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The Law of God.
Book 3.
By Seraphim Slobodskoy

Get the full printed version from the Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY 13361-0036 USA.

* * *

Christian Faith and Life.

1. The Purpose of Man.

God created us in His own likeness and image. He gave us intelligence, free will and an immortal soul, so that knowing God and becoming like Him, we would all become better, perfect ourselves, and inherit eternal blessed life with God. Therefore the existence of man on earth has deep meaning, great purpose and a high goal.

In the universe created by God, there is not, nor can there be, anything unplanned. If a man lives without faith in God, not abiding by the commandments of God, not for future eternal life, then the existence of such a man on earth becomes senseless. For people living without God, life seems incomprehensible and accidental, and such people are often worse than beasts.

For each man, in order to fulfill his purpose on earth and to receive eternal salvation, it is necessary, in the first place, to know the true God and to rightly believe in Him, that is, to have the true faith. Secondly, one must live according to this faith; that is, to love God and people and to do good works.

The Apostle Paul says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), and the Apostle James adds that faith without good works means without love, and such faith is ineffective and dead faith.

Thus, for our salvation, it is necessary to have the correct faith, and a life in keeping with that faith, the doing of good works.

True teaching about the necessity to rightly believe in God and how to live with people, is contained in the Orthodox Christian Faith, which is founded on Divine revelation. Divine revelation is the name given to all that God Himself reveals to people about Himself and about true faith in Him. God conveys His revelation to people by two means: natural revelation and supernatural revelation.

Natural Revelation.

Natural revelation is called Divine revelation when God reveals Himself through normal, natural means to each person, through our visible world (nature) and through our conscience, that is, the voice of God in us. It tells us what is good and what is bad. God also reveals Himself through life, through the history of all mankind. If a nation loses faith in God, then misfortune and unhappiness overtake it. If it does not repent, then it perishes and vanishes from the earth. Let us remember the Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Hebrew nation dispersed to all corners of the earth, and so on.

The entire world which surrounds us is a great book of Divine revelation, testifying to the omnipotence and wisdom of God the Creator. People who study this world are, with very rare exceptions, believers. In order to study something, it is necessary to have faith that everything fulfills a given concept and exists according to a definite plan.

"Even the most simple machine is not able to come into existence by chance. Even if we see a systematically arranged group of stones, we immediately conclude from the form of their arrangement, that a human being put them there. A chance arrangement is always without form, irregular. Long ago Cicero, an ancient scholar and orator, who lived before the birth of Christ, said that even if one threw alphabet blocks a million times, a line of poetry would not result from them. The universe which surrounds us is much more complicated than the most intricate machine, and it contains much more thought than the most profound poem" (from a discussion by Archbishop Nathaniel).

The Apostle Paul was a well-educated person for his time. He says every house is built by some man; but He that built all things is God (Heb 3:4).

The great scientist Newton, who discovered the laws of movement of the heavenly bodies, thereby disclosing a great mystery of creation, was a religious man and studied theology. Each time he pronounced the name of God, he reverently stood up and took off his hat.

The renowned Pascal, a mathematical genius and one of the creators of modern physics, was not only a believer but one of the greatest religious thinkers in Europe. Pascal said, "The contradictions which most of all might seem to separate me from religious knowledge, on the contrary, lead me to it."

Louis Pasteur, the founder of contemporary bacteriology, and a thinker more profound than others in penetrating the mystery of organic life, exclaimed, "The more I occupy myself with the study of nature, the more I stand in reverent amazement before the works of the Creator."

The famous biologist Linnaeus concluded his book about plants with these words, "Truly God exists, great, eternal, without Whom nothing is able to exist."

The astronomer Kepler confessed, "O, great is our Lord and great is His omnipotence, and His wisdom is without boundary. And you, my soul, sing praise to your Lord for all your life."

Even Darwin, the scholar who was afterwards exploited by half-learned men to refute belief in God, was a very religious man all his life. For many years he was the lay leader of his parish. He never thought that his findings contradicted belief in God. After Darwin set forth his teaching about the evolutionary development of life on earth, he was asked, "In the chain of evolution, where was the first link?"

Darwin answered, "It was riveted to the throne of the Most High."

The geologist Lyell wrote, "With every geological finding we discover enlightening demonstrations of the foresight, power and wisdom of the creative intelligence of God."

The historian Muller declared, "Only with the recognition of God and by thorough study of the New Testament did I begin to understand the meaning of history."

It is possible to cite an unlimited number of scholarly witnesses to belief in God, but we think for the present it is enough to relate one more eloquent argument. The scientist Dennert conducted a survey about belief in God with 432 naturalists. Fifty-six of them did not respond, 349 indicated belief in God, and only eighteen declared that they either did not believe, or were indifferent to faith. The result of this survey of scholars concurs with results of other similar investigations.

"Only half-knowledge brings people to godlessness. No one is able to deny the existence of God, except those for whom it is profitable to do so," says the English scholar Bacon.

The young holy Great-martyr Barbara, seeing the majesty and beauty of Godís world, came to a knowledge of the true God. Thus God reveals Himself through the visible world to each person who is intelligent and of good will.

Belief in God is the fundamental essence of a personís soul. The soul is given to man from God. It is a spark in man and a reflection of God in man. Originating in God, having a kindred being in Him, the soul by itself, according to its own will, turns to God, seeks Him. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Ps. 42:2). As when eyes turn to the light and are constructed in such a way that they are able to see, thus the soul of man rushes to God, has the need of intimacy with Him, and only in God finds peace and joy. A flower stretches toward the sun, from which it receives warmth and light, without which it is not able to live and grow. As with the flower, the constant, irrepressible inclination of man to God comes from the fact that only in God is our soul able to find all that it needs for a righteous and healthy life.

Therefore, people in all times have believed in some deity and offered their prayers to it, although they often have erred by believing in God incorrectly. They never lost faith in a deity, always keeping some form of religion.

General belief in a Supreme Being was known even in the time of Aristotle, the great Greek scholar, philosopher, and naturalist, born in the year 384 B.C. Scholars confirm that all peoples who have inhabited the earth, without exception, have had their own religion, faith, prayers, temples, and offerings. "Ethnography, the science which studies the existence of all people inhabiting the earth, does not know of a people without religion," says the German geographer and traveller Ratzel.

If there exist pockets of atheistic persuasion, they are rare exceptions, unhealthy deviations from the norm. As the existence of the blind, deaf, and dumb does not disprove the fact that mankind possesses the gifts of sight, hearing, and speech; as the existence of idiots does not deny that man is a reasonable being, so the existence of atheists does not disprove the fact of the existence of religion in every society.

However, natural revelation alone is not enough, for sin obscures the intelligence, will, and conscience of a man. Proof of this is revealed in every possible pagan religion, in which truth is mixed with the falsities of human fabrications.

Therefore, the Lord supplements natural revelation with supernatural revelation. (Compiled from Frankís book Religion and Science, and Does God Exist? by G. Shorets and others.).

Published with the kind permission of Bishop Alexander Mileant

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