That’s the way things are, my
child. Atheists do not exist. Only idolaters exist,
who take down Christ from His throne and in His place they
enthrone their own idols. We say: “Glory be to the Father
and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. They say: “Glory to the
great Mao”. You pick and choose which one you prefer.
also choose your drug, grandpa. The only difference is, that
you call it Christ, others call it Allah, or Buddha, etc.
child, Christ is not a drug. Christ is the Creator of the
entire universe. He is the one Who governs everything
wisely, from the multitudes of infinite galaxies, down to
the minutest particles of the microcosm. He has given life
to all of us. He is the One Who brought you into this world
and has bestowed you with so much freedom, that you can
actually doubt Him, and even deny Him.
Grandpa, its your right to believe in all of those things.
But that doesn’t mean they are true. Do you have any
think all of this is just a fairy tale, don’t you?
you have any proof that it is a fairy tale? Can you prove that what I believe is false?
didn’t reply, because you don’t have any proof
either. Which means, you believe they are fairy
tales. I spoke to you of believing, when I referred
to God; you, however, although rejecting my belief,
essentially believe in your faithlessness, since you
cannot back it up with proofs either. However, I must tell
you that my belief is not something “out of the blue”;
There are certain supernatural events, upon which it is
Just a minute! Since we are talking about believing, what
would you say to Muslims or Buddhists for example? Because
they also talk about believing. And they too have high moral
standards. Why is your belief better than theirs?
The criterion of the truth is supposedly judged by this
question of yours? Because the truth is most certainly
one; truths cannot be many in number. The thing is,
who is the possessor of the truth? That is the
major question. Hence, it is not a matter of a better or
worse belief! It is a matter of the only true
agree, that other beliefs also have moral teachings.
Naturally, Christianity’s moral teachings are incomparably
superior. But, we do not believe in Christ because of His
moral teachings. Or for His prompting to “Love one another”,
or for His sermons on peace and justice, freedom and
equality. We believe in Christ, because His presence on
earth was accompanied by supernatural events, which
was a sign that He is God.
Look, I also admit that Christ was an important philosopher
and a great revolutionary, but let’s not make Him a God
dear child! All the great disbelievers in history were
snagged by that detail. The fishbone that stuck in their
throat, which they just couldn’t swallow, was exactly that:
That Christ is also God.
Many of them were willing to say to God: “Don’t tell
anyone that You are God incarnate; Just say that You’re an
ordinary human, and we shall be more than ready to deify
you. Why do You want to be an incarnate God, and not a
deified human? We are willing to glorify You, to proclaim
You as the greatest among men, the holiest, the most
ethical, the noblest, the unsurpassable, the one and only,
the unprecedented… Isn’t that enough for You ?
Ernest Renan –he was the head of the chorus of deniers-
thunders out the following, with regard to Christ: “For
tens of thousands of years, the world shall be uplifted
through You”, and “You are the cornerstone of
mankind; if one were to wrench Your name away from this
world, it would be like shattering its foundations” and
“the aeons shall proclaim that amongst the sons of men,
never was there born anyone that could surpass You”.
But this is where Renan and his likes stop. Their very next
phrase is: “But a God, You are not!”
those poor wretches cannot perceive that all of these things
constitute an indescribable tragedy! Their dilemma is
inevitably relentless: Either Christ is an
incarnate God, in which case, He is indeed, only then, the
most ethical, the holiest and noblest personage of mankind,
or, He is not an incarnate God, in which case,
He cannot possibly be any of these. In fact, if
Christ is not God, then we are talking about the most
horrible, the most atrocious and the most despicable
existence in the history of mankind.
What did you just say ?
Exactly what you heard! It may be a weighty statement, but
it is absolutely true. And I will tell you why.
me ask: What did all the truly great men say about
themselves, or what opinion did they have of themselves ?
“wisest of all men”, Socrates, proclaimed that “I came to
know one thing: that I know nothing”.
the important men in the Old and New Testament, from Abraham
and Moses, through to John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul,
characterized themselves as “earth and ashes”, “wretches”,
But, strangely enough, Jesus’ attitude is quite the
opposite! And I say strangely enough, because it
would have been natural and logical for Him to have a
similar attitude. In fact, being far superior and surpassing
all others, He should have had an even lower and humbler
opinion of Himself
more perfect than any other, He should have surpassed
everyone and anyone in self-reproach and humility, from the
moment of the world’s Creation to the end of Time.
But, the exact opposite is observed!
First of all, He proclaims that He is sinless: “Who among
you shall check Me for sin?” (John, 8:46). “The lord of this
world is coming, and he can find nothing in Me.” (John, 14:
also pronounces very high ideas of Himself: “I am the light
of the world” (John, 8, 12); “I am the path and the truth
and the life” (John, 14: 6)
But, apart from these, He also projects demands of absolute
dedication to His Person. He even penetrates the holiest of
man’s relationships, and says: “Whomsoever loves their
father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me. and
whomsoever loves their son or daughter more than me is not
worthy of me”. (Matthew, 10: 37). “I came to turn man away,
against his father, and the daughter against her mother and
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matthew, 10:
35). He even demands a life and a death of martyrdom from
His disciples: “They shall deliver you to councils and flog
you in their synagogues; and you shall be dragged before
leaders and kings for My sake…. And brother shall
deliver his brother to death and the father his son, and the
children shall revolt against their parents and shall put
them to death…. And you shall be hated by everyone, for
my namesake…. And he that shall endure to the end, he
shall be saved…. Do not fear those who destroy the body…..
Whomsoever shall deny Me before mankind, I too shall deny
him…. Whomsoever has forfeited his soul for My sake,
shall recover it.” (Matthew, 10: 17 onward)
now I ask you: Has anyone ever dared to demand for
himself the love of mankind, forsaking their very life? Has
anyone ever dared to proclaim his absolute
sinlessness? Has anyone ever dared to utter the
words: “I am the truth”? (John, 14: 6) No-one, and
nowhere! Only a God can do that. Can you imagine your Marx
uttering things like that? They would take him for a
lunatic and nobody would be willing to follow him!
Now, just consider, how many people sacrificed everything
for Christ’s sake, even their very life, having believed in
the veracity of His words regarding Himself! If His
proclamations about Himself were false, Jesus would have
been the most despicable character in history, for having
led so many people to such a huge sacrifice! What ordinary
man – no matter how great, how important, how wise he may be
– would deserve such a tremendous offer and sacrifice?
Well? No-one! Not unless he were God!
other words: Any ordinary man that would demand such a
sacrifice from his followers would have been the most loathsome
person in history. Christ, however, both
demanded it, and achieved it. Yet, despite this
‘achievement’, He was proclaimed by the very deniers of His
divinity as the noblest and holiest figure in history.
So, either the deniers are being illogical when they
proclaim this most loathsome figure as “holiest”, or,
in order to avoid any illogicality, and to rationalize the
co-existence of Christ’s demands and His holiness, they must
concede to accepting that Christ continues to remain the
noblest and holiest figure in mankind, but, only
under the condition that He is also God! Otherwise,
as we said, He would be, not the holiest, but the most
loathsome figure in history, being the cause of the greatest
sacrifice of all ages, and in the name of a lie! Thus,
Christ’s divinity is proved by His very deniers, on the
basis of those very characterizations of His person!
What you just said is really very impressive, but it is
nothing but speculation. Do you have any historical facts
that would confirm His Divinity?
told you at the beginning, that the proofs of His Divinity
are the supernatural events that took place while He was
here on earth. Christ did not rest on the proclamation of
the above truths alone; He certified His statements with
miracles as well. He made blind people see and cripples
walk; He satisfied the hunger of five thousand men and
manifold numbers of women and children with only two fish
and five loaves of bread; He commanded the elements of
nature and they obeyed; He resurrected the dead, amongst
which was Lazarus, four days after his death. But the most
astounding of all his miracles was His own Resurrection.
entire edifice of Christianity is supported on the event of
the Resurrection. This is not my speculation. The Apostle
Paul said it: “If Christ had not risen (from the dead), our
faith would be futile”. (Corinthians I, 15: 17). If Christ
is not resurrected, then everything collapses. But Christ was
resurrected, which means He is the Lord of
life and death, therefore God.
you see all of this? How can you believe it?
I didn’t see any of it, but others did:
They in turn made this known to others, and they actually
“signed” their testimony with their own blood. And, as
everyone acknowledges, a testimony of one’s life is the
supreme form of testimony.
don’t you likewise bring me someone, who will tell me that
Marx died and was resurrected, and that he is willing to
sacrifice his life in order to testify it? I, as an honest
man, will believe him.
will tell you. Thousands of communists were tortured and
died for their ideology. Why don’t you embrace communism in
the same way?
said it yourself. Communists died for their ideology.
They didn’t die for real events. In an ideology, it is very
easy for deception to seep through; and because it is a
characteristic of the human soul to sacrifice itself for
something it believes in, this explains why so many
communists died for their ideology. But that doesn’t compel
us to accept this ideology as something true.
is one thing to die for ideas, and another to die for
events. The Apostles didn’t die for any ideas. Not even
for the “Love one another”, or any of the other moral
teachings of Christianity.
The Apostles died for their testimony of
supernatural events. And when
we say ‘event’, we mean that which is captured by our
physical senses, and is comprehended through them.
Apostles suffered martyrdom for “that which they heard”,
“that which they saw with their own eyes”, “that which they
observed and their hands touched” (John I, 1)
Just like the clever speculation by Pascal, we say that one
of the three following things happened to the Apostles:
either they were deceived, or, they deceived us, or, they
told us the truth.
Let’s take the first case. It is not possible for the
Apostles to have been deceived, because everything that they
reported, was not reported to them by others.
They themselves were eye and ear
witnesses of all those things.
Besides, none of them were imaginative characters, nor did
they have any psychological inclination that made them
accept the event of the Resurrection. Quite the contrary -
they were terribly distrustful. The Gospels are extremely
revealing, in their narrations of their spiritual
dispositions: they even disbelieved the reassurances that
some people had actually seen Him, resurrected.
one other thing. What were the Apostles, before Christ
called them? Were they perhaps ambitious politicians or
visionaries of philosophical and social systems, who were
longing to conquer mankind and thus satisfy their
fantasies? Not at all. They were illiterate fishermen. The
only thing that interested them was to catch a few fish to
feed their families. That is why, even after the Lord’s
Crucifixion, and despite everything that they had heard and
seen, they returned to their fishing boats and their nets.
In other words, there was not a single trace of disposition
in these men for the things that were to follow. It was
only after the day of the Pentecost, “when they received
strength from on high”, that they became the teachers of the
second case: Did they deceive us? Did they lie to us? But
then, why would they deceive us? What would
they gain by lying? Was it money? Was it status? Was it
glory? For someone to tell a lie, he must be
expecting some sort of gain. The Apostles though, by
preaching Christ - and in fact Christ crucified and
resurrected – the only things that they secured for
themselves were: hardships, labours, lashings, stonings,
shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, nakedness, attacks from robbers,
beatings, incarcerations and finally, death. And all this,
for a lie? It would be undoubtedly foolish for anyone to
even consider it.
Consequently, the Apostles were neither deceived, nor did
they deceive us. This leaves us with the third choice: that
they told us the truth.
should also stress something else here: The Evangelists are
the only ones who recorded true historical events. They
describe the events, and only the events. They do not resort
to any personal judgments. They praise no-one, and they
criticize no-one. They make no attempt to exaggerate an
event, nor eliminate or underestimate another. They let the
events speak for themselves.
you excluding the possibility that in Christ’s case, it was
just an incident of apparent death? The other day, the
newspapers had written about someone in India whom they
buried and three days later they exhumed him and he was
poor child! I will recall the words of the blessed
Augustine again: “O faithless ones, you are not
actually mistrustful; indeed, you are the most gullible of
all. You accept the most improbable things, and the most
irrational, the most contradictory, in order to deny a
my child. It was not a case of apparent death with Christ.
First of all, we have the testimony of the Roman centurion,
who reassured Pilate that Christ’s death was a certainty.
Then, our Gospel informs us that on the same day of His
Resurrection, the Lord was seen talking with two of His
disciples, walking towards Emmaus, which was more than ten
kilometers away from Jerusalem.
you imagine someone, who could go through all the tortures
that Christ underwent, and three days after His “apparent
death”, spring back again? If anything, he would have to be
fed chicken soup for forty days, in order to be able to open
his eyes, let alone walk and talk as though nothing had
for the Hindu, bring him here to be flogged with a scourge –
do you know what a scourge is? It is a whip, whose lashes
each have a lead chunk or a piece of broken bone or sharp
nails attached to their end – bring him here, so we can flog
him, then force a crown of thorns on his head, crucify him,
give him bile and vinegar to drink, then pierce his side
with a spear, put him in a tomb, and then, if he comes back
from the dead, then we can talk.
Even so, but all the testimonies that you have invoked
belong to Christ’s Disciples. Is there any testimony on
this matter, that doesn’t come from the circle of His
Disciples? Are there any historians for example, who
can certify Christ’s Resurrection? If so, then I will also
believe what you say.
poor child! You don’t know what you’re saying now! If
there had been such historians who had
witnessed Christ resurrected, they would have been compelled
to believe in His Resurrection and would have recorded it as
believers, in which case, you would again have rejected
their testimony, just like you rejected Peter’s testimony,
John’s testimony, etc. How can it be possible, for
someone to actually witness the Resurrection and yet, NOT
become a Christian? You are asking for a roasted fowl, on a
waxen skewer, that also sings! It just can’t be done !
will remind you though – because you are asking for
historians – of what I said earlier: that the only true
historians are the Apostles.
Nevertheless, we do have testimony
of the kind that you want; and it is by someone who
didn’t belong to the circle of His Disciples: it was Paul.
Paul not only wasn’t a Disciple of Christ, he actually
persecuted Christ’s Church relentlessly.
They say that Paul suffered from sunstroke and that it was
the cause of his hallucination.
child, if Paul was hallucinating, the thing that would have
come to the surface, would have been his subconscious. And
in Paul’s subconscious, the Patriarchs and the Prophets
would have been top ranking. He would have hallucinated
about Abraham, and Jacob and Moses, and not Jesus, whom he
considered a rabble-rouser and a fraud!
you imagine a faithful old granny seeing Buddha or Jupiter
in her dream or delirium? She would most probably see Saint
Nicholas or Saint Barbara, because she believes in them.
more thing. With Paul, we have –as Papini notes- the
following miraculous phenomena: First of all, the
abruptness of his conversion. Straight from faithlessness to
faith. With no intermediate preparatory stage. Secondly,
the steadfastness of his faith. No wavering, no doubts. And
thirdly, his faith lasted for a whole lifetime. Do you
believe that all these things can occur after a case
of sunstroke? They can in no way be attributed to such a
cause. If you can explain how, then explain it. If
you can’t, then you must admit the miracle. And you must
know that for a man of his time, Paul was exceptionally
well-educated. He was not your average little person, who
was totally clueless.
will also add something else. We today, my child, are
living in an exceptional era. We are living the miracle of
When Christ said of His Church that “the gates of Hades
shall not overpower Her” (Matthew 16:18), His followers were
very few in number. Almost two thousand years have passed,
since that day. Empires vanished, philosophical systems were
forgotten, world theories collapsed. But Christ’s Church
remains indestructible, despite the continuous and dramatic
persecutions it has undergone. Isn’t that a miracle?
one final thing. In Luke’s Gospel it says that when the
Holy Mother visited Elizabeth (the Baptist’s mother) after
the Annunciation, she was greeted with the words: “blessed
are you amongst women”. And the Holy Mother replied as
follows: “My heart magnifies the Lord. Behold, from this
moment on, all generations shall call me blessed” (a’
What was the Holy Mother at that time?
She was just an obscure daughter of Nazareth. How many knew
her? And yet, since that day, empresses have been
forgotten, distinguished women’s names have been
extinguished, the mothers and wives of great generals went
into oblivion. Who remembers, or even knows, Napoleon’s
mother or Alexander the Great’s mother? Almost no-one. But,
millions of lips across every length and breadth of the
world, throughout the ages, venerate that humble daughter of
Nazareth, the “more precious than the Cherubim and
incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim”. Are we, or
aren’t we –the people of the twentieth century– living in
this day and age the verification of those words of the Holy
The exact same things are observed in a
“secondary” prophecy of Christ: While He was staying at the
house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him and poured her
expensive fragrant oil over His head. Christ commented:
“Amen, verily I say to you, that wherever this gospel will
be preached in the world, it will also mention what this
woman did, in her memory” (Matthew, 26: 13). Now, how large
was His circle of followers at the time, so that one could
say that they outdid themselves in order that their Master’s
prophecy be fulfilled? Especially a prophecy such as this
one, which, by today’s world standards, is of no importance
to most people.
they or aren’t they miracles? If you can, explain them.
But if you can’t, then admit them as such.
have to admit that your arguments are pretty solid. But I
would like to ask you one more thing: Don’t you think that
Christ left His work unfinished? That is, unless He
deserted us. I can’t imagine a God that would remain
indifferent to mankind’s suffering. We are down here
toiling, while He, up there, remains apathetic.
my child. You aren’t right. Christ did not leave His
work unfinished. On the contrary, He is the one unique case
in history where a person has the certainty that His mission
was accomplished, and had nothing further to do or to say.
Even the greatest of philosophers, Socrates, who discussed
and taught during his whole lifetime, and towards the end
composed an intricate “Apology”, would have even more to
say, if he had lived.
Only Christ – in the time bracket of three years – taught
what He had to teach, did what He had to do, and finally
said (on the Cross): “It is finished”. Another sample of
His divine perfection and authority.
for the abandonment that you mentioned, I can understand
your concern. Without Christ, the world would be a theatre
of insanity. Without Christ, you cannot explain anything:
why are there sorrows, why injustices, why failures, why
sicknesses, why, why, why…. Thousands of monumental “why”s.
to understand! Man cannot approach all of these
“why”s with his finite logic. It is only through Christ
that everything can be explained. All these trials merely
precondition us for eternity. Perhaps then, we might be
honored by the Lord with a reply to some of those “why”s.
might be worthwhile, if I read you a beautiful poem
from Constantine Kallinikos’ collection “Laurels and
Myrtles”, with the title “Questions”:
I asked a desert father of seventy years,
whose silver strands were blown by the wind:
Tell me o father, why, on this earth,
do the light and the dark inseparably move ?
And why must they - like twins - together
the thorn and the rose, the tear and the
Why, in the loveliest part of the woodland
have scorpions and vipers concealed their
Why must it be, that the tender bud,
before unfolding its fragrant bloom,
be struck by a worm in the heart of its stem,
And left to die, like a shrivelled rag ?
Why are the plow, the seed and the hands
a must for the wheat, to become our bread?
Why must everything useful, noble, divine
always be purchased with tears and our blood,
while selfishness ever rampantly reigns,
and lewdness is swallowing up the world?
And why, amongst such harmony around,
must tumult and disorder find their way?
The hermit replied, with his somber voice
and right arm pointing to the sky,
that there, beyond those clouds of gold,
the Almighty weaves a tapestry divine.
But since we are wanderers of the lower plane
We see nothing but the knots and strings
It is no wonder, why the mind sees wrong,
when it should always be thankful and give
for the day will come, when Christians all,
with souls that ride the skies with wings,
will gaze atop God’s tapestry and see
how careful and orderly everything was!
child, Christ never abandoned us. He is forever with us, as
a helper and a supporter, until the end of time. But you
will realize this, only when you become a conscientious
member of His Church and be joined by Her Sacraments.
[Re-published, from the book of the Holy
Recluse Monastery of the Theotokos “FROM THE LIFE AND THE
TEACHING OF FATHER EPIPHANIOS”]
(*) The poem has been
loosely translated, for its message only.
R E F E R
E N C E S
From within sacred history, we
observe how Abraham considers himself “earth and ashes”
(Genesis 18: 27). Similarly Job (42: 6). The great Moses
hesitates to undertake the mission of liberating the
Israelites from Egypt, believing himself to be too small and
inadequate for such a job: “And Moses said to God : ‘Who am
I, that can go to the Pharaoh, king of Egypt,…… I am not
capable……. weak voiced and stuttering, I am.” (Exodus 3: 11,
4: 10). The same is said at a later date by the Judge
Gideon: “My Lord, how can I save Israel?…. for I am the
youngest of my father’s house…” (Judges 6: 15). David calls
himself “a dead dog, and a louse” (Kings I, 24: 15), a worm
and not a man, the disgrace of mankind and the derogation of
the people” (Psalms 21:27). Isaiah cries out: “woe is me,
the wretched one, for I am deeply troubled, because, being a
man and having impure lips, I reside amongst the people with
impure lips, and yet I have looked upon the king, Lord
Shabuoth with my very eyes” (Isaiah 6:5). Jeremiah
laments: “O Sovereign Lord, behold, I cannot speak, for I am
the younger…. Cure me my Lord, and I shall be healed; save
me, and I shall be saved. For You are my boasting.”
(Jeremiah 1:6, 17:14). The three Young Men utter a
confession about themselves and all of the population:
“….for we have sinned and broken the law, by distancing
ourselves from You, and we are sinners in everything and we
did not obey Your commandments….. with a crushed soul and a
humbled mind, may we be received by You…” (Daniel, Azarias’
prayer, 56 and 16).
Baptist, the “greatest amongst those born of woman”,
confessed : “I am not the Christ. And they asked him: Who
then are you? Are you Elijah? I am not. Are you the
Prophet? And he replied: No. …… I am just a voice in the
wilderness, crying out “straighten the path of the Lord……. I
am not worthy enough, to even loosen the strap of His
(Christ’s) sandal…” (John I, 20). Finally, the one and only
and unprecedented Paul, considers himself a “monstrosity”
and unworthy “to be called an apostle”, a “wretched person”,
and “the first amongst all sinners” ( Corinthians I, 15:89,
Romans 7:24, Timothy I, 1:15). But, we won’t take up any
more time here…
by applying the standard of: “the greater you are, the more
you should humble yourself”. (Sirah, 3:18)
 This is
precisely what is stressed in John’s Gospel: “the one who
witnessed, testified” (19: 35); In other words, the one who
wrote those things was the one who actually saw the soldier
pierce Christ’s side with the spear, and he saw blood and
water coming out of the wound.
 “They hesitated
to prostrate themselves to Him” (Matthew 28:17). “And they
(=the apostles), upon hearing that He was alive and was seen
by her (=Mary Magdalene), disbelieved”. (Mark 16:13). “He
derided them for their disbelief and their hard-heartedness,
because they did not believe those who had seen Him risen”
(Mark 16:14). “It
appeared to them (=the Apostles) that their (=the
myrrh-bearers’) words were like ravings (=foolishness,
delirium), and they disbelieved them” (Luke 24:11). “We had hoped that He was the one who was destined to redeem
Israel” (Luke 24:21). “If I do not see the imprint of the
nails on His hands and place my finger on the imprint of the
nails, and place my hand on (the wound of) His side, I shall
not believe." (=words of Doubting Thomas, John 20:25), etc.