This first session focused on “The Search for Faith” and the DVD presentation was given by Professor David Frost, principal of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge. He noted that “The Way” is the first name that was given to what we now know as Christianity and that the Way is a way that we must go, a way of living and of giving meaning to life.
Christians believe that we have found the Way and that this Way is Jesus Christ, who is Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. However, the question that we are faced with is how we can know this. While we can’t expect scientific proof in matters of faith, we can rely on the experience of those who have gone before us, and on our own experience. Quoting Jesus’ saying “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5), Professor Frost presented the Church as a living organism through which we are linked other believers and ultimately to Jesus Christ Himself.
While the search for faith is perhaps made more difficult in the modern world with its assumption that matter is all that really exists, Christian faith has always been difficult. Nevertheless, the reality is that both non-believers and believers live by faith; while it takes faith to believe that God exists, it also takes faith to believe that He does not exist.
Moreover, human beings seem programmed to look for meaning and to say that there is no meaning in life seems to go against human experience. We all experience doubt and yet we long for something reliable in which to believe, for ultimately there is a longing within us that only God can fill. In the words of the Psalmist “My soul is thirsting for the living God.” (Psalm 41 ), or, as Saint Augustine said “Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in thee.”
However, it is not only a matter of us searching for God. Christianity believes in a God who comes searching for us before we start searching for Him. God comes to us in various ways in creation, and in other people who are made in His Image, although often we do not recognize Him. But God has done more than simply send us “contact-messages” about Himself: He has come to us in person in the unique man Jesus Christ. “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made Him known.” (John 1:18)
This recognition of Jesus Christ as God comes at a different moment for each of us and Professor Frost ended his talk by pointing us to the icon and the Gospel account (Mark 9:2-8) of the Transfiguration. While we cannot know exactly what happened, we do know that they came to see things differently to how they had seen them before.
“The three disciples suddenly saw the teacher whom they thought they knew transfigured, as the Son of God, as God Himself. They saw what God is; but because Jesus is also a man, they also saw what they could be. They too, though they may well have been limited, mean-minded, quarrelsome little men, could be transformed into the likeness of God, if they followed this God-Man wherever He led.”