Origen of the Trinity

Origen Is Called the Father of Biblical Theology

Origen was an important theologian who managed to slip under the radar for a long time. He wasn’t officially declared a heretic until he had been dead for three centuries… but by then it was too late! He was already famous! Origen was heir to both Socrates and Plato and is regarded as the greatest philosopher/theologian of the early church.  He also produced its first systematic theology. It is not an exaggeration to call him the Father of Biblical Theology! Many have viewed him as “the greatest genius the early church ever produced.”

Origen Became a Heretic 300 Years After He Died!

In order to be deemed an official heretic you just need to disagree with the majority. That is exactly what happened to Origen! He was mostly acceptable in his lifetime but the opinions of church leaders changed in the centuries after he died! Eventually his work fell out of favor with most theologians and there wasn’t much he could do about it. His story is interesting because it took the church 300 years after his death to brand him a heretic. There is no doubt Origen had some pretty wild ideas!  He never achieved sainthood, and like Tertullian, he wasn’t granted the title of church father either. In spite of his tremendous influence Origen never won any official honors! Fortunately, he was already dead by the time he was excommunicated so it probably didn’t bother him too much.

Origen Mastered Greek Philosophy

Moderator: Well brethren, it’s time to honor another old heretic who achieved a lot in his life but never quite made the grade. He was a notable scholar and at least during his lifetime he seemed like a pretty respectable guy! His epic work On First Principles developed a foundation for the Trinity based on Platonic philosophy. Even his critics acknowledged that he had mastered the Greek philosophical tradition in his interpretation of the Bible! Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep him out of trouble. He upset a lot of people by denying the co-equality of “persons” in the Godhead! Eventually, his chances of becoming an official church father went right out the window.

Origen Wrote More Than Anyone

You all know who I’m talking about! It’s none other than Origen of Alexandria! We thought long and hard about what kind of award you give to a man who wrote so much that some legends say he kept seven secretaries busy! We created a special Windy Award just for him! It’s the Origen of the Trinity Award! How’s that for a nifty play on words!

Audience: Groaning and rolling of the eyes.

Moderator:  Well sorry about that but it’s the best we could come up with! Here to accept his award is Origen of Alexandria!

Audience: How come we keep giving awards to people like Tertullian, Arius and now Origen? None of them agree with our creeds! This is really going to upset Athanasius!

Origen Was Surprised to Be At Caesar’s Palace

Origen:  Greetings everyone! I am so glad to be at this reunion and I’m as surprised as anyone to be here at all! That seafood buffet is sure better than anything I ever had in my lifetime! It’s almost too good to be true. Now that I’m dead I’ve pretty well decided to give up on asceticism, as long as we’re here in Las Vegas anyway. It was just great to be allowed to come here in the first place and then I found out I’m even getting an award!

Can Anyone Think Like Athanasius?

I have to admit I was pretty surprised to learn that I had become a heretic after I died. I was just talking about this very thing with Tertullian and Arius at dinner. Tertullian was surprised when he learned he had become a heretic too!  Arius knew his reputation was in the tank after the Nicene Council so he was really surprised to get an award. It’s a good thing that the theologians who decide who is approved and who isn’t don’t speak for God! Athanasius still says that unless you think of the Trinity like his creed says you can’t be saved. I say no one can think like that! Jesus said no one should!

Origen Pioneered Hypostases and Homoousious

Athanasius’ insistence on the co-equality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was based on just one word! Using homoousious to make that claim still seems a bit over the top to me! After all, I was the first Christian philosopher to ever use the term homoousious! I was also the very first Christian philosopher to use the term hypostases to describe the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Where did Athanasius ever get the idea that his theories were any better than mine?  We had a very nice schematic of God in Platonic philosophy that made a lot of sense to us.  I imagined God as a descending triad just like in classic platonic philosophy! The Father is greater than the Son and the Son is greater than the Spirit. What’s so bad about that? It sure made sense to us!

Origen’s Descending Triad Was a Platonic Theory!

We thought we had a fine theory about God and a lot of people signed on to our ideas. Just because some later theologians disagreed was no reason to start all the name calling! I don’t think any of them wrote nearly as much stuff as I did.  Besides, without the foundations I laid for the Trinity I don’t think Athanasius would have ever hit the big time in the first place!

Origen Gave Thanks to Philo, Plato and Aristotle Too!

In closing I want to thank all the people who helped me win this award. I want to thank my Mom and Dad, Philo, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle too. I would also like to thank the Awards Committee for such a great play on words and naming my Windy Award after me! Finally, I want to thank all the great cooks and staff who put together that incredible buffet! Good night everyone! It has been great to be here!

PS: Some say truth is stranger than fiction and church history is pretty strange. It’s also pretty entertaining! (except of course, for all the violence and hatred that resulted from the creeds and dogmas of our fiercest theologians.) Modern Christians should at least know these things. Why don’t you help them out and share a link to theologyallstars.com with a few of them? Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

To be continued…

Tertullian’s Trinitas Award

Tertullian Was the Founder of Western Theology

Tertullian has rightly been called the Father of Latin Christianity and the founder of Western Theology. Although he was not at all a trinitarian in the modern sense of the word he was the first theologian who ever used the Latin word trinity (trinitas) in his writings and that is a big deal. It’s even more impressive when you consider that not even Jesus Himself used the word!  None of the disciples of Jesus Christ ever heard him speak the word trinity either before His crucifixion or after His resurrection! No wonder the Reunion organizers felt Tertullian deserved a Windy Award! His thinking may not have been biblical but it was definitely original.

Tertullian Wasn’t a Saint!

Tertullian was Augustine’s predecessor. Historians tell us he eventually joined the Montanist movement that swept through the early church. The Montanists were similar to today’s Charismatics and Pentecostals and were regarded as a bit too extreme for most people. Although Tertullian was a very important theologian he was never granted sainthood! He wasn’t even recognized as an official church father by the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Catholic church. He really aggravated both churches by his insistence that Jesus was subordinate to the Father! This was seen as a direct assault on the Trinity and it definitely hurt his book sales.

Tertullian Wasn’t Even a Church Father!

The Awards Committee felt Tertullian made such a huge impact on Christianity that an official Windy Award was long overdue. He was like one of those famous actors who make a lot of memorable films but never quite win an Academy Award.  He wasn’t an official “Church Father” but he definitely deserved some recognition. Everyone knew Tertullian was at least a Church Uncle! His speech on the “Parables Jesus Forgot to Teach” was an instant hit and was destined to become a classic.

Critics Called Tertullian a Heretic!

Moderator:  Tonight we want honor a theologian everyone has heard of! Tertullian was never officially honored as a Church Father but we all know he really is one. He was always something of a wild card as theologians go. Most Christians think he is so famous that he must have been the real deal! His critics call him a heretic but his fans just call him Uncle Turtle. The Awards Committee has voted to give him a Windy Award for creating the Best Brand Name Ever!  Let’s give a warm welcome to our controversial but always interesting colleague, Tertullian!

Audience:  Generally warm applause with a few holdouts here and there. Some theologians were clearly unhappy to see Tertullian get any recognition at all.

Tertullian Was More Like a Church Uncle

Tertullian: Thanks everyone! It feels good to get some official recognition but I’m a bit uncomfortable about being called a “Church Father”.  I’d like it better if Jesus hadn’t said, “Call no man on earth father for one is your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9) I do enjoy being a “Church Uncle” though so please just call me Uncle Turtle. Winning this Windy Award is sure more pleasant than getting excommunicated!  (Modern scholars acknowledge that Tertullian wasn’t a Trinitarian!).

The Threeness of God Startled Most Believers!

I remember when we first started kicking around our new ideas about the threeness of God. I knew this wasn’t going to go over very well with the average believer on the street. When I wrote  Against Praxeas I tried to make that clear. “The simple, indeed (much less will I call them ignorant and uneducated), who are always the majority of believers, are startled at the arrangement (of the Three in One) the very rule of faith directs them away from the world’s many gods toward the one and true God…”

Trinitas Was a Great Brand Name!

I knew that our new theological “arrangement” forming God into a tri-personal being was going to be a tough sell. I figured such a big idea called for a new “brand name”. Trinitas has a nice ring to it and was the best Latin word for the job. The rest is history! Once believers began using  the word trinity I knew we had a winner on our hands. Trinity sounds so spiritual and scholarly that it’s hard to resist! It’s also so hard to define that people who don’t understand it go along with it anyway!

Tertullian Rejected the Co-Equality of the Son

My adversaries should stop arguing with me about co-equality but we can talk about that another time.  For now all I can say is thank you for this terrific Windy Award! May God bless all of you except for “you know who” over there in the corner. He is still glaring at me after all these years! I do hope he comes to his senses someday and quits being so argumentative!

PS: Who would have ever guessed Tertullian was such an interesting character and a heretic to boot! He may be famous but according to Athanasius, Uncle Turtle isn’t even saved! We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime why don’t you share a link to  theologyallstars.com with a few friends and see what they think? Thanks and God Bless.

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

To be continued….

Ecumenical Councils… What Good Are They?

 

“My inclination is to avoid all assemblies of bishops, because I have never seen any council come to a good end, nor turn out to be a solution of evils.  On the contrary, it usually increases them”

                                                                  Gregory of Nazianzus

 “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me.  Amen”

                                                                       Martin Luther

 

Modern society holds certain fundamental tenets sacrosanct; the right to vote, democracy, the right to own property, free speech, etc., in other words ‘the unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’  There is another equally strong tenet that even one with only the vaguest feel for things spiritual has, the concept of the Trinity.  Nearly everyone knows the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are One in Trinity.  This is taken as true without question; it just is.  Christians regularly recite a creed affirming this even though few realize how it came to be, or hard fought the battles were, or how many people were tortured or died in wars for that creed to exist today.  It didn’t have to be that way.

Rome, the Eternal City, is not much dwelt on during the Dark Ages.  It is assumed the classic age of the emperors went by the wayside as the Church emerged from the ash heap of history to encompass all of the Mediterranean to northern Scandinavian and from Russia to England.  Its a tedious and dull story.  Hardly!  The third thru the ninth centuries were anything but a smooth transition for the Church.  Although Rome was not exactly a backwater, it had lost its glory to Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria.  All that Rome had going for it was Peter was crucified there and, he is the rock upon which the church will be built.  Matthew 16:18. Alexandria’s glory was the greatest library of the ancient world and the western center of theology.  Antioch was considered one of the most beautiful of the ancient cities, boasting it had the greatest library, was also a major seat of learning and, the eastern center of theology.  Constantinople was ancient when renamed in 330 and grew to be the largest and wealthiest city in Europe.  Rome was left in the dust, actual dust.

In the third thru the ninth centuries Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and others like Carthage, Ephesus, and Chalcedon were holy sees, the seats of powerful bishops.  Each claimed to be the center of the Christian world.  Each held to this or that doctrine as absolute spiritual truth, and therefore, ought to be the rightful center of the Christian world.  In hindsight it was unlikely the runt of the group, Rome, would come out on top. That, though, is not the whole of the story.

During this dark period western civilization was being harassed, needled, pillaged, burned, and taken over by the Vandals, Goths, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Huns, to name a few.  As these frightful fellas came from the north and east deals needed to be made, tributes needed to be paid and, emperor’s sisters needed to be married off to the marauders to stem their unpleasantness.  It did not take long for the whole of Europe to be ruled by warlords linked to civilizing women with children Christianized and educated in what was left of the great schools.  That, though, is not the whole of the story.

Maintaining a bishopric as the seat of the Christian world did not come easy.  A doctrine had to be developed and followed without question as right and true.  This required muscle to keep the differently believed in line, and what a time it was for burly monks to bash heretical heads.  Then there was the curiosity of the unwashed monks who believed in utter self-denial for the sake of continuously contemplating God.  Hard to argue against that logic.  That, though, is not the whole of the story.

Bishoprics were not the quaint and quiet monasteries of the sixteenth century.  They existed at the behest of the warlords and emperors.  Who was paying who was a jumble.  It was prudent to pay a warlord to leave you alone, but it was conversely prudent of the warlord, or emperor, to pay for the privilege of going to heaven or even being crowned emperor by the pope as in the later years.  Money made the world go round.  Peasants revolted against the high taxes, plunder was taken, and powerful bishops skimmed of as much as they could along the way.

It is against this backdrop that Constantine first tried to make peace in the realm, peace with the first encroaching marauders, and peace with theologians who called for Christians to kill one another.  He called together the first ecumenical council to settle doctrinal issues once and for all.  In 325 a number of unifying housekeeping details were taken care of such as setting the date of Easter and putting an end to self-castration.  The primary reason, though, for this council, and others, was to anathematize Arius for preaching Jesus was the Messiah born human to Mary.  This council was to settle all matters for all time.  Too bad it was more like The Great War settling all wars for all time.

So far there have been twenty-one ecumenical councils.  There have also been many smaller synods.  As an aside, the Synod of the Oak is a personal favorite.  In the year 402 it involved forty-two archbishops, bishops, money, bribes, the highest of officials, the patriarch of Constantinople, betrayal, love of an empress, and fun gangs like the “Tall Brothers.”  This was the flavor of the early councils.  Let it be said they were not prayerful and thoughtful equivocations of theological fine points.  In fact, the thrust of the first nine was to anathematize and often kill Christians of a different belief.

Back to the First Council of Nicaea.  Beginning in 325 it was to settle spiritual differences so Constantine could get back to his Pax Romana.  318 bishops, their aids, advisers, and servants were living in Constantine’s lap of luxury.  Even Constantine sat in without guards as this was to be a civil discourse.  The question at hand revolved around how Jesus being a man could not possibly save all mankind, yet if He were God, then it was God that died on the cross and God could not possibly die, plus it would make Mary theotokos, mother of God and not christotokos, Christ’s mother.

Most bishops were moderates looking for some sort of compromise, but there were two firebrands who would not give and inch.  Even though it made many bishops uneasy, Athanasius introduced the term homoousian, meaning Jesus was of the same substance as God.  Some tried to meet in the middle with homoiousian, meaning of a similar nature.  But, the die was cast; either you were with Arius or with Athanasius.  As a precursor to the Synod of the Oak, Athanasius was bribing bishops and making backroom deals slowly bringing enough bishops into his camp for a majority vote.  The Arians were threatened with excommunication (including the loss of perks) and eternal damnation.  Most saw the light.  Only Arius, one deacon, and two bishops refused to sign what became known as the Nicene Creed.  Constantine didn’t much care about homoousios one way or the other, but he was pleased to settled all matters spiritual and was able to exile Arius.  That, though, was not the end of the story.

Darn it all Eusebius signed the creed but did not entirely renounce Arius.  This was no big deal except that Eusebius was Constantine’s friend, a member of the court, a bishop, and a distant relative.  Confusing Constantine even more was his sister, Flavia Julia, who was a great friend of Arius and a bit of an Arian herself.  Flavia and Eusebius had Constantine’s ear to the point of eventually rigging a trial against Athanasius.  Being hardheaded, Athanasius would not allow a softening of his homoousian position, Constantine got mad, Athanasius was exiled, and Arius was returned.  Now it was Arianism that began to spread.  On Constantine’s deathbed Eusebius baptized his friend.  Constantine’s son was a die hard Arian who further spread the concept of Jesus as a man.  In fact, many Goths were converted to Christianity through Arianism.  Its interesting the Goths never integrated into the Roman world because of this.  The homoousios/homoiousios schism eventually tore western civilization apart.

The First Council of Nicaea was rather mild compared to others.  But, it was typical of how the government, the bishops, bribes, the fight for power, and out and out beating and murder set the stage for writing creeds.  Make no mistake these were not spiritual get-togethers where prayerful meditations led the faithful to God’s intent.  The 431 Council of Ephesus was nearly the same as Nicaea except with different names: Cyril (The Great) from Alexandria in the west and Nestorius from Antioch in the east – same faces, a different time.  At Ephesus Mary became the Mother of God, Christ became one divine person, and Nestorius was anathematized.  Anathematizing the Nestorian heresy was the whole point of this council.  Pope Leo the Great called it the Robber’s Synod.  During the Gangster Council a bishop was so badly beaten that he died a few days later.  Basically Arius and Athanasius came back in different disguises for five hundred fifty more years.

325   First Council of Nicea

381   First Council of Constantinople

431   Council of Ephesus

451   Council of Chalcedon

553   Second Council of Constantinople

680   Third Council of Constantinople

757   Second Council of Nicaea

869   Fourth Council of Constantinople

After the Fourth Council of Constantinople the Eastern Greek church was split for evermore from the western Catholic church of Rome. This was formalized in 1054 as The Great Schism.  From this point on churches would easily get their theological noses out of joint.  Some recognized the thirteen Catholic councils that followed, and some recognized others.  A fun term that really upset the theological apple cart is Filoque; meaning the procession of the Spirit form the Son as well as from the Father.  Even this confusing term has its further nuances and extended nuances – veerrryyy difficult.

Arius and Athanasius rang through the Great Councils one way or another for five and a half centuries.  Even today a Trinitarian creed is recited with the absolute belief it is the absolute truth.  The truth is Christians are reciting the results of murder, bribery, hardheaded theology, and a struggle for temporal power.  It makes no difference which creed one chooses, they were all the result of anathematizing someone or something.  Here are a few:

Apostles’ Creed anathematized Marcion (120)

Nicene Creed anathematized Arius (325)

Nicaea-Constantinople Creed anathematized Nestorius (381)

Chalcedonian Creed anathematized the Monophysites (451)

Athanasian Creed re-anathematized Arius (500)

On top of these five are a hundred others developed by the myriad of Christian sects who may or may not add the Filoque.

 IT DID NOT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.  Jesus did not ask anyone to write a creed explaining His relationship to the Father and the Spirit.  He surely did not want murder and wars to be in His name.  Jesus, the Great Teacher, would have taught us about the relationships of the Trinity if He wanted us to know?  Some things are secret to God.  These days professors teach endlessly on theological terms.

 These days those in the pews earnestly recite their favorite creed.  These days Christians jump to the defense of their favorite creed.  And, these days Christians mindlessly defend the concept of the Trinity, even though most have no understanding of the dense and conflicting terms or understand how the Trinity came into existence.  All this leads Christians to be at odds with Christians.  It did not have to be this way!

Christians ought to drop the hubris and with humility believe in God the Father, Christ the Savior, and the Holy Spirit as a personal Paraclete.  It’s just that simple; nothing less and certainly nothing more.

Copyright 2021 by Greg Hallback

Faith Without Creeds

Saved by Faith… Plus the Nicene Creed!

The Reunion Committee knew the right person to give the keynote address just had to be the great theologian Athanasius! His powerful intellect, keen grasp of subtle philosophical issues and his forceful oratory made him the perfect choice. His epic speech “Faith Without Creeds is Dead” may be the most magnificent defense of the Nicene Creed you’ll ever read. His insights and passion truly captured the spirit of Nicea!

The Master of Ceremony’s Introduction of Athanasius was pretty dull and is omitted from this account. The transcript of Athanasius’ glorious speech is presented here in its entirety.

Arius Was a Heretic!

Athanasius:  Greetings and blessings to all! Except of course to Arius and his band of heretics who slithered in here somehow and are sitting with us today. How did he get in here anyway? The Reunion committee must have lost its collective mind to let him in! I see his name is even on the program somewhere! I thought we had banned him from everything we could think of! Well no matter, we’ll deal with him again later. Some of you may recall how, after our first council, we made it a crime punishable by death to even have a copy of his writings. It makes me a little nostalgic just to think of it. Those were the days!

What About  Emperor Constantine?

You may be wondering, where is Emperor Constantine? The Reunion organizers have asked me to inform you that he is doing well. The unfortunate misunderstanding that got him arrested when he tried to check in has been cleared up! He may have lost his bearings for awhile but he’s doing much better now that he’s on medications. We all know it was his will that brought us together in Nicea and it was his power that established our teachings!  Thank God for the Emperor! Let us pray for his speedy recovery!

Thank God for the Nicene Council!

It is so remarkable that we are all together again in Caesar’s Palace! Today we want to remember and give thanks for all the wonderful things we said and did in Nicea! Yes, I know there may be critics who whine that all we did was revel in our own intellectualism and sophistication. Well they are simply wrong! They were wrong then and they are still wrong today! You can be sure they will be wrong forever as long as I have anything to say about it! Besides, what’s so wrong with being intellectual and sophisticated anyway?

AUDIENCE:   Thunderous applause!

The Nicene Council Preserved the Kingdom of God!

Never forget that it was our work in Nicea that preserved the very kingdom of God from destruction! The wicked heretic and so-called Christian, Arius got what he deserved when we threw him out on his ear! We are forever grateful to Emperor Constantine who paid all our expenses and fed us sumptuously at his table. We should never lose sight of his kindness to the church when he told Roman citizens to quit killing us! It was Constantine, our beloved patron and Emperor, who took our side in the Nicean debate!  He pledged the power and might of Rome to our cause, and brethren, that’s as good as it gets!

AUDIENCE:   Deafening applause.

The Church Fathers Wrote a Beautiful Creed!

You may be wondering exactly what it was that we did in Nicea to preserve God’s kingdom. What did we accomplish that changed the very course of history? What was our crowning achievement you ask! We wrote a creed and crafted words that could show who is a true believer and who is not! Our words are wonderfully filled with gravity and mystery! (I wrote a lot of it myself by the way) Simply reciting them in public can establish whether you are in or out of God’s Kingdom!

Salvation Depends on the Nicene Creed!

The words we wrote are so important that we decided to establish their authority by majority vote! Our creed must never be disputed even if dimwits like Arius refuse to acknowledge it! We created the undisputed gold standard of faith for untold millions of believers! The Nicene Creed has been the only acceptable way for Christians to think for well over 1500 years now! Thankfully, we have even convinced people that unless they accept our theological formulation they cannot be saved!

AUDIENCE:  Enthusiastic shouting and foot stomping.

Many Christians Refused to Believe in the Trinity!

Thank you. Thank you! Most of you remember the situation we faced. There was trouble in the church! There were churches all over the empire and beyond that didn’t agree with each other! To their great shame there were even some people who stubbornly disagreed with me.  Far too many of them refused to accept my views about the threefold nature of God.

 AUDIENCE:   Booing and hissing.

Those Damnable Heretics Rejected Our Creed!

Athanasius: Damnable heretics like Arius and his followers refused to recognize the brilliance of our creation.  They would not believe in Jesus the right way, our way! Some did not like the idea of God being three “persons” but one substance! They rattled on about how it is wrong to claim God is a substance or essence in the first place. Well, that was our idea and we like it a lot and so does the Emperor! That pretty much settles it once and for all wouldn’t you say? But Arius and the thickheaded imbeciles who were his companions just wouldn’t go along with us. It didn’t matter though because our ideas became the official dogma of the Roman Empire!

AUDIENCE:   Right on Athanasius! God is One! God is Three! Let’s hear it for the Trinity!

The Church Needed Some Platonic Philosophy!

Arius and his accomplices accused us of building our doctrine on a foundation of Platonic philosophy. Well La Ti Da!  We told them, “If you don’t like it we’ll excommunicate you! Then to protect the Gospel from people who disagree with us we condemned and banished them! Just for good measure we made it a crime punishable by death to even have a copy of Arius’ writings! How’s that for taking a firm stand for the truth brethren!

AUDIENCE:   Bravo! Bravo! Well done!

PS: If you are enjoying the content here at theologyallstars.com please consider sending a link to a friend. Thanks and God Bless.

Continued… Click for Part II

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

The Opening Ceremony

Did the Church Fathers Speak Gobbledygook?

Planning a nice opening ceremony was a BIG challenge for the Reunion organizers! God had allowed everyone to attend in spite of the fact that they were all dead but there had never been an event like this before. There were no clear guidelines to follow. No one even knew whether the attendees had been granted a temporary pass out of heaven or hell or some other place that God had prepared especially for theologians! That was hard to judge because the church fathers spoke so much gobbledygook that it was hard to tell what they were really saying! More than a few Church Fathers were dismayed to see their opponents had somehow avoided the flames of hell. The question on everyone’s mind was “What good are all our excommunications and anathemas if they don’t work and God is merciful anyway?” It was no surprise that planning the Opening Ceremony was  a bit complicated.

People Got Killed at Church Councils!

Seating assignments were carefully selected to help avoid awkward encounters but feelings still ran strong and confrontations were inevitable. It was hoped that an orderly atmosphere would prevail but it soon became clear that the All Stars Reunion would look a lot like the chaotic and often violent Church Councils that dotted church history. One Council was even called the Murder Council! At least this time there was no real worry that anyone would get killed since everyone was already dead!

When everyone was seated the lyrics of “Hail Hail the Gang’s All Here!” appeared on the giant screen and the audience sang it heartily.

            Hail, hail the gang’s all here,  Never mind the weather, here we are together!

            Hail, hail the gang’s all here,  Sure we’re glad that you’re here too!

Constantine Wasn’t Master of Ceremonies This Time

Emperor Constantine was the natural choice for Master of Ceremonies since he had been the de facto Master of Ceremonies at Nicea.  Unfortunately, he was still incarcerated under a 72 hour mental health hold and was unable to attend. To the great delight and frabjous joy of just about everyone it turned out that Lewis Carroll the beloved author and Patriarch of Poetry had agreed to be the Master of Ceremonies! None of the Church Fathers had ever heard of him but they recognized him as a brother and true theological All Star as soon as he began to speak.

Lewis Carroll Thought Las Vegas Might Be Heaven

Greetings everyone! It is my singular honor and joy to have this chance to address you tonight! I am just as happy and surprised to be here as you are!  I had never even heard of Las Vegas until now. When I first saw all the brilliant lights I thought Las Vegas might be heaven, but now that I’ve been here a little while I know better! Nevertheless, the food is good and we might as well enjoy ourselves! It was a wonderful idea to hold this reunion! Let’s give a big round of applause to the organizers for all the work they have done.

Audience: Polite applause.

Gobbledygook and Trinitarian Theology

My dear brothers and comrades! You are important and famous and smart! I have read your works with great interest and done my best to follow your example. While my subject matter has differed from yours, my approach has been nearly identical as you will soon see. There is no doubt that you have very important things to say!  There is also no doubt most people have a hard time figuring out what exactly you mean! Some people even say that you, the Church Fathers, speak fluent gobbledygook! Tonight, I am a happy man, knowing that at long last, I am among friends who understand and appreciate my work in the same way I understand and appreciate yours.

Theologians Are Hard to Understand!

We use words most people do not comprehend to convey ideas that are only vaguely understood… if understood at all. You mean to say things that are very weighty and you see things others do not see! We are those who seek to express what makes a great deal of sense to us but hardly anyone else seems to catch on! Shall we then be embarrassed if our words create amazement and befuddlement? No I say! and no again! Let us fulfill our high destiny! This is our duty and our privilege and our calling. Pile on the words I say! Pile them ever higher and make them ever more inscrutable if the situation demands it! To do anything less is a dereliction of duty!

Copyright 2021 by Bob Shutes

PS: Who would have ever thought Lewis Carroll might get invited to a Reunion of ancient theologians? But he did and we’re so glad he showed up! We only hope you enjoyed his initial remarks as much as we did. Part II is coming next and it promises to be a real delight. Be sure to take a look… and while you’re at it why not invite someone else?