Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Heathen. (Contra Gentes.): False views of the nature of evil: viz., that evil is something in the nature of things, and has substantive existence. (a) Heathen thinkers: (evil resides in matter). Their refutation. (b) Heretical teachers: (Dualism). Refutation from Scripture.
§6. False views of the nature of evil: viz., that evil is something in the nature of things, and has substantive existence. (a) Heathen thinkers: (evil resides in matter). Their refutation. (b) Heretical teachers: (Dualism). Refutation from Scripture.
Now certain of the Greeks, having erred from the right way, and not having known Christ, have ascribed to evil a substantive and independent existence. In this they make a double mistake: either in denying the Creator to be maker of all things, if evil had an independent subsistence and being of its own; or again, if they mean that He is maker of all things, they will of necessity admit Him to be maker of evil also. For evil, according to them, is included among existing things. 2. But this must appear paradoxical and impossible. For evil does not come from good, nor is it in, or the result of, good, since in that case it would not be good, being mixed in its nature or a cause of evil. 3. But the sectaries, who have fallen away from the teaching of the p. 7 Church, and made shipwreck concerning the Faith 113 , they also wrongly think that evil has a substantive existence. But they arbitrarily imagine another god besides the true One, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that he is the unmade producer of evil and the head of wickedness, who is also artificer of Creation. But these men one can easily refute, not only from the divine Scriptures, but also from the human understanding itself, the very source of these their insane imaginations. 4. To begin with, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ says in His own gospels confirming the words of Moses: “The Lord God is one;” and “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth 114 .” But if God is one, and at the same time Lord of heaven and earth, how could there be another God beside Him? or what room will there be for the God whom they suppose, if the one true God fills all things in the compass of heaven and earth? or how could there be another creator of that, whereof, according to the Saviours utterance, the God and Father of Christ is Himself Lord. 5. Unless indeed they would say that it were, so to speak, in an equipoise, and the evil god capable of getting the better of the good God. But if they say this, see to what a pitch of impiety they descend. For when powers are equal, the superior and better cannot be discovered. For if the one exist even if the other will it not, both are equally strong and equally weak equally, because the very existence of either is a defeat of the others will: weak, because what happens is counter to their wills: for while the good God exists in spite of the evil one, the evil god exists equally in spite of the good.
1 Tim. i. 19.7:114
Mark xii. 29; Matt. xi. 25.
Next: Refutation of dualism from reason. Impossibility of two Gods. The truth as to evil is that which the Church teaches: that it originates, and resides, in the perverted choice of the darkened soul.
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