Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Not another festival!!

Around now probably the last thing you need is another festival. However, today is the feast of Theophany. Falling just after Christmas and before Epiphany it is little wonder it is not celebrated much- bit like having your birthday at Christmas.
However Theophany concerns God becoming man. The story of the early Christian Church is partly one of the struggle to establish a true theology. Preachers could build up huge followings by espousing variations of the gospel that they thought were the truth. Bishops and archbishops held what we would now call seriously heretical views. We are not talking here about minor points of theology but big shifts away from what we would now consider orthodox.
The Arians, who held sway in large parts of Germany, believed that Jesus was not God by nature while in the east Nestorians ( who are still very much around today ) believed there were two forms of Jesus, not two natures, and one form was really just a prophet. This the Moslems still believe.
Some may say the struggles of the early Church to defeat heresy were destructive. However, to believe in the wrong Jesus is dangerous. Negation His humanity can
have serious consequences for us. If God was not fully human then He can not understand our weaknesses and temptations. It is important that we have a Jesus who knows what temptation is. He knows first hand how the Devil is trying to pull us of course. He knew how seductive he could be. Rememer Christ's dialogues with the Devil in the desert?
If He was not fully human it suggests He did not suffer fully; His divinity acting as a sort of anaesthetic. This idea seriously demeans what Christ did at Calvary.
There was even a belief going around in the early Church that God put another person on the cross to suffer. A sort of CIA dirty trick. There were some pretty wacky heresies floating about.
Now thankfully we have the printed scriptures and church catechisms to turn to.
Happy Theophany!!

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