Word Magazine September 1960 Page 4
DOES IT REALLY MATTER AT ALL?
By Father Michael J. Buben
St. Michael’s, Geneva, N.Y.
Our Lord, and God, and Savior, Jesus Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” commands us to have faith and believe in Him. Believing in Him, it naturally follows, that we openly use His Holy Name, when necessary, as the Son of God Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit comprise the Holy Trinity of the One and only True God.
On some rare occasion, you may have heard the suicidal religious statement, which no Orthodox Christian who has an understanding of his faith can make. This sort of statement is usually uttered by the few simple hearts or weak minds of the “lost generation whom even the fear of hell or high-water could not drive to church, who never had any instruction in the faith, who never would be caught at a Bible class, but to our sorrow consider themselves as Orthodox Christians in the social, political or economical endeavors of our community. The statement varies but in essence declares:
“Is it not all the same regardless of what faith we confess. Are not all faiths good, and don’t they believe in the same God? All true faiths believe that the world is governed by one God? That’s the main thing, and everything else in any faith only composes various forms of the same thing. Does it really matter at all?”
Saint Paul warned Christians to be stable in the faith when he wrote: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive:” (EPHEC. 4, l4).
Let us objectively examine the statement — “all religions are good and it doesn’t really matter how we believe in one God.”
Is the worship of God a choice which every individual can make according to the rules and regulations he considers best or are we all obligated to follow the rules and regulations chosen and given to us by God Himself? If it really doesn’t matter at all, then why not become Jews or pagans or idol worshippers if joining could help us socially or in business. What happens to the necessary obligation of Baptism and Holy Communion without which there is not salvation? Do we simply dismiss Jesus Christ as “true God of true God,” Only begotten Son and Savior of the world?
If all faiths are the same, as some few say, why then did God, the only True God keep His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and only through their lineage reveal His Will, Law, and Perfection? Why then did He send His Only begotten Son into the world? And why did Jesus Christ tell only His Apostles to go and preach the gospel and baptize in the Name of the Holy Trinity?
No! brothers and sisters! When Our Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, and showed us the “Way, and the Truth, and the Life” He left behind the Orthodox Church as the pillar and guard of the rules and regulations we are obligated to follow without deviation, addition or compromise. It is impossible to obtain anywhere from Holy Scripture or Holy Tradition of Orthodoxy, the idea that we have a democratic freedom in choosing what we want to believe and what we don’t want to believe, and yet not be condemned.
On the contrary, although we do have a free individual mind and have the power of choice, that choice can lead us to either salvation or condemnation. When Our Savior sent His Apostles to preach, baptize, heal, etc. He gave them these commands : ‘‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’’ (MARK 16, 16). “He that is not with Me is against Me and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.’’ (MATT. 12, 30). “Also I say unto you, whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man confess before the Angels of God: but he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the Angels of God.” (LUKE 12, 8-9). We hear the same from St. Paul who wrote “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, and through all, and in you all.” (EPH. 4, 5-6), and then St. Paul strongly warns everyone who deviates or changes from the Orthodox Faith. He says: “but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (GAL. 1, 8). The Acts of the Apostles teach us that there is ONLY ONE FAITH OF SALVATION: “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (4,l2) “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (COL. 1, 14). “And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.’’ (17)
The Orthodox Church as the Mother of all Christians, has always and in every era of time, striven to guard the faith in purity and without blemish. She has especially seen to it that indifference, coldness of heart, and freethinkers have not blemished the faith by addition too or subtraction from that which was given by Our Lord Jesus Christ, for all time.
When we hear statements of indifference such as “don’t worry, it’s all the same” and yes, even when we hear benedictions or invocations without the use of His Holy Name, it is our duty to enlighten and inform to prevent religious suicide.
May Our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, give you the grace of wisdom and understanding of His Faith, and guard you always from indifference and coldness to the faith.
It matters a great deal. Your soul depends on your steadfastness to Faith.