Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
[Prayer for Deliverance from Evil Men]
Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men, Who plan evil things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips. Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; Preserve me from violent men, Who have purposed to make my steps stumble. The proud have hidden a snare for me, and cords; They have spread a net by the wayside; They have set traps for me. I said to the Lord: "You are my God; Hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord. O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle. Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; Do not further his wicked scheme, Lest they be exalted. As for the head of those who surround me, Let the evil of their lips cover them; Let burning coals fall upon them; Let them be cast into the fire, Into deep pits, that they rise not up again. Let not a slanderer be established in the earth; Let evil hunt the violent man to overthrow him." I know that the Lord will maintain The cause of the afflicted, And justice for the poor. Surely the righteous shall give
thanks to Your Name; The upright shall dwell in Your presence.
On October 1st Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Ananias, holy Apostle of the 70; Saint Romanos the Melodist; Our holy Father John Kukuzelis.
THE HOLY APOSTLE ANANIAS, OF THE 70. One of the Seventy secret Apostles, he was bishop of Damascus. In response to a vision from God, he baptized Saint Paul (Acts 9), and courageously preached the Gospel in the face of all persecution, for which he was stoned to death in the city of Eleutheropolis. His holy relics were taken to Damascus, and later to Constantinople.
OUR HOLY FATHER ROMANOS THE MELODIST. Born in the Syrian town of Emesa, he served as a verger first in Beirut and then in Constantinople at the Cathedral, in the time of Patriarch Euphemius (409-96). Illiterate and with no musical training, he was despised by certain educated clergy. Saint Romanos prayed weeping to the Theotokos (Mother of God), and she appeared to him in a dream, held a piece of paper out to him and told him to swallow it. The following day was Christmas Day, and Saint Romanos went up to the ambo and, with an angelic voice chanted: "Today the Virgin…" which has come down to us as the kontakion of the Holy Feast. All marveled at the words of the hymn and at the chanter's voice. Receiving thus the gift of song from the Theotokos, Saint Romanos composed more than a thousand kontakia (hymns). He died as a Deacon of the Great Church in Constantinople in 530 AD, and went to join the Angelic choir.
OUR HOLY FATHER JOHN KUKUZELIS. A Slav from Dyrrachium, he was taken as a young man to the School of Music in Constantinople, where he became a popular chanter at the Imperial Court. Fearing the flattery and praise of men, he fled to the Holy Mountain and presented himself at the great lavra as a shepherd. As shepherd and monk, he lived in rare asceticism, and the Theotokos appeared to him twice. He entered into rest in the 12th century.
+By the holy intercessions of the following Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 9:10-19
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:24-30
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Do you see, my Christian brothers and sisters, how many evils are brought about by the slanderer, the betrayer, and the false witness? Do you realize what kinds of ignominy, harm, and bloodshed they cause in the world? Then you understand that the man who is a slanderer, a betrayer, or a false witness is another Judas Iscariot-mendacious, deceitful, unjust, and homicidal. He is a common enemy of all mankind; he is a plague that wipes out the human race; he is an adversary of men's honor, property and life; he is a rabid dog that bites whomever he finds and kills him. For this reason, he should be disdained by all of you…" (Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite).
THE FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH OF RELIGION: THE TRUTH OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
by I. M. Andreyev [source: Orthodox Apologetic Theology]
Saint Basil the Great is profoundly correct when he states that in science "Faith precedes knowledge". Everything that is most basic and elementary in scientific knowledge is unprovable and is accepted on an act of faith…
Where knowledge is helpless, faith is lawful. Faith is something which cannot be proved, but at the same time cannot be disproved by means of scientific knowledge, is perfectly lawful.
The absence of the possibility of exact mathematical proof of religious truths, which reveals the lawful possibility of faith, makes religious truths (and, first of all, the most important of them--the truth of the existence of God) a subject of the free will of man. God could prove His existence by a direct appearance in His power and glory, but He does not desire to force the free will of man and awaits a free desire, a free faith in Him and toward Him. Again we must conclude, nothing hinders man's coming to God by an act of faith, if man desires to come to Him.
From the Christian point of view, the impossibility of a scientific, mathematically exact proof of the existence of God and other religious truths is part of the nature of things and was originated by God Himself. In science and philosophy there are different methods of proofs or, rather, persuasive considerations, perhaps not so persuasive in a mathematical sense, but nonetheless speaking strongly in favor of one or another theory or hypothesis. The same is true with religion.
Sometimes you can hear objections against proofs of the existence of God in this form: Proofs are not necessary for the faithful, and an atheist will not be convinced anyhow. In answer to this it must be said that if we have before us an atheist whose convictions are founded on an unwillingness to believe in God, then such an atheist cannot be convinced. If, however, we have before us an atheist who, through a misunderstanding due to insufficient education regards his atheism as scientifically proved, then such a one can be convinced.
Also, not every believing person is disinterested in the rationalistic proofs of the religious truths in which he believes. A striking example is the prayer with which the profoundly believing scholar and philosopher, the bishop Anselm of Canterbury, preceded his so-called ontological proof of the truth of the existence of God: "Lord! You grant wisdom to faith; give me also the wisdom to perceive that You exist, as I believe, and that You are the same being as my faith describes You to me." Love not only contemplates but also wants to know its object. The lover of God lawfully wants to perceive Him with all the powers of his spirit--the powers given us by God Himself. Numbered among these powers, granted to us by God, is also the honest intellect.
Some investigators regard the absence of one fundamental and convincing proof of the existence of God and the replacing of that one by several proofs as proving the weakness of the latter. This is profoundly incorrect! As the steeple of a building is not founded on the foundation alone, but on the many parts of the building simultaneously, so also the proof of the truth of God's existence is founded on the combination of several separate and particular proofs.
The Holy Scripture rarely mentions the so-called proof of God's existence, regarding this basic religious truth to be so evident that one who denies it is qualified as senseless. "The fool hath said in his heart: there is no God" (Psalm 13:1). It is regrettable that the authority of the Holy Scripture has its full meaning for the faithful, but for skeptics it has no meaning whatsoever.
After these preliminary remarks, we will now proceed to an examination of the specific so-called proofs of the existence of God.
PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
A. Cosmological Proof
Cosmological proof of the existence of God is one of the most ancient. In a plain descriptive form it is often met within the Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture often points to a creature as a manifest testimony of the existence of the Creator of the world: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaimeth the work of His hands" (Psalm 18). "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20).
Among the Holy Fathers of the Church, cosmological proof of God's existence is presented by Saint Athanasius the Great in the form of a conclusion from the fact of the existence of creation to the fact of the existence of the Creator; by Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian, by means of refuting the opinion of the accidental origin and preservation of world laws; by Saint John of Damascus, in the form of conclusion from the changeable to the unchangeable.
B. Teleological Proof
The teleological proof of the existence of God, based on the expedient arrangement of the world, results necessarily in concluding the existence of an Intellectual Being, the cause of this expedience. If cosmological proof concentrates on the investigation of the original cause of the universe, then the teleological proof interests itself chiefly in the final purpose. It examines the world not only as something existing and needing an explanation of its emergence, but as something whole, harmonious, artistic, proportionate, expedient; pointing to the wisdom of the Author of this expediency.
Cosmological proof demands recognition of God as a very wise, mighty, creative force, capable of creating the world; the teleological proof demands the recognition of God as an Intellectual Personality, capable of high purpose and good order in created word. Both proofs mutually complement each other. Teleological proof is not greater than the cosmological and has need of it.
C. Ontological Proof
Ontological and ethical proofs of God's existence are called inner proofs in that they are taken from our inner experience as distinguished from external cosmological and telelogical proofs which are taken from external experience.
The meaning of inner proofs is very important, for without them, external proofs would not have force. If we had not the former, there would not be so much strength expended on the latter. If in our consciousness there were not an idea of God and an inner conviction of His reality, together with the immense practical importance of the ethical meaning of this conviction, we would not have the impetus to search for careful proofs of the existence of God in external experience.
Ontological proof of the existence of God was formulated first in the 11th century by the Western theological scholar Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury. This author of this proof regards it not as a fruit of his own mind, but as received with the help of a higher inspiration...
Therefore, the ontological proof can be finally formulated thus: because in the soul of man there exists an idea of a Being, which with a fullness of perfections is united also to a real existence, it necessarily follows that this being must exist, not only in mind, but in actual fact.
D. Ethical Proof
Ethical proof of God's existence can be a practical or theoretical character. Practical, ethical proof results in pointing to the fact that faith in God assists improvement of morality, while faith in atheism usually leads to a fall in morality.
At times, atheists indicate that believers live in perpetual fear before the Almighty Sovereign God for their misdemeanors, while the atheist, free of religious convictions, does not experience fear. This can be answered in the following manner.
The fear of moral responsibility before God is an exceptionally beneficent fear. This fear appears in a man not when he lives a moral life, but only when he performs unethical actions, transgressing moral law, given to us from God, according to the conviction of believers. On the other hand, does not the atheist also have fear? If life has no meaning and aim, and every occurrence depends on a simple accident of an indifferent, cruel nature, does not a man acquire fear before these inexorably cruel happenings upon which all life wholly depends? And, inversely, does not the conviction of a religious man assist in reassuring him that Almighty God Himself, Who is understood as love and higher justice, guards a man and leads him to eternal blessings?
Careful analysis of the ethical conscience of man shows us that having freedom of action, man, after performing immoral actions, experiences pangs of conscience, and, on the contrary, after fulfillment of the demands of ethical law, he experiences a spiritual satisfaction in being aware of a fulfilled debt. In other words, the freedom of man's will is guarded from arbitrariness by the presence of a higher ethical law which approves or censures its actions. Man, having free will, nonetheless feels this law above himself as an unconditional, commanding force. Consequently, it was not man himself who created this law and placed it above himself.
Ethical law also cannot be deduced from any other side of man's nature. However, if ethical law is not created by man and cannot be deduced from anything conditional and accidental but is deposited in man's spirit as an unconditional higher requirement, then its origin can be explained only by its being deposited by a higher, unconditional Being, God, and presents in itself nothing other than the voice of God in man's soul and the inner revelation of the holy and unconditional will of God in man's spirit.
The Savior Himself said in regard to virtue, which cannot be put into life without moral effort and grace sent from above (and consequently, being a sort of yoke limiting man's freedom) the following clear and simple words of Truth: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (St. Matthew 11:29-30). The yoke of Christ is goodness; that is, Christian virtue is already in itself a blessing.
Combining all aspects and formulations of ethical proof of God's existence, we can arrive at the following generalized conclusion. The existence of moral law concluding in a demand for moral good, which already in itself comprises the greatest spiritual good, and which is impossible to explain or to accomplish without help from above, is the theoretical proof of the existence of God, receiving its fullest justification during its practical verification by ethical life according to the teachings of Christ.
The General Result of the Proofs of the Truth of the Existence of God.
The truth of God's existence, finally accepted with the assistance of faith, has exceptionally convincing and highly rational principles, permitting us to maintain the irrefutable, logical possibility of this truth. The impossibility of refuting this truth by any logical considerations and the impossibility of proving it exactly and mathematically, methodologically justifies the application to it of faith as an act of the free will of man.
[Please note: "Christian Apologetics is quickly becoming a lost art. Especially lacking is the Christian's ability to present a cohesive, integrated world-view which inspires and moves the hearts of men. The Christian world-view today is so fragmented and broken by secular and "scholastic" influences that our young people often look to other religions or New Age philosophies for their world-view, or give themselves over to the Nihilism so prevalent in our modern culture. The many inroads against Christianity in our society are most often due to the inability of Christians to defend their faith through articulating the biblical and patristic Christian cosmology".]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God