My wife and I attended an Andrew Peterson concert last night. If you don't know who Peterson is, stop reading right now and listen to this link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gs3fg_WsEg), and then send me a nice note thanking me for the introduction.
As Peterson introduced his second song, he said something that made me think of On the Incarnation by Athanasius. He wasn't referencing Athanasius specifically, but his theological point was one that had been made by one of the fathers of the faith, more than 1,600 years ago. I couldn't help but think that Athanasius would have enjoyed that concert as much as we did.
What a blessing to be a part of an intellectual tradition that stretches back thousands of years, and to know that the Body of Christ is in deeper agreement than all our denominations and scattered church buildings suggest! Just as Athanasius stood contra mundum (against the world) and defended the doctrine of the Incarnation, Christians today do the same: we carry this supra-rational, confounding truth that Christ is fully God and fully man to a world that barely acknowledges the spiritual realm.
C.S. Lewis said of Athanasius, “It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.” We aspire to the same thing! We want to fix our eyes on Christ and follow Him, regardless of the pressures of the world, or the intellectual fads of the day. Christians should stand firm on Christ—and His sound doctrine—and delight in the company of the brave men and women who are doing the same.
Some of those brave men and women lived more than a millennium ago—but since they did not “move with the times,” we find them articulating exactly what we articulate today. We get a thrill of recognition when we hear Athanasius respond to the pagans: “Before the divine sojourn of the Saviour, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection.”
Some churches rush to be “relevant” and ignore the past. What a mistake! In truth, the more we stand on the historic Christian faith, the more we will have to offer to a world buffeted by opinions and whims. Andrew Peterson's concert was, as Lewis would say, “strong drink” for the soul—not because he followed popular culture, but because he believes the same thing that a lonely Egyptian bishop believed centuries ago.