Monday, January 19, 2009

Subordinationism in Novatian

In this thread, I will be continuing my ‘series’ (of sorts) on subordinationism in the pre-Nicene Church Fathers. (Previous posts can be found HERE; HERE; and HERE.)

The following quotes will all be taken from Novatian’s, A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity (I will be using Robert Ernest Wallis’ English translation as found in Volume V of The Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Roberts and Donaldson.)

The Rule of truth requires that we should first of all things believe on God the Father and Lord Omnipotent; that is, the absolutely perfect Founder of all things…(Chapter I – ANF 5.611.)

Him alone the Lord rightly declares good, of whose goodness the whole world is witness…He is always like and equal to Himself. And what is not born cannot be changed: for only those things undergo change which are made, or which are begotten; in that those things which had not been at one time, learn to be by coming into being, and therefore to suffer change by being born. Moreover, those things which neither have nativity nor maker, have excluded from themselves the capacity of change, not having a beginning wherein is cause of change. And thus He is declared to be one, having no equal. For whatever can be God, must as God be of necessity the Highest. But whatever is the Highest, must certainly be the Highest in such sense as to be without any equal. And thus that must needs be alone and one on which nothing can be conferred, having no peer; because there cannot be two infinites, as the very nature of things dictates. (Chapter IV – ANF 5.614.)

The same rule of truth teaches us to believe, after the Father, also on the Son of God, Christ Jesus, the Lord our God, but the Son of God — of that God who is both one and alone, to wit the Founder of all things, as already has been expressed above. (Chapter IX – ANF 5.618.)

What if in another place also we read in like manner that God was described as an angel? For when, to his wives Leah and Rachel, Jacob complained of the injustice of their father, and when he told them that he desired now to go and return into his own land, he moreover interposed the authority of his dream; and at this time he says that the angel of God had said to him in a dream, “Jacob, Jacob. And I said,” says he, “What is it? Lift up thine eyes, said He, and see, the he-goats and the rams leaping upon the sheep, and the she-goats are black and white, and many-colored, and grizzled, and speckled: for I have seen all that Laban hath done to thee. I am God, who appeared to thee in the place of God, where thou anointedst for me there the standing stone, and there vowedst a vow unto me: now therefore arise, and go forth from this land, and go unto the land of thy nativity, and I will be with thee.” If the Angel of God speaks thus to Jacob, and the Angel himself mentions and says, “I am God, who appeared unto thee in the house of God,” we see without any hesitation that this is declared to be not only an angel, but God also; because He speaks of the vow directed to Himself by Jacob in the place of God, and He does not say, in my place. It is then the place of God, and He also is God. Moreover, it is written simply in the place of God, for it is not said in the place of the angel and God, but only of God; and He who promises those things is manifested to be both God and Angel, so that reasonably there must be a distinction between Him who is called God only, and Him who is declared to be not God simply, but Angel also. Whence if so great an authority cannot here be regarded as belonging to any other angel, that He should also avow Himself to be God, and should bear witness that a vow was made to Him, except to Christ alone, to whom not as angel only, but as to God, a vow can be vowed; it is manifest that it is not to be received as the Father, but as the Son, God and Angel. (Chapter XIX – ANF 5.630.)

But if some heretic, obstinately struggling against the truth, should persist in all these instances either in understanding that Christ was properly an angel, or should contend that He must be so understood, he must in this respect also be subdued by the force of truth. For if, since all heavenly things, earthly things, and things under the earth, are subjected to Christ, even the angels themselves, with all other creatures, as many as are subjected to Christ, are called gods, rightly also Christ is God. And if any angel at all subjected to Christ can be called God, and this, if it be said, is also professed without blasphemy, certainly much more can this be fitting for Christ, Himself the Son of God, for Him to be pronounced God. For if an angel who is subjected to Christ is exalted as God, much more, and more consistently, shall Christ, to whom all angels are subjected, be said to be God. (Chapter XX – ANF 5.631.)

Who then is that angel who, as we have said, was made in the form of God? But neither do we read of the form of God in angels, except because this one is chief and royal above all — the Son of God, the Word of God, the imitator of all His Father’s works, in that He Himself worketh even as His Father. He is — as we have declared — in the form of God the Father. And He is reasonably affirmed to be in the form of God, in that He Himself, being above all things, and having the divine power over every creature, is also God after the example of the Father. Yet He obtained this from His own Father, that He should be both God of all and should be Lord, and be begotten and made known from Himself as God in the form of God the Father. He then, although He was in the form of God, thought it not robbery that He should be equal with God. For although He remembered that He was God from God the Father, He never either compared or associated Himself with God the Father, mindful that He was from His Father, and that He possessed that very thing that He is, because the Father had given it Him. Thence, finally, both before the assumption of the flesh, and moreover after the assumption of the body, besides, after the resurrection itself, He yielded all obedience to the Father, and still yields it as ever. Whence it is proved that He thought that the claim of a certain divinity would be robbery, to wit, that of equaling Himself with God the Father…(Chapter XXII – ANF 5.633.)

[Note: all bold and underline emphasis mine.]

Grace and peace,



tap said...

An experiment:

I was trying to get all the Catholics, who post on beggars all to quit posting. Don't give him the traffic or hits. It looks like this guy Swan knows the truth, but, is so consumed by Pride & vainglory, that he is trying to build his own ministry like James White.Not sure why, but I got this thought from one of his post telling someone to join his "blogging team"

David Waltz said...

I struggle over the issue of whether or not one should post on blogs that are definitely anti-Catholic—here is the dilemma: not answering could give the impression that the drivel they are posting is not worth the time; but then, it could also give the opposite impression that they cannot be answered.

Personally, I weigh the content of each thread before making a decision; I am probably right some of the time, which, of course means…

Grace and peace,