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Faith as a dogma.

Our teacher of living faith, the holy priest St. John of Kronstadt, in his book "My life in Christ," notes: "Faith is the key to God’s treasury." This is a very valuable and wise definition of faith. Faith grants one access to the riches of Godly treasures of life and eternity. He continues: "It (faith) resides in a simple loving heart. If you can believe at all, everything is possible to the believer."

He also writes: "Faith is as if one’s spiritual mouth: the more freely it opens, the greater the flow of Godly sources into us; let this mouth open (in prayer) as freely as your bodily mouth; let it not be compressed by doubt and lack of faith: if it is compressed by doubt and lack of faith, then God’s treasury of blessings will be closed to you. The more open-heartedly you can believe in God’s All-mightiness, — the more the generosity of God’s heart will be revealed to you. When you ask in prayer, believe, that you will receive: and it will given to you" (My life in Christ, vol. 1, p. 242).

For this reason faith can be called the first dogma of Christianity. The entire New Testament is filled with the preaching of faith.

It is difficult to explain the notion of faith. The Apostle Paul says the following: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." "Substance of things hoped for" — is the admission that there undoubtedly is, was and will be He, in Whom we hope; here there is internal confirmation, mysterious notification, that this is how it is. "Evidence of things unseen" — even if you cannot see it, even if it is not revealed through external experience, still the invisible is revealed through internal experience: in the expansion of spiritual horizons, through joy or in another way — through prayer.

Faith is only valid and active in a person when its object is real, and not only imaginary.

Faith unites one with that in whom or in what one believes.

Faith can only be strong if the subject of faith is strong or proceeds from a higher Power.

Faith is joyful, but only when we believe in something perfect, genuine, and elevated.

True faith uplifts, gives wings, makes invincible, purifies, leads to heaven. Such is the Christian faith.

But if we make something false the object of our faith, it will only result in the destruction of elements of good in the soul; it will not be long-lasting and will yield easily to a similarly false object of faith.

When people tie themselves by faith to that which, although real, is low or evil, then such faith lowers their own morals, and they are caught in the nets of the evil powers.

Credulity is not faith. Credulity is an expression of frivolity, a superficial acceptance of that which one has just heard. Credulity reveals a laziness and naivete of the soul and of the mind. What is easily accepted, it lost just as easily.

Religious faith brings substance and meaning to a person’s life. It creates a fullness of spiritual life. It, even if temporarily or partially, separates one from low and earthly interests, leading into the region of elevated, morally pure, holy emotions. Is this faith acquired easily? — This depends on the spiritual state of the person, on the content of his thoughts, habits, and desires. The purer the soul, the easier will it accept good. The more sensitive it is to goodness, the easier will it answer the call from above. But faith is more demanding than credulity, because it always demands sacrifice. But on the other hand, this sacrifice, supported with faith, becomes easier, and in the more lofty, rare cases leads even to joyous self-sacrifice. Such faith requires almost no visible or mental proofs. This is why the Gospel says: "Blessed are they that have have not seen, yet have believed" (John 20:29).

There is sometimes sinless disbelief: "I believe, Lord, help Thou my disbelief." This confession did not hinder the healing of the possessed one. There was the faith of the Apostle Thomas, connected with a thirst for a completeness and strength of faith, expressed in the words: "Except I shall see…I will not believe," (John 20:25). This means, he will not have that joy, which he would have had upon "seeing," like the other Apostles have had. Sometimes, doubts or "suspicion" to good tidings of truth shows only how tremendously important this news is to the person, as well as how pure or great his soul is, as we see in the Apostle Thomas.

Religious faith is not alike to believing in one’s own power. Some religious sects are gravely in error, when they teach of the benefits and worthiness of faith "as it is," faith in that which is desired: convincing oneself of one’s health, success, or welfare. Such faith is self-deception and is an enemy of Christianity.

We can firmly call our Christian faith the first dogma of Christianity. We begin our daily confession of our Christian fundamentals with this affirmation: "I believe in One God," from the Nicene creed.

According to St. Irinaeus of Lyons, faith is the vessel for collecting living water, and this living water is the grace of God.

"It is impossible to please God without faith, for it is demanded that a person believe that God exists, and rewards those who seek Him."

That is why we are commanded: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith: prove your own selves." — check yourself, whether you have faith (2 Cor. 13:5), teaches the Apostle.

To which capacity of the soul does faith belong: to the mind, to the will, or to thefeeling?

Partially, the object of our faith is contained in our mind. Still, this is more than knowledge or a"confirmed supposition" which can we often see in our lives. Faith possesses a unique motivating force.

It cannot be called a " phenomenon of will " because, though faith can move mountains, a Christian refuses his own personal will, giving himself over to the will of God: "Thy Will be done to me, a sinner."

Does faith belong to the realm of feeling? But it is more complex than an individual’s feelings: it has elements of fear, honor, reverence, humility. Therefore, it infiltrates the entire soul.

Faith is only active when the soul is united with God’s grace. And the latter happens to the greatest extent when the soul is beautified by and unified with love. As the Apostle Paul says: "Faith which worketh by love," which in the Church Slavonic is so well expressed by the words: "Faith, accompanied by love," as if the two are traveling together, supporting each other in their activity. (Gal. 5:6).

Faith is an active power. But it does not act through the power of imagination or self-hypnosis, as some sects will define it, but through being tied with the source of all strength — God. "He that believeth on me, as the scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water," said the Lord (John 7:38).

Christ’s Church is founded on faith as if on a rock, on a solid foundation. "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens" (Heb. 11:33-34).

How should we understand the Lord’s words to the Apostles: "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you?" (Matt. 17:20) Does not the Lord speak about the possibility of developing faith in one’s own powers?

Of course and absolutely not. The mustard seed, no matter how small, has in itself a fullness of life. Containing life in the tiniest bit of "matter," it proceeds to its purpose and achieves it without the least deviation, without, so to say, personal sin. The Savior spoke of an ultimate perfection to which all Christians must strive. He spoke of the apex of holiness, where the believer is unified with God, Whose strength is boundless. The Apostles and all the holy miracle-workers succeeding them always performed healings and other miraculous acts in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of faith in Him and the power of prayer to Him, or in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, fulfilling the prophecy: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do" (John 14:12). When the people, astonished that the Apostle Peter had healed a person lame from birth, ran to the Apostles, Peter told them: "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?… And His name through faith in His name hat made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all" (Acts, Chap. 3).

The essence of Christianity is faith in the Son of God, the Only-Begotten, Who came in the flesh for the salvation of people, to grant them eternal life in God. The goal of all New Testament Writings is to firmly establish faith in those who are called by God and answer the call, as we read in the next to last chapter of John’s Gospel. In principle, all historical Christianity, Christianity in the broad sense of the word, stands on this basic point of faith. In the course of time it has splintered into many groups that are disassociated from one another. It is not surprising that the more sensitive Christians have pondered on how to overcome the divisions and differences in thinking. This idea comes from Protestantism. They want to enter the "movement" of old historical churches, notwithstanding the latters’ "orthodoxy" and conservative exterior that are so much foreign to Protestantism. The representatives of the Orthodox churches, on the other hand, finding themselves in difficult situations, hope to find some protection in this movement and thus answer the Protestants’ proposals.

The hopes of the ones are weak, the hopes of the others are pitiful. It is significant that organized atheism is not hostile to this movement and even supports it.

The Orthodox entering this movement forsake and even sacrifice certain points of their Orthodox faith. The most important in faith is forgotten and lost. All non-Orthodox Christianity has lost the Church. And the Orthodox, entering this "movement," the ecumenism, do not understand that they are leaving the Church. The Church is not a gathering or union of little-believers and sinners, led by "learned theologians." The Church is an existence or a unified spiritual world, a heaven-and-earth organism, whose Head is Christ Himself. The Church possesses complete holiness and unity. The Apostles are its spiritual leaders. It is truly universal, because it envelops the heavenly and earthly. And we, the earthly, live in it, breathe its spirit, but in it we are still "called." Being accepted into the Church, we are the chosen, but we still do not have the raiment to enter into Christ’s Chamber. "Verily, I behold Thy chamber adorned, and I possess no robe to enter thereunto." We are still in danger of straying from the path, as the many and many who have lost it. We are in the Church, but we are among those "being saved," not those already saved. And thus we must be particularly faithful to the Church, where we can receive help from our heavenly teachers and brothers.

I believe in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which was, is and will be until the end of the world.

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