St Shenouda the Archimandrite is famous for his life as a monk, national leader, and a writer. Perhaps he is less famous for his powerful defence of biblical truth. A highlight of this is when our holy fathers convened a synod to excommunicate the impious Nestorius.
On this occasion Abba Shenouda and St Cyril the archbishop of Alexandria went into the church to set out the seats and sit down. They set out in the middle of the assembly another seat and placed upon it the four holy gospels. When the impious Nestorius came in with a great display of pride and shamelessness he then picked up the four gospels, placed them on the ground, and sat down in the chair. When St Shenouda saw what Nestorius had done, he leaped quickly to his feet in righteous anger in the midst of our holy fathers, seized the gospels, picked them up from the ground and struck the impious Nestorius on his chest, saying: ‘Do you want the Son of God to sit on the ground while you sit on the chair?!. In reply, the impious Nestorius said to Abba Shenouda: ‘What business do you have in this synod? You yourself are certainly not a bishop, nor are you an archimandrite or a superior, but only a monk!’ Our father replied and said to him: I am he whom God wished to come here in order to rebuke you for your iniquities and reveal the errors of your impiety in scorning the sufferings of the only-begotten Son of God, which He endured for us so that He might save us from our sins. And it is He who will now pronounce upon you a swift judgement!’ At that very moment the impious Nestorius fell off his chair to the ground, and in the midst of the synod of our fathers, he was possessed by the devil. There and then, the Holy St Cyril arose, took the head of Abba Shenouda and kissed him. He took the shawl which was around his neck and placed it round the neck of Abba Shenouda. He put in his hand his staff, and made him an archimandrite. And all who were present at the synod cried out: ‘Worthy, worthy, worthy archimandrite!”
St Shenouda shows that Christianity is a religion of strength. That gentleness and humility that Christianity calls for are no indication that it is a religion of weakness, but it is a religion of power. The bible describes the faithful as, “sharp arrows of the warrior.” (Ps 120:4). And about the church the bible says that it is, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as the army with banners.” (Song 6:10). This power is what the Holy Spirit does to the faithful, such as St Shenouda. Therefore God said to them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me.” (Act 1:8)
It is power, in spite of obstacles as the Lord said to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent for I am with you and no one will attack you to hurt you” (Act 18:9-10). St Shenouda in his righteous anger did not keep silent, was not scared, and defended the biblical truth. The Christians are strong because they are the image of God, and God is powerful. The Lord Jesus, despite his gentleness and humility was so powerful. Power in Christianity has a spiritual nature. St Shenouda had a powerful personality, the power to defend biblical truth and faith. This power is far from violence and attack, but based on the strength of Christianity.