Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: The Evidence for God External to Him; But the External Creation Which Yields This Evidence is Really Not Extraneous, for All Things are God's. Marcion's God, Having Nothing to Show for Himself, No God at All. Marcion's Scheme Absurdly Defective, Not Furnishing Evidence for His New God's Existence, Which Should at Least Be Able to Compete with the Full Evidence of the Creator.
Chapter XI.—The Evidence for God External to Him; But the External Creation Which Yields This Evidence is Really Not Extraneous, for All Things are Gods. Marcions God, Having Nothing to Show for Himself, No God at All. Marcions Scheme Absurdly Defective, Not Furnishing Evidence for His New Gods Existence, Which Should at Least Be Able to Compete with the Full Evidence of the Creator.
And justly so, they say. For who is there that is less well known by his own (inherent) qualities than by strange 2448 ones? No one. Well, I keep to this statement. How could anything be strange 2449 to God, to whom, if He were personally existent, nothing would be strange? For this is the attribute of God, that all things are His, and all things belong to Him; or else this question would not so readily be heard from us: What has He to do with things strange to Him?—a point which will be more fully noticed in its proper place. It is now sufficient to observe, that no one is proved to exist to whom nothing is proved to belong. For as the Creator is shown to be God, God without any doubt, from the fact that all things are His, and nothing is strange to Him; so the rival 2450 god is seen to be no god, from the circumstance that nothing is his, and all things are therefore strange to p. 279 him. Since, then, the universe belongs to the Creator, I see no room for any other god. All things are full of their Author, and occupied by Him. If in created beings there be any portion of space anywhere void of Deity, the void will be of a false deity clearly. 2451 By falsehood the truth is made clear. Why cannot the vast crowd of false gods somewhere find room for Marcions god? This, therefore, I insist upon, from the character 2452 of the Creator, that God must have been known from the works of some world peculiarly His own, both in its human constituents, and the rest of its organic life; 2453 when even the error of the world has presumed to call gods those men whom it sometimes acknowledges, on the ground that in every such case something is seen which provides for the uses and advantages of life. 2454 Accordingly, this also was believed from the character of God to be a divine function; namely, to teach or point out what is convenient and needful in human concerns. So completely has the authority which has given influence to a false divinity been borrowed from that source, whence it had previously flowed forth to the true one. One stray vegetable 2455 at least Marcions god ought to have produced as his own; so might he be preached up as a new Triptolemus. 2456 Or else state some reason which shall be worthy of a God, why he, supposing him to exist, created nothing; because he must, on supposition of his existence, have been a creator, on that very principle on which it is clear to us that our God is no otherwise existent, than as having been the Creator of this universe of ours. For, once for all, the rule 2457 will hold good, that they cannot both acknowledge the Creator to be God, and also prove him divine whom they wish to be equally believed in as God, except they adjust him to the standard of Him whom they and all men hold to be God; which is this, that whereas no one doubts the Creator to be God on the express ground of His having made the universe, so, on the selfsame ground, no one ought to believe that he also is God who has made nothing—except, indeed, some good reason be forthcoming. And this must needs be limited to one of two: he was either unwilling to create, or else unable. There is no third reason. 2458 Now, that he was unable, is a reason unworthy of God. Whether to have been unwilling to be a worthy one, I want to inquire. Tell me, Marcion, did your god wish himself to be recognised at any time or not? With what other purpose did he come down from heaven, and preach, and having suffered rise again from the dead, if it were not that he might be acknowledged? And, doubtless, since he was acknowledged, he willed it. For no circumstance could have happened to him, if he had been unwilling. What indeed tended so greatly to the knowledge of himself, as his appearing in the humiliation of the flesh,—a degradation all the lower indeed if the flesh were only illusory? 2459 For it was all the more shameful if he, who brought on himself the Creators curse by hanging on a tree, only pretended the assumption of a bodily substance. A far nobler foundation might he have laid for the knowledge of himself in some evidences of a creation of his own, especially when he had to become known in opposition to Him in whose territory 2460 he had remained unknown by any works from the beginning. For how happens it that the Creator, although unaware, as the Marcionites aver, of any god being above Himself, and who used to declare even with an oath that He existed alone, should have guarded by such mighty works the knowledge of Himself, about which, on the assumption of His being alone without a rival, He might have spared Himself all care; while the Superior God, knowing all the while how well furnished in power His inferior rival was, should have made no provision at all towards getting Himself acknowledged? Whereas He ought to have produced works more illustrious and exalted still, in order that He might, after the Creators standard, both be acknowledged as God from His works, and even by nobler deeds show Himself to be more potent and more gracious than the Creator.
Plane falsæ vacabit.279:2452
Proprii sui mundi, et hominis et sæculi.279:2454
[Kaye, p. 206.]279:2455
[—“uncique puer monstrator aratri,” Virg. Georg. i. 19, and see Heynes note.]279:2457
Falsæ. An allusion to the Docetism of Marcion.279:2460
Next: Impossibility of Acknowledging God Without This External Evidence Of His Existence. Marcion's Rejection of Such Evidence for His God Savours of Impudence and Malignity.
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