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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: Creeds published at Sirmium in Presence of the Emperor Constantius.

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Chapter XXX.—Creeds published at Sirmium in Presence of the Emperor Constantius.

As if they would rescind their former determinations respecting the faith, they published anew other expositions of the creed, viz.: one which Mark of Arethusa composed in Greek; and others in Latin, which harmonized neither in expression nor in sentiment with one another, nor with that dictated by the bishop of Arethusa. I shall here subjoin one of those drawn up in Latin, to that prepared in Greek by Mark: the other, which was afterwards recited at Sirmium, 358 will be given when we describe what was done at Ariminum. It must be understood, however, that both the Latin forms were translated into Greek. The declaration of faith set forth by Mark, was as follows: 359

‘We believe in one God the Father Almighty, the Creator and Maker of all things, of whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named, 360 and in his only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was begotten of the Father before all ages, God of God, Light of Light, by whom all things visible and invisible, which are in the heavens and upon the earth, were made: who is the Word, and the Wisdom, and the true Light, and the Life; who in the last days for our sake was made man and born of the holy virgin, and was crucified and died, and was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day, and was received up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and is coming at the completion of the age to judge the living and the dead, and to requite every one according to his works: whose kingdom being everlasting, endures into infinite ages; for he will be seated at the Father’s right hand, not only in the present age, but also in that which is to come. [We believe] also in the Holy Spirit, that is to say the Comforter, whom, having promised to his apostles after his ascension into the heavens, to teach them, and bring all things to their remembrance, he sent; by whom also the souls of those who have sincerely believed in him are sanctified. But those who affirm that the Son is of things which are not, or of another substance, and not of God, and that there was a time or an age when he was not, the holy and catholic Church recognizes to be aliens. We therefore again say, if any one affirms that the Father and Son are two Gods, let him be anathema. And if any one admits that Christ is God and the Son of God before the ages, but does not confess that he ministered to the Father in the formation of all things, let him be anathema. If any one shall dare to assert that the Unbegotten, or a part of him, was born of Mary, let him be anathema. If any one should say that the Son was of Mary according to foreknowledge, and not that he was with God, begotten of the Father before the ages, and that all things were not made by him, let him be anathema. If any one affirms the essence of God to be dilated or contracted, let him be anathema. If any one says that the dilated essence of God makes the Son, or shall p. 57 term the Son the dilatation of his essence, let him be anathema. If any one calls the Son of God the internal or uttered word, let him be anathema. If any one declares that the Son that was born of Mary was man only, let him be anathema. If any man affirming him that was born of Mary to be God and man, shall imply the unbegotten God himself, let him be anathema. If any one shall understand the text, “I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God,” 361 which was spoken for the destruction of idols and false gods, in the sense the Jews do, as if it were said for the subversion of the only-begotten of God before the ages, let him be anathema. If any one hearing “the Word was made flesh,” 362 should imagine that the Word was changed into flesh, or that he underwent any change in assuming flesh, let him be anathema. If any one hearing that the only-begotten Son of God was crucified, should say that his divinity underwent any corruption, or suffering, or change, or diminution, or destruction, let him be anathema. If any one should affirm that the Father said not to the Son, “Let us make man,” 363 but that God spoke to himself, let him be anathema. If any one says that it was not the Son that was seen by Abraham, but the unbegotten God, or a part of him, let him be anathema. If any one says that it was not the Son that as man wrestled with Jacob, but the unbegotten God, or a part of him, let him be anathema. If any one shall understand the words, “The Lord rained from the Lord,” 364 not in relation to the Father and the Son, but shall say that he rained from himself, let him be anathema: for the Lord the Son rained from the Lord the Father. If any one hearing “the Lord the Father, and the Lord the Son,” shall term both the Father and the Son Lord, and saying “the Lord from the Lord” shall assert that there are two Gods, let him be anathema. For we do not co-ordinate the Son with the Father, but [conceive him to be] subordinate to the Father. For he neither came down to the body 365 without his Father’s will; nor did he rain from himself, but from the Lord (i.e. the Father) who exercises supreme authority: nor does he sit at the Father’s right hand of himself, but in obedience to the Father saying, “Sit thou at my right hand” 366 [let him be anathema]. If any one should say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one person, let him be anathema. If any one, speaking of the Holy Spirit the Comforter, shall call him the unbegotten God, let him be anathema. If any one, as he hath taught us, shall not say that the Comforter is other than the Son, when he has himself said, “the Father, whom I will ask, shall send you another Comforter,” 367 let him be anathema. If any one affirm that the Spirit is part of the Father and of the Son, let him be anathema. If any one say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three Gods, let him be anathema. If any one say that the Son of God was made as one of the creatures by the will of God, let him be anathema. If any one shall say that the Son was begotten without the Father’s will, let him be anathema: for the Father did not, as compelled by any natural necessity, beget the Son at a time when he was unwilling; but as soon as it pleased him, he has declared that of himself without time and without passion, he begot him. If any one should say that the Son is unbegotten, and without beginning, intimating that there are two without beginning, and unbegotten, so making two Gods, let him be anathema: for the Son is the head and beginning of all things; but “the head of Christ is God.” 368 Thus do we devoutly trace up all things by the Son to one source of all things who is without beginning. Moreover, to give an accurate conception of Christian doctrine, we again say, that if any one shall not declare Christ Jesus to have been the Son of God before all ages, and to have ministered to the Father in the creation of all things; but shall affirm that from the time only when he was born of Mary, was he called the Son and Christ, and that he then received the commencement of his divinity, let him be anathema, as the Samosatan.’ 369

Another Exposition of the Faith set forth at Sirmium in Latin,

and afterwards translated into Greek. 370

Since it appeared good that some deliberation respecting the faith should be undertaken, all points have been carefully investigated and discussed at Sirmium, in presence of Valens, Ursacius, Germinius, and others.

It is evident that there is one God, the Father Almighty, according as it is declared over the whole world; and his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, God, and Saviour, begotten of him before the ages. But we ought not to say that there are two Gods, since the Lord himself has said ‘I go unto my Father and your Father, and unto my God and your God.’ 371 Therefore he is God even of all, as the apostle also taught, ‘Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not p. 58 also of the Gentiles? Yea of the Gentiles also; seeing that it is one God who shall justify the circumcision by faith.’ 372 And in all other matters there is agreement, nor is there any ambiguity. But since it troubles very many to understand about that which is termed substantia in Latin, and ousia in Greek; that is to say, in order to mark the sense more accurately, the word homoousion 373 or homoiousion374 it is altogether desirable that none of these terms should be mentioned: nor should they be preached on in the church, for this reason, that nothing is recorded concerning them in the holy Scriptures; and because these things are above the knowledge of mankind and human capacity, and that no one can explain the Son’s generation, of which it is written, ‘And who shall declare his generation?’ 375 It is manifest that the Father only knows in what way he begat the Son; and again the Son, how he was begotten by the Father. But no one can doubt that the Father is greater in honor, dignity, and divinity, and in the very name of Father; the Son himself testifying ‘My Father who hath sent me is greater than I.’ 376 And no one is ignorant that this is also catholic doctrine, 377 that there are two persons of the Father and Son, and that the Father is the greater: but that the Son is subject, together with all things which the Father has subjected to him. That the Father had no beginning, and is invisible, immortal, and impassible: but that the Son was begotten of the Father, God of God, Light of Light; and that no one comprehends his generation, as was before said, but the Father alone. That the Son himself, our Lord and God, took flesh or a body, that is to say human nature, according as the angel brought glad tidings: and as the whole Scriptures teaches, and especially the apostle who was the great teacher of the Gentiles, Christ assumed the human nature through which he suffered, from the Virgin Mary. But the summary and confirmation of the entire faith is, that [the doctrine of] the Trinity should be always maintained, according as we have read in the gospel, ‘Go ye and disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ 378 Thus the number of the Trinity is complete and perfect. Now the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, sent by the Son, came according to his promise, in order to sanctify and instruct the apostles and all believers.

They endeavored to induce Photinus, even after his deposition, to assent to and subscribe these things, promising to restore him his bishopric, if by recantation he would anathematize the dogma he had invented, and adopt their opinion. But he did not accept their proposal, and on the other hand he challenged them to a disputation: 379 and a day being appointed by the emperor’s arrangement, the bishops who were there present assembled, and not a few of the senators, whom the emperor had directed to attend to the discussion. In their presence, Basil, who at that time presided over the church at Ancyra, was appointed to oppose Photinus, and short-hand writers took down their respective speeches. The conflict of arguments on both sides was extremely severe; but Photinus having been worsted, was condemned, and spent the rest of his life in exile, during which time he composed treatises in both languages—for he was not unskilled in Latin—against all heresies, and in favor of his own views. Concerning Photinus let this suffice.

Now the bishops who were convened at Sirmium, were afterwards dissatisfied with that form of the creed which had been promulgated by them in Latin; for after its publication, it appeared to them to contain many contradictions. They therefore endeavored to get it back again from the transcribers; but inasmuch as many secreted it, the emperor by his edicts commanded that the version should be sought for, threatening punishment to any one who should be detected concealing it. These menaces, however, were incapable of suppressing what had already fallen into the hands of many. Let this suffice in regard to these affairs.>



There were three councils held at Sirmium: one in 351, as already indicated in note 3, ch. 29; another in 357, in which Hosius and Potamius composed their blasphemy; and one in 359. It was in this last council that that creed was drawn up which was recited in Ariminum. The confusion of Socrates on this point has been alluded to in the Introd.


Athan. de Synod. 27.


Eph. iii. 15.


Isa. xliv. 6.


John i. 14.


Gen. i. 26.


Gen. xix. 24: ‘Then the Lord…rained brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.’


Athanasius reads πὶ Σόδομα, not εἰς σῶμα. If this be the true reading, we should translate ‘came down to Sodom,’ &c.


Psa. 110.1 (LXX).


John 14:16, 26.


1 Cor. xi. 3.


Paul of Samosata, see I. 36, note 3.


Athan. de Synod. 28, and Hilar. de Synod. calls this creed ‘The blasphemy composed at Sirmium by Hosius and Potamius.’


John xx. 17.


Rom. 3:29, 30.


Of the same substance.


Of similar substance.


Isa. liii. 5.


John xiv. 28.


καθολικόν , ‘universally accepted.’


Matt. xxviii. 19.


‘Epiphanius relates that Photinus, after he had been condemned and deposed in the synod of Sirmium, went to Constantius, and requested that he might dispute concerning the faith before judges nominated by him; and that Constantius enjoined Basilius, bishop of Ancyra, to undertake a disputation with Photinus, and gave leave that Thalassiuss, Datianus, Cerealis, and Taurus should be arbiters’ (Valesius).

Next: Of Hosius, Bishop of Cordova.

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