The Final Excommunication

What came next at the All-Star Theologians Reunion was almost beyond belief! There had been a few strained moments to be sure but by and large the church “fathers” had behaved themselves reasonably well in spite of old disagreements. That all changed dramatically when Athanasius asked for a few moments to address the group “from the heart”. He said he didn’t have any carefully prepared remarks but simply wanted to share his feelings. This was an exceptional request from a man who had spent his entire life speaking “from the head.” Now he wanted to share what was in his heart!

Athanasius Liked to Argue!

A few people thought Athanasius might have mellowed since the great Ecumenical Council in Nicea. His request to make a few remarks at this particular session was taken by some as a clue that he wanted to sow peace and reconciliation in the Body of Christ. It turned out they were wrong. He still felt like arguing! Interestingly enough, the session he chose for sharing his heart was listed on the Reunion Program as “The Mark of the Lamb“. The theme was “By this shall all men know you are my disciples if you have love for each other.” The irony of what followed was exquisite.

Athanasius Against the World!

Athanasius’ adversaries had some pretty uncharitable nicknames for him! (you’ll have to research them yourself if you’re interested). Suffice it to say his enemies were not shy about using well-placed insults when it suited them. History tells us that Athanasius was known for his adversarial and confrontational approach. It seems he was a pretty argumentative fellow! Maybe it was his basic temperament or maybe he just liked arguing since he was so good at it. This had even earned him his own brand name! He became known as “Athanasius Contra Mundum” which meant “Athanasius Against the World”.

Athanasius Argued With  Everyone!

Athanasius argued with just about everyone! His most notable conflicts were with Arius, Eusebius, Emperor Constantine, along with Emperors Constantius II, and Emperors Valens and Julian too. Whenever he was in favor with a particular Roman Emperor he used his political connections to excommunicate and banish his religious rivals. Sometimes though, the political tides would turn against him and then his rivals would exile and excommunicate him! His career was an ongoing drama of forced exiles followed by a return to ecclesiastical power… until the next time. Then the cycle would start all over again. He was excommunicated and banished 5 times by four different emperors! That’s just how it goes when you hitch your wagon to an earthly star and Athanasius had hitched his wagon firmly to the power of the Roman empire.

Heretics, Scoundrels and Traitors

Athanasius: Beloved friends and brothers!  You all know it is my custom to bring you well-reasoned and eloquent arguments for our doctrines and traditions. Today though, my heart is stirred and the time has come for something more. I have a few things to get off my chest and want to clear the air about how some people have treated me. Most of you already know that Eusebius is a scoundrel through and through! If he wasn’t I wouldn’t have gone to all the trouble of having him banished and excommunicated in the first place. It was a great disappointment to me when afterwards he got Constantine’s ear and had me excommunicated and banished. What a rat!

Arius, Constantine and Eusebius Were All Against Him!

I was faced with Arius the heretic, Emperor Constantine the backstabber and Eusebius the weasel and they were all against me! I’m not going to bore you with all the sordid details of how they shamelessly disagreed with some of my finest theological arguments for the trinity. It is enough to say they did and they were not the only ones! Emperors Constantius II, Valens and Julian also banished me a few times after I’d been excommunicated by some second-rate bishops and councils who were jealous of my prominence.

Athanasius Excommunicates Everyone!

What really gets under my skin is that the reunion organizers allowed some of these characters to come to this reunion and even let them speak!  I can’t even tell you how ticked off I am about that! Anyway, they are such colossal disappointments I have decided to excommunicate all of them personally and permanently. Yes, that includes the reunion organizers too! I have made up my mind so there is no need to convene a council or take a vote or anything like that. Don’t go running to old Constantine either! His days are over and his power is broken. I’m warning you ahead of time. Don’t even try to argue with me because it won’t do you any good. Just remember that the creeds you know and believe in were my writings and ideas!

A Janitor Rebuked the Great Theologian

Pragmatticus was up in the rafters again and had heard all he could take. He didn’t start cussing but he did have something to say. “That’s the whole problem Smarticus! The things you argued for and established were your ideas and that’s why they caused so much trouble. You were smart enough to overwhelm your human opponents but you will never overwhelm God! If the things you taught were simply God’s words they would have brought peace and blessing to those who heard them. Your prideful words only brought division and bloodshed. The legacy of your dogma started with your arrogant claim that to be saved men had to think of God in the incomprehensible way you declared. You will be remembered for your brazen desire to banish and excommunicate anyone who disagrees with you. Thank God the Kingdom is not yours!

Athanasius: I recognize that voice! That’s the janitor Pragmatticus! Who does he think he is to disagree with me? People like him who don’t even have an advanced degree in theology really aggravate me! How did he get invited to our reunion anyway? I hereby excommunicate him too. No one gets in the Kingdom unless I say so…  and I say it takes understanding and complying with the creed that bears my name!

A Still Small Voice Was Heard…

A Still Small Voice was heard saying, “Truly, truly I tell you I am the door of the sheep. I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me. I am the door. If anyone enters by me he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.”

Some listeners decided there was a big difference between what was in the heart of Athanasius and what was in the heart of God.

PS: We don’t think the Athanasian Creed expresses what is in the heart of God at all! That’s our honest opinion anyway. What’s yours? By the way… we’d sure appreciate it if you would share this website with a friend. Believing Christians should at least be aware of the perspective we try to share at    theologyallstars.com    Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

 

It’s Greek to Me!

Jesus Didn’t Use Theological Terms

Theologians love big words… the bigger the better and words most people have never heard of are best of all! Latin and Greek terms especially have a certain flair. These really showcase the religious expert’s sophistication and intelligence!  This is why it is so frowned upon in theological circles to say things plainly in everyday language. One notable exception to this practice was Jesus Christ Himself! Many commentators have observed that Jesus rarely, if ever, used scholarly theological language! Strangely though, the reason for this is unclear.

Athanasius’ Favorite Word Was Homoousious

Moderator: Greetings everyone! Today’s Panel Discussion is dedicated to the always popular topic of theological terms. Our expert panel members have scaled the frosty mountains of systematic theology and the pinnacles of scholarly thought! Our format is straightforward and simple although our subject matter is anything but! Each speaker will expound on a favorite theological term until they have nothing left to say. Just kidding folks! These experts never run out of things to say! We’ll probably have to muzzle them if we want to get to dinner on time!

The Audience: Polite laughter.

Moderator: Our first presenter this afternoon is none other than philosopher and theologian par excellence Athanasius himself! We proudly hang our hats on the ideas and terms He has bestowed upon the church! The topic he has chosen for today is the ever popular and timeless word homoousious! Let’s hear it for our favorite Ath! Athanasius!

The Audience: A respectful standing ovation.

Homoousious is a Vital Part of Your Salvation!

Athanasius: Thank you my friends, thank you. Please be seated if you can.  Let’s dig right in to our topic and what a topic it is! Today we will talk about the most important word in Christianity! I’m talking of course about Homoousious. It was an essential part of building the trinity! It is astonishing that the primitive church survived so many centuries without it! How sad it is that very few people know what it means much less how to spell it. It would be so wonderful if people just knew how to say it correctly!  We are fortunate to have a word so precise, scholarly and lovely as homoousious! I am living proof that it is possible to build an entire career on this one single word!

We Built Our Creeds Upon Homoousious!

There was a time when homoousious was just another run of the mill Greek word! That all changed at the Nicene Council when I made it the most important word in Christianity! It is not an exaggeration to say that the Nicene Creed is truly a Homoousian Creed. I blush to mention that many people call it the Athanasian Creed but modesty prevents me from drawing any attention to that! By the way, signed copies of my writings are available at the table in the back of the room if you are interested!

Some of you may be wondering how homoousious got to be so important. The truth is it was just another nondescript Greek word until I figured out how to use it against heretics! You all know how much I enjoy a good argument! Homoousious  was a word made to order for someone like me! I don’t mean to brag but I’ve argued with so many people about so many things that I eventually became known as “Athanasius Contra Mundum”. (That’s Latin for “Athanasius Against the World”).

Bend a Knee to Homoousious… or Else!

Heretics have been excommunicated and banished for their willful refusal to bend a knee to homoousious! We’ve had to kill more than a few believers who refused to endorse it, and rightly so. I stand here today to declare that I am a homoousian and trust you are homoousians too! There can be no doubt that God wants everyone to be a homoousian! We stand guard over the Kingdom of God against stubborn contrarians like homoiosians!  They are simply heretics, blighted souls who refuse to applaud the doctrinal statement we worked so hard to build! The true beauty of our Creed is the way it cleverly detects and roots out homoiosians!

Homoousious or Homoiosious. What’s the Fuss?

A Question from the Audience: “Will you please explain the difference between homoousious and homoiosious? I’ve always wondered what all the fuss is about and how one little letter ended up getting so many people killed.”

Athanasius: What a great question! Just remember that homoousious means that Jesus is of the very same substance as God while homoiosious says that Jesus’ and God’s substance are pretty similar but not exactly the same. This is so important that we had no choice but to excommunicate everyone who was thinking the wrong way. Thank God that Constantine’s army stepped in to enforce our view with military power! Once we had the army on our side things started working out pretty well! Our opponents learned to keep their opinions to themselves once the Emperor’s army started stamping them out for us!

A Still Small Voice was heard saying “you make a man an offender for a word?” but the meaning of this obscure phrase was debatable. No one was quite sure what to make of this mysterious statement or where the voice came from.

Saved by Faith in Christ Plus Belief in Homoousious!

Athanasius: Things didn’t turn out so well for Arius and his followers but that’s the price you pay for being disagreeable! It was only a single letter i separating homoousious from homoiosious that caused them so much trouble! They were just too primitive and stubborn to give it up. In closing let me remind you that choosing correctly between homoousious and homoiosious can mean the difference between heaven and hell! No kidding! I really mean it! It is good to believe in Jesus but don’t ever forget that faith in Christ plus allegiance to homoousious is the standard we have set for your salvation. Thank you!

PS: These seemingly obscure ideas are important to talk about! That’s why we do. If you think this discussion matters then why not share a link to theologyallstars.com with others. Thanks and God Bless.

Continued…Click to Read Part II

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes