The Hamartiology of Athanasius of Alexandria

As an opponent of Arianism,[1] Athanasius of Alexandria declares that “it was acceptable to refer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as ‘one substance’ as long as this was not understood as obliterating the distinction among the three”[2] becomes a significant means to understand, particularly, his view of salvation. This belief rests on the notion of the redemptive powers of God the Son as being homoousian.[3] For Athanasius, sin, then, “is overcome by forgiveness, and death, which is the curse of sin, is overcome by the new life. Both are given by Christ.”[4] What this means, too, is that, in the view of Athanasius, the forgiveness of sins through salvation can occur “only by Christ who, as true man, suffers the curse of sin and, as true God, overcomes death”[5]

—————–

[1] This was the name given to a dispute in the early church from 318 to 381 C.E. that required 18 councils, beginning with the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. and ending with the Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E. The subject of the dispute was the meaning of incarnation in relation to the Christian belief of monotheism. In this dispute, while Arius believed in a sharp distinction between God the Father and God the Son, subordinating the latter to the former, Athanasius believed that the Father and the Son were of the same essence. Refer to William L. Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion: Eastern and Western Thought (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press Inc., 1980), 27; 36.

[2] Refer to Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation: Volume 1 (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1984), 179.

[3] This is based on the doctrine established at the Council of Nicaea and the councils thereafter about God the Son being of the same essence or substance as God the Father. Refer to William L. Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion: Eastern and Western Thought (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press Inc., 1980), 231.

[4] Refer to Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought: From Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1968), 73.

[5] Ibid.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: