When C.S. Lewis first opened a copy of Athanasius’ De Incarnatione he quickly discovered that he was ‘reading a masterpiece’. ‘The whole book’, he said, ‘is a picture of the Tree of Life – a sappy and golden book, full of buoyancy and confidence. We cannot, I admit, appropriate all its confidence today. We cannot point to the high virtue of Christian living and the gay, almost mocking courage of Christian martyrdom, as a proof of our doctrines with quite that assurance which Athanasius takes as a matter of course. But whoever may be to blame for that it is not Athanasius’. (Lewis’ essay was published in God in The Dock as ‘On the Reading of Old Books’, and again as the ‘Introduction’ to the St Vladimir’s Seminary Press edition of Athanasius’ On the Incarnation.)
I draw attention to Athanasius for a reason. I’ve posted before about the importance of the Church’s production and encouragement of the kind of literature that assists us to know and celebrate our story. And I’ve already commended Simonetta Carr’s delightful little book on John Calvin, a book published by Reformation Heritage Books and targeted at children from 6–12 years of age. In addition to the book on Calvin, Carr has also written books on Augustine of Hippo and John Owen for that same series of ‘Christian Biographies for Young Readers. And now she has turned her attention to a fourth book, this time on Athanasius, and she has kindly sent me a copy as a giveaway here at Per Crucem ad Lucem. In order to determine the recipient of the book, I thought we could have a wee competition. The rules are simple – answer the following question:
Why should we bother teaching our kids (and ourselves for that matter!) about this particular fourth century bishop?
I’ll leave the competition open until next Wednesday, after which time I will announce the winner who, in the best of possible worlds with the best of possible postal services, should receive the book before Christmas.
(BTW: I notice that Peter Leithart’s recent book on Athanasius is now out. And, for those keen to read a little deeper, there’s also great titles by Thomas G. Weinandy, Khaled Anatolios, and Alvyn Pettersen.