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We Orthodox Christians know that according to our nature we are nothing, a zero that God brought into being from nonbeing. And rather than let it fall into nonexistence again from whence it came, He elevated it and made it the throne of God and more honorable than Cherubim and more glorious than the Seraphim. The glory we acquired is God’s, not our own. We are Christians, we are not idolaters.

Ladder.jpgIt was idolatry that made creation into a god. Ignorance about the Creator caused men to make a god of creation and to assign to it the properties of God. They thought creation was everlasting and beginningless, incorruptible and immortal. They explained the corruptibility and death they saw before them daily as localized phenomena in nature’s cyclical changes that had no universal effect on it. They proclaimed the incorruptibility and immortality of matter and the divinity of the universal soul, of which each human soul is a part. Because they were ignorant of God they said man is god, and so is his soul in particular, which is the quintessential man. They gave to man’s soul divine properties: beginningless existence and immortality. They said death is nothing but a change of bodies along the way of the soul from one transmigration to another. The soul, in the final analysis, is a personless fragment of the universal soul in an ocean of such emanations of souls. They are swept up in a stream that is ever flowing in an eternal and endless cycle.

Idolatry is a faith of pridefulness, a seed of Lucifer in the minds of people who do not know God. Idolatry can have many forms and variations of the basic teaching, but at its core it always has creation as its god, that is, man as god, since he is the head of creation; we humans are by our nature gods since our soul is divine and immortal. Therefore what need do we have of God? What need do we have of the resurrection He gave us? “We shall hear you on this again,” they said politely to the Apostle Paul when he preached on the resurrection of the dead to the deeply pagan city of Athens. “What are you telling us, Jew? The resurrection of the dead? What use is it to us? We are gods. We may change bodies, we may lose our memory, but our immortal soul enters into another body and our immortal existence is perpetuated. And if we are perfect, we remain in the Elysian fields as spirits liberated from the body’s burdensome matter that we had been entangled in because of some carelessness. Why are you speaking to us about the resurrection of the dead? We can do without your Jewish teachings. Don’t you understand you are in Greece, the land of the spirit, of knowledge and wisdom? Don’t you realize you are speaking to intelligent and cultivated people?”

That is how idolaters speak and think. They believe in an immortal, that is, divine, soul and in incorruptible and eternal matter. They believe in the divinity of the universe. Their gods are merely shapers of eternal, beginningless, uncreated matter.

But we Christians know the Maker and Creator of all things. We know Him Who brought all things into existence from nonexistence, from nothing. We know that He alone is the “One Who Is” (Ex. 3:14). He alone is true being, and anything that exists receives its existence from Him, from His love. We know that He alone is immortal by His own nature, while all creatures, even the most perfect angelic powers, came into being from nonexistence. Properly, by their own nature, they should return again to nonexistence, but the grace of God, out of love alone, eternally sustains their existence and being. 

—Dr. Alexander Kalomiros, The Six Dawns