Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hilary of Poitiers 367

Some people think that biblical scholarship can be a challenge to your faith.  I find delving into church history much more challenging.   Particularly the whole Trinitarian/Arian controversy.  Really one could argue that it was the side with the monks who beat up the most monks or paid of the emperor was that was responsible for our current trinitarian doctrine.

Eventually I came to the conclusion the right side won.  Or the side closest to the truth won.  But I REALLY think Arius gets a bad rap.  He did not deny the divinity of Christ.  He was just trying to conserve monotheism and the  integrity of God the Father.  I like to make conservative "traditionalist" go crazy by reminding them Arius was the conservative in the controversy.  They don't like that but it's true.

All this to say Hilary was on the "right" side. Got himself exiled for a few years when his side was out of favor.  That's what's also so disturbing about this controversy.  You had years where one side was in favor and then the other side.  Some like Hilary stuck to their guns but others switched sides according to what was in favor.  Did they switch sides to save their jobs?  Or were they just folks who trusted others to tell them what to think?  Or were they like me at some synod assemblies.  I listen to one side of the argument and say "well that makes sense, I think you have a point" only to hear the OTHER side and change my mind again?   There were good arguments on both side of the Trinitarian argument.  And dubious arguments on both sides as well.

But I think Hilary was a beautiful writer and share this prayer with you that is quoted in Pfatteirchrs' "New Book of Festivals and Commemorations"

Almighty God and father, I regard it as the chief duty of my life to make every thought and word speak of you.  The gift o speech which you gave me cannot have a more noble use than to serve you….That is what I desire to do.  But I need to pray for your help and mercy so that when I spread the sails of our faith you will fill them with the breath of your Spirit to drive us onward.   I need not be afraid.

In our need we will ask for what we lack.  We will study the writings of your prophets and apostles with unflagging attention and knock on the doors where meaning is keep.  But it is for you, Lord, to give when asked, to be present when we seek you and to open when we knock.


  1. That is a lovely prayer; but didn't Arius (I'm reading A History of Christianity by Diarmaid McCulloch at the moment) think that the Creator was not God?

  2. No he thought the Creator was God but that he created Jesus - so you had kind a ditty that went "there was a time when he was not" about Jesus.