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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 7

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 7.—What All Men Understand by the Term God.

7.  For when the one supreme God of gods is thought of, even by those who believe that there are other gods, and who call them by that name, and worship them as gods, their thought takes the form of an endeavor to reach the conception of a nature, than which nothing more excellent or more exalted exists.  And since men are moved by different kinds of pleasures, partly by those which pertain to the bodily senses, partly by those which pertain to the intellect and soul, those of them who are in bondage to sense think that either the heavens, or what appears to be most brilliant in the heavens, or the universe itself, is God of gods:  or if they try to get beyond the universe, they picture to themselves something of dazzling brightness, and think of it vaguely as infinite, or of the most beautiful form conceivable; or they represent it in the form of the human body, if they think that superior to all others.  Or if they think that there is no one God supreme above the rest, but that there are many or even innumerable gods of equal rank, still these too they conceive as possessed of shape and form, according to what each man thinks the pattern of excellence.  Those, on the other hand, who endeavor by an effort of the intelligence to reach a conception of God, place Him above all visible and bodily natures, and even above all intelligent and spiritual natures that are subject to change.  All, however, strive emulously to exalt the excellence of God:  nor could any one be found to believe that any being to whom there exists a superior is God.  And so all concur in believing that God is that which excels in dignity all other objects.


Next: Chapter 8

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