Saint Athanasius

Most people even if they are not Christian have a favorable view of Jesus Christ (although we remember the hatred of Christianity in the Soviet Union and other places). Many people will acknowledge Jesus as a great moral teacher, a highly spiritual person and so on. These things are true, but the fundamental Orthodox belief is that Christ is God, the second person of the Holy Trinity.
This is a belief strongly defended by the saint of the day, Saint Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria (c. 296-373 AD). In the early third century, a priest in Alexandria, Egypt, named Arius was teaching that Jesus Christ was not God in the true sense. Arius was willing to say that Jesus was the son of God in some sense, but he was fundamentally a created being, the greatest of all God’s creatures. Soon people in the church realized what a threat this was to the Church. Even the most holy person could not free us from the power of sin, death and the devil; only God can. So a meeting of bishop s was called at the city of Nicea and Saint Athanasius attended the council as a deacon and assistant to the then Patriarch of Alexandria. At this council the bishops adopted the Creed we sing at every Divine Liturgy, when we say “I believe…. in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made…”   After the council of Nicea, Saint Athanasius became Patriarch of Alexandria and strongly defended the Nicene Creed. Unfortunately, many bishops would not teach the Creed and these bishops, using the power of the Roman Emperor, forced Saint Athanasius out of Alexandria and into hiding. He was patriarch for 45 years, seventeen of which he spent in hiding. Nevertheless, Saint
Athanasius proclaimed the Nicene Creed, forcefully taught that Jesus Christ is “true God of true God,” which has been the belief of Orthodox, Roman Catholic and many Protestant Christians since his death. He is known as one of the great defenders of Orthodoxy.

Fr. John

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