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Creed, and fortified with Scripture proofs, against the two classes of Monarchians.
The Roman bishop Dionysius (A. D. 262) stood nearest the Nicene doctrine, and may be said to have clearly anticipated it. He maintained distinctly, in the controversy with Dionysius of Alexandria, a pupil of Origen, at once the unity of essence and the real personal distinction of the three members of the divine triad, and avoided Tritheism, Sabellianism, and Subordinatianism, with the instinct of orthodoxy, and also, it must be admitted, with the art of anathematizing already familiar to the popes of that age. His view has come down to us in a fragment in Athanasius, where it is said: "Then I must declare against those who annihilate the most sacred doctrine of the Church, by dividing and dissolving the unity of God into three powers, separate hypostases, and three deities." This notion (some tritheistic view, not further known to us) is just the opposite of the opinion of Sabellius; for while the latter would introduce the impious doctrine, that the Son is the same as the Father, and the converse, the former teach in some sense three Gods, by dividing the sacred unity into three fully separate hypostases. But the divine Logos must be inseparably united with the God of all, and in God also the Holy Ghost must dwell, so that the divine triad must be comprehended in one, viz.: the all-ruling God, as in a head."1 Then he condemns the doctrine that the Son is a creature, as " the height of blasphemy," and concludes: " The divine adorable unity must not be thus cut up into three deities ; no more may the transcendent dignity and greatness of the Lord be lowered by saying the Son is created ; but we must believe in God, the Almighty Father, and in Jesus Christ his Son, and in the Holy Ghost, and must consider the Logos inseparably united with the God of all; for he says: I and my Father are one; and, I am in the Father, and the Father in me. In this way are both the divine triad and the
sacred doctrine of the unity of the Godhead preserved inviolate."
This is by far the clearest ante-Nicene statement of the Nicene faith, and closes the development of the dogma within the period to which our essay is limited.
But this is only the positive part of our discussion. To understand it properly, we must now pass under review the Unitarian antithesis in the same period. For this view of the Trinity, which was then more fully brought out in the Arian and semi-Arian controversies of the Nicene age, and finally settled by the oecumenical councils of Nice, A. D. 325, and of Constantinople, A. D. 381, was already in this less definite ante-Nicene form, in great part the result of a conflict with the opponents of the Trinity, who flourished in the third century. These Antitrinitarians are commonly called Monarchians, or Unitarians, on account of the stress they laid upon the unity [fiovapxia) of God.
But we must carefully distinguish among them two opposite classes: the rationalistic, or dynamic Monarchians, who denied the divinity of Christ, or explained it as a mere power (Swafiis); and the Patripassian Monarchians, who identified the Son with the Father, and admitted, at most, only a modal Trinity, a threefold mode of revelation. The first form of this heresy, involved in the abstract Jewish Monotheism, deistically sundered the divine and the human, and rose little above Elionism. The second proceeded, at least in part, from pantheistic preconceptions, and approached the ground of Gnostic Docetism. The one prejudiced the dignity of the Son, the other the dignity of the Father; yet the latter was by far the more profound and Christian, and accordingly met with the greater acceptance.
I. The Monarchians of the first class saw in Christ a mere man, filled with divine power; but conceived this divine power as operative in him, not from the baptism only, according to the Ebionite view, but from the beginning; and admitted his supernatural generation by the Holy Ghost. To this class belong:
1. The Atogians (from a and X070?, unreasonable and opponents of the Logos), a heretical sect in Asia Minor, about A.. D. 170, of which very little is known. Epiphanius gave them this name, because in the Monarchian interest they rejected the Logos doctrine and the Logos gospel. In opposition to Montanism, they likewise rejected Chiliasm and the Apocalypse. They attributed the writings of John to the Gnostic Cerinthus.
2. The Theodotians; so called from their founder, the tanner Theodotus. He sprang from Byzantium; denied Christ in a persecution, with the apology that he only denied a man; but still held him to be the supernaturally begotten Messiah. He gained followers in Rome, but was excommunicated by the bishop, Victor (192-202). After his death, his sect chose the confessor Natalis bishop, who is said to have afterwards penitently returned into the bosom of the Catholic Church. A younger Theodotus, the "money-changer," put Melchisedek as mediator between God and the angels, above Christ, the mediator between God and men; and his followers were called Melchisedekians.
3. The Artemonites, or adherents of Artemon, who came out somewhat later, at Rome, with a similar opinion; declared the doctrine of the divinity of Christ an innovation, and a relapse to heathen polytheism; and was excommunicated by Zephyrinus (202-217). The Artemonites were charged with placing Euclid and Aristotle above Christ, and esteeming mathematics and dialectics higher than the gospel. This indicates a critical intellectual turn, averse to mystery, and shows that Aristotle was employed, by some, against the divinity of Christ, as Plato was engaged for it. Their assertion, that the true doctrine was obscured in the Roman Church only from the time of Zephyrinus (Euseb. V. 28), is explained by the fact, brought to light recently, through the Philosophoumena of Hippolytus, that Zephyrinus (and perhaps his predecessor, Victor), against the vehement opposition of a portion of the Roman Church, favored Patripassianism, and probably in behalf of this doctrine, condemned the Artemonites.
4. Paul of Samosata, from 260 bishop of Antioch, and at the same time a civil officer (Ducenarius procurator), denied the personality of the Logos and of the Holy Ghost, and considered them merely powers of God, like reason and mind in man; but granted that the Logos dwelt in Christ in larger measure than in any former messenger of God, and taught, like the Socinians in later times, a gradual elevation of Christ, determined by his own moral development, to divine dignity (17 'SeoTrolrjais e'/c 7r/3o«o7rj)?). To introduce his Christology into the mind of the people, he undertook to alter the church hymns, but was wise enough to accommodate himself to the orthodox formulas, calling Christ, for example, ^eos e'« -rrap^evov, and ascribing to him even ofioouaia with the Father, but of course in his own sense. The bishops under him in Smyrna accused him not only of heresy, but also of extreme vanity, arrogance, pompousness, avarice, and undue concern with secular business; and, at a council in 269, they pronounced his deposition. But as he was favored by the queen, Zenobia of Palmyra, the deposition could not be executed till after her subjection by the emperor Aurelius, in 272, and after consultation with the Italian bishops. His overthrow decided the fall of the Monarchians, though they still appear at the end of the fourth century, as condemned heretics, under the name of Samosatenians, Paulianists, and Sabellians.
II. The second class of Monarchians, called by Tertullian Patripassians (as afterwards a branch of the Monophysites was called Theopaschites), together with their Unitarian zeal, felt the deeper Christian impulse to hold fast the divinity of Christ, but they sacrificed to it his independent personality, which they merged in the essence of the Father.
1. The first prominent advocate of the Patripassian heresy was Praxeas of Asia Minor. He came to Rome under Marcus Aurelius, with the renown of a confessor, procured there the condemnation of Montanism, and propounded his Patripassianism, to which he gained even the bishop Victor. But Tertullian met him, in vindication at once of Montanism and of Hypostasianism, with Crushing logic, and charged him with having executed, at Rome, two commissions of the devil: having driven away the Holy Ghost, and having crucified- the Father (" Paracletum fugavit et Patrem crucifixit"). According to Tertullian, Praxeas, constantly appealing to Is. 45: O, John 10: 30 ('' I and my Father are one "), and John 14: 9 seq. (" He that hath seen me hath seen the Father"), as if the whole Bible consisted of these three passages, taught that the Father himself became man, hungered, thirsted, suffered, and died, in Christ. True, he would not be understood as speaking directly of a suffering (pati) of the Father, but only of a sympathy (copati) of the Father with the Son; but, in any case, he lost the independent personality of the Son. He conceived the relation of the Father to the Son as like that of the spirit to the flesh. The same subject, as spirit, is the Father; as flesh, the Son. He thought the Catholic doctrine tritheistic.
2. Noetus of Smyrna published the same view about A. D. 200, appealing also to Rom. 9: 5, where Christ is called the one God over all. When censured by a council, he argued, in vindication of himself, that his doctrine enhanced the glory of Christ.1 The author of the Philosophoumena places him in connection with the pantheistic philosophy of Heraclitus, who, as we here for the first time learn, viewed nature as the harmony of all antitheses, and called the universe at once dissoluble and indissoluble, originated and unoriginated, mortal and immortal; thus, Noetus supposed that the same divine subject must be able to combine opposite attributes in itself.
3. Callistus (pope Calixtus I.) adopted and advocated the doctrine of Noetus, which Epigonus and Cleomenes, disciples of Noetus,2 propagated in Rome under favor of pope Zephyrinus. He declared the Son merely the manifestation of the Father in human form; the Father animating the Son, as the spirit animates the body,3 and suffering with
1 T< oZv Koxbv iroiu, ho flsked. 5o|a(W Tbv Xp<ariv;
2 Not his teachers, as was supposed by former historians, including Neander.
3 John 14: 11.