A THEODICEAN PERSPECTIVE
By Chor-Episcopos Dr. Kuriakos of Chicago, Chief Editor
Our thesis is that the incarnation of Christ our Lord, the second Person of the Holy Trinity is an ultimate act of love which continues until He reaches the sufferings of crucifixion and gives up His life for the redemption of humanity. The Triune God consisting of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is love and He can never be but love. His salvific activities for the sake of humanity are the ultimate expression of His substance in which love is ontologically identical to Himself. The purpose of this rather lengthy treatise is to investigate the notion of Godhead in different religions and find what makes the Christian God so unique that He is concerned about the human race that He became incarnate to deal with its afflictions. Our primary focus is the essence or substance of God, and love of God, which is substantially identical with Himself. In this season it is proper to study the tremendous love that was instrumental behind His incarnation.
For several years as a professor of philosophy this writer had the opportunity to teach the science of theodicy, which is a subdivision of metaphysics, one of the three major branches of philosophy; being the holder of one of the ranks of Orthodox Christian ministry, he loved to explore the theological ramifications of theodicy and teach it.
There are three types of religions in the philosophy of religion; natural religions, artificial religions and revealed religions. All these different religious groups have different approaches to the notion of Godhead.
Natural religions are those religions that were naturally formed by the human craving for a higher being which is supposed to protect men from inclement or unfavorable climates, natural calamities, diseases, and conditions which are generally beyond their control. Thus we have all the tribal and basic religions of Africa, Native American religions, and ancient Indo-European religions from which a much more sophisticated, and sometimes flavored with metaphysical undercurrents, Hinduism developed. Hinduism is a combination of pantheism and polytheism. Modern Hindu reformers want to defend Hinduism as a one-god religion when classical Hinduism according to their books and practice tells the contrary.
Artificial religions, by their very name, are those adapted by their proponents through an eclectic approach by fusing important tenets of more than one major religion; e.g, Manichaeism, Gnosticism, Bahai, Sikhism, Scientology, Theosophy, Christian Science, etc.
Revealed religions are those that are claimed to be revealed by their founders and adherents. They are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The members of these religions do believe that their religion is the only revealed religion, and the claims of any other revealed religion, which they do not believe in, are false. For example a Muslim believes that Islam is a revealed religion, and that it is the ultimate revelation through their prophet Mohammed. Islam, however, does accept a partially revealed nature of Judaism and Christianity, and teaches that Judaism and Christianity became corrupted. On the other hand, Judaism has no room for recognition of Christianity and Islam as revealed religions. It positively does not accord divine legitimacy to either Christianity or Islam. Christianity, which developed as the perfection of Judaism, totally accepts the revelation received by the ancient patriarch Abraham, and thereafter by the Hebrew prophets, and unconditionally teaches that Jesus Christ is the scriptural fulfillment of Judaic prophesies, and denies the claims of Islam. Theologically speaking, Jesus Christ who is taught as the founder of Christianity, did not found a religion. He instead founded a Church to spread His Gospel of redemption, which was the subject matter of the entire Jewish Scripture from Genesis to Malachi, i.e., Jesus was the culmination and embodiment of all Jewish prophesies; actually Christianity is the gospel of the redemption granted to the Jews, and later to the gentiles, through the incarnation of God in the person of Christ, and Jesus established a Church to spread this Gospel and to carry on the work of redemption demanded by Him.
If one studies the nature of basic natural religions, he finds that the claims establishing the so-called existence of their gods or goddesses are mere conjectures based on mythological accounts, i.e., they lack historical credibility. For example, the stories of Krishna or Rama are fundamentally intertwined with the mythological stories of the great epics of India; and many scholars are opinion that they are the enhanced Indian creations of Indo-European folklore, which have a direct kinship to their counterparts in Hellenism. In other words, they lack historical validity in establishing the revelation of Godhead or by God. Simply put, they are poetical imageries or wild fantasies of brilliant men of artistic taste, sometimes with a metaphysical touch. This is not to say that these epics are inferior in their value as masterpieces of ancient cultures; they are indeed glorious works of literature; but they fail to historically establish the true revelation of a God or by God, who has become part of human history. Having stated this, we currently observe a new enthusiasm among fanatic Hindus to establish the historical credibility of Rama and Krishna through intense researches! It would be as futile as the effort to establish the historicity of the Greek god Zeus or the Roman Jupiter! The names of some ancient cities or some countries mentioned in those epics do not necessarily guarantee the historicity of their heroes, in this case some gods, highlighted in them; the methodology of historiology requires more than that in order to anchor a hero or heroine onto human history. Often divinity may have been attributed to a great warrior or hero, who may or may not have been part of history, and eventually the same hero may have been glorified as divine. Without historical evidence such attempts may not stand the test of historiography.
The gods of basic religions are creations of human imaginations; many needed a god to watch over them on different occasions. Although Hinduism has advanced from the framework of basic religions, and proposed deities such as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, it is also a development from the fundamental human craving for gods for protection.
Judaism however establishes its claims which could be substantiated with historical excavations and artifacts. For example, the story of Abraham, to whom God revealed Himself as the true God and asked not to adore any idols, is not just a mythological account. Similarly, the great prophet Moses, King David, the glorious prophet Isaiah, the lamenting prophet Jeremiah and the rest on the prophetic roll in the Old Testament are not mythological figures. A traveler in the Holy Land could easily identify the tombs of some of these religious figures of Judaism. These leaders were the prophets of the God of Judaism. This God has certain attributes which no other religions can attribute to their gods. The God of Hebrew religion defines who He is. In all ancient religious cultures there was a name for their god. But when asked by Moses, what His name was, the God of the Hebrews gave an ultimate metaphysical answer: “I am that I am”. This emphasizes the self-existent nature of the God of Judaism. Moreover this also underscores the most sophisticated metaphysical notion of the Being of God with the unique characteristic of the Supreme Being in Whom ESSE and ESSENTIA are the same. Actually, here the God of the Hebrews reveals that His Being is His ESSENTIA (Essence), and it is the foundation of Christian theodicy. In the created order each created being possesses its ESSE and its ESSENTIA, but they are not identical. However, in the notion of God, His ESSENTIA is His ESSE or to say in common language, “to be” is His Essence or His Essence is same as His “to be- being”.
Later we will see this God of the Hebrews being named YHWH; Jews were afraid of calling Him by name, hence they avoided the vowels in between the consonants of that name; but later they inserted vowels and wrote His name YAHWEH (‘Jehovah’ is the corrupt form of Yahweh).
Before treating the God of Christianity, let us briefly examine the nature of the God of Islam. Islam teaches absolute monotheism, meaning, belief in one God. A great number of people consider that the God of Islam is the same as the God of Judaism and Christianity. Many critics question this position. They argue: “If Allah is the Arabic word for God, why is it blasphemous for non-Arabic Muslims to use “God” for Allah?” But Islam insists that all Muslims, even outside the Middle East, should call their god “Allah”. This writer is not aware if Allah reveled to Prophet Mohammed that his name was “Allah”. Whereas we see that the name “Allah” was pre-Islamic. The name of the moon god that was worshipped by pre-Islamic pagans was called ‘al-Ilah’ and “Allah” is a contraction of this word. The name of the Prophet’s father was Abdullah (from Abd ul Allah meaning, slave of Allah), who was supposed to be sacrificed by his father to Allah, the moon god, but was saved by sacrificing several camels in his place. What I would like to point out is that the name ‘Allah’ is not a revealed name for God in Islam, and it does not stand equivalent to idea of Jewish or Christian ‘God’ as we understand the term in English. If “Allah” is the Arabic word for God, Islam should permit its followers to use “God”, when they address their Supreme Being. With due respect to our Muslim brothers we state that this discussion is not intended to embarrass them or their religion. Our purpose is to present an etymological and comparative analysis of terms that signify the notion of God in these religions within a theodician perspective.
Parenthetically, this writer does not forget that the words, Elohim, Aloho, Alaha, Allah etc. are derivatives of the same original Semitic word to signify the deity. The ultimate linguistic signification imparted by founders of each religion is our chief concern. When the attributes of the deity of a religion are different from those ascribed to the deity of other religions, it is indicative of the difference in signification attached to each deity. It is under this consideration that I propose that the Jewish YHAWEH is not the same as ALLAH in Islam, and that the signification of YAHWEH is not totally identical to the signification of the Christian God, Who is a Trinity, Who is also not identical to the Allah of Islam. Without side-tracking however, may I remind that Judaism did not properly comprehend that the concept and revelation of God were in an ongoing process of progression and it was ultimately revealed in Christ, Who is one of the Trinity. Like Islam, Judaism was unable to comprehend a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in whom the Father begets the Son in eternity, and this Son assumes true humanity to suffer and pay for human sins and achieve propitiation and justification for humanity. This is a theodician approach, in which the ESSE and ESSENCE of each deity are defined and understood in differently distinct view points, and therefore, the God/god of these religions are not the same.
This discourse is not meant for an elaborate theodician discussion, and therefore we get into the God of Christianity.
We have just noted that the Christian God is a Trinity, which neither Judaism nor Islam accepts. Jewish scriptures on several occasions clearly teach that the Godhead is a unity in multiplicity, which we will touch on later. However, the Koran of Islam emphatically denies any such plurality in the Godhead: “So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three”- Cease! (it is) better for you!- Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son“ Surah 4:171). It is now obvious that the God of Christians is not identical to the Allah of Islam.
So the main characteristic of the Christian God is that He is a Trinity composed of three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Christianity stands out as the only rational solution to the major problem regarding Godhead as we are going to explain further.
The concept of “creation” itself is a mystery. If God is a creator, His act of creation demands a necessity to create. When God is necessitated to do something, it indicates some sort of inadequacy from His part. Then He cannot be God. That was why the Hindu philosophers emphasized that the Brahman cannot create; he was “nirguna” Brahman. The Brahman is indefinable. It is ONE being without multiplicity, which is the ultimate principle behind the theory of “Advaitam” or monism. . However, they needed to explain multiplicity in the natural order, and hence invented the existence of a triad in which there is a creator (Brahman), preserver (Vishnu) and a destroyer (Shiva). But the ultimate reality is Brahman, which is eternally frozen, “invisible, incomprehensible, without genealogy, colorless, without eye or ear, without hands or feet, unending, pervading all and omnipresent, that is the unchangeable one whom the wise regard as the source of beings” (Mundaka Upanishad, 1.1.6). And this ultimate being is not a person at all. It is interesting to learn that gods even came into being after this ultimate Being called Brahman. Now we are in confusion. Who is in charge? The Ultimate Being, which is Brahman or the gods that came after it?
In Christianity love is the ultimate attribute of God, and it is the source of all divine activities including creation. Although the Rgveda talks about love as the “primal germ of the mind”, it does not propose love as the source of multiplicity. In Christianity and Judaism, the very act of creation, of preservation, of incarnation, suffering and crucifixion, and of redemption is an act of love. In the general epistle John emphatically states that “God is love” (1 John n4:18), in other words love is identical to His nature.
This is the unique quality of God we see as a difference in understanding the Allah of Islam, in the Yahweh of Judaism and in the Triune God of Christianity. This obvious quality of God is lacking in Islam. In the index of the most popular Marmaduke Pickthall translation of the Koran, there is not even one listing for “love” (Dave Hunt, A Cup of Trembling, p. 237). However, we see in the Koran verses like, “ Allah loveth those who battle for His cause..”, Allah loves “the beneficent”, “those who have a care for cleanness”, “the steadfast (and) those whose deeds are good”… But we do not see the universal love of Allah for all mankind, and particularly sinners. Fundamentally in Islam Allah loves the Muslims who love Him. In order to show His love for mankind, the Triune God of Christianity let one of the persons of the Deity to step down into history by His incarnation, suffering and crucifixion. In Islam Allah never comes down to humanity, rather He chooses to act through his prophets or angels.
The Hebrew Scriptures loudly talk about this crowning attribute of God in almost all the books of the Bible. However, the Jews fail to understand the source of love attributed to God. Love exists only in a plurality of persons. The following verses from the book of Genesis clearly emphasize the plurality of Godhead without confusion or ambiguity: “God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Gen. 1:26). “The man is become one of us” Gen. 3:22). “Let us go down and confuse their language” (Gen. 11:7). Who is God talking to in these verses if He is just a single Being? There are numerous verses such as these in various parts of the Bible. The scope of this treatise does not cover all of them.
If God is love, love is equated with God and vice versa. Ontologically speaking, in God there cannot be love without the lover and the loved within the same essence (essentia). If God has to remain as God this attribute of love should exist and remain within the one eternal Being (Aramaic: had ithyo mthumoyo). This love exists eternally between the persons of the Godhead; and it cannot be between two persons; then love becomes bilateral, and in such kind of love, love encounters metaphysical inadequacy and becomes less pervasive without a beneficiary. Love must be multilateral. Parenthetically, this is reason why in Christian churches that teach the sacramentality of marriage the presence of children is a sine qua non; because it is this third dimension of marriage that perfects the love in a marriage. It is precisely because of this reason that a marriage contracted with the deliberate intention of not having children is null and void. Similarly, the marriage of a man or woman, who has undergone vasectomy or salpingectomy, also renders it null and void unless the sterilizing operation has been already reversed before the marriage. It is the intention of having children that legitimizes and sacramentally sanctifies a Christian marriage. The love between a man and woman alone is incomplete and selfish. With the third dimension of children the love in marriage becomes perfected. However, if a couple cannot naturally have children, God accepts their love and their ardent desire for children purifies their love.
Jewish and Muslim theologians might argue that God could create another order of beings to love and to be loved. There is an existential obstacle in this thought. In order to experience LOVE, if God has to create another order of beings, it implies that He is an inadequate Deity, which is against the ontological understanding of God, and it is against the total message of the Bible. Does God need to create in order to experience love? The Old Testament clearly teaches that God is absolutely complete in Himself, and does not need anyone for His perfection, and if the contrary happens He ceases to be what He is. In metaphysics God is understood as actus purus (- being trained in Aristotelian Metaphysics this writer prefers this philosophical phrase to designate God), which means He is not a becoming, nor does He go through any change, and is self-sufficient, and does not need any of His creations for His absoluteness and ultimate perfection. All God’s attributes are in total perfection in Him, and He can experience them totally within Himself. Love in its iconic and ideal (here this word is used in connection with the Platonic metaphysical abstract, IDEA, which itself is the ultimate reality) form is comprehensive only with a third person, and not more than three (and that is why three is a perfect number). In Judaism this plurality is inherent and intrinsic in Godhead as we have discussed earlier; and like I said earlier, the concept of plurality was progressively advancing and reaching the culmination of complete and explicit revelation of the Holy Trinity in Jesus of Nazareth.
The Hebrew word for God is Elohim, which literally means Gods, and everyone knows that Judaism does not believe in multiple gods. This word is translated ‘God’, not ‘gods’. If one studies the Hebrew grammar, he understands that a verb is conjugated on the basis of its subject, which is normally a noun. In other words, a singular verb takes a singular noun, and a plural verb is used for a plural noun. This is the rule of grammar in most classical languages. Although Elohim is a plural noun, the verb that follows it is a singular. Similarly, the pronoun that denotes the plural word Elohim is also a singular pronoun.
In Deuteronomy 6:4, we read: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord (Yahweh) our God (Elohim) is one (echad) Lord (Yahweh)” (also Mark: 12:29). Why was the author so particular to use the plural Elohim in the middle of a sentence, unless it is by divine inspiration? It is interesting to note that the word for ONE is not simply denoting a singularity; on the other hand it is the ONE emerging from a plurality. On occasions when multiplicity forms a unity, echad is the word that was used in the Old Testament. In reference to the unity of man and woman in marriage Genesis 2.24 says: “… man and woman become ONE (echad) flesh”. When stating about the tabernacle, Exodus 36:13 says, “its various parts become ONE (echad) tabernacle”. Another example shows that many soldiers “became ONE (echad) troop” (2 Samuel 2:25). In other words, in God plurality and singularity, or multiplicity and unity, are closely and inseparably intertwined (for the Hebrew Exegesis given in the above two paragraphs, the author is indebted to Dave Hunt, op. cit. p 247).
God is love; but the basis of this love is God’s plurality in three distinct persons as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. In other words, ideal love can be metaphysically and morally explained only in a Trinitarian context. St. Augustine of Hippo, the towering intellect of the Western Latin Church, went deeper and deeper philosophizing and theologizing to unravel the mystery of the Holy Trinity while walking on the sands of the shore of eastern Mediterranean Sea day after day, but quit that attempt when confronted and sarcastically ridiculed by a little boy who was himself attempting to dry up the Mediterranean Sea by emptying it into a shallow hole with a little spoon. He soon found out that the little boy was an angel of God checking his futile attempt to bring God’s mystery under human reasoning! He could not give a rational justification, and submitted himself to this revealed truth. The result was Augustine’s book on Holy Trinity, De Trinitate. As a philosopher-theologian Augustine wondered how three distinct persons could be ONE in substance (essence), and be ONE God. Again, let me reiterate: these Persons in the Trinity are not just three forces or manifestations or modes of the one God as Sabellius proposed in the third century or some modern Pentecostals teach in modern times. Manifestations or forces cannot love each other. Only distinct persons can love each other; Himself being Love, God can experience love only in the context of distinct persons within Himself. If God goes outside to experience love it is not a perfection in Himself; on the other hand it would reduce Him to the state of being necessitated, which would bring Him metaphysically in the order of relative beings; then He is no more God. Therefore, it is imperative that, in order for Him to be what He is, i.e., LOVE, He should experience LOVE within His own substance (essence) and ESSE (BEING). Yes, only with three distinct persons in the Godhead, can GOD be love, and can love be God, and communication and fellowship be possible.
Yes, Trinity is a mystery beyond human reasoning. A lot of truths are also unintelligible; that does not mean they are not true. However we can try to understand them through analogies. Analogies to explain the Holy Trinity may be always inadequate and incomplete.
In our 2012 Christmas editorial we highlighted the pre-eminence of forgiveness in the mystery of incarnation. What we highlight during this Nativity Season is the greatest attribute of God, LOVE, which the Bible reveals what God is. We needed a lengthy discourse to investigate the theodician underpinnings of the Godhead in each major religion, and we found that nowhere the divine attribute of Love is profoundly made clear except in the Judeo-Christian Bible and its teachings. Even in the Jewish tradition this attribute of God, Who Himself is Love is not pronouncedly declared as in Christianity because Jewish revelation was not completed until the time of the incarnation of the Son of God declaring the Trinitarian aspect of Godhead.
It is this Love that was poured out to the world in the act of incarnation.
This act of love with the pouring out from the true Substance of God can never be found in any other religion; the purpose of this editorial is to compare the nature of God in other major religions and see whether their god declared this love as his essence and gave up himself for his creations. We read in the Christian Bible that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for its salvation. Apostle John says: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
Earlier John said, “God is love”. He emphasized this attribute of God several times prior to the statement quoted above. And then he states that it was this love of God that was manifested towards us in the incarnation of His Son.
Love is not a static or frozen emotion even in the natural order. It gushes out and pours out. In the supernatural order it is the dynamic for every act of God. In God this dynamism of love is never intended for Him to acquire more perfection; on the other hand, His power of love pervades and embraces all creations and even the entire cosmos. God’s very act of creation of the celestials and the material world including time and space is the vibration of His love. This love is so pervading that it sustains the cosmic order meticulously and mathematically precise. A bio-chemical scientist marvels at the precise accuracy with which a single human cell functions to keep a person alive and well. This is true with the minutest organism in the universe. Neuro-scientists are amazed by the function of a human brain; it is such a complex and sophisticated organic machine, whose mystery no scientist could hitherto completely unravel and comprehend. If one electrical wave is in disorder, the entire brain function collapses. Only a person with faith can realize that it was God’s providential love that sustains the whole universe with a purpose. And this is the work of the three Persons in the Godhead, in Whom love keeps Them eternally bonded. Without love there can be no three Persons in the Trinity.
God’s creative love creates for His own Glory. The crown of creation was the creation of man in His own similitude. Man was only one step lower than an angel. But he possessed God’s image; he acquired two main faculties that made him a person, in which he shared what his Creator has- an intellect and a free will. God rejoiced when He saw the first rational beings, and found His last creation “good”, because among His creations man was the only being capable of reasoning and understanding his Maker. He wanted man to discern everything and choose the “good” for him and for God’s glory- the purposes of his intellect and free will. But man and woman failed in the first test. The devil (Satan) tempted the first humans, the couple God had created, and took them to the wrong path; and they lost the test.
Many theologians may have thought that God really repented for creating those “stupid” humans. Every crisis in creation is God’s opportunity for another challenge, an occasion for Him to pour out His love. The Creator promised immediately a remedy: “… I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your (Satan’s) head…”(Gen. 3:15). Here God’s love gushes out. The Triune God is a stupendous lover.
Apostle John says in reference to the Incarnate God: “ He was in the world, and the world was made through Him…” (John 1:10). In the Symbol of Faith Orthodox Christians sing about the Incarnate Word: “ by whom all things were…”. The second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, was also instrumental in the act of creation. God knows that Adam’s seed cannot redeem the fallen human race, because redemption requires a much higher power to do the job. Man was totally incapable of doing it, especially in his fallen state. Woman cannot conceive an offspring without the cooperation of a man. Without involving Adam, God tells Eve that her seed will bruise the head of the serpent (devil). Reparation is the obligation of the offender. Why did God turn to the woman alone and say that her seed will bruise the head of the serpent?
In His infinite wisdom, God, Who in three Persons created man in true love for him, again decides to rescue him from the deep pit of the fallen state. God decided to descend in the plenitude of time into the womb of a woman who initially had caused the fall of His image. It is the decision, again, of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Some ancient fathers of the Church believe that there was a Holy Synod of the three Persons, and the Father of the Godhead decided to send His only begotten Son to descend into the virgin womb of a young woman several centuries/ millennia later, and the Holy Spirit was given charge of accompanying the Son from the very moment His conception in that virgin’s womb! It may be interpreted as Patristic imagination, but the Fathers in their mystical minds were transcribing what they saw in their ecstatic trance.
The fall of man destroyed harmony within the cosmos; that is why the Fathers of Church say Adamic sin is root-cause of every chaos, unrest, war, and distortion in the universe. In other words, the effect of the first sin is a cosmic disorder. Sin is the betrayal of God’s love which was deposited in man at the time of creation. Sin is a violation against the love of God. In the absence of this primordial love, the entire cosmos becomes devoid of harmony, all resulting from the first act of a rational being God created. With the absence of God’s love, nature became totally distorted.
What were the consequences: Nature was disunited from God, man was disunited from God. One can observe four levels of disunity after the fall of man:
Disunity between man and nature: Nature became man’s enemy. Man lost the wisdom to manage the resources of nature over which he had been appointed master. Adam could control the nature around him; even wild animals used to obey him. Because of man’s sinful actions against natural order, nature often seems to be acting out against man. Man is also very atrocious towards nature; the result is a revengeful nature. Man slowly forgets the natural purpose of human sexuality, and often falls into deviant sexual perversions; the result is the presence of many diseases. … Yes, God’s love has vanished from nature because of the fall of the crown of creation.
Disunity within man himself: Man is agitated; he does not find peace within himself in the absence of God’s presence in him. Man has become restless. His desires have become inordinate. He lost direction in his life; he is not sure what he really needs. Confusion rules him in every sphere of his life. His life has become purposeless, disoriented. In the absence of God’s love, which was lost in the first fall, he became his own enemy. In fact it is this disoriented, dissatisfied man who also creates disunity between him and his nature. What is the solution? Restore his original image as created by God. For that God Himself being love has to come down and re-create the image of God in man. Only the second person of the Holy Trinity can do that job.
Disunity between man and man: It is the disunity within man that creates disunity between man and man. Look at the wars between two Islamic factions. Can their prophet bring peace between them? A Muslim often offers “Peace to the prophets”. How many of the Islamic prophets can offer peace to these warring factions? Muslims kill more Muslims. The fanatic followers of Hinduism that teaches absolute non-violence have killed many Muslims during the pre-independence period and are still killing Christian priests and nuns in India. Why? The Roman Catholic crusaders killed not only Muslims that occupied the Holy Land; on their battle march to Jerusalem the crusaders annihilated the Orthodox Christians and Jews ruthlessly. Didn’t they confess faith in the same Christ? The truth is that Christ was never born in their hearts or lives. This is the after effect of the sin of Adam, which destroyed the love of God not only in man but also in the entire cosmos. The only solution is the restoration of the image of God in man who is the master of the universe. When man distorted the divine image in him, he lost his title over the nature.
Disunity between man and God: All the above mentioned disunities are effects of the catastrophic disunity between man and his God. People of all religious persuasions believe in the god/ gods/ God they profess. But they have already banished their god/ gods/ God from their hearts. God created an intelligent man to recognize his Creator and experience His love. It is pitiable that a good number of men, particularly who boast their superior intelligence, are atheists or agnostics. In either case, men do not feel the need for a God, and so they do not have God. Listen to what S. Paul says: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them ” (Romans 1.28- 32). This is the actual reflection of a society that has lost the love of God.
Yes humanity needed to restore the love of God emanating from the very substance of Godhead.
Which God can restore the lost love? Which God can claim to be the source of love? Which God can equate Himself to be love? Even Krishna demanded Arjuna to shoot his arrow against his blood to satisfy Dharma at Kurukshetra. Most Muslims and non-Muslims know about the wars led by the founder of Islam against its enemies. The Son sent by the Father was born in a cattle shed, and did assume no royal role, although he descended from a human royal genealogy. He never led a war, not even against the occupiers of the Promised Land given to His people by His Father. He did not organize an army to defend Him when He was captured at Gethsemane. He ordered Peter, who took his sword to defend his master, to put it back into its sheath. He had been teaching about heavenly kingdom. He prepared His companions to preach that kingdom. And finally He gave up His life on the cross claiming victory by declaring “It is finished”. The work of redemption was thus accomplished peacefully without shedding anybody’s blood; but He shed all His blood for the sin of the world, for restoring the love of God, and reconciling His father with the human race!
No god but the Triune God of Christians can claim this restoration of humanity.
It is the enfleshment of this Triune God in the appearance of the second Person of the Holy Trinity that we celebrate in this season. This is recorded in Roman history. This is not a mythical story or part of mythology. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus recorded it in his “Book of Antiquities”. Yes, God visited humanity in history. This is the uniqueness of the God of Christians. Modern history of humanity starts with His birth; He divided history into two, Ante Christum and Anno Domini, “Before Christ” and “In the Year of the Lord”. His enemies may change this nomenclature, but the fact remains part of history, and the events in history before His birth and after His birth will be recorded with reference to the year He was born.
Most of the Orthodox Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on January 7 because they follow the Julian calendar. Eleven days later they celebrate the baptism of Christ (Theophany) and hear what they have been waiting for: “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased”. That is all what the Church wanted to hear. And the Church in more jubilation shouts for joy: “Christ is born; Glorify Him!”
On Christmas day the Eternal Love is born; but the story of love continues until the Father takes His Incarnate only begotten Son to the cross to show His ultimate love by shedding His blood and giving up His own life in order to restore God’s love for humanity. This sacrifice was accepted by God the Father when the Son was resurrected on the third day.
Christ our God, we glorify Your Incarnation. May the love of God, Your Father, and Your Grace and the fellowship and indwelling of Your Holy Spirit remain with us during this season, during the year 2015, and during our entire life! Amin.
Yes, what we have in Baby Jesus is a TREMENDOUS LOVER! May His name be praised for ever and ever! Amin.