Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Athanasius: A Theological Introduction by Thomas G. Weinandy

“Sin, for Athanasius, is the turning away from God and all that pertains to him and a lustful self-centered turning inward to what pertains to man and his earthly bodily life with all its sensual pleasures.” (15)

For Athanasius, as the Son of God was the original acting agent within the order of creation, so the Son will now be the acting agent within the order of redemption. Following the biblical historical narrative of God’s revelation, Athanasius insightfully perceives that the Son of God, as the Father’s Word and Wisdom, inextricably conjoins protology and soteriology and, ultimately, eschatology.” (28)

Quoting Athanasius from De Incarnatione:
“For His it was once more both to bring the corruptible to incorruption, and to maintain intact the just claim of the Father upon all. For being Word of the Father, and above all, He alone of natural fitness was both able to recreate everything, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be ambassador for all with the Father. (7.5)” (31)

“In order to address all of these intertwined issues adequately, the Word of God, who is incorporeal, incorruptible, and immortal, must, for Athanasius, assume what is corporeal, corruptible and mortal, and he does so precisely in becoming a man.” (32)

“Before proceeding further, it is important to note that the biblical nature of Athanasius’ response to the Arian crisis is evident from the onset. Athansius is well aware of the philosophical issues involved; yet these will be addressed primarily from within a biblical context. It is to the Bible primarily that he turns to oppose the Arian position and to defend and expound what he considers the orthodox faith, and thus much of his argumentation focuses and converges on the right reading and proper exegesis of biblical passages and concepts.” (66)

“For Athanasius the incarnational ‘becoming’ means neither ‘come into’ nor ‘change into’. Well, what then does ‘become’ mean for Athanasius? While somewhat hidden, it lies in the very denials. Athanasius is ultimately saying the following: ‘The Son of God actually does become man and does not merely come into man, but by saying that he “actually becomes” man, I do not mean that he “changes into” man, for the one who is man remains the Son of God.’” (86-7)

“Again, as Athanasius had argued strenuously for the Son’s divinity in order to ensure humankind’s salvation, so that same motivation is present throughout his affirmation of the Spirit’s divinity. If the Spirit is not God, then he cannot sanctify and vivify and so cannot transform human beings into the likeness of the Son and so make them children of the Father.” (119)

Quoting Athanasius in Festal Letter 10:
“For He suffered to prepare freedom from suffering for those who suffer in Him, He descended that He might raise us up, He took on Him the trial of being born, that we might love Him Who is unbegotten, He went down to corruption, that corruption might put on immortality, He became weak for us, that we might rise with power, He descended to death, that He might bestow on us immortality, and give life to the dead. Finally, He became man, that we who die as men might live again, and that death should no more reign over us; for the Apostolic word proclaims, 'Death shall not have the dominion over us(10.8).’” (123)

“Athanasius knew well enough that the term homoousion would never have entered the minds of the evangelists or Paul as they professed their belief in the one God as Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but he rightly recognized that the proper understanding of homoousion was lodged within the New Testament from the outset.” (136)

“In closing, I hope Athanasius’ theological significance is now evident. He was a man who fought the good fight of faith for the faith, and won.” (139)

No comments:

Post a Comment