Sunday, October 4, 2020

Where certainty resides

The author of a post at the Center For Baptist Renewal was assigned Athanasius’s Life of Antony as a part of his graduate work and found it particularly relevant to the times we are in. From that post:
.... Tests that shake our world sift between what is merely professed with the mouth and what is confessed in faith. As such, they cut through theological clichés and doctrinal superficiality to reveal what is truly believed, showcasing where our certainties and confidence really reside. ....

This line of questioning pierced the conscious of the desert fathers in the decades following the cessation of imperially authorized persecution against the Church. .... They regarded prosperity as a far greater threat to the church than destitution. Rather than running from crisis, they pressed into it. For them, to not perceive the perpetual crisis of human existence or to believe that one could avoid it was to have a fundamentally distorted view of reality.

Consider, for example, Antony’s spiritual advice to those who came to him seeking to know how to follow in his way of life. Recalling the words of the Apostle Paul about dying daily, he reminds his audience that the fragility of human existence ought to be a perpetual object of contemplation.
Similarly, if we bear in mind the unpredictability of our human condition, we will not sin. For when we wake from sleep, we must be doubtful as to whether we will reach evening and when we lie down to rest, we should not be confident that daylight will return. We should everywhere be mindful of the uncertainty of our nature and our life and understand that we are governed by God’s providence. Not only will we not go astray nor be swept away by some flimsy desire, but neither will we be angry with anyone nor strive to accumulate earthly treasures. Instead, fearing death each day and always thinking of our separation from the body, we will trample upon all that is transitory.
For Antony, such words were no mere lip service. ....

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