Word Magazine September 1968 Page 22
THE FAITHFUL ARE ONLY THOSE WHO
By Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky
Holy Trinity Church, Parma, Ohio
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” (PSALM 11-: 1)
A renowned religious scholar, Rudolf Otto, gave the world a classic work on the theme of holiness. In the beginning pages the author placed a requirement upon his readers:
The reader is invited to direct his mind to a moment of deeply-felt religious experience … Whoever cannot do this, whoever knows no such moments in his experience, is requested to go no farther;” (“Idea of the Holy,” Chap. III).
The writer, Dr. Otto, is warning us that we will understand nothing of holiness if we have never personally experienced the overwhelming presence of God at some point in our lives.
The Holy Bible in the same manner presupposes that we are able to accept the first words of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” There is no preface to the Bible explaining faith in God, or how one goes about believing in His existence — it begins with the affirmation “in the beginning, God. . . “
What of the atheist? He is a fool! (“The fool says in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1) Although the book of Job and some of the Psalms deal with difficulties experienced by the man of faith in the world, yet throughout the Bible we are confronted with God who acts in history in relation to His people, demanding from them a response of faith and love.
Jesus Christ built upon the God and man relationship of the Old Testament to confront humanity with a new way of responding to the Father in heaven.
We should presume that those who either have lost or else never found their way to believing in God would reject Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. Yet, some of today’s most publicized “Christian theologians” have no firm belief in God, nor in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Having renounced faith in God as a myth, they turn the Bible into merely a history of the Hebrew people.
What do they think of Christ? They see Him as a social revolutionary, a teacher of morality, a man of courage who died for his convictions … in short, anything one cares to see in him, except the Son of God who came to save mankind.
If the first irony is why such atheists still cling to a distorted image of Christ, then the second irony is how they appear to succeed in gaining otherwise intelligent followers who certainly can read the New Testament for themselves. If they have no faith in the traditional beliefs of the Church, they can read the evidence in Holy Scriptures; that it is the Lord’s Incarnation, death and Resurrection which gives meaning to all He ever taught or did.
To know Him is to know the Father — to reject either is to reject both.
If we call ourselves “Orthodox Christian,” it is to witness to the world our belief in true worship and praise to God, and to separate ourselves from the many false teachers who are unable any longer to believe in God Almighty, and who consider the divinity of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ as a myth, yet who want to be considered Christian.