The Orthodox Faith
For St Paul Orthodox Youth Society - Brisbane
By Fr. John Abdel-Karim
All Orthodox Christians today believe that the Son, that is to say, Jesus Christ, is God. With a profound comprehension of soul, they repeat the words of the Creed, "I believe… and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in essence with the Father, from Whom all things were made."
Orthodox Christians believe quite correctly. Their belief is supported by Holy Scripture. John the Evangelist tells us, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." In this way he calls the Son and the Word of God, God. He further informs us that the Son and Word of God existed from the Beginning, that is, before Creation, before Time. He always existed, together with the Father. He was and is inseparable from God the Father. And He is Perfectly God. St. Paul complements this by saying, "Great is the mystery of godliness--God appeared in the flesh." How? By the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son, Jesus Christ. Elsewhere, St. Paul calls Christ Lord and God, Great God, Blessed God. But first St. Thomas, after Christ's Resurrection, had called Christ, "My Lord and my God." In other places in Holy Scripture, the same Divine attributes are ascribed to Christ that are also ascribed to the Father. He is called The One Who Existed Before All Time, the All-mighty, the All Knowing, Equal to the Father, Creator of the World. From what we have said, from the Creed and Holy Scriptures, it becomes very clear that the Son is Perfect God as is the Father. Christ Himself teaches that "All must honour and worship the Son as they do the Father. He who does not revere the Son, does not revere the Father." In other words, he who denies the divinity of the Son, denies the divinity of the Father and, therefore, is an unbeliever.
What we have said above is the Orthodox faith. However, there are heretics. Sadly, the heretics who deny the divinity of Christ insist that they are supported in their heresy by Holy Scripture. They are the Arians of the period of the First Ecumenical Council, the Jehovah Witnesses of today, and certain Protestants. Let us see how and why they are mistaken. In the Gospel of St. John, at the Lord's Supper, Christ says, "My Father is greater than I." What does this mean? According to the heretics it means that since Christ regards the Father as greater than Himself, He therefore is not equal to the Father and truly God. But these words of Christ refer to His human nature and not to His divine nature. As a man, Christ cannot really be equal to the Father. He is Perfect Man, but no man, no matter how perfect he may be, can be God. What we should keep in mind is that while the Son became man and took "the form of a servant," He did not cease to be God, to remain always "in the bosom of the Father." Never did He cease to be Perfect God. The real meaning of the above words of Christ, "My Father is greater than I," is that He is greater than I because you see Me now as a human being in the form of a servant; however, I remain God "in the bosom of the Father," but I will return to the Father also as human. At that time, My human nature will be granted unlimited glory.
Another passage of the New Testament that is misinterpreted by the heretics to support their deceptions is the discussion that Christ had with the wealthy young man. The young man called Him "Good Teacher," and Christ replied, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except One, that is God." Heretics ask how could the Son, Jesus Christ, be God since when the wealthy young man's question was directed to Him, He Himself accepted by His answer that He was not good, but that only God was good? Here we find again the same misinterpretation. Why? Most simply, because Christ knows that the young man sees Him as strictly human and nothing more. It is as if He were saying to the young man: "Yes, you want to seem to be clever, but at least have some respect for yourself.
You know that the Perfect Good is God, and therefore you do not believe in what you are saying." Here once more Christ regards Himself as human in comparison with God, because that is how the young man perceives Him, as human only. The interpretation given by St. John Chrysostom of this passage is quite interesting, and so we will present it here.
St. John Chrysostom writes, "Attend more to the Lord's answer." He did not say "No one is good except One, the Father," but rather, "No one is good except One, God." He said this so that we might understand that He is God and the Son of God, equal to and as good as God the Father." Consequently, the Lord as God is unlimited Good, All-good, as is the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray to the Lord
Lord Jesus Christ, You were and are True God, God always "in the bosom of the Father" before all ages. You accepted and received the form of a servant. You became man for our salvation and You humbled Yourself all the way to the Cross and death without ever ceasing to be the Perfect God. With all of the ways in which You endured and suffered for us, show Your compassion still and Your unlimited Love and Mercy for mankind, Your Creation. Do not forsake us who believe in You and bear Your witness. Lead us near to You. Elevate us spiritually daily. Forgive those who deny You and blaspheme You. Enlighten them to recognize You. To live and to feel the warmth of Your Love and everlasting happiness. Condemn no one. Save Your people, O Lord.