19 Mar On International Women’s Month
In the fourth century A.D., in a region of modern-day Turkey called Cappadocia, lived a remarkable family.
Into one single Christian family were born two brothers whom some of you may have heard of: Basil of Caesarea, and his brother, Gregory of Nyssa. Together, with their friend, another Gregory–Gregory of Nazianus–they would become known as the legendary Cappadocian Fathers.
Their legacy and gift to the church?
The triumph of something that churches around the world, including Mosaic Church, hold to and affirm to this day: The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.
What was professed through the production of this document in 380?
Only two of the greatest doctrines of all time: the affirmation of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and the development and affirmation of the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
Against–and ultimately overcoming– the Arian heresy (which claimed that Jesus was not God, but the first of all God’s creatures) stood this remarkable triad of thinkers and theologians: Basil the fiery professor, Gregory of Nyssa the pastor and songwriter, and Gregory of Nazinius the monk.
But alongside them, and even perhaps above them all stood a remarkable woman – the older sister of Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, Macrina.
After her arranged-marriage-fiance died unexpectedly, Macrina turned to the monastic life and studied the Bible in deep contemplation and solitude for many years. Then, when her father died, she assumed the leadership role in the family. Confronting the ultra-educated Basil over his arrogance, Macrina ultimately converted him to vocational ministry as well. As Basil later became the great teacher of monasticism in the Greek-speaking church, and because Macrina awakened his interest in it, it could reasonably be said she was the founder of the Greek monastic movement.
Her thoughts on the soul and the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth were so compelling that they were captured in a book her brother, Gregory, published, which was influential in the orthodox church of their day: On the Soul and the Resurrection.
In fact, so great was her learning and impeccable was her character, Macrina simply became known during her lifetime as The Teacher.
Without Macrina, The Teacher, it is unlikely that this brilliant group of church leaders could have been shepherded and forged together, and that their learning, under her direction, would have been brought to bear on arguably the most influential document outside of the Christian Scripture.
In short, we have to thank – for the affirmation of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the development of the doctrine of the Trinity itself – a single Turkish woman, raised by a family with deep Christian roots, a woman who loved the church and committed herself to Scripture, to prayer and to holiness.
Why do I tell you this?
Well, apart from being an amazing story (which it is), it shows once more how the history of women is also the history of the Christian church. And when we tell that history, it has power. From the first witnesses at the empty tomb, to the prophetesses, deacons, and apostles of the early church, to figures like Macrina, to civil rights leaders and even the amazing female leaders and pastors we are blessed to have in this church, God has sovereignly used mothers, grandmothers, daughters, wives and young girls to accomplish extraordinary things in His Kingdom and for His people.
I, for one, am grateful for all the Macrinas, all the Teachers.
May God continue to raise them up, and may He continue to use us to do so.
Mosaic Church strongly stands against anti-Asian hate crimes, language or ideas. Please join us (whether you’re registered to be in person or you’ll watch online) this Sunday for a solemn moment of prayer and solidarity standing for our Asian brothers and sisters.