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Learning And Religion

Psychologists recognize three basic powers or capabilities in man's soul: mind, emotion (heart) and will. Through his mind, man acquires knowledge of the surrounding world and its life, and also of all the conscious experiences of his personal soul. Through his emotions (heart), man responds to the effects and impressions from the external world and from his own experiences. Some of them are pleasant for him and he likes them, others are unpleasant and he does not like them. Moreover, one person's concepts of "pleasant" and "unpleasant" do not coincide with those of another. What one person likes is not always liked by another and vice versa (from this fact, we derive the saying, "In matters of taste there can be no dispute"). Finally, man's will is that strength of soul through which he enters into the world and acts in it. Man's moral character depends very strongly upon the character and direction of his will.

Returning to the question of a person's development of his or her spiritual personality, we must note that in working on his "I," man must develop those capabilities of his soul - mind, heart and will - correctly and in a Christian way.

Man's mind develops most rapidly of the three, primarily through the study of the sciences, and through education. It is not correct to think that Christianity considers the so-called "worldly" sciences or education as unnecessary (or even harmful). The whole history of the Church in the ancient centuries speaks against this erroneous view. It is sufficient just to look at the three great teachers and hierarchs, Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. They were among the most highly educated people of their time, having learned well, the purely worldly science of their era. The science of that era bore a definite pagan cast, but they were able to master what was necessary and useful in this learning and to discard what was useless and unnecessary. Moreover, we must value learned worldly education now, when past pagan admixtures have disappeared from learning and it strives for a comprehension of pure truth. It is true that even now many scholars erroneously assume that science contradicts religion and they add their anti-religious views to scientific truths. But pure science is not at fault in this and Christianity always greets and blesses serious worldly education in which the thinking powers and capabilities of man are formed and strengthened.

It is self-understood that a Christian, while accepting worldly education, places an even greater significance upon religious education (and up-bringing). One must remember that Christianity is not solely and exclusively a sphere of experiences and feelings. No, Christianity is a completely finished cycle, a system of corresponding knowledge, of the most varied data relating not only to the religious, but also to the scientific area. To begin with, how could we Christians fail to know the life of the Savior, His miracles and teaching? How, moreover, could we fail to know the history of our Holy Church and its divine services which must be known and understood: and for this, learning is necessary.

The significance of Christianity as an all-sided and finished system of learning is particularly clearly seen in the courses in Christian morality and doctrine (formerly taught in Russian secondary schools). In these, Christianity is seen to be a very rich system of learning, encompassing and explaining to man the whole world, himself, and showing the true sense and aim of his earthly life.

But this too must be remembered: having received the learning of a religious education, the fullness of knowledge about God's Truth, man, knowing truth, must serve it and heed its voice. The Lord Himself said, "He who is not with Me is against Me." And in relation to Him and His holy will and law, indifference, coldness and failure to fulfil this law are disastrous for the soul and make man an enemy of Christ and His Truth. Thus, one must never forget His Words: "Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and yet not do what I say?" Similarly, His Apostle says, "Not the hearers of the law, but the fulfillers of the law will be made righteous."

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