(293 – 373)
We’re celebrating black heroes who made history, and I want to introduce you to Athanasius of Alexandria, another prominent church father, theologian, statesman and Egyptian leader.
As a young man he served as secretary to Alexander Bishop of Alexandria. Upon the death of Alexander, it was made known to Athanasius that he had been chosen by Alexander to succeed him as bishop of Alexandria. Athanasius was involved in the theological war against the heresy of Arius and the Arians, who taught that Jesus Christ was not truly God, but a lesser creature. It was because of this heresy that the Council of Nicea met in the year AD 325, and Athanasius welcomed the definition of the Son that stated He was “consubstantial with the Father.”
Like Augustine, Athanasius’s words and thoughts are taught in Bible schools and seminaries. Athanasius was exiled five times by four Roman emperors, and spent seventeen of the forty-five years he served as bishop of Alexandria in exile. However, he exhibited a cogent understanding of theological issues that was far beyond his own time.
We should celebrate Athanasius for his orthodox theological thoughts and writings that have stood the test of time, transforming and shaping Christianity throughout the ages.