A Homoian Sermon

The following sermon or discourse dates from the late fourth or early fifth century, and was preserved among the writings of Augustine of Hippo, who wrote a work against the sermon. This may have served as a tract or catechism of sorts used by Homoians, and provides a fairly detailed account of their very scriptural understanding of the Trinity. This post is not an endorsement of everything the sermon says, however; read with discernment, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess 5:21 NKJV).

 

  1. “Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten God, the firstborn of all creation,
  2. was established before all ages by the will of his God and Father.
  3. At the Father’s will and command, but by his own power, he made heavenly and earthly things, visible and invisible things, bodies and spirits, to exist out of non-existing things.
  4. Before he made all things, he was established as God and Lord, King and Creator of all things that were going to be. In his nature, he had foreknowledge of all things that were going to be, and awaited the order of the Father for every detail in making them. At the will and command of the Father, he came down from heaven and came into this world. As he said, “I have not come on my own, but he has sent me (Jn 8:42).
  5. Among all the spiritual and rational grades of being, human beings were obviously inferior, on account of the fragile condition of their body, for they were made a little less than the angels. So that they would not regard themselves as without value and despair of their salvation, the Lord Jesus honored what he had made and deigned to assume human flesh, and show that human beings are not without value, but precious. As scripture says, “A human being is great, and a man is precious (Prov 20:6 LXX). And therefore, he deigned to make human beings alone heirs to his Father and his coheirs so that they might have more in honor, though they had received less in their nature.
  6. “When the fulness of time came”, it says, “God sent his Son born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). He, who at the will of the Father assumed flesh, lived in the body at the will and command of the Father. As he said, “I came down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38). At the will of the Father he was baptized at thirty years of age, and he was revealed by the voice and testimony of the Father. At the will and command of the Father, he preached the good news of the kingdom of heaven. As he said, “I must preach the good news to other cities, since I was sent for this purpose” (Lk 4:43), and “he gave me a command as to what I should say or what I should speak”(Jn 12:49). Thus, at the will and command of the Father, he hurried toward his suffering and death. As he said, “Father, let this chalice pass from me, but not what I want, but what you want” (Mt 26:39). And as the apostle states, “He became obedient to the Father even to death, death upon the cross” (Phil 2:8).
  7. While hanging upon the cross, at the will and command of the Father, he also abandoned into the hands of men the human flesh which he assumed from the holy virgin, Mary, and commended his divinity into the hands of his Father, saying “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). For Mary gave birth to the body which was destined to die, but the immortal God begot the immortal Son. Hence, the death of Christ is not a lessening of his divinity, but the laying aside of the body. For, just as his generation from the virgin did not mean the corruption of his divinity, but the assumption of a body, so in his death his divinity did not suffer and fail, but only was separated from his flesh. For, just as one who tears a garment injures its wearer, so those who crucified his flesh offended his divinity.
  8. He, who at the will and command of the Father fulfilled the whole plan of salvation, raised his own body from the dead at the will and command of the Father, as he was taken up by the Father into glory with his body, as a shepherd with his sheep, as a priest with his sacrifice, as a king with his purple, as God with his temple.
  9. He, who at the will and command of the Father came down and ascended, at the will and command of the Father is seated at his right hand. He hears the Father saying to him, “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet” (Ps 109:1). He, who at the will and command of the Father is seated at his right hand, will come at the end of the world at the will and command of the Father. As the apostle cries out and says, “At the word of command, at the word of an archangel, and at the trumpet of God, the Lord will come down from heaven” (1 Thes 4:15). He, who will come at the will and command of the Father, will judge the whole world with justice at the will and command of the Father. And he will repay individuals in accord with their faith and works. As he says, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son” (Jn 5:22). So too, he says, “As I hear, so I judge, and my judgement is true, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 5:30). Hence, in judging he gives first place to the Father and ranks his own divine honor and power second, when he says, “Come, blessed ones of my Father” (Mt 25:34). Hence, the Son is the just judge. Honor and authority belong to the one who judges; the imperial laws belong to the Father. Just as solicitous intercession and consolation belong to the Holy Spirit, so the dignity of the just judge belongs to the only-begotten God.
  10. Hence, the Son was born of the Father; the Holy Spirit was made through the Son.
  11. The Son proclaims the Father; the Holy Spirit makes known the Son.
  12. The first and principle work of the Son is to reveal the glory of the Father; and the first and principle work of the Holy Spirit is to disclose the dignity of Christ to the souls of human beings.
  13. The Son is witness to the Father; the Spirit is witness to the Son.
  14. The Son is sent by the Father; the Spirit is sent by the Son.
  15. The Son is the minister of the Father; the Holy Spirit is the minister of the Son.
  16. The Son receives orders from the Father; the Holy Spirit receives orders from the Son.
  17. The Son is subject to the Father; the Holy Spirit is subject to the Son.
  18. The Son does what the Father orders; the Holy Spirit speaks what the Son commands.
  19. The Son adores and honors the Father; the Holy Spirit adores and honors the Son. The Son himself says, “Father, I have honored you on earth; I have completed the task you gave me” (Jn 17:4). Of the Holy Spirit he says, “He will honor me, because he will receive from what is mine and announce it to you” (Jn 16:14).
  20. The Son can do nothing by himself, but awaits a sign from the Father fro every detail. The Spirit does not speak on his own, but awaits the Son’s command for everything. “He will not speak on his own”, he says, “But will speak whatever he will hear, and he will announce to you what is to come” (Jn 16:13).
  21. The Son pleads for us with the Father; the Spirit petitions the Son on our behalf.
  22. The Son is the living and true, proper and worthy image of the whole goodness and wisdom and power of God; the Spirit is the manifestation of the whole wisdom and power of the Son.
  23. The Son is not a part or a portion of the Father, but the proper and beloved, perfect and full, only-begotten Son. Nor is the Spirit a part or portion of the Son, but the first and principal work of the Son before all the others.
  24. The Father is greater than his Son; the Son is incomparably greater and better than the Spirit.
  25. The Father is God and Lord for his Son; the Son is God and Lord for the Spirit.
  26. The Father by his will begot the Son without changing or being changed; the Son made the Spirit by his power alone without toil or weariness.
  27. As priest, the Son adores his God, and he is adored by all as God and Creator of all. The Father alone adores no one, because he has no one greater or equal to adore; he thanks no one, because he has received a benefit from no one. Out of his goodness he has given being to all things; he has received his being from no one. There is, then, a distinction of the three substances, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and there is a difference of three realities, the unbegotten God, the only-begotten God, and the advocate Spirit. The Father is God and Lord for his Son and over all the things which by his will have been made through the power of the Son. The Son is the minister and high priest of his Father, but he is Lord and God of all his works, because that is what the Father wills.
  28. As no one can pass to the Father without the Son, so no one can adore the Son in truth without the Holy Spirit. Hence, the Son is adored in the Holy Spirit.
  29. The Father is glorified through the Son.
  30. The work and concern of the Holy Spirit is to make holy and protect the holy –to make holy, not merely rational beings, as some suppose, but also man beings lacking reason. It is to recall those who have fallen through their own negligence to their former state, to teach the ignorant, to admonish the forgetful, to rebuke sinners, to rouse the lazy to think of and to have concern for their salvation, to bring back the straying to the path of truth, to cure the sick, to check bodily weakness with strength of soul, to strengthen all in the love of piety and chastity, and to enlighten all. It is, above all, to bestow faith and charity on individuals in accord with their desire and concern, in accord with their simplicity and sincerity of mind, in accord with the measure of faith and the merit of their way of life; it is to distribute grace as it is needed and to place each individual in the work and vocation for which he is suited.
  31. He is different from the Son in nature and condition, rank and will, dignity and power, virtue and activity, just as the Son, the only-begotten God, is different from the Unbegotten in nature and condition, rank and will, divine dignity and power.
  32. Hence, the same one cannot be both Father and the Son, the one who generates and the one who is born, the one to whom witness is given and the one who gives witness, the greater and the one who confesses that he is greater. The same one cannot be the one who sits or stands at the right and the one who bestows the honor of that place, the one who was sent and the one who sent. The same one cannot be disciple and teacher, as he himself taught when he said, “As the Father has taught me, so I speak” (Jn 8:28). The same one cannot be both like and the one to whom he is like, the imitator and the one whom he imitates, the one who prays and the one who hears prayers, the one who gives thanks and the one who blesses, the one who receives the command and the one who gave the command, the minister and the commander, the supplicant and the sovereign, the subject and the superior, the only-begotten and the unbegotten, the priest and God.
  33. But God without beginning had foreknowledge that he was going to be the Father of the only-begotten God, his Son. He never had foreknowledge that he himself was going to be God, because he is unbegotten and never began to have foreknowledge or knowledge. What is foreknowledge but knowledge of what is going to be? Because he generated the Son, he was called Father by the Son, and because the Son has revealed him, he is known by all Christians as the God and Father of the only-begotten God, and he had been revealed as greater than the great and better than the good God.
  34. The Homoousians say that it was out of humility that our Savior said all these things concerning the foreknowledge of the Father and concerning his own subjection. We Christians believe that he said all these things because the Father commanded him and the Son obeyed. We state and prove that the heretics are refuted and trapped by their own statements. For if he humbled himself, this humility of his proves his obedience, while the obedience shows that the one tower above and that the other stands beneath and in subjection. As the apostle says, “He humbled himself, having become obedient even to death” (Phil 2:8). His humility is the truth, not a pretense. Is any wise man ever content to humble himself, unless he has someone greater and better whom he is anxious to please by his humility? He says, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (Jn 8:29). He was born once before all ages by the will of the Father and does all things at his will. Heaven forbid that he humbled himself and lied! If the Truth lied -which is impossible- where may one look for the truth? But the Truth neither lied, nor does he change who came for the purpose of teaching the truth. He is not an instructor in ignorance, but the teacher of truth, as he said, “Do not allow yourselves to be called teachers on earth; you have one teacher, Christ” (Mt 23:10). But if they say that, in humbling himself on earth on account of his incarnation, he spoke these things on account of human beings, we shall show them that there are testimonies found in the scriptures concerning the subjection of the Son that are greater and stronger than those found in the gospel. After all, if he humbled himself on earth on account of human beings and did not, as the obedient and submissive Son, obey his Father with incomparable love and thanksgiving, why did he obey when commanded before he assumed flesh? After all, he is as humble in obedience as he is lofty in power. Why, now that he is sitting at the right hand of God, does he make intercession on our behalf? And why, when he was in the body on earth did he promise that he would in heaven ask the Father, saying “I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate” (Jn 14:16)? And if on all these points, on account of the hardness and blindness of their heart, they are still unwilling to believe, but dare to say that all these things were done out of humility, why would he humble himself after the end of the world when humility is not necessary on account of human beings, unless he knew that he was subject and obedient by nature and will? After the end of the world, all things will be subject to him, since even now all things are subject to him by nature, as creation is subject to the Creator, but we see that all things are not subject to him on account of free choice. Then, however, on the day of judgement, when at the name of Jesus every knee will bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue will confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father, all things will without end be subject to him both by will and by nature. And after all things are subject to him, he himself will remain in that subjection and love in which he always is, and as the Son he will be subject to him who has made all things subject to him [1 Cor 15:28]. No Christian who hears this can fail to know it, because faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Thus God will be all things in all things, ever having monarchy and power over all. To him be glory and honor, praise and thanksgiving through his only-begotten Son, our Lord and Savior, in the Holy Spirit, now and for age upon age. Amen.”

 

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Maximinus’s Final Discourse (From His Debate With Augustine)

The debate between Augustine and Maximinus is well worth reading in full (see here). That will provide the reader with the larger context of this discourse, which is useful for understanding it. But even without the context, this discourse, in response to many points made by Augustine in the foregoing debate, is an excellent window into Homoian beliefs on the Trinity.

Maximinus’s theology is clearly founded upon the belief that scripture is a sufficient and trustworthy source of knowledge concerning Christian doctrine; a doctrine that cannot be proved from the scriptures, is not known to be true, while whatever is proved from the scriptures, is certain. That said, Maximinus, like all men, is fallible; while most of what he says is golden, this does not make him infallible. This post is therefore not meant as a wholesale endorsement of all that he says here. We must (following his own example) accept only that we can see to be demonstrated from the holy scriptures to be true, not merely assenting to anything he says simply because he said it. “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess 5:21 NKJV).

The Discourse, in response to Augustine:

Maximinus said, “As a man protected by the power of princes, you speak not a word with the fear of God. I have waited many hours; you have explained your point of view. With God as our help, we will answer each point. After all, we are protected not by mere talk, but by the testimonies of the divine scriptures. But just as we were patient while Your Holiness gave your explanation, now be as patient as you were wordy, and we will give our answer to each of your claims, just as you answered what you wanted to ours.

“We worship Christ as the God of every creature. For he is adored and worshipped, not only by human nature, but also by all the heavenly powers. Listen to blessed Paul as he cries out, Have this attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Since he was in the form of God, he did not think it robbery to be equal to God, but emptied himself, taking the form of the servant, having come to be in the likeness of men and found in appearance as a man. He humbled himself, having become obedient even to death, death upon the cross. For this reason God has exalted him and has given him the name that is above every name. You thought, in any case, that you should slip that passage into your discourse, though you knew that it was opposed to what you profess, though you knew the passage would refute you.†89 Paul goes on to say that every knee is bent to Christ. After he had said, He gave him the name that is above every name, he adds, so that at the name of Jesus every knee is bent, of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord in the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:5-11). In saying, so that at the name of Jesus every knee is bent, of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, he includes everything. There is nothing in heaven that does not bend the knee to Christ; there is nothing remaining on earth that does not bend the knee to Christ; there is nothing under the earth that does not bend the knee to Christ. And the Father gave him this. Those who read can test whether I made this point on my own authority and with many words, as you charge, or whether I have answered with the authority of the divine scriptures.†90

15, 3. “You say that the Holy Spirit is equal to the Son.†91 Provide the scripture passages in which the Holy Spirit is adored, in which those beings in heaven and on earth and under the earth bend their knee to him. We have learned that God the Father is to be adored from the exclamation of blessed Paul, Therefore, I bend my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all fatherhood in the heavens and on earth has its name (Eph 3:14-15). By the authority of the holy scriptures we adore the Father; likewise, taught by these divine scriptures we worship and adore Christ as God. Do the scriptures anywhere say that the Holy Spirit should be adored? If the Father bore witness to him to that effect, if the Son did so, if he himself has made such claims concerning himself, read it from the scriptures against what we have said.†92

15, 4. “Paul also goes on to say in another passage that Christ is at the right hand of God and that he makes intercession on our behalf.†93 He says, Seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1). He writes to the Hebrews as follows, After he accomplished the purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the greatness on high (Heb 1:3). In any case, the Holy Spirit had also foretold this through the prophet, when he said, The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand” (Ps 109:1). The Son himself claimed this in the gospel.†94 Moreover, to that official who questioned him, saying, Tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of the blessed God, he said, I am, or at least, You say it, and Soon you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power of God (Mk 14:61-62 and Mt 26:63-64).

15, 5. “We properly honor the Holy Spirit as teacher, as guide, as enlightener, as sanctifier. We worship Christ as creator; we adore the Father with sincere devotion as author, and we proclaim everywhere to all that he is the one author. Your false accusations stem from instruction in the art of philosophy. I do not believe that you have failed to read†97 what the apostle says, though Christ was certainly not a sinner, he committed sin for us,†98 that we might be made the justice of God in him (2 Cor 5:21). Perhaps these words of scripture have not come to your attention, Cursed is everyone who hangs on the tree (Dt 21:23). When he interpreted this, the blessed apostle Paul said, He became a curse for us so that the blessing upon the nations might be brought to fulfillment (Gal 3:13). And, of course, these words escaped your attention, where Paul himself says, The first man, Adam, was earthly from the earth; the second man, the Lord, as heavenly, came from heaven (1 Cor 15:47). And so, Christ has assumed a man, as you yourself have explained.†99 For that reason, we said that he came down to earthly contacts.†100 We are not unaware of the passage where we read, He committed no sin, nor was guile found on his lips. When he was cursed, he did not curse in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to him who judges justly (1 Pt 2:22-23).†101 Nor are we unaware of what John the Baptist said, Behold the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). We agree with what you go on to say. After all, we should not oppose everything and fail to praise what you say well. What you go on to say is quite correct. Christ came rather to cleanse us from sins and iniquities and not to be soiled, as you went on to say.†102 It is certain that, in accord with that blessed substance of his divinity which he had before creation of the world, before the ages, before time, before days, before months, before years, before anything existed,†103 before any thought, he was born from the Father†104 as God in that blessed nature.†105

15, 6. “In the case of God you should use a worthy comparison. I am, of course, displeased and pained at heart over what you go on to say, namely, that a human being generates a human being, a dog a dog. You should not use so foul a comparison for such greatness.†106

15, 7. “Who does not know that God begot God, that the Lord begot the Lord, that the King begot the King, that the Creator begot the Creator, that the Good begot the Good, that the Wise begot the Wise, that the Merciful begot the Merciful, and that the Powerful begot the Powerful? In generating the Son, the Father took nothing away from the Son. He is not envious, but as the source of goodness he begot this great good.†107 All of creation bears witness to his goodness, in accord with your statement, which I highly praise.†108 You drew from the divine scriptures the words, From the creation of the world his invisible reality, having been understood, is seen through those things that have been made, even his everlasting power and divinity (Rom 1:20).†109

15, 8. “I say nothing in opposition to what has been well said, but simply add my agreement. I say that from the greatness of their beauty their Creator is known and worshipped. In my opinion, we have given a response to these points, for blessed Paul again continues as follows, Since Christ removed from our midst the charge which was against us, nailing it to the cross, and stripping himself of the flesh, he boldly made an example of the powers and principalities, triumphing over them in himself (Col 2:14-15). If, as a man not trained in the liberal arts and rhetoric, I have committed any fault in speaking, you ought to have looked to the meaning and, without focusing on the fault in our speech, refrained from leveling an accusation against us.†110 Heaven forbid, heaven forbid! The only-begotten God is God of all creation, clean, unstained, holy, secure, without any impurity. After all, one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him (Jn 5:23).

“The evangelist bears witness that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. He says, And we have seen his glory, the glory as if of the Only-Begotten by the Father, full of grace and of truth (Jn 1:14). The Old Testament had sung†111 of him even before, saying, He will wash his mantle in wine and his cloak in the blood of the grape (Gn 49:11). I believe what I read, for the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us. Again, I read that blessed Paul said, He who transformed our lowly body to become conformed to the image of his glorious body (Phil 3:21). I believe that Christ, God born of the Father before all ages, built for himself, according to Solomon, a perfect†112 home. We read, Wisdom has built a home for itself (Prv 9:1), and he took this home in place of a temple.

15, 9. “You yourself have explained the sense in which he is visible and the sense in which he is invisible.†113 In my opinion, Your Holiness has not just recently heard this objection. After all, in the rest of your argument that followed, you used the comparison with the soul. You showed that there is a pious and just reason for us to believe and know that, if the human soul located in a body cannot be seen by bodily eyes, the Creator of the soul is far less able to be seen by bodily eyes. If the angels are invisible in accord with the substance of their nature, how much more invisible is the creator of the angels who made them so great and so good: Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers, Cherubim and Seraphim? As we read in the gospel, he said that in comparison to their multitude the whole human race was one sheep, when he said, Having left the ninety-nine in the mountains, he came to seek the one that was lost. Later he added, Thus there will be more joy in heaven over the one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine just ones who have no need of penance (Lk 15:4.7). Who are those who have no need of penance but those heavenly powers who have nothing in common with human nature? We should consider the power of the only-begotten God, and in him we should marvel at the greatness of the omnipotence of God the Father.†114 He has begotten a Son so great and so good, so powerful, so wise, so full, who has made such good and such great heavenly powers.

“I do not want to be found guilty of the wordiness of which you have already accused us. And yet I wish that would happen so that we could†116 say, We have become fools for the sake of Christ, and We have become like the refuse of this world (1 Cor 4:10.13) and whatever else Your Holiness might want to judge us to be. We know him who said, Because of you I have borne insults all the day (Ps 68:8). Paul stirs us by his example, when he says, Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ (1 Cor 4:16). And Peter said, Christ has suffered for us, leaving us an example that we might follow his footsteps (1 Pt 2:21).

“According to the substance of his divinity, the Son is seen neither by the angels nor by the heavenly powers. For an archangel can see an angel,†117 and an angel can see and penetrate our spiritual souls. That means, of course, that the greater can see and penetrate the inferior. The Savior said to the man who boasted that he was rich, Fool, this night your soul will be demanded of you†118 (Lk 12:20). In accord with this statement of the Savior, it is the function of an angel to present the soul before the sight of the Lord. But a soul cannot see or reveal an angel. In this order ascend higher, and you will find that God the Father alone is invisible, because he does not have a superior who can see him. He is so great that he is infinite; he can be neither limited by words nor grasped by the mind. Not only the human tongue, but also all the heavenly powers joined together speak as they can of his greatness; still they do not explain it as it is. He is the fullness of everything that can be said.

“The Son alone worthily honors and praises him to the extent that he has obtained incomparably more from his Father. The four gospels bear witness that he honors and praises and glorifies his Father. Nonetheless, I will save time by leaving aside all those passages which you usually attribute to the flesh,†119 and I will now produce testimonies where he adores his Father in heaven. Does not Paul speak as follows to the Hebrews, For Christ, the representation of the truth, has entered, not into temples made by hand; rather, he now appears in heaven before the face of God on our behalf? (Heb 9:24).†120 He says this after Christ’s return to heaven. Afterwards he spoke from heaven, saying, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9:4). Later the Holy Spirit said, Set aside for me Barnabas and Paul for the work of ministry to which I have called them (Acts 13:2). Once he had been called, Paul said, Jesus, the representation of the truth, has entered, not into temples made by hand; rather, he now appears in heaven before the face of God on our behalf.

“Your Holiness suggested that we answer whether the Son sees the Father. We read in the gospel, Not that anyone has seen the Father, but he who has come from God has seen the Father (Jn 6:46). Hence, he saw the Father, but he saw the incomprehensible. But the Father, who holds and keeps the Son in his embrace, sees him according to the testimony I previously produced, that No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son who is in the embrace of the Father has revealed him (Jn 1:18). The Father sees the Son as the Son; the Son sees the Father as the immense Father.

“Your Holiness has declared that human wisdom is invisible. In my opinion, the words of Isaiah suffice, when he says, Is it a slight thing for you to do battle with men? How then will you do battle with God? (Is 7:13). It is certainly not a slight thing to do battle with men, since however wise anyone is, he has someone wiser who sees him. Is his wisdom, then, not seen in his action? Is it not tested in his disciples? Hence, human wisdom is not invisible; it can be comprehended, seen and grasped.†121

“Moreover, it is proper and a mark of order that you employ worthy comparisons. After all, you are speaking of God, of that immensity, to which, even if one draws a comparison as great as possible in terms of human thought or even in accord with the authority of the divine scriptures, one finds that the comparison is inadequate in every respect to him who is incomparable.

15, 10. “In accord with the testimonies that I have produced, I say that the Father alone is the one God, not one along with a second and a third, but that he alone is the one God. If he alone is not the one God, he is a part.†122 I deny, after all, that the one God is composed of parts; rather, his nature is unbegotten, simple power. The Son before all ages is himself begotten†123 as power. The apostle spoke of this power of the Son, When you and my spirit are gathered together with the power of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 5:4). I state and profess what the holy gospels teach us. I state and profess that the Holy Spirit is also power in his proper character. The Lord bore witness concerning him, when he said to his disciples, Remain in the city of Jerusalem, until you are clothed from on high with power (Lk 24:49).

15, 11. “If you claim that the Son is invisible, because he cannot be looked upon by human eyes, why do you not claim that the heavenly powers are also equally invisible, since they too cannot be seen by human sight? I have offered a testimony without any interpretation of my words, when I said, The blessed and alone powerful, the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1 Tm 6:15).†124 If I have cited the scripture, I should not to be blamed. But if you are looking for the meaning of the scripture, I will add an explanation.

15, 12. “The apostle says, The blessed and alone powerful, the King of kings. He calls the Father alone powerful, not because the Son is not powerful. Listen to the Holy Spirit crying out and bearing testimony to the Son, Lift up the gates, you†125 princes; be raised up, eternal gates, and the king of glory will enter. He continues, Who is this king of glory? Listen to the answer, The Lord strong and powerful (Ps 23:7-8). How can he fail to be powerful, when every creature proclaims his power?

15, 13. “How can he fail to be wise, when the Holy Spirit cries out in praise of his wisdom and says, How magnificent are your works, O Lord! You have made all things in wisdom (Ps 103:24). Since all things were made through Christ, the Holy Spirit undoubtedly praises him when he says, You have made all things in wisdom. Since that is so, we must ask how blessed Paul can say, The blessed and alone powerful. In my opinion, he calls him alone powerful, because he is alone incomparable in power. In awe before his incomparability, the prophet said, O God, who is like you? (Ps 82:2). Do you want to know that he alone is powerful? Look at the Son and admire the power of the Son. Recognize in the Son that the Father is alone powerful, because he has begotten one so powerful. In his immense power the Father begot the powerful creator.†126 In his power that he received from the Father, the Son did not create the creator, but established creation. He says, All things have been handed over to me by my Father (Mt 11:27). In awe of this power of God the Father, Paul said, The blessed and alone powerful. Job was a powerful and true man. We read, That man was a true and just worshipper of God, and in further describing his region, it says that he was powerful and great among all those in the East (Jb 1:1.3). How then can the Father alone be powerful? It says alone, because no one is comparable to him, because he alone has such greatness, such might, such power.

“In the same way, the blessed apostle Paul proclaims that the Father alone is wise, when he says, God who alone is wise (Rom 16:27). But we must look for an explanation of why he alone is wise, since Christ is also wise. You have already cited Christ the power of God and wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). We too have given testimonies that he created all things in wisdom. But the Father alone is truly wise. We believe the scriptures, and we venerate the divine scriptures. We do not want a single particle of a letter to perish, for we fear the threat that is stated in these divine scriptures, Woe to those who take away or add! (Dt 4:2). Do you want to know how great is the wisdom of the Father? Look at the Son, and you will see the wisdom of the Father. For this reason Christ himself said, One who has seen me has also seen the Father (Jn 14:9). That is, in me he sees his wisdom; he praises his might; he glorifies the Father who, one and alone, has begotten me, one and alone, so great and so good before all ages. He did not look for material out of which to make him, nor did he take someone as an assistant. Rather, in the way he knew, he begot the Son by his power and his wisdom.†127 We do not profess, as you say when you falsely accuse us, that, just as the rest of creation was made from nothing, so the Son was made from nothing like a creature. Listen to the authority of statement of the Synod; for our fathers in Ariminum said this among other things, ‘If anyone says that the Son is from nothing and not from God the Father, let him be anathema.’†128 If you want, I will offer testimonies. For the blessed apostle John speaks as follows, One who loves the Father also loves him who was born from him (1 Jn 5:1).

15, 14. “I am amazed, my friend. You say that the Holy Spirit has the same substance as the Father.†129 If the Son has the same substance as the Father and the Holy Spirit also has the same substance as the Father, why is the one a son and the other not a son? What else can you say, since he has the same substance, since, as you say, he is equal to the Son? Why has he not been made the heir to all things? Why is he not a son as well? Why does he not have the same title as Christ, the firstborn of all creation? (Col 1:15). If he is equal, there is no longer just one only-begotten, since he has another besides himself who has been begotten—and begotten, moreover, from the same substance of the Father from which you say that the Son has come.

“This is painful to hear, for you do not compare that great magnificence to the nobility of the soul, but to the fragility of the body. Flesh is, of course, born from the body, a bodily offspring. But the soul is not born from a soul. If, then, our soul generates without corruption and passion, not experiencing any lessening or any defilement, but lawfully in accordance with God-given rights generates an offspring, in wisdom giving its consent to the body,†130 it itself remains whole. How much more will the omnipotent God do so?†131 I said just before that words fail us in every human comparison with God,†132 though we try to put it as best we can. How much more incorruptibly has the incorruptible God the Father begotten the Son? He has, however, begotten him. Note my carefulness, for I have the testimonies of the holy scriptures, Who will tell of his generation? (Is 53:8). He begot as he willed, as one with power,†133 taking nothing away; he begot one with power without any envy entering in.

“I have said: It is not proper for religious persons to make false accusations.†134 I profess the Word of God, the Word of God, not mortal, not corruptible. Scripture cries out concerning the body he assumed for our salvation, My flesh will rest in hope, that is, in the hope of resurrection, because you will not leave my soul in the underworld and you will not permit your holy one to see corruption (Ps 15:9-10). If he who is called the holy one is the Son of God, he has not seen corruption, because he rose from the dead on the third day. How much more does the divinity that assumed the body remain incorruptible! Why do you say what you do not understand? If I have not given you an answer on all these points, I shall rightly be judged to lack understanding; still, it is not the mark of religion to attack someone unjustly.

“I not merely claim that the wisdom of the Son of God is immortal, but I also will prove that the wisdom of the saints of God is immortal. If they, that is, their bodies, are called back to immortality, how much more will that living wisdom of theirs, which flourishes in all believers until the end of the world, remain immortal? Though I have in this long discourse passed over any discussion of the immortality of the omnipotent God, of whom the blessed apostle Paul spoke, Who alone has immortality (1 Tm 6:16), I will repeat the text and offer an interpretation with God’s help and grace. He is described as alone having immortality just as he is described as alone powerful and alone wise.†135 What spiritual person does not know that the human soul is immortal? After all, we have the statement of the Lord saying, Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul (Mt 10:28), for it is immortal. Since, then, the soul is immortal, we see that the heavenly powers are much more immortal. The Savior said, He who keeps my word will not see death forever (Jn 8:51). If one who keeps the word of Christ will not see death forever, how much more immortal is he according to the power of his divinity, whose word has such force? We have already given an explanation of the words, Who alone has immortality. The Son has immortality, but receives it from the Father. All the heavenly powers have immortality, but they receive it through the Son, because all things are through him. But the Father alone truly has immortality, since he has not obtained it from someone else, since he has no father, since he has no origin.

“The Son, however, as you went on to say, was begotten from the Father. You often claim that the Son is equal to the Father, although the only-begotten God always and everywhere proclaims the Father as his author, and from him, as I said just before, he professed that he obtained life. He said, Just as the Father has life in himself, so he gave it to the Son that he has life in himself (Jn 5:26). See, then, how he also received immortality and incorruptibility and inaccessibility along with life from the Father. The Father has life in himself and does not receive it from another. Thus he is truly the blessed and alone powerful. Who has emptied himself? (Phil 2:7). The Father or the Son? Who pleased whom? Who was more anxious to please than he who said, I always do those things which are pleasing to him? (Jn 8:29). Who is it who, when he came to the tomb of Lazarus, said, Father, I thank you, because you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this because of those who are present so that they may believe that you sent me (Jn 11:41-42). When his disciples asked him about the eyes of the man born blind, Who sinned? This man or his parents? who was it who answered, Neither this man nor his parents sinned. Rather it was that the works of God might be made manifest in him. I must do the works of him who sent me? (Jn 9:2-4). This is, of course, the beloved Son of the Father who, when he took bread, did not first break it, but first looked up to heaven and thanked his Father. Then he broke it and distributed it. So too, in his passion, or rather just before his passion, as the evangelist reports,†136 The Lord Jesus, on the night on which he was betrayed, took bread and, giving thanks, broke it (1 Cor 11:23-24).

“In order not to overwhelm you with eloquent discourse and abundant testimonies, by producing very many,†137 I will finish up quickly. This is the Son who proclaimed that nothing happened without the permission of the Father, not even the death of a sparrow. He said, Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?

Yet not one of them falls to the earth apart from the will of the Father (Mt 10:29). He, of course, spoke of the power he received from the Father, I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it up again. After all, I have this command from my Father (Jn 10:18). If this is what the gospels report, let us hold what we read. But if they say something else, or I have left something out in forgetfulness, I ask to be corrected. I am not the sort of person who will not accept correction, especially since blessed Paul commanded that a bishop be docile.†138 But one is docile who learns every day and makes progress by teaching what is better. We do not reject something better, if it is offered; we are ready for everything, even though we are treated unjustly. Nonetheless, in order not to be an obstacle to the truth, we do not complain of our injuries, but proclaim the glory of God.

15, 15. “The words of the apostle are certain: Since he was in the form of God. Who denies that the Son is in the form of God? We have already, I think, amply explained that he is God, that he is Lord, that he is King.†139 Because he did not think it robbery to be equal to God, the blessed apostle Paul has taught that he did not steal it, nor do we say that he stole it.†140 But we preach with all our might that he emptied himself, having become obedient to the Father even to death, death upon the cross (Phil 2:6-8). We are called sons by grace; we were not born such by nature. Hence, the Son is the only-begotten, because the Son was born what he is according to the nature of his divinity. You should apply the term ‘brother’ to the Holy Spirit, since you claim that he is on a par with and equal to the Son and profess that he is equally of the substance of the Father. And if that is the case, then the Son is not the only-begotten, since there is another of the same substance.†141

“We have not admitted a nature in God, the unborn Father.†142 We believe Christ’s words, God is spirit (Jn 4:24). The Son was born, as we said; we too profess the true Son and do not deny that he is like the Father, as we have also been taught by the scriptures.†143 Since we are accused of holding different natures, know what it is that we say, namely, that the Father who is spirit begot a spirit†144 before all ages, that God begot God, and everything else that was said above.†145 The true and unborn Father begot the true Son. But when the Lord says in the gospel, That they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (Jn 17:3), he says that the Father is alone true, as he is alone good, alone powerful, and alone wise.

“In my opinion, not even the devil has dared to say that the Father did not beget a perfect Son before all else.†146 For he did not beget one in the process of becoming perfect.†147 You have accepted the comparison with a human being. If human beings could generate an offspring that was perfect at the start, they would not generate a child that would eventually with the increase of years fulfill the parents’ desire. But the Father, who is truly blessed and alone powerful, begot the Son such as he is now and remains forever, not in the process of becoming perfect, but perfect.†148 He received his perfection, of course, from his Father from whom he also obtained life.

“The Savior made the statement, By the words of two or three witnesses every statement will be confirmed (Mt 18:16). You have produced the testimony of the apostle, Since he was in the form of God, he did not think it robbery, and you have interpreted it according to your judgment. We, in my opinion, have answered you squarely. It will be up to the judgment of our listeners which of the two they choose. Either let them approve, in accord with the rest of the passage, the Son who obeys the Father, who emptied himself, taking the form of the servant, to whom the Father gave, as we said, the name that is above every name, or let them approve your interpretation, if anyone understands it.

15, 16. “I ascend to my God and your God (Jn 20:17). You claim, as I think you say, that the Lord said this on account of the form of the servant which he assumed. If he humbled himself while he was in a human body, still, after he had conquered death and triumphed over the devil, he continued to use this sort of language.†149 It was after the resurrection when he said, I ascend to my Father and your Father. Then the humility of the flesh was no longer needed, as you say, on account of the Jews, but the entire rule of the faith was handed on. In the same way, in another passage after his resurrection, when his disciples were gathered on Mount Olivet, he said, All power in heaven and on earth has been given me. Go, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Mt 28:18-20).

“If the Son said this for the sake of humility and not of truth, why did the apostle dare to repeat the same thing and say, The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory? (Eph 1:17). Or why did he say, The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ knows, he who is blessed forever? (2 Cor 11:31). Why did he say, So that, united in one voice, you may honor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (Rom 15:6). Why does he add to this and say, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? (2 Cor 1:3). Why did even the Holy Spirit say to the Son before the Incarnation, Hence, God, your God, has anointed you? (Ps 44:8).

“Although you will want to argue the point, you will not be able to prove that it was his body that was anointed. We read that he was baptized,†150 but not that he was anointed in the body. From that passage where it says, Hence, God, your God, anointed you with the oil of gladness before your companions (Ps 44:8), we are shown that the oil of gladness refers by the word ‘oil’ to that joy of which Solomon spoke, I was the one with whom he was delighted every day. I rejoiced before his face always, when he rejoiced over the world he had made and rejoiced over the sons of men (Prv 8:30-31). We read in the Book of Genesis that God the Father, as it says, saw all the works of the Son, and behold, they were all very good (Gn 1:31). Praising the work of the Son, he was glad and rejoiced in the Son, and the Son rejoiced equally in the sight of his Father, when the will of the Father had been accomplished. All divinely inspired scripture is useful for teaching (2 Tm 3:16). For that reason, not one least letter or one particle of a letter will pass away (Mt 5:18). The Lord said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Mt 24:35).

15, 17. “It is agreed that the Son was in the beginning and was with the Father and was God, and he was in the beginning with God as the firstborn of all creation, and all things were made through him, and without him nothing has been made.†151 That cannot be interpreted as referring to the Holy Spirit. You will not find words reported in the divine scriptures to support the claim that he is equal to the Son. If the Son was in the beginning, the Father was before the beginning and without beginning, insofar as he is unbegotten and unborn. The Son, however, was in the beginning as the firstborn of all creation.†152 He was before all creation, before anything was, and he was with God and he was God, and he was in the beginning with God.

15, 18. “What if you should hear the Father saying, The beginning with you, in the day of your power, in the splendors of the saints, from the womb I begot you before the morning star (Ps 109:3)? You profess that he was born from the womb of his mother according to the flesh—something even the Jews believe. Why do you not produce those testimonies that show his birth in the beginning, just as you instructed us by the previous testimony? He regarded himself as indebted to his Father on account of the body in which he emptied himself. He who, though he was rich, became poor for our sake (2 Cor 8:9), as the apostle says. It is much more necessary that, as the beloved Son, he always offers to his Father the reverence and service he owes to him who has begotten one so great and so good.

“You did very well, when you said that he was subject even to his parents on account of the form of the servant.†153 We find that he was subject to the parents he created, for all things were made through him, and we know that the Son was begotten by the Father, not after some time, but before all time. And if he was subject to his parents, as the authority of divine scripture proclaims more clearly than light, how much the more was he subject to his Father who begot him as one so great and so good! In accord with this the apostle Paul says, When all things have been subjected to the Son, then even the Son will be subject to him who has subjected all things to him (1 Cor 15:28). You want us to say that we profess that all things will be subject to the body, or rather to the saving history that he assumed on our behalf, that the body will be subject to the Father, not the Son the only-begotten God.†154 For we know and believe that the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son that all might honor the Son, just as they also honor the Father (Jn 5:22-23). We profess this, because in the resurrection when all things will be subject to the Son, when all will honor and venerate and adore him, then the Son will certainly not exalt himself. Rather, he will be found subject to the Father along with all the things that are subject to him so that he may say, Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world (Mt 25:34).

15, 19. “We have already mentioned the passage that you seem to have, in your judgment, taken as favoring your side. Still, the words of the apostle remain, that we do not know how to ask in a fitting manner, but the Spirit himself pleads on our behalf with indescribable groans. You thought you prevailed against our argument, when you said, ‘Hence, the Holy Spirit is so unhappy that he groans?’†155 We do not say that the Holy Spirit is unhappy. Rather, the passage reveals the glory of the Holy Spirit. After all, he does not groan on his own behalf. Listen to the passage,†156 for he groans on behalf of the saints (Rom 8:26-27). Nor does the Son plead and make intercession on his own behalf, but on our behalf, as I have already shown in the foregoing.†157 He who is faithful in a small matter is found faithful also in the greater (Lk 16:10).

15, 20. “Nor can anyone claim that the Father and the Son are one except in the way in which you yourself and we can prove by the very examples you used. If, as you say, the apostle affirms, He who clings to the Lord is one spirit (1 Cor 6:17), there is, of course, one spirit in agreement, fulfilling the will of God, according to the teaching of the Savior. He also taught us to pray this way so that among the rest of our prayers we say, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven (Mt 6:10). We are, of course, earth. Just as, then, the will of God is done in the heavenly beings, may it be also accomplished in us who make this prayer, and may we fulfill it with our actions so that we become one spirit with God when we want what God wants.

“When the Son himself was near to his passion, he cried out this same prayer to his Father, saying, Abba, Father, let this cup pass from me, but not as I want, but as you want (Mk 14:36). By saying, Not as I want, but as you want, he showed that his will was truly subject to his Father. For the sake of doing his will, he came down from heaven, as he says, I came down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me (Jn 6:38). Hence, the will of the Son is in agreement and harmony with the will of the Father. To the extent that the Son as God is greater than every creature, to that extent he is found to be more in agreement with the will of the Father and clings the more to his Father. I mean that, as the beloved Son, he clings to his Father in love and affection and unity and agreement and harmony. We ought to accept all the things that are brought forth from the holy scriptures with full veneration. The divine scripture has not come as a source of our instruction so that we might correct it. How I wish that we may prove to be worthy disciples of the scriptures!

15, 21. “I accept the words you brought forth, Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16). God does not dwell in a human being that the Holy Spirit has not first sanctified and cleansed. So too, it was said to Mary, the blessed virgin, The Holy Spirit will come over you, that is, to sanctify and cleanse. Then it continues, And the power of the most high will overshadow you (Lk 1:35). You yourself have already said that Christ is the power of the most high. The truth is not obtained by argumentation, but is proved by certain testimonies.†158 For this reason you ought to produce testimonies that the Holy Spirit is God, that he is Lord, that he is King, that he is the Creator, that he is the Maker, that he is seated with the Father and the Son, that he is adored, if not by heavenly beings, at least by earthly ones. Perhaps, if I may say so, you are going to show that he is adored at least by those beneath the earth.

“We say these things, not to take anything away from the Holy Spirit. After all, it is the Holy Spirit, as we have said above, without whom no one can say that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor 12:3). It is in the Holy Spirit that we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom 8:15). It is the great and good Holy Spirit upon whom even the angels desire to gaze (1 Pt 1:12). He is so good and so powerful that everywhere in all creation, whether in the east or in the west, in the north or in the south, no one can say that Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit. His nature is such that he is present everywhere to all who call upon God in the truth.†159 He is so good and so great that, wherever anyone is baptized, whether in the east or in the west or wherever, the Holy Spirit is present there at the same time. See how great is the power of the Holy Spirit. If anyone takes anything away from the Holy Spirit, he certainly takes it away from the only-begotten God, through whom all things were made, and without him nothing has been made (Jn 1:3), just as one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him (Jn 5:23).

15, 22. “You claim that Christ, our Savior, did not say, ‘that we and they may be one,’ but ‘That they may be one in their nature and their substance, united and joined together in harmonious equality,†160 as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one on account of the same undivided nature.’†161 I quote the passage again, and the readers can see for themselves what Christ said. He says in the gospel, praying to his Father for his disciples, Father, make them one, as we also are one, as I in you and you in me, that they may also be one in us, that this world may know that you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me (Jn 17:21-23). I believe what I read; he speaks of love, not of substance. It is certain, however, that the Savior said, He who hears my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me. But he who loves me is loved by my Father, and I will love him, and we will come and make our abode with him (Jn 14:21.23). If that great loftiness and majesty of the Father and of the Son is received within the one humble dwelling of our mind, how much more certain is it that the Son is and will undoubtedly be in the Father. He is there as the Son, as an other than the Father, though the Father and the Son are, as you have explained,†162 one in harmony (unum), not one in number (unus).†163 The first ‘one’ pertains to harmony; the second to the singular number.

“You also brought forth the testimony of blessed Paul which we gladly accepted, for it is a solid form of truth that is brought forth even by its opponents. You cited Paul’s words, I have planted, Apollo watered, but God has given the increase. Therefore, neither is he who plants something nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. He who plants and he who waters are one; each, however, will receive his reward according to his labor (1 Cor 3:6-8).†164 Notice, then, that, though they are one in harmony, nonetheless, each will receive his reward according to his labor. Look, then, at what the Lord says, The Father and I are one (Jn 10:30), which we believe and accept with certain faith. He who says, ‘I,’ is the Son; in saying, ‘the Father,’ he indicates that the Father is another. He says, ‘one in harmony (unum),’ not one in number (unus). I have often said that one (unum) pertains to harmony. How could the Father and the Son not be one, when the Son cries out, I always do those things which are pleasing to the Father (Jn 8:29)? He would not be one with the Father, if on occasion he acted in opposition to the Father. Even the apostles are one in this sense with the Father and the Son, insofar as in all things they aim at the will of God the Father and are themselves found to be subject to the one God the Father in imitation of the Son.†165 We do not read that the Savior prayed only for the apostles that they might be one, but also for those who would believe through their word. He said, I do not ask for these alone, but for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may be one, just as you, Father, in me and I in you, that they may be one in us, that this world may know that you have sent me and have loved them just as you have loved me. He speaks of love, as we said, not of divinity. Who does not know that Paul is Paul and that Apollo is Apollo, though Paul himself says, I have labored more than all these; not I, but the grace of God with me (1 Cor 15:10)? He who labors the more, gains the more. But they are one in agreement, in harmony, in love, when they do what God wants.

15, 23. “You say that God is one. Show me whether the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God or whether we should call the Father alone God, whose Son, Christ, is our God. Are you urging us to profess one God the way the Jews do? From the subjection of the Son, are we not shown, as the Christian faith holds, that there is one God whose Son is our God, as we have said? Believe Paul that the Father and the Son are not a single one (unus), as he proclaims in nearly every letter. He says, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3 and Eph 1:2). He also says, One is God the Father, from whom are all things, and we are in him, and one is the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we are in him†166 (1 Cor 8:6). This is the one whom we Christians preach as the one God, and the Son proclaims that he is good, when he says, No one is good save the one God (Mk 10:18). It is not that Christ is not good, for he says, I am the good shepherd (Jn 10:11). It is not that the Holy Spirit is not good; hear the prophet as he cries out, Your good Spirit will lead me in the right path (Ps 142:10). Hear too the witness of the Savior who says, A good man brings forth good things from the treasure of his heart (Lk 6:45). Moreover, every creature of God is very good. If a creature is good, if man is good, if the Holy Spirit is good, if Christ is good, we must investigate how there is one who is good. The Savior, of course, said, No one is good save the one God, because he is the source of goodness and has received his goodness from no one. Christ has received his goodness from his Father so that he is good, and every good creature of God has received through Christ its goodness. But whether it is the Son or those who were made through him, each has drawn his goodness from that one source of goodness in accord with the measure of his faith. But the Father has received his goodness from no one. Thus Christ says, No one is good save the one. In that way, then, there is one God, because there is one who is incomparable, because there is one who is immense, as we have already stated.†167
15, 24. “We do not deny that the Son loves the Father, for we read the scripture, So that this world may know that I love the Father, and I do just as he has commanded me (Jn 14:31). It is clear that the Son is loved and loves and that he carries out the commandment of the Father, as he says. Thus they are one, in accord with his words, The Father and I are one (Jn 10:30). Insofar as he says, He who has seen me has also seen the Father (Jn 14:9), we must believe with certain faith that he who sees the Son sees and understands the Father through the Son.

15, 25. “You professed that the Father is greater on account of the form of the servant.†168 That strikes me as quite foolish. We know that you also said that he was made less than the angels in the form of the servant.†169 You have not sufficiently proclaimed†170 the glory of God in professing that the Father is greater than the form of the servant. Even the angels are greater than the form of the servant. Christ did not come to teach us that the Father is greater than the form of the servant. Rather, the Truth came to us to teach and instruct us that the Father is greater than the Son and greater than this Son who is the great God. We glorify the Father and profess that he is greater than the great God; we proclaim that he is higher than the high God. Is this the honor we owe to God that the Father is greater than the servant form?

15, 26. “You say that the divinity showed itself to the Patriarchs, and just before that you said that the divinity was invisible.†171 The Father, who is invisible, surely did not show himself. Otherwise, if we say that the Father was seen, we make a liar of the apostle, who says, No human being has seen him or can see him (1 Tm 6:16). Moreover, we find ourselves not only in opposition to the New Testament, but we are equally in opposition to the Old Testament as well. After all, Moses speaks this way too, No one can see God and live (Ex 33:20).

“This same Moses wrote in the Book of Genesis that from that first man up to the incarnation it was always the Son who was seen. If you demand testimonies, you have, of course, the passage in which the Father speaks to the Son, Let us make man to our image and likeness. There follows, And God made man (Gn 1:26-27). Which God made him if not the Son? You yourself have explained this in your treatises.†172 This Son, then, who is the prophet of his Father, also said, It is not good that man be alone; let us make a helper for him like him (Gn 2:18). This Son appeared to Adam in accord with what we read that Adam said, I heard your voice as you walked in paradise, and I hid myself because I was naked. You certainly have what God said to him, And who told you that you were naked unless you have eaten from that tree about which I commanded you that you not eat? (Gn 3:10-11). This God was seen by Abraham;†173 if you are willing to believe, the only-begotten God himself declared in the gospel that the Son was seen by Abraham. He said, Abraham, your father, rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and he was glad (Jn 8:56). This Son was also seen by Jacob in the form in which he was to come, that is, in the form of a man; he is found to have wrestled with Jacob as a foreshadowing of what was to come. Jacob said, I have seen the Lord face to face, and my life has been preserved, and the name of this place was called The Vision of God. The God, who wrestled with Jacob, foreshadowing what we see fulfilled in the passion of Christ, attested to this. He said to Jacob, Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but your name will be Israel (Gn 32:28), that is, one who sees God. We prove that he was seen in the New Testament as well. The apostles said of him, And we have seen his glory, the glory as if of the Only-Begotten by the Father (Jn 1:14). But, if you claim, as you try to do, that the Father was seen, all the scriptures are for you†174 filled with lies. Paul proclaims that the Father is invisible,†175 and in the gospel the Lord affirms it.

“You often make the accusation against us that we boldly and presumptuously say things that we should not say. That will be up to the judgment of the reader to test. After all, we do not speak to obtain praise from someone,†177 but out of the desire to strengthen the brotherhood we have.†178 Perhaps you wanted to challenge us to make an answer so that those you have observed to belong to us might agree, as I said, with what you profess. For this reason, I had to answer you on account of the fear of God. It was not only by your words that you tried to take from me the discipleship of these men; you also gave me your treatise†179 to which I had to answer those things which you have professed concerning the invisibility of the omnipotent God. Though†180 with another intention, still in your own words, you stated that the Holy Spirit was seen in the form of a dove as well as in the form of fire and†181 that the Son was seen in the form of man, but that the Father was seen neither in the form of a dove nor in the form of a man. He never turned himself into any forms and is never changed. Scripture says of him, I am who I am, and I have not changed (Ex 3:14 and Mal 3:6). The Son who, of course, had already been established in the form of God has, as you have stated, taken the form of the servant, but the Father has not. Likewise, the Holy Spirit took the form of the dove, but the Father did not. Acknowledge, then, that there is one who is invisible; there is one who is incomprehensible and immense. I pray and desire to be a disciple of the divine scriptures; I believe that Your Holiness recalls that I earlier gave the response that, if you produced the evidence that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one power, one substance, one deity, one majesty, one glory, that, if you state this from the divine scriptures, if you produce any passage of scripture, we are eager to be found disciples of the divine scriptures.”
“I, Maximinus, bishop, have signed this.”

Letter of Auxentius On Bishop Ulfilas

This letter, preserved by Maximinus in the margin of a manuscript of Ambrose’s De Fide, provides a firsthand account of the life, ministry, and theology of Ulfilas, Homoian Bishop of the Goths, written by his own adopted Son, Auxentius of Durostorum.

Auxentius of Durostorum on Wulfila:

Now the letter declares that the aforementioned bishops, along with Bishop Wulfila had proceeded to the East to the court of Theodosius, the emperor …

… [Wulfila was] of great propriety, verily a confessor of Christ, a teacher of piety and a preacher of truth. He never hesitated to preach quite openly and very clearly to willing and unwilling alike the one true God, the Father of Christ, and the second rank of this same Christ, knowing this one true God to be alone unbegotten, without beginning, without end, eternal, exalted, sublime, excellent, most high creator, epitome of all excellence, better than all good, infinite, uncontainable, invisible, immense, immortal, incorruptible, incommunicable, an incorporeal being, uncomposite, simple, immutable, undivided, immovable, lacking in nothing, inaccessible, undivided, not subject to rule, uncreated, unmade, perfect in singular existence, incomparably greater and better than all. Who being alone, not to the division or diminution of His divinity, but to the display of His goodness and power, by His will and power alone, passionless Himself impassible, indestructibly Himself indestructible, and immovably Himself unmoved, did create and beget, make and establish the only-begotten God.

He never concealed that, according to the authority and tradition of the Holy scriptures, this second God and Author of all things existed from the Father, after the Father, for the Father, and for the glory of the Father; rather he always set forth according to the Blessed Gospels that He was both great God and great Lord and great King, and great Mystery, great Light and great Pontifex, the Lord who is Provider and Law-giver, Redeemer, Savior… born before all ages, Creator of all creation, just Judge of the quick and the dead, having a greater God, His Father, for he (Wulfila) despised and trampled on the odious and abominable, depraved and perverse confession of the Homoousians as a devilish invention and doctrine of demons. He himself knowing and handing down to us that, if the indefatigable power of the only-begotten God is reliably said to be capable of having made all things celestial and terrestrial, invisible and visible, and is believed rightly and faithfully by us Christians, why is it not believed that the passionless power of God the Father might create His only-begotten Son? But he also deplored and shunned the error and impiety of the Homoiousians, being himself most carefully instructed out of the Holy Scriptures, and confirmed earnestly therein in many councils of saintly bishops, as he spread abroad by his sermons and tracts, the difference of divinity between the Father and the Son, between the unbegotten and the only-begotten God, that the Father was Creator of the Creator, that the Son was truly Creator of all creation; and the Father was the God of the Lord, that the Son was then God of all creation.

Wherefore he scattered the sect of the Homoousians, because he believed not in confused and compounded persons, but in discrete and distinct ones. The Homoiousians, however, he put to flight, because he passionately defended the idea that They are not comparable things, but different from one another. The Son is like the Father, and not according to the fraudulent Macedonian depravities and perversities contrary to the Scriptures, but according to the Divine Scriptures and traditions.

In his preaching and exposition he asserted that all heretics were not Christians, but Antichrists; not pious, but impious; not religious, but irreligious; not timid but bold; not in hope but without hope; not worshipers of God, but without God, not teachers, but seducers; not preachers, but liars; be they Manichaeans, Marcinonists, Montanists, Paulinians, Sabellians, Antropians, Patripassians, Photinians, Novatians, Donatists, Homoousians, Homoiousians, and Macedonians. Verily, as an imitator of the apostles and an imitator of the Martyrs, his work repelled the false doctrine of the heretics and edified the people of God, put to flight the hungry wolves and evil dogs and preserved the flock of Christ by His grace as a good shepherd with all prudence and diligence.

He also subscribed to the concept that the Holy Ghost was neither Father nor Son, but created by the Father through the Son before all things, that he is not first nor second, but placed by the first through the second in third rank; that he is not unbegotten nor begotten, but created by the Unbegotten through the Begotten in the third rank, according to the evangelical preaching and apostolic tradition of St. John, who says: “All things were made by Him and without Him not any thing was made;” (John 1.1) and by blessed Paul who asserted: “[there is] but one God the Father, of whom are all things … and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things are.” (1 Cor. 8.6)

For since there exists one unbegotten God, and there subsists one Lord the only-begotten God, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, can neither be said to be God nor Lord, but is fixed by God through the Lord to be: not the creator nor the author; but the illuminator and sanctifier, teacher and leader, helper and postulant, … and informer, minister of Christ and dispenser of grace, the pledge we have been sealed with for the day of redemption, without whom no one can say that Jesus is the Lord, as the apostle says: “No one can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12.3) and as Christ says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14.6)

Therefore, they are Christians who worship Christ in the spirit and the truth … and through Christ with love offer thanks to God the Father.

Following this and similar doctrines for 40 years flourishing splendidly in the bishopric through apostolic grace, he preached in the Greek, Latin, and Gothic tongues without ceasing in the one and only Church of Christ; because the Church of the Living God is one, the pillar and column of Truth; and he affirmed and witnessed that the flock of Christ, our Lord and God, was one, one the worship and one the house; one the Virgin, one the Spouse, one the Queen; that there was only one vine, temple, congregation of the Christians; that all other places of congregation were not Churches of God, but Synagogues of Satan.

And whoever reads this, let him know that he taught and expounded to us all this concerning the Sacred Scriptures. He also left behind in those very three languages several treatises and many interpretations, for the use and edification of the willing, for his own eternal memory and grace.

Whom I am unable to praise sufficiently; yet I cannot be silent, who more than all others am in his debt, in that he worked more richly on me, taking me in early years from my parents as his student, he taught me the Holy Scriptures and made manifest to me the truth. And by the kindness of God and the grace of Christ he reared me bodily and spiritually as a son in the faith.

According to God’s providence and Christ’s kindness he was ordained — for the salvation of many — bishop among the people of the Goths at the age of 30 from the position of lector, so that he might not only be heir of God and co-heir of Christ, but through the grace of Christ also an imitator of Christ and His Saints, in that the holy David was set as King and Prophet at the age of thirty in order to both lead and teach the people of God and the children of Israel, so also this blessed man was revealed as it were as a prophet and set as a priest of Christ, in order to lead and better the people of the Goths, to teach them and edify them, and according to the will of God and with the help of Christ this was fulfilled through his activity (ministry) in a remarkable manner. And just as Joseph was made manifest (as God’s minister) in Egypt at the age of thirty … and as the Son of God, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, was constituted at the age of thirty according to the flesh and baptized and began to preach the Gospel and to feed the souls of men, so did this Saint upon the command of Christ himself and His direction better and teach the people of the Goths, who were living in hunger and deprivation of preaching indifferently; he made manifest to them and taught them to live in accord with the rule of the Gospel, the Apostles and the Prophets, and as Christians to be truly Christians, and thus increased the number of Christians.

At which point by the envy and the machinations of the Enemy (Satan) a persecution of the Christians in the countries of the barbarians (trans-Danubian Goths) was set in motion with tyrannic terror by the godless and blasphemous chief of the Goths, so that Satan, who wanted to do evil, did good against his will; he wanted to make sinners and apostates of them; but with Christ’s aid and help, they became martyrs and confessors, that the persecutor might be confounded and those who suffered persecution be crowned. He who sought to conquer, blushed as vanquished, and they who were tempted rejoiced as victors.

Then after the glorious martyrdom of many servants and handmaidens of Christ, the most holy man, the blessed Ulfilas, having completed seven years in the office of bishop, was driven out by the vehemently threatening persecution from the country of the barbarians with a great host of confessors onto Roman soil and here honorably received by the Prince Constantius, of blessed memory. Just as God freed His people through Moses from the power and might of Pharaoh and the Egyptians and caused them to walk through the sea, and provided for his Own service, just so did God free the Goths through the often named confessor of his Holy Only-begotten Son out of the lands of the barbarians and cause them to cross the Danube and to serve Him in the mountains according to the example of the saints.

Remaining with his people, not counting those 7 years, 33 years on Roman soil, he preached the truth — just as he was also an imitator of certain ancient Saints in this matter too — he completed a space of 40 years, so that he left this life at the age of 70 after the completion of many deeds.

After 40 years had been completed, he departed at the imperial behest to Constantinople to a disputation against the Pneumatachi, and he insisted on going, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that they might not teach and infest the churches of Christ dedicated by him to Christ. … Having entered into the above city, he immediately began to fall ill, since the impious ones had again reconsidered the situation of the council, so that the more to be pitied as miserable might not be shown to be condemned by their own judgement and be shown to be punishable by the eternal judgement. In which sickness he was taken away in the manner of the Prophet Elisha.

It is now fitting to consider the merit of the man, who went by the leadership of the Lord to Constantinople, nay Christianople, where the holy and unspotted priest of Christ might receive such wondrous and splendid honors from the saints and his fellow priests, the worthy one from worthy ones worthily in such a multitude of Christians. And he, moreover, at his leave-taking, at the very moment of his death, left through his testament a statement of his faith for the people committed to him, saying thus:

I, Wulfila, Bishop and Confessor, have always believed thus, and in this sole and true faith I make my journey to my Lord:

I believe that there is only one God, the Father, alone unbegotten and invisible, and in His only-begotten Son, our Lord and God, creator and maker of all things, not having any like unto Him. Therefore there is one God of all, who is also God of our God. And I believe in one Holy Spirit, an enlightening and sanctifying power. As Christ says after the resurrection to his Apostles: “Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24.49) And again: “And ye shall receive power coming upon you by the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1.8) Neither God nor Lord, but the faithful minister of Christ; not equal, but subject and obedient in all things to the Son. And I believe the Son to be subject and obedient in all things to God the Father.

Based on translations by Jim Marchand and R.P.C. Hanson, and the latin text available here.

Was the Council of Ariminum Arian?

Jerome famously quipped that upon the churches of world accepting the decision of the joint-councils of Ariminum & Seleucia (the real second ecumenical council), “the whole world groaned to find itself Arian”.

Yet ironically, it is in the very writings of Jerome, that slanderer of the brethren, that we find a very clear testimony to the fact that the council and its decision were not truly Arian. The following is from Jerome’s ‘Dialogue with the Luciferians‘:

“17. O. When Constantius was on the throne and Eusebius and Hypatius were Consuls, there was composed, under the pretext of unity and faith, an unfaithful creed, as it is now acknowledged to have been [he refers to the Homoian Creed, not without his characteristic slander of what is good]. For at that time, nothing seemed so characteristic of piety, nothing so befitting a servant of God, as to follow after unity, and to shun separation from communion with the rest of the world. And all the more because the current profession of faith no longer exhibited on the face of it anything profane. We believe, said they, in one true God, the Father Almighty. This we also confess: We believe in the only begotten Son of God, who, before all worlds, and before all their origins, was born of God. The only-begotten Son, moreover, we believe to be born alone of the Father alone, God of God, like to his Father who begot Him, according to the Scriptures; whose birth no one knows, but the Father alone who begot Him. Do we find any such words inserted here as There was a time, when he was not? Or, The Son of God is a creature though not made of things which exist. No. This is surely the perfection of faith to say we believe Him to be God of God. Moreover, they called Him the only begotten, born alone of the Father. What is the meaning of born? Surely, not made. His birth removed all suspicion of His being a creature. They added further, Who came down from heaven, was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified by Pontius Pilate, rose again the third day from the dead, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, who will come to judge the quick and the dead. There was the ring of piety in the words, and no one thought that poison was mingled with the honey of such a proclamation.

18. As regards the term ‘ousia’, it was not rejected without a show of reason for so doing. Because it is not found in the Scriptures, they said, and its novelty is a stumbling-block to many, we have thought it best to dispense with it. The bishops were not anxious about the name, so long as that which it implied was secured. Lastly, at the very time when rumour was rife that there had been some insincerity in the statement of the faith, Valens, bishop of Mursa, who had drawn it up, in the presence of Taurus the pretorian prefect who attended the Synod by imperial command, declared that he was not an Arian, and that he utterly abhorred their blasphemies. However, the thing had been done in secret, and it had not extinguished the general feeling. So on another day, when crowds of bishops and laymen came together in the Church at Ariminum, Muzonius, bishop of the province of Byzacena, to whom by reason of seniority the first rank was assigned by all, spoke as follows: One of our number has been authorized to read to you, reverend fathers, what reports are being spread and have reached us, so that the evil opinions which ought to grate upon our ears and be banished from our hearts may be condemned with one voice by us all. The whole body of bishops replied, Agreed. And so when Claudius, bishop of the province of Picenum, at the request of all present, began to read the blasphemies attributed to Valens, Valens denied they were his and cried aloud, “If anyone denies Christ our Lord, the Son of God, begotten of the Father before the worlds, let him be anathema”. There was a general chorus of approval, “Let him be anathema”. “If anyone denies that the Son is like the Father according to the Scriptures, let him be anathema.” All replied, “Let him be anathema”. “If anyone does not say that the Son of God is co-everlasting with the Father, let him be anathema”. There was again a chorus of approval, “Let him be anathema”. “If anyone says that the Son of God is a creature, like other creatures, let him be anathema”. The answer was the same, “Let him be anathema”. “If anyone says that the Son was of non-existing things, and not of God the Father, let him be anathema”. All shouted together, “Let him be anathema. If anyone says, There was a time when the Son was not, let him be anathema”. At this point all the bishops and the whole Church together received the words of Valens with clapping of hands and stamping of feet. And if anyone thinks we have invented the story let him examine the public records. At all events the muniment-boxes of the Churches are full of it, and the circumstance is fresh in men’s memory. Some of those who took part in the Synod are still alive, and the Arians themselves (a fact which may put the truth beyond dispute) do not deny the accuracy of our account. When, therefore, all extolled Valens to the sky and penitently condemned themselves for having suspected him, the same Claudius who before had begun to read, said There are still a few points which have escaped the notice of my lord and brother Valens; if it seem good to you, let us, in order to remove all scruples, pass a general vote of censure upon them. “If anyone says that the Son of God was indeed before all worlds but was by no means before all time, so that he puts some thing before Him, let him be anathema.” And many other things which had a suspicious look were condemned by Valens when Claudius recited them. If anyone wishes to learn more about them he will find the account in the acts of the Synod of Ariminum, the source from which I have myself drawn them.

19. After these proceedings the Council was dissolved. All returned in gladness to their own provinces. For the Emperor and all good men had one and the same aim, that the East and West should be knit together by the bond of fellowship. But wickedness does not long lie hidden, and the sore that is healed superficially before the bad humour has been worked off breaks out again. Valens and Ursacius and others associated with them in their wickedness, eminent Christian bishops of course, began to wave their palms, and to say they had not denied that He was a creature, but that He was like other creatures. At that moment the term ousia was abolished: the Nicene Faith stood condemned by acclamation. The whole world groaned, and was astonished to find itself Arian.”

Here, amid the slander of Jerome, we find an extremely strong testimony to the fact that the council of Ariminum, its creed, and its supporters, the Homoians, were not Arians, as they have so been slandered, but wholly rejected Arianism. He himself testifies to the fact that a homoousian like himself could assent to the faith set forth at Ariminum in good conscience; even he is forced to admit that the creed he slanders as Arian has “a ring of piety”. And then, he sets forth at length a great many anathemas agreed to by the council, which are so thorough in their rejection of Arianism, that no fair-minded observer can for a minute believe that the council and its creed were Arian. These anathemas reject and proscribe Arius’s errors as strongly as Nicea, without insisting on going beyond the language of scripture into philosophical speculation on the matter of substance.

Lest someone claim, in an attempt to falsely paint the ancient Homoians as Arians, that the Homoians, following this council, simply ignored these anathemas, let us note that several decades later, in his debate with Augustine, Maximinus the Homoian cites one of the anathemas of the council as descriptive of his own belief (and by extension, that of the Homoians generally):

“Do you want to know how great is the wisdom of the Father? Look at the Son, and you will see the wisdom of the Father. For this reason Christ himself said, One who has seen me has also seen the Father (Jn 14:9). That is, in me he sees his wisdom; he praises his might; he glorifies the Father who, one and alone, has begotten me, one and alone, so great and so good before all ages. He did not look for material out of which to make him, nor did he take someone as an assistant. Rather, in the way he knew, he begot the Son by his power and his wisdom.†127 We do not profess, as you say when you falsely accuse us, that, just as the rest of creation was made from nothing, so the Son was made from nothing like a creature. Listen to the authority of statement of the Synod; for our fathers in Ariminum said this among other things, ‘If anyone says that the Son is from nothing and not from God the Father, let him be anathema.’

Here we have it then, from Jerome himself, certainly an opponent of the Homoians, and one who falsely slandered them as Arians, a strong testimony to the fact that they utterly rejected Arianism. And Jerome claimed that these anathemas against Arianism were readily available, and could be verified, by the acts of the councils, by the memory of pro-nicene bishops who had taken part in them, and even by the Homoians themselves; altogether a very strong claim to their authenticity. And then it has also been shown, by the testimony of Maximinus, that the Homoians continued to see these anathemas as binding, even long after the churches of the Roman Empire had abandoned the decision of Ariminum and Seleucia in 381. The Homoians, then, cannot reasonably be regarded as Arians.

Speaking of the Son as a Creature

“This [the Word] was His counsellor, the very way of His wisdom and knowledge. Of this He made all things, making them through It, and making them with It. When He prepared the heavens, so says (the Scripture ), I was present with Him; and when He strengthened above the winds the lofty clouds, and when He secured the fountains which are under the heaven, I was present, compacting these things along with Him. I was He in whom He took delight; moreover, I daily rejoiced in His presence: for He rejoiced when He had finished the world, and among the sons of men did He show forth His pleasure. Proverbs 8:27-31 Now, who would not rather approve of this as the fountain and origin of all things — of this as, in very deed, the Matter of all Matter, not liable to any end, not diverse in condition, not restless in motion, not ungraceful in form, but natural, and proper, and duly proportioned, and beautiful, such truly as even God might well have required, who requires His own and not another’s? Indeed, as soon as He perceived It to be necessary for His creation of the world, He immediately creates It, and generates It in Himself. The Lord, says the Scripture, possessed me, the beginning of His ways for the creation of His works. Before the worlds He founded me; before He made the earth, before the mountains were settled in their places; moreover, before the hills He generated me, and prior to the depths was I begotten. Let Hermogenes then confess that the very Wisdom of God is declared to be born and created, for the special reason that we should not suppose that there is any other being than God alone who is unbegotten and uncreated. For if that, which from its being inherent in the Lord was of Him and in Him, was yet not without a beginning — I mean His Wisdom, which was then born and created, when in the thought of God It began to assume motion for the arrangement of His creative works — how much more impossible is it that anything should have been without a beginning which was extrinsic to the Lord! But if this same Wisdom is the Word of God, in the capacity of Wisdom, and (as being He) without whom nothing was made, just as also (nothing) was set in order without Wisdom, how can it be that anything, except the Father, should be older, and on this account indeed nobler, than the Son of God, the only-begotten and first-begotten Word? Not to mention that what is unbegotten is stronger than that which is born, and what is not made more powerful than that which is made. Because that which did not require a Maker to give it existence, will be much more elevated in rank than that which had an author to bring it into being.” Tertullian, Against Hermogenes, Ch 18.

Such statements would as the above must be alarming to many, who are scandalized by the term ‘created’ being used of Christ. Tertullian is not alone among the ante-nicene fathers in calling the Son a creature; Origen, Novatian, Eusebius, Irenaeus, Methodius, and others, seemed willing to speak quite freely of the Son not only as being begotten by the Father before the world was, but as having been created by Him, and of the Father alone as being uncreated.

The question must be addressed: were these church fathers Arians before Arius? Does the fact that they used the term ‘create’ in reference to the Son’s generation from the Father mean that Arianism is the theology of the ante-nicene church? The answer, from the writings of these fathers themselves, is a clear ‘No’; for they not only have in common that they refer to the Son as a creature, and as having been made, but also that they specify this important point: that the Son is produced by the Father, not after the manner of other creatures, from nothing, but from the Father Himself. The Son is said by them to be ‘created’, not on account of being, like other creatures (and as Arius had taught), from nothing, but merely on account of His being caused; for according to the natural meaning of the terms, to ‘create’ is to ’cause’; the terms ‘create’ and ’cause’ are synonyms.

Since, then, the Father alone is uncaused, and the Son is caused by the Father as having been uniquely and atemporally begotten from Him before the ages, the Father alone can be called uncreated, and the Son may be accurately said to have been created by the Father. The Son’s mode of origination from the Father is totally unique, in being generated from the Father Himself. But since this means that the Son is caused, the word ‘Creature’ may still reasonably be applied to Him, on that account.

We see this, for instance, in Tertullian’s quote above. The Word’s generation from the Father (or creation by the Father) is simply the Word’s coming forth from ‘within’ the Father Himself; this is contrasted with other creatures, which He describes ‘extrinsic’ to God; that is, they are not from God Himself, but are caused to exist by Him out of nothing. We see this same idea clearly highlighted by Hippolytus:

“The first and only (one God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing coeval with Himself; not infinite chaos, nor measureless water, nor solid earth, nor dense air, not warm fire, nor refined spirit, nor the azure canopy of the stupendous firmament. But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that He willed to make them…. Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos first; not the word in the sense of being articulated by voice, but as a ratiocination of the universe, conceived and residing in the divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for the Father Himself constituted existence, and the being born from Him was the cause of all things that are produced. The Logos was in the Father Himself, bearing the will of His progenitor, and not being unacquainted with the mind of the Father. For simultaneously with His procession from His Progenitor, inasmuch as He is this Progenitor’s first-born, He has, as a voice in Himself, the ideas conceived in the Father. And so it was, that when the Father ordered the world to come into existence, the Logos one by one completed each object of creation, thus pleasing God…. For as many things as He willed, God made from time to time. These things He created through the Logos, it not being possible for things to be generated otherwise than as they were produced. But when, according as He willed, He also formed (objects), He called them by names, and thus notified His creative effort. And making these, He formed the ruler of all, and fashioned him out of all composite substances. The Creator did not wish to make him a god, and failed in His aim; nor an angel — be not deceived, — but a man. For if He had willed to make you a god, He could have done so. You have the example of the Logos [that is, He made the Logos a God]. His will, however, was, that you should be a man, and He has made you a man… The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God. Now the world was made from nothing; wherefore it is not God; as also because this world admits of dissolution whenever the Creator so wishes it.” (Refutation of All Heresies, 10)

Here we see, among other details, this distinction between the world, which was made “from nothing”, and the Son, Who the Father made from Himself; whereas the world was caused to exist where nothing had existed previously, the Son was made from the Father’s own substance; that is, He is made from what the Father Himself is, of the same ‘stuff’ as the Father, to put it crudely. And so the Word, or Son, is the only-begotten of the Father, as alone being generated immediately by the Father from His own person.

Justin Martyr gives two excellent analogies of the Son’s generation from the Father in this manner:

“I shall give you another testimony, my friends, from the Scriptures, that God begot before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father’s will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled. The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all things, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter, will bear evidence to me, when He speaks by Solomon the following:

If I shall declare to you what happens daily, I shall call to mind events from everlasting, and review them. The Lord made me the beginning of His ways for His works. From everlasting He established me in the beginning, before He had made the earth, and before He had made the deeps, before the springs of the waters had issued forth, before the mountains had been established. Before all the hills He begets me.” (Dialogue With Trypho, Ch 61)

According to Justin, the Son is generated from the Father, not as a part of the Father cut off from Him, or in any other way that would involve change in God, Who is unchanging, but as fire kindled from fire, the Son was generated, not from nothing, but from the Father Himself.

It is not then, distinctly Arian to say that the Son is created; but we may ask what is meant by the word, just as when we hear that the Son is caused, we may inquire into what way He was caused, or created: from nothing, which is the heresy of Arius, or from the Father Himself, which is the opinion of the fathers who spoke of the Son as a creature prior to the council of Nicea, as well as of many after.

For it is noteworthy that many Homoian fathers, while rejecting Arianism, and anathematizing the Arian doctrine that the Son is ‘from nothing’, and instead defining Him to have been genuinely begotten from the Father, freely spoke of Him as having been created by the Father. For example, Maximinus said during his debate with Augustine:

“Do you want to know how great is the wisdom of the Father? Look at the Son, and you will see the wisdom of the Father. For this reason Christ himself said, One who has seen me has also seen the Father (Jn 14:9). That is, in me he sees his wisdom; he praises his might; he glorifies the Father who, one and alone, has begotten me, one and alone, so great and so good before all ages. He did not look for material out of which to make him, nor did he take someone as an assistant. Rather, in the way he knew, he begot the Son by his power and his wisdom. We do not profess, as you say when you falsely accuse us, that, just as the rest of creation was made from nothing, so the Son was made from nothing like a creature. Listen to the authority of statement of the Synod; for our fathers in Ariminum said this among other things, ‘If anyone says that the Son is from nothing and not from God the Father, let him be anathema.’

Yet these same Homoians who subscribed to this anathema against those who said, like Arius, that the Son was produced by the Father out of nothing, also spoke as follows:

“He never hesitated to preach … one sole true God the Father of Christ according to Christ’s own teaching, knowing that this sole true God is solely ingenerate… And when he was alone, not to create division or reduction of his Godhead but for the revelation of his goodness and power, by his will and power alone, impassibly himself impassible, indestructibly himself indestructible, and immovably himself unmoved, He created and begot, made and founded the Only-begotten God… and that the Father is the creator of the whole creator, but the Son the creator of the whole creation, and the Father is the God of the Lord, but the Son the God of the whole of creation.” (Auxentius’s Summary of Ulfilas’s Preaching)

Whereas one might here accuse Ulfilas of having preached Arianism, in light of the anathema of the Creed to which he subscribed, must this not be better, and more consistently, understood to mean nothing different than what the ante-nicene fathers meant, when they said that the Son was created by the Father? Indeed, it is most reasonable, in the case of both the former and the latter, to understand their language the same way: that the Son is created, and made, inasmuch as He is caused by the Father (that being all that is signified by these words), in having been begotten by Him; yet this creation is not from nothing, as Arius taught, but is immediate generation from the Father Himself, and so, totally unique from other creatures’ origin.

The Nicene anathema against those who call the Son a creature, then, remains to be addressed: and on the basis of the ante-nicene fathers, the best post-nicene fathers (namely, the Homoians), the bare meaning of the terms, sound reasoning, and the language of scripture, we must conclude that these anathemas, while being well intended to eradicate the heresy of Arius, are in error; for the term ‘create’, merely being, according to its natural meaning, a synonym of the term ’cause’, bears no inherently Arian meaning, but rather, when understood in this sense, may be very rightly applied to the Son, on account of His generation from the Father before the ages. For to say that the Son was begotten by God, and then deny that He is caused by God, is the greatest absurdity; refuted by the most basic logic, the testimony of the fathers, and most importantly, by the scriptures themselves. For the Word declared “I live because of the Father”; and from this alone it may be clearly understood that He has the Father as the Cause of His life and existence (see here for more detail on this point).

If then, the Father is the Cause of the Son, then He is the Creator of the Son; not from nothing, but from Himself. And so the Son is the only-begotten Son of God, as alone being begotten, alone generated directly and immediately from the Father Himself, rather than from nothing.

Such passages of scripture then, as these, will seem to bear a much clearer and less convoluted meaning than those committed to the Nicene definition will allow them to bear, which seem to speak of the Son as a creature:

“The Lord created me the beginning of his ways for his works. He established me before time in the beginning, before he made the earth: even before he made the depths; before the fountains of water came forth: before the mountains were settled, and before all hills, he begets me.” (Proverbs 8:22-25 LXX)

“He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15 NASB)

“He was faithful to the one Who made Him, as Moses was in all His house.” (Hebrews 3:2)

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness [Christ], the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:” (Revelation 3:14 NASB)

Finally, I leave the reader with several other relevant quotes from other church fathers mentioned above:

We consider, therefore, that there are three hypostases, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and at the same time we believe nothing to be uncreated but the Father. We admit, as more pious and as true, that the Holy Spirit is the most honored of all things made through the Word, and that he is [first] in rank of all the things which have been made by the Father through Christ. Perhaps this is the reason the Spirit too is not called son of God, since the only begotten alone is by nature a son from the beginning. The Holy Spirit seems to have need of the Son ministering to his hypostasis, not only for it to exist, but also for it to be wise, and rational, and just, and whatever other thing we ought to understand it to be by participation in the aspects of Christ which we mentioned previously.” (Origen, Commentary on John)

For the Son of God, the First-born of all creation, although He seemed recently to have become incarnate, is not by any means on that account recent. For the holy Scriptures know Him to be the most ancient of all the works of creation; for it was to Him that God said regarding the creation of man, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.”” (Origen, Against Celsus, Book 5 Ch 37)

“Well, then, I do not suppose you are ignorant that it is impossible for two uncreated things to exist together, although you seem to have expressed nearly as much as this in an earlier part of the conversation. Assuredly we must of necessity say one of two things: either that God is separate from matter, or, on the other hand, that He is inseparable from it. If, then, one would say that they are united, he will say that that which is uncreated is one only, for each of the things spoken of will be a part of the other; and as they are parts of each other, there will not be two uncreated things, but one composed of different elements. For we do not, because a man has different members, break him up into many beings. But, as the demands of reason require, we say that a single being, man, of many parts, has been created by God. So it is necessary, if God be not separate from matter, to say that that which is uncreated is one only; but if one shall say that He is separate, there must necessarily be something intermediate between the two, which makes their separation evident. For it is impossible to estimate the distance of one thing from another, unless there be something else with which the distance between them may be compared. And this holds good, not only as far as the instance before us, but also to any number of others. For the argument which we advanced in the case of two uncreated things would of necessity be of equal force, were the uncreated things granted to be three in number. For I should ask also respecting them, whether they are separate from each other, or, on the other hand, are united each to its neighbour. For if any one resolve to say that they are united, he will be told the same as before; if, again, that they are separate, he will not escape the necessary existence of that which separates them.” (Methodius, On Free Will 5)

“God thus determining all things beforehand for the bringing of man to perfection, for his edification, and for the revelation of His dispensations, that goodness may both be made apparent, and righteousness perfected, and that the Church may be fashioned after the image of His Son, and that man may finally be brought to maturity at some future time, becoming ripe through such privileges to see and comprehend God… If, however, any one say, What then? Could not God have exhibited man as perfect from beginning? let him know that, inasmuch as God is indeed always the same and unbegotten as respects Himself, all things are possible to Him. But created things must be inferior to Him who created them, from the very fact of their later origin; for it was not possible for things recently created to have been uncreated. But inasmuch as they are not uncreated, for this very reason do they come short of the perfect. Because, as these things are of later date, so are they infantile; so are they unaccustomed to, and unexercised in, perfect discipline… With God there are simultaneously exhibited power, wisdom, and goodness. His power and goodness [appear] in this, that of His own will He called into being and fashioned things having no previous existence; His wisdom [is shown] in His having made created things parts of one harmonious and consistent whole; and those things which, through His super-eminent kindness, receive growth and a long period of existence, do reflect the glory of the uncreated One, of that God who bestows what is good ungrudgingly. For from the very fact of these things having been created, [it follows] that they are not uncreated; but by their continuing in being throughout a long course of ages, they shall receive a faculty of the Uncreated, through the gratuitous bestowal of eternal existence upon them by God. And thus in all things God has the pre-eminence, who alone is uncreated, the first of all things, and the primary cause of the existence of all, while all other things remain under God’s subjection [It is clear here from the context, that the one signified here by “God” is none other than the Father]. But being in subjection to God is continuance in immortality, and immortality is the glory of the uncreated One. By this arrangement, therefore, and these harmonies, and a sequence of this nature, man, a created and organized being, is rendered after the image and likeness of the uncreated God — the Father planning everything well and giving His commands, the Son carrying these into execution and performing the work of creating, and the Spirit nourishing and increasing [what is made], but man making progress day by day, and ascending towards the perfect, that is, approximating to the uncreated One. For the Uncreated is perfect, that is, God. Now it was necessary that man should in the first instance be created; and having been created, should receive growth; and having received growth, should be strengthened; and having been strengthened, should abound; and having abounded, should recover [from the disease of sin]; and having recovered, should be glorified; and being glorified, should see his Lord. For God is He who is yet to be seen, and the beholding of God is productive of immortality, but immortality renders one near unto God.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.38.2-3)

“Thus making Himself obedient to His Father in all things, although He also is God, yet He shows the one God the Father by His obedience, from whom also He drew His beginning. And thus He could not make two Gods, because He did not make two beginnings, seeing that from Him who has no beginning He received the source of His nativity before all time. For since that is the beginning to other creatures [see, the Son is reckoned by him among creatures] which is unborn — which God the Father only is, being beyond a beginning of whom He is who was born — while He who is born of Him reasonably comes from Him who has no beginning, proving that to be the beginning from which He Himself is, even although He is God who is born, yet He shows Him to be one God whom He who was born proved to be without a beginning.” (Novatian of Rome, Ch 31)

“God was in the beginning; but the beginning, we have been taught, is the power of the Logos. For the Lord of the universe, who is Himself the necessary ground (ὑπόστασις) of all being, inasmuch as no creature was yet in existence, was alone; but inasmuch as He was all power, Himself the necessary ground of things visible and invisible, with Him were all things; with Him, by Logos-power (διὰ λογικῆς δυνάμεως), the Logos Himself also, who was in Him, subsists. And by His simple will the Logos springs forth; and the Logos, not coming forth in vain, becomes the first-begotten work of the Father. Him (the Logos) we know to be the beginning of the world. But He came into being by participation, not by abscission; for what is cut off is separated from the original substance, but that which comes by participation, making its choice of function, does not render him deficient from whom it is taken. For just as from one torch many fires are lighted, but the light of the first torch is not lessened by the kindling of many torches, so the Logos, coming forth from the Logos-power of the Father, has not divested of the Logos-power Him who begot Him. I myself, for instance, talk, and you hear; yet, certainly, I who converse do not become destitute of speech (λόγος) by the transmission of speech, but by the utterance of my voice I endeavour to reduce to order the unarranged matter in your minds. And as the Logos, begotten in the beginning, begot in turn our world, having first created for Himself the necessary matter, so also I, in imitation of the Logos, being begotten again, and having become possessed of the truth, am trying to reduce to order the confused matter which is kindred with myself. For matter is not, like God, without beginning, nor, as having no beginning, is of equal power with God; it is begotten, and not produced by any other being, but brought into existence by the Framer of all things alone.” (Tatian, Address to the Greeks)

How Different Would Church History Look If the Nicene Creed Had Not Won?

In the trinitarian debates of the fourth century, many differing articulations of the doctrine of the Trinity competed with one another. After Arianism had been condemned not only prior to the council of Nicea by regional authorities in Alexandria and Antioch, but also by the first ecumenical council itself, debate over the Trinity continued. It centered much on the language of the Nicene Creed in itself; language which, at the suggestion of the emperor, had been included more for the sake of excluding Arianism, than for sake of articulating the church’s beliefs in a precise way.

This lead to prolonged controversy for the next 50 years surrounding he terminology of ‘homoousias’ or ‘same being’ in the Nicene Creed. The language had a history of association with both modalism and the gnostic heresies, which made it suspect; on top of that, bishops such as Marcellus of Ancyra, prominent supporters of the Nicene Creed, employed its terminology in a modalistic fashion. This is because ‘same being’ is vague; it can mean generically the same, that is, that two distinct individuals share the same nature, or it can mean individually the same, that is, that two persons are the same person, the same individual being. The usage of the ‘homoousias’, ‘same being’ by Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, and Marcellus of Ancyra lead to the conservative majority of bishops to rejecting the language of Nicea altogether, as not necessarily wrong, but at least wide open to a dangerous and heretical interpretation.

Alternative suggestions included ‘homoiousias’ which is ‘like being’, and simply ‘homoi’, which is to say that the Son is ‘like’ the Father, without reference to substance or ‘ousia’. In 359, two joint councils, considered ecumenical at the time and representing the churches of the entire Roman Empire, met and decided on the ‘Homoian’ formula, to remove the language of Nicea from the church’s dogma and simply state that the Son is like the Father. This was ratified at another synod at Constantinople in 360 and gained acceptance not only within the Empire, but also among the churches of many barbarian nations in Europe. Although these creeds were slandered as ‘Arian’ by the pro-nicenes, who had effectively lost for a time, the Homoian formula does not teach any peculiar tent of Arianism, but rather rejected it, and specifically left Arianism anathematized, again proscribing its doctrines.

In 381, some twenty years later, Theodosius I became emperor and enacted changes to the church’s doctrine again, this time establishing a modified form of the Nicene Creed as the church’s official dogma, and deposing any dissenting bishops, including the patriarch of Constantinople himself. After making his opinions law and enacting strict anti-heretical laws, he called a small council in Constantinople, at which his decision was approved of by some 150 bishops, the dissenting bishops being barred from participating. With this, the Nicene Creed became the dogmatic standard of the churches of the Roman Empire, and had remained in force to this day, even as those churches have changed and become the Coptic, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches of the modern world.

Its interesting to consider what church history might have looked like, had Theodosius never became emperor, and instead, an emperor who was willing to maintain the status quo -the Homoian theology of the Councils of Arminium & Seleucia- had taken the throne instead, leaving Nicea’s decision as a more obscure point of history, rather than a dogmatic standard. When considering such a scenario there are four things especially worthy of consideration:

1. Political Ramifications: The first thing of interest to consider is more to do with the environment the churches found themselves in than the churches themselves. The Western Roman Empire fell, in the end, to Barbarian invasion; the nations of the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, and other smaller groups like the Gepids and Burgundians conquered the enormous area that once belonged to the Western Roman Empire. It was not long after the decision of Theodosius to make the imperial churches Nicene that incursions began to eat away at the Empire’s borders, until its ultimate collapse in the early sixth century.

All of these Barbarian tribes shared in common the Homoian theology articulated by the councils of Arminium & Seleucia; a faith which they had for some twenty years held in common with the churches of the Roman Empire. Once the changes Theodosius made went through, relations between the Barbarians and the Romans changed, however; the Romans saw the Barbarians as Arian heretics, and the Barbarians decried the heretical ‘Roman Religion’ of Theodosius. These sharp differences and the animosity they entailed made it that much easier for both sides to freely view the other as enemies, and subject to the cruelties of war. Had the Romans retained the Homoian theology they held in common with the Goths, it is possible that this common faith and cultural exchange that accompanied it could have drastically altered the course of Roman history; wars may have been less frequent; in short, the Barbarian nations may not have conquered the Western Roman Empire, or at least, not done so nearly as soon as they in fact did, had they continued to share a common faith, and so fostered friendly relations with one another.

Since the fall of the Western Roman empire is generally seen as having ushered in the dark ages of Europe, it is possible that by maintaining Homoian theology, the cultural losses of the dark ages could have been avoided, or lessened.

2. Ecclesiastical Unity: Some historians like to speak of an era of a ‘united church’; and they place the end of that unity at different points in history. The great schism in 1054 is often cited by Roman and Orthodox historians; others note a much earlier date can be found at the council of Chalcedon (451), which resulted in the separation of the Coptic churches, or Ephesus (431), which resulted in the separation of the Assyrian churches. But in fact, the first major split among national lines occurred in 381, when Theodosius returned the imperial churches to the Nicene Creed, thereby breaking communion with the Homoian churches among the Vandal, Ostrogoth, Visigoth, and Gepid nations of Europe. Had Homoian Theology remained the imperial dogma, it is quite possible that this period of unity would have gone on much longer.

This is not only true in respect to the schism of 381, as though schism at Ephesus in 431 would still be inevitable. For the later schisms at Ephesus and Chalcedon built upon a strictly Nicene theology; had this not been dogma, such later developments in dogma would have been nearly impossible, requiring to the churches to continue using the simple rule of faith as a dogmatic standard of orthodoxy, rather than perpetually adding more and more details to the dogma of the churches, to divide over. When we look the the Homoian churches among the Barbarians, we see that for centuries they continued on simply using the Creed of Arminium, never going through the intense, highly philosophical and speculative debates that the Imperial churches went through over christology. That likely has much to do with the exegetical and biblical, rather than speculative, character of Homoian theology. By sticking to a less-strictly defined, and less speculative theology, the churches of the Empire, like the Homoian churches among the Barbarians, could have been able to avoid the intense debates that led to so much schism in the following centuries.

Its also noteworthy that had Homoian theology been retained by the Imperial churches, the growing power of the papacy, which eventually lead to both the Great Schism of 1054 and the Protestant Reformation in 1517, could have been curbed. That’s because the papacy had been strongly pro-nicene throughout the conflict; and Homoians frequently flouted the claims of the bishop of Rome to have jurisdiction over them, maintaining their offices even after having been ‘deposed’ on paper by a pope powerless to enforce his rulings. Had they continued to hold many high positions in the church throughout the end of the fourth century, rather than being deposed, this may have severely limited the influence of the bishop of Rome on future generations of Christians.

3. The Threat of Arianism: Had the Nicene Creed never been reintroduced as a dogmatic standard, and the Creed of Arminium & Seleucia remained ‘orthodoxy’ for the imperial churches, would Arianism have widely prevailed? Certainly, this is the narrative given by many pro-Nicenes; for them, the Homoians were simply Arians in disguise. Such a narrative, however, avoids the expressly stated beliefs of the Homoians, who, at their councils, condemned Arianism. Maximinus the Homoian, in his debate with Augustine, complained of such misrepresentation by pro-Nicenes, and cited a canon of the council of Arminium condemning Arians christology:

“Do you want to know how great is the wisdom of the Father? Look at the Son, and you will see the wisdom of the Father. For this reason Christ himself said, One who has seen me has also seen the Father (Jn 14:9). That is, in me he sees his wisdom; he praises his might; he glorifies the Father who, one and alone, has begotten me, one and alone, so great and so good before all ages. He did not look for material out of which to make him, nor did he take someone as an assistant. Rather, in the way he knew, he begot the Son by his power and his wisdom. We do not profess, as you say when you falsely accuse us, that, just as the rest of creation was made from nothing, so the Son was made from nothing like a creature. Listen to the authority of statement of the Synod; for our fathers in Ariminum said this among other things, ‘If anyone says that the Son is from nothing and not from God the Father, let him be anathema.'”

The idea, then, that Homoians, on the whole, were Arian has no good basis in historical fact. Two issues remain to examine, here though; firstly, those Homoians who, according to the testimony of pro-Nicenes, were in fact Arian; and secondly, the tendency among Homoians to, while condemning Arianism, use the language of ‘creature’ for the Son (a hallmark of Arianism). Concerning the first point, it is indeed possible that such Arians existed; if, however, an Arian were willing to lie about his beliefs, and anathematize his own theology by subscribing to the decision of Arminium, why would he be any less likely to lie and hide his beliefs when the Nicene Creed replaced that of Arminium? It is difficult to see how changing the dogmatic standard of the church from Homoian to Nicene theology could have helped such an issue. As for the Eunomians, who said that the Son was unlike the Father, these were roundly condemned by the Homoians in 360 at Constantinople; and so any Eunomians, like the Arians, would have needed to lie in order to find acceptance under such dogmatic standards; and so, they could have done the same with the Nicene Creed.

Concerning the second point, it is noteworthy that while calling the Son a “creature” is very objectionable, as simply being an inaccurate term to use for Him, this language is not distinctly Arian. Inaccurate or otherwise, it had a long precedent in the ante-nicene church, such language being used in respect to the Son by notable theologians in the second and third century, such as Tertuallian and Origen. Such language may more often signify a failure to accurately distinguish between different terms for varying modes of causality, than any actual unorthodoxy in the concepts behind such language.

Finally it remains to frankly be said that a Homoian dogma would constitute a more friendly environment for Arianism than Nicene dogma; this is mostly due to how Nicene dogma developed int he following era, however, than what it meant when first championed by men like Athanasius. Since Nicene dogma quickly devolved into modalism, and modalism is even farther from Arianism than biblical trinitarianism, it is clear that it would be harder for people to make the leap from modalism to Arianism, than from Homoianism to Arianism. That does not, however, make Homoian theology less desirable; for going to the opposite heretical extreme of Arianism in order to avoid it, is no better than to fall into Arianism itself. Ultimately, while Homoian dogma would have been more favorable to Arianism than Nicene dogma, neither one was favorable to Arianism, and as far as anyone can tell, Arianism would have remained a small and strongly rejected heresy, regardless of whether the churchse’ dogma had been Nicene, or Homoian.

4. The Threat of Modalism: Finally we consider the threat modalism faced to the churches; this is one area where the difference in history would be very stark, in the opinion of this author. Many bishops warned, during the Nicene era, that the Nicene language of ‘same being’ was susceptible to a modalistic interpretation, and dangerous, as allowing such a reading, by taking the term in reference to the same *individual being*, rather than the same *generic being*. Once Nicene theology became again the dogma of the imperial churches in 381, the Homoian Vandals and Goths soon criticized the Roman churches for being modalistic in their theology; and indeed, we can see that they quickly embraced a form of modalism, with influential men like Augustine of Hippo paving the way for future generations to believe in a Trinity of persons united not by one generic nature, but by being one individual being.

The fact is, that without the Nicene terminology of ‘same being’ (homoousias) as a dogmatic standard for the churches, it is very unlikely that such modalism could have taken root in the churches. Such language had been banned from dogma by the councils of Arminium & Seleucia; and one of the greatest concerns of many Homoians seems to have been to avoid the modalist heresy. Had this remained the theology of the imperial churches, modalism would have remained the by-word it was in the ante-nicene era, rather than becoming the dominant ecclesiastical theology of the West, and much of the East as well at times. Modalism succeeded, fundamentally, thanks to the terminology of Nicea; and had this remained banned, Christian, rather than modalistic theology, would likely have remained the dominant position of the imperial churches. The creed of “one being” which is Father, Son, and Spirit became the life-blood of modalism through the middle ages and the Reformation; having allowed it to remain cut off from 359 onward would have deprived modalism of one of its greatest advantages in gaining ascendency in the ecclesiastical hierarchies.

It remains then, an interesting exercise, to imagine what might have been; a medieval  Europe built upon an enduring Western Roman Empire, with Barbarian allies to the North, united by a common Christian Creed; and a church characterized by the lack of an emperor-like Pope, the ecclesiastical schisms of later church history, and the modalistic theology of scholasticism. Such things, however, while interesting to imagine, remain mere fiction; and we must steel ourselves to bring about change in our own time, if we will see the errors of the past rectified. The tools we need to know the truth, and to publish it widely, lie at our fingertips, if only we are willing to make the effort to use them: firstly to fix firmly in our own minds a true knowledge of God, and His Son, and His Spirit; and then to make that knowledge known to our neighbor, for God’s glory, and the good of His church.

The Homoians: Proto-Protestants of the Post-Nicene Era

‘Homoian’ is a term used for those who subscribed to the articulation of the doctrine of the Trinity formulated by the ecumenical councils of Arminium and Seleucia, which were held in 359 AD in an attempt to resolve the ongoing doctrinal controversies of the fourth century. Their theology and practice is marked by several noteworthy traits shared in common with later Protestantism:

1) The translation of the Bible into the vernacular: Ulfilas, the ‘missionary to the Goths’, a prominent Homoian, translated nearly the entirety of the holy scriptures into the ancient Gothic tongue. Martin Luther was not the first to translate the scriptures into a vernacular German language for use by the people.

2) Sola scriptura: The ancient Homoians repeatedly appealed to scripture as the authoritative source of doctrinal knowledge; not merely as one source of many, or one on equal footings with councils, but as the ultimate and only ordinary source from which legitimate Christian doctrine and practice could be known. Bishop Maximinus makes clear, for example, that the Homoians held the council of Arminium to be authoritative as a subordinate authority to the holy scriptures. “I wanted the decree of the Council of Ariminum to be present, not to excuse myself, but to show the authority of those fathers who handed on to us in accord with the divine scriptures the faith which they learned from the divine scriptures.” (Debate with Augustine)

3) That scripture can offer a corrective to errors made by ecumenical councils and popes: This really falls under sola scriptura as well, but it is such a noteworthy point that it really deserves special emphasis. The Homoian councils of Arminium and Seleucia ruled that while the fathers as the council if Nicea thirty-four years earlier had intended the extra-biblical language of ‘co-essentiality’ to have a biblical meaning, the introduction of such ambiguous, ill-understood, and extra-scriptural language had proved too problematic to retain it as dogma. The mistake of the first ecumenical council would be rectified on a scriptural basis:

“But the word ‘substance,’ which was too simply inserted by the Fathers, and, not being understood by the people, was a cause of scandal through its not being found in the Scriptures, it has seemed good to us to remove, and that for the future no mention whatever be permitted of the ‘substance’ of the Father and the Son. Nor must one ‘essence’ be named in relation to the person of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And we call the Son like the Father, as the Holy Scriptures call Him and teach; but all the heresies, both those already condemned, and any, if such there be, which have risen against the document thus put forth, let them be anathema.” (Council of Arminium)

And so we see that a concern of the Homoians was that the church’s dogma be simple enough to be easily understood by the average Christian, as the ancient rule of faith was, and that it not be allowed to become so complicated and esoteric by the introduction of difficult philosophical terms that the average Christian could have no meaningful comprehension of the church’s doctrine.

It is noteworthy here that the fact that the language of Nicea is foreign to scripture is cited as a major aspect of why it should be removed, and replaced with a confession that was indisputably biblical. According to the Homoians, such vague expressions as those of Nicea, when they are ill-understood, need not be retained, even though the have the authority of an ecumenical council behind them. The endorsement of an ecumenical council was not enough to put the ‘homoousian’ articulation of the Trinity beyond question; when the language became a problem, it could be jettisoned, because a council was not enough to make the matter indisputable. Scripture was the standard, and since the problematic terminology was not given in the scriptures, it need not be retained when it had outlived its usefulness. Such an attitude towards the dogmas of councils clearly prefigures that of later Protestantism.

While the issue of the Pope’s opinion does not seem to have factored as heavily into these fourth-century disputes as it would in the Reformation, its noteworthy that the Homoian councils of Arminium and Seleucia just as much implied that the Papacy had erred, as it did the council of Nicea. The papacy had strongly supported the Nicene articulation of the Trinity, and the Pope at the time adamantly refused to assent to the decisions of these Homoian ecumenical councils. Yet the Homoians did not see a problem with disagreeing with the Bishop of Rome; scripture was the authority, and the Pope’s opinion could safely be disregarded when it contradicted the scriptures and the best interest of the church. In this way too, the ancient Homoians prefigured later Protestantism.

4) The Homoians ended up separated from the ecclesiastical hierarchies of the Roman churches by no fault of their own: Like later Protestantism, the Homoian position was eventually condemned by a later council, that held in Constantinople in 381, which, despite being local rather than ecumenical in representation, is remembered by many as an ecumenical council. Those bishops within the church hierarchies that fell within the bounds of the Roman Empire who disagreed with the new Emperor Theodosius I’s effectively unilateral doctrinal decisions, were unceremoniously ejected from their episcopates, and replaced by others who would comply with the Emperor’s wishes. Those Homoians who found themselves within the expansive bounds of the Roman Empire found themselves forced to continue on apart from the Imperial hierarchy and the papacy, continuing to meet together for centuries to come in houses and private settings, living as a persecuted minority. Outside the bounds of the Empire, the established churches of the Vandals, Goths, Gepids, and other Germanic peoples continued to be Homoian. For centuries these often existed side-by-side with Roman churches, as these tribes conquered and settled the territories formerly belonging to the Western Roman Empire. Like later Protestantism, the institutional split between Homoians and the Roman churches occurred because the Roman churches wrongly excommunicated them, forcing them to continue on without the fellowship of the Roman hierarchy.

All in all its interesting to consider the many similarities that the Homoians had with Protestantism. This is especially so when we consider the reactive influence that these Homoian traits may have had on the development of the Roman Catholic church; the church that Martin Luther and the Protestant reformers faced was not one that had never dealt with these things in the past, which had never considered such a way of looking at the authority of scripture and councils, etc, but one which had already effectively rejected the Protestant positions on some of the most central issues of the Reformation (such as sola scriptura) some thousand years prior to the Protestant Reformation. It is a shame that Protestantism, instead of examining the theology of their Homoian forefathers, and recognizing it as biblical, have generally remained mostly ignorant of this history, and have generally looked at it from the perspective of the Roman Catholic church, rather than with sympathy for their fourth-century counterparts.