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Newsletter for January, 2002

Dear Friends of St. Athanasius Academy:

On January 19th the Church honors our patron, St. Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373 A.D.). It therefore seems appropriate to offer some excerpts from his works regarding Holy Scripture - its use and interpretation.

In addressing the bishops of Egypt about the contemporary heretics including Marcion, the Manicheans, Paul of Samosata and, of course, the Arians who denied the divinity of the son, St. Athanasius observed:

"Each of these heresies, examined in the light of the specific ungodliness of its fabrication, has nothing in common with the Scriptures. And their advocates are aware of this — that the Scriptures are very much, or rather completely, opposed to their doctrines. But for the sake of deceiving the more simple sort (such as those of whom the Proverbs say, 'the simple believe every word" [Prov. 14:15]), they pretend like their 'father the devil' (John 8:44) to study and to quote the language of Scripture, in order to appear by their words to have a correct belief — and so may persuade their miserable followers to believe what is contrary to the Scriptures"
To the Bishops of Egypt, paragraph 4

On Those Who Quote Isolated Verses

As we would suspect, his position is clear: It is misleading to quote isolated verses and passages, while ignoring the overall Scriptural intent. In at least two of his Festal Letters, he writes how heretics in particular quote Scriptures out of context and in clear opposition to the faith handed down in the Church. The first refers to St. Paul's commendation of the Corinthians for holding fast to the traditions given them:

"Other men came along who used Paul's words, but they wanted to 'obey' them their way. So they twisted what he said to fit their schemes. They are like the followers of Hymenaeus and Alexander — and before them the Sadducees. These people, as St. Paul said, 'made shipwreck of faith' (1 Tim. 1:19), since they were confused about the mystery of the resurrection (2 Tim. 2:18). "That is undoubtedly why he made special note of the fact that the Corinthians had held fast to the traditions just as he had handed them on. Paul was emphasizing that we should hold the same views on the Gospel that our teachers held. It was not only outwardly that these wicked men disguised themselves. When the Lord said they put on sheep's clothing and looked like whitewashed tombstones, He meant they put on a very good pretense. So these deceivers spoke the divine words, while inside they had evil intentions.

"Of course, the first to do this sort of thing was the serpent, the devil, who was the inventor of wickedness in the first place. He put on a disguise to talk with Eve, and in that form he deceived her. But in his train are all those inventors of heresies, who, sure enough, refer to the Scriptures but do not believe the orthodox faith handed down to us by our Fathers. Instead, they call these truths 'traditions of men.' The fact is, they have gone astray because they do not really know the Scriptures — nor their power."

Festal Letter for the Year 330 A.D.

In a letter written to Serapion of Thmuis, 359-360, Athanasius capsulizes the Church’s position:

"Let us note that the very Tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, given by the Lord, was preached by the Apostles and preserved by the Fathers"
First Letter to Serapion, section 28

Here we should especially note three points he makes clear:

  • Tradition given by Christ
  • preached by the Apostles
  • believed, preserved and taught in the Church.

In the face of this, what were the Arians (the most prominent heretics of his day) doing — how did they establish their beliefs? At best, they were relying upon grammatical structure of isolated texts, openly ignoring both context and the consistent interpretation of the Church. At worst, they were overtly devious:

"Every year, as if writing a contract, they meet together and pretend to write about the faith, whereby they expose themselves all the more to ridicule and disgrace, because their positions and decisions are rejected — not by others but by themselves! If they had any confidence in their previous statements, they would not have to draw up new ones. Nor, would they, leaving these, have to come up with more, which, if they follow their pattern, they will change soon —just as soon as they find a pretense for their customary plotting against certain persons. For it is when they have a scheme against someone that they make a great show of writing about the faith....But they will not be able to hide from themselves, nor to escape. For they simply keep on becoming their own accusers — by the very process by which they defend themselves. And, that is appropriate and just, since instead of answering those who bring proof against them, they rather persuade themselves to believe whatever they wish"
To the Bishops of Egypt, section 6

So we see with Athanasius, it was indeed the Tradition (not traditions) given by the Lord to the Apostles and passed on — the wholeness of it — the Tradition St. Irenaeus (c. 130 - c. 200) called "the rule of faith." And this "wholeness" he matched against the flimsy proof-texting by heretics, who could never quite know what they believed, because they lacked or despised the foundation of the Apostolic Tradition.

Scholars and Academia Have Gone Astray!

With this as a beginning, we come to the subject of the booklet we offer this month.

Many good people, overly concerned about the decay of our current culture, have fallen victim to the so-called scholars of the academic community who persuade by half-truths saying; "Well, that’s just the way it is. Its inevitable. It’s in our genes and you cannot overcome it."

In this booklet we detail how academia, to their shame, have falsely laid the foundation for the so-called decay of the twentieth century based upon a premeditated misuse of the so-called scientific method. And why? To camouflage lies as scientific truths in order to unfairly gain research grants and obtain fame, influence and acceptance. Moreover, as a former professor and over seventy years of first-hand experience, I have a broad perspective about this cultural decline and how significantly the academic community has perpetuated this pitiful attitude.

But more important, the Church understands cultural decay as a darkness brought on by our own individual, rational, free-will choosing. Why? Because our FAITH believes all men and women are born good and only by our choosing evil before good can and does darkness influence this God-given goodness. In addition, the Church also knows when this Gift of the Holy Trinity is re-enforced with the KNOWLEDGE of Scripture, both Old and New, each person can and will learn, BY NATURE, to say YES to God and NO to temptations. Are you worried about your children? Instead, be concerned first for your own salvation. Then look to what your own words and actions tell your children. This is what overcomes personal evil and ends the cycle of the decaying spirit. You are not captive to sin by nature. Therefore, do not let academic fraud, disguised with scholastic mumbo jumbo convince you otherwise. This booklet not only refutes the major twentieth century frauds supporting social engineering, it tells us what we must concern ourselves with. It is long, in two parts, and you will love it. I do not wish to simply be writing about the faith, for the life of it, after all, is in the living. This booklet is more than just about faith, it challenges you to now live that faith in a well founded boldness and love.

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Fr. Jack

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