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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Marcion Untrue to His Theory. He Pretends that His Gods are Equal, But He Really Makes Them Diverse. Then, Allowing Their Divinity, Denies This Diversity.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VI.—Marcion Untrue to His Theory. He Pretends that His Gods are Equal, But He Really Makes Them Diverse.  Then, Allowing Their Divinity, Denies This Diversity.

Thus far our discussion seems to imply that Marcion makes his two gods equal. For while we have been maintaining that God ought to be believed as the one only great Supreme Being, excluding from Him every possibility 2388 of equality, we have treated of these topics on the assumption of two equal Gods; but nevertheless, by teaching that no equals can exist according to the law 2389 of the Supreme Being, we have sufficiently affirmed the impossibility that two equals should exist. For the rest, however, 2390 we know full well 2391 that Marcion makes his gods unequal: one judicial, harsh, mighty in war; the other mild, placid, and simply 2392 good and excellent. Let us with similar care consider also this aspect of the question, whether diversity (in the Godhead) can at any rate contain two, since equality therein failed to do so. Here again the same rule about the great Supreme will protect us, inasmuch as it settles 2393 the entire condition of the Godhead.  Now, challenging, and in a certain sense arresting 2394 the meaning of our adversary, who does not deny that the Creator is God, I most fairly object 2395 against him that he has no room for any diversity in his gods, because, having once confessed that they are on a par, 2396 he cannot now pronounce them different; not indeed that human beings may not be very different under the same designation, but because the Divine Being can be neither said nor believed to be God, except as the great Supreme. Since, therefore, he is obliged to acknowledge that the God whom he does not deny is the great Supreme, it is inadmissible that he should predicate of the Supreme Being such a diminution as should subject Him to another Supreme Being.  For He ceases (to be Supreme), if He becomes subject to any. Besides, it is not the characteristic of God to cease from any attribute 2397 of His divinity—say, from His supremacy.  For at this rate the supremacy would be endangered even in Marcion’s more powerful god, if it were capable of depreciation in the Creator. When, therefore, two gods are pronounced to be two great Supremes, it must needs follow that neither of them is greater or less than the other, neither of them loftier or lowlier than the other. If you deny 2398 him to be God whom you call inferior, you deny 2399 the supremacy of this inferior being.  But when you confessed both gods to be divine, you confessed them both to be supreme. Nothing will you be able to take away from either of them; nothing will you be able to add. By allowing their divinity, you have denied their diversity.









Certi (sumus).






Injecta manu detinens.




Ex æquo deos confessus.


De statu suo.





Next: Other Beings Besides God are in Scripture Called God. This Objection Frivolous, for It is Not a Question of Names. The Divine Essence is the Thing at Issue. Heresy, in Its General Terms, Thus Far Treated.

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