Contra Mundum Redux by Mark Tooley

Contra Mundum Redux

Mark Tooley on St. Athanasius

I am a United Methodist, but one of my greatest heroes in Christian history comes from the ancient church of Egypt. Athanasius lived 1,300 years before the founding of Methodism, but he was well known to Methodism’s founder. When the aged John Wesley wrote one of his final letters to William Wilberforce, he likened that crusader against slavery to an “Athanasius contra mundum.

“Athanasius against the world.” For most of his almost 50 years as bishop of Alexandria, he truly was arrayed against the full breadth of the Roman Empire, defiantly defending the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity against pagans and Arian heretics. Parker Williamson of The Presbyterian Layman several years ago wrote a wonderful book, Standing Firm, describing the issues between the orthodox and heterodox at the Council of Nicaea, where the full and eternal deity of Christ was debated and ultimately affirmed.

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Mark Tooley directs the United Methodist committee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.ird-renew.org) in Washington, D.C.

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