Council Day 2 Reflection (Athanasius)

Revered Emperor Constantine and members of the council,

I believe the second council day was very productive, and that on the whole, the council worked together to find compromise. The Arian faction was gracious in their willingness to cater to the Alexandrian desire to clarify language and remove words we believed either confusing or misleading. And I am very proud of my faction, as I hope Emperor Constantine is, in our orchestration of compromise between factions, and our willingness to compromise with Arius and his followers, despite attempts to argue, and our effort to avoid senseless and redundant debate. The imposition of a hand raising policy by Ossius was beneficial in preventing unbalanced participation from different members, even if it became difficult at times to maintain as it hindered the flow of debate. That being said, I believe there is much promise for this council, the Church, and the Empire, should the creed be amended slightly.

As I reflect on the creed as it stands, I am unsatisfied. My greatest dissatisfaction is with the phrase “God made Jesus exist at God’s own will.”  I believe this statement is heretical. Jesus is NOT a creation, He is fully divine, co-equal, and co-eternal to God. They are of the same nature and same divine power. By keeping that in the creed, we are desecrating the authority of God and Jesus, as they are of the same substance. It is beyond our comprehension to understand the detailed workings of the Godhead, but it is clear that Christ has to be co-equal to God in order to bring salvation to humanity. We agreed, both Arians and Alexandrians, in the creed that Christ became flesh, and it is His suffering and sacrifice through which humans receive salvation. As it is written in Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons unto glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering”.  In other words, the work of rescuing mankind from sin and providing them with salvation belongs to non other than who had made all things, meaning God Himself. If salvation can only be received through God, but our path to salvation was forged by Christ, the Word of God, it is only logical that Christ and God are one and the same. To continue, we agree that God is uncreated and eternal. If this is true, it translates that Christ is uncreated and eternal. I believe it was Eusebius of Caesarea who emphasized the importance of using scripture to determine the nature of God. This argument is based in scripture.  I believe that this equality, eternality, and oneness with God that is characteristic of Christ must be expressed in the Creed. And even more than that, for the sake of compromise, as the very least, the clause implying a creation of Christ must be removed.

I would like to remind the council and the Emperor, that I am not opposed to compromise. I believe in the importance of the politics of this council and agree with Constantine’s desire for unity; the Church must be unified. That being said, it should not be unified on the basis of compromise for compromise’s sake. We must not sacrifice the truth, and our faith, for political or personal reasons. I have not attended this council for personal gain, and am more than willing to risk my reputation in defense of the true faith. I believe that we must uphold theological truths, even if it means there is disagreement. Is Christ God not worth fighting for? While I thank Constantine for ending the persecution of Christians in the Empire and may God bless him and hold him in high favor for that, I warn my fellow council members that there is no persecution greater than that of being denied salvation, and remind them that the rewards of our eternal lives shall far outweigh any temporal punishment. We must not capitulate to heresy in order to make our earthly lives easier, for we shall sacrifice our salvation if we do so.

I pray earnestly for the members of the council and for the Empire and for the Church, may God bless us in our endeavor and may He guide us to the truth and give us the strength and the courage to defend it.

Athanasius

 

 

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