Knowledge Requires Trust
We all grow up learning to trust our teachers. We trust that George Washington was the first president of the United States. We trust that Ben Franklin was the first Postmaster General. Go back even further. We trust there was a Pharaoh named Tutankhamen. We learned to trust this information because we weren’t there to witness it, and because someone who was there kept track for us.
If so many people believed in something for so long, what makes us think we know better? Yet, when it comes to matters of Christianity, everyone seems to think they know better. It seems NOT to matter that so many believed ‘back then’, even against the odds.
For centuries the Church believed that Christ was the only child of the Virgin Mary. In the Orthodox Church, that remains our belief. In many Protestant circles, it is believed that Mary and Joseph had other children. One reason is because of the Saint which is commemorated today. Today is the Feast of Saint James (Iakovos) the Apostle and Brother of the Lord.
According to the Holy Tradition of the Church, Joseph was a widower who was betrothed to Mary when Christ was born. As a widower he had other children. Most believe that ‘this James’ is one of those children. Since Joseph was the stepfather of Christ, James would have been considered his brother. Some believe they were cousins.
Either way, NOBODY in the ancient Church believed James was the son of Mary. This is because EVERYONE knew Joseph’s situation. I wrote about this here. Why are we willing to believe information about King Tut, but not about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph?
When it comes to Christ, there is not doubt historically speaking that huge crowds claimed to see Him after His burial. People were willing to die, like Saint James, to share the truth about His Resurrection. It would have been so much easier to ‘blend in’ and stay alive than to risk everything and proclaim Christ.
Still, saints like Saint James did just that, so that we could be comfortable believing so many centuries later. The Gospels, the historical commentary of the day, even the pastoral letters by the Apostles, were written for our benefit, so that we could believe.
I only ask this. If you trust your teachers about George Washington and King Tut, you can believe the Church about Christ. Saint James the Apostle and Brother of Our Lord, intercede for us sinners, and help us believe.