The Essential Question

From Fr Stephen’s The Challenge of Atheism:

Our conversation with Atheism is not about the stars and the planets, or about how our planet came to be and how long ago. Our conversation with Atheism is not about the literal character of stories in the Old Testament. Christians who focus on such things in their discussions with Atheism are largely agreeing that these are the essential questions for humanity – and they are not. The central question for humanity is the God revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ. If that God is the true God, then our religion can only be measured by the love we have for our enemy.

This is similar to what Fr Men said in an interview when asked Why be a Christian?:

Jesus, the preacher of morals—this is a historic myth. They would not have crucified him for just that alone. Jesus, the self-proclaimed Messiah? Why then did they not crucify Bar Cochba who also called himself messiah? And there were plenty of false messiahs. What was it in Jesus that aroused such love and such hatred? ‘I am the door’, he said, the door to eternity ( John 10:9). It seems to me that everything that is valuable in Christianity is valuable only because it is from Christ. What is not from Christ could as well belong to Islam or Buddhism. Every religion is a path towards God, a conjecture about God, a human approach to God. It is a vector pointing upwards from below. But the coming of Christ is the answer, a vector coming from heaven towards us. On the one hand, an event situated in history, on the other hand, something quite outside history. That’s why Christianity is unique, because Christ is unique.

So much of our time is wasted on non-essentials. And this is dangerous. Fr Stephen continues:

We believe that the world is so dangerous that even God Himself is not safe within it (cf. crucifixion). We also believe that our mission as Christians is to follow the example of the God/man Jesus Christ and yield ourselves up for crucifixion on behalf of our enemies. Anything less than that is not Orthodox Christianity in its fullness. … The challenge of Atheism is the challenge of despair. For Atheism cannot claim that human beings are improving. If anything, technology only makes us capable of far worse than the past.

Of course this is true — the world has always been and will always be a dangerous place and I cannot imagine it any other way — but what strikes me here is that it is dangerous to God Himself! And, while I’m as excited as any geek about the possibilities that our improving technology gives us, I know that governments have far more resources than to use and create Dangerous Technology than I or my cohorts have to use technology for humanity’s benefit.

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