Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


(ca. 293–373). Known in E tradition as “The Father of Orthodoxy.” His life shows great heroism, fortitude, and faith. In 325 accompanied his bp., Alexander, to Council of Nicea as deacon; 3 yrs. later became bp. Alexandria. Known for defense of Nicene formula, which stressed that Jesus Christ is homoousios* with the Father. Made little use of this term in early apologies of Christian faith, Against the Gentiles and On the Incarnation; but by 325 felt that it was the only one that would preserve the teaching of the ch. from the ravages of Arianism.* Though homoousios is not a Biblical term, he felt that it captured the witness of the Scriptures to the deity of Christ better than any of the specifically Biblical formulations that might have been substituted. His many works against the Arians include The Decrees of the Council of Nicea; History of the Arians; Orations Against the Arians.

Perhaps his most important contribution was made ca. the middle of the 4th c. when he brought together the Gk. theologians of the E, who emphasized that the Godhead is made up of 3 Persons, with the theologians of the W, who insisted that God is One. Athanasius' efforts, with those of such men as Basil and Hilary, led to settlement at Constantinople (381), where it was agreed that there is 1 true God, in whom there are 3 Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. WWO

See also Fathers of the Church; Cappadocian Theologians; Doctor of the Church; Ecumenical Creeds, C 1; Monasticism, 3; Patristics, 6; Persecution by Christians 1.

MPG, 25–28; NPNF, Ser. 2, IV; J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, 2d ed. (New York, 1960).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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