Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

council 1ST. ATHANASIUS.

It can fairly be said that in the history of Christendom, never has so much been owed to one man as is owed to a pugnacious, argumentative preacher by the name of Athanasius. Frankly, if Athanasius were alive today, or if we had lived in the early 3rd century, it is quite probable that we wouldn't much care for him. Folks didn't then, either.

Athanasius was born in Alexandria, Egypt, about A.D. 297. When he was 5 years old, Deocletian, the Roman emperor, proclaimed himself to be a god and demanded to be worshiped. When he was 18, Constantine became the emperor, and things began to change fast. Historians don't know much about Athanasius's mother, but I suspect that she helped her son to realize something that kids still need to know today: You don't have to go along  with the crowd. It's okay to stand alone when you know you are right. But doing that made him pretty unpopular. He was tough, used words like a street fighter uses left jabs. "Why can't he just love people and mind his own business?" folks said of Athanasius. Surely he must have been told, "Why create such a furor over something when everyone disagrees with you?" Exiled 5 times in 45 years, he should have gotten the message, "To get along, you've got to go along". Not Athanasius. He stood by his convictions when friends and supporters abandoned him.

To appreciate this man to whom we owe so very much today, you must understand the issues. Athanasius believed the Bible  taught that Jesus Christ was very God  of the  very God. In other words, He did not become God when He was born. He always was God. He belived that Jesus Christ laid aside His exercise of authority as God, or His attributes of deity, as theologians describe it, and became man. But He was no ordinary man, belived Athanasius. He was the unique fusion of man and God.

Others, though, disagreed. Led by Arius, who was Athanasius's archenemy, others taught that Jesus became God, the highest of all created beings. (In the last 150 years, some groups have adopted Arius's teaching, which makes Jesus merely a good man who rose to the same spiritual hights as we can today.)

If Athanasius had gone along with the crowd, "It would have meant that Christianity had degenerated to a form of paganism. The Christian faith would have had two gods and a Jesus who was neither God nor man. It would have meant that God Himself was unapproachable and totally removed from man. The result would have been a Christianity like a host of pagan religions".

The one teaching that separates Christianity from Judaism and more recently from teaching of cult groups is the truth that God exists as one in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yet, contended the pugnacius Athanasius, there is one God, not three. If Arius had won, Christianity would have been just another religion, and Jesus Christ would have been a great teacher but nothing more. If Jesus Christ was God, as Athanasius contended, then He demands our allegiance and our worship.

 One man against the world was eventually vindicated by the truth, and for that we owe Athanasius a great debt of gratitude. (Harold Sala)

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