Of One Essence with the Father

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Third Talk

Not being afraid to repeat myself. I will say to you again that the great world cultures and religions have their temples, poetry, bells, rosaries, treatises, monasteries, and much else. Much. And that the thing that chiefly distinguishes Christianity from the other world religions lies in the Gospel, in the personality of Jesus Christ.

There is no such Personality, no such Revelation anywhere else.

We can say that no matter how great the personality of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, what is important are his instructions, his teachings, his principles: these are vastly more essential for Buddhism than the personality of Gautama Buddha himself. In the final analysis, if there had been no Mohammed, but just some anonymous person who proposed and promoted the most important dogmas of Islam -- the oneness of God, submission to God, prayers several times a day, etc., Islam would but just the same as it is now. But Christianity without Jesus Christ is deprived of its essence, its ultimate and vital essence.

In a tale of Vladimir Solovy'ov, written shortly before his death, known as "A Tale of the Antichrist" -- which you will now be able to read, inasmuch as it has been published here, in his collected works -- there is a scene where the World President, the ruler of the earth, calls together representatives of the chief Christian churches. He promises the Catholics that he will build especially magnificent churches, he promises the Orthodox that he will establish exceptionally valuable museums of Ancient Christian art, he promises the Protestants that he will found new institutes for the study of Holy Scripture and theology. It seems all are enraptured, but three Church leaders. Pope Peter, the Elder John, and Professor Pauli, put to him a question directly: what is his relationship to Jesus Christ? You offer us everything but Him.

This is Christianity without Christ. This is aesthetics, learning, tradition, worship services. But the chief thing is missing. The Son of Man is not there, crucified and risen. And it is by this sign that the Elder John, Pope Peter, and Doctor Pauli discern in the World President the Antichrist. This is an important moment on principle, showing how Vladimir Solovy'ov looked at the mystery of Christianity.

We have to say that nothing has changed since his time. Indeed from the time when the Gospels were written, in this sense nothing has changed. "I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end," says the Lord Jesus. When we read the oldest, the chronologically oldest texts of the New Testament, we find there the words of the Apostle Paul, who says that man is saved, that is, comes into communion with God, not through the Law, not through the deeds of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ.

What does this mean? "The Law" is a kind of system of life. "The Law" is religion, manifesting itself as a part of human culture. This culture, as we love to say, has "roots in the earth". This is all quite important and necessary. But this cultural legacy is unable to make a sudden change, a breakthrough, because there is too much that is human in it, merely human. Only when a person discovers for him or herself the immortal, eternally living Christ does there take place what in specifically Biblical language is called salvation, that is, the communion of man with the authentic living Life for which the soul longs, which it seeks. That is why the Lord Jesus Himself called His preaching "Besora". "Besora" means Joyful Tidings, good news, in Greek Ev-angelion. We call it the Joyful Tidings, the Gospel, or the Good News. What is this Good News all about?

When a boy is born among the Bedouins, they have a custom: the man who got such a boy comes to his father and says, "I proclaim great joy to you: a son has been born to you." And when we open the Gospel of Luke, we read there these words: the shepherds are watching their flocks by night, and suddenly there appears to them the Glory of the Lord. In Biblical language this signifies the appearance of a Mystery in this material world. And they hear: I bring you tidings of great joy -- today there has been born in the city of David a Savior. Who is Christ the Anointed One, the Lord. What the Anointed One and King is we talked about last time. The King has come to rule, but he was born destitute. Thirty years after the Nativity events, there took place on the bank of the river Jordan an interesting dialogue: two fishermen had found their friend, who was also on the bank of the river in the crowd, and said strange words to him: "We have found the Messiah." The fisherman said. "Who is it?" "It is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth." Of course he didn't believe it. Then they told him simply, "Go and see." That was the main proof which even today brings those who wish to acquaint themselves with it into world Christianity. It speaks these two words, "Go and see."

So, we arc scrutinizing the image of the One Who is traced for us in the Gospels. An Image which has not dimmed after 20 centuries. What kind of great genius could create such an Image? Jean-Jacques Rousseau is right when he says that one who invented Christ would have to be even more amazing than He Himself. People talk or collective national creative work. I think that such creativity does not exist. There is anonymous creative work. It is none the less significant that the Gospel was not written by one person. If there were just the one Gospel According to John, we would say, "What a great genius John was; and he created this image." But there are four of them. And each sees the image of Christ from its own vantage-point.

Writers have a device that they employ to give a character greater verisimilitude. For this purpose they have to note the deficiencies and show the weakness in the character of the hero -- to put shadows into this portrait. The Evangelists did not put any shadows into the image of Christ. Nonetheless, He is astonishingly alive, astonishingly real and palpable.

Those times have passed when the Gospel was considered a book written at a later time, many, many generations after the life of Jesus Christ. At the present time we know very well that they were written -- all four of them -- in the very same century that the Gospel events took place. There exist ancient manuscripts of the Gospels, that go back to Early Christian times. The latest was the Gospel of John, written in the 90's of the first century. Moreover, a manuscript of this Gospel (a fragment of it) has been discovered in Egypt. It dates to approximately the year 130; that is, someone had already copied it and brought it into Egypt. There were no airplanes flying then; all this took place very slowly. The fact that this book was well known and widely diffused from an early date is borne witness to by thousands of ancient papyri and manuscript fragments. Hundreds of these belong to the Early Christian epoch.

You should note that the writers of antiquity who are known to us, both Roman and Greek (Homer, Tacitus, Virgil), are not supported by such a large quantity of ancient texts. The majority of them only go back to the period of the Renaissance. Who wrote the Gospels and when? It is thought that the oldest Gospel was the Gospel of Matthew, which has not come down to us in the original, written in the Hebrew or Aramaic language. Matthew was a collector of customs duties, which means that probably he was the most literate of the disciples. According to the testimony of Bishop Papias, who lived in the 2nd century, Matthew wrote his Gospel; then it was translated into Greek. What we have today as the Gospel of Matthew is this Greek version, put together later, between the 70's and 80's of the 1st century. The Gospel of Mark was written at the beginning of the '60s. It is supposed that Mark the Evangelist was the originator of the Gospel genre.

This is an important point. A Gospel is not simply a biography of Jesus Christ. At that time they knew very well what a biography was. You know that the ancient Roman and Greek writers were fascinated by biographies. Plutarch [d. ca 120 - TR] was shortly to publish his Parallel Lives. So, a Gospel is not a biography and it is not a sermon. Nor it is a collection of sayings. Nor a description of a personality. It is something completely new. It is a special genre, created by the Evangelists. Perhaps, specifically by the Evangelist Mark. He was not a writer; he came from a priestly family; he lived in Jerusalem. When the events of the Gospel took place, he was a youth, almost a boy. Later he became a disciple of Christ. The house of his mother became a house of the Apostle Peter and of Christ's other disciples. They would come there; they felt at home there. She was like a mother to the first community, and later, when the Apostle Paul began his preaching to the pagans, he took Mark along with him as a helper. But apparently scared by the difficulties of the journey and for some other reasons, Mark left Paul and Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem with his companion. There was even a kind of falling-out; later they were reconciled and Mark accompanied the Apostle Peter. These are the highlights of what happened. A whole series of contemporary historians and specialists are struck by one strange peculiarity of the Gospel of Mark. As one contemporary French scholar put it, it seems like a Greek calque on another language, like a conscientious and literal translation. Maybe something like this too place; Peter would tell about what happened to him and what he had seen, and Mark would write it down. Peter spoke Greek badly, and naturally spoke in Aramaic or in Hebrew, but Mark wrote it down in Greek. This took place in Rome.

Any of you who would like to imagine that moment in the history of humanity when Mark first sat down to write this book should take up Henryk Sienkiewicz's novel, Quo Vadis. Sienkiewicz lived in Rome for a long time, knew Latin literature and history very well, and he has reconstructed a picture of life at the moment when Christianity first announced itself. This was the beginning of the '60s of the 1st century. There was the tyranny of Nero, the corruption of the officials, the strained situation in the Empire, the demoralization of different classes of society, crisis -- and there appears a tiny fresh spirit. This new spirit is the Christian community. The novel—well, apart from its main heroes -- gives an authentic picture of events. At one point the young aristocrat Vinicius is looking for his betrothed, Lydia, who is hiding from him. Through his spies he learns that she has become a Christian and so he goes secretly to the cemetery where the Christians assemble. There, in the crowd, he sees an old man get up, who everyone is waiting for. The old man is the high priest of the Christians, the young man was thinking. But he appeared to be a simple fisherman, who told about what he had seen and what he had experienced. This fisherman was Peter, proclaiming the Gospel to the inhabitants of Rome. This narrative was written down. Not as memoirs, no, but as a testimonial of faith, because Peter and the other disciples had discovered in Christ something that was not in any prophet nor in any teacher, and this became our second Gospel.

The Apostle Paul had a companion named Luke. The only Greek among the authors of the New Testament, he was a physician, and according to legend, also an artist. Probably he joined Paul as a young man and in the year 51 of the 1st century he and Paul set foot for the first time on the European continent. The preaching of the Gospel began precisely at this time in Europe, if we leave Rome out of consideration. Luke journeyed with him repeatedly, he stayed in Palestine also for a time, he knew many of the Apostles, and the traditions of the ancient Jerusalem Church, the first Christian Church. He was already an old man when he wrote his Gospel, and the Acts of the Apostles, the main hero of which is Paul.

Well, we shall talk about this later, but right now let us proceed to the most mysterious Gospel, the Gospel of John. It is completely different from the other three, in style, in language, in the character of its thought. This is invaluable, because a man of a different cast of mind, a different spiritual temper, saw Christ with his own eyes. According to tradition this man was the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, John the son of Zebedee, also a fisherman from Galilee. Modem scholars think that John did not write the Gospel personally, but that he was constantly recounting it, and his Gospel was indeed written down in his school, so to speak, in his inner circle. In any case, it is very ancient, and there are direct proofs that the author knew the country very well the way it was before it was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70, after the fall of Jerusalem.

So, we have the four Gospels. About what do they speak? About the mystery of the One Who was the Son of Man (on earth) and manifested Himself as the Son of God. In the Old Testament, in ancient times, the concept "son of man" was bipartite. It signified both simply a mortal man, and at the same time it signified a certain mysterious being that would come into the world in order to renew it. That is why Jesus of Nazareth preferred to call Himself the Son of Man.

It remains a mystery how His life passed in Nazareth. Most probably you have heard, and some of you have asked me questions on the subject of whether He spent this time in the East, in India, or even in Japan they add nowadays, in a different context, to be sure. Could such a thing have been possible? You know that people have a mysterious peculiarity -- all want Christ to have been born simultaneously in various places. In America there is the Mormon movement, or Later-Day Saints. They claim in their book that when Christ was born and lived in Palestine, he appeared in America in a mysterious manner at the same time, and launched, so to speak, the new movement. They talk about something similar in Japan also. Then, as our last example, the so-called Tibetan Gospel says that Christ came there, into Tibet and into India. The trustworthiness of the Tibetan Gospel is nil. It is full of anachronisms; it is a late and of course apocryphal work. It is possible that Christ could have gone there. But this has no significance. Even if just for one simple reason. The great cultures of the East, in particular, that of India, had their particular, specific philosophical ideas. Not one of them is reflected in the teaching of Christ. Not one. Among these ideas I might mention just two: ahimsa in the sense of non-killing (vegetarianism). Christ does not demand this. The second is reincarnation. It is a specific Indian concept. In the Gospel there is none of it. Apart from this, the very form, the phraseology, and the style of the Gospels are connected only with the Old Testament. Neither with the Greek tradition nor with the Indian. Such are the facts of history.

For any unprejudiced person this is obvious, but the mystery of Christ is certainly not that He is the Son of His people and time, but that He addresses every human being. Here we see the intersection of two dimensions of existence. Was He a teacher? Yes, a Teacher. But He was a very special kind of Teacher, for He came when the Old Testament, the Bible, was already canonized, when this holy book was revered as the Word of God, and He Himself called it holy. And what did He do?

He spoke like this: "It was said of old, thou shalt not kill. But I tell you that even anger is a sin," and so forth. That is to say, He put His own Word alongside the Scripture and above the Scripture.

In the Old Testament, for the sake of protecting the community from the influence of the pagans, a complex system of dietary prohibitions was created. Christ says, it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him -- malice, hatred, greed, all this is in a man and emerges from him. That is, He considers the ritual prohibitions that were there to be already superseded. In other words, He treats the Word of God as One Who is its Lord, its Master, One Who has the right to change it: But I say unto you ...

Yes. He had a human face and personality. We can note in Him a whole series of astonishing peculiarities, but they are entirely of this earth. He has friends. He particularly loves His disciple John. He very much loves the family of Lazarus and his sisters. He does not relate to everyone in the same way, as it were impersonally. When He looked at someone, it had an astonishing effect: when the Apostles-to-be were fishing, He came up to them and said. "Leave everything, and follow Me." No sooner it was said and they immediately left everything and went with Him. The Evangelist Mark underlines the power in His glance several times. He sometimes sighs heavily, when it feels like He is trying to overcome human inertia. Their way of speaking is not alien to Him. Who said, that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God? Who told the Pharisees that they strain at a gnat and swallow a camel? Who said that the tiniest seed grows into the biggest tree? These are His words, this is His individual style of speech. If you delve into the text of the Gospel (I think it will soon be available to many), you can sense there a colorful, laconic, graphic mode of speech rich in metaphors, which can be recognized immediately. "Truly, truly I say to you," "Amen, amen I say to you" -- as in the Slavonic translation. "Amen" means "precisely". This is His turn of phrase. His speech is always definite; there are never any vacillations. He resembles least of all Bulgakov's Jesus, Yeshua Ha-Notsri. They have nothing in common, apart from the name and execution by crucifixion. The latter is a gentle dreamer, a vagabond philosopher. Christ always spoke as One having authority. He never asked anyone for advice. But He refused earthly power and earthly glory.

When He stands before the unrighteous judges, the Sanhedrin and Pilate. He says almost nothing to them. He almost does not defend Himself, because He knows that for them truth does not exist. They do not interest Him. When Pilate asked, "What is truth?" he said this rhetorically, as if he knew beforehand that there was no answer, because there is no such thing as truth.

Once in the Gospel of John it is said that Christ was tired, that He sat down by a well, because He was exhausted -- the day was hot, the road was long. He was constantly walking several kilometers, sometimes spending the night under the open sky, not having anywhere to lay His head. Only a strong individual could lead a life of such intense struggle. But His image is becoming more and more clear: infinite kindness, infinite openness to people, but no sentimentality, no compromise with evil.

Bulgakov has his Yeshua Ha-Notsri say, "Everyone is good,", "a good man", and the like. Christ, however, addressing those in power, says, "Vipers, offspring of vipers", and He calls Herod a "jackal" and a "fox". He could be very sharp and very severe: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." He hurled words of accusation at the most authoritative spiritual clans and groupings.

I always remind people who are reading the Gospel of the noteworthy words of Gilbert Chesterton that Christ was not a wandering preacher. It would have been quite different if He has wandered the world and discoursed on the truth. His life was more like a campaign: "I came into the world for judgment. Now is the judgment of this world." But what does He reveal for man? "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you... He who wants to follow Me, let him give himself, deny himself." "Give yourself” -- it may also be translated that way. "Take up your cross, your service to people and then follow Me."

For a long time the disciples did not understand Him. They thought that as the Anointed One, the Messiah, He ought really to rule the world.

People love earthly power and earthly glory so much. But He refused this. How bitter it must have been for Him to realize at the moment when they drew near Jerusalem for the last time that the disciples had begun to divide up who was going to sit where around His throne when He would become King. Whereas it was Golgotha that awaited Him in a few days. Here one might ask, "And why did He draw such disciples to Himself, who misunderstood Him so badly?" What do you think?

If He were to have gathered men of great wisdom, people of iron will, determination, infinite courage, and high education, people would no doubt have then said, "Of course, they were Apostles, they were titans, whereas who are we -- ants."

No, for that reason He took common, simple people, ordinary people like us, who could be scared at a critical moment, who could vacillate, and who could make mistakes. The Evangelists stress very much this characteristic of the Apostles. They all tell of the denial of Peter. They tell of the betrayal of Judas, of the endless questions of the disciples, which showed how wrongly they understood His mission and His words at first. Since these were ordinary men, we have no right to say that they were titans. It was their faith and the Spirit of God that made them into titans. But they were just simple people. "Without book learning and simple," Luke says -- which does not mean they were illiterate; in Judea almost everybody was literate. People learned to read and write from early childhood. But being "without book learning and simple", they were by nature impetuous and unsteady, like all ordinary people.

Christ reveals a great mystery: in the Old Testament God showed mankind what sin was and what evil was, but it was necessary to go further to the greatest good. The basis of this, as He Himself says, is also in the Old Testament. The chief commandments of the Scripture are these: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God and thy neighbor as thyself. Out of this grows the ethical teaching of the Gospels. An ethics of love, an ethics of letting go, therefore this is an ethics of happiness. He who loves is happy. He who gives himself is happy. He who lives for himself is unhappy.

Could Ivan the Terrible, Stalin, or Beria have been happy? What kind of happy people are these? They were monsters, and naturally they were unhappy. A person who lives for others, however, finds a special, unshatterable happiness. But you will ask: yes, that is a beautiful teaching, beautiful words, but after all the Old Testament already spoke of love for one's neighbor as oneself, and some other great things concerning love for God. So what then does the Gospel consist of? Here, my friends, is the refutation of the view that the Gospel comes down to ethics, to just a moral teaching. It has another, much deeper content.

I think I already may have told you that Job, the hero of the Old Testament book of the same name, suffered from the fact that he was innocent before God, and he suffers because God is unjust to him. He calls God to account, but when God appeared to him, he fell down before Him and said, "I called Thee, I had only heard about Thee, but now I see Thee." And everything was resolved.

So mankind always has wanted to touch the Holy Mystery. To touch it, in order to find life in its fullness. That is why the wise men taught, that is why the ascetics of India wore themselves out, that is why scholars have tried to read an answer in the stars and in the laws of nature to this exciting, unique, and most important riddle. Because as Plato said, "It is difficult to comprehend the Father of all." Since human beings have always felt that they are brothers only because they have a Father, that their life also has meaning because it is connected with some celestial meaning, the disciples once asked Jesus. "Show us, manifest to us the Heavenly Father. And we shall be satisfied with that, we won't need anything else." All mankind says that to Him: "Show us the Father." And He answers. Then also he answered His disciple Philip. "How long have I been with you, Philip, and you have not known Me. He who has seen Me has seen the Father."

It is by this that He reveals the mystery that the “symbol of Faith" expresses by the Greek word homoousios -- "of one essence" with the Father. He is His Son, not in the human sense that we use, but in the sense of the deepest ontological, existential communion. "Son" means flesh of the flesh. Therefore the "Symbol of Faith" says True God from True God, Light from Light. Like a blazing bonfire, if a twig is lit from it, is not diminished as a result of this, but there is a new fire, light from light. True God from True God, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father. Of one essence. It is not man that is of one essence with the Father, but only He, the only [Son]. I'll show you this right now.

All great saints have recognized themselves as sinners. Just look at all the biographies, the Lives; for example we have recently republished the Confessions of Blessed Augustine. It is great work, a work of genius. This eminent man curses himself, brands himself, and repents. As one Orthodox saying puts it, the saints saw their sins like the sands of the sea, and this is understandable, because in a bright light every speck of dust is visible. The only one in history who never spoke of his own sins is Jesus of Nazareth. He is the only one in history Who never looked up from below at the truth. The Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, reaches the truth by way of prolonged meditations, he practices for years, he waits years for enlightenment, it is as if he takes heaven by storm. There is nothing like this in the personality of Christ. He comes with it.

He regards us as heaven regards earth. He is the voice of Eternity, that begins to sound in the world. Because the measureless cannot speak with the limited. Because the Divine overwhelms man.

Here is a literary example for you: when Faust first calls for the spirit of the earth and the blazing spirit of this world appears before him, Faust falls down as if he were dead: he cannot bear the appearance of this spirit. And this is only the spirit of this world. We can understand this. When one looks at the boundless heavens, when one looks at huge areas, sometimes alive, sometimes dead, in the mountains or in the taiga, man is lost in this measurelessness like a bit of fluff. About the cosmos itself we don't even have to speak. Who is man, with all his machines and devices, when he spins around his little Earth? Eternity can have no name, it is endless, unbounded. Therefore even God says in the Old Testament that He is a consuming fire. When He speaks through the prophets, the Spirit temporarily takes possession of the prophets, and later they come to their own consciousness again, and even oppose what God had spoken through them. This is like what Pushkin wrote: "But the divine word touches only the sensitive ear," and remember regarding the poet, that he is an ordinary mortal, "until Apollo needs the poet for a holy sacrifice."

And now something happens that connects Infinity with the finite. "I proclaim to you great joy," -- there is born One Who will speak with you. Who becomes a child, a youth, an adult man, Who works with His hands, Who comes to human beings, Who lives with them, Who eats and drinks with them, Who leads the life of an ordinary man for thirty years, a most commonplace, unremarkable life. There is no need of India, there is no need of the Himalayas, but there is a little shack where He works, bent over a carpenter's bench. This is His Nazareth. This is His secret life. So secret that even the neighbors thought that He was only a carpenter, and when He began to preach, they decided that He had gone mad.

Then He begins to speak. At first as a Teacher, and later more and more approaching the main point. Simply a Teacher, but He said strange things, challenging things, that jarred the orthodox, who thought that they were put there to safeguard the religious regulations.

And then there comes a moment in His life when they rise up against Him. He leaves the country and goes away into Lebanon, moves about there unrecognized by anyone, and when He returns He one day asks His disciples. "Who do the people think that I am?" As you will recall they answer, "a prophet", but Peter says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God..." Here we have the basis of Christian belief. Therefore Peter is called the rock, the foundation on which the Church will be built.

A second foundation is His victory over death. Did His death have to happen? Was His death necessary? He constantly spoke of the fact that things had to turn out this way. "Why?" you will ask. Why? As it is put in one of the Epistles, why, instead of the joy that was rightfully His, did the God-man encounter suffering on earth? Because the world, as the Bible tells us, lies in evil. If the divine, the pure, the beautiful comes into this world, to us, and comes into contact with us, it cannot but suffer. The suffering of Christ, the redemptive suffering of Christ, did not begin at night in the garden of Gethsemane, or on Golgotha, but on the night when He was born. He suffered every day and every hour, by living with human beings. Once the sigh even escaped Him, "0 unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I endure you! How long shall I be with you!" His suffering was necessary for us, because either He comes to us and suffers, or He is freed from suffering but departs from us.

Christianity becomes a divine-human faith. Not a trembling of man before God and not a proud insurrection of man against God, but a union, a New Covenant of man with God. And when Jesus dies on the Cross, forsaken by all, that is, experiencing everything and drinking the cup of humiliation and betrayal, malice, injustice, and cruelty to the bottom. He as it were takes into Himself all the evil of the world. Not only by chance did the prophet say, several centuries before Him, "He was wounded for our sins, and tormented for our transgressions, the punishment of the world was on Him and by His wounds we have been healed."

And then He is buried. This is complete destruction, the end of everything, and no historian, no scholar can penetrate this mystery. The historian knows only one thing: a handful of people who had been out of their minds with fear, who just yesterday had locked themselves in and were afraid even to stir, suddenly emerge in the market-places of Jerusalem and proclaim to all, "Christ is risen. He is alive, He has appeared to all of us. He has sent us to preach the Gospel to the whole world." Perhaps they had lost their minds, perhaps they had had hallucinations, perhaps they had taken what they wished to be true for what was real, but out of such nonsense, out of such ephemeral temporary phenomena the mighty tree of Christianity could not have been born, that current, that powerful river that flows to this day in spite of all rapids, rocks, and obstacles could not have had its beginning.

The Apostle Paul spoke some famous words and spoke them from experience -- "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow."

He did not leave us a single written line, so that we would not deify the letter. He did not leave us any sacred tablets or tokens, He left us nothing. But He said, "I will be with you always unto the end of the world."

Here is where the source of the strength of the Church is. Here is where the source of the power of Christianity is.

He really does live with us and in us, and not at all because Christians are people who are in any way especially good. Just as the Apostles were, we are weak people, but He has great power, which is perfected in weakness.

If other teachings take man away from the world, and another set of teachings make man more virtuous, and a third set make him wiser, more concentrated, more focused, what we have here is not a "teaching", what we have here is a Covenant. A living connection with the God-man. History becomes divine-human, and all that is eternal combines with what is temporal. Here is the phenomenon of the Gospel.

If we were to remove both the beginning and, perhaps, the end from the "Symbol of Faith", it would still remain the "Symbol of Faith" [because the central part that would remain has to do with Jesus Christ - TR].

In the very beginning people were baptized in the name of Jesus only, because it was through Him that both the Heavenly Father and the Divine Spirit were revealed. Ah, but the "Symbol of Faith" adds words not entirely comprehensible to us -- "through Him all things were made", i.e. through Him everything was spoken. This is a special mystery, it pertains not to the earthly life of Christ, but to His other-worldly, transcendental, mysterious existence. We will talk about this the next time.

Thank you.