‘Truth knows neither color nor division in Christ’

Published 12:55 pm Friday, February 14, 2020

History may well mark these years as a time where the differences between groups became causes of dissension rather than sources of strength. Indeed, it may well be viewed as the time when men consolidated power and strengthened their own rights rather than granting these very same God-given, “inalienable” rights to others – such as widows, orphans, the poor, and yes, the refugee. Let it not be said of Christians. 

For two thousand years the cause of Christ — a Jew according to the flesh writes St. Paul — has been one of unity forged in the oneness of Christ, yet existing in the midst of diversity — reflective of the Triune Godhead.  The history of our faith bears this plain fact.

It was an African, Athanasius — ridiculed as the “black dwarf” by his enemies- who so steadfastly held to the teaching of Scripture regarding the diversity among the Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — while insisting on the unity, equality and dignity among the three persons. 

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Athanasius was a product of Alexandria in North Africa — which was second to none as a bastion of intellectualism and knowledge in the first millennium of Christian history. Established by the Apostle Mark, the Church at Alexandria established the Christian witness in what was then the largest city in the known world. It was arguably the seat of Christian thought for the first thousand years of the Church.   

For example, the Bishop of Alexandria regularly set the annual date for Easter for the entire Church. It was in one of his “Easter letters,” that Athanasius used the word ‘canon’ and listed the writings that were commonly accepted as canonical. 

If there were any other city in the first millennium of Christian thought that may have rivaled Alexandria in importance, it was Carthage, also located in North Africa.  Carthage produced such thinkers as Tertullian and Cyprian; but most notably, the man who became known as the father of the Western Church — Augustine of Hippo.   

Where would modern Christian thought be without what one author describes as the “river of theology” flowing from Augustine declaring the absolute sovereignty of God and the utter depravity of sinful man? The theology birthed by Augustine as he battled heresies from within and without the Church remains one of the main pillars of modern Christian thought. 

For Christians, only truth should be paramount and truth knows neither color nor division in Christ. For those who may venture to say otherwise, the great tapestry of Christian thought, knit by our Lord throughout the ages, would argue differently. 

 

Reginald D. Bernard is pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church on Oak Ridge Road.