On 1st Corinthians 1:10-18
After condemning the divisions of the Church, saint Paul fights those believers who boast about pagan or worldly wisdom. The issue is important: if worldly wisdom is used by Christians, then the Cross of Christ is of no effect; it is emptied of its power as saint Paul stresses. In other words, worldly wisdom is at war with God.
You all know what follows in the Epistle to the Corinthians: saint Paul explains that the language of the Cross is a language of faith. In other words, as far as preaching the Gospel is concerned, Plato, Aristotle and Einstein, the languages of the sciences of a given time, have been vanquished by fishermen, by ignorant and unlearned Apostles (Acts 4:13). Saint Paul himself tried to use rhetoric and philosophy to preach the Gospel in Athens; he failed. Why did he fail? Because Christ is beyond reasoning, beyond the tools of human knowledge. Believing cannot be forced through reasoning, logic, speeches, or through any type of scientific discourse. Believing is not a matter of judgement nor argument. It is a matter of witness. As saint John Chrysostom said: if Christians do not exhibit a life better than the pagans, nothing will be achieved (On Corinthians).
This should give us many insights in terms of evangelization and missionary activities today. We are too easily tempted to use the rhetoric of today: modern technologies and sciences. And even worse, modern techniques of public relations. We are too easily tempted to discuss, to use arguments, to try to convince —and such are using the very things that we are fighting against: the means to acquire power. Moreover, we are too much tempted by modern schools of thoughts.
It is frequent to hear Orthodox faithful bashing Western Catholic believers because the Church of Rome tries to adapt to the modern world. A brief look at the newsletters published by the various Orthodox churches in North-America shows that we are doing the same thing. There is even worse. Our Orthodox schools of Theology have been invaded by human sciences instead of relying on the Fathers. Speculative theology has replaced ascetic and mystical Theology. The Theologian is no longer one who prays; the Theologian is one who successfully writes exams or books using extensive secular knowledge. We are doing the very thing that we criticize in the Catholic Church when their theology became a scholastic discipline in the 12th and 13th centuries. We are doing what saint Bernard and saint Bonaventure fought against when they opposed the intellectual endeavours of Alcuin and his followers in the scholastic tradition.
Remember first of all that to preach the Gospel of Christ is to live it and to show it through our lives. There is no other way to preach Christ than to reflect His Divine Love. Think about it twice and ask yourself: when I am discussing, arguing with people about the Church, am I not in fact putting my trust in my own words? Am I not looking for my little own victory? If I were asked at the same minute to stand as a martyr ˙a witness˙ would I do it as ardently as when I use my tongue? Again, we are like the sinners in the Psalms: we prefer to put our trust in the minds of men ˙in their legs, as the Psalmist would say˙ rather than in God.
The secular man, well versed in the human sciences of today, thinks that we are fools; he thinks that we are promoting some obscure and obsolete discourse. But we know that the worldly wisdom of man is a source of failure. This is why so many people who are thirsty and seek God do not even look at Christianity because it has been invaded by the world and has adapted to it. Do you remember what the prophet Amos predicted? “I, the Lord God, shall send hunger throughout the land, hunger for the Word of God; people will seek the Word, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:11-12). Or in the book of Proverbs: “They will call Me, but I shall not answer. They will eat the fruit of their errors, they will be fed with their own lessons”.
For sure we shall become fat from our own words and wisdom, and we shall walk proudly. But in reality we starve and are lost because we have not seen that the Word of God dwells in our heart. We have not seen that we do not have to fear. Yes, FEAR. All this happens because we are afraid. We are afraid to be tested by God. Therefore we needs securities. We are no different from the men who built the Tower of Babel. Instead of turning to God, we have invented human wisdom which gives us the illusion of knowing everything and being able to do everything. The Church herself ˙though until now only in the West˙ has even often made human wisdom her own official teaching. Whose victory is it then? The victory of the Cross ˙or the victory of death?
Because of all that, the Cross and Resurrection are threatened of being of no effect, of being emptied of their power. The only way to kill the fear that men experience when facing doubt, is to LOVE. The only way to ease our doubts is by abandonment to the Will of God. This is the case of saint Job; this is the case of saint Peter: “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.” (Matthew 14:28-32).
Only those who accept trials and tribulations with love will remain faithful to Christ. These ones will not be divided between themselves nor will they be divided in their own heart like double-minded men. “For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8). These ones will not seek the wisdom of the world. They will keep their eyes only on the Lord.
Outside of that, there is no Church (Rom 1:28).
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