Is an Arian Still a Christian? The Response of Athanasius

At the very beginning of discourse I of Against the Arians the great Athanasius answers those who argued that the Arians were still Christians. I think his response is brilliant, witty, and pithy. He writes the following,

For what have they discovered in this heresy like to the religious Faith, that they vainly talk as if its supporters said no evil? This in truth is to call even Caiaphas a Christian, and to reckon the traitor Judas still among the Apostles, and to say that they asked Barrabas instead of the Saviour did no evil, and to recommend Hymenaeus and Alexander as right-hand men, as if the Apostle slandered them. (I.2)

It doesn’t get more straightforward that that. Athanasius’ answer regarding whether or not Arius and his followers are still Christians despite being heretical is sarcastically, “Yes, if Caiaphas who had Christ killed is a Christian, if Judas is still an apostle, if choosing Barrabas was not an insult to Christ, and if the Apostle Paul wrongly framed those who persecuted him, sure, then he is a Christian.” There is no doubt how he would have answered at least part of the question asked in class!

This post has been modified from here.

About Brian LePort

Religious Studies Instructor at TMI Episcopal (San Antonio, TX). PhD in Religion and Theology from the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK). Married to Miranda Perez. Human to a Cocker Spaniel named Frida. Fan of the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, and Golden State Warriors.

Posted on February 13, 2010, in Historical Theology, Salvation, Theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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