Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He next skilfully confutes the partial, empty and blasphemous statement of Eunomius on the subject of the absolutely existent.
§4. He next skilfully confutes the partial, empty and blasphemous statement of Eunomius on the subject of the absolutely existent.
Now the wording of their doctrine is as follows: “We believe in the one and only true God, according to the teaching of the Lord Himself, not honouring Him with a lying title (for He cannot lie), but really existent, one God in nature and in glory, who is without beginning, eternally, without end, alone.” Let not him who professes to believe in accordance with the teaching of the Lord pervert the exposition of the faith that was made concerning the Lord of all to suit his own fancy, but himself follow the utterance of the truth. Since then, the expression of the Faith comprehends the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, what agreement has this construction of theirs to show with the utterances of the Lord, so as to refer such a doctrine to the teaching of those utterances? They cannot manage to show where in the Gospels the Lord said that we should believe on “the one and only true God:” unless they have some new Gospel. For the Gospels which are read in the churches continuously from ancient times to the present day, do not contain this saying which tells us that we should believe in or baptize into “the one and only true God,” as these people say, but “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” But as we were taught by the voice of the Lord, this we say, that the word “one” does not indicate the Father alone, but comprehends in its significance the Son with the Father, inasmuch as the Lord said, “I and My Father are one 265 .” In like manner also the name “God” belongs equally to the Beginning in which the Word was, and to the Word Who was in the Beginning. For the Evangelist tells us that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God 266 .” So that when Deity is expressed the Son is included no less than the Father. Moreover, the true cannot be conceived as something alien from and unconnected with the truth. But that the Lord is the Truth no one at all will dispute, unless he be one estranged from the truth. If, then, the Word is in the One, and is God and Truth, as is proclaimed in the Gospels, on what teaching of the Lord does he base his doctrine who makes use of these distinctive terms? For the antithesis is between “only” and “not only,” between “God” and “no God,” between “true” and “untrue.” If it is with respect to idols that they make their distinction of phrases, we too agree. For the name of “deity” is given, in an equivocal sense, to the idols of the heathen, seeing that “all the gods of the heathen are demons,” and in another sense marks the contrast of the one with the many, of the true with the false, of those who are not Gods with Him who is God 267 . But if the contrast is one with the Only-begotten God 268 , let our sages learn that truth has its opposite only in falsehood, and God in one who is not God. But inasmuch as the Lord Who is the Truth is God, and is in the Father and is one relatively to the Father 269 , there is no room in the true doctrine for these distinctions of phrases. For he who truly believes in the One sees in the One Him Who is completely united with Him in truth, and deity, and essence, and life, and wisdom, and in all attributes whatsoever: or, if he does not see in the One Him Who is all these it is p. CV in nothing that he believes. For without the Son the Father has neither existence nor name, any more than the Powerful without Power, or the Wise without Wisdom. For Christ is “the Power of God and the Wisdom of God 270 ;” so that he who imagines he sees the One God apart from power, truth, wisdom, life, or the true light, either sees nothing at all or else assuredly that which is evil. For the withdrawal of the good attributes becomes a positing and origination of evil.
“Not honouring Him,” he says, “with a lying title, for He cannot lie.” By that phrase I pray that Eunomius may abide, and so bear witness to the truth that it cannot lie. For if he would be of this mind, that everything that is uttered by the Lord is far removed from falsehood, he will of course be persuaded that He speaks the truth Who says, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me 271 ,”—plainly, the One in His entirety, in the Other in His entirety, the Father not superabounding in the Son, the Son not being deficient in the Father,—and Who says also that the Son should be honoured as the Father is honoured 272 , and “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father 273 ,” and “no man knoweth the Father save the Son 274 ,” in all which passages there is no hint given to those who receive these declarations as genuine, of any variation 275 of glory, or of essence, or anything else, between the Father and the Son.
“Really existent,” he says, “one God in nature and in glory.” Real existence is opposed to unreal existence. Now each of existing things is really existent in so far as it is; but that which, so far as appearance and suggestion go, seems to be, but is not, this is not really existent, as for example an appearance in a dream or a man in a picture. For these and such like things, though they exist so far as appearance is concerned, have not real existence. If then they maintain, in accordance with the Jewish opinion, that the Only-begotten God does not exist at all, they are right in predicating real existence of the Father alone. But if they do not deny the existence of the Maker of all things, let them be content not to deprive of real existence Him Who is, Who in the Divine appearance to Moses gave Himself the name of Existent, when He said, “I am that I am 276 :” even as Eunomius in his later argument agrees with this, saying that it was He Who appeared to Moses. Then he says that God is “one in nature and in glory.” Whether God exists without being by nature God, he who uses these words may perhaps know: but if it be true that he who is not by nature God is not God at all, let them learn from the great Paul that they who serve those who are not Gods do not serve God 277 .” But we “serve the living and true God,” as the Apostle says 278 : and He Whom we serve is Jesus the Christ 279 . For Him the Apostle Paul even exults in serving, saying, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ 280 .” We then, who no longer serve them which by nature are no Gods 281 , have come to the knowledge of Him Who by nature is God, to Whom every knee boweth “of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth 282 .” But we should not have been His servants had we not believed that this is the living and true God, to Whom “every tongue maketh confession that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father 283 .”
“God,” he says, “Who is without beginning, eternally, without end, alone.” Once more “understand, ye simple ones,” as Solomon says, “his subtlety 284 ,” lest haply ye be deceived and fall headlong into the denial of the Godhead of the Only-begotten Son. That is without end which admits not of death and decay: that, likewise, is called everlasting which is not only for a time. That, therefore, which is neither everlasting nor without end is surely seen in the nature which is perishable and mortal. Accordingly he who predicates “unendingness” of the one and only God, and does not include the Son in the assertion of “unendingness” and “eternity,” maintains by such a proposition, that He Whom he thus contrasts with the eternal and unending is perishable and temporary. But we, even when we are told that God “only hath immortality 285 ,” understand by “immortality” the Son. For life is immortality, and the Lord is that life, Who said, “I am the Life 286 .” And if He be said to dwell “in the light that no man can approach unto 287 ,” again we make no difficulty in understanding that the true Light, unapproachable by falsehood, is the Only-begotten, in Whom we learn from the Truth itself that the Father is 288 . Of these opinions let the reader choose the more devout, whether we are to think of the Only-begotten in a manner worthy of the Godhead, or to call Him, as heresy prescribes, perishable and temporary.
S. John x. 30CIV:266
S. John i. 1CIV:267
Or, possibly, “and the contrast he makes between the one and the many, &c. is irrelevant” (ἄλλως ἀντιδιαιρεῖ): the quotation is from Ps. 96:5, 6Ps. xcvi. 6 (LXX.).CIV:268
Cf. S. John i. 18, reading (as S. Gregory seems to have done) θεός for υἱ& 231·ς.CIV:269
καὶ ἓν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ὄντος. It may be questioned whether the text is sound: the phrase seems unusual; perhaps ἓν has been inserted in error from the preceding clause καὶ ἐν τῷ πατρὶ ὄντος, and we should read “is in the Father and is with the Father” (cf. the 1 John 1:2, John 1:1, 2).CV:270
1 Cor. i. 24.CV:271
S. John xiv. 10CV:272
Cf. S. John v. 23CV:273
S. John xiv. 9CV:274
S. Matt. xi. 27CV:275
παραλλαγή (Cf. S. James i. 17).CV:276
Or “I am He that is,” Ex. iii. 14.CV:277
The reference seems to be to Gal. iv. 8.CV:278
1 Thess. i. 10.CV:279
There is perhaps a reference here to Col. iii. 24.CV:280
Rom. i. 1.CV:281
Cf. Gal. iv. 8CV:282
Cf. Phil. 2:10, 11.CV:283
Cf. Phil. 2:10, 11.CV:284
Prov. viii. 5 (Septuagint).CV:285
1 Tim. vi. 16.CV:286
S. John xiv. 6CV:287
1 Tim. vi. 16.CV:288
S. John xiv. 11
Next: He next marvellously overthrows the unintelligible statements of Eunomius which assert that the essence of the Father is not separated or divided, and does not become anything else.
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