Sunday, February 21, 2021

Letters to my children - Letter 2: Belief

The first step in a healing spiritual life in the Church is a clear understanding of the truths revealed to us in the Gospels. We address this by examining the Creed. I learned the Creed early on, even memorized it. I later discovered that the way I was reciting it was mostly of an act of obligation and was done without any deep feeling or much understanding. It was something everyone did in Church. 

Why does it deserve deeper attention? In it we find the essence of the nature of God and our purpose in life as recorded in Holy Scripture. It is a document created by the whole Church and affirmed in the first two ecumenical councils in the 4th century where it was agreed to never allow it to be changed. For Orthodox Christians it has never changed, but some ambiguities have been clarified in later councils. The creed sets the boundaries about what we must believe about God to be a Christian without taking away any of the mystery of the spiritual realm. Now it’s time for you to examine it.

In essence it tells us that God is the creator of all. Out of love and His desire for us to be reconciled with Him, He sent his Son who took on flesh from the Virgin Mary. The Christ did not come to write a book or give us a set of rules, but to show us a way of life so we could become united with Him in eternal life. In it we see His love and His humility, all key attributes for eternal life. He was fully Human while remaining fully God so He could transform our human nature to become divine, to become like Him. Not only do we have His miraculous birth from a virgin, God becoming man, but His unjust and voluntary suffering and Crucifixion, followed by His Resurrection and then His assenting into heaven. This shows us our path to Paradise. By following Him we too can be resurrected and have the hope for eternal life in Paradise, His Kingdom. All this is not just philosophical or made up story, but a historical reality. He revealed Himself to us and the Gospel writers recorded what they experienced.

As you study the Creed, it’s important to identify areas where you have doubts about the nature of God. Having doubts is normal as the events of His incarnate life, Crucifixion, His Resurrection and Ascension, all defy rational explanation. I had many doubts for many years. To develop a true faith these doubts it was important to expose them, bring them to my awareness, and chose to seek an understanding. Exposing them and discussing them you will in time be able to overcome them. It’s all a process of building a true faith. We all have doubts. We must realize that we have inherited many assumptions from our parents and the society that we have been brought up in that are often counter to our faith. As these assumptions are uncovered, you will be able to chose to change them, rather than having them hidden and secretly blocking you from knowing God.

Here is the Creed. Examine it carefully and identify issues that arise for you and share them with me.

The Creed

I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father through Whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; And He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; And He will come again with glory to judge the living and dead. His kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Creator of life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke through the prophets.

In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come.


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