Our Knowledge of God (Part II)

 Greatmartyr Irene of Thessalonica

Greatmartyr Irene of Thessalonica

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

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OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (Part II)

All-Righteous (B)

The "justice" of God is the other aspect of God's All-Righteousness; He will judge the peoples in uprightness (Psalm 9:9). The Lord "will render to every man according to his deeds, for there is no respect of persons with God" (Romans 2:6, 11).

How can one harmonize the Divine Love with God's justice, which judges strictly for sins and punishes the guilty? On this question, many Holy Fathers have spoken. They liken the angered God to the anger of a father, who, with the aim of bringing a disobedient son to his senses, resorts to a father's means of punishing, at the same time himself grieving, simultaneously being sad at the senselessness of his son and sympathizing with him in the pain he is causing him. This is why God's justice is always mercy also, and His mercy is justice, according to the words: "Mercy and truth are met together, justice and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 84:10).

The Holiness and Justice of God are closely bound to each other. God calls everyone to eternal life in Him, in His Kingdom, and this means in His Holiness. But into the Kingdom of God nothing unclean can enter. The Lord cleanses us by His chastisements, as by Providential acts which forewarn and correct for the sake of His love (agape) towards His creation. For we must undergo the judgment of justice, a judgment which for us is terrible: how can we enter into the Kingdom of Holiness and Light, and how would we feel there, being unclean, dark, and not having in ourselves seeds of holiness, not having in ourselves any kind of positive spiritual or moral value?

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Almighty (Omnipotent). "He spake, and they came into being; He commanded, and they were created"--thus the Psalmist expressed God's Almightiness (Psalm 32:9). God is the Creator of the world. It is He Who cares for the world in His Providence. He is the Pantokrator. He is the One "Who alone doeth wonders" (Psalm 71:19). But if God tolerates evil and evil people in the world, this is not because He cannot annihilate evil, but because He has given freedom to spiritual beings and directs them so that they might freely, of their own free will, reject evil and turn to good.

With regard to casuistical questions concerning what God "cannot" do, one must answer that the Omnipotence of God is extended to everything which is pleasing to His thought, to His goodness, to His will.

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Omnipresent: "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? And from Thy presence whither shall I flee? If I go up into heavens, Thou art there: If I go down into Hades, Thou are present there. If I take up my wings toward the dawn, make mine above in the uttermost parts of the sea, even He shall Thy hand guide me, and Thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 138:7-9).

God is not subject to any limitation in space, but He fills everything. Filling everything, God, as a simple Being, is present in every place, not as it were in some part of Him, or by merely sending down some power from Himself, but in all His Being; and He is not confused with that in which He is present. "The Divinity penetrates everything without being mingled with anything, but nothing can penetrate Him" (Saint John Damascene). "That God is present everywhere we know, but how, we do not understand, because we can understand only a sensuous presence, and it is not given to us to understand fully the nature of God" (Saint John Chrysostom).

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Unchangeable. In "the Father of Lights" there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (St. James 1:17). God is perfection, and every change is a sign of imperfection and therefore is unthinkable in the most perfect Being, in God. Concerning God, one cannot say that any kind of process is being performed in Him, whether of growth, change of appearance, evolution, progress or anything of the like.

But unchangeability in God is not some kind of immovability; it is not a being closed up within Himself. Even while He is unchanging, His Being is life, filled with power and activity. God in Himself is life, and Life is His Being.

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Self-Sufficing To Himself and All-Blessed. These two expressions are close to one another in meaning.

Self-sufficing must not be understood in the sense of "satisfied with oneself." Rather, it signifies the fullness of possession, complete blessedness, the fullness of all good things. Thus, in the prayers before Communion, we read: "I know that I am not worthy or sufficient that Thou shouldest come under the roof of the house of my soul" (Second Prayers). And again, "I am not worthy or sufficient to behold the heights of heaven" (Prayer of Symeon the Translator). "Sufficient" signifies here "sufficiency" of all good things" (Romans 11:33, 36). God has no need for anything, since "He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25). Thus God is Himself the source of all life and of every good thing; from Him, all creatures derive their sufficiency.

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All-Blessed. The Apostle Paul twice calls God in his epistles "blessed": "According to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God" (Timothy 1:11); "which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (I Timothy 6:15). The word "All-Blessed" must be understood not in the sense that God, having everything within Himself, would be indifferent to the sufferings of the world created by Him; but in this sense: that from Him and in Him, His creatures derive their blessedness. God does not "suffer," but He is "merciful." Christ "suffereth as mortal" (Canon of Pascha)--not in His Divinity, but in His humanity. God is the source of blessedness. In Him is the fullness of joy, sweetness, rejoicing for those who love Him, as it says in the Psalm, "Thou wilt fill me with gladness with Thy countenance; delights are in Thy right hand forever" (Psalm 15:11).

The blessedness of God has its reflection in the unceasing praise, glorification, and thanksgiving which fill the universe, which comes from the higher powers--the Cherubim and Seraphim who surround the Throne of God and are flaming with fragrant love for God. These praises are offered up from the whole Angelic world and from every creature in God's world: "The sun sings Thy praises; the moon glorifies Thee; the stars supplicate before Thee; the light obeys Thee; the deeps are afraid at Thy presence; the fountains are Thy servants" (Prayer of the Great Blessing of Water, Menaion, Jan. 5; Festa Menaion, p. 356).

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The Unity of God

"Therefore, we believe in one God: one principle, without beginning, uncreated, unbegotten, indestructible and immortal, eternal, unlimited, uncircumscribed, unbounded, infinite in power, simple, uncompounded, incorporeal, unchanging, dispassionate, constant, unchangeable, invisible, source of goodness and justice, light intellectual and inaccessible; power which is not subject to any measure, but which is measured only by His own will, for He can do all things whatsoever He pleases...; one Essence, one Godhead, one power, one will, one operation, one principality, one authority, one dominion, one Kingdom, known in Three Perfect Hypostases, and known and worshipped with one worship" (Saint John Damascene, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, I:8; Engl. tr., p. 177).

The truth of the oneness of God is so evident at the present time to human awareness that it needs no proofs from the word of God or simply from reason. It was a little different in the early Christian Church when this truth had to be set forth against the idea of dualism--the acknowledgment of two gods, good and evil--and against the polytheism of the pagans which was then popular.

"I believe in one God." These are the first words of the Symbol of Faith (the Creed). God possesses all the fullness of most perfect being. The idea of fullness, perfection, infinity, all-embracingness in God does not allow us to think of Him other than as One, that is, as singular and having one Essence in Himself. This demand of our awareness is expressed by one of the ancient Church writers in the words "If God is not one, there is no God" (Tertullian). In other words, a divinity limited by another being loses his divine dignity.

The whole of the New Testament Sacred Scripture is filled with the teaching of the One God. "Our Father which art in heaven," we pray in the words of the Lord's Prayer (St. Matthew 6:9). "There is none other God but one," as the Apostle Paul expressed this fundamental truth of faith (I Corinthians 8:4). [Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky)

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

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With sincere agape in His Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George