Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Athanasian Worldview

Peter Leithart gives a great summary of Athanasius' worldview, which is relevant to what we as a church are learning from the early creeds.

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."

"The second half of the the first article of the Apostles' Creed is arguably as central to Athanasius' theology as his formulations of trinitarian theology or Christology. Creation gave him a number of his most fundamental metaphysical convictions. The doctrine of creation implied an ontological distinction between Creator and creature, a distinction that remains intact, no matter how intimately God unites himself with human nature or how elevated human beings are in grace. God remains God and creation remains created. To be created is to be dependent, and creation manifests its own dependence,thus providing a kind of negative proof for the existence of an independent Creator. God created out of his goodness, not from need, so that creation is a pointer to God's generosity. Creation is orderly and thus manifests not just God in general but the 'logic' of God, that is, the eternal divine Logos. The good God creates a world that is good, and all that is participates in his goodness. Body and soul are both created, both equally contingent and dependent, both equally susceptible to change and decay. Bodies are not evil. Evil, for Athanasius as much as for Augustine, is no substance, but a breach with the source of existence and therefore a move toward non-existence. Sin is 'decreation.' If the doctrine of the Trinity is at the center of the patristic 'evangelization of metaphysics,' the doctrine of creation is close by its side. The doctrine of the Trinity is about the character of ultimate reality; creation is the fundamental statement about the metaphysics of visible and contingent reality. For Athansius, the two doctrines are intimately related: only a Triune God can create."

Athanasius, 89-90

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