Answer to Harold Kupp on the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers

Holy Trinity and Modern Arians Part 2

These posts originated from 1994 on the old FidoNet/Phileonet conferences.

See also Old Testament Proofs of the Trinity by Jamie K. Roth

Also my part 1 of Holy Trinity and Modern Arians

Harold and all,

I noticed others are taking up the Trinity debate from the Bible, so I'll tackle the issue with you from the Church Fathers. I would like to compliment you on your debating ability. You are extremely adept at using arguments and scholarly sources to support you. However, on the issue of the Trinity and the Church Fathers -- sorry, Harold, you are no match for me. :)


Proposition: Did the ante-Nicene Fathers teach the Trinity?

Harold Kupp: NO. P: YES


I have the burden of proof here which I gladly accept. I have to prove the ante-Nicene Fathers taught the Trinity.

For a definition of the Trinity, you gave the following in the 8/13/94 post --

HK> The doctrine of the Trinity is based on a syllogism which goes something like this:

HK> Major Premise: There is only one God.

HK> Minor Premise: The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are called God.

HK> The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are one God.

I would accept this definition with some further clarifications. The Trinity as historic orthodox Christians believe is --

(1) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal in NATURE, or ONE God in substance or essence (that would deny Arianism, a form of which you accept).

(2) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct PERSONS, yet ONE God (that would deny Monarchianism).

(3) That ONE God is the TRUE God as distinguished from all other false "gods", idols, devils, etc. There are many "so-called" gods but only ONE true God -- Mark 12:29; 1 Cor 8:5; Gal 4:8; etc. (that would deny Polytheism).

Okay, now that we got this straight, let's examine the evidence you put forward of Church Fathers who you think denied the above definition of the Trinity.

(from previous post)

HK> As you know, the third century Roman church under Constantine was the source of the Trinity Doctrine. The tradition of the Trinity as such, was not taught by the first and second century church leaders. None of the Ante-Nicene fathers taught that the Supreme Being was composed of three persons, each co-equal and co-eternal. Believe It or Not!

P> Nope, I don't believe it because I have a three volume set THE FAITH OF THE EARLY FATHERS by William Jurgens which disproves this. I have also read such works as EARLY CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES by Church history scholar J.N.D. Kelly which disproves this. We can get into this in depth if you like. What Church history sources have you studied?

HK> Phil, quoting a book title is not proof of anything. All you have to do to prove me wrong is to show me where the Ante-Nicene fathers taught the doctrine of the Trinity as expressed in the Athanasian Creed. You do not have to get into it in depth; two or three quotes from the first hundred years after Jesus would be sufficient. But remember, if they do not teach all the elements of the Trinity (3 beings, one God, co-equal, co-eternal) it is not the doctrine of the Trinity...

Okay, let us begin. Did the ante-Nicene Fathers teach the Trinity?


ORIGEN (c. 185 - 254 A.D.)


HK> For example, these quotes from Bishops and theologians of the early church are in reference to the declaration which Jesus made in John 14:28: "The Father is greater than I"

There is no question that John 14:28 is a "problem text" for Trinitarians. That one must be answered. I'll get into this later -- for now let's look at the Fathers.

I might concede Origen did not EXPLICITLY teach the Trinity as I have defined above -- however, he was certainly much closer to the orthodox Trinitarian position than to your anti-Trinitarian position. I'll explain below with many quotes from Origen.

Origen, although a fine scholar and theologian as you noted, held to many beliefs that almost all Christians today (whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant) would consider unorthodox or heretical.

Since the time of St. Jerome, Origen has never been considered orthodox. Not only did he make ambiguous statements such as your quote regarding the relation of the Father to the Son (see below), but he also taught the pre-existence of souls, that Hell was temporary, that everyone (including demons) would be saved (also known as "universalism"), and he used a very allegorical method in interpreting Scripture.

The source I will be using is the three-volume set I mentioned -- THE FAITH OF THE EARLY FATHERS by William A. Jurgens (Liturgical Press, 1970, 1979) which contains the original quotes of all the major Church Fathers from the beginning to the end of the entire patristic period (from St. Clement of Rome 80 A.D. to St. John Damascene 750 A.D.)

Here's what Jurgens says concerning Origen and his teachings --

"The disputes known as the Origenist controversies, in respect to the orthodoxy of his doctrine, arose never during his life, but three times after his death: c. A.D. 300, c. A.D. 400, and c. A.D. 550. He was a great scholar and a great theologian, and strove always to be Catholic in his faith. Yet, he came finally to be regarded as a heretic, which accounts largely for the fact that so many of his writings have perished entirely....It is generally stated that Origen's heresies are nowhere clearer than in his work on 'The Fundamental Doctrines' [De principiis]. Nevertheless, it should be noted that he is generally very careful to distinguish between Catholic doctrine and his own speculations, which latter he presents as no more than possibilities which would have to stand the test of acceptance or rejection in the teaching Church. The work undoubtedly suffers from an overly active Platonic influence, and from allegorical interpretation of Scripture; yet, it stands firmly and immovably and without pretence as neither more nor less than a theological monument of absolutely epic proportions." (Jurgens, volume 1, p. 189-190)

Now let's look at the quote you gave from Origen.

HK> "ORIGEN (C. 253) is free from all ambiguity..."I admit", he says "that there may be some.....(sic) who maintain that the Saviour is the Most High God over all, but we do NOT certainly hold such a view, who believe Him when He said Himself: "THE FATHER WHO SENT ME IS GREATER THAN I"; and again: "Clearly we assert.....(sic) that the Son is not mightier than the Father, but INFERIOR." (The Gospel According To John B.F. Wescott commentary p.213)

First, it looks like you are quoting from a secondary source. Do you have Origen's own writings themselves? Jurgens supplies quite a list although not the exact quote you give from John 14:28.

Yes, it does look like Origen interpreted John 14:28 to mean that Christ was "inferior" (although what Origen means by this is not clear) in nature to God the Father. However, the statement that Origen "is free from all ambiguity" is simply not true.

Look at some of Origen's other statements on this -- [my comments appear in brackets]

"The specific points which are clearly handed down through the apostolic preaching are these: First, that there is ONE GOD who created and arranged all things, and who, when NOTHING existed, CALLED ALL THINGS INTO EXISTENCE....and that in the final period this God, just as He had promised beforehand through the Prophets, sent the Lord Jesus Christ....

"Secondly, that Jesus Christ Himself, who came, was born of the Father BEFORE all creatures [i.e. Christ Himself is NOT a creature or created thing]; and after He had ministered to the Father IN THE CREATION OF ALL THINGS [i.e. Christ Himself CREATED ALL THINGS] -- for through Him WERE ALL THINGS MADE [i.e. John 1:3] -- in the final period he emptied Himself and was made man. Although HE WAS GOD, He took flesh; and having been made man, HE REMAINED WHAT HE WAS, GOD. He took a body like our body, differing only in this, that it was born of a Virgin AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.

"Moreover, this Jesus Christ was truly born and truly suffered; and He endured this ordinary death, not in mere appearance, but did truly die; for He truly rose again from the dead, and after His resurrection He conversed with His disciples, and was taken up. Third, they handed it down that THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ASSOCIATED IN HONOR AND DIGNITY WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON [sounds like the Trinity to me].

"...And it is most clearly taught in the Churches that this Spirit inspired each one of the holy men, whether Prophets or Apostles; and that there was not one Spirit in the men of old, and another in those who were inspired after the coming of Christ."

(De Principiis or The Fundamental Doctrines 1:preface:4, from Jurgens, volume 1, p. 191)

"John says in the Gospel, 'No one has at any time seen God' [John 1:18], clearly declaring to all who are able to understand, that there is no NATURE to which God is visible: not as if He were indeed visible by NATURE....He is by NATURE impossible to be seen. And if you should ask of me what I think even of the Only-begotten Himself [the Son], whether I could say that the NATURE of God, which is naturally invisible, is not visible even to Him....for we will give you a logical answer. [compare NATURE to DEITY below]

"For it is just as unsuitable to say that the SON is able to see the FATHER, as it is unbecoming to suppose that the HOLY SPIRIT is able to see the SON. It is one thing to see, another to know. To see and to be seen belongs to bodies. To know and to be known belongs to an intellectual being [or NATURE in Latin]. That, therefore, which is proper to bodies is not to be attributed to either the FATHER or to the SON; BUT THAT WHICH PERTAINS TO DEITY IS COMMON TO THE FATHER AND THE SON."

(The Fundamental Doctrines 1:1:8, Jurgens, volume 1, p. 193)

[and now for a more ambiguous statement]

"For we do NOT hold that which the heretics imagine: that some part of the substance of God was converted into the Son, or that the Son was procreated by the Father from non-existent substances, that is, from a substance outside Himself, so that THERE WERE A TIME WHEN HE DID NOT EXIST [i.e. the Son ALWAYS existed according to Origen].

"No, rejecting every suggestion of corporality, we hold that the Word and Wisdom was begotten OUT OF the invisible and incorporeal God, without anything corporal being acted upon, in the manner of an act of the will proceeding from the mind....The expression which we employ, however, -- that there NEVER was a time when He did not exist -- is to be taken with a certain allowance.

"For these very words WHEN and NEVER are terms of temporal significance, while whatever is said of the FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT, is to be understood as transcending ALL TIME, ALL AGES, and ALL ETERNITY.

[here is where Origen specifically uses the term "Trinity"]

"For it is the TRINITY ALONE which exceeds every sense in which not only temporal but even ETERNAL may be understood. It is all OTHER things [i.e. not the SON, not the HOLY SPIRIT], indeed, which are OUTSIDE the TRINITY, which are to be measured by times and ages."

(The Fundamental Doctrines 4:4:1, Jurgens, volume 1, p. 199)

[and a less ambiguous statement]

"We believe, however that there are THREE PERSONS, the FATHER and the SON and the HOLY SPIRIT; and we believe none to be unbegotten except the Father [however, clearly from the above Origen does not say the SON was CREATED -- hence "begotten" is ambiguous]. We admit, as more pious and true, that ALL THINGS were produced through the WORD, and that the HOLY SPIRIT is the most excellent and the first in order of all that was produced by the Father through Christ."

(Commentaries on John 2:6 [al 2,10,75], Jurgens, volume 1, p. 202)

So in conclusion, Origen can certainly be considered more within the Trinitarian camp than in your camp. IOW, Origen was implicitly (if not explicitly) a Trinitarian, although he made some ambiguous statements concerning the relation of the Father to the Son.

Next up --


TERTULLIAN (c. 155 - 250 A.D.)


HK> Tertullian wrote: "...but the Logos did not become Son of God until He was brought forth to be the instrument of creation; there was a time when the Son (as Son) did not exist (Adv Hermog. 3). The Father has the fullness of Deity, the Son ONLY A PORTION OF IT, derived from Him." Tertullian is relying on the subordinationist Logos doctrine of the apologists, especially Theophillus," (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia Of Religious Knowledge)

Here you are wrong on Tertullian. Not only did Tertullian believe in the Trinity, he formulated the basic terminology used in formal expressions of the doctrine. The word "Trinity" (Latin trinitas) as well as the distinction between "one God" and "three persons" was first developed by Tertullian -- he wrote explicitly of "a Trinity of ONE divinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (from De Pudicitia 21). I'll demonstrate this below.

You are again quoting from a secondary source. The phrase you quoted "...there was a time when the Son (as Son) did not exist" was NOT made by Tertullian himself but by a modern scholar to summarize a statement made by Tertullian (see "Elucidations" in the ANF 3:629 by Schaff), who argued that God was always God, but not always Father of the Son. The full context of the statement is found in Jurgens --

"We say that the name of God always existed with Himself and in Himself, but the name of Lord not always. There is a difference in what is to be understood by each of the terms. God, of course, is the name of the SUBSTANCE itself, which is Divinity; Lord, however, is not the name of a substance but of a power. The SUBSTANCE, I maintain, ALWAYS EXISTED with its own name, which is GOD [see below concerning the SON].

"The name Lord came afterwards, when, of course, something was added. Ever since those things began to exist, over which the power of the Lord might act, from that very moment, through the accession of power, He both became Lord and received that name. God is Father and likewise God is Judge; but it does not follow that He is always Father and Judge, simply on the grounds that He is always God; for He could not be Father before the Son was, nor Judge before there was sin."

(Against Hermogenes 3:3-4; Jurgens, volume 1, p. 134)

Here Tertullian is asserting that the title of "Son" did not apply to the second person of the Trinity until he began to relate to the "Father" as a "Son" in the work of creation (Heb 1:1ff; John 1:1ff).

But did Tertullian believe in the Trinity as I have defined above?

Yes, he certainly did -- (all from Against Praxeas)

"We do indeed believe that there is ONLY ONE GOD; but we believe that under this dispensation, or as we say, -oikonomia- [relationship between the persons], there is also a Son of this one only God, His Word [Sermo], who proceeded from Him, and through whom all things were made and WITHOUT WHOM nothing was made [John 1:3]. We believe that He was sent by the Father into a Virgin and was born of her, GOD AND MAN, Son of Man and Son of God, and was called by the name Jesus Christ....

"We believe that He sent down from the Father, in accord with His own promise, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the FATHER and in the SON and in the HOLY SPIRIT."

" the case of the present heresy, which considers itself to have the pure truth when it supposes that one cannot believe in the ONE ONLY GOD in any other way than by saying that Father, Son, and Spirit are the very selfsame Person [i.e. Monarchianism]. As if One were not All even in this way, that ALL [THREE PERSONS] ARE ONE -- through UNITY OF SUBSTANCE, of course!"

"And at the same time the mystery of the -oikonomia- is safeguarded, for the UNITY is distributed in a TRINITY [Latin trinitas]. Placed in order, the THREE are FATHER, SON, and SPIRIT. THEY are THREE, however, not in condition, but in degree [non statu sed gradu], not in substance, but in form [nec substantia sed forma], not in power, but in kind [nec potestate sed specie]; OF ONE SUBSTANCE, however, and one condition, and ONE POWER, BECAUSE HE IS ONE GOD OF WHOM THESE DEGREES AND FORMS AND KINDS ARE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT."

"Keep always in mind the rule of faith which I profess and by which I bear witness that THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE SPIRIT ARE INSEPARABLE FROM EACH OTHER, and then you will understand what is meant by it.

"Observe, now, that I say the Father is other, and the Son is other, and the Spirit is other. This statement is WRONGLY understood by every uneducated or perversely disposed individual, as if it meant diversity and implied by that diversity a SEPARATION of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

"I say this, however, out of necessity, since they contend that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are the selfsame Person, thus extolling the monarchy at the expense of the -oikonomia- [relationship between the persons] -- that the Son is other than the Father not by diversity but by distribution. He is not other by division but by DISTINCTION; for the Father is not the SAME as the Son, since they DIFFER one from another by a kind of measure [modulo alius ab alio].

[next is the part you quoted -- but you ignored the whole context]

"The Father is the whole substance, while the Son, indeed, is a derivation and portion of the whole [derivatio totius et portio] as He Himself professes: 'Because the Father is greater than I' [John 14:28]. In the psalm His minority is sung as being a little less than the angels [Psalm 8:6]. Thus the Father is OTHER than the Son, because He is greater than the Son [in POSITION]; because He that begets is OTHER than Him that is begotten; because He that sends is OTHER than Him that is sent; because He that makes something is OTHER than him through whom He makes it [OTHER refers to distinction of PERSONS within the TRINITY].

"Happily the Lord Himself used this expression in regard to the PERSON of the Paraclete [HOLY SPIRIT], signifying not division but disposition: 'I will ask the Father,' He says, 'and He will send you ANOTHER Advocate, the Spirit of truth' [John 14:16]. Thus He showed that the Son is OTHER than the Father. He showed in the Paraclete a THIRD degree, just as we believe that the Son is a SECOND degree, by reason of the ORDER observed in the -oikonomia- [relationship]."

"We who by the grace of God examine the times and the motives of the Scriptures, and who are disciples not of men but especially of the Paraclete, we do indeed define that THERE ARE TWO, FATHER and SON, and WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT EVEN A THIRD, in accord with the principle of the -oikonomia-, which distinguishes as to NUMBER, lest, as your perversity would infer, the Father Himself be believed to have been born and to have suffered [called Patripassianism], which in fact, it is not lawful to believe, since it has not been handed down.

"That there are TWO Gods and TWO Lords, however, is a statement which we will NEVER ALLOW to issue from our mouth -- not as if the Father and the Son WERE NOT GOD, NOR the SPIRIT GOD, and EACH OF THEM GOD; but formerly TWO were spoken of as GODS and TWO as LORDS, so that when Christ would come, He might both be acknowledged AS GOD AND BE CALLED LORD BECAUSE HE IS THE SON OF HIM WHO IS BOTH GOD AND LORD."

"The Father and the Son are distinguished by what is proper to each. He promises to send the Paraclete also, for whom He will ask the Father, after He has ascended to the Father; and He calls the Paraclete 'ANOTHER' [John 14:16]. How it is that He is 'another' we have already explained. Further, He says, 'He will receive of what is mine,' just as He Himself has received from the Father.

"Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces THREE who, though coherent, are DISTINCT ONE FROM ANOTHER. THESE THREE ARE ONE, and yet NOT one: for 'I and the Father ARE ONE' [John 10:30] was said in regard to their UNITY OF SUBSTANCE, but not in regard to a singularity of number."

"This, then, must be the point of our inquiry: How the Word [Sermo] became flesh [John 1:14], whether as if by being transfigured in the flesh, or by actually being clothed in the flesh. Certainly it was by actually being clothed in flesh; for it is still necessary to believe that God is immutable and unchanging, inasmuch as He is eternal....

"God, however, neither ceases to be, nor can He become other than He is. THE WORD, INDEED, IS GOD [John 1:1]....In fact, however, we find Him expressly set forth as GOD AND MAN....We see a twofold state, not confused but conjoined in ONE PERSON, JESUS, GOD AND MAN."

(Against Praxeas 2:1-4; 9:1-3; 13:5-6; 25:1; 27:7,10-11; Jurgens, volume 1, p. 154-157)

I think these statements are very clear. Tertullian was explicitly a Trinitarian. Next --


NOVATIAN (c. 235 A.D.)


HK> "NOVATIAN (c. 250) is scarcely less bold in his mode of expression: 'It is necessary that [the Father] have priority (prior sit) as Father, since He who knew no origin must needs have precedence over (antecedat) Him who has an origin. At the same time [the Son] must be LESS, since He knows that He is in Him AS HAVING AN ORIGIN because He is BORN'." (The Gospel of John According to B.F. Wescott Commentary p.213)

Again, as with Origen, Novatian is not considered completely orthodox by the Catholic Church. In fact, he began a sect (Novatianist schism) which spread with some success to Spain and to Syria. In the latter place it lasted for several centuries. The sect was schismatic not so much for doctrinal differences but for its insistence on rigorist practices (Jurgens, volume 1, p. 246).

Why didn't you quote from the major ante-Nicene Saints -- St. Ignatius, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, St. Cyprian? I'll show you why below -- they all believed in the Trinity.

The quote you are giving above comes from a work of Novatian titled.... THE TRINITY! (Latin De Trinitate c. 235 A.D.) so obviously he didn't deny the Trinity explicitly -- he was more in Origen's camp.

There is NO Church Father that explicitly says -- "I deny the Trinity... I deny God is three persons.....I deny the Son is God....." etc. Yes, there was a certain development of doctrine but no one really explicitly denied the Trinity of God in three persons.

Here's the quotes from Novatian's De Trinitate ("The Trinity") --

"Neither, then, do we acknowledge as our Christ the Christ of the heretics [Gnostics], who, as it is said, was but an appearance and not a reality; for He had done nothing real among all the actions He performed, if He was Himself a phantasm and not a reality. Nor do we acknowledge one who had nothing of our flesh in Himself, since He received nothing of Mary; nor one who did not come to us, since He appeared as a vision and not in our substance; nor one who put on flesh which was either ethereal or starry, as other heretics would have it. We could perceive no salvation for us in Him, if we could not recognize in Him even the solidity of our flesh.

"We do not treat of the substance of [Christ's] body in such a way as to say that He was only and solely a man; rather, we hold that by the association of the DIVINITY of the Word in that very corporality, HE WAS, in accord with the Scriptures, ALSO GOD [John 1:1; Col 2:9].

"It is [the HOLY SPIRIT] that effects with water a second birth. HE [personal pronoun] IS a kind of seed of divine generation and the consecrator of heavenly birth, the pledge of a promised inheritance [Eph 1:14], and, as it were, a kind of surety bond of eternal salvation. It is HE [personal pronoun] that can make of us a temple of God [1 Cor 3:17], and can complete us as HIS house; HE [personal pronoun] that can accost the divine ears for us with unutterable groaning [Rom 8:26], fulfilling the duties of advocate and performing the functions of defense; HE [personal pronoun] that is an inhabitant given to our bodies, and a worker of holiness.

[next is the part you quoted -- although you ignored context again]

"God the Father, founder and creator of all things, who alone knows no beginning, who is invisible, immeasureable, immortal, and eternal, is ONE GOD. Neither His greatness nor His majesty nor His power can possibly be -- I should not say exceeded, for they cannot even be equalled. FROM Him, when He willed it, the WORD was born, HIS SON. ...And the latter, since He was born of the Father, is ALWAYS IN the Father. And I do indeed say ALWAYS, not to prove Him unborn, but born. HE THAT EXISTS BEFORE ALL TIME must be said to have been IN the Father ALWAYS; for HE THAT EXISTS BEFORE ALL TIME cannot be spoken of in relation to time. And ALWAYS must He be IN the Father, otherwise the Father were not ALWAYS the Father. And yet the Father even precedes Him, because it is necessary for the Father to be prior, in order to be the Father.

"It is necessary for Him who knows no origin to be antecedant to Him who has an origin...He, then, when the Father willed it, PROCEEDED FROM the Father. And He that was IN the Father because He was FROM the Father, was afterwards WITH the Father because He PROCEEDED FROM the Father -- that DIVINE SUBSTANCE, I mean, whose name is WORD, and through whom ALL THINGS WERE MADE [John 1:3], and WITHOUT WHOM WAS MADE NOTHING. For ALL THINGS are AFTER Him, because they are made through Him; and properly He is BEFORE ALL THINGS but AFTER the Father, since ALL THINGS were made through Him, while He proceeded from Him of whose will all things were made: assuredly, HE IS GOD PROCEEDING FROM GOD, CAUSING, A SON, A SECOND PERSON AFTER THE FATHER, BUT NOT TAKING AWAY FROM THE FATHER THE FACT THAT GOD IS ONE."

(The Trinity, 10, 11, 29, 31; Jurgens, vol 1, p. 246-248)

This is somewhat ambiguous but seems to agree with Origen. This is a far cry from denying the Trinity and saying "Christ was CREATED." Clearly, Novatian believed that Christ WAS THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS and was BEFORE ALL THINGS, that Christ is GOD, that the Holy Spirit is a PERSON, and that God is ONE. Sounds like the Trinity to me.

How Novatian put all this together was a little ambiguous but he certainly cannot be said to deny the Trinity, the title of this work!

Now let's go into some of the ante-Nicene Fathers and Saints that you did not mention. First up --


St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110 A.D.)


"Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church at Ephesus in Asia, which is worthy of all felicitation, blessed as it is with greatness by the fullness of GOD THE FATHER, predestined FROM ETERNITY for a glory that is lasting and unchanging, UNITED and chosen through true suffering by the will of the Father IN JESUS CHRIST OUR GOD...."

"There is ONE Physician, who is both flesh and spirit, born AND NOT BORN, WHO IS GOD IN MAN, true life in death, both from Mary AND FROM GOD, first able to suffer and then unable to suffer, JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD."

"You are like stones for a temple of the Father, prepared for the edifice of GOD THE FATHER, hoisted to the heights by the crane of JESUS CHRIST, which is the cross, using for a rope THE HOLY SPIRIT. Your faith is what pulls you up, and love is the road which leads you TO GOD."

"For OUR GOD, JESUS CHRIST, was conceived by Mary in accord with GOD'S plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but ALSO OF THE HOLY SPIRIT."

(Letter to Ephesians addr; 7:2; 9:1; 18:2; Jurgens, vol 1, p. 17-18)

"The prophets, who were men of GOD, lived according to JESUS CHRIST. For that reason they were persecuted, inspired as they were by His grace to convince the disobedient that THERE IS ONE GOD, WHO manifested Himself through HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, who is HIS WORD proceeding from silence, and who was in all respects pleasing to Him that sent Him....through which mystery we received faith, through which also we suffer in order to be found to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our ONLY Teacher -- how then will we be able to live without Him of whom even the propehts were disciples IN THE SPIRIT, and to whom they looked forward as their Teacher...."

"Take care, therefore, to be confirmed in the decrees of the LORD and of the Apostles, in order that in everything you do, you may prosper in body and in soul, in faith and in love, IN SON AND IN FATHER AND IN SPIRIT, in beginning and in end, together with your most reverend bishop..."

(Letter to the Magnesians 8:1-2; 9:1-2; 13:1; Jurgens, p. 19-20)

"Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church that has found mercy in the greatness of the Most High Father AND in Jesus Christ, His only Son; to the Church beloved and enlightened after the love of Jesus Christ, OUR GOD, by the will of Him that has willed everything which is; to the Church also which holds the presidency in the place of the country of the Romans...named after Christ AND named after the Father: her therefore do I salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. To those who are united in flesh and in spirit by every commandment of His, who are filled with the grace of GOD without wavering, and who are filtered clear of every foreign stain, I wish an unalloyed joy in Jesus Christ, OUR GOD."

(Letter to the Romans address; Jurgens, p. 21)

"I give glory to Jesus Christ, THE GOD who has made you wise; for I have observed that you are set in faith unshakable, as if nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in body and in soul; and that you are confirmed in love by the Blood of Christ, firmly believing in regard to our Lord that He is TRULY of the family of David according to the FLESH, and GOD'S SON by the will and power of GOD, truly born of a Virgin, baptized by John so that all justice might be fulfilled by Him..."

(Letter to the Smyrnaeans 1:1; Jurgens, p. 24)


Aristides of Athens (c. 140 A.D.)


"Christians trace their origin to the Lord Jesus Christ. He that came down from heaven in the Holy Spirit for the salvation of men is confessed to be the Son of the Most High God. He was born of a holy Virgin without seed of man, and took flesh without defilement; and He appeared among men so that He might recall them from the ERROR OF POLYTHEISM...they who continue to observe the righteousness which was preached by His disciples are called Christians. These are they who, above every people of the earth, have found the truth; for they acknowledge GOD, the Creator and Maker of all things, IN the only-begotten SON and IN the HOLY SPIRIT. Other than HIM, no god do they worship. They have the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ impressed upon their hearts...."

(Apology 15; Jurgens, p. 49)


St. Justin the Martyr (c. 100 - 165 A.D.)


"Well, we do indeed proclaim ourselves atheists in respect to those whom you call gods, but not in regard to the MOST TRUE GOD, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues....On the contrary, we reverence and worship Him AND THE SON who came forth from Him and taught us these things...AND THE PROPHETIC SPIRIT..."

"...they are led by us to a place where there is water; and there they are reborn in the same kind of rebirth in which we ourselves were reborn: in the name of GOD, the Lord and Father of all, AND of our Savior, Jesus Christ, AND of the Holy Spirit, they receive the washing with water...."

"Although the Jews were always of the opinion that it was the Father of all who had spoken to Moses, IT WAS IN FACT THE SON OF GOD, who is called both Angel and Apostle, who spoke to him; they are, therefore, justly accused by both the PROPHETIC SPIRIT AND BY CHRIST HIMSELF of knowing neither the Father nor the Son. They who assert that the Son is the Father are proved to know neither the Father, nor that the Father of all has a Son, who is both the first-born Word of God AND IS GOD [John 1:1]."

"...but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus."

"For everything that has been given to our use, we praise the Creator of all THROUGH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST AND THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT."

(First Apology 6, 61, 63, 66, 67; Jurgens, p. 51, 54-55)

"To the Father of all, who is unbegotten, no name is given; for anyone who has been given a name has received the name from someone older than himself. Father and God and Creator and Lord and Master are not names but appellations derived form His beneficences and works. His Son, who alone is properly called Son, who was BOTH WITH HIM AND WAS BEGOTTEN BY HIM BEFORE ANYTHING WAS CREATED, when in the beginning the Father created and put everything in order through Him -- He is called Christ, from His being anointed...."

(Second Apology 6; Jurgens, p. 57)

" is inescapable that this is the Christ of God...that He pre-existed as the Son of the Creator of all things, BEING GOD, and that He was born a man by the Virgin."

(Dialogue with Trypho 48; Jurgens, p. 60)


St. Melito of Sardes (c. 177 A.D.)


"The activities of Christ after His Baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of THE DEITY hidden in His flesh. BEING GOD and likewise perfect man, He gave positive indications of His two natures: OF HIS DEITY, by the miracles during the three years following after His Baptism; of His humanity, in the thirty years which came before His Baptism, during which, by reason of His condition according to the flesh, He concealed the signs of HIS DEITY, although He was THE TRUE GOD EXISTING BEFORE THE AGES."

(Fragment in Anastasius of Sinai, The Guide, Ch 13; Jurgens, p. 81)


Athenagoras of Athens (c. 180 A.D.)


"The Son of God is the Word of the Father, in thought and in actuality. BY HIM AND THROUGH HIM ALL THINGS WERE MADE, the Father and the Son BEING ONE. Since the Son is IN the Father and the Father is IN the Son BY THE UNITY AND POWER OF THE SPIRIT, the Mind and Word of the Father is the Son of God. And if, in your exceedingly great wisdom, it occurs to you to inquire what is meant by 'the Son', I will tell you briefly: He is the First-begotten of the Father, NOT AS HAVING BEEN PRODUCED -- FOR FROM THE BEGINNING GOD HAD THE WORD IN HIMSELF... Who, then, would not be astonished to hear those called atheists, who speak of GOD THE FATHER AND OF GOD THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, and who proclaim THEIR power in UNION and THEIR distinction in order...Just as we assert that there is a God, and a Son who is His Word, and a Holy Spirit, UNITED IN POWER -- THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE SPIRIT...."

(Supplication for the Christians 10, 24; Jurgens, p. 70)


St. Theophilus of Antioch (c. 181 A.D.)


"God, therefore, having His own Word [the Son] internally in His very organs, begot Him, emitting Him ALONG WITH His own Wisdom [the Holy Spirit], BEFORE ALL THINGS. He had this Word for a Helper in the things which He made, and THROUGH HIM WERE ALL THINGS CREATED. He is called Beginning [Rev 3:14 arche] because He RULES [archei] and has dominion OVER EVERYTHING WHICH WAS FASHIONED BY HIM....

"He, then, being Spirit of God and Beginning and Wisdom and Power of the Most High, descended upon the prophets and through them spoke of the creation of the world and of all the rest; for the prophets did not exist when the world came to be, but there was Wisdom, which was IN Him and which was OF God, AND His Holy Word, WHO IS ETERNALLY PRESENT WITH HIM."

"The three days before the luminaries were created are types of the TRINITY [this is the first recorded use of the term referring to the Godhead]: GOD [the Father], HIS WORD [the Son], AND HIS WISDOM [the Holy Spirit]."

"And what else is this voice, but the Word of God, which also is His Son, not as poets and writers of myths tell of the sons of gods begotten of intercourse, but, as truth recounts, the Word WHICH ALWAYS EXISTS internally in the heart of God? FOR BEFORE ANYTHING WAS CREATED, He had this Counsellor, being His own Mind and Thought; and when God wished to create what He had decided upon, He begot this uttered Word, the First-born of all creation, not emptying Himself of the Word, but having begotten the Word, and conversing ALWAYS WITH His Word.

"This is what the Holy Scriptures teach us, as do all the inspired men, one of whom, John, says, 'In beginning was the Word, and the Word was WITH God' [John 1:1], showing that at first God was alone, AND the Word was IN Him. Then he says, 'And the Word was God; all things were made through Him, and WITHOUT HIM was made NOTHING' [1:3]. The Word, then, BEING GOD and being GENERATED FROM [ambiguous term here] God, is sent to any place at the will of the Father of the universe; and when He comes, having been sent by Him and being found in place, He is both heard and seen."

(To Autolycus 2:10; 2:15; 2:22; Jurgens, p. 75-76)


St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 140 - 202 A.D.)


(excerpts from AGAINST HERESIES; Jurgens, p. 84-104)

"For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the Apostles and from their disciples the faith in ONE GOD, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who announced through the prophets the dispensations and the comings, and the birth from a Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Christ Jesus our Lord, and his coming from heaven in the glory of the Father to re-establish all things; and the raising up again of all flesh of all humanity, in order that to JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR AND KING, in accord with the approval of the invisible Father, every knee shall bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess Him, and that He may make just judgment of them all...." (1:10:1)

"We hold, however, the rule of truth, according to which there is ONE ALMIGHTY GOD, who formed ALL things through His Word, and fashioned and made ALL things which exist out of that which did not exist; in which regard the Scripture says: 'For by the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all their strength by the Spirit of his mouth' [Psalm 33:6]. And again, 'All things were made through Him, and WITHOUT HIM WAS MADE NOTHING' [John 1:3]. From ALL, however, THERE IS NO EXCEPTION [that would include the SON]; and the Father made ALL things through Him, whether visible or invisible, whether of sense or of intelligence, whether temporal and for a certain dispensation or eternal and through the ages." (1:22:1)

"[The Gnostic heretics] transfer the generation of the uttered word of men to the ETERNAL WORD OF GOD, attributing to HIM A BEGINNING of utterance and a COMING INTO BEING in a manner like to that of their own word. In what manner, then, would the WORD OF GOD -- INDEED, THE GREAT GOD HIMSELF SINCE HE IS THE WORD -- differ from the word of men, were He to have the same order and process of generation?" (2:13:8)

"This Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed through His Word, who is His Son -- through Him is He revealed and made manifest to all to whom He is revealed. For they know Him, those to whom the Son has given revelation. The Son, however, ALWAYS CO-EXISTING WITH THE FATHER, of old and from the beginning, ALWAYS reveals the Father to the Angels and Archangels and Powers and Virtues and to all to whom God wished to give revelation." (2:30:9)

"Nevertheless, what cannot be said of anyone else who ever lived, that He [Jesus Christ] is Himself in HIS OWN RIGHT GOD AND LORD AND ETERNAL KING AND ONLY-BEGOTTEN AND INCARNATE WORD, proclaimed as such by all the Prophets and by the Apostles and by the SPIRIT HIMSELF" (3:19:2)

"For WITH HIM [God the Father] ALWAYS are the Word and the Wisdom, the SON and the SPIRIT, through whom and in whom He made all things freely and spontaneously; and to whom He spoke, saying: 'Let US make man in our image and likeness' [Gen 1:26]." (4:20:1)

"God is powerful in all things. He was SEEN through the SPIRIT of Prophecy, and by His own choice THROUGH THE SON. He will also be SEEN as the FATHER in the kingdom of heaven. THE SPIRIT prepares man through the SON OF GOD, the SON leads him to the FATHER, and the FATHER gives him incorruption in eternal life, which comes to everyone by the fact of his SEEING GOD." (4:20:5)


St. Hippolytus of Rome (c. 200 A.D.)


"God, existing ALONE and having nothing coeval with Himself, willed to create the world....Besides Himself there was no one; but THOUGH HE WAS ALONE, HE WAS MIGHTY [or EXISTED IN PLURALITY]. For He was not without reason, not without wisdom, not without power, and not without counsel. All things were in him, and He was All. When He willed and in the manner in which He willed and in the times determined by Himself, He made known His Word, THROUGH WHOM HE CREATED ALL THINGS...

"And since He had this Word WITHIN HIMSELF, invisible to the created world, He made Him visible. First of all giving vocal utterance, and then begetting LIGHT FROM LIGHT, He sent Him forth....Thus, there appeared ANOTHER besides Himself. When I say 'ANOTHER', however, I DO NOT MEAN THERE ARE TWO GODS. Rather, it is as if there were LIGHT FROM LIGHT, or water from a fountain, or a ray from the sun. For there is but ONE power, which is from the All; and the Father is the All, from whom comes the Power, the Word."

"Let us believe, then, dear brethren, according to the tradition of the Apostles, that GOD THE WORD came down from heaven into the holy Virgin Mary, in order that, taking flesh from her and taking also a soul, I mean a rational soul, and thus becoming all that man is except in regard to sin, He might save the fallen and confer immortality on such men as believe in His name. In all this, then, the word of truth is demonstrated to us: namely, THAT THE FATHER IS ONE, AND HIS WORD, THROUGH WHOM HE CREATED ALL THINGS, IS PRESENT WITH HIM."

"And in just the way in which it was announced of Him, did He come and manifest Himself, made a new man of the Virgin AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. As the Word, He had from the Father what is heavenly, just as from the old Adam he had what is earthly, having become incarnate through the Virgin. He came forth into the world and, in the body, SHOWED HIMSELF TO BE GOD, although it was as perfect man that He came forth. For He was made man, not in appearance nor in seeming, but in truth."

(Against Noetus 10, 11, 17; Jurgens, p. 164-165)

"The ONE GOD, the first and ONLY, both CREATOR AND LORD OF ALL.... ...this SOLE and universal God, by reflecting, first brought forth the Word -- not a word as in speech, but as a mental word, the Reason for everything. Him only did He produce from what existed: for the Father Himself WAS BEING, FROM WHICH He produced Him. [i.e. ONE IN BEING WITH THE FATHER as the Creed states]

"The Word was the CAUSE of those things which CAME INTO EXISTENCE, carrying out in Himself the will of Him by whom He was begotten.... Only HIS WORD IS FROM HIMSELF, AND IS THEREFORE ALSO GOD, BECOMING THE SUBSTANCE OF GOD....FOR CHRIST IS THE GOD OVER ALL [cf. Romans 9:5]."

(Refutation of all Heresies 10:32,33,34; Jurgens, p. 173-174)

"...through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom be glory, might, and honor to you, TO the Father AND the Son WITH the Holy Spirit, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen."

"Gather as one in the fullness of the Holy Spirit your saints who participate; and confirm their faith in truth so that we may praise and glorify you through your Son Jesus Christ, through whom be glory and honor to you, TO the Father AND the Son WITH the Holy Spirit, in your holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen."

"And now, O LORD, grant that there may be ever preserved among us the Spirit of your grace, and make us worthy that, in faith, we may give praise to you and minister to you in simplicity of heart: through your Son Jesus Christ, through whom be glory and honor to you, TO the Father AND the Son WITH the Holy Spirit, in your holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen."

"O GOD, who have created all things and have set them in order THROUGH YOUR WORD; Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom you sent to minister to your will and to make clear to us your desires, grant the Holy Spirit of grace and care and diligence to this your servant...through your Son Jesus Christ, through whom be glory and honor to you, TO the Father AND the Son WITH the Holy Spirit, in your holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen."

"O LORD GOD, who made them worthy of the remission of sins through the Holy Spirit's washing unto rebirth, send into them your grace so that they may serve you according to your will: for there is glory to you, TO the Father AND the Son WITH the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen."


(The Apostolic Tradition 3, 4, 8, 9, 22; Jurgens, p. 166-167)


St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - 216 A.D.)


"The Word, then, the Christ, is the CAUSE both of our ancient beginning -- for He was IN GOD -- and of our well-being. And now this same Word has appeared as man. HE ALONE IS BOTH GOD AND MAN, and the SOURCE of all our good things....He is the New Song, the manifestation which has now been made among us, of the Word WHICH EXISTED IN THE BEGINNING AND BEFORE THE BEGINNING. The Savior, who existed before, has only lately appeared. He that has appeared is IN Him that is; for the Word that was WITH God [John 1:1], the Word BY WHOM ALL THINGS WERE MADE, has appeared as our Teacher; and He, who bestowerd life upon us in the beginning, when, AS OUR CREATOR, He formed us, now that He has appeared as our Teacher, has taught us to live well so that, afterwards, AS GOD, He might furnish us abundantly with eternal life."

"Despised as to appearance but in reality ADORED, the Expiator, the Savior, the Soother, the Divine Word, HE THAT IS QUITE EVIDENTLY TRUE GOD, HE THAT IS PUT ON A LEVEL WITH THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE BECAUSE HE WAS HIS SON -- AND THE WORD WAS IN GOD [John 1:1]...

"Whence He was and who He Himself was, was demonstrated by what He taught and did. He showed Himself as the Herald of a truce, our Mediator and Savior, the Word, the Font of Life and Peace poured out over the face of the earth; and through Him, so to speak, the universe has already become an ocean of good things...."

(Exhortation to the Greeks 1:7:1; 10:110:1,3; Jurgens, p. 176-177)

"NOTHING EXISTS except that which GOD causes to be. There is nothing, therefore, which is hated by God; nor is there anything hated BY THE WORD. BOTH ARE ONE, BOTH ARE GOD; for he says: 'In the beginning the WORD WAS IN GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD' [John 1:1]."

"That this is a mystery is clear: GOD IS IN A MAN, AND A MAN IS GOD, the Mediator fulfilling the will of the Father. The Mediator is the WORD who is COMMON TO BOTH, being the Son of GOD and the Savior of MEN."

(Instructor of Children 1:8:62:3,4; 3:1:2:1; Jurgens, p. 179-180)

"When [John] says: 'What was from the beginning [1 John 1:1],' he touches upon the generation WITHOUT BEGINNING OF THE SON, WHO IS CO-EQUAL WITH THE FATHER. 'Was,' therefore, is indicative of an ETERNITY WITHOUT A BEGINNING, just as the Word Himself, that is the SON, BEING ONE WITH THE FATHER IN REGARD TO EQUALITY OF SUBSTANCE, IS ETERNAL AND UNCREATED. THAT THE WORD ALWAYS EXISTED is signified by the saying: 'In the beginning was the Word' [John 1:1]."

(fragment in Eusebius History, Bk 6 Ch 14; Jurgens, p. 188)


St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 250 A.D.)


"He cannot have God for his Father who does not have the Church for his Mother. If anyone outside the ark of Noah was able to escape, then perhaps someone outside the pale of the Church may escape.... The Lord says, 'THE FATHER AND I ARE ONE' [John 10:30] and again, it is written of the FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, 'AND THE THREE ARE ONE.' [cf. 1 John 5:7-8; Cyprian is apparently aware of this Latin manuscript reading on the Trinity]"

"Does anyone believe that in the Church THIS UNITY which proceeds from the DIVINE STABILITY and which is welded together after the heavenly patterns, can be divided, and can be separated by the parting asunder of opposing wills? Whoever holds not fast to this UNITY holds not to the law of God; neither does he keep faith WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON, nor does he have life and salvation."

(Unity of the Catholic Church 6; Jurgens, p. 221)

"If Christ Jesus, OUR LORD AND GOD, is Himself the High Priest of God the Father; and if He offered Himself as a sacrifice to the Father; and if He commanded that this be done in commemoration of Himself -- then certainly the priest, who imitates that which Christ did, truly functions in place of Christ."

(Letters 63:14; Jurgens, p. 232-233)

"If someone could be baptized by heretics, he could certainly receive also the remission of sins. If he were to receive the remission of sins, he would be sanctified. If he were sanctified, he would be made a temple of God. If he were made a temple of God -- now I ask you:

"Of what God? Of the Creator? But that is not possible, because he does not believe in Him. Of Christ? One who denies that CHRIST IS GOD cannot become His temple. Of the Holy Spirit? SINCE THE THREE ARE ONE, how were it possible for the Holy Spirit to be reconciled to him that is an enemy of either the Son or of the Father?"

"After the Resurrection, when the Lord sent the Apostles to the nations, He commanded them to baptize the gentiles in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit [Matt 28:19]. How then do some say that though a gentile be baptized beyond the pale and outside the Church, yes, even against the Church, never mind how or of whom, so long as it be done in the name of Jesus Christ, the remission of sins can follow -- when CHRIST HIMSELF COMMANDS THE NATIONS TO BE BAPTIZED IN THE FULL AND UNITED TRINITY?"

(Letters 73:12; 73:18; Jurgens, p. 238)


St. Dionysius of Rome (c. 262 A.D.)


[first he calls Monarchianism a BLASPHEMY]

"Next, then, I may properly turn to those who divide and cut apart and destroy the Monarchy [of God], the most sacred proclamation of the Church of God, making of it, as it were, three powers, distinct substances, and three godheads. I have heard that some of your catechists and teachers of the divine word take the lead in this tenet. They are, so to speak, diametrically opposed to the opinion of Sabellius. For he, in his BLASPHEMY, says that the Son IS the Father, and vice versa. But they proclaim that there are in some way THREE GODS, when they divide the Sacred unity into three substances foreign to each other and completely separate.

"It is necessary, however, that the Divine Word [Jesus Christ] be UNITED WITH THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE; AND THE HOLY SPIRIT MUST ABIDE AND DWELL IN GOD. THEREFORE THE DIVINE TRINITY must be gathered up and brought TOGETHER IN ONE, a Summit, as it were -- I mean, the OMNIPOTENT GOD OF THE UNIVERSE....

[then he calls Arianism a WORSE BLASPHEMY]

"Nor are they less to be blamed who hold that the Son is a [created] work, and think that the Lord was MADE, as if He were ONE OF THOSE THINGS WHICH WERE TRULY MADE. The divine statements bear witness to a generation suitable and becoming to Him, BUT NOT TO ANY FASHIONING OR MAKING.

"It is BLASPHEMY, then, and not a common one BUT THE WORST, to say that THE LORD IS IN ANY WAY A [created] HANDIWORK. For if He came to be Son, then once He was not; but if, as He says Himself, He be IN the Father, and if, which you know the Divine Scripture says, Christ be Word and Wisdom and Power, and these attributes be powers of GOD, THEN HE ALWAYS EXISTED. But if the Son CAME INTO BEING, there was a time when these attributes DID NOT EXIST; and, consequently, there was a time when GOD was without them -- WHICH IS UTTERLY ABSURD...."

"Neither, then, may we divide into THREE godheads the wonderful and divine Unity; nor may we disparage the dignity and exceeding majesty of the Lord by calling Him a [created] work. Rather, we must believe in GOD, the Father Almighty; and in Christ Jesus, His Son; and in the Holy Spirit; and that the WORD IS UNITED TO THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE. 'For,' says He, 'THE FATHER AND I ARE ONE' and 'I AM IN THE FATHER, AND THE FATHER IN ME.' Thus both the Divine Trinity and the sacred proclamation of the monarchy will be preserved."

(Dionysius of Rome to Dionysius of Alexandria 1-3; Jurgens, p. 249)

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