The Escape of Athanasius, February 8, AD 356
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” —Psalm 18:2-3
ow would you respond if five thousand armed, sweaty Byzantine Arians surrounded your church on Sunday morning baying for your pastor’s blood, and maybe yours while they’re at it? For the third time since the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius, the pastor of the Church in Alexandria Egypt, was under siege.
A Great Defender of the Faith
In the post-apostolic era of the early Church, no one entered the lists against heresy more than the bishop of Alexandria. In Athanasius’s forty-five year pastorate, he spent seventeen years in exile, ordered by four different Roman Emperors. Defending Trinitarian theology in the fourth century had a price. As a defender of the faith and one who did not shy away from controversy, Athanasius debated New Testament canonicity, politics, arts, monasticism, and judicial reform. He also found time to write biographies, commentaries, systematic theology, and devotionals. His work entitled On the Incarnation is still held up as a classic theological work.