Four primordial spiritual truths have been confessed to this point:
- Jesus Christ is the Theanthropos, perfect God and perfect man, the saviour and redeemer of sinners.
- Man is by nature a sinner and transgresses the moral law; he cannot be saved without a saviour. He is saved through the power of the only saviour, Christ crucified. Christ died to save sinners, for He Himself was sinless both by nature and by will.
- All of the words of Jesus Christ are true and worthy of belief, for they are the words of God incarnate.
- The Church which possesses and preserves Christ’s words cannot err. The Church is the guardian of divine truths; she provides food for man’s soul through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Whoever sincerely believes and confesses these cardinal doctrines of Holy Scripture and the holy Orthodox Church, has true salvation. He who rejects them shall perish – the victim of soul-destroying error. Now the doctrines of faith must be examined individually and carefully.
Our holy Church embraces and every true believer confesses the correct concept of every saving truth which proceeds from the words and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we acknowledge as the Theanthropos and our saviour. Verily, for the pious believer, every word of Jesus Christ generates certainty in the soul, for He is perfect God and perfect man, unable to be false or to deceive. The words of the saviour, the Theanthropos, strike the intellectual element of the soul as rays of the sun.
As they enlighten it, they also create in it steadfast, invincible faith against which no hostile power can prevail. This faith is complete certainty concerning the subject of belief – the conviction that it is just as the saviour, the Theanthropos, taught it. Only in the soul of the believer, of the one who genuinely loves Jesus, and as the faithful Maria sits by His side and listens to His true, eternally saving message of salvation, are the divine words of Jesus Christ embraced and treasured as manifest truths, plain, certain concepts, adorning the intellect as diamonds and creating a confident faith to match the certainty.
The believer believes on the basis of full assurance concerning the rationality and morality of the one who seeks to convince him about what he knows, or what he has heard, or what he has perceived. Only Jesus Christ appears in the mind of a rational and well-disposed man as perfect God and perfect man – a living, visible being possessed of perfect rationality and morality. Through what He utters and teaches, He inspires firm faith in the soul of His audience.
Thus, Jesus Christ inspires complete certainty about every dogma and every truth which He taught through Holy Scripture and the Church. Consequently, faith in the doctrines rests on the belief that Jesus Christ is perfect God and perfect man, the Theanthropos. Anyone who lacks belief in the first dogma cannot believe in the subsequent dogmas which flow forth from the first.
The words and in general the teaching of Christ give information and assurance about all the means to salvation, and that includes whatever leads to perfection. Knowing this to be true, we press on steadfastly through the various stages of truth. As we proceed, we gain knowledge of the nature of God and of His works, of the nature of man, and of the relationship that exists between them, and of the ways in which the divine has communion with man, saves him, and brings him to perfection. But if we fail to grasp the teaching of Christ, we wander away from the truth and are filled with self-conceit and frivolous thoughts.
Those who take the teaching of Christ as their guide, escape in their lifetime every pitfall of error. In the turbulent, swirling sea of life they travel on safely and are not dismayed by the rousing of fierce passions against them, as violent waves stirred and whipped up in the soul. Whenever the true teaching of Christ and His truthful, divine words have been implanted in the soul and have been believed, they have made the mountain of evil quake, and have removed it. They have restored in the soul the virtue which previously was at a low ebb or even eradicated from among men.
Those who contrariwise have made their way in life without any reference to the teaching and the words of Christ have fallen into the cruel talons of error and deceit. They have floundered on the rocks of false knowledge. They have been mistaken in their calculations, and while professing to be wise, have been convicted of folly, as St. Paul observed.
Hence all truth comes from the teaching of Christ. Every lie and every error, conversely, springs from the lack of knowledge and of faith in this same, one, unchangeable teaching of the saviour, the Theanthropos-and directly from the teaching of Satan.
Jesus Christ, as the true teacher, taught the truth and introduced eternal life into the world through knowledge of the truth, as He declared, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). He concealed nothing that would contribute to man’s salvation and perfection.
He revealed the nature of the true God, and of the will of God. He revealed the design behind creation, the beginning and the end of created things. He explained the facts about the nature of man, of his beginning and end. He revealed the relationship between God and man. He revealed the mystery of the dispensation of the incarnation, the product of God’s goodness and mercy toward mankind, the fruit of His love for man that is more than words can describe.
Is there anything which Jesus has not revealed to us? In revealing everything to us, He has left nothing undisclosed; there is nothing which He has hidden from us: “For all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” the Theanthropos declared to His disciples (John 15:15). Christ also said, ”I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world:” (John 17:6). And on another occasion, He said, “And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it:” (John 17:26).
Thus, in Christ and in Orthodox Christianity, alone, exists the full revelation of the truths which man requires for salvation and perfection. There is the full revelation of truth – truth that may be compared to God Himself – by which we perceive and come to know every aspect of the truth.
The truths which have been revealed to the world through Christ not only are theological truths, but also are anthropological, cosmological, teleological, and eschatological truths as well, for they explain the nature of these objects of knowledge. Whoever understands Christian theology understands the sum total of all the truths which combine to form what is termed dogmatic theology, the science of the doctrines of God.
This is the first dogma in theological science and all other theological dogmas flow from it. After this science has examined the doctrine of God fully, it goes on to study the doctrine of man who is in the image of God, and after this, the relationship between God and His image. It comes then to the doctrine of the dispensation of the incarnation, the product of God’s love for man. The last stage is reached when it examines firstly, the doctrine of the heavenly world and the earthly world, of the Church and her Mysteries, and secondly, of the moral, spiritual, and natural worlds.