Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: To Flavianus, Bishop of Constantinople.
CIV. To Flavianus, 1828 Bishop of Constantinople.
I have already in another letter informed your holiness how openly the calumniators of our teaching are slandering us. 1829 Now in like manner by means of the very godly bishops I do the same, having not only these as witnesses of the orthodoxy of my teaching but also countless other men who are my hearers in the churches of the East. Above and beyond all these I have my conscience, and Him who sees my conscience. And I know too how the divine Apostle often appealed to the testimony of his conscience, for “our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience” 1830 and again “I say the truth in Christ I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” 1831 Know then, O holy and godly sir, that no one has ever at any time heard us preaching two sons; in fact this doctrine seems to me abominable and impious, for there is one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things. Him I acknowledge both as everlasting God and as man in the end of days, and I give Him one worship as only begotten. I have learned however the distinction between flesh and Godhead, for the union is unconfounded. Thus drawn up as it were in battle array to oppose the madness of Arius and Eunomius, we very easily refute the blasphemy hazarded by them against the only begotten, by applying what was spoken in humility about the Lord, and suitably to p. 288 His assumed nature, to man, and, on the other hand, what becomes the divine and signifies the divine nature, to God; not dividing Him into two persons, but teaching that both the former and latter attributes belong to the only begotten, the latter to Him as God the Creator and Lord of all, and the former as made man on our account. For divine Scripture says that He was made man, not by mutation of the Godhead, but by assumption of human nature, of the seed of Abraham. This the divine Apostle openly says in the words “For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham, wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren.” 1832 And again “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made: he saith not and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” 1833
These and similar passages have been cut out of divine Scripture by Simon, Basilides, Valentinus, Bardesanes, Marcion, and the man who is named after his maniacal heresy. 1834 So they style the Master Christ God only, and describe Him as having nothing human about Him, but appearing in imagination and appearance as man to men. On the other hand the Arians and Eunomians say that God the Word assumed only a body, and that He Himself supplied the place of a soul in the body. And Apollinarius describes the Masters body as endued with a soul; 1835 but, deriving, I know not whence, the idea of a distinction between soul and intelligence, 1836 deprives intelligence of its share in the achieved salvation. 1837 The teaching of the divine Apostles lays down on the contrary that a soul both reasonable and intelligent was assumed together with flesh, and the salvation of which the hope is held out to them that believe is complete.
There is yet another gang of heretics who hold differently. Photinus, 1838 Marcellus, 1839 and Paul of Samosata, 1840 assert that our Lord and God was only man. When arguing with these we are under the necessity of advancing proofs of the Godhead, and of shewing that the Master Christ is everlasting God. When, on the other hand, we are contending with the former faction, which calls our Lord Jesus Christ God only, we are obliged to marshal against them the forces of the divine Scripture, and collect from it evidence of the assumption of the manhood. For a physician must use remedies appropriate to the disease, and suit the medicine to the case.
Now, therefore, I beseech your holiness to scatter the slander raised against me, and bridle the tongues now vainly reviling me. For, after the incarnation, I worship one Son of God, one Lord Jesus Christ, and denounce as impious all who hold otherwise. Deign, sir, to give me too your holy prayers, that, by Gods grace, I may reach the other side of the ocean of danger, and drop my anchor in the windless haven of the Lord.
Cf. Letters XI. and LXXXVI. This letter may probably be placed between the sentence of internement and the assembling of the Latrocinium.287:1829
Compare Letter LXXXVI.287:1830
2 Cor. i. 12287:1831
Rom. ix. 1288:1832
Heb. 2:16, 17288:1833
Gal. iii. 16288:1834
ψυχή and νοῦς288:1837
cf. pp. 132 and 140.288:1838
Disciple of Marcellus. cf. Soc. ii. 30. Theodoret, in his interpretation of the Ep. to the Hebrews, links him with Sabellius. (Ed. Migne. iii. 547.)288:1839
cf. p. 139.288:1840
Patriarch of Antioch 260–270. Bp. Wordsworth calls him “the Socinus of the 3rd c.” Samosata (Samsat) was capital of the Commagene in Syria.
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