Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

must be confessed, fall short of the clearness and precision of ^he Nicene system, and exhibit to us a gradual growth of the church in the knowledge of these divine mysteries.

We now proceed to the patristic statements of the trinity itself. As the doctrines of the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost were but imperfectly developed in logical precision in the ante-Nicene period, the doctrine of the trinity founded on them cannot be expected to be more clear. We find it first in the most simple Biblical and practical shape in all the creeds of the first three centuries (regulas fidei, xavoves Tj}s 7rt'o-Te&)9); for these, like the Apostles and the Nicene- Constantinopolitan, are all based on the baptismal formula, and hence arranged in Trinitarian form. Then it appears in the Trinitarian doxologies used in the church from the first, such as occur even in the epistle of the church of Smyrna on the martyrdom of Polycarp.1 The sentiment that we rise through the Holy Ghost to the Son, through the Son to the Father, belongs likewise to the age of the immediate disciples of the apostles (in Ireuffius, adv. hair. V. 36. 2). Thus far the influence of philosophy upon this doctrine is of course beyond supposition. It began with the apologists.

Justin Martyr (died A. D. 166) repeatedly places Father, Son, and Spirit together as objects of divine worship among the Christians (though not as being altogether ecmal in dignity), and imputes to Plato a presentiment of the doctrine of the Trinity. He was the first to develop the idea of the Logos on tfie ground of the prologue to the Gospel of John. He distinguishes in the Logos, that is, the divine nature of Christ, two elements, the immanent (Aoyoi evBuiiieTo<;), or that which determines the revelation of God to himself, and the transitive (Aoyos Trpo$opuco<;), in virtue of which God reveals himself to the world. The act of the procession of the Logos from God he illustrates by the figure of generation (yewav, yewao^cu, comp. the Johannean expression, the only

1 C. 14, where I'olyearp concludes his prayer on the scaffold with the words: Me&' ou (i. c. Christ), trot Ko) Tlveu/xaTt aylu T/ B6£a Kal Vvv (ecu els rous fieKKovrai euvvas. Comp. at the end of c. 22: 'O Kvptos '\r\tr. Xpi<rr6s .... ^ 7/ 9<f£a, avv narpl «al a.yl<p nvei'^an, els roi/s aluvas ray cdwywy.

begotten), without division or diminution of substance; and in this view the Logos is the only and absolute Son of God* the Only begotten. The generation, however, is not with him an eternal act, grounded in metaphysical necessity, as with Athanasius and in the Nicene orthodoxy, but proceeded from the free will of God. This begotten Logos he conceives as a hypostatical being, a person numerically distinct from the Father. To his agency, before his incarnation, Justin atributes the creation and preservation of the world, all the theophanies, i. e. with him Christpphanies of the Old Testament, and also all that is true, rational, and good in the heathen world. In his efforts to reconcile this view with monotheism, he at one time asserts the moral unity of the two divine persons, and at another decidedly subordinates the Son to the Father. He is therefore, as Semisth in his valuable monograph has satisfactorily shown, neither Arian nor Nicene; but his whole theological tendency was evidently towards the Nicene orthodoxy. He likewise broke the way to orthodox pneumatology, although he is far yet from reaching the full idea of essential coequality. In refuting the charge of atheism, raised by the heathens against the Christians, he says (Apol. 1.13), that the Christians worship the Creator of the universe, in the second place (ev Sevrepq p^topa) the Son, in the third rank (ei> rptrrj T&%et) the prophetic Spirit; thus placing the three divine hypostases in descending gradation as objects of worship.

The other apologists of the second century mark no decided progress either in Christology or pneumatology.

Athenagoras confesses his faith in Father, Son, and Spirit, who arc one Kara Svvafiiv, but whom he distinguishes as to Ta£f>, in subordinatian style.

Theophilvs of Antioch (about A. D. 180) is the first to denote the relation of the three divine persons 1 by the term triad.

Origen (a. D. 180—254) conceives the Trinity as three concentric circles, of which each succeeding one circum

[ocr errors]

scribes a smaller area. God the Father acts upon all created being; the Logos, only upon the rational creation; the Holy Ghost, only upon the saints in the church. But the sanctifying work of the Spirit leads back to the Son, and the Son to the Father, who is consequently the ground and end of all being, and stands highest in dignity, as the compass of his operation is the largest. Origen spent the main force of his speculation on the Christological problem. He felt the full importance of this fundamental article, but obscured it by foreign Platonizing speculations, and wavered between the homoousian or orthodox, and the subordinatian theories, which afterwards were brought out in their full antagonism in the Arian controversy. On the one hand, he brings the Son as near as possible to the essence of the Father; not only making him the absolute personal wisdom, truth, righteousness, and reason (auToao<pia, avroakif&eia, avroSiKaioavmj, avroSwafiis, avroXoyos, etc.), but also expressly predicating eternity of him. He first clearly propounds the church dogma of the eternal generation of the Son. Generally he makes it proceed from the will of the Father, but he represents it also as proceeding from his essence, and thus in one passage at least (in a fragment of his Comm. on the Hebrews), he already applies the term ofioovaios to the Son, making him equal in substance with the Father. But on the other hand he distinguishes the essence of the Son from that of the Father; speaks of a krepoT<qs Tt}? overtax or Tov irrro KeipJvov, and makes the Son decidedly inferior, calling him merely ^60? without the article, i. e. God in an inferior sense (Deus de Dev), also Sevrepos ^eo?, but the Father God in the absolute sense, o &eo? (Deus per se), or av■n&eo?, and Ttxt^ and pt$a Ttj? ^eortrros. Hence he also taught that the Son should not be directly addressed in prayer, but the Father only through the Son in the Holy Ghost.

Irenceus, after Polycarp the most faithful representative of the Johannean school (died about A. n. 202) keeps more within the limits of the simple biblical statements, and repudiates any d priori or speculative attempts to explain what

• 62*

he regards an incomprehensible mystery. He is content to define the actual distinction between Father and Son, by saying that the former is G!od revealing himself, the latter God revealed; the one is the ground of revelation, the other the actual appearing revelation itself. Here he calls the Father the invisible of the Son, and the Son or Logos, the visible of the Father. This is evidently a very close approach to the Nicene homoousia. As to the Trinity, Irenseus goes no further than the baptismal formula and the Trinity of revelation; proceeding on the hypothesis of three successive stages in the development of the kingdom of God on earth, and of a progressive communication of God to the world. He also represents the relation of the persons according to Eph. 4:6, the Father as above all, and the head of Christ; the Son as through all, and the head of the church; the Spirit as in ail, and the fountain of the water of life.1 Of a supra-mundane Trinity of essence, he betrays but faint indications.

Tertullian (died about 120) advances a step. He supposes a distinction in God himself, and on the principle that the created image affords a key to the uncreated original, he illustrates the distinction in the divine nature by the analogy of human thought; the necessity of a self-projection, or a making one's self objective in word, for which he borrows from the Valentinians the term irpofidkr) or prolatio rei alterius ex altera,2 but without connecting with it the sensuous emanation theory of the Gnostics. Otherwise he stands on subordinatian ground, if his comparisons of the Trinitarian relation to that of root, stem, and fruit, or fountain, flow, and brook, or sun, ray, and raipoint, be dogmatically pressed.8 Yet he directly asserts also the essential

1 Adv. Haereses, V. 18, § 2. * Adv. Prax. c. 8.

3 Tertius— says he, Adv. Prax. c. 8. — cst Spiritus a Deo et Filio, sicut ttrlius a radice fruetus ex frutice, ct terlius a finite rivus ex fiuuiinc. et tertius a sole ex radio. Nihil tamcn a matricc alienator, a qua proprietarcs suas ducit. Ita trinitas (liero this word appears for the first time, comp. c. 2: otKovofila qu3e uuitatera ill triuitatem disponit) per consertos (al. consortes) et connexos gradus a Pane deeurrens ct monarchiae nihil obstrepit et ..i..-«> >uk» statum protegit. Further, above he says: Nam ft radix cl frutex duae res sunt, sed conjunctae; ct fons i! fluinen duac species sunt, sed indivisae; ct sol et radius duae forraae

unity of the three persons.1 But then this seems to be meant only in a limited sense; for in another passage he bluntly calls the Father the whole divine substance, and the Son a part of it,'2 appealing for this view to John 14: 28: "My Father is greater than I" (which must be understood to apply only to the Christ of history, the X070? evaapKwi, and not to the X670s ao-apKos). In other respects Tertullian prepared the way for a clearer distinction between the Trinity of essence and the Trinity of revelation. He teaches a threefold hypostatical existence of the Son (filiatio): 1. The precxistent, eternal immanence of the Son in the Father; they being as inseparable as reason and word in man, who was created in the image of God, and hence in a measure reflects his being. 2. The coming forth of the Son with the Father, for the purpose of the creation. 3. The manifestation of the Son in the world by the incarnation. The Pneumatology figures very prominently in the Montanistic system, and consequently, also, in Tertullian's theology. He made the Holy Spirit the principle of the highest stage of revelation and the proper essence of the church, but subordinated him to the Son, as he did the Son to the Father; though elsewhere he asserts the unitas substantia.

With equal energy Hippolytus (died about 235), in his recently discovered "Philosophoumena," or, Refutation of all Heresies, combated Patripassianism, and insisted on the recognition of different hypostases, with equal claim to divine worship. Yet he, too, is somewhat trammelled with the subordinatian view.

The same may be said of Novation, of Rome, the schismatic but orthodox contemporary of Cyprian, and author of a special treatise (De Trinitatc) drawn from the

sunt, sed eohaercntcs. Omne qnod prodit ex aliquo secundum sit eius ueccsse est dc quo prodit, non ideo tamen est separatum.

1 C 2: Tres autem non statu, sed Rradu, ncc substantia, sed forma, nee potcstate, sed specie, nnius autem substantias ct unius status, ct unius potestatis, quia nnus Deus, ox qvo et pradns isti et formao et species, in nomine Patris et Filii ct Spiritus Sancti deputantur.

2 Adv. Prnx. c. 9: Pater tota substantia est, Filius vero dcrivatio totius ct portio.

« AnteriorContinuar »