The Bible regards as inseparable two things that modern man can hardly imagine are at all related—namely, love for one another and faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world: “And this is his commandment: that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
Why both things together? Indeed, they appear at first to be at odds to people nowadays. After all, love for one another is a value of manifest, unquestioned, and universal appeal. It is a common, comprehensive, unconditional blessing, favorable to humanity everywhere and always. No person of good will can take a rational stand against love for one another. Pursued seriously, in fact, it insinuates a promise of world peace.
In the view of modern man, however, hardly any of this is true of faith in Jesus. Its confessional claims, far from being self-evident, are hard to argue and impossible to verify, a condition that explains why, for no necessary or useful purpose, faith in Jesus tends to divide men from one another. It is dogmatic and narrow, determined by the restrictions of a particular and even questionable history. Pursued seriously, in fact, faith in Jesus hints at sectarian disputation, strife, and religious wars.
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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