Archive for October 23rd, 2006

Worship and the Knowledge of God

October 23, 2006


We prove God’s existence by worshiping Him and not by advancing so-called proofs. We have here the liturgical and iconographic argument for the existence of God. We arrive at a solid belief in the existence of God through a leap over what seems true, over the Pascalian certitude. According to an ancient monastic saying, “Give your blood and receive the Spirit.”

Paul Evdokimov

Evdokimov’s insight follows quite literally the pattern of the Church’s liturgy itself. Catechumens in the early Church were not, interestingly, given great lessons in theology prior to Baptism. Indeed, the Symbol of Faith (Creed) was not given to those being Baptized until the service of Baptism itself. In the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist), the Creed is not recited until afterthe dismissal of the catechumens. Such knowledge was reserved for those who had been illumined in Holy Baptism.

In the service of Baptism itself, after catechumens have been exorcised, and have renounced the Devil, they are then brought into the Church. There, facing the East, they are told, “Worship God!” Making a prostration, this first profound act of worship precedes the Creed – indeed it is an act that makes the Creed intelligible.

We know God in an act of giving ourselves to Him. He has, of course, given Himself first – but our response cannot be to consider the gift, to reason the gift. We embrace the gift – we bow before Him.

Christ said, “If you continue in my words, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). The second part of this statement is usually quoted free-standing, without its context. The context of knowledge given by Christ is continuance in His words. As we give ourselves to Him, whether in worship or in the “least of these my brethren,” we know Him.

The proof of God’s existence liturgical and iconographic is thus a dynamic relationship with the God who gives Himself to us. This alone makes possible the Truth which sets us free.


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