Q. 23. What is the state of man's innocence?
R. The state of innocence is twofold, according to St. Basil. ( 16) First of all, there is the detachment in mind and intention from all sins through the lengthy practice of good deeds. Secondly, there is the absence of the experience of evil, either because of age or other reasons. It is in this second way that Adam's state of innocence before sin is taken, in all perfection and original justice as regards the intellect as well as the will. All knowledge is present in the intellect as is all goodness in the will. For since Adam knew God very well (to the degree that he was fittingly allowed), in knowing God he knew everything through him, this being a mark of the divine being. And when the animals were brought forward to be properly named, he assigned each one a name through his knowledge of their natures. His only concern was the knowledge of God and the pondering of his graces. As far as the will was concerned, it followed the principle that it was truly free and that man was free to sin or not to sin, as treated in Sacred Scripture: Do not say that God is the source of my lie, because "you must not do the things which he hates." And later: "God made man from the beginning in the hand of his own counsel, if you wish to keep the commandments and perform the accepted fidelity." And later: "Before man are life and death, good and evil; whatever he chooses will be given to him. God commanded nobody to do wickedly and gave nobody the license to sin." And so in this state of innocence, man was similar to the angels. As soon as he sinned, he became mortal that very instant through deception in the state of sin. For so says Sacred Scripture: "The wages of sin are death." Then he immediately lost the perfection of reason and knowledge, his will becoming more inclined to evil than to good. Thus was the state of innocence changed, through the experience of evil, into the state of sin, and perfect man appeared so worthless that he could now say with the Psalmist: "I am a worm, not a man."
Q. 24. Are all men subject to the same sin of Adam?
R. Just as all men were in the state of innocence with Adam, so when he sinned, all men sinned in him and have remained in that state of sin. They are subject, therefore, not only to sin but also the punishment for sin, which is expressed in God's decree: "On whatever day you shall eat of it, you will die the death." Repeating the same, the holy Apostle says: "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin - death, so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned." For this reason we are conceived in the maternal womb and born even today in this sin, as the Psalmist says: "For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me." This sin is called original for these reasons: first, because before this time man was stained by no sin, although the devil sinned, through whose initiative the sin known as original arose in man. Adam, the perpetrator of the sin, is subject to it as also are we, his posterity. Secondly, it is called original because no man is conceived without it.
Q. 25. If God foresaw Adam's sin, why did he create him?
R. God knew very well not only that Adam would sin, but also the evil of Lucifer himself, even before the latter was created; in fact, he knows the most insignificant thoughts of every creature, what they think and what they do. But since he did not want the sin of man and the evil of the Devil to overcome the Divine goodness, he created, as a sign of his greater goodness, that Angel as good, who later became evil by his own free will. It is the same with man, who sinned by his own initiative. But because with man's sin God foresaw that his divine goodness would shine forth more brightly, when he would send forth his only-born Son to this earthly vale in order to redeem man, taking his flesh from the most pure Virgin through the activity of the Holy Spirit, thereby gathering man-to the confounding of the Devil - into the kingdom of God, in greater honor than that of Paradise, therefore, that sin did not stop God from creating man. (17)
Q. 26. If God foreknew all things before he created the world, then did he predestine all things, both good and evil, to come about as they now do?
R. God foreknew all things before the creation of the world, but he predestined only the good, as St. Damascene says, for it is contrary to the divine goodness to predestine evil. Understand evil, however, as sin, since there is in the world nothing really evil save sin alone, which is the transgression of the divine law and Will. For the rest, they are the ways of God's punishing our sins, such as plagues, famines, war and others, which are evil in relation to us. (18) These latter cause afflictions which we bear with much difficulty. But, they are not evil in relation to God, for they contain in themselves the power of goodness. For, by so punishing us, he calls forth the good. Such evil is called the just punishment of God, as Scripture says: "Shall there be evil in the city, which the Lord has not done?" Likewise, God predestined solely according to his own wisdom and justice those things which do not have reference to our free will. But he predestined those things that do refer to our free will through the agreement of his good pleasure with our will, because he does not take away our free will.
Q. 27. What is free will?
R. Free will is man's unrestricted deciding from reason that arises and leads to the doing of good and evil, since a rational creature should have in its capacity such a nature and guide it freely by its mandating reason. This reason was complete in its perfection during the state of man's innocence, but it became damaged on account of sin. Nevertheless, the will remained no less inclined to evil in some things than to good in other things in the totality of its appetite, whether of the good or evil, on which matter St. Basil the Great speaks thus: "From one's intention and free will anyone can be holy or the opposite. Hear what Paul says: 'In Jesus Christ by the gospel I begot you.' And these words: 'As many as received him, he gave them power to be made sons of God."' The Holy Doctor teaches that even though the human will has been spoiled through original sin, nevertheless, it still remains now in the will of every man to be good and the son of God, or to be evil and the son of the devil. All this remains in the power and the hands of man, with divine grace helping unto the good and averting from the evil, but not forcing that which pertains to the free will of man.
Q. 28. Since men are begotten in the state of sin, do they have both body and soul from the seed of Adam or only the body?
R. The body itself proceeds from this seed, but the soul is from God, as Scripture says: "Thus says the Lord who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth, and forms the spirit of man in him." "And the dust returns into the earth, from whence it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it." To wit, if the soul were from the stock of man, it would have to die at the same time as he and be turned into dust with the body, the opposite of which is found in Sacred Scripture, as Christ spoke on the cross to the thief: "Amen, I say to you: this day you shall be with me in Paradise." His body remained on the cross, but his soul, as an immortal spirit, went with the Lord to Paradise. But, if the soul were from the stock of man, it would have died together with the body on the cross. And then, how could these words of God be true? "Have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob?' He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." This is to be understood as relating to the soul and not the body, since the bodies of the dead turn into ashes. But it is true in relation to the soul, which always remains alive in the sight of God. If the soul were of the same stock as the body, it would die with the body. The soul is given by God, however, when the body is prepared to receive it. And when it is infused in it, it exists in the whole body, just as fire exists in the glowing iron, but it is more properly in the head and the heart. (19)
Q. 29. If, indeed, God is the Creator of all things, then should not he provide for them?
R. Indeed, so it is, for he knows well all things, the least as well as the greatest, and provides for all that he made, as can be seen in these words of Christ: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? But yet not one of them shall fall to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." This providence of God is expressed in the Old Law through the mouth of the Psalmist: "The eyes of all hope in you, O Lord, and you give them meat in due season. You open your hand and fill with blessing every living creature."
Q. 30. Are foreknowledge, predestination and providence found also in the divine persons?
R. Foreknowledge, predestination and providence are separate acts in the divine persons. For providence is ordered toward created things, but foreknowledge and predestination are in God himself before the existence of all creatures, although they are found in a different manner. Foreknowledge is the knowledge itself of future events of all types; predestination, however, is the determination according to the foreknowledge of all things in regard to the good but not evil. For if it were unto evil, it would be against true divine goodness. On which account we can deservedly say that, as far as we are concerned, foreknowledge is first in God and then predestination. But providence of created things follows after creation, as the Apostle evidently teaches us when he says: "For whom he foreknew, he also predestined; (20) whom he predestined, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified."[8l] Such a consideration should concern only man himself, since the other creatures (with the exception of the angels, who are in a definite state) do not pertain to this consideration of predestination. For, indeed, since they lack a free will, there is no evil in them; whatever they do is completely the result of their own nature, because of which they pay no penalty and receive no reward.
Q. 31. What further should be perceived about God and creation from this article?
R. Whatever good you can come by, you should ascribe completely to the best and highest God as cause and author; whatever evil there be, you should consider totally foreign to him, not locally, but naturally so. In regard to creation, consider it good, just as it was produced by the good. Nevertheless, consider that creation, which has reason and free will but is rebellious, to be clearly evil, not because of its creaturliness but because of its immense crime. But, that creation which is irrational and devoid of free will, account it to be good in its nature from every aspect. (21)
Q. 32. Which is the second article of faith?
R. "And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, light of light, true God of true God, begotten and not created, co-essential with the Father, through whom all things were made."(22)
Q. 33. What does this orthodox article teach?
R. Two things: first, that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is eternal God, begotten by the Father of his very essence, and is of the same honor and glory with the Father, as he speaks of himself: "Father, glorify me now with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was." Secondly, there is found in this article the teaching that Christ certainly is the creator, not only of things, but of this very world and time, in which these created things are found, as the Apostle says: "By whom also he made the world." But of these things St. John the Evangelist says: "The world was made by him, and the world knew him not."
Q. 34. What do these two names "Jesus Christ" signify, as found in this article?
R. "Jesus" signifies Savior, just as the Archangel was explaining to Joseph: "She will bring forth a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." Yet, this name can be given to no one in the world, and rightly so, except to the Lord our Savior, who freed the entire human race from the eternal captivity of the devils. And "Christ" signifies anointed, because in the Old Law anointed people are referred to as "Christi", namely, the priests, kings and prophets. Christ is anointed into these three offices in a special way, above all other anointed people, as the Psalmist says of him: "You have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore God, your God, anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows." But, this anointing should be understood as coming from the Holy Spirit, as the Prophet says: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to preach to the meek." Christ applies these words to himself when he says: "This day this scripture is fulfilled in your ears." Christ, however, surpasses his companions according to three very great distinctions. His first distinction is the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, about which the Apostle says: "Called by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek." The same author elsewhere calls Christ a priest, because he sacrificed himself to God the Father, as he says: "Christ, who by the eternal Spirit offered himself unspotted to God." And later: "Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many." The second distinction is his kingdom, which the Archangel Gabriel, while he was fulfilling his mission to the most pure Virgin, demonstrated by saying: "The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever; of his kingdom there shall be no end." The Magi also gave witness to him by offering gifts at the time of his birth, as they said: "Where is he that is born king of the Jews?" The title of his crime at the time of his very death proves the same thing„ "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Moses prophesized from God, however, concerning the third distinction, when he said: "The Lord your God will raise up to you a prophet from your brothers similar to me." This distinction was shown through his holy teaching where he adequately taught about his divinity and other things pertaining to eternal salvation, as he says of himself: "I have made known your name to them." And earlier: "The words which you gave me I gave to them; and they have received them, and have known in very deed that I came from you, and they have believed that you had sent me." This prophecy „ the third distinction „ should be understood as the foretelling of future events not by a certain revelation, but from his knowledge as true God and true man.
Q. 35. For what reason is the Son of God called "only-begotten"?
R. Sacred Scripture clearly teaches that the Son of God is only-begotten, when it asserts: "We saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father." And later: "The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father." And he is called only-begotten for this reason, that he is the one Son of God according to the divine nature; but certain others are called sons of God by virtue of his freely given grace (23) as all the faithful and the elect of God; this grace of adoption (24) is given to them through Christ, as Sacred Scripture says: "As many as received him, he gave them power to become sons of God."
Q. 36. What do the words "light of light" mean?
R. Light must be understood, by way of knowledge, to have a double meaning „ created and uncreated. Scripture speaks thus of created light: "And God said: 'Be light made.' And light was made. And God saw that light was good; and he divided the light from the darkness."[l01] About uncreated light, however, the Prophet says: "You shall no more have the sun for your light by day, neither shall the brightness of the moon enlighten you; but the Lord shall be unto you for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory. Your sun shall go down no more, and your moon shall not decrease: for the Lord shall be unto you for an everlasting light"[l02] and your God unto your glory, etc. (25) This should be understood as uncreated light, as is evident from the words mentioned later in the same article: "True God from true God, begotten and not created." Again, created light is from nothing, but begotten light is from the essence of the Father, about whom the Apostle said: "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, making by himself (26) purgation of sins, sits on the right hand of the majesty on high."[l03] And he himself avers: "I am the light of the world: he that follows me walks not in darkness, but shall have the light of life." But he is called "light of light" because he has his total essence from the Father, just as when a light is lit from another light, it receives therefrom the entire substance of light. And also these words mentioned in the same article„"through whom all things were made" - should be understood to mean that he is co-essential with God the Father. And He is also the creator, not as if this were through him as a servant or an instrumentality, but as Scripture holds: "He was in the world, and the world was made through him."[l05] „that is, by Him.
Q. 37. Which is the third article of faith?
R. "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, became incarnate of the Holy Spirit and from the Virgin Mary became man." (27)
Q. 38. What does this article of faith teach?
R. It teaches four things. First, that the Son of God came down from heaven for our salvation, as was promised, into the womb of the most pure Virgin Mary, as he speaks of himself: "And no man has ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven."[l06] He came down from heaven not to change places, since as God he is everywhere and fills all things; but because it so pleased him, he humbled himself in accepting humanity. This article teaches secondly that Christ the Lord assumed true humanity and not some appearance or phantasy of the same. This body was formed then in the womb of the Blessed Virgin when she answered the Archangel: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word."[l07] Immediately the whole man with all his members and rational soul was joined with the divinity, so that there existed simultaneously true God and true man in one person. (28) Thus, the most pure Virgin was said to be the Mother of God, for Elizabeth said to her: "And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"[l08] One must understand that neither the divinity was transformed into the humanity, nor humanity into divinity, but that both complete natures came to exist with all their properties in one person, with the sole exception of sin in regard to the humanity.
Q. 39. What does this article teach thirdly?
R. It teaches that the incarnation of Christ came about by the activity of the Holy Spirit, such that Mary remained a virgin before, during and after conception, and in birth, because he was born of her with the seal of her virginity preserved intact; after birth she remained a virgin eternally. (29)
Q. 40. What else is contained in this article? R. Concerning the most blessed Virgin, since she was worthy to accomplish such a mystery, all orthodox are bound to render her due honor and reverence as to the mother of the Lord and our Savior, or rather the Theotokos. Hence, the Church composed the greeting formed from the words of the Archangel and of St. Elizabeth, as well as several of its own: "Theotokos Virgin, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, for you brought forth the Savior of our souls." (30)
Q. 41. How is this greeting to be understood?
R. One should believe first that this greeting has its source and origin from God himself, through the Archangel divinely commissioned to the Virgin on earth; for the Archangel would not have dared announce it, if God did not so instruct him. The words, however, which St. Elizabeth spoke, were uttered under the influence of the Holy Spirit, which appears obvious with the saying of the Evangelist: "And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit: and she cried out with a loud voice, and said: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."'[l09] The Church added the remaining words under the influence of the Holy Spirit and by her own authority instructed us to venerate often the blessed Virgin in time of prayer with this greeting.
Q. 42. What teaching is found in this greeting?
R. In the salutation itself there is found a commemoration of the incarnation of God's Son and the blessings given to us through his incarnation. Again it is certainly taught here that the eternal Word of God did not bring with himself his flesh from heaven, but took it within the womb of the most blessed Virgin, from her own blood, formed by the Holy Spirit; he was born of her as his own Mother. This indeed must be believed. The Church judged and condemned as heretics, however, those who say that he bore his flesh from heaven and simply passed through the most pure Virgin as through some sort of channel. We are taught in the same salutation to call her "Theotokos"; for it was she who bore God for us in his humanity and from her was born Christ, true God and true man. And it is this very teaching that is found in this same greeting. By the words "full of grace", it is to be understood that she has become a greater participant in divine grace than all other creatures; because she is the Theotokos, the Church raises her above the Cherubim and Seraphim. Thus, she surpasses all the choirs of angels and is at the right hand of her Son in all honor and adornment as the Psalm reads: "The queen stood at your right hand in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety." All orthodox should beg her intercession by means of this customary greeting, for this prayer of the Mother is very powerful in pleasing the Son. And whoever is devoted to her in such a manner, willingly chants the Acathist (31) and the Paraclisis (32) and other church hymns written to her glory.
Q. 43. Which is the fourth article of faith?
R. "Who was crucified for us, under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried." (33)
Q. 44. What does this article of faith teach?
R. It teaches six things. First, that he suffered and really died on the cross for us in his true humanity taken from the most pure Virgin. This is seen from Sacred Scripture where it says: "And Jesus crying with a loud voice, said: 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.' And saying this, he gave up the spirit." In addition, he truly shed his most precious blood for our sake, through which he redeemed us, as the Apostle says: "Who has predestined us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
Q. 45. What else does this article teach? R. It teaches that he suffered innocently because of our sins, as the Apostle puts it: "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain way of the tradition of your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled." John the Baptist testifies to the very same thing, that he, innocent as a lamb, suffered because of our sins, when he says: "Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins (34) of the world." But, he suffered voluntarily, as he himself bears witness: "I have the power to lay it down, and the power to take it up again."
Q. 46. What does this article teach thirdly?
R. It teaches that Christ suffered on the cross according to the flesh, but not according to his divinity. For, the divinity neither suffered, nor was fastened to the cross, nor struck by spittle, nor hit by blows, nor did it die. As the Apostle clearly asserts, the flesh alone underwent all this: "Yet, now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through] death, to present you holy and unspotted, and blameless before him."[117 But, the divinity assumed by the humanity was never separated from the body nor from the soul, whether during the suffering and death on the cross or even after death, although the soul was separated from the body. For this reason the person of Christ was one and the same even at the time of death. (35)
Q. 47. What does this article teach fourthly?
R. It teaches that the death of Christ was more distinctive than that of all other men and this for the following reasons. First, there is the seriousness of our sins, as the Prophet speaks about him: "Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows; and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins." And yet another Prophet speaks in the person of Christ: "All you that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow," which has been thrust upon me. (36) Another reason for the distinctive type of death that was Christ's is the following. He perfected on the cross the priesthood by sacrificing his very self to God the Father for the redemption of the human race, as the Apostle describes him: "Who gave himself a redemption for all." And in another place: "Christ also loved us and delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness." And still elsewhere: "Because when as yet we were sinners, according to the time, Christ died for US." There he perfected also the office of mediator between God and man, as the same Apostle describes him: "And through him to reconcile to himself all things, making peace through the blood of his cross." And still elsewhere: "Blotting out the handwriting of the decree against us, which was contrary to us, he has taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross."
Q. 48. What does this article teach in the fifth place?
R. It teaches of the burial of Christ, that is, just as he really suffered on the cross, so he truly died thereupon. And he was really buried in the designated place. And the reason this was done was so that nobody would later doubt the true resurrection of Christ from the dead. If, however, he were buried in some hidden and private place, then the Jews would have used this occasion to disgrace the fact. But, on account of the greater faith in and the glory of the glorious resurrection of Christ, the minds of the Jews were so perturbed as to have come to Pilate and say: "Command, therefore, the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day." Pilate said to them: "You have a guard; go, guard it as you know. And they departing, made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting guards." And it is this very guard of the Jews that displayed the best testimony that Christ rose from the dead. For indeed they were then very terrified, as Scripture says: "And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone (from the entrance of the grave) and sat upon it. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men." The same ones later "came into the city and told the chief priests all things that had been done." Whereby they were forced to utter the very same words that the angel of the Lord said to the women: "You seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell his disciples that he is risen." It is for this reason that his burial is mentioned, so that everyone might be certain (37), that the disciples did not secretly take and bury him in an hidden place, as the evil Jews might have spread about, after having bribed the soldiers. The-grave in which he lay removes the suspicion of such a thing, as also does the sealing of the stone with the Jewish guards, as well as Joseph and Nicodemus, men of honor among the Jewish people, so too the shroud in which he was wrapped and the headcloth left in the grave after Christ's resurrection, which was not secretly washed by the disciples. Together with this teaching, one must also consider that according to the prophecy it was necessary that his burial be glorious,[l30] and such it was and so it remains even until today. And so, whoever approaches Christ with faith and great love, receives the great remission of sins, by virtue of which he comes to Christ.
Q. 49. Besides these and other things, might one goodwillingly ask, where could the soul of Christ be found after his death and before the resurrection?
R. The soul of Christ was joined to the divinity, existing separately from the body, and with this same divinity it descended into Hell (38), although there is no mention here of this matter (39); nevertheless, as is affirmed in all church hymns, Christ descended into Hell in his soul and divinity. It is most obviously asserted in that church hymn: "You were in the tomb, O Christ, according to the flesh, but in Hell with your soul as God, in heaven with the thief in majesty, with the Father and the Holy Spirit." (40) He led out from Hell the souls of the Holy Fathers and brought them to Paradise, along with the thief who believed in him on the cross.
Q. 50. What does this article teach in the sixth place?
R. Since mention was made of the cross of Christ, on which Christ died and purchased our salvation, we are provided the opportunity to consider this cross, about which the Apostle says: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world." And in another place: "For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God." We must, therefore, revere for these important reasons the holy cross, the sign of Christ, which has been given the power to turn away evil spirits through the shedding of the blood of the Son of God and the death which he accepted on it. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, therefore, says: "Whenever we sign ourselves with the holy cross, the devil cannot be present and endure this, for he realizes that Jesus Christ was fastened to the cross for the sake of our salvation and the destruction of the power of the devil, for the name of Christ is usually thereby invoked, but the evil one flees from us and tempts no more; and so we should cross ourselves very often, for not rarely are we tempted by the devil, which temptations we can repell only through the holy cross and calling upon the name of Jesus Christ; but not only from ourselves can we repell him, but from everything else, as our food and drink." Therefore, the same St. Cyril also teaches: "Make the sign of the Holy Cross when eating, drinking, sitting, standing, speaking and even walking." And no affair should be undertaken, unless first the sign of the cross is made, at home or on the road, day or night, everywhere.