Monday, 2 May 2016

It happened on May 2 295

Icon of St. Athanasius of Alexandria
Icon of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It happened on May 2

295
Today is the liturgical memorial of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (295-373), theologian, ecclesiastical statesman, and Egyptian national leader, who was the chief defender of Christian orthodoxy in the 4th-century battle against Arianism, and who is the most favourite teacher of the false teaching of tri-une doctrine.
In his youth, as secretary to Bishop Alexander, he took part in the christological debate against Arius at the Council of Nicaea (see Nicaea, First Council of), and thereafter became chief protagonist for Nicene orthodoxy in the long struggle for its acceptance in the East. He defended the homoousion formula that states that Jesus is of the same substance as the Father, against the various Arian parties who held that Jesus was not identical in substance with the Father. 

Athanasius’ two-part work of apologetics, Against the Heathen and De Incarnatione Verb or The Incarnation of the Word of God, completed about 335, was the first great classic of developed Greek Orthodox theology, in whihch  he refuted the Epicurean atomists, who maintained the world could have spontaneously sprung into being by chance, by elucidating the signs of Divine Providence discernable in creation (Chapter I, nn. 2-3). In Athanasius’ system, the Son of God, the eternal Word through whom God made the world, entered the world in human form to lead men back to the harmony from which they had fallen away. Athanasius reacted vigorously against Arianism, for which the Son was a lesser being, and welcomed the definition of the Son formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325: “consubstantial with the Father.”


Athanasius was accused of threatening to interfere with the grain supply from Egypt, and without any formal trial Constantine exiled him to the Rhineland.
During his period of hiding with the hermit monks of the Egyptian desert, whom he admired greatly, he wrote his exposition of Nicene christology, Discourses Against the Arians, attacking both the Arians and the views of Marcellus of Ancyra.

The Athanasian Creed, a summary of Christian doctrine formerly attributed to St Athanasius, but probably dating from the 5th century is included in the Book of Common Prayer for use at morning prayer on certain occasions.

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