The Orthodox Family

Issue Number 4

Helping families establish and preserve an Orthodox Christian way of life.
Published with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Hilarion of Washington, D.C.
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

BOOK REVIEW:

The Law of God

A TREASURE OF

ORTHODOXY IS NOW AVAILABLE IN ENGLISH

The Law of God, For Study at Home and School, by †Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy. First English Edition; Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York 1993. 635 pages, illustrated. 1 copy - $50.00 +$2.00 p&h; 2-4 copies - $40.00 + $3.00; 5 or more - $35.00 + $5.00. Available in red or green hardcover binding. Order from Holy Trinity Monastery, PO Box 36, Jordanville, NY 13361-0036.

For thirty-five years, the Russian-speaking Orthodox have availed themselves of Father Seraphim Slobodskoy's wonderful compilation, The Law of God, to catechize the young and newly-Orthodox. For a good number of years, the work of translating this invaluable book into English has proceeded. Installments published in Orthodox America have served to increase our yearning for the day of its completion.

The day has arrived. The completed work has just been published by Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York. With this edition, we in the English-speaking Orthodox community have an illustrated catechism which we can study to ground ourselves and our children in the Orthodox faith and world view, to nurture our souls "in a true Orthodox Christian spirit," as it says in the introduction.

Our need for the clear teaching of true traditional Christianity is only deepened as we consider how far we have declined since the first edition of this work came out. As the introduction to this English edition says: "When...The Law of God appeared, Orthodox readers were still receptive to a traditional approach to catechesis." We have become jaded and over-sophisticated in our approach to Divine truth, and have not taken to ourselves the precept of our Lord to become as little children.

Father Seraphim teaches the faith in such a way "as to be edifying and to give children and adults an intellectual foundation of support for the faith. While living in an environment which undermines the authority of the Church, The Law of God will supply the reader with support and defence for his beliefs, uncompromised to liberal trends."

The book is divided into five parts. Part I, "Basic Concepts," covers such topics as the world, the attributes of God, prayer, sin, the sign of the cross, standing and bows during prayer, where and how we can pray to God, the church building, the priest's blessing, icons, and why we call ourselves Orthodox Christians. Part II, "Prayers," consists of the texts and discussions of different prayers of the Church. Part III is "The Sacred History of the Old and New Testaments." This is the longest section of the book, and includes an Introduction, 43 chapters on the Old Testament, and 65 chapters on the New Testament. In addition to covering the history of the Old and New Testaments, Fr. Seraphim adds edifying discussions of related subjects. For example, as part of the discussion of the creation of the world and of man, he has a chapter entitled "The Life of the First People in Paradise." This chapter includes a discussion for older children on the nature of man. The section on the New Testament, in addition to going through the history of the New Testament in detail, ends with chapters on the Apostles, the persecution of Christians, the fall of the Roman Church, and the enlightenment of the Slavs. Part IV, "Christian Faith and Life," includes the following chapters: The Purpose of Man, Supernatural Divine Revelation, Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture, Short Summaries of the Ecumenical Councils, The Christian Faith, Christian Life, The Ten Commandments of God's Law, The Nine Beatitudes, and Contemporary Teachings and Faith in God. Part V, "Divine Services of the Orthodox Church," includes chapters on the Divine Services, the church building, vestments, service books, rubrics, the Mysteries, Great Lent, Pascha, Monasticism, and Bells and Russian Orthodox peals.

Again from the introduction:

"We can assure all Orthodox Christians that the spirit of this book reflects the mind of the Church. If we cannot supply the Christian flock with the pure, untainted water of salvation, then we have become like the salt of which the Saviour speaks ...if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. (Mt.5,13).

"May our efforts in publishing this first English edition of The Law of God aid believers in cultivating this grace-filled 'saltness,' so that they might be able to answer for their faith to those who ask, and that they might inherit the Kingdom prepared by our Lord for His faithful servants."

In these desperate times, we must avail ourselves of every tool at hand to help us in the work of salvation. This is a tool we should have at hand.


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