Preaching in Class
That evening I found myself somewhat unprepared. After my experiences with my previous theologians in junior high school, I did not expect my high school teacher to confront me in front of the other students. To my surprise, he kept his word. For me, this was a significant measure to help me appreciate him as a good human being. I used to always carry with me the Holy Scripture since I often discussed it with George and the others, so I pulled it out on my desk. The teacher opened the subject immediately and took charge.
“Can you explain to me why your religion does not accept the Holy Tradition of the Church?” he asked.
I stayed speechless for a few seconds. This question had never come up in the past. I knew nothing about the subject of Holy Tradition. I only knew to juxtapose verses from the Holy Scriptures or to converse about scientific matters pertaining to atheism. I was caught off guard, how would I answer now? The entire class was staring at me. Their first impression would be based solely on my answer, and this would influence their attitude not only towards the rest of the discussion but their overall disposition towards all the “witnesses.” Of course, I knew some scriptural verses with the words of the Lord Jesus, which I believed to be befitting to the Orthodox, like the one in Mark 7:13, “You nullified the Law of God for your tradition,” but what would I come up with then? What would I say? Here I needed to improvise and do so quickly, so as not to appear that I was lost for words.
“We don’t accept Tradition because it opposes Holy Scripture!” I responded with some relief, while all eyes now turned towards the teacher. I had bought myself a little time to think about how to bring him to my turf, to subjects I knew well, or so I thought.
“Where did you see this opposition?” the teacher asked quickly. Now I was ready.
“In many areas! For example in the subject of the Holy Trinity. While tradition says that God is Trinity, the Holy Scripture states that “unto us there is one God…” I began.
“Please do not attempt to avoid the subject!” the teacher interrupted me, catching my play.
“How am I avoiding? Our subject is how does Holy Scripture disagree with tradition!” I answered using his own question. Thus, he was compelled to close his book and to continue the discussion on my grounds. Apparently, the teacher himself was not well schooled on the subject of the Holy Tradition, because if that were the case, initially he would never have accepted the dichotomy of the Holy Scripture from the rest of the Tradition of the Church, and he would have caused me many other problems, if he had told me that Holy Scripture is part of the Holy Tradition.
We spent the rest of the teaching hour disputing the subject of the Trinity while the class followed this dual with great interest. Neither one of us, however, was convinced from the arguments of the other since we simply juxtaposed verses of Holy Scripture without substantial interpretation. When we were interrupted by the recess bell, our debate did not result in any conclusion, and we both remained stuck to our positions. Realistically, however, I was the great victor, since all the listeners were Orthodox. All of them would surely be thinking, if a simple “Jehovah’s witness” can hold his weight against a high school theologian, then how much better would the “higher echelon” of my faith succeed in defeating any Orthodox?
After this discussion, the teacher and I developed a much better relationship. I really began to like this man because he was the only faithful Orthodox with whom I had engaged in meaningful discussions up to this point. He did not display any fanaticism, and, moreover, recognizing my knowledge of the Holy Scripture, he began to show generosity with school grades. On the contrary, my junior high school religion teacher, acting out of fanaticism, would lower my grades, although he knew that I was more knowledgeable than he was. I also believe that the teacher of the evening class took a liking to me because he found in me a precious ally in his struggle against a particular atheist student.
This student mostly disagreed with the narrative of Genesis. He believed that man evolved from the ape by mere chance and was not created by God. For me it was quite a joy to join forces with the theology teacher to teardown and out flank the blasphemous theory of spontaneous evolution. Naturally, we proved him groundless at every discussion, but the atheist student still did not want to accept the existence of God.
My discussions with my teachers were not limited to the hour of religious studies. Other teachers initiated discussions with me during class hours. My modern Greek, biology, and electronics teachers found it interesting to ask me questions about my faith in the presence of my peers. Some of them were atheists or agnostics, and many times they sided with my atheist classmate, attempting to prove the unproven. Another means by which I was able to propagate my religion was through my composition class. I always made my essays very interesting, and they were always read in class without fail.
Consequently my teachers were unwittingly becoming a useful means to advertise my religion in front of my classmates. Of course, with the exception of the theology teacher, in the presence of all others I monopolized the discussion. With all these endeavors, in spite of investing very little time, I managed to present a rich “activity report” to my organization, namely a registration of hours spent preaching and passing out pamphlets to everyone around me. Day by day, I gained their respect. I was making quite an impression, and I was winning over George, who already knew my religion better than his own!
 Translator’s Note: This term is used loosely and pertains to all religious educators in the Greek school system. According to the Church Fathers, a theologian is someone who has attained vision of God, not necessarily a teacher of religion.