Faith Without Creeds – Part II

Athanasius: Burning Books and Killing Dissenters

Pragmatticus had been so provoked by the raw desire for preeminence evident at Nicea that he wanted to see if anything had changed. He found a vantage point high up in the rafters where he could see and hear everything that was going on below. Sometimes he just cussed under his breath but the longer he listened the more provoked he got! When he couldn’t hold his peace anymore he started making comments (but avoided cussing) through the PA system. No one was sure who was speaking or where the voice came from but it was mighty hard to ignore.

Pragmatticus: Hey Smarticus! (this was Athanasius’ nickname because he had such a high IQ) You started banning books and killing your brothers in Christ just for reading things you don’t like? Did you think you were doing God a favor?

AUDIENCE:  Murmuring. No one knew what to think about such a negative remark.

Our Creed is the Only Way to Think About God!

Athanasius:  People! People! Let’s ignore this unpleasant comment and press ahead with our gathering! The glorious purpose of our Creed was to establish what are the right beliefs about God. That is how we know who belongs in the church and who does not! What could possibly be more important than that? As you know very well, enlightened souls who agree with my views belong in the church! All the misguided wretches who disagree with me deserve to be cast out! We voted on it and made it so at Nicea and for good measure again at Chalcedon!

Do Creeds Judge Another Man’s Servant?

A Still Small Voice was heard saying “Who art thou that judges another man’s servant? He that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” Strangely, the Still Small Voice had not come through the PA system. People heard it nevertheless, and it made almost everyone most uncomfortable. Athanasius apparently didn’t hear it or simply decided to ignore it altogether.

AUDIENCE:  Deafening silence. There wasn’t much of a response to the words spoken by that still small voice, even from those who could actually hear it.

Can Creeds Separate Tares and Wheat?

Athanasius:  You all know we needed a creed in the fourth century and no doubt Christendom still needs one today! The unlearned disciples of those days held some very primitive beliefs!  They were pathetically unable to make the fine theological distinctions we made. Our creed enabled us to decide which believers are wheat and which are tares! It also had the added benefit of making us very important and notable. Thanks be to God! Our eloquent and very precise creed established our place as true authorities in the Kingdom! This empowered us to take action! Once we finished it we were ready and willing to start weeding God’s fields with vigor! To make things even easier we had the Emperor’s blessing and the power of his army to help us!

Aren’t Jesus’ Words Enough?

Some so-called believers (just a bunch of pathetic losers) complain that Jesus never commanded us to condense His teachings into a creed!  They say that if He wanted us to write a creed He would have said so. Some of these eccentrics whine that His words are enough and that we shouldn’t add to or subtract anything from them. These people proclaim that Jesus, in fact, believed and taught a creed called the Shema of Israel! “Hear O Israel! The Lord our God, the  Lord is one!” How ignorant, arrogant and shortsighted can you get! That notion may have worked for awhile but it is so contrary to our trinitarian dogma that it must be discarded. These people pretend that demanding acceptance of our creed somehow goes against a few vague scriptures! That is not the case at all! God knows our hearts and He is the One who gave us such powerful intellects!

Faith Without Creeds is Dead!

Let’s get down to some serious business brethren! You may have read that faith without works is dead but I’m here to tell you that faith without creeds is also dead! I know that may sound shocking but if you think about it for a minute it makes a lot of sense. We voted on it and you know it’s true! Come on brethren! Can I get an Amen?

Audience: A few scattered amens were heard.

Our Creeds Are Impressive and Scholarly!

Is there anyone here who doubts the need for an authoritative, scholarly and profoundly impressive spiritual creed? We all know that scripture can be difficult to understand and is prone to all kinds of different interpretations! My question to you is “Why should we allow that to get in our way?” Can anyone question the fact that we have cornered the market , so to speak, on God and that other opinions are thus indisputably wrong? While the words of the Bible may sometimes be vague and mysterious our creed is definitive and clear!

Do “Church Fathers” Understand More Than You Can?

Scripture may indeed come from above but it is often too ambiguous for our purposes. Our creeds come from the world of thoughts and ideas we live in. Creating a good one requires the skillful arrangement and interpretation of Bible verses and few people are capable of doing it right!  Our creeds are just right for us and we did a fine job of crafting them, if I do say so myself. Many primitive Christians scratch their heads and wonder how God can be three “persons” and one “substance”. Their biggest problem is that they lack theological sophistication! Theologians are called upon to understand many things that are beyond the reach of simple believers. It would be nice if everyone was as smart as we are but we all know that is just not the case.

We Do Not Tolerate Disagreement With the Trinity!

We have studied and pondered things and parsed words with intellectual precision! Our writings are extensive and we intend to continue! We refine our arguments endlessly and proudly proclaim that we are ever learning more and more and more!

Let me humbly remind you that we have advanced degrees! We are Doctors of Divinity and Doctors of the Law and we agree that our Creed is of the utmost importance! Assenting to our statement of faith may not seem to be the first and greatest commandment but it comes exceptionally close. We may put up with a lot of bad behavior in the church but we have not and will never tolerate disagreement with our beloved Creeds!

Salvation By Faith Plus Trinitarian Dogma

And so dear friends and beloved companions in the Gospel it goes without saying that believing in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Son of God is a great start. But… to truly arrive in the Kingdom of God requires an appreciation of the beauty of Trinitarian Dogma. This is why we can safely say that not only is faith without works dead, faith without Creeds is also dead! Oh yes! I know this sounds shockingly candid and stark but think about it! Unless we draw a clear line in the doctrinal sand there is no telling what calamity might befall the church!

Excommunicate Those Who Dispute Our Creed!

Hold your head up and declare without embarrassment that faith without creeds is dead! I have said it openly for you and have paved the way! To all those who claim to believe in Jesus Christ as their savior but deny the authority of our creed I say “Be gone with you! As long as we have anything to say about it you shall have no part in the Gospel or place in God’s Kingdom! How’s that for clarity? Excommunicate the heretics proudly! Banish them with gusto! By this shall all men know that you are on the right team!

May God bless you all richly.

AUDIENCE: Amen and amen and amen again!

 A Still Small Voice whispered something important once more but the noise of the audience drowned it out and no one heard.

 Pragmatticus lived up to his name and began cussing up in the rafters.

 PS: Does anyone honestly think that faith without creeds is dead? That’s an outrageous idea!  We don’t believe it and hope you don’t either. If the things you read here at theologyallstars.com make good sense to you please send a link to others who might like to hear. Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

It’s Greek To Me – Part II

Arius Was History’s Biggest Loser

Moderator: Well folks let’s keep moving on. Now it’s time hear from our next speaker, Arius. He may have represented most of the Christians of his era but that didn’t keep him from losing his debate with Athanasius. What a shock it must have been to the majority of believers to wake up one morning and discover they had become a heretics overnight! That’s how it goes when your side loses and Arius lost for everyone when he lost to Athanasius! Let’s give a real All-Stars welcome to one of history’s biggest losers, Arius of Alexandria!

Arius’ Writings Were Confiscated, Banned and Burned

The Audience: Tepid applause. One heckler shouted, “I hope you’ve come to your senses Arius!” Another yelled, “It’s a good thing you’re already dead Arius! Otherwise we’d probably have to take care of that for you!”

Arius:  Hello everyone! It is so nice to see you again too! I think you all know the Reunion organizers asked me to take part in this panel discussion as the official ambassador for the ancient theological term homoiousios! I was hoping passions and tempers had cooled down a little since Nicea but maybe not! By the way, I put some of my writings on the back table but I see they’ve already been confiscated so please feel free to distort and censor my comments in any way you like!

Was Jesus Subordinate to His Father?

Quoting Jesus can get you in a lot of trouble! If you stop and think about Jesus’ statement “My Father is greater than I” it doesn’t look like there is any co-equality between the Father and the Son does it? Jesus actually said a lot of things that showed how much He was submitted to His Father’s will.  I know it upsets some people to say that the Father is greater than the Son but it didn’t upset Jesus! It’s pretty clear that’s what He believed. Jesus is the Son of God, the Lamb of God and our Savior, Redeemer and Lord. He is the Messiah and even more, but He is not co-equal with the Father! You can’t create co-equality without homoousious and you can’t create the Trinity without co-equality! That’s why I wasn’t too fond of it… even if it is Athanasius’ favorite word.

Audience:  Heresy! Nonsense! Blasphemy! Why should we even listen to him?

Is Denying Homoousious a Damnable Heresy?

Athanasius: Damnation Arius! Yes damnation upon you and your damnable ideas and your damnable words! If you deny Homoousious you have denied Jesus’ co-equality with the Father! And to deny homoousious is to deny our beloved Trinity! If I had a good stick I’d smite you on the head right now!

Arius: Hold on a minute Ath! I thought we were having a panel discussion and I’m not done talking yet! Don’t you think you should at least hear me out? I want to talk a little about homoiosious and why so many theologians thought it was a pretty good word before and even after the Council in Nicea.

Athanasius: We’ve heard enough Arius! … and don’t call me Ath! I don’t like it.

The Audience: That’s right Arius! He’s not your Ath, he’s our Ath and don’t you forget it!

Athanasius: What say ye everyone? Shall we give him the brass boot of fellowship and send him packing?  Ignore everything he just said! Why I’ve got half a mind to read the Athanasian Creed out loud right now. That way you can all remember how you are supposed to think just in case anyone has forgotten!

The Audience: Great idea! Go ahead Athanasius! Lay it on us!

Athanasius:  (Blushing) Well alright then if you insist. Here goes…

                                     The Athanasian Creed

“ Whoever wants to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic (universal) faith; which faith unless everyone keeps it whole and undefiled, without doubt he will perish everlastingly. We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such, is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Spirit infinite. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated, nor three infinites, but one uncreated, and one infinite. So likewise, the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet there are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise, the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say “There are three Gods, or three Lords.” The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So, there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity, none is before, or after, another. None is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as was said before, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.”

Pragmatticus thought it sounded like puffed up nonsense and tried not to laugh.

Meticulous said:  That doesn’t sound at all like scripture! Ideas like Divine Substance and Homoousious don’t have anything to do with the Bible!

Arius said: That’s what I’ve been trying to say! Jesus Himself didn’t believe in this co-equality stuff so why should we?

What Does Jesus Think of the Athanasian Creed?

Jesus had not been consulted about the Athanasian Creed and some attendees thought they heard Him say, “My Father is greater than I.”

The Apostle Paul protested:  “Beware lest men spoil you with philosophy and vain deceit! To us there is one God, the Father! There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus!”

The Apostle Peter said:  Amen!

The Nicene Creed Caused a Lot of Trouble

Athanasius: Got red in the face then jumped out of his seat and started choking Arius. This started the legendary Panel Discussion Brawl at the All Stars Reunion.

Emperor Constantine: Showed up just as Athanasius started choking Arius. He had finally been released from custody!  He was a little confused and behind schedule because his medications were slowing him down a bit. When he saw the ruckus starting it reminded him of Nicea and he shouted, “This is just like the good old days!”

Many thought the ugly conflicts resulting from the Athanasian Creed  were unfortunate and deeply embarrassing. These “doubtful disputations” were an ugly blemish on the faith!

A few claimed they heard Jesus say:  “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”

Sally the Servant Girl took it on the chin again and fell to the floor in a heap.

Pragmatticus finally had enough and just started cussing.

Hotel Security Guards did their best to restore order.

And then the Moderator said: This concludes our panel discussion. Will someone please call 911? I think Sally is hurt! We want to thank you all for coming and would like to invite everyone to the fellowship hall for refreshments as soon as the fighting stops!

PS: We wonder if the Athanasian Creed seemed so weak to its authors that the only way to protect it was by burning and banning the writings of those who disagreed. Was it really necessary or even remotely Christian to sentence people to death for reading opposing ideas? That’s what it took though to establish the primacy of trinitarian doctine in the church. We don’t think Biblical truths are confirmed by majority votes in councils or by violence either.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

Constantine’s Last Words

Emperors Demand Respect

Constantine got off to a pretty rocky start when he tried to check in to the reunion!  He was deeply upset by his arrest and at being held against his will. Emperors are not used to that kind of treatment! We were all relieved to see that after some counseling and medication he was right back to his old self. He was eager to return to the reunion and the church fathers were  looking forward to seeing him too. Rumor had it he was still miffed about all the indignities he suffered during his mental health hold so that was a bit of a worry. No one knew what to expect when he finally made an appearance… and what an appearance it was!

A Royal Robe and a Golden Throne

Constantine entered the reunion hall wearing a royal purple robe lavishly encrusted with jewels and gold. It looked just like the royal robe he wore at the first council of Nicea! (except that the gold and jewels were fake and the fabric was a close out from a local upholstery shop) In spite of that he looked truly regal! In their lifetimes the church fathers admired his style so much they adopted it for their own ecclesiastical garments. The casino also found a nice golden throne for the emperor to use and the church fathers thought this was another very nice touch. They liked having thrones in their churches because it sent such a powerful message about their importance!

Constantine Controlled the Nicene Council

The All Stars Reunion featured a lot of important people and that created a big problem. When everyone is important it can be hard to tell who is really important! Constantine decided it was time to show who was in charge. That issue was never in doubt at the first Nicene Council. Not even a little bit! After all, Constantine had convened the council and the church fathers came at his invitation. He provided their transportation, security, lodging and then set a sumptuous table for them to enjoy. Best of all, it didn’t cost them a penny! The emperor also set the agenda and laid out the goals of the council. He was their host, moderator and the final judge of all their decisions! To seal the deal, Constantine even began paying the salaries of church officials which effectively made them his employees!

Pomp and Circumstance

Moderator:  We are honored by the presence of our benefactor and the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire! May I present Constantine the Great! The sounds of a trumpet fanfare played impressively over the world class sound system and everyone immediately stood to their feet. Then the emperor strode into the room in all his glorious apparel and sat down on his golden throne. Caesar’s Palace had even provided a troop of Roman soldiers holding spears with concealed microphones for the event. It was a thrilling display of pomp and circumstance! 

The Emperor Remembers Nicea

Emperor Constantine the Great: Beloved subjects! It is so good to be here with my soldiers, my robe, my golden throne and all of you. I’m almost beginning to feel at home here in Sin City! When I heard the trumpets and saw all of you kneel before me it was such a relief! What a strange world the centuries have wrought! Who would have ever thought an emperor would get arrested and locked up just for acting like an emperor? Go figure!

I do regret missing the reunion sessions with Athanasius, Tertullian, and Origen, along with Eusebius and Arius.  I heard that a very interesting character named Lewis Carroll showed up too. The reports I’ve heard about the Reunion have been so complimentary! Let me first congratulate you for crafting the dogmas and creeds that shaped civilization and preserved my empire for so long. Your labors at the Great Council in Nicea will never be forgotten!  People who claim we ultimately did more harm than good are just jealous of our success.

The Theology All-Stars Reunion Was a Mystery to Him

No one has really explained to me how we got here since we have all been dead for so long! Sadly, the reunion committee tells me we are all headed back to our graves any day now. I hope we have the chance to play at least one more round of golf before then! I really enjoyed that crazy game. When I first got here to Las Vegas I confess to being a little concerned about the cost because my empire is bankrupt and doesn’t even exist anymore. Fortunately, the organizers told me lots of people leave this town deeply in debt so I guess we’ll have lots of company! Luckily for us we’re all dead so when we do leave town we’re going where no one will ever find us!

What Was The Real Reason for the Nicene Council?

Some people think I convened the Council in Nicea to further the Kingdom of God.  Others claim it was really called to help preserve my empire. I guess that’s a question you’ll just have to answer for yourself! Some have even questioned the sincerity of my conversion to Christianity since I didn’t get baptized until I was on my deathbed. That did give me more time to do what I wanted and then have it all forgiven right at the end! All in all it was a pretty clever move on my part if I do say so myself! I only hope God never figures what I was up to!

Without Warning Emperor Constantine Began Fading Away!

With that, the lights began to dim without warning and the emperor and all the church fathers started fading away! All their pomp and all their glory slowly evaporated into nothing!  Soon there was nothing left but an empty room! Their authority, their powerful intellects and their influence had become little more than a memory. The curtain had finally dropped on the Theology All Stars Reunion! Its fine buffets and great speakers became a thing of the past. But it was a fine past indeed!  We are glad it took place and we’re glad you came to read about it!

The Nicene Council Created a Religious Mess

Someone had to clean up after the reunion and that chore was left for the janitor Pragmatticus. (We’ll hear from him in a week or two.) After that we have something quite wonderful in store for you! We are planning a brand new companion site to the All Stars Reunion called wonderfultheology.com. You can reach it directly or by way of the link we’ve included right here on our homepage.

PS: Please be sure to come back for the final installment of the Allstars Reunion and take a look at our companion site too. You’ll be glad you did.
PPS: Before you leave today please invite someone else to read about the Reunion too. Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

 

Is the Trinity a Religious Relic?

Is Archaic Theology Obsolete?  or Just Irrelevant?

Dearest Reader,

We trust you are enjoying our account of the All Stars Reunion! However, it has recently come to our attention that a growing number of people are no longer impressed with the “church fathers”. This is shocking news! Those who are devoted to the writings of prestigious theologians from antiquity may find this very upsetting! If believers begin to doubt the relevance, indeed even the truth, of archaic theology what will become of us? Could the Kingdom of God survive such a calamity? In the spirit of brotherly love we invite you to consider a perspective that is sure to provide a measure of comfort.

Ancient Theologians Did All The Thinking For Us!

Theologians from the distant past felt free to think for themselves, but modern believers should not attempt this on their own! Everyone knows that ancient theologians were probably a LOT better at thinking than we are. All the really good thinking was done long ago and we should just leave well enough alone. It is our duty to faithfully repeat their words and thoughts and that is enough! Sensible people know this is true. Perhaps their ancient ideas don’t make any sense but we should trust them anyway.

Obsolete Dogma #1         The Earth is Flat

The ancients believed the earth was flat. (There are still some who believe this very thing today!) Everyone knew that if you sailed too far you would sail right off the edge of the world. Interestingly, no matter where you are, the world still looks flat today! It took a long time before people realized the earth is actually a sphere. That, however, is no reason at all to lose confidence in the wisdom of those who said it was flat! Who knows how many lives were saved and how many disasters were averted by believing in a flat earth? Perhaps the earth changed from flat to spherical and we just don’t know how or when it happened. It is a great mystery! This should not shake our confidence in ancient ideas. No! Not in the least! Perhaps the ancients didn’t get this issue right… but who’s perfect?

Obsolete Dogma #2        There Are Four Elements

The ancient Greeks believed earth, air, fire and water were the four elements that make up everything in the world! Aristotle added ether and made it five elements since he figured the stars couldn’t be made of the same stuff we have here on earth. Modern science claims the four “elements” of the Greeks aren’t elements at all but so what? The Greek theory sure makes more sense than believing in a bunch of invisible atoms when you’re sitting around a campfire! Besides, do you really want to disagree with someone as smart as Aristotle? If you insist on thinking like people thought a few thousand years ago, we say go right ahead!

Obsolete Dogma #3         Women Are Imperfect Men

Plato and Aristotle had some pretty stunning ideas about women too. Plato was known to have said, “I give thanks to nature that I was born a human being and not a dumb animal, and that I was born a man rather than a woman.” The Greeks were convinced that men were superior to women! Aristotle wrote, “A woman is an imperfect male. She is female because her body is not properly made.” I beg to differ! To my eyes they look just wonderful and they are certainly not inferior to men. Could it be that Grecian thought about women was misguided and wrong? Who are we to question?

Obsolete Dogma #4         God is a Triune Pantheon

Greek philosophers were very sophisticated and their religion was intricate and complicated. It took a lot of personalities (persons) to make up the Greek Pantheon of Gods. Is it any surprise that the trinity they proposed for Christianity was cut from the same cloth? They mixed Greek philosophy with the Bible and came up with some of the most scholarly unbiblical ideas ever invented! The Triune Pantheon (trinity) they proposed even sounded Biblical in a strange kind of way! You have to love those Greek philosophers!  They took themselves very seriously… and expected everyone else to take them seriously too.

Were the Dogmas of Antiquity Just Plain Wrong?

Is it true that ideas from the distant past are better than anything we can envision today? Based on the wisdom of many centuries ago can we safely assert that the earth is or was flat?  Do we believe the four elements that make up the world are earth, air, fire and water? Is it true that men are superior to women? Are we convinced that God is a trinity of three “persons” just like those Greek philosophers said? Or was the ancient world of Greek thought wrong about a lot of things… including the nature of God?

Does Archaic Theology Really Matter?

Can anyone even imagine a gospel of salvation that dares to ignore what those old Greeks had to say? Shockingly, some modern believers have actually decided to read the Bible for themselves and reach their own conclusions! These radicals view the “church fathers” and their thinking as relics from a bygone era that have become irrelevant. This is an appalling trend!  Greek thinking people should reject this approach before it completely ruins their appreciation for Platonic philosophy and trinitarian thought!

Please Update Your Thinking!

The earth is a globe and was never flat after all! There are many elements that make up the world but they are certainly not earth, air, fire and water. Women are not defective men. Most importantly, God is not a pantheon of three divine persons! He is one God! The God of Israel is the singular and supreme Being that created everything.  We know Him as the Father, and Jesus Christ is His only Son!  Jesus is the uniquely and miraculously conceived human Son of the God of Israel. He is our Messiah, and Mediator and Kinsman Redeemer. This may not square with the trinitarian view of God inspired by Greek philosophy but it squares very nicely with the Bible. There now! Doesn’t it feel good to bring your thinking up to date?

PS: Do not be afraid of sailing away from the flat earth theology we inherited from long ago! You will not fall off the edge of Christianity. In fact, there’s a very good chance you will sail right into the faith that was once delivered to the saints!

PPS: These thoughts will not hurt you… and they won’t hurt your friends either. Why not send them a link to wonderfultheology.com today? Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

History’s Most Famous Heretic

 

Arius Was Called the Father of All Heretics!

The time had finally come for one of history’s biggest losers to get a little recognition! Arius of Alexandria was certainly considered heretical and was even known as the “father of all heretics”. His adversaries liked to call his followers “Ariomaniacs”! It is hard to know exactly what he believed since all of his original writings were burned on the orders of Constantine. Some people, however, think there is a slight chance he may have been right about a few things! The Awards Committee thought giving him a Wordy award was altogether in order.

Arius Had Been Censored and Silenced

Many felt it was time at last to give Arius the chance to speak for himself! He had been vilified, silenced and censored for so long that it just didn’t seem fair to keep it up. After all, Arius was already dead, like all the other theologians at the Allstars Reunion!  Like them, he came to the reunion by special permission from God!  Why not give him an opportunity to express himself? What harm could there possibly be in giving him an award?

Maybe Arius Wasn’t Completely Evil?

Moderator: Good evening everyone! Tonight we are going to do something that is almost unthinkable! We are going to recognize someone who has disagreed with us! Let us concede there is a very slight chance that Arius was not totally 100% wrong (just kidding!) about everything.  We all know it is unlikely he got anything right but we should at least consider the possibility. Not only that, we are even going to acknowledge that our theological adversary may not be completely evil! How’s that for being gracious!

Arius Was Theology’s Biggest Loser

We thought about it a long time before giving Arius “The Biggest Loser of All Time” Award! He was a big deal in his home town but was crushed by Athanasius at the Nicene Council. History has not been at all kind to Arius’ memory even though no one really knows what he actually believed.  Thankfully, all his writings were banned and burned after the Nicene Council to prevent the spread of his dangerously heretical ideas! The only thing we really know about his teachings is what his critics had to say about him.  Some modern commentators allege that this may have given us a slanted view but who knows?  Here to accept his consolation prize and finally speak for himself is the “Father of all Heretics”, Arius of Alexandria!

Giving Arius an Award Was Shocking!

Audience: Some clearing of throats. Awkward silence with undertones of murmuring. An award for Arius was a shocking development!

Arius: Well my goodness! I’m as shocked as you are that I’m getting this award! It is a bit of a left-handed compliment but at least it’s better than being ignored! I never dreamed that someday I would win an award for being the biggest loser in history! All I can say is thank you!

Were Arius and Athanasius Both Heretics?

When Athanasius and I began debating homoousious and homoiousious no one had any idea how things would turn out! Constantine was a wily old devil though and all he wanted was an end to the divisions in his empire. When he finally ruled in favor of homoousious at Nicaea I knew my goose was cooked! Athanasius got his goose cooked later when Constantine changed his mind and decided I wasn’t a heretic after all! I guess it remains to be seen how God will sort all this out in eternity. Looking back, maybe none of us at Nicaea had any business being there in the first place!

The God of Israel is the Father and Jesus is His Son

There are a few issues that seem pretty clear cut. The first is that there is just one God and He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the God of Israel and the scriptures call Him the Father. That was never too controversial. He had a Son named Jesus who was the promised Messiah and Anointed One, the Christ. The angel Gabriel told Mary that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore also,  that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) That’s when things started to get confusing, especially in the minds of later Christian scholars who were well-versed in Greek Philosophy!

Arius thought “Co-equal” Was a Bunch of Nonsense

Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is there is just one God. “Hear O Israel the Lord our God is One!” That was His creed and it is called the Shema. He also claimed to only say and do what his Father taught him and was pretty straightforward about it. When he said “My Father is greater than I” I believed him!  My theory was we should just take him at his word! That’s why I said the whole idea of Jesus being co-equal with the Father was a bunch of nonsense. Needless to say, that didn’t go over very well with Athanasius and his cronies! They had other ideas!

The Majority of Believers Were Excommunicated!

Next thing you know I was banished, excommunicated and labeled a heretic! Most Christians at the time believed like I did so they all became heretics too! We thought it was pretty strange that one day we were the majority of believers and then boom! Almost overnight we all became heretics! Constantine didn’t really care one way or another. All he wanted was peace and he thought a creed approved by majority vote in Niceae would do the trick. Athanasius just wanted to win the debate and he sure did. That doesn’t mean he won God’s approval though! We’ll just have to wait until Jesus returns to find out about that.

 

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes