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Contra Mundum: Athanasius and Eternal Generation

Why did God become man? Surely this is one of the most important questions of the Christian faith. Athanasius answered this question not only to help us understand the incarnation of the Son, but who the Son is from all eternity. Over against Arians in his day who subordinated the Son, Athanasius argued that unless the Son is eternally begotten from the Father’s divine nature then he is not a Son who can save us let alone a Son we can worship as true God. Nor can we forget that orthodox trinitarianism exists today in part because Athanasius was also willing to fight tooth and nail over one letter. Against those who insisted that the Father and the Son were merely “homoiousious” (of similar essence), Athanasius spent his life convincing the Church to remove the “i,” insisting instead that the Father and the Son are “homoousious” (of the same essence).

In this episode of the Credo Podcast, Matthew Barrett and Matt Jenson discuss why Athanasius was right to pick this fight, and at times even stand against the world (contra mundum) to ensure orthodoxy prevailed.

Matt Jenson

Dr. Matt Jenson is a systematic theologian specializing in theological anthropology and ecclesiology. He holds a B.A. in literature and philosophy from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of St. Andrews, where he was part of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts. He is the author of Theology in the Democracy of the Dead: A Dialogue with the Living Traditionand The Gravity of Sin: Augustine, Luther and Barth on ‘homo incurvatus in se’

Matthew Barrett

Matthew Barrett is the author of Simply Trinity: The Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Baker), coming this March (2021). He is the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine and host of the Credo podcast. He is associate professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the author of several books, including Canon, Covenant and Christology; None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God; and God’s Word Alone.

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