Friday, 29 September 2017

Two things accomplished by Christ's sacrifice

"For by the sacrifice of His own body [Christ] did two things: He put an end to the law of death which barred our way; and He made a new beginning of life for us, by giving us the hope of resurrection.  By man death has gained its power over men; by the Word made Man death has been destroyed and life raised up anew.  That is what Paul says, that true servant of Christ: 'For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  Just as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive' [1 Cor. 15:21ff], and so forth.  Now, therefore, when we die we no longer do so as men condemned to death, but as those who are even now in process of rising we await the general resurrection of all, 'which in its own times He shall show' [1 Tim. 6:15], even God Who wrought it and bestowed it on us."

                          - St. Athanasius, On The Incarnation, II.10

Friday, 15 September 2017

Irenaeus on Patient Maturing

Irenaeus, writing to refute the Gnostics who sought perfection and godhood through secret "knowledge" based on their false myths and false interpretations of Scripture, encourages instead that the clay allow itself to be shaped by the Potter into a form which displays the character of the Potter:
"How can you be a god when you have not yet become a man?  How can you be perfect when you have only just been made?  How can you be immortal when, in your mortal nature, you do not obey your Maker?  You must hold the rank of man before you partake of the glory of God.  You did not make God; God made you.  If you are the handiwork of God, await the Craftsman's hand patiently; He does everything at a favourable time, favourable, that is, to you, whom He made.  Offer him your heart, pliant and unresisting.  Preserve the form in which the Craftsman fashioned you.  Keep within you the Water which comes from Him; without it, you harden and lose the imprint of His fingers.  By preserving the structure, you will ascend to perfection; God's artistry will conceal the clay within you.  His hand formed your substance; He will coat you, within and without, in pure gold and silver; He will adorn you so well that 'the King himself will delight in your beauty' (Ps. 44:12).  But if you harden and reject his artistry, if you show Him your displeasure at being made a man, your ingratitude to God will lose you both His artistry and His life.  Making is a property of God's generosity; being made is a property of man's nature.  If, therefore, you hand over to Him what is yours, faith in Him and subjection to Him, you will receive the benefit of His artistry and be God's perfect work of art.  If, on the other hand, you resist Him and flee from His hands, the cause of your imperfection will lie in you...The light does not fail because of those who have blinded themselves; it remains the same, while the blinded are plunged in darkness by their own fault.  Light never forces itself on anyone, nor does God use compulsion on anyone who refuses to accept His artistry."
                                                            - The Scandal of the Incarnation, IV 39, 2-3

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

God can only be known through God

Irenaeus (b. circa 130 AD), writing to refute the Gnostic heretics in The Scandal of the Incarnation, says:
"No one can know the Father without the Word of God, that is to say, unless the Son reveals Him, nor can one know the Son without the good pleasure of the Father (cf Matt. 11:26ff).    IV 6,3
"The Son leads men to the Father, but the Father reveals to them the Son."    III 13,2
"...Lavishly, ungrudgingly, He has granted men to know God the Father through adoption and to love Him wholeheartedly..."  IV 16,5
"Read the prophets carefully, and you will find that all the actions, all the teaching, all the sufferings of the Lord have been foretold by them.  Now it may be that the question will come into your mind: Did the Lord bring us anything new by His coming?  The answer is this: He brought us all newness by bringing Himself, who had been foretold."    IV 34,1
"Everything became new when the Word, in a new dispensation, came in the flesh to win back to God man who had gone off from God.  Thus men were taught to worship, not a different God, but the same God in a new way."    III 10,2