Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
When America was founded it was founded on Religious Freedom. And as the identity of America was being molded and shaped, the desire to preserve our God-given human rights became a cornerstone for the foundation our great nation. Eventually we declared independence, and in the struggle to protect our newly founded Judeo-Christian nation of freedom, many lost their lives.
Once the war concluded, we established our Constitution, appointed a Lutheran Pastor as our first Speaker of the House, and then identified in our Bill of Rights the God-given human rights that are not government-given, but rather government defended; at the top, was Religious Freedom.
Many lost their lives in order to lift up this new nation with its new style, one that prized above all else a Christian-like freedom. And many more jeopardized their livelihoods, their jobs, their friends and family all for the sake of freedom. They were selfless, and were more concerned with preserving the freedom of others, the freedom of this nation, and the freedom of future generations.
As time passed, this freedom we enjoy has been tested, and many took up the mantle to help preserve this freedom we so cherish. They, like our forefathers, were willing to give it all up for the sake that you and I can be free. Though these Americans will be missed, their sacrifice will be remembered and put not in vain.
Jesus said in St John 15, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Out of love toward the world, Jesus, who is God, gave up his life on the cross in order to save all people. He died to make men holy. Now whereas we are indeed free though Christ, the world hates this freedom and either out of malice or genuine care will try to control you. Many Americans died in order fight against this natural worldly tendency, all for the sake of defending your God-given rights and the Constitution which was built to defend such rights from corrupt overbearing governments.
Christ died to free us; free us from the tyranny of Satan, free us from the slavery of sin, and free us from the terror of death. He, like our American Soldiers, did this all out of love. And just like how there are many American Soldiers who continue to lay down their lives to defend the freedom we won by those first Soldiers who died for our sake, there are many Christian Soldiers who continue to lay down their lives to defend the freedom that Christ won for our sake.
One such scary time in church history, when many Christians were either killed or exiled, was when the majority of the church was brainwashed by Arianism. Arianism basically is the belief that Jesus is not God, is not divine, and thus there is no
Trinity but only God the Father. To them, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were not only not God, not equal to the Father, but were also created beings. This Anti-Trinitarian believe is extremely harmful for it would mean that God did not come down to Earth, that Jesus is not Christ, which is God, and that God did not die on the cross to save us from our sins. Such a belief would also mean that Jesus was a sinner for all humans are sinners and only God cannot sin because sin is the opposite/absence of God. The only reason why Jesus wasn’t a sinner, is because he is God; and if Jesus was a sinner then that would mean the forgiveness of sins through the cross never happened. Plus, to say that Jesus was not God would make Jesus himself a liar. Can you see the issues at stake here and why Anti-Trinitarianism is so deadly?
Yet, when Arianism started there was a Great Champion of Orthodoxy who stood against the heretics who denied the deity of Christ, St Athanasius. Athanasius, an Egyptian, saw the horrors of Arianism and boldly fought against it even though the risk of this was being branded a heretic. Yes, under Arianism to believe Jesus is God was considered heresy. Many lost their lives to defend the faith against this atrocious belief, but that did not stop them. They kept on pressing forward.
Eventually, Constantine, Emperor of the Roman Empire, called for a council at Nicaea to settle this issue once and for all. St Athanasius showed up and presented what we now call the Nicene Creed. This was the Athanasian’s attempt to preserve the faith against Arianism. And it appeared Athanasius won the fight, for his Creed was accepted and Arianism was officially labeled a heresy, or so it appeared.
The fight for Christianity and the Holy Trinity wasn’t over. Though it was acknowledged that the whole universal, or catholic, Church, across all time and space, believed in the Trinity and the deity of Christ, thus labeling those who do not follow the Creeds as outside the universal, or catholic, faith, political figures influenced by Arianism did not allow the issue to die out. In fact, after the Council of Nicaea, Athanasius was exiled multiple times, for believing that Jesus is God. He was kicked out of his homeland, and if he showed his face, would have been killed. Athanasius never gave up, and he kept on fighting the good fight against Arianism which just would not die out. Eventually Athanasius grew old and died, passing on the mantle of fighting Arianism to St Augustine and his followers.
In honor of the life Athanasius gave, sacrificing everything in order to fight Arianism, St Augustine and those of the Augustinian tradition wrote what we call the Athanasian Creed. It was long, ungainly, to some confusing, others repetitive, but this Creed was necessary for it once and for all was the nail that, in excruciating detail, put to rest the Arian threat. In no uncertain way could any respectable Christian read this Creed and be an Anti-Trinitarian. For by invoking the words, “this is the catholic faith,” within the lengthy body of the Athanasian Creed, the Augustinians laid out exactly what the faith of which all respectable Christians hold looks like. This universal faith, held by all true Christians, in accordance with this Creed, is one that believes in the Triune God, believes in the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, believes in Heaven and Hell, believes not in Rapture theology but in bodily
resurrection through the Coming Lord, and believes that one cannot be saved without faith.
Understand this, the Athanasian Creed was crafted by those of the Augustinian Tradition, the predecessors of the Order of St Augustine, which was later rebranded by the Roman Catholics as Lutherans. St Augustine himself wrote many letters, preached many times, and fought still more for preserving Faith alone. Those of the Order of St Augustine, preserved this teaching, and did so all the way up to Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, who preached in accordance with the catholic faith laid out by St Augustine, which included Faith Alone. After this, the Church kicked out the then Order of St Augustine, gave them the derogatory name known as Lutherans, falsely claimed that they sided with the Protestants who were seeking to leave the Church and start their own faith, and then reestablish a new Order of St Augustine that didn’t include that nasty Faith Alone clause that could be found in almost all of the well-known letters by Augustine.
It was these people who created the Athanasian Creed and who so craftily added a couple faith alone clauses. Let me read them, “Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity. It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus became flesh… This is the catholic faith. One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.” Nowhere in the Creed does it talk about works, yet here, multiple times, it states that salvation comes from faith. Whoever wishes to be save should think this… it is necessary for salvation to faithfully believe… one cannot be saved without believing. This is the catholic faith.
Again, nowhere is works mentioned, but multiple times faith is when it comes to salvation. And here is another nugget, in accordance to the Augustinian Tradition which observes Paul, they recognize in accordance with Romans, and Galatians, and Ephesians that you can only believe in Works Alone or Faith Alone, not both. The people who wrote this Creed, believed in faith alone and believed that you are saved through works alone or faith alone for once works is present faith is null n void, but because humans are naturally wicked and cannot save themselves that means you could only be saved through faith alone. These are the people who wrote this Creed which states, “This is the catholic [universal] faith.”
Because of this Creed, the fight against the Arians was just around the corner. The long fight that Athanasius started was not in vain. Those who died to preserve the belief that Christ is God, those who were exiled to preserve this faith, and those whose lives were ruined all for the sake of Jesus’ name, we thank them for their selfless service and remember their sacrifice. God never abandoned them, and nor did He allow their sacrifice go in vain; for had not God been working through them, there would be no hope in eternal salvation which was won for us through the cross.
The same thoughts could also be extended to our American Soldiers. The long fight that the first settlers started was not in vain. Those who died for liberty, those who were persecuted for preserving the American way of life, and those whose lives were
ruined all for the sake of promoting and defending our God-given rights, we thank them for their selfless service and remember their sacrifice. God never abandoned them, and nor did He allow their sacrifice go in vain; for had not God been working through them, there would be no hope in living in a free and just land.
Let it be known that God was indeed working with, in, and through our American Soldiers, our Founding Fathers, our Church Fathers, and through those who follow the Augustinian Tradition.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, + to you, your Son, and the Holy Spirit we give praise for you are all indeed one true Triune God who saved us from sin on the Cross and works alongside us the Church now and forever. Amen.