Our Knowledge of God

 Virginmartyr Pelagia of Tarsus, in Asia Minor

Virginmartyr Pelagia of Tarsus, in Asia Minor

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Savior Jesus Christ,

CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

[Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky]

(Who was Father Michael Pomazansky? Father Michael Pomazansky was one of the last living graduates of a pre-Revolutionary Russian theological academy. After completing his degree at the Kiev Academy in 1912, he labored as a missionary priest both in the homeland and abroad, while at the same time editing and writing for numerous Orthodox journals. From 1950, he taught at Holy Trinity Seminary and wrote the original Russian version of his major work, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology.)

Eternal. The existence of God is outside time, for time is only a form of limited being, changeable being. For God there is neither past nor future; there is only the present (see Psalm 101:26-28).

Certain Holy Fathers indicate a difference between the concepts of "eternity" and "immortality." "Eternity" is ever-existent life and this concept is applied usually to the one unoriginate nature, in which everything is always one and the same. The concept of immortality, on the other hand, can be ascribed to one who has been brought into being and does not die, as, for example, an Angel or a soul. Eternal in its applied meaning belongs to the Divine Essence, which is why it is applied usually only to the Worshipful and Reigning Trinity" (Saint Isidore of Pelusium). In this regard even more expressive is the phrase "the Pre-Eternal God."

All-good. Compassionate and Merciful is the Lord, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy" (Psalm 102:8). God is love (agape) [St. John 4:16]. The Goodness of God extends not to some limited region in the world, which is characteristic of love in limited beings, but to the whole world and all the beings that exist in it. He is lovingly concerned over the life and needs of each creature, no matter how small and, it might seem to us, insignificant. Saint Gregory the Theologian writes: "If someone were to ask us what it is that we honor, and what we worship, we have a ready reply: we honor love (agape)" (Homily 23).

God gives to His creatures as many good things as each of them can receive according to its nature and condition, and as much as corresponds with the general harmony of the world. But it is to man that God reveals a particular goodness. "God is like a mother bird who, having seen her baby fall out of the nest, flies down herself to raise it up, and when she sees it in danger of being devoured by a serpent, with a pitiful cry she flies around it and all the other baby birds, not capable of being indifferent to the loss of a single one of them" (Clement of Alexandria, "Exhortation to the Pagans," Chapter 10). "God loves us more than a father or a mother or friends, or anyone else can love, and even more than we can love ourselves because He is concerned more for our salvation than even for His own glory. A testimony of this is the fact that He sent into the world for the suffering and death (in human flesh) His Only-begotten Son, solely in order to reveal to us the path of salvation and eternal life" (Saint John Chrysostom, Commentary on Psalm 113). If man often does not understand the whole power of God's Goodness, this occurs because man concentrates his thoughts and desires too much on his earthly well-being. But God's Providence unites the giving to us of temporal, earthly goods together with the call to acquire for oneself, for one's soul, eternal good things.

Omniscient. "All Things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him" (Hebrews4:13). "My being while it was still unformed Tine eyes did see" (Psalm 138:16). The knowledge of God is vision and immediate understanding of everything, both that which exists and that which is possible, the present, the past, and the future. Foreknowledge of the future is, strictly speaking, a spiritual vision because for God the future is as the present. The foreknowledge of God does not violate the free will of creatures, just as the freedom of our neighbor is not violated by the fact that we see what he does. The foreknowledge of God regarding evil in the world and the acts of free beings is as it were crowned by the foreknowledge of the salvation of the world when God "will be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Another aspect of the omniscience of God is manifested in the wisdom of God. "Great is our Lord and great is His strength, and of His understanding, there is no measure" (Psalms 146:5). The Holy Fathers and teachers of the Church, following the word of God, have always indicated with great reverence the greatness of God's wisdom in the ordering of the visible world, dedicating to this subject whole works, as for example the Homilies on the Six Days (Hexaemeron), that is, the history of the creation of the world, written by such Holy Fathers as Sts. Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Gregory of Nyssa. "One blade of grass or one speck of dust is enough to occupy your entire mind, in beholding the art with which it has been made" (St. Basil the Great). All the more have the Holy Fathers reflected on God's wisdom in the economy of our salvation, in the Incarnation of the Son of God. The Sacred Scripture of the Old Testament concentrates its attention primarily on the wisdom of God in the orderly arrangement of the world: "in wisdom hast Thou made them all" (Psalm 103:26). In the New Testament, on the other hand, attention is concentrated on the economy of salvation, in connection with which the Apostle Paul cries out: "O the depth of the riches hath of the wisdom and knowledge of God" (Romans 11:33). For it is by the wisdom of God that the whole existence of the world is directed to a single aim--to perfection and transfiguration for the glory of God.

All-righteous. Righteousness is understood in the word of God and in its general usage as having two meanings: a) holiness and b) justice.

  1. Holiness consists not only in the absence of evil or sin: holiness is the presence of higher spiritual values, joined to purity from sin. Holiness is like the light, and the Holiness of God is like the Source of holiness for Angels and men. Men can attain to holiness only in God, "not by nature, but by participation, by struggle and prayer" (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem). The Holy Scripture testifies that the Angels who surround the Throne of God ceaselessly declare the holiness of God, crying out to each other, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His Glory" (Isaiah 6:3).

(To be continued)

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CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!

ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George