a. Reasonable faith


Most Protestant faiths are founded upon the precept that God’s willingness to grant a person salvation from death, thus
eternal life, is based solely upon that person’s willingness to accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior
of man. This is referred to as “salvation by faith alone”. It is based upon the concept that the whole of God’s purpose
for mankind is that they come to worship Jesus Christ as His Son. I do not agree with this. I say that the whole of God’s
purpose for mankind is that people come to know and love God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and this is
achieved by learning to freely choose God in all things as one experiences life, a God who reveals Himself in all things.

Simply accepting that Jesus is the Son of God is not enough for salvation, and believing that believing that Jesus is God’
s Son will guarantee one’s comprehension of God’s will and intent is a dangerous fallacy. One must accept and follow
Christ’s teachings as He intended them to be understood, thus one must have an accurate and sufficient
understanding as to what His teachings mean. Salvation through Christ is had through love, faith, accurate knowledge
and correct action. After all, did not Jesus Himself say that “not all who call me Lord will enter the Kingdom, only those
who do the will of my Father”? Consequently, God must offer mankind a way to understand Christ’s teachings and the
strength to follow these teachings, for not to would be cruel and unfair. This way to understanding Christ’s teachings is
offered through the gift of reason that He bestows upon man, in combination with the experience of life, and through the
teachings of His Holy Catholic Orthodox Apostolic Church. It is through His Church that God offers full enlightenment in
His Holy Spirit, and this brings the salvation through Christ that is promised by God.

Without the guidance of the Apostolic Church a person is susceptible to creating an insufficient and inaccurate view of
Christ and His teachings, bringing about the illusion that one is being faithful to Christ and His teachings when in fact
one is being faithful only to one’s own illusionary vision of Christ. True faith in Christ does not happen in a vacuum, one
must be prepared for it with proper knowledge. As St. Paul points out in the first few chapters of Romans, preparation
for faith in Christ is the purpose of both Mosaic Law and natural law. Here Paul establishes a link between faith, and
knowledge of and action under the law. The concept of salvation by faith alone severs this link.

Those who advocate salvation by faith alone point to Paul’s letter to the Romans (ch. 3, line. 28) which states that
salvation is by faith, and not by deeds of the law. However, this statement refers to the fact that one must have faith in
Christ and God in order to be saved, but this does not preclude the possibility that this faith is related to proper
knowledge of and proper actions under God’s law. After all, Paul also states in the same chapter (Romans 3, 30) that
Jews are saved by faith while Gentiles are saved through faith. A distinction is made here because Jews already have
knowledge of God’s laws but need to acquire faith in Christ in order to be saved, while Gentiles who acquire faith must
also acquire a more complete knowledge of God’s laws in order to live in true faith.

Some have put forward the misconceived argument that since the definition of the word faith is “to believe without
knowing”, knowledge opposes and undermines faith in Christ and God. This argument reveals a complete
misunderstanding of the term faith as it applies in regards to belief in God. Faith in God is always a requirement for
man simply because no man can completely know God and thus there is always an element of ignorance and
uncertainty for man in his attempt to follow God. Faith then fills the void caused by this ignorance, and this faith, in
combination with the knowledge that God makes available to man, enables man to develop a complete relationship with
God. Consequently, accurate knowledge of God complements and strengthens the faith that is intrinsically necessary
for man in his relationship with God.

The issue of proper knowledge and actions in the acquisition and maintaining of faith is of fundamental concern
because it reveals to us something of the nature of God and of man, and what God expects of man. The essential
question is; does God hold man, even in the “fallen” state, accountable, at least to some degree, for his actions? It is
only if man’s actions are in some way related to his acquisition and maintaining of faith that man can be fairly held
accountable for his acceptance or rejection of faith, and then only if God has given man the opportunity for proper
preparation, this opportunity given in the life we experience.

Preparation for true faith with proper knowledge is one of the purposes of the Apostolic Church. Also, true faith is
affirmed through the enlightenment that faith brings about, this enlightenment manifested with fullness through the
experiencing of God’s Holy Spirit, and the Church is meant to assist in bringing this about. If God leaves you with faith
alone, it is meant to be only temporarily, in order to demonstrate to you the need to maintain faith no matter what
circumstances you find yourself in. If over an extended period of time you feel that all you have is faith then you should
re-examine your beliefs, because here will lie the source of your blindness to tangible affirmations of faith.

The concept of “salvation by faith alone” presents some very serious problems in regards to understanding God’s plan
of salvation, especially when it is used to set faith against reason and knowledge. It is true that it can be said that a true
and sincere faith in the true Christ, as opposed to a faith in a distorted vision of Christ, is all that one needs for
salvation, since this true faith will inevitably lead one to do the Father’s will. However, to be able to act according to the
Father’s will through faith alone requires that one have a true vision of Christ, but what human being is inherently
capable of this true vision, except for Christ Himself? All others need to be given accurate knowledge of Christ in order
to acquire true faith, and faith can only grow and become perfected through one’s growth in knowledge of Him.

This problem of the need to grow in one’s knowledge of Christ in order for one’s faith to grow is best reflected in the
development of the Apostle Peter’s faith. That he has some faith in Christ is revealed when, at Christ’s behest, he walks
on water. That his faith is weak is revealed when he sinks. That the faith that he gains as he partakes in Christ’s
ministry is not strong enough to pass a severe testing is revealed when he denies Christ. However, his faith is ultimately
restored and strengthened, not only because he witnesses the resurrected Christ, but also because of the simple
realization, immediately after his denial of Christ, that Christ had predicted the denial. Thus, through the knowledge
gained through his experiences with Christ Peter’s faith is tested, strengthened, and eventually perfected.

Any presumption that true faith can be separated from personal responsibility, both in regards to initially responding to
God’s call and in terms of one’s growth in awareness of God’s will and one’s willingness to act in accordance with His
will completely undermines God’s plan of salvation, since freely choosing to accept and execute God’s will in all things is
God’s goal for all. Choosing to pursue true awareness and correct action are both a factor in bringing about one’s
salvation as well as being part and parcel to the fruits of salvation. This goal of correct awareness and actions has
always been expressed by God, and it is not God who has not provided the means for man to achieve this goal, but
man who has refused, by his own free choice, to accept these means. Thus, when one interprets the phrase “salvation
by faith alone” in such a way as to weaken the concept that God seeks for us to understand as best we can His ways
and also provides the means by which to achieve this, through the teachings of the Apostolic Orthodox Catholic Church
and through the gifts of reason and experience within this world, then one is actually refusing to accept His teachings
and is demonstrating a faith in a false vision of God.

This faith in a false vision of God develops when under the pretext of “faith alone” one separates the underlying logic of
natural law, that is, laws regarding physical reality and the experiences within the physical world which are
understandable through the rational thought processes of the human mind, from the underlying logic of supernatural
and religious law, that is, laws regarding metaphysical reality and spiritual experience and religious truth. This
separation occurs when this precept leads to the devaluation of all spiritual acts other than the profession of faith in
Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and a reduction in, or a distortion of, the relevance of all acts that are inspired by the
rational understanding of natural law, especially in regards to good acts performed by non-Christians. Theologies that
put forth the proposition that it is not possible to do an act that is good in the eyes of God until one becomes a
Christian and acts in the name of Christ are fundamentally flawed. The goodness of a good act is inherent in it’s nature
and is not determined by whether or not it is done in the name Christ. St. Paul makes this point very clearly when in his
letter to the Romans (ch.2, lines 14-15) he states that Gentiles, though they don’t have the Mosaic Law, are by nature,
through natural understanding, still capable of doing acts that are righteous according to God’s law, this demonstrating
that they have God’s law written on their hearts. As pointed out earlier, here Paul establishes a relationship between
natural law and Mosaic Law, and in doing so he demonstrates that the righteousness of a good act is inherent in it’s
nature.

Doing a good act in the name of Christ does add an extra measure of goodness to the act because it promotes the
good name of God, and a bad act by a Christian has an extra measure of demerit because it profanes the name of God
and makes it more difficult for people to believe in Christ. It is also true that, by nature, professing the name of Christ as
the Son of God is in itself a good act because of the inherent truth of the statement. However, performing an act in the
name of Christ does not change the inherent nature of the act, and believing that it does can lead to serious
misjudgments.

It is true that true faith in the true Christ will enable a person to more accurately discern what is good and what is not,
since one acquires a more complete understanding of the nature of good and evil when these questions are
considered in the context of God’s fuller truth. It is also true, though, that an aspect of the goodness of a good act by a
non-Christian is that when appreciated properly for what it is it will assist a person on their path to full enlightenment, an
enlightenment which will eventually include the knowledge that Christ is the Son of God, since the person of Christ
cannot be separated from all that is good. Of course, a person can also become corrupted by overweening pride
resulting from the possession of knowledge and the performing of good acts, and this can contribute to their own
blindness. However, this does not change the fact that the nature of the acts are good, but simply reveals that some
reactions to the performing of good works, such as false pride, are wrong. It is also possible for good acts to be used to
promote evil causes, but again this does not change the nature of the acts themselves.

To deny that there is an underlying logic to both natural and supernatural law which determines the nature of an act is
to render God unfair, since people are then held responsible for knowing the difference between right and wrong and
are held accountable as sinners when they do wrong without actually being given the opportunity by God to discern the
difference between right and wrong, in whatever circumstances they find themselves in. This opportunity is given by
God in the form of a perfectly logical natural reality, one that is logically integrated with supernatural reality. St. Paul
expresses this truth in (I) Romans ch. 1, where he states that God has revealed His deity and power in Creation to the
eye of reason from the beginning of the world.

Being given the opportunity to see God’s truth through God’s law and through the logic underlying the structure of
reality does not necessarily mean that man at any given time has the capacity to follow the logic of that truth. It is in man’
s nature as a created being with limited experience to have difficulty in understanding this logic. This, combined with
man’s susceptibility to corruption through pride, or lack of humility, can lead him to false understandings and sin.
However, it is man’s lack of humility in the face of God’s truth as revealed in reality, not a discontinuity in the logic of this
truth, that blind’s man to the truth of God. If the latter were the case, then God could be blamed for the sins of man.
God always gives man the opportunity to learn how not to sin through the logic of natural law and supernatural law and
thus can never be blamed for man’s sins. While it is true that man may not always have the capacity to understand how
to follow God’s laws, he always has the capacity to understand that he has a limited capacity for understanding, and
thus is dependent upon God. This simply requires humility in the presence of truth.

The logic of God’s law is reflected in all things, even though we may not see it very clearly. If this were not so, people
would not have the opportunity to learn how to judge right from wrong, and without this opportunity for correct judgment
God becomes unfair when he punishes people for their sins, as for example, when he banished Adam and Eve from
Paradise (This can be taken in literal and/or figurative terms, whichever you prefer). They were held accountable for
their sin because with the perception of reality as presented to them by God, a reality that included the availability of
God’s counsel, plus natural law, which could be known to them with the gift of rationality that God had given to them as
human beings in combination with their experience in that reality, they had the opportunity to discern the difference
between right and wrong.

To show what I mean when I say that they had the gift of discernment through their own reasoning abilities and
experience, consider this. Although Adam and Eve had reasoning ability, they were still relatively ignorant because of
their limited experience. However, they were in a position to know of their own lack of wisdom, since they had
experienced God’s wisdom. Not accepting themselves as relatively ignorant beings was their first mistake, a mistake
that could have been avoided if they had simply used their own natural reasoning ability. If they had, they would have
turned to God when initially tempted by the Evil One.

Another, even clearer example of their flawed reasoning can be seen in the fact that God had already shown His love
and compassion for them in all that He had given them, but along comes a stranger, of whom they know nothing, and
who accuses God of treating them unjustly for forbidding them the fruit of a tree which God Himself had created, and
they decide to listen to this stranger instead of God, a completely illogical act. Despite their relative ignorance, they did
have the opportunity for clear and direct instruction from God because of His willingness to be present with them, this
condition usually termed “God’s grace”, but chose not to use this guidance, and instead chose to listen to a complete
stranger whom had not demonstrated any reason for deserving respect, and in fact had done just the opposite by
making disparaging comments about God’s intent. Of course, there were factors that came into play of which they were
ignorant, such as the motivations of the Evil One who tempted them. However, they still could have made the correct
choice despite this lack of awareness if they simply had used their own reasoning ability and had the humility to accept
their own relative ignorance, and thus dependence upon God. They could have logically deduced their own need for
faith in God.

With the fall from grace of Adam and Eve it became impossible for their descendants to follow a sinless path, this being
the concept known as “original sin”. This concept is expressed in scripture by Paul in his letter to the Romans (ch.5,
line. 12-19) when he states that sin enters into the world through one man, Adam, and also, that because of the sinful
condition of man brought about by Adam, man does not have the strength of will to do what is right even when he
knows what is right. Even though this is the case, the opportunity to learn how to follow a sinless path still exists, in that
the logic of God’s truth doesn’t change, for it never does, though conditions change. As with Adam and Eve, their
descendants do not have the internal capacity to understand how to follow a sinless path without the direct aid of God.
God did not offer them His direct aid, through grace, because of Adam and Eve’s rejection of the condition under which
it had been offered to them, that is, the requirement of an absolute respect for His word. That their rejection of His rules
affects their descendants reflects God’s desire for us to understand that our actions affect the condition of others, and,
that despite the sins of the elders, His intent is to teach us through our elders. This is not unfair of God, because he is
simply teaching man that no man can know God without God’s assistance, and this assistance is given on His terms.

Although Adam and Eve were the ones who had forsaken God’s grace, they can not be held wholly responsible that
grace, or the presence of God, was not offered to their descendants. One must realize that grace is a gift of God, and
He bestows it upon whomever He pleases. Nobody can claim a right to it. That He offered it to Adam and Eve is His
prerogative, and does not mean that He must offer it to others whom He has created. While it is true that if Adam and
Eve had not forsaken the gift of grace it would have been passed on to their descendants, it is not true that their
descendants would ever have had a right to it, or that they might not have forsaken it themselves. That He chose not to
grant it to the immediate descendants of Adam and Eve was His prerogative, which I’m sure He has good reasons for
exercising as He does. I believe that these reasons will be revealed to us, and, in fact, are being revealed in our
experiences in this world. This is our reason for living in this world, to learn God’s ways.

The Evil One can be considered to be a being who is older and more experienced than Adam and Eve. For his own
purposes he takes advantage of younger beings’ innocence and lack of experience. Since the Evil One chooses, of his
own free will, to exert his energies to deceiving people into sinning, inevitably they fall prey to sin unless they are in a
state of grace and act in a way that maintains this state and thus have access to clear guidance from God. This is
because, as created beings with limited understanding, people do not have the internal capacity to see through the
deceptions of the Evil One. This is the same difficulty that children have today when confronted with the bad influences
of a clever adult. The child is very vulnerable because of his limited reasoning ability and experience. However, if he
does have correct guidance available he can use his limited reasoning ability to turn to that guidance.

God’s withholding of His grace from the immediate descendants of Adam and Eve shows that He intended to pass His
grace on to them through Adam and Eve. They were to come to know God through Adam and Eve. That God intended
them to have children even if they had not fallen from grace is clear because, after the fall, He declares that the pain of
childbirth will greatly increase. Thus, childbirth still would have occurred if there were no fall from grace, though it would
have been less difficult. That God intended to pass on His presence through Adam and Eve reveals the magnitude of
the gift which He had offered to them. They were to be His instrument through which He dispensed the gift of His
presence. This method is very much in evidence today, that is, God revealing His presence to children through parents.
However, sin, in the form of ignorance and wrong guidance, is also passed on from parent to child. When God made
the declaration on the increase in the pain of childbirth after the first sin, He was also referring to the difficulty of raising
children in a world that has a limited respect for God’s truth. All this reveals one of God’s intents for man, our
interdependence upon one another. When Adam and Eve took the harder instead of the easier road on their path to
learning God’s truths, this ultimately being the consequence of their fall from grace, it inevitably affected all beings. This
is something that we all should all keep in mind in making our choices today.

The concept of Adam’s sin affecting the condition of all mankind can best be understood by considering that the souls
of all human beings, as descendants of Adam, are in union with the soul of Adam, and thus whatever affects Adam
affects all men and woman born into this world. When Adam sinned, he in effect united himself to the Evil One, and this
is how the Evil One becomes the prince of this world, for he becomes the overlord of Adam and his descendants, for
whom the world was originally created. The solution to this predicament for man is Christ. Man must unify himself with
Christ in order to free himself from domination by the Evil One, for only Christ has the power, in His divinity, to control
and destroy the Evil One.

One great misconception that many people have in the story of Adam and Eve is the nature of their sin. Their sin was
not that they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but that they ate from it at a time when God had
forbidden it. I believe that God had planned on eventually giving them permission to eat from it, but only after He had
prepared them for it. After all, is it not true that the gift that God gives to us through Christ is the opportunity to become
children of God, thus gods in Heaven? And didn’t God put a guard around the tree of life because, as Scripture says, if
Adam and Eve had eaten from that tree after eating from the first they would have become like gods in Heaven? That
we are now offered deification through Christ shows that God always intended for Adam and Eve to become gods in
Heaven, and God putting a guard around the tree of life to prevent them from becoming god-like at that time shows that
eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and from the tree of life are part of the process of becoming
children of God in Heaven. I’m sure that He would have preferred that they had chosen the path of obedience in
realizing their destiny as children of God in Heaven, but instead they freely chose the difficult path of disobedience.
That God punished them for their disobedience shows God’s wisdom, mercy, and love for them, because gods in
Heaven can never disobey the Supreme God, or forever be condemned.

There are some theologies that claim God made it inevitable that Adam and Eve would choose to disobey Him and eat
from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that this was intended in order to start the process toward
salvation in Christ. To say this is to say that they never really had free choice, and this then shifts the guilt for their bad
choice from them to God. This is a false accusation against God. What is many times misunderstood here is that there
is a difference between predestination and pre-determination. With pre-determination the choices of man are made
beforehand, by God, and cannot be changed. However, destinies can be changed. One may be destined for
something, but not come to the fulfillment of that destiny. After all, didn’t the Prophet Isaiah declare that “ours is not a
God of fate or fortune”, meaning that our God is not controlled by fate because He can alter fate. Consequently, there
must have been an alternative path of obedience which they had a real opportunity to pursue. It would still have
required of them to come to acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Son of God, for to be children of God you
must have an absolute respect for the truth, and this is a fundamental one, as is the concept, “to know the Son is to
know the Father”. Their bad choices simply made the path to these realizations more difficult, for everyone involved.

To say that Satan, Adam, and Eve had a real choice in deciding to sin or not necessitates that there be an alternative
path to the one that they took path, one which would still result in Adam and Eve becoming children of God in heaven.
Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a necessary part of the process of becoming a god in Heaven.
It gives one a higher awareness of what is possible as a result of one’s own actions and of what makes those actions
are right or wrong. One does not need to sin in order to learn these truths. One does not sin by eating from the tree
when God has given permission, and He will give that permission once He’s prepared the person. If Adam and Eve had
waited, once God had prepared them He would have had them eat the apple, without sin. They then would have begun
learning a wider and deeper understanding of God’s truth while always having God’s presence immediately available to
them. This, in fact, was the path to full awareness taken by both Jesus, in His humanity, and His mother Mary.

Adam and Eve cannot blame God for their sins even though He willingly exposed them to the Evil One. As children of
God we must learn to be loyal to God under all circumstances, whatever others do. If Satan had not sinned they may or
may not have sinned of their own initiative. Learning to resist sin under all circumstances enables us to be trusted with
complete freedom in the realm of God, for then we will never be tempted away from God.

If Adam and Eve had sinned on their own initiative the reality that they experienced after their fall would have been
different from the one that they experienced as a result of following the condemned Evil One. They would not have had
a powerful spiritual being constantly harassing them and their children, but they still would have had to face obstacles
to their happiness, obstacles made more difficult because of their sin. If both they and Satan had not sinned Adam and
Eve still would have needed to learn of the nature of good and evil and the effects of sin in order to become a children
of God in Heaven. I expect that in this case God would simply create a type of “virtual reality” that mimics a fallen
paradise into which Adam and Eve could enter for short periods of time in order to learn the consequences of sin,
without sinning. This virtual reality would include their experiencing the pain caused by sin, but in a more limited and
controlled manner than the pain caused by actual sin. It could also include the experience of Jesus on the cross, but
this would be presented as what would happen to Christ if those whom He is charged to care for commit sin. Since
under these conditions people would have perfect faith, there would be no doubting the veracity of God’s presentation
of these truth’s, and thus it would not be necessary for Jesus to actually experience the pain of the cross. To those who
would say that Jesus not actually experiencing the pain of the cross would lessen the virtue of Christ’s saving presence,
I say that this opinion demonstrates a perverse need for God to suffer. In order to appreciate the concept of Christ as
our Savior we need only to know that He is willing to suffer whatever is necessary in order that we have the opportunity
to become children of God. While this is speculation, I feel that it is important to believe that God has an alternative
plan for learning the nature of sin without the need for us to sin, otherwise people, and angels, will attempt to justify
their sins by claiming that they are a necessary part of God’s plan, effectively shifting the blame for their sins to God.
The possibility of sin is all that is necessary in God’s plan, not it’s actualization.

In the case of Adam and Eve, I speculate that their original sin was sexual activity, initiated by Eve’s curiosity. She
succumbs to temptation first, not by having the curiosity, but by disregarding God’s rules in attempting to satisfy this
curiosity by enticing Adam to pursue sexual activity with her, to which he submits, this being his sin. That this is a
possibility is supported by how God expresses His realization that they had sinned; they had become aware of their own
nakedness. Did they become self-conscious after experiencing sexual pleasure? What they should have done to avoid
sin was to ask God about their curiosity. He then would have prepared them for sexual union. If you notice, this is the
same scenario that many young adults go through when they reach puberty. Could it be that the story of Adam and Eve
is simply the story of two children entering into puberty and making the wrong decisions?

While I speculate that Adam and Eve’s temptation was to break God’s rule in regards to sex, I suspect that Satan’s
temptation was rooted in a lust for power, born of a jealously of God’s love for man. The motivations of the Evil One are
not very difficult to figure out. He saw an opportunity to become the master of the human race. Knowing that God had
given Adam and Eve the potential to be the parents of a whole race of beings, and knowing that God had already given
him the promise of eternal life, and knowing that God does not allow sinners in His presence, and desiring to be
worshipped by man as the supreme god, which could never happen in the presence of God, he decided to inspire
Adam and Eve to sin, and thus be banished, along with himself, from the presence of God. Thus, being the most
powerful being in this exiled reality he could then act as if he were the supreme god. His challenge then became to
make sure that all people born into this reality always commit sin, thus remain exiled from God. This way of thinking can
be seen in corrupt, egocentric leaders today. Whether they are aware of it, as the Evil One was, or not, they lead
people to untruths that offend God, bringing destruction and death to others, all in an effort to glorify themselves. They
come to not want any truth that might deny their self glorification, thus adamantly resist any reprimand by God which is
designed to correct their blindness.

The Muslim holy book, the Koran, contains an account of Satan’s revolt against God, and when this is read with
Christian sensibilities one can see an underlying meaning to the story which would not be perceived by a person
without Christian belief, and this unveils the true nature of the Evil One’s discontent with God. Since God intended from
the beginning to become incarnate as a man, His revelation of this intent actually begins to unfold with His creation of
man in His image. According to the Koran, after Adam is created God orders the angels to bow down before Adam.
Satan refuses to do this, saying that only God is worthy of this form of homage. He then, because of his jealousy of
Adam, tempts Adam and Eve to sin, in an attempt to demonstrate to God Adam’s unworthiness. According to Islamic
tradition, Satan will be forgiven his transgressions because it was supposedly inspired by his extreme love and
reverence for God, a reverence that does not allow him to bow before anyone but God. However, as Christians we
know that Satan was missing a bit of information here, and this is that God intended to become incarnate as a man, as
Adam’s descendant. With this information we can understand the true meaning of God demanding that the angels bow
down before Adam; He is preparing them for the revelation that He will become incarnate as a man. This preparation for
the revelation that God planned to become incarnate as a man was also a test, one which Satan failed miserably. The
truth of the incarnation of God as a human being is a more complete revelation by God of Himself. Satan rejects this
more complete revelation because he cannot accept God as God truly is, as he prefers his own partial vision of God.
Satan here reveals that he can only love God when he perceives that he himself represents God’s preferred creature.
Satan’s love for his own partial vision of God ultimately leads to a blinding hatred for the fully revealed God. His war on
Adam, born of jealousy, develops into a war on God, born of hatred. This is what is not revealed in the Koran, but is
what can be deduced with the Christian understanding of God’s intention of becoming incarnate as a human being.

In the story of the temptation, Satan approaches Eve with the idea of rejecting God’s rules. This is not because she is
female, as some speculate, but because she is younger than Adam and so more vulnerable. When Adam came into
being, the only other being he encountered was God. This helped to instill in him a respect for, and an awareness of,
God as the First and Master. When Eve came into awareness, she encountered both God and Adam. This took away
some of the uniqueness of God in her eyes and she was consequently less intimidated by God. This happens many
times with children in families, the older feeling a stronger sense of responsibility and the younger feeling less inhibited.
Thus Eve falls victim to temptation first because she is younger and less intimidated by God.

The nature of their sins is also different. Eve fell victim to the idea that she could get to be a god in Heaven without
following God’s rules. That she grasped at something that she did not yet deserve is an act of greed. Adam fell victim to
the sin of pride when he decided that it was important to impress upon Eve that he could disregard God’s wishes rather
than please Him by obeying Him. Greed and pride are the two fundamental sins that beings are susceptible to. They
are each a result of a perversion of natural aspects of our nature. Pride is a perversion of our natural need for dignity
and desire for respect. Greed is a perversion of our natural need for security and desire for enjoyment. All other sins
can be seen as a particular form and/or combination of these two, even sexual lust. Sexual desire is not a sin, it is
natural, but when it is pursued without a willingness to fulfill responsibilities it becomes a form of greed, and when it is
pursued in order to inflate one’s ego it becomes a form of pride, and these are what make it lust.

God began the process of restoring His clear and direct instruction to mankind with His covenant with Abraham. With
Judaism it became possible to follow God’s truth and to respond to God’s love in a more complete way than before, as
the direct link with God is restored to a degree. However, following God’s truth and responding to His love was still very
difficult. Eventually, after preparing people to know His ways better through Judaism, He gives us His Son to follow. It is
the Christian belief that the restoration of God’s grace is completed with the Incarnation of Christ. Through following His
Son we gain the capacity to perfectly follow God’s truth without the need to completely understand the logic behind this
truth. We have Christ to understand the logic of God’s truth for us, and when we have faith in Him we follow Him without
completely understanding Him and this leads us to complete understanding and perfection. This then is why God the
Father is willing to forgive us our past sins when we follow Christ. For what good is the forgiveness of past sins until we
gain the capacity to learn how not to sin, this capacity provided through Christ.

With the coming of Christ, the access to God’s grace that Adam and Eve had forsook is restored. However, conditions
in this world are still different from what they were in Paradise, and God accounts for this. Whereas Adam and Eve’s
sins caused a radical change in their experience of reality, for us the change in our experience of reality due to our sins
is more subtle, since we are already situated in a fallen world. Also, after we’ve sinned, we have a chance to restore
ourselves to God’s grace through repentance and confession, where they had to wait for God’s offer of redemption,
this coming through Christ. The gift of forgiveness through repentance and confession is possible for us because we
have Christ, and we have the benefit of our history from which to learn, including Adam and Eve’s experience. However,
if we don’t use God’s gifts properly, ultimately the consequences for us can be even worse than were theirs’.

Since Christ is the Son of God, in order to know the truth of God in a complete way it is necessary to know this.
However, God does not hold one responsible for this knowledge until Christ is introduced to them. If a person is sinless
up to the point of introduction, then accepts the truth of the Sonship of Jesus, even without understanding all the
consequences of it, they then continue to be sinless. The Roman Catholic’s example of this is Mary. Mary is God’s
proof to mankind that it is not an impossible task to follow Him perfectly, even before the introduction of His Son. Thus
she is His proof that He is not unfair when He holds people accountable for their sins. For those who claim that this view
means that Mary is not saved from sin by Christ, this is not true, since, in order to preserve her sinlessness, God,
through Judaism, had created a reality for her in which His direct and clear instruction was present to a great degree,
and then, when Christ was introduced to her, it became her responsibility to believe in Him, which she did. Not believing
in Him as the Son of God would have been a sin, for it would have been a rejection of God’s truth. Also, that Jesus is as
He is enables Mary to continue to believe in Him. Jesus prevents Mary from sinning through not believing because He
consistently proves to her with His actions that He is the Son of God. Thus, He saves her from sin. This situation would
also apply to the angels who have stayed loyal to God. In order to maintain their fidelity, they must accept Christ as God’
s Son when God the Father introduces Him to them, for this is God’s truth, which they must always respect absolutely.
The fact that Jesus acts as He does enables them to believe in Him.

People today have the same problem that Adam and Eve had; the truth of our relative ignorance and our unwillingness
to face up to this truth. This truth can be deduced from our experience, thus natural and supernatural law, if we have
the humility to face the truth. The correct conclusion deduced from our experiences in life is the realization that we need
God. The way to follow God could also be deduced from our experiences in life, thus natural and supernatural law, if we
had the internal capacity to perfectly understand God’s law, but because of our limited capacities and experience and
because of the nature of reality, including the existence and motivations of malevolent beings such as the Evil One,
realizing the path to God and how to follow Him perfectly through the understanding of the logic of natural and
supernatural law is impossible. However, God, in His wisdom, gives us a way of following Him perfectly even though we
don’t fully understand Him, through faith in His Son. This does not contradict the logic of natural and supernatural law,
but complements and completes it, since the conclusion drawn from the study of natural and supernatural law for
anyone who takes the study seriously should be the “sanctity” of truth. That God is God and that Christ is His Son is an
integral part of this truth, as is that faith in Christ enables us to follow God’s truth perfectly, without fully understanding it.

One of the great injustices against God that inevitably results from the separation of natural law from supernatural law
is the devaluation in the worth of the truths which God chooses to teach, in either a direct or indirect way, to non-
Christians. It is a Catholic Orthodox belief that God teaches many truths to non-Christians, and these truths can be very
important to His purposes even though the people that have been taught these truths don’t know the truth of Christ’s
Sonship. This simply means that even when in the state of original sin people are taught many important truths by God.
These truths can only have relevance to a person’s salvation if there is comprehensible logic to supernatural law in
which everything is not simply reduced to the profession of Christ as the Son of God, and if there is a relationship
between this logic and the logic underlying natural law. This is one of the reasons that I personally believe that there is
a relationship between the logic of natural law and that of supernatural law. The challenge for us is to realize how they
relate. I think that the best approach to this problem is to first realize that the essential attributes of God are love and
truth. Consequently, non-Christians who revere love and truth are in fact revering God. By following a path that is
rooted in the respect for love and truth, one is indirectly following Christ and will inevitably come to know the fullness of
God’s love and truth in Christ, thus come to know Christ as His Son.





                                                             b. Salvation through love and faith


The greatest problem that I see with the concept of salvation through faith alone is what this concept actually says,
though this may not be clear to most, especially those who advocate it, about the nature of God. It defines God the
Father as the greatest of all sadists, and His Son as a masochist, for it renders the experience of Christ on the cross as
superfluous. This is because the task of giving people faith in God, that is, making them aware, without understanding,
that God is God and Jesus is His Son, can easily be accomplished by God the Father without ever having had His Son
suffer in any way. All that need be done is for Jesus to be incarnated as a being 2000 miles tall and then to walk around
the earth with the power to bounce people between life and death until they accept Him as their God. It is not done this
way because faith alone is not a good enough basis for the relationship that God seeks to develop with us. He seeks to
develop a relationship with us that is based upon love. Love, by it’s nature, must be a two way street, given and
accepted. For human beings to become capable of loving God as God wants us to love Him we must develop an
understanding of both Him and of ourselves. This is an empowerment that He offers to us, one that includes
responsibilities. We must come to realize that our actions, both good and bad, have an affect on Him, as well as
knowing that His actions, always good, have an affect on us. Our love for Him must be freely given, thus we must be
allowed to be free. Any worth that we have to God lays in our capacity and willingness to love Him, of our own free will,
as He reveals Himself to us. Any test that He puts us through is to show us and Him that we can and do love Him, and to
teach us how to love Him under all circumstances, as He does us. He is always demonstrating His love for us, even
though we may not recognize it as such. Free-willed love is the purpose that can make life so difficult, for us, and for
Him, as He so profoundly demonstrated on the Cross, for in love we accept the responsibility for the well-being of each
other. In life we come to understand that it is only in truth that love can prosper, and come to realize our need for faith
in God because of our limitations as created beings in our ability to know truth at any given time. He is our guarantor of
truth, thus our guarantor of the garden in which our love can thrive.

There are those who claim that the meaning of “salvation by faith alone” is that if you simply believe that Christ will save
you, you will be saved. This is a dangerous fallacy. It takes judgment out of God’s hands and puts it into the hands of
the person who seeks to be saved. Christ Himself says that “the Father puts judgment into the Son’s hands, but the
Son judges only as the Father tells Him”. St. Paul states that he is not concerned by his own judgments of his own
actions or the actions of others, as he is only concerned with God’s judgment. Here he is warning against self-deluding
judgments. The notion that you are inevitably saved if only you believe that you are saved opens the door to serious
delusion, for when God indicates to you that in order to be saved you must change your ways, you will not listen, for
you believe that you are already saved. The truth is, if God decides that you will not be saved, you will not be saved, no
matter how strongly you believe that He will save you. Holding on to this belief in the face of God’s condemnation is
simply the last refuge of the damned. While I don’t believe that this situation will ever apply to most people, this way of
thinking does encourage people to avoid scrutinizing and reforming their own actions. True respect, or fear, of God,
means that one is weary of all actions that might offend God. The less mature attitude is to be wary of sinful actions
simply to avoid punishment, while the more mature attitude is to be wary of sinful actions because you love God and
you realize that they offend Him.

I suppose that the false belief that one does not have to much concern oneself with one’s actions as long as one
believes in Christ is derived from Christ saying that “if you believe in me, you will be saved”, and, “those who believe in
me will not be judged”. However, one must take these sayings in the context of Christ’s mission, which He clearly states
is to preach to and redeem the children of Israel. He also points out that He has not come to destroy the Law but to
fulfill it. Thus, He is telling Jews, who already have the Law, that they must also believe in Him if they are to be saved.
This means that you cannot separate salvation in Christ from the law of God, the two go hand in hand. This concept is
also expressed by St. Paul when he states in Romans, ch. 3, that Jews are saved by faith, while Gentiles are saved
through faith. What this means is that Jews, who already have the Law, must also accept Christ as their Savior, for only
then can they understand and fully realize the meaning and the purpose of God’s law. Gentiles, when they accept
Christ as their Savior, must also learn and abide by God’s law, and this is why they are saved through faith and not
simply by faith. Consequently, striving to know and follow God’s law is always an integral part of salvation, and while the
law doesn’t change, conditions do, such as was the case with the coming of Christ, so how the law applies under these
new conditions can change. This is not a change in the law because from the dawn of Creation the law is defined for
each and every situation that man might find himself in.

Some may protest and say that God’s love is given unconditionally, and it is. God does love the sinner as well as the
saint, and He proves this by His efforts to redeem both saints and sinners. The concept that God’s love is given
unconditionally, though, simply means that God’s efforts to redeem us from sin and death are prompted by His love,
and not by some special action or actions that mankind has performed. This unconditional initiative by God does not
come without conditions, and it’s fundamental condition is that you respond with love to this initiative and be willing to
learn to respect God as God and make every effort to follow His ways.

To believe in Christ is to follow Christ, which requires that you grow in your awareness of Christ and conform your
actions to God’s ways. For He did say that “not all who call me Lord will enter the Kingdom, but only those who do the
will of my Father”. The will of the Father is not only that we profess Christ’s name but also that we follow His teachings,
which bring about the spiritual growth and enlightenment necessary for gaining entrance into His kingdom. After all,
didn’t He also say that “bringing salvation to mankind is like planting, when seeds are thrown onto rocky soil, they don’t
take root, and when seeds are sown in weedy soil, the saplings are choked off by weeds”? The seeds of salvation
referred to here are seeds of not just faith, but also of love. In regards to not being judged, this refers to one’s past
sins, for if they are not forgiven you are condemned by them, and also, to Christ’s capacity to teach us not to sin. If you
sincerely believe in Christ your past sins are forgiven, and, with God’s grace, you will follow Him, and though you may
stumble at times, will eventually learn how not to sin, thus avoiding judgment.

In order to follow Christ one must be presented with a true picture of Christ, a view of Him as He truly is, not as we wish
Him to be or as we insist that He should be. Scripture, while containing the whole Revelation of Christ, does not in itself
enable a person to see the true Christ. One needs to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God to see the true
meaning of Scripture, and one of the ways by which the Spirit opens one’s eyes to Scripture’s true meaning is to direct
people to those whom He has already taught, His Saints. This is one of the functions of God’s True Church, to guide
people to an accurate perception of Christ and His teachings.

It is true that at times some members of Christ’s Church may not, for various reasons, interpret and apply God’s
teachings with perfect accuracy. This does not mean that accurate comprehension is not available, but simply means
that a perfectly accurate understanding of God’s will and intent on all issues is not always easily obtained. One must
have faith that even with these difficulties a sufficient understanding is acquired by the Church and churchmen so that
eventually a perfect understanding of all issues is developed. Perfect understanding should be seen as a goal obtained
in the fullness of time through the grace of God. It is also true that some churchmen do become genuinely corrupt.
However, this does not invalidate the teachings of the Church, but simply subjects these corrupted leaders to a harsher
judgment by God. After all, didn’t Jesus say to His followers in regards to the corrupted religious leaders of His day that
they should do as these leaders say but not as they do.

If God is willing to save you He will to lead you to do what is necessary in order for you to realize salvation, but you must
follow His lead of your own free choice. As you follow this path it will become clearer and clearer to you that you are
saved. This is because you come to see that God truly does love you, and, just as importantly, you come to see that
you truly love God and have no other desire but to follow Him. This creates a bond that can never be broken and
begets a faith that cannot be shaken. Thus, salvation for mankind is by love and faith, not just faith.

With the views expressed above, love of God becomes the main criteria that determines whether or not a person is
destined to be saved. While love of the truth of God is incomplete without an awareness of His Triune nature, faith
without love is barren. God could force anyone to believe that He is God, but He can’t force anyone to love Him. God
reveals Himself in life to each person in a manner that assures the best possibility that their love for Him will grow. This
gives meaning to the different indirect manifestations of Him to which all beings are exposed. In responding to these we
reveal to Him and to ourselves that we are ready for a more complete manifestation of Him. Consequently, anyone
positively responding to the presence of God, even if that presence is indirect and that response imperfect, is revealing
that they are on the path to salvation. This includes Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists,
pagans, agnostics, and atheists, as well as Orthodox Christians. Whether they continue on that path depends upon
whether they grow in their response to His love and presence as He makes Himself more manifest to them.

The importance of faith in realizing the fullness of the gift of becoming His child that God offers to us should not be
underestimated, but faith is meaningless without love. We must learn to love God and others even when it doesn’t seem
that they love us. This is faith in love, as well as in God. God says to us that if we have faith in Christ and follow Christ
we will be saved. We will follow Christ if we come to love Christ as He is revealed to us. This is in the nature of real love.

Loving Christ must be our choice, a free choice. It is the single meritorious act that we are capable of in the eyes of
God. Loving Christ, though, means loving all things of Christ, which includes all things of truth and love. Thus, loving all
things of truth and love are meritorious acts in the eyes of God. If we continue to love all things of truth and love, we will
eventually come to have a direct awareness and love of Christ, and thus, have faith in Him.





                                                                           c. The gift

In the first sections of this work I’ve attempted to explain what I believe is the way in which God must present His truth to
mankind in order for Him to be considered to be a fair and just god. Now I will try to explain my understanding of what I
believe is the gift that He offers to us, a gift that He need not offer us in order to be considered a fair and just god, but
one that He offers to us in His graciousness. This gift is the opportunity to become His child, through the process of
divination. I will also explain what I believe is the role of the Church in this process.

As Christians, we claim to have a special knowledge of God, one that enables us to have a unique relationship and
experience with the Spirit of God. We are called to learn to experience and live with the Spirit, in both a physical and
spiritual sense. We must be willing to testify to this opportunity that God offers to us, and in the name of God make this
offer available to people. To do this, we ourselves must believe that we are truly experiencing God. We must come to
recognize God’s presence in every form that it takes. As Christians we must make it clear that we know, from our own
experience, that God has made His presence known to us. But we must also acknowledge that he does this in different
ways and to different degrees for each person, for His reasons. We should not reduce the experience of God down to
just our own personal experience and our own personal insights. We must recognize our own personal experience as
part of the whole experience that mankind has with God. We must also acknowledge that while God will ultimately affirm
every Christian’s faith in a very direct way, as of now some people have already experienced this direct affirmation while
others have not. Ultimately, though, whether with a confirmed or unconfirmed faith, we are called to testify to the world
that God is real and available.

Members of the Catholic Orthodox Church must also believe and testify that we are offered an extraordinary assistance
in learning to experience God through the guidance, teachings, and the methods of our Church. This extraordinary
assistance presents to us an opportunity to experience God in an extraordinary way, with the real presence of the Body
of Christ and a full measure of the Holy Spirit of God. We must make it clear to the world that there are very real
reasons for God to structure our Church as He does, and that there are real results from following our practices, the
most important result being the experiencing of the living presence of God.

Sometimes the living presence of God is defined as existing for people in indirect and subtle ways, and this is fine when
appropriate, as most people do experience God in a relatively indirect way, and few people seem to experience God’s
presence in a very direct, overt way. There are a variety of reasons for this. In the Old Testament it is clearly stated
that men cannot look directly at the face of God, for if they do, they will die. The reason they will die is because sinners
cannot stand in the full presence of God the Father. Guilt drives them out of His presence. God the Father solves this
problem by sending us His Son to cleanse us of our sin and guilt. It is our unity with Christ that enables us to be
cleansed of sin and guilt and thus stand in the full presence of the Father. However, unifying ourselves with Him and
washing away our guilt and sin is a process, since we also need to learn how to conform our actions to His and, in this,
learn how not to sin. For what good would it do to be allowed into the presence of the Father only to be driven out
again by our guilt when we sin again. This process of becoming capable of standing in the presence of our heavenly
Father is what our Church is charged with by God to help us through, and He works each individual through this
process as He knows is best. Successfully going through this process opens the door to the full presence and
experience of God, an experience that consistently affirms one’s faith. This is the promise that our Church must be
willing to make to people, that the Church can help prepare us to experience and live with God. Of course, in making
this promise, we must also make it clear that just because one has not had or is not having a direct sense orientated
experience with the Spirit does not mean that one is not successfully negotiating the process. We must learn to follow
God even when there seems to be no reward or satisfaction in it, and to judge our actions by a higher standard than by
what our senses may be perceiving at a particular time. This higher standard is based upon the faith in our hearts and
minds that God is good and He loves us, and that His truth is real and He has endowed us with the capacity to respond
to and grow in this truth.

One of the important lessons that our Lord calls upon us to learn is that being a Christian necessitates a willingness to
forsake what is by justice our due, for the sake of others, as well as ourselves. Our Lord Himself did this in accepting
His Cross. However, while Jesus might have to carry His Cross forever, He did not have to hang on it forever. God will
fulfill His promises, one of these promises being the experiencing of His presence, and we should not believe that we
are meant to be denied the real sense orientated experience of God forever. This sense orientated experience may or
may not include an experience of the natural senses or an intellectual insight, meaning that the presence of God is also
sensed by the soul in a manner that is beyond our natural senses and intellect. This sensing by the soul produces an
unmistakable awareness in one’s heart that God is present. As Catholic Orthodox Christians we must make it clear that
this sense orientated experience is available, even in our lives in this world, and worth striving for. We must also realize
that God’s plan of salvation is being manifested upon mankind as a whole, of which we and our experiences are but a
part, a part as determined for us by God for our sake and for the sake of His plan. Consequently, if we ourselves, by
our own personal experience, cannot verify the sense oriented experience of the Spirit to others, and many of us can’t,
we still have the great Mystics and Saints of the Church to point to as proof and guides. It is a blessing of our Church
that while each individual may not be able to personally attest to all the wonders of God, as a people of God we can, in
the Faith of our Fathers.

The flaw in the Protestant approach to understanding salvation is most clearly seen when one considers the Orthodox
Church’s concept of salvation through divination. Divination is the process of becoming Holy. It begins at Baptism and
continues forever. The Roman Catholic Church’s approach to understanding salvation includes divination, but this is
not emphasized as much as is the concept of being saved from sin and damnation. This being the case, it becomes
more difficult in the Roman Catholic approach to properly understand the process of divination and the actions required
to achieve it’s goal of deification. Central to this understanding is that the Church is meant to assist a person to not only
an intellectual appreciation of God’s plan of salvation and judgments, but also to a true spiritual experience of the
Divine, in this world, and not just the next. The emphasis in the Roman Catholic approach on the struggle against sin
for fear of damnation helped lead to the mistaken Protestant notion that Baptism suffices for salvation, since the Roman
approach gives the impression that the process of divination, this defining the actions required of a Christian after
Baptism, is nothing but an endless struggle against sin, a struggle that cannot be won in this life but is only won in the
next. Since this seems to be the case, the Protestants questioned the worth of actions in this world, and came to the
conclusion that salvation comes about only because of one’s Baptism in this life, as all other actions are, in regards to
salvation, relatively meaningless. What’s missing here is the understanding that through divination the struggle against
sin in this life becomes easier, since it opens one up to a more complete reception of the Holy Spirit. It is in the first
stages of divination that the struggle against sin seems unwinable because it is in this stage that we become more
aware of the true nature of sin and our vulnerability to it. This increased awareness of sin, though, should lead us to an
increased desire to struggle against it. This prepares us for the next stage where we learn that by always turning to
God we can win the struggle. Finally we reach a stage where we don’t have to always feel the struggle against sin in
order to continue the struggle, as we have a clear sight as to the nature of sin. At this point God feels free to allow a
person to feel the joy of the continual sense oriented presence of His Holy Spirit, for now there is no possibility that He
will be taken for granted. It is here that the promise of salvation is realized. This is what the Church must teach; that
through the process of divination it is possible to come to experience the living presence of God in this life, if one is
willing to walk the path which leads to Him.

In a manner of speaking, the process of salvation for each person can be said to begin at the time of their creation.
Every action that God takes in regards to us is for the sake of our salvation. His banishment of Adam and Eve from
Paradise and His punishment of us for our own sins are actions on behalf of our salvation. If we don’t learn our lessons
from these actions we will not be prepared for the process of divination, and if we misuse the gifts that God offers to us,
including the opportunity to become a child of God in Heaven, we open up the possibility of eternal damnation.

One of the reasons that God created His Church is to help guide us through the pitfalls that we may encounter on our
way to becoming children of God, and to teach us what we must do in order to realize this goal. Protestant theology
essentially eliminates the process of divination from God’s plan of salvation by basically declaring that we are deified by
baptism and that there is neither a possibility nor need for spiritual development in this world beyond accepting Christ
as one’s Savior. This, in my mind, leads to stunted spiritual growth and an undermining God’s plan.

In God’s plan we must transform ourselves through His Grace, and one of the ways He offers us His Grace is through
the Sacraments. I feel that His Grace is offered to us in this way in order to ensure true spiritual growth, a growth that
enables us to understand the living nature of God and to fulfill His desire for a communal relationship between His
children. I also believe that this is one of the reasons why He has given authority to the Apostolic Church. In the Jewish
tradition God is referred to as “the living God”. The living nature of God is reflected in the living relationship between
Jesus and His Apostles, a relationship of living love. The Incarnation of Christ is in itself a statement by God on the
importance of social relationships, for it is in His incarnate life that Jesus develops human social relationships. The
Gospels reveal the intimate friendships that Jesus develops with His Apostles, and this reveals the essential nature of
interpersonal relationships as part of God’s plan. It’s also true, though, that while it is obvious that there was a close
human relationship between Jesus and the Apostles, it is also obvious that even with Jesus among them they had a
difficult time understanding and following Him. They needed many lessons before they truly grasped the significance of
the presence of Jesus amongst them, and it was not until Pentecost, with the in pouring of the Spirit, an event that
Jesus had been preparing them for since the time He called them, that they became competent to carry on His mission.
This mission is not only to proclaim the coming of the Christ, but also to prepare people for the reception of the Holy
Spirit, as Jesus had prepared them, and part of this preparation includes the reception of the Sacrament of the
Eucharist.

It is with the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as understood by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, that our Lord
assures that we are well prepared for a full measure of the Holy Spirit. He assigns to the Church the responsibility of
preparing the faithful to receive the Sacrament and to administer it, and, with the Sacrament, we are given the
opportunity to receive the Body and Blood of Christ into our own bodies, this making us more capable of receiving a full
measure of the Holy Spirit.

One point that is very much lost in the Protestant approach to salvation is that God has given us two distinct methods to
receive Christ, in Baptism and in the Eucharist, and this is important because this involves the concept of growth and
development of both our spirit and body. John the Baptist baptized in water and declared that Jesus baptizes in the
Spirit. Thus, when we are Baptized, we receive Jesus’ Spirit with the Holy Spirit. However, this is an incomplete reception
of Christ, since we must also receive the Body of Christ. Christ declares this in Scripture when He states that in order to
be saved one must eat of His Flesh and drink of His Blood. Also, after receiving the Spirit, Body, and Blood of Christ,
one must still become open to fully receiving the Person of the Holy Spirit. This is because while the Son and the Holy
Spirit are always in union with each other, they are also distinct from each other. This distinction is clearly made in the
Church’s teachings on the Trinity and is reflected in the fact that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, while Christ is
generated by the Father. This distinction is also reflected by the fact the disciples did not come to know the Holy Spirit
as a distinct Person until Pentecost, at which time He descended upon them and took up residence within them. It is
only by receiving the generated divine Person of Christ, plus the created body and soul of Christ, this provided for us
through the Eucharist, that we can complete our reception of Christ, this then enabling us to fully receive the Holy Spirit,
who proceeds from the Father, to the Son, who is within us and united with us.

The importance of the reception of the body of Christ can be seen in other ways also. St. Paul says that Christians do
not need to be circumcised in order to partake in our Covenant with God, as do Jews, because we are “circumcised in
our hearts” through our Baptism. I will take this one step further. We are also circumcised in our bodies when we
receive the Eucharist because we receive Jesus’ circumcision as our own when we receive His body. In this way the first
Covenant that God made with His chosen people is not in any way abandoned, but is expanded, through the Eucharist.
Here we see that the two Covenants are in fact one.

The parallels with Jewish tradition are also clear in the concept of the Eucharist meal reflecting the Passover meal, by
which death “passes over” us because we partake in the eating the sacrificial Lamb, Christ, and are marked by His
blood. At the last supper, where Christ initiated this perfected version of God’s Covenant, the Apostles received the
protection of the Lamb from the imminent attack of the Evil One through their ingestion of the Lamb, an ingestion that
meant Jesus would be physically with them even when He was soon to be taken from them. He actually entrusted His
living body to them while He Himself was about to give it up. Here we see, in fact, that His body never fully dies, because
it was alive within the Apostles who partook of the first Eucharist feast.

In giving up His body we see how Jesus, who is God, can die. His soul separated from His body for a time while He
descended into hell. This decent into hell conquers death, because those whom He unites himself with in Hell are then
reunited with God, thus no longer separated from God, and thus no longer dead. However, this is only a partial
resurrection, a spiritual one, while the physical resurrection still must be achieved, and this is done through unification
with Christ’s resurrected body, this provided by the Eucharist. This unification is what assures us that we will never
really die, for true death is a separation from God, and with the Eucharist we will always have God within us, both
physically and spiritually.

While Jesus gave up His body in death, He had also shared His body with His Apostles through the Eucharist. So when
Jesus’ body is restored to Him in the resurrection, He is also restored to His Apostles. The concept of Jesus giving
custody of His body to His Apostles reveals the process through which all mankind is resurrected. Through Baptism and
the Eucharist Jesus’ body lives within mankind. His body in this form can be considered to be like a child developing in
the womb. When the time is right, He will be born, this being His second coming. Jesus and the people of His Church will
then truly function as one body. Until that time, He has again entrusted His body to the Church and to the faithful.

Becoming a real part of the body of Christ, one worthy of the role, requires preparation and training. This is a long term
process requiring growth in an understanding of what it means to be a child of God. This understanding can only be
had through the unified efforts of the faithful, an effort that is manifested not only here and now but through all time; the
past, present, and future. The efforts of the faithful are required not because God is incapable of teaching us
individually, but because it is part of God’s purpose for us is to recognize Him in others and to learn to work with others
towards His goals. An especially important part of our role as His Church is to provide the human element of the
relationship that God seeks to develop with His people. He calls on us to represent His humanity to people. To do this
we must become true imitators of Jesus.

In all this we clearly see the importance of the role which God entrusts to the Apostles in His plan of salvation. It is not
just a symbolic role, but a living role, not just in terms of the spirit of Jesus, but also in terms of the physical presence of
the body of Jesus. This role continues with the successors to the original Apostles, and it is in the Orthodox and
Catholic Traditions that the role of the Apostles is most fully realized and maintained.
                                                               MY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS    
                                                                               by
                                                                       Richard Quist

                                                                        
Introduction

At age 26 I became a Roman Catholic Christian.  I was not brought up as a Christian, but as what would probably best
be termed an agnostic humanist.  After a long period of searching for meaning in life I chose to be baptized into Christ
and confirmed into the Roman Catholic Faith.  In the first part of this work I explain why I initially chose Roman
Catholicism, as opposed to Protestantism, as my Faith.  Although I've since converted to Orthodoxy, my reasons for
rejecting Protestantism still hold. To give a brief summary of the content of this
work, my initial rejection of Protestant
belief is based upon my rejection of the concept of salvation by faith alone, as this concept intrinsically diminishes the
roles of reason, revelation and personal responsibility in one's coming to know God.  This is a very serious problem,
as it implies that God has not provided for us every opportunity to learn and follow his ways, not only in a direct way
through Revelation, but also in an indirect way, through reason, masking the truth that the problem with mankind is not
a lack of opportunity to know God but an unwillingness to follow Him, in both word and action.  True faith must not be
seen as being offered in a vacuum, without preparation and without subsequent affirmation, for to demand faith
without also giving the opportunity for proper preparation and eventual affirmations of faith would be the sign of a cruel
God.  No doubt there are times when faith is all one has, as was true for Jesus' mother, Mary, as she watched Him die
a horrible death on the Cross, but before this occurred she was given many demonstrations as to why she should
believe in her son, and three days after His death her faith was reaffirmed with His resurrection.  Preparation for and
affirmations of faith are essential elements to true Christian belief and are provided by God to a very large extent  
through His Catholic Orthodox Church.