20 May 2007

Easter with St Athanasius IV

Taken from Athanasius Contra Mundum

But they who disbelieve in the resurrection afford a strong proof against themselves, if instead of all the spirits and the gods worshiped by them casting out Christ, who they say is dead, Christ on the contrary proves them all to be dead. For if it be true that one dead can exert no power, while the Saviour does daily so many works, drawing men to religion persuading to virtue, teaching of immortality, leading on to a desire for heavenly things, revealing the knowledge of the Father, in spiring strength to meet death, showing himself to each one, and displacing the godlessness of idolatry, and the gods and spirits of the unbelievers can do none of these things but rather who themselves dead at the presence of Christ, their pomp being reduced to impotence and vanity- whereas by the sign of the cross all magic is stopped, and all witchcraft brought to nought, and all the idols are being deserted and left, and every unruly pleasure is checked, and everyone is looking up from earth to heaven-whom is one to pronounce dead? Christ, that is doing so many works? But to work is not proper to one dead.

Or him that exerts no power at all, but lies as it were without life? which is essentially proper to the idols and spirits, dead as they are. For the Son of God is "living and active," and works day by day, and brings about the salvation of all. But death is daily proved to have lost all his power, and idols and spirits are proved to be dead rather than Christ, so that henceforth no man can any longer doubt the resurrection of his body. But he who is incredulous of the resurrection of the Lord's body would seem to be ignorant of the power of the Word and the Wisdom of God. For if he took a body to himself at all, and -in reasonable consistency, as our argument showed- appropriated it as his own, what was the Lord to do with it? or what should be the end of the body when the Word had once descended upon i? For it could not but die, inasmuch as it was mortal, and to be offered unto death on behalf of all: for which purpose it was that the Saviour fashioned it for himself. But it was impossible for it to remain dead, because it had been made the temple of life. Whence, while it died as mortal, it came to life again by reason of the life in it; and of its resurrection the works are a sign.
-On the Incarnation of the Word

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