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Athanasius

(3 posts)

Christ: Propositional Truth

Thursday··2007·08·30 · 4 Comments
As I said yesterday, I believe John Piper’s book Contending for Our All is exceedingly relevant for our day, especially in light of attacks on truth by the emergent movement, as I think the following excerpt will demonstrate. Piper’s study of Athanasius and the Arian heresy 1700 years ago demonstrates the truth that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Loving Christ includes loving true propositions about Christ What was clear to Athanasius was that propositions about Christ carried convictions that could send you to heaven or hell. Propositions like “There was a time when the Son of God was not,” and “He was not before he was made,” and “the Son of God is created” were damnable. If they were spread abroad and believed, they would damn the souls who embraced hem. And therefore Athanasius labored with all his might to formulate propositions that would conform to reality and lead the soul to faith and worship and heaven. I believe Athanasius would have abominated, with tears, the contemporary call for “depropositionalizing” that we hear among so many of the so-called “reformists” and “the emerging church,” “younger evangelicals,” “postfundamentalists,” “postfoundationalists,” “postpropositionalists,” and “postevangelicals.” I think he would have said, “Our young people in Alexandria die for the truth of propositions about Christ. What do your young people die for?” And if the answer came back, “We die for Christ, not propositions about Christ,” I think he would have said, “That’s what the heretic Arius said. So which Christ will you die for?” To answer that question requires propositions about him. To refuse to answer implies that it doesn’t matter what we believe or die for as long as it has the label Christ attached to it. Athanasius would have grieved over sentences like, “It is Christ who unites us; doctrine divides.” And sentences like: “We should ask, Whom do you trust? Rather than what do you believe?” He would have grieved because he knew this was the very tactic used by the Arian bishops to cover the councils with fog so that the word Christ could mean anything. Those who talk like this—“Christ unites, doctrine divides”—have simply replaced propositions about Christ with the word Christ. It carries no meaning until one says something about him. They think they have done something profound and fresh, when they call us away from the propositions of doctrine to the word Christ. In fact they have done something very old and worn and deadly. —John Piper, Contending for Our All, (Crossway, 2006), 63–64

The Springs of Salvation

Wednesday··2009·01·14
The first known listing of the twenty-seven books we now recognize as the New Testament is found in the thirty-ninth festal letter (announcing the date of Easter in AD 367) of Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. Again, we must not hesitate to name the books of the New Testament. They are as follows:    Four gospelsaccording to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John. Then after these the acts of the Apostles and the seven so-called catholic epistles of the apostles, as follows: one of James, two of Peter, three of John and, after these one of Jude. Next to these are fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, written in order an follows: First to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians, and after these to the Galatians and next that to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians and two to the Thessalonians and that to the Hebrews. Next are two to Timothy, one to Titus, and last the one to Philemon. Moreover, Johns Apocalypse. These are the springs of salvation, so that one who is thirsty may be satisfied with the oracles which are in them. In these alone is the teaching of true religion proclaimed as good news. Let no one add to these or take anything from them. For concerning these our Lord confounded the Sadducees when he said, You are wrong because you don not know the scriptures. and he reproved the Jews, saying, You search the scriptures, because . . . it is they that bear witness to me. But for the sake of greater accuracy I must needs, as I write, add this: there are other books outside this, which are not indeed included in the canon, but have been appointed for the time of the fathers to be read to those who are recent converts to our company and which to be instructed in the word of true religion. These are . . . the so-called Teaching of the Apostles and the Shepherd. But while the former are included in the canon and the latter are read [in church], no mention is to be made of the apocryphal works. They are the invention of heretics, who write according to their own will, and gratuitously assign and add to them dates so that, offering them as ancient writings, they may have an excuse for leading the simple astray. Athanasius, quoted in F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (InterVarsity Press, 1988), 208209. Athanasius lists the canonical books without distinguishing some as deserving higher status than others, as had always been done before. It is especially worth noting that Johns Apocalypse (Revelation) is simply listed without comment, as previous church fathers had often listed it, so to speak, with an asterisk.

Monergist Father: Athanasius of Alexandria

Monday··2018·08·27
Athanasius on election: This grace had been prepared even before we came into being, nay, before the foundation of the world, and the reason why is kindly and wonderful. It seemed not that God should counsel concerning us afterwards, lest He should appear ignorant of our fate. The God of all then, creating us by His own Word, and knowing our destinies better than we, and foreseeing that, being made “good,” we should in the event be transgressors of the commandment, and be thrust out of paradise for disobedience, being loving and kind, prepared beforehand in His own Word, by whom also He created us, the Economy of our salvation; that though by the serpent’s deceit we fell from Him, we might not remain quite dead, but having in the Word the redemption and salvation which was afore prepared for us, we might rise again and abide immortal. —cited in Steven J. Lawson, Pillars of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2011), 155. [source: Athanasius, Discourses Against the Arians, II.22.75, cited in Schaff and Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. IV, 389.]

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