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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: To What Straits Hermogenes Absurdly Reduces the Divine Being. He Does Nothing Short of Making Him the Author of Evil.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter X.—To What Straits Hermogenes Absurdly Reduces the Divine Being. He Does Nothing Short of Making Him the Author of Evil.

Even if Matter had been the perfection of good, 6219 would it not have been equally indecorous in Him to have thought of the property of another, however good, (to effect His purpose by the help of it)? It was, therefore, absurd enough for Him, in the interest of His own glory, to have created the world in such a way as to betray His own obligation to a substance which belonged to another—and that even not good. Was He then, asks (Hermogenes), to make all things out of nothing, that so evil things themselves might be attributed to His will?  Great, in all conscience, 6220 must be the blindness of our heretics which leaves them to argue in such a way that they either insist on the belief of another God supremely good, on the ground of their thinking the Creator to be the author of evil, or else they set up Matter with the Creator, in order that they may derive evil from Matter, not from the Creator. And yet there is absolutely no god at all that is free from such a doubtful plight, so as to be able to avoid the appearance even of being the author of evil, whosoever he is that—I will not say, indeed, has made, but still—has permitted evil to be made by some author or other, and from some source or other. Hermogenes, therefore, ought to be told 6221 at once, although we postpone to another place our distinction concerning the mode of evil, 6222 that even he has effected no result by this device of his. 6223 For observe how God is found to be, if not the Author of, yet at any rate the conniver at, 6224 evil, inasmuch as He, with all His extreme goodness, endured evil in Matter bep. 483 fore He created the world, although, as being good, and the enemy of evil, He ought to have corrected it. For He either was able to correct it, but was unwilling; or else was willing, but being a weak God, was not able. If He was able and yet unwilling, He was Himself evil, as having favoured evil; and thus He now opens Himself to the charge of evil, because even if He did not create it yet still, since it would not be existing if He had been against its existence, He must Himself have then caused it to exist, when He refused to will its non-existence. And what is more shameful than this? When He willed that to be which He was Himself unwilling to create, He acted in fact against His very self, 6225 inasmuch as He was both willing that that should exist which He was unwilling to make, and unwilling to make that which He was willing should exist. As if what He willed was good, and at the same time what he refused to be the Maker of was evil. What He judged to be evil by not creating it, He also proclaimed to be good by permitting it to exist. By bearing with evil as a good instead of rather extirpating it, He proved Himself to be the promoter thereof; criminally, 6226 if through His own will—disgracefully, if through necessity. God must either be the servant of evil or the friend thereof, since He held converse with evil in Matter—nay, more, effected His works out of the evil thereof.


Footnotes

482:6219

Optima.

482:6220

Bona fide.

482:6221

Audiat.

482:6222

De mali ratione.

482:6223

Hac sua injectione. See our Anti-Marcion, iv. i., for this word, p. 345.

482:6224

Assentator. Fr. Junius suggests “adsectator” of the stronger meaning “promoter;” nor does Oehler object.

483:6225

Adversum semetipsum.

483:6226

Male: in reference to His alleged complicity with evil.


Next: Hermogenes Makes Great Efforts to Remove Evil from God to Matter. How He Fails to Do This Consistently with His Own Argument.

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