The Good Confession

I often think that the confession of the goodness of God is the bold confession of a martyr. We can all understand the stories of great martyrs, who, in the face of terrible torments, refuse to renounce Christ and are faithful to Him. Of course, sometimes their sufferings are short while there are others who suffer for a lifetime. But I believe the confession that “God is good,” to be the essential confession of every martyr and the most essential confession of our struggle as Christians on any given day and throughout the course of life.

To say, “God is good,” is to confess an inherent part of the content of the statement, “Jesus is Lord.” For if Jesus is Lord, then God is good. And come what may – the natural disasters of the course of this life – the prosperity of the wicked – the torments of circumstance and our fallen bodies – the taunts of the wicked-one and those who ally themselves to his cause – come all this – the Christian response through the ages is, “Jesus is Lord!” “God is good.” It is to unite ourselves with the good confession of the three young men in the fiery furnace. And together with them our good confession will echo through eternity and we will not be ashamed.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.



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108 responses to “The Good Confession”

  1. Karen Avatar
    Karen

    David, I don’t doubt that you have some sort of Christian experience. I was talking about the Orthodox experience in particular, and more particularly personal contact with her Saints. On the other hand, there were those who encountered Jesus of Nazareth and perceived nothing more than a carpenter’s son. Even His disciples were very slow to comprehend despite all the miracles–all the more remarkable that they ended up martyrs proclaiming something as improbable as His Resurrection. Similarly, I’m not ignorant of the spiritual experiences of people outside Christian faith and also even of those of no particular faith. I don’t judge those–some of them seem to me to be in their own way limited experiences of God. Others may be pure delusion or some other common manifestation of human need or expression (or even sometimes evil forces beyond our understanding). None of them have the same fullness of meaning for me as those that take place in the context of the gospel. It is ultimately meaning, not experiences in and of themselves, that compels faith for me. It is more about being able to put my experiences in the context of a meaningful story–a story that must account for the fully personal nature of human existence. Reason alone and “evidence” (which is always colored by the filter through which one views the world) are not enough for me. The ethical theory which you named as your guiding ethical principle seems very inadequate to me. I don’t really see how a theory (where one admits that no one can really rise to the perspective of the theorized “ideal observer,” anyway), can take the place of personal example and personal guidance when it comes to learning to discern the Good in a given context. It certainly doesn’t for me–I’m a very concrete thinker. Either I am much more needy than you, or I’m more aware of my needs, but I couldn’t function from the framework you are working with.

  2. yannis Avatar
    yannis

    “yada” is actually funny as used in English, in Japanese it translates as “no”/”no way”.

  3. James the Brother Avatar
    James the Brother

    Handmaiden; yes it’s time to call in Susan Powter on this one.

  4. fatherstephen Avatar

    David,
    I do think it’s time to give this conversation a rest. The points concerning reason, etc. are understood, and an Orthodox response that reason is insufficient for human knowing has been stated. I don’t want the blog to become dominated by a conversation that says the same things repeatedly. It’s where a blog differs from a forum.

    A last suggestion, for what it’s worth. I was wondering this evening whether you (or other readers) were familiar with the work of Richard Rorty (the anti-foundationalist), or other philosophical critics of reason (I would add to his name: David Hume, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michel Foucault and others). Serious philosophers raise questions about reason as a means for determining truth or determining many things. It appears that reason’s children (or greatgrandchildren) eventually begin to ask questions of reason and despair of its philosophical sufficiency.

    I would suggest that the discussion of reason’s sufficiency needs to be settled with other non-believing philosophers before coming to religious believers with the silver bullet of reason’s superiority. You’re nearly three hundred years late in the conversation.

  5. fatherstephen Avatar

    leah,
    It is indeed time. I’m just so patient 🙂

  6. James the Brother Avatar
    James the Brother

    Bless you father for your merciful kindness.

  7. David Ellis Avatar
    David Ellis


    I do think it’s time to give this conversation a rest.

    Its your blog. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to discuss your beliefs and why you hold them.


    I would suggest that the discussion of reason’s sufficiency needs to be settled with other non-believing philosophers before coming to religious believers with the silver bullet of reason’s superiority. You’re nearly three hundred years late in the conversation.

    And I would suggest that dialogue and examination of our own and each other’s beliefs is something all of us, believers and nonbelievers alike, can benefit from—now and always. Whether matters are “settled” or not.

  8. dale Avatar
    dale

    You are presently being driven through the streets of truth but continue to disbelieve their words and deny a world exists outside of the car. I guess colour must not exist afterall. I jest but you must see the inconsistency. I have been there though and I empathize. You will find your reality getting very small indeed on this path. You do have my prayers. Humility is the path to true understanding.

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