Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: Of the Creed sent by the Eastern Bishops to those in Italy, called the Lengthy Creed.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XIX.—Of the Creed sent by the Eastern Bishops to those in Italy, called the Lengthy Creed. 295
After the lapse of about three years from the events above recorded, the Eastern bishops again assembled a Synod, and having composed another form of faith, they transmitted it to those in Italy by the hands of Eudoxius, at that time bishop of Germanicia, and Martyrius, and Macedonius, who was bishop of Mopsuestia 296 in Cilicia. This expression of the Creed, being written in more lengthy form, contained many additions to p. 45 those which had preceded it, and was set forth in these words:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the Creator and Maker of all things, of whom the whole family in heaven and upon earth is named; and in his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was begotten of the Father before all ages; God of God; Light of Light; through whom all things in the heavens and upon the earth, both visible and invisible, were made: who is the Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and Life, and true Light: who in the last days for our sake was made man, and was born of the holy virgin; who was crucified, and died, and was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and shall come at the consummation of the ages, to judge the living and the dead, and to render to every one according to his works: whose kingdom being perpetual shall continue to infinite ages; for he sits at the right hand of the Father, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. We believe also in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the Comforter, whom the Lord according to his promise sent to his apostles after his ascension into heaven, to teach them and bring all things to their remembrance, through whom also the souls of those who sincerely believe on him are sanctified. But those who assert that the Son was made of things not in being, or of another substance, and not of God, or that there was a time or age when he did not exist, 297 the holy catholic Church accounts as aliens. The holy and catholic Church likewise anathematizes those also who say that there are three Gods, or that Christ is not God before all ages, or that he is neither Christ, nor the Son of God, or that the same person is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or that the Son was not begotten, or that the Father begat not the Son by his own will or desire. Neither is it safe to affirm that the Son had his existence from things that were not, since this is nowhere declared concerning him in the divinely inspired Scriptures. Nor are we taught that he had his being from any other pre-existing substance besides the Father, but that he was truly begotten of God alone; for the Divine word teaches that there is one unbegotten principle without beginning, the Father of Christ. But those who unauthorized by Scripture rashly assert that there was a time when he was not, ought not to preconceive any antecedent interval of time, but God only who without time begat him; for both times and ages were made through him. Yet it must not be thought that the Son is co-inoriginate, 298 or co-unbegotten 299 with the Father: for there is properly no father of the co-inoriginate or co-unbegotten. But we know that the Father alone being inoriginate and incomprehensible, 300 has ineffably and incomprehensibly to all begotten, and that the Son was begotten before the ages, but is not unbegotten like the Father, but has a beginning, viz. the Father who begat him, for “the head of Christ is God.” 301 Now although according to the Scriptures we acknowledge three things or persons, viz. that of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do not on that account make three Gods: since we know that that there is but one God perfect in himself, unbegotten, inoriginate, and invisible, the God and Father of the only-begotten, who alone has existence from himself, and alone affords existence abundantly to all other things. But neither while we assert that there is one God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten, do we therefore deny that Christ is God before the ages, as the followers of Paul of Samosata do, who affirm that after his incarnation he was by exaltation deified, in that he was by nature a mere man. We know indeed that he was subject to his God and Father: nevertheless he was begotten of God, and is by nature true and perfect God, and was not afterwards made God out of man; but was for our sake made man out of God, and has never ceased to be God. Moreover we execrate and anathematize those who falsely style him the mere unsubstantial word of God, having existence only in another, either as the word to which utterance is given, or as the word conceived in the mind: and who pretend that before the ages he was neither the Christ, the Son of God, the Mediator, nor the Image of God; but that he became the Christ, and the Son of God, from the time he took our flesh from the virgin, about four hundred years ago. 302 For they assert that Christ had the beginning of his kingdom from that time, and that it shall have an end after the consummation of all things and the judgment. Such persons as these are the followers of Marcellus and Photinus, the Ancyro-Galatians, who under pretext of establishing his sovereignty, like the Jews set aside p. 46 the eternal existence and deity of Christ, and the perpetuity of his kingdom. But we know him to be not simply the word of God by utterance or mental conception, but God the living Word subsisting of himself; and Son of God and Christ; and who did, not by presence only, co-exist and was conversant with his Father before the ages, and ministered to him at the creation of all things, whether visible or invisible, but was the substantial Word of the Father, and God of God: for this is he to whom the Father said, “Let us make man in our image, and according to our likeness:” who in his own person appeared to the fathers, gave the law, and spake by the prophets; and being at last made man, he manifested his Father to all men, and reigns to endless ages. Christ has not attained any new dignity; but we believe that he was perfect from the beginning, and like his Father in all things; and those who say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are the same person, impiously supposing the three names to refer to one and the same thing and person, we deservedly expel from the church because by the incarnation they render the Father, who is incomprehensible and insusceptible of suffering, subject to comprehension and suffering. Such are those denominated Patropassians 303 among the Romans, and by us Sabellians. For we know that the Father who sent, remained in the proper nature of his own immutable deity; but that Christ who was sent, has fulfilled the economy of the incarnation. In like manner those who irreverently affirm that Christ was begotten not by the will and pleasure of his Father; thus attributing to God an involuntary necessity not springing from choice, as if he begat the Son by constraint, we consider most impious and strangers to the truth because they have dared to determine such things respecting him as are inconsistent with our common notions of God, and are contrary indeed to the sense of the divinely-inspired Scripture. For knowing that God is self-dependent and Lord of himself we devoutly maintain that of his own volition and pleasure he begat the Son. And while we reverentially believe what is spoken concerning him; 304 “The Lord created me the beginning of his ways on account of his works”: yet we do not suppose that he was made similarly to the creatures or works made by him. For it is impious and repugnant to the churchs faith to compare the Creator with the works created by him; or to imagine that he had the same manner of generation as things of a nature totally different from himself: for the sacred Scriptures teach us that the alone only-begotten Son was really and truly begotten. Nor when we say that the Son is of himself, and lives and subsists in like manner to the Father, do we therefore separate him from the Father, as if we supposed them dissociated by the intervention of space and distance in a material sense. For we believe that they are united without medium or interval, and that they are incapable of separation from each other: the whole Father embosoming the Son; and the whole Son attached to and eternally reposing in the Fathers bosom. Believing, therefore, in the altogether perfect and most holy Trinity, and asserting that the Father is God, and that the Son also is God, we do not acknowledge two Gods, but one only, on account of the majesty of the Deity, and the perfect blending and union of the kingdoms: the Father ruling over all things universally, and even over the Son himself; the Son being subject to the Father, but except him, ruling over all things which were made after him and by him; and by the Fathers will bestowing abundantly on the saints the grace of the Holy Spirit. For the Sacred Oracles inform us that in this consists the character of the sovereignty which Christ exercises.
We have been compelled, since the publication of our former epitome, to give this more ample exposition of the creed; not in order to gratify a vain ambition, but to clear ourselves from all strange suspicion respecting our faith which may exist among those who are ignorant of our real sentiments. And that the inhabitants of the West may both be aware of the shameless misrepresentations of the heterodox party; and also know the ecclesiastical opinion of the Eastern bishops concerning Christ, confirmed by the unwrested testimony of the divinely-inspired Scriptures, among all those of unperverted minds.
This creed was called μακρόστιχος from its length, and the date of its promulgation must be put after the Council of Sardica, according to Hefele. See Hefele, History of the Church Councils, Vol. II. p. 85, 89, and 180 (ed. T. & T. Clark).44:296
Μόψου ἑστία, lit. the hearth of Mopsus, son of Apollo and Manto, daughter of Tiresias, according to the Greek mythology. Mopsuestia has become famous in the history of the church through its great citizen, Theodore. Cf. Smith and Wace, Dict. of Christ. Biog.45:297
This is the end of the first creed adopted at Antioch, as given in the preceding chapter; it is couched in almost identical terms in both these versions. The rest of the version here given is the addition that constitutes the characteristic of the Lengthy Creed.45:298
συνάναρχον . It has been thought advisable to retain the above uncouth rendering of this word, as also of one or two others immediately following, on the ground that the etymological precision at which they aim compensates for their non-classical ring.45:299
1 Cor. xi. 3.45:302
“There has arisen in our days a certain Marcellus of Galatia, the most execrable of all heretics, who with a sacrilegious mind and impious mouth and wicked argument will needs set bounds to the perpetual, eternal, and timeless kingdom of our Lord Christ, saying that he began to reign four hundred years since, and shall end at the dissolution of the present world. This is the description given of the heresy here hinted at by the synodical letter of the Oriental bishops at Sardica. On Marcellus and the various opinions concerning him, see Zahn, Marcellus von Ancyra, Gotha, 1867; also monographs on Marcellus by Rettberg (1794) and by Klose (1837 and 1859). Cf. Neander, Hist. of Chr. Ch. Vol. II. p. 394.46:303
Cf. Tertull. Adv. Prax. i. and ii.; Epiph. Hær. LVII.46:304
Prov. viii. 22. The ancient bishops quote the LXX verbatim. The English versions (Authorized and Revised) follow the Hebrew, The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
Next: Of the Council at Sardica.
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