Athanasius: The Incarnation of the Word of God – page 3


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From the Winter 2017 issue of Knowing & Doing:

Athanasius: The Incarnation of the Word of God

by Joseph Kohm, Jr.
City Director, C.S. Lewis Institute
Virginia Beach

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  Athanasius’s influence reverberates throughout the fourth century. The controversy surrounding the divinity of Jesus was the subject of the Council of Nicaea, convened by the newly converted emperor Constantine in A.D. 325. Arius’s ideas were eventually repudiated, and we can see the foundations of Athanasius’s work in the Nicene Creed. It reads, “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father…” The words “begotten of the Father before all worlds” emphasize the eternal characteristic of the Sonship of Christ, eliminating the idea that there was ever a time when Jesus did not exist. We can hear the echoes of Athanasius in Mere Christianity where Lewis notes, “The Son exists because the Father exists: but there never was a time before the Father produced the Son.”10
  For the modern reader, there is a twofold value in Athanasius’s The Incarnation of the Word of God. In his introduction, Lewis refers to the “sensible synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today.”11 As in Athanasius’s time, skeptics are currently trying to infiltrate the church with false teachings and philosophies. Athanasius arms us with a thorough and complete understanding of who Jesus is so that we will be able to reject subtle and nuanced attempts to dilute both the theological heritage of the church and the living Word revealed to us in Scripture.
  What’s more, Athanasius can serve as a role model for us today. In his introduction, Lewis reminds us that Athanasius’s epitaph is “Athanasius against the world.”12 When informed that the whole world was against him regarding his view of Christ’s full divinity, he replied, “Then I am against the world.”13 Like Athanasius, we must be ready to stand against that to which the popular heterodoxy or culture is pressuring us to conform. Oftentimes there is a cost for standing up for truth or, in Athanasius’s case, standing up for the “Truth.” Over the course of his life, he was exiled on five separate occasions. Toward the end of The Incarnation, Athanasius notes, “anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life, and approach the saints by copying their deeds.” Let us aspire to copy the deeds of Athanasius and, as Lewis wrote, “keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds” by reading The Incarnation of the Word of God.

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