Yesterday’s mail brought my copy of Man and the God-Man, the new English translation of Archimandrite Fr. Justin Popovic’s essays, published by the Diocese of Western America’s Sebastian Press (to purchase).
Fr. Justin, in the opening essay, states, “God is born on earth, and moreover He is born as a man: perfect God and perfect man – the unique God-man.”
Just as the Hieromartyr Hilarion spoke of the Bible as I posted earlier (here), the venerable Fr. Justin says that our faith comes from this perfect Man and so “…another name for Orthodoxy is God-manhood.”
Why is the God-man the fundamental truth of Orthodoxy? Because He answered all the questions that torture the human spirit; the question of life and death, the question of good and evil, the question of earth and heaven, the question of truth and falsehood, the question of love and hate, the question of justice and injustice. In brief: the question of man and God.
Only in Him, in the all-merciful Lord Jesus, does man, tormented by earthly tragedies find the God who can truly give comfort in every misfortune and sorrow, the Defender who can truly defend from every evil, the Savior who can truly save from death and sin, the Teacher Who can truly teach eternal Truth and Justice.
And the knowledge which Christ, as the Teacher, instills in us comes through faith as Fr. Justin points out at another place in this sleek anthology. He cites St. Isaac the Syrian who places knowledge in two categories: knowledge which precedes faith and knowledge which is born of faith. This second is the spiritual knowledge. Fr. Justin states: “In order to acquire spiritual knowledge, a man must first be freed from natural knowledge.”
And which is of greater benefit to us?
“The more a man devotes himself to natural knowledge, the more he is seized on by fear and the less he can free himself from it. But if he follows faith, he is immediately freed and “as a Son of God, has the power to make free use of all things….Faith can often “bring forth all things out of nothing”, while knowledge can do nothing, ‘without the help of matter.’ Knowledge has no power over nature, but faith has such power. Armed with faith, men have entered into the fire and quenched the flames being untouched by them. Others have walked on the waters as on dry land. All these things are ‘beyond nature’….He who has faith will ‘lack nothing’….”