Tag Archives: Martyrs

The Apostasy that Wasn’t Part II: The Council and the Martyrs (Repost)

For the first part:

Traditions, Scriptures and the Council

Rod Bennett shines a bright light on the role of tradition, biblical interpretation and orthodoxy. Biblical interpretation and tradition were at the heart of the dispute between the Catholic understanding of the divinity of Chris and that claims made by a priest named Arius who posited that the Son of God was a created being, albeit with all the attributes of God the Father. A common refrain of the Arians was: “there was a time when the Son of God was not”. Today heirs of the Arian heresy can be found in groups like the Jehovah Witness and the Church of the Latter Day Saints. This is only to the extent that both groups assert that Jesus is a created being. Bennett points out that both camps were well equipped with biblical passages to argue in favor of their respective positions. However, the Arians were introducing novel biblical interpretations to substantiate their positions. Interpretations that directly opposed the traditions that have been taught by the Church since apostolic times:

“What was that tradition? It might well be described simply as stubbornness: a tradition of stolid, donkey-like stubbornness born out of humility and fear of God. There was a list, that’s all-an unwritten list of four rock–solid facts of our Faith, handed down by the saints gone before us. And the list- well, the list was the list:

1. That the Father is God;
2. That Jesus, his Son, is also God;
3. That Father and Son are not, however mere names but real personalities who can
relate not only to us but to one another;

4. Yet there is only one God”.

Rod Bennett
The Apostasy that Wasn’t

It is important to remember that during the time of the Arian heresy there was no theological treaty that harmonizes a philosophical argument with the gospel teachings about the Holy Trinity. As a matter of fact the word ‘trinity’ was not even common in the lexicon of the council’s father neither did it appear in the bible. Instead the early Church faithfully relied on the traditions taught by the Apostles, as St. Paul urged them in 2 Thessalonians 2:15:

“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours”.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

It is clear from the writings of the early disciples of the Apostles that the Church universally proclaimed the divinity of Christ, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the regenerative nature of baptism, and the authority of the Bishop. It was precisely this stubborn faithfulness of the early Church that preserved the teachings of the Apostles against many unorthodox teachings that disputed the nature of the Divinity of Christ, way before Arius was preaching his views. Gnostic for example, claiming that matter is evil and thereby denied that Jesus was truly man, whereas Sabellianism taught that Jesus and God the Father were not distinct person but two aspects of the same person. As with Arianism the Church stood firm against these heresies.

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This juxtaposition between scripture and tradition evident in the Arian controversy is reminiscent of today’s theological disputes between Catholics and some Protestants. Is the “bible alone” necessary and sufficient to resolve matters of faith or as Jesus said in Matthew 18:17-18, it is the Church that ultimately has that authority? The Church assembled in the council composed of an estimated 300 bishops from around the know-world resoundingly affirmed the gospel as taught by the Church since apostolic times.

The declaration of Arianism as a heresy is not an indictment against the development of doctrine or theological speculations, but an indictment against a world view that divorce scriptures from its apostolic traditions. One that puts in perils the teaching of the Apostle Paul:

“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours”.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

The First Council Of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed

The Church gathers at Nicaea universally reaffirmed the divinity of Christ except for two holdup Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais who were anathematized. The council condemned the Arian heresy and gave us part of the Nicene Creed, which is professed by many Christians churches around the world.

As Theodoret writes in his Ecclesiastical History, the council’s father represented an army of martyrs. These were the stoics Christians who survived the blunt of the Diocletian persecution and bore in their bodies the sign of the Cross. They were a living witness for Christ and for his Church. Are we willing to bear the same witness today?

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten; and that He was made out of nothing (ex ouk onton); or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance [than the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes”.

  Nicaea_icon

Ya Rabbi Yasou

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These are the names of the 21 Coptic martyrs killed in Libya:

1. Milad Makeen Zaky
2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
11. Mina Fayez Aziz
12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
14. Samuel Alham Wilson
15. Worker from Awr village
16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
17. Loqa Nagaty
18. Gaber Munir Adly
19. Esam Badir Samir
20. Malak Farag Abram
21. Sameh Salah Faruq

Their last word was a last act of defiance against evil and last act of  Faith, Hope and Love: “Ya Rabbi Yasou,” or “My Lord Jesus.”

Are we willing to say those words when temptation knocks at our door,  when we see the poor and suffering in our neighbors or when we are called to stand up for our Faith no matter the consequences?

Lets pray that during this lenten season we may grow in faith and fortitude to be that witness of Christ love to others.

St. Ignatius of Antioch pray for us!

Names taken from the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles:

http://lacopts.org/story/a-statement-on-the-martyrdom-of-21-coptic-christians-in-libya/

“The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard”. Pope Francis

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Family of the Coptic Christian martyred by Islamic terrorists.

Don’t fall into indifference but be steadfast in your prayers for those who are being persecuted in the middle east for professing the name of Christ and those who opposed such extreme acts of human cruelty. May God keep them and protected them and may their life be a light to the world.

Who are the Coptic Christians:

Quote taken from:

http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=11684

Islamic Persecution of Christians

JamesFoleyPicture of James Foley murdered by ISIS:  Man of Incredible Bravery and about his witness of faith: Slain journalist James Foley on praying the rosary in captivity.

The recent slaying of the freelancer journalist James Foley moved me deeply. In the mist of this tragic incident and the displacement and murder of thousands of people in Iraq the Bishop of Mosul, Iraq made a poignant statement:

“I lost my diocese. The physical setting of my apostolate has been occupied by Islamic radicals who want us converted or dead. But my community is still alive.”

Amel Shimoun Nona
Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Iraq

This is not radical Islam is taking over the region, but rather Islam reaffirms itself in the region against more moderate and progressive version of Islam. The West in its desperate down spiral identity crisis refuses to admit such a self-evident truth at its own existential peril. The archbishop continues by saying:

“Islam does not say that all men are equal,” and if Westerners “do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed into your home.”

The pity is that anyone in the west, making such statements will be immediately labeled an islamophobe, accused of bigotry, publicly chastised and marginalized by people that either are ignorant of history and Islamic teachings or by people with suspect agendas. The fundamental problem as Pope Benedict XVI identified in his now famous Regensburg address is Islam’s view of the nature of God:

…for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.”

In Muslim teaching, God is pure will and thereby God is not bound by reason. Making it possible for the shifting morality of war observed throughout the rapid Islamic expansion during the six, seven and eight centuries. These expansions were driven by military conquest and forced conversion of conquered populations that are no different from what we are observing in Iraq and other countries. The main difference is that a component of todays “Islamic radicals” grew up in western countries (i.e. England).

The interaction between faith and reason has been a staple of Christian theology since the early apostolic church and serves a stark contract to the Muslim view of God’s absolute transcendence; where such interaction is subjugated to the will of God. This excludes the fundamental logical principle of non-contradiction since the overriding factor is the will of God and not natural law. This is the point of discussion between the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleogus and his Persian interlocutor referred by Pope Benedict in his address and at the crux of today’s barbaric persecution of non-Muslims in Islamic countries. As Pope Benedict XVI quoted the Emperor:

“Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.

The solution is complex, but it starts by confronting the truths about Islam both the good and the bad. On one hand history shows a time, albeit brief period,  where Hellenization of Islamic theology led to fruitful and peaceful interactions between Christians and Islamic intellectuals pointing to a possible peaceful way forward, but on the other hand, history also shows us what happen when Islam rejects such principles and adheres to a plain interpretation of the Qur’an. Given the absence of moral certitude in an age of moral relativism so dominant in the West it may be up to the moderate voices in Islam to put an end to such barbaric acts, as some have done in Iraq, at the cost of their own life. The problem is that you can hardly hear them in the West.

Reference:

Pope Benedict XVI Resenburg Address.

Catholic Archibishop of Mosul: “Islam Does Not Say That All Men are Equal”

ISIS “split her in two; she would not convert!”