Friday, June 13, 2014

Basil of Caesarea

  On my wish list of things to read this year were books on the early Christians.   I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to write a review on Basil of Caesarea, part of the Early Church Fathers series put out by Christian Focus Publications.  I had not heard of Basil before, and was anxious to learn of his contributions to early Christian thought.
Basil of Caesarea (taken from Wikipedia)

  This book was great for me: short, but long enough to cover the importance of Basil.  So, why is Basil important?  To start us out the author, Marvin Jones takes us back to the Council of Nicea.  The Council was a biggie because the Early Fathers were debating the nature of the Trinity.  Emperor Constantine had called it so the division between the two factions would be stemmed and unity found.  The major problem being a bishop named Arius and his belief that Jesus was not equal with God the Father.  The discussion on the background of the Council was really interesting to me since I saw a story on Facebook last year talking about how Bishop Nicholas (later St. Nicholas) got so angry at Arius and what he was saying that he crossed the room and slapped him.  Even though the Council set up the Nicene Creed which laid out the important aspects of Christian beliefs, it did not squash Arius and his followers and that is where Basil comes in. 
  Basil was born just after the Council of Nicea, but was mentored under Eustathius of Sebaste who was anti-Arian, although the two did part ways on other issues later.  One neat thing that I took away from this book is that through his teaching on the subject of the Trinity which was an answer to Arian belief - the Arians basically denied the divinity of Christ and the second phase of Arians delied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Throughout his time addressing all this, Basil really began to solidify his ideas on why he believed what he did.  He began to formulate the differences between each part of the Trinity, and not only shared divinity, but was each divine in nature. Really the book was not just a book on Basil, but an in depth study on the Holy Spirit and why we believe what we believe.  It also lined out why those Early Fathers fought so hard to define it scripturally.  One great quote was, "Basil also developed the concept that without the Spirit there is no contemplation of the Word. Therefore, the Arians who fight the Spirit cannot know Christ since, in their defective theology, the Holy Spirit is not God."
  While the book's main focus was on Basil's outlining of the divinity of Jesus & the Holy Spirit, it had some other important points that I took note of, several could be applied to the church today.  Imagine, the same problems were happening within the church 1500 years ago! Here are my favorite points:
  " For Basil, to love God meant to love man, whatever man’s physical condition or background … His great concern for the needy, the sick, the suffering, and the forgotten received its inspiration from what John the Evangelist wrote: ‘he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, he cannot love God whom he has not seen.’ For Basil, doctrine and canon, worship and ethics, word and behavior were inextricably woven."

  " The Moral Rules describes the actions of Christians based upon the revelation of the Scriptures.  The worldliness of the church only can be dealt with by taking the Scriptures as authoritative for the practice of godly living. Thus, any rejection of the Scriptures assures the negative consequences of a church that has compromised with the world and must repent of its own worldliness. "  I must say, that after reading the description of The Moral Rules (which were basically descriptions of how Christians should act as a result of the revelation of Scripture)  in this book, I'm going to be on the hunt for a book that has the writings of Basil!  

  The author did a great job of tying Basil into the needs of the 21st century church. "Godliness is the solution to the worldly pettiness that has engulfed the contemporary church.  The church simply cannot live worldly and seek God’s glory at the same time. "  
  Since Mr. Jones was dealing with church history from almost two millennia ago, there were a bunch of terms that might not be known to the reader.  Those terms were highlighted and defined in the midst of the text which was great!
  I would definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting to know more about the Early Fathers.  In fact, I just purchased the one on St. Patrick and am looking forward to diving in!
  Thank you to Christian Focus Publications through Cross Focused Reviews for this chance to write a review on these books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


1 comment:

  1. Wendi,

    Thank you for participating in the Basil of Caesarea Blog Tour.

    In Christ Alone,

    Dave Jenkins
    Book Promotions Specialist, Cross Focused Reviews