The Orthodox Faith – The Symbol of Faith (2)

The Creed begins with “I believe”. What does it mean to have faith, to believe? Basically, there are two kinds of faith, “faith that” and “faith in”. “Faith that” means believing something intellectually, acknowledging that certain propositions or statements are true. So, for example, we believe that God exists, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. When we say that these statements are true, this is “faith that”. However, faith in the intellectual sense is not enough. For example, St. James writes in his epistle that “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe — and shudder.” (James 2:19). The demons, as fallen angels, know that God exists and Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They are supernatural beings with certain knowledge of God, but they hate God the Father and Jesus Christ. Their knowledge does them no good.
“Faith in” means trusting God, knowing that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit know us and care for us. We know through faith that even in the difficult times in our lives, we are in the hands of a loving God.
Normally we differentiate between faith and reason and saying that they are two separate things. However, they go together. We would not believe something to be true that is completely unreasonable. If someone tells us that a wooden statue is a god or that we should worship a sacred cow, we would not do so because these things are obviously unreasonable. However, our reason can give us some knowledge of God. For example, St. Paul writes that our knowledge of the beauty, harmony, and complexity of the world gives us reason to believe in God. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. …” (Romans 1:19-20) In the same epistle St. Paul tells us that our conscience can lead us to God. In other words, every human being, regardless of religion, instinctively knows certain things are right and wrong. When people do something wrong their conscience bothers them. This voice of our conscience tells us that there is a divine law-diver. St. Paul writes “For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them…” (Romans 2: 11-15)
However, reason can only take us so far. It tells us that God exists, but we would not know that god is our loving Father, caring for each of us personally, if it were not for the prophets of Israel and primarily for the teaching of Jesus Christ. Again, we would not know that God is the Holy Trinity without the revelation of Jesus Christ. These are just two of the things that revelation teaches us. In other words, we have to go beyond reason and accept what God has revealed to us through faith. Faith does not contradict reason, but it gives us a deeper understanding of God than reason alone can tell us.
Therefore, we should rejoice in the deeper knowledge which comes through the revelation contained in the Old Testament and more fully through Jesus Christ, believing in God and His Son, both in the sense of intellectual agreement and loving trust.

Fr. John

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