“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hilary of Poitiers: Boldness for the Truth

Hilarius (Hilary) was the Bishop of the church in Poitiers, France. He was born around 310 AD to wealthy pagan parents and was educated in Greek philosophy. After studying the Old and New Testaments, he abandoned paganism and converted to Christianity. He professed faith in Christ as his Lord and Savior and was baptized and confirmed into the church.

Hilary was appointed as the Bishop of Poitiers around 350. The church needed a strong and courageous leader during this time as Arianism was gaining ground among apostates. Hilary stood strong against the spiritual and physical attacks of the Arians, a heretical sect of Christianity which denied the divinity of Christ. Hilary wrote, “They who deny that Christ is the Son of God must have Antichrist for their Christ” (Hilary, De Trinitate, book 6, chap. 46, in NPNF, 2d series, vol. 9). Hilary also attacked Emperor Constantius, who stood with the Arians, as Antichrist and persecutor of Christianity. Hilary accused the Emperor as being “a tyrant whose sole object had been to make a gift to the devil of that world for which Christ had suffered.”
"Hilary of Poitiers" by Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs.

At the synod of Biterrae, Hilary was banished into exile. He spent nearly four exilic years in Phrygia (modern Turkey). However, Hilary kept himself busy while in exile. He continued to govern his church from afar and wrote several very important works on theology, a Latin commentary on Matthew, and expositions of the Psalms.

Hilary is a very highly regarded writer from the early-church period. Augustine called him “the illustrious doctor of the churches” and his works have been very influential to the shaping of the church in the centuries following his death. Theologians and church historians also highly respect the works of Hilary. He was a man who was not afraid to stand up for the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture alone. He was willing to defy the popular and heretical religious views of his time as well as to stand against the governmental authorities, even the Emperor himself. We as Christians need to be reminded often of our early fathers. These were men who stood for the truth of the gospel despite religious and governmental persecution. May we, with God’s help, endeavor to do the same.