The Confession, improperly called the “Creed of Athanasius,” is acknowledged to embody the (Athanasian) doctrine of the Nicene Council; and I append it here as an index to the state of theology at the period which is the limit of our series. Nothing is properly a “creed” which has never been accepted as such by the whole Church, and the Greeks knew no other creed than that called Nicene. The Anglo-American Church has ceased to recite this Confession in public worship, but does not depart from it as doctrine. The “Reformed” communion in America 2352 retains it among her liturgical forms, and I suppose the same is true of the Lutherans. It is a Western Confession, and, like the Te Deum, is a hymn rather than a symbol, though breathing the spirit of the Creed.
Usher adopts a.d. 447 as its date, and Beveridge assigns it to the fourth century. Dupin gives it a later origin than Usher, and a considerable number of eminent authorities agree with him in the date a.d. 484.
What are called the anathemas are the enacting clauses (so to speak), and, like the same in the Nicene Creed, may be regarded as no part of the Confession itself. If they have disappeared from the Great Symbol itself, as unsuitable to liturgical recitation, why not apply the same rule here?
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.p. 367
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: 2353 neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
It is with regret that I am forced to take exception to the most useful Ecclesiastical History of the learned Professor Schaff, in this connection. I quote from that work 2354 as follows:—
“He, Dionysius, maintained distinctly, in (a) controversy with Dionysius of Alexandria, at once the unity of essence and the real personal distinction, etc., . . . and avoided tritheism, Sabellianism, and (b) subordination, with the instinct of orthodoxy, and also with the art of anathematizing, (c) already familiar to (d) the popes.”
Such a paragraph must convey to the youthful student a great confusion of ideas; all the greater, because the same valuable work elsewhere invites him to conclusions quite the reverse. Thus, (a) there was no controversy whatever between the two Dionysii; with a holy jealousy they entered into fraternal explanations of the same truth, held by each, but by neither very technically elucidated. The mere reader would probably infer that the greater of the two was guilty of tritheism or Sabellianism, although that is not the meaning of these unguarded expressions. But (b) the “subordinationism” which he repudiated was the doctrine of the subjection of the Son, not of the subordination, which orthodoxy has always maintained. Again, (c) I see no such “anathematizing” p. 368 in the letter of Dionysius as is here charged; indeed, it contains no anathema 2355 whatever, much less the artificial cursing of the Papacy which is thus assumed. And last, (d) what can be meant by the expression, “already familiar to the popes?” The learned pages of the same author sufficiently prove that there were no such things 2356 as “popes” till a much later period of history; and, as to the “art of anathematizing,” if it existed at all in those days, we find it much more freely exemplified by the Greek Fathers than by bishops of Rome. I say, if it existed at all, because the primitive anathema was a purely scriptural enforcement of St. Pauls great canon (Gal. 1:8, 9); while the “art of anathematizing,” so justly credited to “the popes,” was a vindictive and monstrous assertion, at a later date, of prerogatives which they impiously arrogated to themselves, against other churches.
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