humanity. Unlike the Platonists who believed that the soul was imprisoned in the body, Christians have always believed that the body is a part of our human existence.
However due to sin, the body has become corruptible and is separated from the soul at death. It is however to be united with the soul at the General Resurrection.
When our Lord appears to the disciples after the Resurrection, He appears in a resurrected body. St Thomas is able to put his hand in the print of the nails.
Christ eats fish before his disciples. ?Behold my hands and my feet. me, that it is I myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have?. (Luke 24: 39).
At the General Resurrection our souls and bodies will be reunited.
Man is not God
For those who belong to eastern religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism - man is God. For the Orthodox Christian man is a son of God.
We believe that God truly made man in His own image and likeness, and therefore accept the Gospel reality of man rather than the scholastic view based on Aristotle's rational man. Man is a son of God. Man is divine.
In the everyday murk of life, the divinity of man is often hard to find. The perfect man is found in the Gospel. He is Christ. To be truly human is to be like Christ.
Apart from the physical and psychological makeup of man there is a spiritual dimension that separates him from the animal kingdom. This spiritual dimension is more than intellect, creativity and invention. It is a state that transcends the physical world and yet at the same time encompasses it.
If we take Christ as our model, we find that men do indeed have the spiritual characteristics of the God-Man. For man is able to endure suffering, to forgive his enemies, to seek peace and in some instances to work miracles. He too can eat with his friends, weep and rejoice and do countless things that Christ did on earth.
And as Christ promised: the works I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.. (John 14: 12). Even today we find men and women who are Christ-like.
They are to be found in our present time and in recent history just as they were found in the distant past. Such people demonstrate a likeness to Christ, which borders on that perfection for which man was created in the first place.
Who are these people? Who are these people who live outside the boundaries of what we consider to be the normal? How can anyone live beyond the ordinary laws of this physical universe?
These men and women and sometimes children are the saints. Often hidden from public recognition, they nevertheless live their lives, totally absorbed in Christ. A recent example is Elder Paissios of the Holy Mountain. Others include St John of Shanghai, Matushka Alipia of Kiev and Matushka Antonia of Moscow, to name only a few.
How do we know where the soul has gone after death?
A glance at TV, magazines, newspapers and the deluge of junk mail that we receive everyday, tells us that we live in a pleasure-seeking society. Our everyday recipe for life in the fast lane of this hi-tech century is hedonism, an ancient philosophy that considers pleasure to be the ultimate good and which modern man has adopted as his philosophy for success. A webpage on the Internet confidently proclaims that pleasure is a wonderful reward. According to this webpage, true pleasure comes as the result of achieving some purpose or goal.
We rate pleasure as the highest and most desirable achievement of mankind. Here I am not referring to pleasure merely in terms of entertainment or recreation, but pleasure as an inner drive for self-gratification and to some degree as a driving force for self-satisfaction. In many aspects and spheres of life, pleasure is the motivation behind politics, academic achievement, science, technology and financial success.
Although modern man views pleasure as the achievement of his desires, as a reward for his ingenuity, his ambition and proof of control over his affairs, pleasure is in fact an attribute of his fallen human nature. You and I, do not exist without it! What appears to be a positive quest for gratification and satisfaction turns out to be in reality, an expression of an inner (and ontological) negation of our true humanity. Although modern man may see pleasure as an achievement or an end result of his genius, it is in essence a strong driving force that controls his everyday actions. For indeed man is a prisoner of pleasure. He is enslaved by it and through pleasure becomes acquainted with its companion - pain.
Pleasure is inherent in modern man. This negative attribute of modern man is not simply psychological or social but has its roots in original sin. Under the exciting facade of enjoyment, pleasure is an evil and hideous sacculina* of the soul, which eats away at our divine nature and eventually causes death.
* Sacculina is a jelly-like parasite that feeds on crabs.
Who is modern man?
Who is modern man and how does he differ from previous generations? Modern man is a pleasure-seeking being who measures himself and the world around him by himself. The Holy Apostle Paul writes: ?But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.? 2 Cor 10:12. Modern man seeks to replace life according to Christ with a life according to man.
This is not always obvious and is often hidden beneath a veneer of Christian piety. For many who call themselves Christian, and this includes some Orthodox Christians too, life in Christ is an individual event. It is determined by my personal feelings and opinions about the meaning of Christianity.
Such a notion suggests that salvation depends on one?s individual understanding and preferences. God becomes the object of a personal subjectivity. We hear terms such as - my personal saviour or my personal spirituality -, implying that Christ is the personal friend of the believer, a kind of cosmic buddy and that one?s spirituality depends on your personal feelings.
This individualistic understanding of Christianity is centered not on Christ but on man.
Man?s salvation becomes dependent on his individual moral efforts. Known as pietism, this individualistic brand of belief in Christ is basically humanism with a religious coating. Pietism, for an Orthodox Christian is a contradiction, for it substitutes a personal, individualistic praxis for the corporate mystical Body of Christ.
The devolution of man
Modern man is also the product of evolutionary thinking. Evolution is equated with progress and therefore presupposes some kind of growth towards a better future. We measure this progress in terms of social, political and religious growth or achievement with the result that evolution has become part of our everyday vocabulary. It has become an integral part of how we act and think.
It has now become part of our everyday thinking and behaviour. All aspects of life are modeled on evolution. Apart from the Darwinian concept of biological evolution, we are also confronted by social and political evolution that measure progress and human development in terms of the intellect and the amazing achievements of technology.
And finally there is religious evolution: religion that is evolving towards the ?Omega Point? envisioned by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin or towards the ?Age of the Spirit? anticipated in the works of Nikolai Berdyayev. Upon this foundation of apparent progress, modern man has been encouraged to believe in his own superiority over nature, technology and social interaction. According to such secular thinkers as Theodosious Dobzhansky and John Dewey, evolution is no longer a destiny imposed from without, but a destiny that can be controlled by man, in accordance with his wisdom and his values. The result of this is the belief in a new kind of man.
Our hi-tech society has transformed Homo sapiens into Homo technicus. However in the light of Orthodoxy, Homo technicus instead of being a demi-god as proclaimed by the champions of evolutionary humanism, is in actual fact subhuman. Homo technicus is man made in the image of God, but without Christ.
The Rule of Pleasure and Pain
Man was created without the sense of pleasure and pain. St Maximos the Confessor tells us that pleasure and pain were not created at the same time as the body. Before the Fall, Adam possessed a noetic faculty, that is, a spiritual mind by which he could enjoy God. Pleasure for Adam was thus a spiritual pleasure. But Adam misused this noetic faculty and turned his spiritual mind towards sensual things and began to experience pleasure contrary to his God-given nature.
St Gregory of Nyssa writes that pleasure and pain together with the desire and fear that follow, were introduced only after our being had lost its natural God-like nature. Before the Fall, Adam lived without fear and illness. He suffered from neither the heat nor from the cold. Water could not drown him. Nothing could harm him or cause him pain.
Although he had not yet reached perfection or deification, he was able to see and enjoy God through his spiritual (noetic) mind. To understand what took place in Adam, it is necessary to look at Adam?s spiritual and physical characteristics.
When God created Adam he gave him a body, soul and spirit. The soul of Adam was divided into three parts, comprising the noetic faculty, the intellect or reason and the sensible power of the soul. Through the noetic faculty, which I will call the spiritual mind, Adam was able to communicate with God. Through this faculty we too can see and experience God just like we can things with our physical eyes.
For this reason the Fathers call the spiritual mind the eye of the soul. Through his reason Adam could make sense of this divine communication. In other words Adam used his reason to intrepret this encounter with his Maker. By means of the sensible powers, Adam experienced feelings.
A word of warning is necessary here. These terms are not to be understood literally and our verbal definition of them is a feeble attempt to try and understand Adam?s being and to understand the great change that took place. The Fathers such as St Gregory Palamas or St John of Damascus use this kind of terminology to explain a mystery. Their explanations are a simplification for our limited understanding. Their own understanding on the other hand is on a noetic level, that is on a spiritual level. Such Fathers speak from spiritual experience. They speak from personal experience with their encounter with God. .
Prompted by the devil, Adam turned his attention to sensual delights with the result that his spiritual mind became darkened. Adam?s intellect or reason while it remained pure, was able to interprete his spiritual mind?s communication with God. But after the Fall, his spiritual mind no longer governed his reason but became subject to it, so that Man began to try and understand and communicate God through his reason.
The spiritual mind no longer functioned according to its original nature. The result of this was the deification of reason upon which Western civilization is founded. The Holy Apostle Paul condemns this deification of reason when he says: ?Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world.?(1 Cor 1:20).
Yet modern man prefers to ignore this, considering his reason to be his greatest asset. The great change in Adam?s nature and the birth of sensual pleasure resulted in the law of death. As an antidote to man?s insatiable appetite for pleasure, God introduced pain. Thus pleasure is always followed by pain.
The sin of Adam
Being the descendants of Adam we are also inheritors of original sin, that is, of pleasure and pain. ?In iniquity did my mother conceive me?.(Ps 50) writes the psalmist. We are conceived through the pleasure of sex and women produce children through the pain of childbirth. We read in Genesis how God said to the woman ?..in pain shalt thou bring forth children..?
And He said to Adam ?..cursed is the ground in thy labours, in pain shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.?
Man is also subject to death. We are caught up in a vicious circle of pleasure and pain. Immediately after birth we are nurtured by physical pleasure. It is our body that is nourished in the infant years, not the mind.
For Orthodox Christians it important for a pregnant mother to receive the Holy Mysteries (or Holy Communion) since her blood feeds the foetus. The yet unborn child already partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is also customary for infants to receive the Holy Mysteries immediately after Baptism.
In the young child the physical senses become complete and strong, while the mind develops much later. This order of development in the child explains why it is difficult for us to acquire an understanding of good, for we perceive chiefly through our physical senses, basing good on what is easy and pleasing. For fifteen years we have been thoroughly schooled and trained in bodily habits. It is not surprising that we are the slave of our appetites and that it takes discipline to subject our physical senses to our reason.
Since we are conceived in inquity, sensual pleasure and pain are inherent in us. The more we seek to avoid pain by indulging in pleasure, the more we encounter pain. And of course sin is often pleasurable, but the end result is pain and the sting of death. ?The wages of sin are death?. (Rom 6:23). Many people try to escape from pain by indulging in sexual gratification, drugs and alcohol. In some cases too their career or recreation may provide an escape. But even this new pleasure produces new pain.
Is it possible therefore to escape this cycle of pleasure and pain? It is possible but only through Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is possible to escape only through kenosis, by accepting pain and suffering and following the Lord.
The New Adam
Christ is able to set us free not only from the cycle of pleasure and pain but also from death. For He ?trampled down death by death?. (Paschal Troparion). Only Christ was born without sensual pleasure, being conceived by the Holy Spirit. Only He was born outside of human generation, being subject to a virgin birth. And only Christ can free us from pain and death since He voluntarily took on suffering and death on the Cross.
The Holy Prophet Isaiah declares: ?He was a man in suffering and acquainted with the bearing of sickness; he was dishonoured and not esteemed. He bears our sins and is pained for us; He was bruised because of our iniquities...by his bruises we were healed.? (Isaiah 53:3).
Christ suffered thirst, hunger and fatigue. He felt anguish in the garden of Gethsemene. He felt the pain of the scourging, the nails and asphyxiation on the cross. All this was real because he was a real man. But what can we do? We too can take up our cross. We can take on a life of suffering, deprivation and labour.
Christ offers us the path to eternal life by means of pain. This spiritual path is called asceticism. Christianity is asceticism. To regain our fallen status, we are given the opportunity by God, through fasting and prayer to return to our true nature in Christ. Asceticism in the Orthodox Church is not mortification in the mediaeval sense, but a process of purification of the body and soul.
It is distinct from other kinds of asceticism to be found in pagan religions because it is not controlled by human endeavour but by the power of God?s grace. The soul is reached via the body and Christ Himself showed us the way when He fasted and prayed for forty days in the wilderness.
If you search the OT scriptures you will find that most of the encounters with God were preceded by fasting. It must be remembered that it was the soul that drew the body into acts contrary to its nature. However it is through the body that we purify the soul and eventually the spiritual mind.
Fasting is ordained by God
The first commandment given by God to mankind was the commandment related to fasting. If this commandment was necessary for us in Paradise, how much more is it necessary for us after the Fall. The first commandment was that Adam should not eat of the fruits of the tree that stood in the middle of the Paradise, God telling him that he should not eat of them for he would surely die. ?And from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, do not eat, for in that day you shall taste of it, you shall die?. (Genesis 2:17) ?And Adam was cast out??. (Genesis 3: 25).
The podvig (spiritual exploit) of fasting does not refer only to the body but is particularly useful and necessary for the mind and heart. ?Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with surfeiting and drunkenness?? (Luke 21: 34).
The foundation of fasting is divinely established. From gratification of the stomach, the latter becomes overburdened and one?s heart also becomes hardened. At the same time, the mind loses its lightness and spiritual acuity. A person becomes totally carnal. For the carnal man is he, who is attached to earthly things and is therefore incapable of spiritual thoughts and feelings.
Thus spoke the Lord ?not for ever will my Spirit dwell in men, for they are flesh.? (Genesis 6:4). The carnal man is not capable of enjoining in Divine worship, nor is he able to receive Divine knowledge. This soul-destroying incapacity is the beginning of eternal death. ?Do not eat or touch them, so that you do not die?.
To the carnal man, this earthly existence appears to be unending. But for the servant of Christ, breaking the fast is a falling away from Christ. Only through the help of fasting are we able to break our union with sin.
Only by the help of the fast, can our minds rise above earthly things, and look upwards to God! St John of Kronstadt witnesses to this when he says: ?in times of trouble we should always turn to God in prayer. However our prayer should be combined with abstinence. Only then will our prayer be heard by God. I have personally experienced this a thousand times.?
And that great ascetic Serafim of Sarov is quoted as saying: ?My Joy, do not have anything to do with those who break the Wednesday and Friday fasts?. And again: ?I see a great poverty descending upon Russia, for Russian Orthodox people have begun to break the fasts?. The first commandment therefore given to us by God is that of fasting.
In the Holy Gospel Our Lord Himself tells us: ?He who has my commandments and keep them, he it is who loves Me?. (John 14: 15). For your love towards Christ, He will return blessings to you a hundredfold. His Body and His Blood will provide you with a source of healing for your soul and body. It will bestow upon you divine joy.
Adapted from a sermon by Archbishop Serafim (Solobev) in Sophia, Bulgaria 1946
The Feast of the Holy Fathers of first Six Ecumenical Councils
The first six ecumenical councils were summoned not as in modern practice, to write a mission statement or to define the Orthodox Faith, nor were they summoned to produce a master management plan for future generations. They were summoned in response to the growing number of distortions to Holy Orthodoxy, namely the rise of heresy in the Church.
The Holy Fathers of these councils came together in consensus, in oneness of mind and belief, based on the collective experience and suffering of the Church, since its foundation at Pentecost. It was a living, vibrant body of experienced believers, who met, not to seek news ways of making the Church relevant to contemporary society, but to defend the Church against heresy. They did not set up some new order, but reaffirmed the Faith that was understood and experienced by those who lived by Holy Tradition.
The first council was called to combat the Arian heresy, which in some form still exists even today among some religious groups. This heresy reduced Christ to an ordinary human being, who it was granted had some extraordinary spiritual powers.
The second council fought the heresy of Macedonios, who stated that the Holy Spirit was not equal to God the Father, but that He was merely a force that God used to manifest Himself. Here we are reminded of the filioque heresy, which subordinated the Holy Spirit to the other Persons of the Holy Trinity, implying that He was some kind of energy between Them. This is the Roman Catholic understanding of the Holy Trinity, of which many catholics are unaware.
The third council was summoned to condemn the Nestorian heresy, put forward by Nestorios, Patriarch of Constantinople, who stated that Christ did not become the God-Man, that He did not take fully of human nature but that as God He simply dwelt in a human temple. By this teaching he claimed that the Mother of God was not the Birthgiver of God, but the Birthgiver of Christ.
This heresy today is seen in a diluted form in some kinds of Protestant thinking in which the Theotokos is denied the honour due to her as God?s Mother. The fourth council condemned the heresy of the monophysites who believed that Christ only possessed a divine nature; His human nature was according to this heresy displaced by His Divinity.
After this another distortion of Orthodoxy occurred called the monothelite heresy, which denied that Christ had both a divine will and a human will. The champion for Orthodoxy, St. Maximos the Confessor stood boldly against the monothelites who held sway over public opinion and included the patriarch and even the emperor. In his defence of Orthodoxy, St. Maximos replied, ?If the whole world would commune with these heretics, I alone would never commune with them?.
Today, the Orthodox Church is assailed within and without by the heresy of ecumenism, which in essence is a pan-heresy containing all known heresies in one package. In defence of ecumenism, some Orthodox bishops advise a well-balanced approach to this modern heresy, simply because they do not wish to exile themselves to a lonely existence on the periphery of contemporary religious thinking.
For these hierarchs, truth becomes relative since ?their hearts lack the stature that their faith requires, for they love this age?? (St. Feofan the Recluse).
Later Abbot Nikon of Optina writes: ?I am grieved by the lack of interest in salvation in the world, especially among bishops?. Are we not justified in thinking that the Ecumenical Councils are now outdated? If society is forever changing, surely the rules governing our spiritual life should change also? How can we possibly live according patristic teaching in the modern world?
The canons formulated by the councils are not simply rules but are dogmas of faith, which the Church applies to the practical life of its members. Once we begin to equate the Church, the Body of Christ with some kind of secular organization, complete with its own legal codes, then we lose the spiritual foundation of Orthodoxy. The result is that the survival of the organization becomes equated with the survival of Orthodoxy.
The Church on earth ?survives? through repentance of its members, not by means of smart marketing campaigns or political lobbying. True Orthodoxy is not based on logical or prudent conduct but on suffering, repentance, blood, tears and spiritual experience. Today in place of true Orthodoxy we are being tempted with a diluted kind of mocha mix Orthodoxy, packaged in what Bishop Fotij in Bulgaria calls ?heavenly metaphors?.
I am sometimes asked how do I survive in the world of today, especially in the area of hi-tech, dressed in a cassock and with a long hair and a beard. The answer is that my appearance is governed by the life-giving canons of Holy Orthodoxy, from which I draw strength and protection in the secular world.
Let us ask God to help us live according to the patristic consensus, not merely observing the externals of our faith, but by a deep inner desire to think like the holy fathers and to act as they acted in day-to-day living. Let us think with the mind of Christ!
An inevitable and vital question that concerns all of us is the question of what lies beyond the grave. This important question concerns us whether we are religious or not. But for those who have some belief in immortality, this question inevitably has to be considered at some time or another.
As believers, we know there is a future life and yet we do not know what it will be like. The future life remains hidden from us. However, although we are ignorant of the details, Holy Scripture assures us nevertheless that there is life beyond the grave. The Lord correcting the false teaching of the unbelieving Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, says to them: ?God is not the God of the dead but of the living?.
Our earthly life is precarious, unstable and transient. At any moment our life can be cut off by death. And when we look at our life and realize that it is not permanent but transitory, we feel the pangs of despair, for our so-called stability is suddenly overshadowed by the dark storm clouds of this life. And it is even worse if we are unable to find any satisfaction or consolation in our lives. All that remains is disappointment terminated eventually by death.
Yet we are created not for death but for eternal life and so we always have an inner desire for eternity. Christ?s Resurrection overcomes death. For those who not see or understand this, who reject the immortality of the soul, such seek comfort and fulfillment now in this world. But as we know from bitter experience, you can never find complete satisfaction here.
Despite this fact, people continue to seek satisfaction in this life. And when they fail in their endeavours and desires, they are often driven, in extreme cases, to suicide. They consider that this terrible act is the only means of deliverance from tribulation and their current unhappiness. Forgetting eternity, they wander in darkness, not knowing where they are going and often become drunkards and end their days living a life that is a lie. For such, this life is indeed a useless gift. Life is purely chance, an illusion.
For those who believe, the opposite is true. We place our hope on the future life. We hope that life beyond the grave will be a source of consolation and peace. We believe, without any doubt, in the future life. The Church confirms this as it has from very early times. This confirmation is made manifest through the memorial services and prayers for the departed. The Church calls us to lift up our prayers for the departed and share with them the joy of the Risen Saviour. This time or day of remembrance is called Radonitsa. The Lord Himself descended to those in Hades and proclaimed His victory over death, filling the departed with great joy.
There is a miraculous story in the chronicles of the Kiev Cave Monastery. A certain elder with his deacon went to pray in the catacombs where the saints and monks are buried. The elder suddenly exclaimed: ?Christ is Risen, Fathers and Brethren!? Like the roar of thunder, voices were heard: ?He is Risen Indeed!?
Adapted from a sermon by Father Kyrill of the St Sergius Lavra in Moscow
The Virgin Birth
Virginitas in partu has always been the teaching of the Church both East and West. However recently this has become a subject of dispute.
We believe that the Virgin Birth was miraculous as was the Virgin Conception. This means that Christ did not leave the womb according to natural childbirth. It was a miracle, no less than the fact that Christ grew in His Mother's womb - He Whom the world cannot contain. Yet for some reason, today, in an unhealthly desire to reconcile religion with science, theologians are scrambling to come up with a rational explanation. The teaching and history of the Eastern Orthodox Church has never been based on rationalism but on revelation. Unlike the west which subscribed to scholasticism, the Orthodox east has maintain the holy tradition of divine revelation. For it is the spiritual mind that knows God, not the intellect.
Furthermore there has never been a conflict with science and many great Russian scientists were believers, such as the physiologist, Ivan Pavlov (Nobel prize in neurology), the astronomer Sergei Glazenap, (Moon crater named after him), Leon Orbeli and Vladimir Fok famous for his work in quantum mechanics (Fok theorem).
Pope St. Leo the Great said, "She (Mary) brought Him forth without the loss of virginity, even as she conceived him without its loss...(Jesus Christ was) born from the Virgin's womb because it was a miraculous birth." The Gospel of St. Luke simply stated, "She gave birth..."
St. Augustine's elaboration: Mary "remained a virgin in conceiving her son, a virgin in giving birth to Him, a virgin in carrying Him, a virgin in nursing Him at her breast, always a virgin".
St Clement of Alexandria (215) says "For certain people say Mary, examined by the midwive after she had given birth, was found to be virgin".
St Hesychius of Jerusalem: "Christ did not open but left closed the door of the Virgin; He did not violate nature's seal, did not harm the one giving birth, for her, in reality. He left the sign of virginity." St John of Damascus: "The Lord deigned to enter into her, preserving her virginity inviolate after childbirth".
St Ambrose: "Mary had kept the seals of her virginity. The Prophet Ezekiel says He went forth from the Virgin..A good gate is Mary, that was closed and was not opened; by her Christ passed, but He opened it not".
It is interesting to note that midwives are depicted on the Nativity Icon. These figures are apocryphal, but accepted by the Church. It was custom for new born infants to be bathed and rubbed with salt. That Christ was washed does not infer after-birth cleansing in the normal manner.
St. John Damascus on this matter. In his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, assures us that Christ "passed through" the Virgin Mary, "keeping her womb closed," coming through this "Gate" without injuring "her seal."
Not only are claims against the inviolate nature of the Theotokos without Patristic substantiation, but such claims ignore the witness of the services appointed to the Nativity and Theophany period. Everywhere our Church's hymns speak of the Mother of God bearing a Son in purity, the Redeemer having passed through her closed womb without violating it. There are four very clear instances of this: one a stichiron from the Vespers of the Forefeast of the Nativity (December 24) according to Slavic usage, in which the Theotokos herself speaks; another, the oikos appointed after the sixth ode for the Matin's Canon of the Feast of the Synaxis of the Theotokos (December 26), composed by St. Romanos the Melodist; a third, a verse from the Lity of the Feast of the Nativity, in which the Virgin Mary again speaks and at the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord
"Thou hast been born without destroying my virginity, but Thou hast kept my womb as it was before childbirth.... "
"For the All-Perfect God is born a babe of her, and by His birth He sets the seal upon her virginity. "
"Thou art my God, for seeing the seal of my virginity unbroken, I proclaim Thee to be the immutable Word.... "
"Now the pure God, as a holy child, has made a way through a chaste womb, and as God is brought as an offering to Himself."
After death the relatives of the deceased generally want to know if the soul has gone to heaven. Highly emotional people especially seek this knowledge. The devil knows this too and is able to show the soul, through dreams, in a state of bliss so that the relatives forget to pray for the deceased. The holy fathers forbid us to dwell on such dreams. We should always pray for the departed. Only God knows where they are. It is our duty to remember them at the Liturgy and at panikhidas (memorial services). It can happen that God shows the state of a soul through a dream. But this is rare and should in no way mean that we do not need to pray for the departed always.
Also it customary to serve panikhidas over a period of 40 days for the souls of the departed. Olive oil, candles, wine and incense can be purchased as an offering for the departed one. These items are used for our services. This is important because the souls are remembered whenever we light a icon lamp or burn incense etc.
From the life of Elder Savva of the Pskov Monastery
My family until the 22nd May 1992 could not be called churchgoers, but the Lord did not deprive us of His mercy and did not leave us to perish in our sinful life. My husband, aged 49 years, in 1991 became very sick. He suffered a brain haemorrhage. His condition was so serious that he faced imminent death. However by the mercy of God my husband lived. Although he became an invalid, he did not lose his faculties nor did he suffer any paralysis.
Two days before this unfortunate incident my daughter had a dream that was as vivid as being awake. She dreamt that she was at the burial of her father. My husband lay in his coffin in a large dark building. His face was dirty and his shirt was unbuttoned and one leg was twisted under his body. But what shook her most of all was the presence of two evil spirits, in the form of two disheveled peasants, standing on either side of her father?s body. They stood with outstretched claw like hands waiting for his soul.
My daughter cried out: ?Papa don?t die! There are evil spirits standing beside you.? Father tried to lift himself but fell back helplessly. At that moment the demons seized him and bundling him under their arm, ran off down the street. Our daughter followed them, hoping to catch them up and free her father. Our daughter totally exhausted began to shout: ?Help they are taking away my father!?
There were many people in the street but no one came to help. Then she saw a little elder sitting in the doorway of a shop. He had a bright face and wore white clothing. The elder asked her: ?Daughter, why are you shouting?? Our daughter repeated: ?Help they are taking my father away!? The elder stood up, looked in the direction where my daughter was pointing and made the sign of the cross over the distant fugitives. The evil spirits immediately flew off in different directions and father fell on the ground. The elder went up to him and once more made the sign of the cross and then disappeared.
Our daughter woke up in terror and related her dream to us. We immediately realized that she had experienced something very bad. And indeed two days after this my husband went to work and did not return home.
Later that evening some fellow workers informed me that my husband had been taken to hospital. We accordingly went to the hospital to find out what had happened. My mother who is a believer, took some holy water and my brother took a Psalter with him. At the hospital we were told that my husband would probably not be alive by the morning. Because of this, the doctor allowed us to stay at the hospital over night. My mother sprinkled my husband with holy water and my brother read the Psalter. I sat and prayed over my unconscious husband.
At dawn, the doctor came again and found my husband awake, although he could scarcely speak. Within two days he was fully conscious and I decided to ask a priest to come and give him Holy Communion. The priest said that my husband should prepare for confession. Since he could scarcely speak, I told my husband to write his confession on a piece of paper. I forgot that he could hardly hold a pencil. The next day I returned and my husband showed me the paper on which he had written his confession.
After three weeks he returned home. A few months later we visited a friend who had been the spiritual daughter of Elder Savva of the Pskov Monastery. In her icon corner there was an old photograph of the elder. My daughter was startled when she saw this photograph: ?Mama?, she exclaimed, ?that was the elder in my dream!? My husband too was taken aback and told me that this was the elder who had appeared to him in the hospital. It happened that he had tried to write a list for confession but he had found it too difficult to hold the pencil. So after a while he placed the paper and pencil under his pillow and went to sleep. At about 4 am he was awakened by an old man who told my husband to take the paper from under his pillow and write.
From that time on we became regular churchgoers and are ever thankful to God, through His servant, Savva of Pskov.
Blessed Pelageya of Zakharovo
Pelageya of Zakharovo was a fervent confessor and upholder of the Orthodox Faith. All her conscious life, Pelageya dedicated herself to the service of Christ and her neighbour.
She lived during the persecution of the Orthodox Church, at a time when only a strong belief in God helped one to strengthen one?s soul for Christ. Blessed Pelageya was among those who were of God and thereby capable through grace, to keep the life of Church active. She openly confessed Orthodoxy, bearing much tribulation for Christ.
Blind from birth, driven out of her home when she was just a child, Pelageya experienced hunger and cold firsthand. She was slandered by the inhabitants of her own village and was continually persecuted by the authorities. She was repeatedly condemned to be shot for preaching Orthodoxy and for her faith in Christ. But the Lord did not allow His faithfull to be taken or harmed by the Soviet authorities.
Pelageya healed many sick people. Of these, many suffered from psychological as well as physical ailments. She never used any medicines. She simply placed her hand on the head of the sick person and repeatedly made the sign of the cross over them while reciting numerous prayers. Many, thanks to Pelageya, received healing. She possessed a very rare gift from God.
She also possessed the gift of clairvoyance. For example, she foretold WW2 several years before it broke out. Everything she predicted took place. Thanks to Pelageya several young men were set on the path to the priesthood. In those days it was not easy to take responsibility for the guidance of the Church apart from being very dangerous thing to serve the Church under the communists.
Healing from cancer
In 1948, I became ill with a fatal condition ? cancer. I was 23 years old. I needed to go into hospital, into the Herzen Oncological Institute. My mother knew that the clairvoyant eldress Pelageya would be coming to Moscow. My mother was a strong believer and when it was said that Pelageya not only predicted events but also healed people, she decided to go to her for help. Furthermore, Pelageya lived in the village of Zakharovo from which my mother came.
Pelageya came to Moscow to her relatives, who lived on Talalikhina Street in a one story, dilapidated, whitewashed cottage. My mother got ready her things and we set out to visit Pelageya. We found the cottage and went straight inside. The eldress herself came to meet us. She was short and plump with a scarf covering her head. Her eyes were without pupils.
?We were told to come?, my mother said to her. ?I know. I know?? answered Pelageya and led us from the narrow corridor into the kitchen. ?My daughter is very ill. The doctors say that her condition is serious. They are going to admit her to hospital. Should she go into hospital or not?? ?Let her go?, answered the clairvoyant Pelageya ? ?She will get well and live with God?.
Mama asked Pelageya to pray for me and further added, ?My daughter has married but they do not live in harmony. May she divorce her husband?? ?She may divorce him?, said Pelageya ?he?s a bad person and will not correct himself?.
I should tell you that my husband Alexey did indeed behave very badly. Often he did not come home to sleep at night since he was drunk from too much wine. He did not believe in God and was a member of the Communist Party.
Today I can confirm that all that Pelageya predicted was correct. My husband not only did not change, but became worse and worse. It was necessary for us to have a divorce. And by the prayers of Pelageya, I was cured of my fatal condition. Despite my desperate and hopeless condition, the doctors admitted to hospital where I quickly got well again to their utter amazement.
A New Fundamentalism
The theory of evolution has become a part of our everyday thinking and behaviour. In most people?s minds, the word evolution is synonymous with progress and presupposes growth towards a better future. This progress is measured in terms of social, political, and religious growth or achievement and has become part of our everyday vocabulary ? an integral part of how we act and think.
All aspects of life are now modeled on evolution. For example, there is scientific evolution, a nihilistic philosophy which sees man as a piece of driftwood thrown up by time onto the shores of existence. There is social and political evolution that measures progress and human development in terms of the intellect and the amazing achievements of technology. And finally, there is religious evolution: religion that is evolving towards the ?Omega Point? envisioned by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (d. 1955) or towards the ?Age of the Spirit? anticipated in the works of Nikolay Beryayev (d. 1948). Currently there is ecumenism, with its roots in the Masonic movement, which promotes evolution towards universal brotherhood under a supreme deity.
For many people, evolution is also synonymous with Charles Darwin and his theory of biological evolution. In fact for over a century Darwin?s theory has been a basic element of scientific and cultural thought. Life, according to his theory of evolution, is ever moving from a preexistent form to a more complex ? and therefore better ? form. Although the factual evidence to support this view is virtually nonexistent, scientists nevertheless accept evolution as a priori in scientific research.
Oddly enough, Darwin was not the actual inventor of the theory of evolution; evolutionary ideas and interpretations were being discussed in the second half of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries by such scientists as Denis Diderot (1784), Benjamin Franklin (1790) and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1829). I believe also that evolutionary ideas have been developing for much longer than we normally imagine and have, therefore, greatly influenced the development of western civilization.
Blessed Justin (Popovich) of Serbia (1979), in his book Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ, identifies Darwin?s views with New Age Religion. To understand this, let us examine the historical perspective that preceded the emergence of Darwinism and in particular, the writings of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1860) and the influence his philosophy exerted on other evolutionary thinkers.
An Historical Perspective
Western Christianity and consequently Western civilization promoted humanism from early times. The deviant theology of the Latin church readily provided the impetus for the cultivation of humanistic thinking. From the first few centuries of Christianity in Rome, there was a rebirth of pagan Caesar worship, which in subsequent centuries was inappropriately transferred to the Patriarch of Rome, a process that eventually culminated in the anti-Christian doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope. The teaching about Papal supremacy over the Church (the Body of the God-Man Christ) inevitably replaced the God-Man as Head of the Church with a man, in the person of the Pope of Rome.
The belief in this doctrine later provided fuel for the Renaissance. Man, being at the center of the universe did not need God. The significance of this human idolatry was not simply political but cosmological, for man now became the focal point of theological thought, which in turn, fostered humanism. The Pope is the intermediary between God and man, and curiously enough does not have to be a priest, but can be a layman. It is not, of course the object of this article to examine the details of this degeneration in the concept of Church from a Divine-human community to a human-secular one. However we need to be aware of the historical development of humanism, in order to grasp the significance of its effect upon our thinking today.
In time, this humanistic idolatry gave rise to the divinization of science and civilization, and in our own time, the divinization of education, the main object of which is to illumine man without Christ. When the God-Man, that is Christ, is eliminated, man becomes the center of the universe. This is to fulfill the aspiration of Satan, who told our ancestors that they would become gods without God. Removing Christ from man, we produce the mechanistic man of the Empiricist philosophers, such as John Locke (d. 1704) and David Hume (d. 1776). According to these Empiricists, the nature of man is derived from the senses. Unfortunately, this new man of Empiricism proved very primitive and terribly boorish. So the next stage in history was to progress to man as intellect, building on the rationalistic philosophies of Rene Descartes (d. 1650) and culminating in Immanuel Kant (d. 1804).
But the true nature of man, argued Schopenhauer in the nineteenth century, is volition. Man?s essence cannot be summed up in his senses or in his reason, since he is neither of these. Rather, he is foremost comprised of volition. Man as volition is the true man. For Schopenhauer, the nature of man is based on his will to live. However, individual wills produce strife and, therefore, only through the renunciation of self-desire can one find peace. Schopenhauer?s philosophy was based on his study of Kant and, in addition, the mystical works of Hinduism and Buddhism, and the Western mysticism of Meister Eckhart (d. 1327) and Jakob Boehme (d. 1624). His book Die Welt als Wille and Vorstellung (The World as Will and Idea, 1819) greatly influenced Friedrich Nietzsche (d. 1900) and, later, Darwin.
Nietzsche developed the ideas of Schopenhauer further by promoting man as an inferior being who aspires to the Uebermensch ? ?Superman? ? of the future. The production of this Superman, according to Nietzsche, is the reason for the existence of the earth and the purpose of history. Superman represents the goal of human evolution. Because of his exercise of creative power and his ability to rise above transient sensual pleasure, Superman is spiritual man. In today?s language, he recognizes his own characteristic of creative-intuitive power as opposed to critical-rational power. He is the final stage in evolution. ?What is ape to man? He is an object of laughter? This must be true for what man is to the Superman?. (Thus spake Zarathustra, 1891). In this worldview, man is nothing but the (missing!) link between animal and Superman.
A grim product of the philosophy of the Superman was Dachau, for volition destroys compassion and conscience. Admittedly, the Nazi phenomenon was a perversion of Nietzsche?s thought, but it is nonetheless the Superman concept that forms the basis for many fascist and socialist ideologies.
A Scientific Perspective
The historical advancement of evolutionary thought reached a watershed with Darwin?s introduction of the theory of biological evolutionism. By placing evolution on a scientific footing, Darwin ensured its survival as an axiom of modern thought.
Darwin and those of like mind directed their search for the new man among inferior creatures in order, using the animal kingdom as justification to create man without God. The outcome of these efforts was the reduction of the theory of evolution to a kind of religious fundamentalism. Time and again, Darwinism has been used to cover up scientific ignorance of how the wonders of the world could have been created. In America in the earlier part of this century, Darwinism was supported by such eminent figures as the paleontologist Henry Osborn (d. 1935), whose scientific opinion was greatly influenced by the discoveries of ?Piltdown Man? (a hoax using a chimpanzee?s skull and reluctantly recognized many years later by the British Museum, which had to change its display of the ascent of man) and ?Nebraska Man? (another one using a pig?s tooth).
The opinions of such eminent scientists as Osborn were based on the premise that, however wrong the current answers were to their views of evolution, they would stand until a better answer arrived. This scientifically untenable attitude is comparable to saying that a criminal defendant should not be allowed to present an alibi unless he can also show who in fact committed the crime.
Such fundamentalism bases itself on a technique known as reductionism, the attempt to boil down complex systems or phenomena into simple terms or easily digestible facts, the ideal goal being to discover the lowest common denominator. (Incidentally, in the sphere of religion, the ecumenical movement is the embodiment par excellence of the philosophical application of reductionism.) The driving supposition here is that all living phenomena may be explained by molecular biology. According to reductionism, just one or two basic molecular causes account for all living phenomena.
There is, indeed, no phenomenon in a living system that is not molecular, yet there is none that is only molecular either. The living cell is a system and, however much we study its constituent parts, these parts are not the cell in toto, but simply its characteristics. Knowing how reflexes work in an artist does not tell us about his style or his subject matter; the study of a telephone directory does not tell us about the richness of life in the city.
As the biologist Paul Weiss writes: ?It is one thing not to the see the forest for the trees, but then to go on to deny the reality of the forest is a more serious matter; for it is not just a case of myopia, but one of self-inflicted blindness? (Beyond Reductionism: The Alpbach Symposium [London: Koestler & Smythies, 1972])
Reductionism is still popular today, despite the fact that many scientists are uncomfortable with such a fundamentalist approach to scientific research. Because in the last three hundred years the scientific application of reductionism has been so successful in gaining control over the forces of nature, our present society is far more receptive to rational-mechanistic philosophies (e.g. Ludwig Feuerbach (d. 1872) ? ?We are what we eat?) than to other philosophies, simply because it considers such views innately ?more scientific? than other alternatives.
Reductionism leads to a view of the universe as a great system of physical forces, and the mind with all its powers of imagination and creative insights as a mere by-product of these forces. Viktor Frankl in Vienna has concluded that reductionism has led to some of the major psychiatric disorders current in the world today (Beyond Reductionism). In fact, it has led to a new type of neurosis called the existential vacuum. If man is no more than the product of some chemical determinism, he then has no meaning. Frankl aptly describes reductionism as the nihilism of today.
However, reductionism is not necessarily the view of all scientists. There are those such as Weiss and Von Bertalanffy, who are concerned with biological systems and organization. For example, Bertalanffy states:
?There is a non-random feature, perhaps at the very basis of natural order, which may well have to be taken ultimately into account by biological theorists. Where is the mind? If we dissect the brain, we don?t find the mind. The brain is a system and is more than its constituent parts. We have to move from entities to qualities possessed by a system as a whole, which cannot be split up and located. We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because two is one and one. We forget that we still have to make a study of ?and?. At the molecular level, we study ?and? ? that is to say, organization (Beyond Reductionism)?.
Again, the square is contained in the cube. It serves as its foundation and basis. However, if we say that the cube is nothing but a square, then we are shutting out a whole dimension, the third dimension. The blinkered vision of Darwin and the reductionists is ironically condemned by their mentor Schopenhauer: ?Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world? (Studies in Pessimism, 1851).
To be a true scientist, one has to have faith. To be objective without a hunch is not to be scientific, but to be technical. Such ?objectivity? is characteristic of the technocrat, not the true scientist. This applies especially to modern medicine, in which doctors have become simple technicians, rather than physicians, regarding man as merely a biological machine. Such an approach in turn breeds discontent. People demand better results, more health and more security. They want a techno-kingdom on earth, which will replace the heavenly one. Here, especially we can see the inherent fundamentalism of current evolutionary thought; a blind faith in the inevitability of progress and the belief that things can only get better. As Hoelderlin (19th century) referring to political systems in his day, reminds us: ?What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven?.
A Social Perspective
With its newfound scientific credibility, evolution rapidly permeated all fields of inquiry, eventually resulting in a radically new social perspective. In the words of Theodosius Dobzhansky: ?Evolution need no longer be a destiny imposed from without: it may conceivably be controlled by man, in accordance with his wisdom and his values?. Acclaimed by the American Academy of Sciences and St. Vladimir?s Theological Seminary, he is billed as ?the greatest evolutionist of our century and a lifelong Russian Orthodox?. (P.E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial [Chicago: InterVarsity Press]).
While Dobzhansky? Orthodoxy is obviously nominal, he is beyond doubt a true believer in the new fundamentalism: ?Evolution is much more than a theory ? it is a general postulate to which all theories, all systems henceforth must bow and which they must satisfy in order to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illumines all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow?.
In short, Evolution is the god we must worship. We are, therefore, basically passionate stone-age people who are capable of creating technology, but not controlling it. If humanity is to avoid extinction, it must summon up the political will to take control of evolution and make it in the future a matter of human choice, rather than blind selection.
What concerns me is that the influence of evolutionary thinking in our lives is subtly hidden and thus taken for granted. It has gradually taken root in our collective subconscious. Thus, in schools it a ?given? that man evolved from apes. Lax chronological interpretations and the assumption that things are improving all the time are handily used to gloss over the painfully evident deficiencies of the theory of evolution. For those who have accepted evolution ? deficiencies or not-, God has become redundant. But it is precisely through the correct understanding of man that we come to know God. St. Gregory of Nyssa (395) confirms this when he says: ?For it seems to me, the make-up of man is awesome and inexplicable, portraying many hidden mysteries of God in itself?.
What are the implications of evolutionism for Orthodox Christians? Evolution has given rise to the dominance of the brain ? the intellect. Paradoxically, one can be highly intelligent, yet stupid at the same time. But the evolutionists, man?s intelligence puts him at the pinnacle of creation. It is his brain that is important and not his heart, since the latter is only a pump! Technology is founded upon intelligence, not the heart. But as Orthodox Christians, we know that without the heart, there is no morality. When Antichrist comes, he will find a planet of spiritual morons, a highly intelligent species which is nonetheless spiritually ignorant. Intelligence, according to St. Anthony of Egypt (356) is the fear of God, not sophistry, clever argumentation, or learning (i.e. technology) per se.
You may counter: ?Did not God use evolution in His creation? I am willing, as a rational being and an Orthodox Christian, to accept theistic evolution, but not the ?Big Bang? theory of the atheists?. But in saying this, you are rejecting the miraculous creation of the universe. You are implying that suffering, sin and death are somehow intrinsic to God?s creation, thereby refuting the Christian doctrine that man originally fell and continually falls through the spiritually destructive exercise of his own will. Again, you may say that you do not support the theory of evolution, that in fact, you do not believe in it. If this is true, then why do you subscribe to liberal thinking in education, child-rearing and health? Why do you have a passion for comfort- to reach out for the pill of pleasure? If you fail to lead an ascetic life, you are not an Orthodox Christian, but a hedonist, a crypto-evolutionist! Evolution is setting us up for a takeover by demonic forces which will be able to exploit our spiritual ignorance. And do not think that a knowledge of the Fathers, of theology, will help us. If we succumb to the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, psychologically and intellectually, we will not be able to resist these forces.
The Orthodox standpoint- agreeable to true scientists who objectively acknowledge the inexorable reality of entropy- posits universal devolution: ?The world doth wax old as doth a garment?. Civilization as we know it is declining, not progressing. We witness everyday the breakdown of morality and the falling away from the faith. But, nevertheless, secular society is confident and optimistic about the future, since we are becoming ?gods? as Satan promised in the garden. We are becoming gods who can control our own destiny. Thus as early as 1933, John Dewey (d. 1952) could write: ?If blind nature has somehow produced a human species with the capacity to rule the earth wisely, and if this capacity has previously been invisible only because it was smothered by superstition, then the prospects for human freedom and happiness are unbounded?.
Unfortunately, Dewey could not foresee the product of his educational philosophy- Homo technicus. Instead of being a demigod, Homo technicus as a species is, in fact, subhuman. He is subhuman since everything that is supernatural or spiritual has been ripped from him. His reasoning is based on Psychologie ohne Seele (?psychology without soul?). This man has finally devolved to a totally materialistic life in which he can find satisfaction only in whatever is earthly and not heavenly. An officer of the Allied Forces, upon entering Dachau camp asked: ?Where is God to allow such suffering?? A survivor answered him: ?We know where God is- but where is man??
The evolutionists are proud that they are not descended from Christ and His Heavenly Father, but from apes instead. They are perfectly able to become false gods, simply because they recognize no other God than themselves. ?We want to be free. Evolution is the star that guides us?, they cry. Our answer as Orthodox Christians must be: ?Some glory in chariots and some in horses; but we will glory in the Name of the Lord our God? (Psalm19: 7).