Tuesday, May 01, 2007

St. Athanasius, My Hero

Tonight is the Eve of the Feast of St. Athanasius.

Athanasius is one of my few heroes. I revere him for opposing heresy no matter what the personal cost to him. And it did cost him. He was exiled several times.

As the Good Professor has noted, Anglicans would do well to take note of Athanasius’ example. There is much whining coming from Episcolibs about polity and “boundary crossings” by orthodox bishops into Episcopal Church dioceses. And the Council of Nicea is used to decry such violations of + Holy + diocean boundaries.

But Athanasius, a staunch supporter of Nicea, had no problem intervening in dioceses led by heretical Arian bishops. As the Good Professor writes:

Athanasius was willing, as the conflict intensified—in his case, as early as the mid-340s—to intervene unilaterally in dioceses whose bishops were Arians or compromisers. The historians Socrates and Sozomen, writing in the middle of the next century, record that he ordained men in dioceses whose bishops were tainted with Arianism to serve the orthodox upholders of Nicea, and that he did so without seeking or obtaining the permission of those bishops.

No permission? Horrors!

Sounds like today, doesn’t it? Such opposition to heretics made people scream back then. And it makes people scream today.

Too bad. Athanasius treated heretic bishops as no bishops. If a so-called bishop wasn’t going to uphold the faith, then he would. And that’s the way it should be.

And for that, St. Athanasius will always be my hero.

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