At Slate, George Johnson says some exceptionally silly things about the Catholic Church in his review of Angels and Demons. We will pass over his informative reminder that “over the centuries, those who differed from the church were branded as heretics,” and not stop to note that this is of course still the case. We will not ask if Johnson would prefer that the Church politely decline to mention that certain doctrines differed from the doctrines the Church propounds as fundamental to the Christian faith, because the next thing he says is much sillier:
There were the Sabellians, Monophysites, Eunomians, Nestorians, Messalians, and Priscillianists, not to mention the Cathars and the Knights Templar. Their differences with orthodoxy could be literally as small as an iota.
Was Christ similar to God (homoiousios) or of the same substance (homoousios)? Compared with that, the difference between geocentrism and heliocentrism was a pretty big deal.
This is like saying that the only difference between arson and parson is a trivial little p, and as a consequence it should be of no concern to us whether a man decides to enter the Anglican priesthood or burn down Canterbury Cathedral. The difference between geocentrism and heliocentrism is an absolute trifle compared to the difference between Christ being the same thing as G-d or merely a similar thing to G-d. Whether the earth revolves around the sun or vice versa is no more important to the Christian faith than whether a cardinal’s hat is bright red or merely a rich maroon. Whether Christ is G-d or not is a question that provoked the first and greatest ecumenical council — the question, more than any other, that the chief creed of Christianity addresses — in fact, the question at the center of Christian faith: is Christ the very same being as G-d Himself?