Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Bethany Bullet - June 5, 2012

It should go without saying that Trinity Sunday is a feast day dedicated to God’s very nature.  However, this day often finds the historic Christian Church confessing the faith through a Creed named after - not God - but a man, Athanasius.  St. Athanasius was born in Alexandria, Egypt, around the year 296 AD. 

In St. Athansaius most famous work he wrote:

“That mystery the Jews traduce, the Greeks deride, but we adore; and your own love and devotion to the Word also will be the greater, because in His Manhood He seems so little worth. For it is a fact that the more unbelievers pour scorn on Him, so much the more does He makes His Godhead evident. The things which they, as men, rule out as impossible, He plainly shows to be possible; that which they deride as unfitting, His goodness makes most fit; and things which these wiseacres laugh at as "human" He by His inherent might declares divine. Thus by what seems His utter poverty and weakness on the cross He overturns the pomp and parade of idols, and quietly and hiddenly wins over the mockers and unbelievers to recognize Him as God.”

St. Athanasius is one of the most important fathers of the Early Church because through his efforts the church retained the Biblical doctrine and faith concerning the Nature of God (the Trinity) and the two Natures of Christ (perfect God and perfect man).  This troubled period of church history that led to the Council of Nicaea was one struggling to contend with what is known as the Arian heresy.  Arius was a contemporary of Athanasius who denied Jesus' equality with the Father.  

Even as we have Lutheran mottos such as “SOLA Scriptura, Gratia, Fide” so the Arians had a motto too we know well, “There was when HE was NOT!”  Arius taught that Jesus was not co-eternal with the Father.  That He was the FIRST thing created.  That in fact He was NOT God as we understand God. 

While we might think that this false teaching was rejected outright, the truth is, it almost won the day and doomed the early Christian Church from departing from the historic Biblical teaching of the person of Jesus. 

From human perspective, the Council of Nicaea was prevented from departing from the Biblical teaching of Jesus and produced the Creed we know and confess to this day. All because a young monk named Athanasius stepped forward and declared, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God!” (John 1).  This would continue over and over again as he was dismissed, returned, and proclaimed the Word…and on and on until finally the word about the Word spoken by Athanasius won the event.  The Council would declare (and future ones concur) that Jesus is “God from God, Light from Light, very God from very God, begotten not made being of ONE SUBSTANCE with the Father by Him all things were made.” 

Not only a history lesson is this - for in every age people of faith are called upon to take their stand on the Word in face of opposition so that in all things To Him belongs the Glory.” 
-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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