Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

Dissecting rebel priest's heresy

Peter Kennedy on Q&AOne of the most potent accusations you can make against Christians is that they deny the divinity of Christ. This accusation was made, far too hastily, against Fr Peter Kennedy on the basis of a television interview (pictured). It may be helpful to ask in what terms the question of Christ's divinity came first to be raised and why it is has been seen as so important.

The early Christians knew that Jesus addressed God as Father. After the resurrection, they had to ask how Jesus was related to God. Although, as Fr Kennedy said rightly, Jesus could not have referred to himself as God, that did not settle how he was related to the God whom he knew as Father.

The question was pressed in the Fourth Century by the Alexandrian priest, Arius. In order to protect the unity and otherness of God, he said that the Father was alone and uniquely God. Christ was also a unique, but a lesser being. Later Arians would say that the Father was alone uncreated. As Son of God, Christ was created.

The debate about this question was tumultuous and often confused. Both those who followed Arius and those who claimed that the relationship between Christ and the Father was one of equality found Scriptural texts to support their positions.

But they also found that their opponents could also interpret these texts coherently within their own framework. One side argued for Jesus' equality with the Father, for example, on the basis that Jesus was described as the Son of God. Their opponents then cited texts in which angels or human beings were described as sons of God.

It slowly became clear that the issue was not about particular texts but about what the whole Gospel demanded. Did the story of what God had done in Jesus Christ demand seeing Jesus Christ as equal to the one he called Father? Or was it compatible with seeing Jesus as a lesser being, even as no more than a human being?

The conclusion was that the Christian faith represented in the New Testament demanded that Christ be seen as the Son of God who was equal in all respects to the Father.

This was not the easier position to hold. Its opponents immediately asked how it could be compatible with the central belief that God is one, and how a divine Christ could share fully the limitations and weaknesses of our human life. There was material here for another century or two of turmoil.

So why did they see it as so important to say that Christ's relationship with the Father was one of equality? Finally, it had to do with intimacy. The Scriptures described God's relationship with us in Christ as intimate and personal. It could be crystalised in John's phrase, 'God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son'.

God's investment in us and our world was God's own self. It was family business. The image of the crucifixion as one of God sharing our pain.

The alternative, to see Christ as a lesser being meant that God's involvement with humanity was through a messenger or representative. Although this was a quite reasonable way to imagine God's relationship to the world, it did not correspond to the Gospel story of Jesus Christ. Jesus' life, death and resurrection were an event in God's life, not simply in a human life.

This conviction was also enshrined in Christian prayer and practice. Although it was problematic in the Jewish environment from which they came, the early Christians instinctively associated Christ in their prayer to God. Their forms of prayer suggested that the Father and Christ were inseparable.

This story has three continuing implications. First, that in Christian terms God needs to be seen in terms of relationship. To speak of Jesus as God is crude shorthand, useful for speaking with non-Christians, but often unhelpful within Christian conversation. We should more properly speak of Jesus as the Son of the Father, and of God as Trinity.

Second, the Fourth Century debate suggests that much is at stake in the discussion of Christ's relationship to God as Father. It has to do with the core identity of what Christians today believe with what the early Christians received. And it touches what that God has done for us and what we can expect of God.

Third, if the proper way of speaking of God in Christian conversation is as Trinity, the questions of gendered language and of the need for a variety of images of God are important in our day. It is perhaps significant that Ephraem, a strongly anti-Arian theologian, could speak easily of God as mother.

Andrew HamiltonAndrew Hamilton is the consulting editor for Eureka Street. He also teaches at the United Faculty of Theology in Melbourne.

Topic tags: andrew hamilton, jesus christ, god, fr peter kennedy, st mary's south brisbane, Q&A



submit a comment

Existing comments

Perhaps more relevant than the TV program was Fr Kennedy's radio interview when he stated “I would tend rather to agree with Arius that Jesus was a human person ... I'm quite open to being convinced that Jesus was a divine person”. It is difficult to see how else to read this but a denial while remaining open to be convinced.

Neil Ormerod | 01 April 2009  

As usual Fr Andrew Hamilton has contributed scholarly wisdom into this issue.

Such a pity that Fr Peter Kennedy didn't join with scholars such as Fr Hamilton many moons ago as it would have afforded his goodness and sincerity in living Christ's Gospel option for the poor with balance, direction and a credibility that would have continued to allow him and the St Mary's community to operate as part of the Church, and hold out against the poorly directed and often ignorant and unwise 'temple police'.

Fr Andrew Hamilton's work in the Church is the theology we all need. Fr Peter Kennedy, in replacing scholarly theology with the unwittingly, but no doubt sincere, reflections of Fr Peter Dresser on Jesus Christ just gave the 'temple police' the evidence that really didn't exist beforehand.

Lesson learnt by all of us I suspect, if we want to be Church we can't do without Church.

Fr Mick Mac Andrew Bombala-Delegate NSW | 01 April 2009  

"So why did they see it as so important to say tht Christ's relationship with the Father was one of equality? Finally, it had to do with intimacy."

I confess that the logic of this escapes me.
Relationships can be intimate without being equal,surely? Finally,I suggest, it's a matter of what is real, a matter of being, of ontology. The opening of St John's Gospel does not resile from these categories.

John Kelly | 01 April 2009  

Mr Hamilton thinks that Fr Kennedy was accused 'far too hastily on the basis of a television interview' If Mr Hamilton had known that there were other times when Fr K left this question hanging, would he have written this article?

In any case, by not taking the opportunity to declare his belief in the divinity of Christ in his TV appearance Fr K has indeed invited the understandable accusation that Mr Hamilton oddly believes was hasty

Cris | 01 April 2009  

thank God she has left us with a few able theologians like Andrew Hailton who is able to present a central mystrery of Christian faith in clear language without detracting from the mystery or so encasing it in obfuscation as to diminish it complexity or sap its salvific quality.

Gary Bouma | 01 April 2009  

Thank you Andy for this very accessible article which is of great assistance for my VCE Religion and Society students in their study of challenge and response in the context of continuity and maintenance of core beliefs.

m hale | 01 April 2009  

The article seems to end in mid air-as if there was much more to be said-a new direction seems to me to have been opened up with the reference to Ephraem- not a concluding paragraph

I have no idea what Fr Kennedy said to which this article is written in response to.
Nonetheless the article is interesting.

Mary Duffy | 01 April 2009  

Thank you for this very clear and good article helping me by using language that makes sense of jesus in relationship with God and giing serious explanation in our day to thinking Christians..

Graeme pepper | 01 April 2009  

The heresy accusation is indeed made 'far too hastily' if the sole basis is the TV program. My reading of the transcript is that Fr Kennedy neither affirmed nor denied the divinity of Jesus, whether on his own or a statement of Catholic belief.

Casey Collins | 01 April 2009  

John's gospel gives us insight to the desire of God for us. Jesus prays that they (people) may be one, as we are one. We are invited into the the dynamic of Trinitarian relationship. An article on how Jesus Christ is different to you and me, might be helpful, albeit challenging to write.

Marlene Marburg | 01 April 2009  

Many thanks to Andrew Hamilton for urging restraint in pronouncing on Christian orthodoxy. I am reminded that in 1170, Pope Alexander III condemned as nihilistic Peter Lombard's view of Christ, while in 1215 Peter Lombard's views were pronounced fully orthodox, and became the basis of medieval theology for the next 300 years. There was no apology however. But that is how the Church tends to work.

Constant Mews | 01 April 2009  

Mary Duffy is right to say that the end of my article was not an ending. It opened a line of thought which I did not have space to develop.

To focus on the relationship between God and Christ as that between Father and Son was not an easy option in the fourth century. It raised difficult questions. It does so now, too. Then, the problem was time. Now the problem is gender.

Arian thinkers argued that children are born after fathers and that their birth involves parental decision. Applied to God, this would mean that the Father exists 'before' the Son, and exists by the Father's choice.

This argument led their opponents into deep reflection on the relationship between time and eternity, between created and divine reality. They argued that God was outside of time, and so the generation of the Son was from eternity and not by choice. They successfully communicated this to the Christians of the day

Today's argument against speaking of Christ's relationship to God as that of Son to Father is based on gender. It needs a similarly deep analysis of God as outside gender, and a similarly effective communication to Christians today that a proper understanding of Christ's relationship to God as Son to Father excludes patriarchy. For this, we need to bring into devotional usage a range of images of God, including God as mother.

Ephraem is interesting in this regard because he spoke in an informed way of Christ as the Son of the Father, but could happily also follow scriptural example and speak of God as mother. A good model of well-educated boldness.

Andy Hamilton | 01 April 2009  

Marcus Borg in 'The Meaning of Jesus' (1999) says 'a second way of understanding Jesus as the incarnation of God is to do so within the framework of ... dialectical theism. Namely, God is not 'out there' but 'right here' as well as more than right here, both transcendent and immanent. God is the encompassing Spirit in whom we live and move and have our being. Within this view, Jesus as a Spirit person was open to the presence of God.' Borg sees Jesus as "the embodiment and incarnation of the God who is everywhere present. But he (Jesus) is not a visitor from elsewhere, sent to the world by a god "out there". ... In the fully human life of this utterly remarkable Spirit person (Jesus), we see the incarnation of God." Borg's thinking represents an increasingly prevalent paradigm shift in how we can think about God and Jesus.

As a member of St Mary's Catholic Community, I would place Peter Kennedy's position firmly in this paradigm. It's not a matter of whether Jesus was divine or not. It's a matter of how we understand 'divine' which in turn is related to how we understand God.

Gaye Keir | 01 April 2009  

Way to go Andrew!
In bringing a precise and contextualised view to this question, not only do you provide sane clarity but also remind us of 'the bigger picture' - who God is and why Jesus came. I wish more in the Church would concentrate on the bigger picture and less on point scoring.

Barry Soraghan | 01 April 2009  

Your estimation of a remnant of 'a few able theologians' could perhaps be more generous, Gary Bouma, with a broader reading of ordained and lay theologians such as Avery Dulles, Richard John Neuhaus, Tracey Rowland . . .

Such extended reading might also expand, clarify and deepen the idea of 'dialogue' in the Church. The present pope calls it 'diachronic' - a very useful term when 'relevance' is so often used to suggest that the contemporary is our only point of reference.

Personally, I find nothing obscure, simplistic or lacking in 'the sap' of 'salvific quality' about the style or content of writers such as these.

John Kelly | 01 April 2009  

We dare to speak with confidence of God
only because He has spoken to us:
He spoke and gave His Word in flesh
in Christ our Lord, inviting us to call him "Father".

In heart of Christ
He knows our human pain and scope,
and we are dear to Him . . .

His Spirit breathes each dawning,
waking our world and us
through all or slumbers, stops and starts,
our falls and risings . . .

He draws us
wounded, limping, dancing

The Father at the family gate's
no stranger to the road . . .

John Kelly | 01 April 2009  

Good comments

therese | 01 April 2009  

As a determined atheist I conclude the theologians' debates merely dig them further into oblivion. The most valuable texts are Jesus' own words which emphasise kindness, love and tolerance, not isolation and exclusivity.

Danny Rose | 01 April 2009  

We must always look at "The Virgin Birth" in terms of the understanding of people at the time. There was no knowledge of modern human biology. Mary was the vessel through which Jesus was conceived and born. Therefore theologically Joseph could not have been his physical father. Modern biblical scholarship again raises the status of Jesus's brothers as mentioned in the gospels. In the modern context the Virgin birth is seen as a biological freak that completely negates the theological truth that Jesus is both human and divine as expressed in the creeds. Literal interpretations of the Bible are always misleading without knowing their background.

john ozanne | 01 April 2009  

Well, it's a missunderstanding of Arianism. Arius said that Jesus was a lesser god or deutero-theos. Possibly stemming from Jewish binatarianism ala memra theology. "Fr" Peter says that Jesus was a human person, which orthodox theology doesn't deny.

Though the Crucified/Resurrected Christ in the life of the Church in the early centuries of Christian self-identity was experienced as fully-God and fully-human and articulated thus by the creeds.

Joshua | 01 April 2009  

I thought that 'I and the Father are One' settled the debate.

John Sabine | 01 April 2009  

'I and the Father are one' indeed settles the debate: it speaks of the full relationship that culminates in the 'not my will but yours be done' obedience that takes precedence over
the fear of the terrible abandonment awaiting our Saviour on the cross of shame. The fully human Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and through full obedience, lived a sinless, holy life, thus was the only one who could uniquely atone for us sinners.

Brent Pelster | 01 April 2009  

Very good article. I watched Father Kennedy on the show and he didn’t get a chance to explain what he meant. The compere was not really interested as it wasn’t sensational enough.

Maureen Keady | 01 April 2009  

What a pity we do not have more clerics like Peter Kennedy who ACTUALLY know what Christianity really means and the origins of our TRUE Church. Thanks Andrew for your explanation.

Rosemary Keenan | 01 April 2009  

Why was Fr Kennedy right that 'Jesus could not have referred to himself as God'? All things are possible, even for first century Jews. It is no evidence at all to say simply that he couldn't because such was blasphemy. Surely, the point is that he is not recorded as claiming explicitly to be God. Anything more is speculation.

Of greater import, is the fact that Fr Kennedy claimed, as he did also on radio, that there is nothing in the first three Gospels to say Jesus was Son of God... This is an astounding claim given the first line of Mark's Gospel, the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke, the baptism of Jesus, the transfiguration, the confession of Simon Peter in Luke, and the trial scenes.

Most powerfully, it is the earliest Gospel which bears the strongest witness: only in Mark, at the interrogation of Jesus by the religious authorities, does Jesus answer unequivocally "I am" to the question "Are you the son of the Blessed One"? The reaction was to charge Jesus with blasphemy.

While the Gospels do not witness to a fully formed Chalcedonian Christology, to argue that they do not speak to the divinity of Christ is to deny the biblical witness.

Damian McGrath | 01 April 2009  

Why is everyone so hung up on the divinity of Christ? Is not the important answer that we do as our dear Lord stated and love our neighbour, treat each other kindly, help one another and just be decent human beings? Jesus would not want us to go over and over again about the political implications of his existance. Just that he is is the main thing. He loved us, why can't we do the same to each other?

We can debate over and over again the ideal of the Trinity, but this is only words. We will be judged by our actions, and the actions towards Father Kennedy are very much against the adage of loving each other. Can't we let this go? Father Kennedy was just accepting others for who and what they are just as Christ did.

Philippa Jayne Boyington | 01 April 2009  

Philippa: Christ left nobody in the Gospels just where they were, nor accepted them just as they are - he had a far greater estimation of their possibility in this world and the next than to reduce his message simply to "I'm OK, you're OK." He called, and through the Church calls, for ongoing conversion.

James | 01 April 2009  

"I and the Father are One" does not settle the debate without further ado. Is Jesus the Father? No. Is the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, incarnate in the man Jesus, the Father? No. So, if Jesus is God and the Father is God but Jesus is not the Father, how is this possible unless there be two Gods or even three if you throw in the divine Holy Spirit? These are precisely the issues with which the theologians and Fathers of the early Church grappled. The solutions which they developed, as affirmed by the Councils, are what we broadly call "orthodoxy". It is not clear how Fr Kennedy relates to these solutions. I would appreciate elucidation.

Sylvester | 02 April 2009  

We should not be too ready, if ever, to relinquish the word "Father" in describing God and addressing Him.

I think it's worth pondering how, out of all the words Jesus could have chosen when his disciples asked him how to pray, he chose :"Father". If anyone was an authority on God, surely Jesus was. To say he used this word simply because he was a Jew in a patriarchal culture won't do - "Father" was unthinkable and blasphemous, applied to God; besides, Jesus demonstrated powerfully and more than once a sovereign freedom from contemporary cultural customs.

Emphasis on the familiarity and trust of the word "Abba", as distinct from an allegedly and inherently oppressive "patriarchy", leads us into the intimate depths of God's being as prodigiously generative "love". Moreover, the dignity of women is affirmed in Mary, not only as Christ's Mother, especially chosen by God, but also in faithful, costly and fruitful discipleship. In a sense, as the Fathers say, her fidelity gives birth to the Church.

To approach this issue another way, are we prepared to accept the Incarnation in the terms God Himself expressed it? - At some point in serious reflection, beyond the genderless categories of theodicy, this revelation of God as "Father" has to be faced.

I can't imagine a Christianity without "the Lord's prayer", or "Our Father".

John Kelly | 02 April 2009  

John Ozanne raised an important point which no other commenter seems to have taken up. As I read John, he is saying that the 'virgin birth' considered as a physical phenomena is gobbldegook. Do we really, in the 21st century suggest that 'God the Father' provided half of Jesus' DNA? Or if Mary provided all the DNA, how can Jesus be said to have any father?

John's point, if I understand him correctly, is that if the notion of 'virgin birth' is to mean anything at all then it must be as allegory or symbol, a perception or meaning rather than a biological fact. I thought that was close to what Andrew Hamilton was saying in his article about the 'divinity' of Christ.

As John said 'Literal interpretations of the Bible are always misleading without knowing their background'.

Warwick | 02 April 2009  

A few comments on points raised in discussion so far.

I still believe that, although Fr Kennedy's remarks raise questions about what he means, it is hasty to describe his position as heretical. In Christian terms that is as serious a charge as it gets, and I would want more than off the cuff remarks, questioning of traditional formulations and so on to take it as substantiated.

John Sabine's appeal to John's phrase, 'The Father and I are one' takes us into the complexities of the fourth century debates. The Arians claimed that the phrase referred to a unity of heart and mind, not equality of being. My reading of the passage, for what it is worth, is that John referred directly to union of heart and spirit, for that is his concern in the Gospel, but that his Gospel as a whole implies the deeper unity between Father and Son. We need to go beyond single texts to the implications of the whole message.

My statement that Jesus could not have referred to himself as God is not based on the argument that he would have thought it blasphemous. I argue that he would have thought the idea muddled. Because he identified God as Father, if he had called himself God he would have been identifying himself as the person to whom he was speaking. That argument, of course, does not exclude him from seeing himself as the Son of God. That, and what it might imply, is another question.

I couldn't agree more that the church and world would be a better place if we all did as Jesus did and loved as he asked us to. And any argument for faith in Jesus Christ that suggests that faith and living like Jesus are opposed goes nowhere. That said, though, the reason why Jesus' actions and words are recorded is because the early Christians believed that God had raised him from the dead and made him Lord, and that his relationship to God as Father was unique. And is not that belief the reason why we might want to follow Jesus' way rather than take a more contemporary person to model our lives on? Respect for Jesus lives on borrowed capital.

Andy Hamilton | 02 April 2009  

Scriptural exegesis aside - though I think the evidence for the divinity of Christ in all four gospels is compelling - shouldn't we simply accept what we say in the creed: "of one being with the Father" as decisive? There is no requirement for a follower of Christ to know the 'hows' of this mystery of faith, fascinating, worthwhile and illuminating as such inquiry may be. The credal articles are, after all, a profession of what we, as individuals and as a community, believe on reliable authority to be true of God and our relationship with Him.

Your cautionary words about accusation are commendable, and, I hope, well taken.

John Kelly | 02 April 2009  

There is one issue that needs to be explored here and that is one of the use of 'power' within the church. It can be argued that this is a conflict and use/misuse of power within the Church. The community of St Mary's has had a strong sense of 'community' or the communal spirit of the Church and Archbishop Bathersby is the magisterial or teaching spirit of the Church.

Unfortunately the issue has become less of a dialogue between two "spirits" of the Church and rather a statement on which 'power' is greater within the Church-the community or the magisterium. This issue needs to be explored. Most people say 1) that this issue should not have reached this stage 2) the unity of the Church as expressed through the eucharist has been damaged. Or as the sporting adage says the only loser out of this is the Church.

Tony Hallam | 02 April 2009  

A bishop has every right, indeed an obligation, to exercise his authority in cases of serious doctrinal dispute, and/or when practices at odds the evangelising mission of the Church arise, causing confusion and division among the faithful, and compromising the communio conferred by Christ on the community that bears his name in the faith of Christ and the Apostles.

The magisterium exists to serve truth and protect othopraxis. To reduce the issue of St Mary's to a power-game is to trivialise it, and to adopt a merely secular model of the Church.

Michael | 02 April 2009  

Athanasius' Song:

In the halls, the lecture rooms, the streets,
while men may quarrel, and men may cavil,
and speculations soar to the ethereal,
though men may carp and men may quibble,
and women scoff, and others giggle,
though Light be dimmed by clouds of ego, though senses fail and words seem feeble,
Lord Christ, eternal Word made flesh
be master of my soul . . .

John Kelly | 03 April 2009  

Once again, thanks to Andrew Hamilton for clarity and the distilled wisdom of scholarship and ministerial experience.

M.Confoy | 03 April 2009  

In understanding the nature of Jesus I think one has to see him as a man born of the Virgin Mary and subject to all the characteristics of man. We all to often see him as the son of God first and forget the fact that he was a human person like the rest of us. The question I ask myself is what did Jesus think of himself?. Who did jesus think he was? Certainly given his miraculous powers he saw himself as the Son of God and not just an everyday man. In the years of growing up before performing the major parts of his ministry what did he think? Did he have the powers of God from the day of his birth and did he exercise them in ways unrecorded? I feel sorry for Father Kennedy and Archbishop Bathersby in that both good men seem powerless to resolve the differences of view without conflict. Unfortunately it may well be that Father Kennedy has not helped the causes of Jesus Christ but then we do have the example of Mary McKillop. I guess the message I have taken from all the discussion is that we should strive to come closer to understanding Jesus the Christ as a human being who is the Son of God.

Ken Fuller | 03 April 2009  

If Fr Kennedy is unable to simply state that Christ is God, then it is perfectly understandable that his statements are read as mealy-mouthed equivocations.

Stephen | 03 April 2009  

I thought the argument was settled in the fourth century at the Council of Nicea. The Nicene creed said at Mass sets out the orthodox position on Jesus' Divinity. If we don't accept this, what do we accept? I'm with C.S. Lewis on this - Jesus was either a fraud, a charlaton or he was God.

Edwin Knight | 03 April 2009  

Thanks for a very interesting article and conversation on the issue of Jesus' divinity, particularly in the midst of a highly charged situation.

It can be challenging to separate the voices of the Gospel writers from that of Jesus himself; I think Fr. Hamilton does a great job of presenting the evolution of thought.

As to how Christians came to decide that Jesus was God, I wonder if it didn't have something to do with reflection on their historical experience. Objectively speaking, something unique happened with Jesus: he rose from the dead. And what's more, through things like liturgy and retelling of the story, his presence continued to be felt strongly long after he was no longer present -- even by people who had never known him.

These things, I think, led people to the decision that Jesus was more than a very special man, that he must somehow BE divine.

If we take seriously the idea that Jesus is fully human, fully divine, conflict and confusion is unavoidable. Really the more one says, the more likely it is that one says something heretical. It's mysterious stuff.

(But, the Kennedy situation aside, should we then say nothing, take no risks? I'm not sure that's ultimately productive, either.)

Thanks again for a good piece.

Jim McDermott | 05 April 2009  

Those who had closest historical contact with Christ had no problem worshiping Him as God. The earliest heresy was docetism after all, which overemphasised this disposition and belief; made Jesus too otherworldly. Of this divinity witness, from within (Apostolic Fathers – Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Iranaeus) and without (Lucian, Celsus, Pliny) the Church, was unanimous. There was no need to fully articulate how.

Human nature (and infernal nature) being what it is the time was ripe only centuries later to attack orthodoxy from the other angle – a too worldly Arianism. The great St.Athanasius dealt with this heresy at great personal expense. This question is settled. Exculpatory attempts to reintroduce it as if it were not is wrong. The author doesn’t even mention the powerful cultural pressure to fall again in the Arian direction.

We have important things to think as a Church, a culture to re-evangelise, together with the Holy Father who is an amazing mind and prescient guide.

Martin Snigg | 05 May 2009  

The whole concept of heresy is obnoxious. Islam spread rapidly in Christian areas which found the Byzantine emperor's imposed brand of Christianity obnoxious compared to their older, simpler version. Islam seemed far more enlightened and charitable than the official Roman state religion.

If the church is viewed as a worshipping and contemplating community, then the Christian orthodox tradition must be thought and contemplated but not necessarily accepted by members in good standing.

When asked by a Norman chronicler if the Irish were Catholics and then, when told yes, asked why they did not take measures against the Jews, the Irishman indignantly answered: 'What a man believes in his mind is between him and God.' A good answer for the 12th century and a better answer for the 21st.

John McGrath | 06 May 2009  

John McGrath my advice would be to look up a history of how Islam spread, read up on the battles of: Tours, Belgrade, Vienna, Lepanto. Read and understand the kind of revelation you find in Islam and what this means for its reinterpretation of the Quran and Hadiths. And lastly read the content of both and then come back to us on your ideas about the connection of culture to religious belief.

Martin Snigg | 07 May 2009  

Athanasius, whom many quote as a Saint, was an intolerant book burning firebrand. There were some excellent theologians in the Arian camp who were quite a threat to Athanasius' authority. The threat to "orthodoxy was all too real on the dark ages, when Rome fell to the Arian "barbarians." It is probably a pity that it did not fall to a more reasonable brand of Christianity, which would have left only Constantiople in 'Orthodox' hands, which makes me wonder, would the "Rus" have adopted a more reasonable Roman Arianism or the florid Ortodox religion that they did take up?

Andrew Hardwick | 11 May 2009  

Similar Articles

Greedy Easter story

  • Andrew Hamilton
  • 09 April 2009

The Easter story suggests we should not expect a new economic order in which greed and short-term interests will yield to humane values. Easter doesn't make the mistrust go away. But it does confront cynicism and apathy.


Hitchcock's Easter drama

  • Scott Stephens
  • 06 April 2009

Manny, terrified and bewildered, clutches a crucifix and prays, while lawyers spew jargon-laden bile at one another. It might seem strange to invoke a Hitchcock film at Easter, but we can see a similar horror at work in the trial of Jesus.