Happy Feast of Saint Cyril of Alexandria!

St. Cyril of AlexandriaWith apologies to my Nestorian brothers and sisters out there, today is June 27th, which we all know is the feast of Saint Cyril of Alexandria! Good old Cyril, Bishop/Saint/Doctor of the Church, was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He was most famous for his battle with the Nestorians.

The Catholic Online website recounts some of this battle, “In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her.”

The article at Catholic Online continues by describing more of Cyril’s work, “During the rest of his life, Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community.”

Perhaps it is an appropriate day to think about the teaching role of bishops. Do you think our United Methodist bishops neglect this task? I know William Willimon and Timothy Whitaker are two sterling examples of teaching bishops. What about the rest? Should this be a central or important role for our episcopal leaders?

This feast day also makes me think about the post-modern movement of the Church. It is interesting that we are concerned to recover many early Christian practices, but we don’t seem to have a huge concern about apologetics. Don’t get me wrong, I know that for many this is considred a thoroughly modernist enterprise, but maybe we need to ask why it was also part of the pre-modernist enterprise. It seems that folks as early as Justin Martyr cared about apologetics, even though you’d never think he was a modernist.  If it is a premodern Christian practice, does it have a place in the post-modern emerging Church?

Anyway…happy feast day!

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