Friday, August 12, 2011

TurretinFan vs. Mark Shea: inaccuracies and misnomers - part 1

On August 8th, 2011, the secretive, anti-Catholic, fellow who debates and writes under the psuedonym "TurretinFan" (hereafter, TF), posted a thread titled, "Nicaea Was Local Council, Arianism Not Settled Controversy, Implies Shea", on two separate websites: his own blog, Thoughts of Francis Turretin, and at James White's AOMIN blog .

The thread is a polemical piece directed at comments made by the Catholic apologist Mark Shea (link to Mark Shea's comments).

Apart from correcting Shea's obvious error of terming the councils of Nicaea (325) and Ariminum (359) as "local", the rest of TF's post is riddled with inaccuracies and misnomers. Citations from TF's post will be in red, my responses in black, and other cited references in blue. TF opens his post with:

I admit that I've never had a high view of Mark Shea's scholarship, yet a mixture of surprise and amusement washed over me as I took in Shea's breathtakingly ignorant response to a reader's question regarding Augustine and Sola Scriptura. A reader had pointed out to Shea that Augustine, in responding to the Arian heretic Maximinus, had sounded exactly like a Sola Scriptura Christian.

TF has established the tone for his thread. The following is the "reader's question regarding Augustine and Sola Scriptura", and the quote from which "the reader" formed his question for Mark Shea:

Apparently St. Augustine made this statement:

“I ought not to adduce the Council of Nice, nor ought you to adduce the Council of Ariminum, for I am not bound by the authority of the one, nor are you bound by the authority of the other. Let the question be determined by the authority of the Scriptures…”

It really does sound like he is preaching sola-scriptura there.

Now, we know he also made famous statements such as “I would not believe the Gospel if the Catholic Church did not tell me it was true”, so overall that is clearly not the case, but do you happen to know if there is more to his statement? Was his theology still evolving, etc? I cannot find a serious Catholic commentary on this quote anywhere online or in any of my books.

The quote that "the reader" provides for Shea is from Augustine's, Contra Maximinum Arianum ("Against Maximinus, an Arian"). "The reader" obtained the quote via a "challenge from one of the forum members", who appears to have linked "the reader" to the Fundamental Baptist Institute's online rendition of J.A. Wylie's, The Papacy; Its History Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects: Being The Evangelical Alliance First Prize Essay On Popery, Book II, Chapter VII - "Infallibility" (FBI incorrectly titles the book, History of the Papacy, and "the reader" incorrectly links to chapter XVII instead of VII—corrected link—a pdf version of the 1867 4th edition of the book is available HERE).


Now, "the reader's" quote is partial; the following is Wylie's actual quote from Augustine:

"I ought not to adduce the Council of Nice," says St. Augustine, "nor ought you to adduce the Council of Ariminum, for I am not bound by the authority of the one, nor are you bound by the authority of the other. Let the question be determined by the authority of the Scriptures, which are witnesses peculiar to neither of us, but common to both." (Page 252 in the pdf version linked to above.)

[Note: Wylie incorrectly attributes the above quote to Augustine's "De Unitate, c. xvi", instead of his Contra Maximinum Arianum.]

Having 'cleaned up' some of the germane sources, I shall now return to TF's post; he continued with an expanded citation of the above mentioned passage from Augustine's Contra Maximinum Arianum; however, interestingly enough, he did not use the same source that "the reader" supplied, opting instead, for the following from a different translator:


Augustine (354-430 AD):

The Father and the Son are, then, of one and the same substance. This is the meaning of that “homoousios” that was confirmed against the Arian heretics in the Council of Nicaea by the Catholic fathers with the authority of the truth and the truth of authority. Afterward, in the Council of Ariminum it was understood less than it should have been because of the novelty of the word, even though the ancient faith had given rise to it. There the impiety of the heretics under the heretical Emperor Constantius tried to weaken its force, when many were deceived by the fraudulence of a few. But not long after that, the freedom of the Catholic faith prevailed, and after the meaning of the word was understood as it should be, that “homoousios” was defended far and wide by the soundness of the Catholic faith. After all, what does “homoousios” mean but “of one and the same substance”? What does “homoousios” mean, I ask, but the Father and I are one (Jn 10:30)? I should not, however, introduce the Council of Nicaea to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the Council of Ariminum that way. I am not bound by the authority of Ariminum, and you are not bound by that of Nicaea. By the authority of the scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witnesses for both of us, let position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason.


JohnE.[sic] Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Answer to Maximinus, Book II, XIV - On the Sameness of Substance in the Trinity, Section 3 (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 282.

NOTE: the above quote is actually from pages 281-282.


[BTW, this particular passage from Augustine is quite popular among anti-Catholic polemicists; in addition to Wylie, others that have cited it include John Calvin, John Jewel, William Goode, Michael Hobart Seymour, William Preston, and George Salmon.]

TF continues with:

Shea responded: "What Augustine is doing is appealing to a common authority in a dispute where the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus."

Perhaps a little background would be helpful here. Maximinus was an Arian. The question was whether the Father and the Son are consubstantial. This is a matter that was directly addressed by the Council of Nicaea. We can agree with Shea in a limited way, namely that the Council of Nicaea was not ecumenical in the sense of speaking for every person who professed to be a part of the Christian faith: after all, it condemned the Arians. By that standard, there have not been any ecumenical councils, ever. If that's Shea's position, he's at loggerheads with Rome.

Judging Nicaea by modern Roman standards, though, Nicaea did not just "arrive at a consensus" but actually defined dogma that must be accepted de fide. That's obviously not how Augustine judged Nicaea, but that's because Augustine didn't share the epistemology of modern Rome.

Strictly speaking, TF's "little background" is deficient, for it fails to accurately portray the historical context of Augustine's statement. The period between the council of Nicaea in 325 and Augustine's Contra Maximinum Arianum (427/428) was one of the most contested in the history of the Christian Church; more than 130 councils were convened! (Consult Ramsay MacMullen's, Voting About God, pp. 3, 4 for the names and dates of the councils—see this thread for information about the book).


Concerning this turbulent period, Shea is certainly correct when he states that, "the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus". Directly related to this historical fact is nature and role of the various councils that were held during this period; the understanding that some councils were "ecumenical", that the "ecumenical" councils were infallible when teaching on faith and morals, and needed to be accepted de fide, was a much later doctrinal development. As such, to write that, "Augustine didn't share the epistemology of modern Rome", concerning nature and role of councils convened in 4th and early 5th centuries, is to state the obvious. IMO, TF is pretty much wasting our time here, for even Shea is in agreement with him on this point!

[FYI: I have devoted 4 previous threads (which includes the above mentioned post) to the issue of councils, and they can be accessed via this link.]

Moving on, TF's statement that, "Maximinus was an Arian", is, at best, breathtakingly simplistic. An Arian is one who adheres to the basic theology of Arius—did Maximinus endorse Arius' basic theology? No, he did not. In fact, he emphatically denied THE defining doctrine of Arius, the doctrine that the Son of God was created ex nihilo; note the following:

The part of Arius' doctrine which most shocked and disturbed his contemporaries was his statement that the Father made the Son ' out of non-existence' (ἐκ οὐκ ὄντων). (R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 24.)

This particular view of Arius [i.e. creation of the Son of God ex nihilo] has never been supplied with a convincing antecedent. It has always been an erratic boulder in his doctrine, preventing that doctrine being easily fitted into any known system...(Ibid., p. 88)

Before getting to Maximinus' theology, I think it would be prudent to supply a little background. Shortly after the council of Nicaea (325), the ordained bishops of the Christian Church at large split into 4 distinct factions; modern patristic scholars have termed those 4 factions as: 1.) the homoousians, those who accepted the Nicene Creed; 2.) the homoiousians, those who replaced homoousios (same being/essence/substance) with homoiousios (like being/essence/substance); 3.) the homoians, those who rejected the terms homoousios and homoiousios as being un-Biblical, and embraced the view that the Son of God was homoiōs (like, similar, in the same way) with respect to God the Father; and 4.) the 'Neo-Arians', sometimes termed the anhomoians (see Hanson, Search, p. 598 for the reason why many modern patristic scholars prefer the name 'Neo-Arian' over others).

Of the 4 factions, only the 'Neo-Arians' accepted Arius' most basic tenant that the Son of God was created ex nihilo, with the other 3 emphatically rejecting this doctrine.

Now, Maximinus was a staunch homoian, his theology being essentially that of the creed universally adopted by Christian Church at a council convened in 360 AD at Constantinople, which creed was a slight revision of so-called "Dated Creed" that was adopted in 359 AD via the convocation of a general council by emperor Constantius II, which convened at two separate locations: Ariminium (now Rimini) and Seleucia.

Commenting on this creed of 360 AD, the esteemed patristic scholar, J.N.D. Kelly wrote:

Arianism, it will be appreciated, is really a misnomer, for the creed asserts none of the articles of the old heresy [i.e. Arius/Arianism] and explicitly condemns Anomoeanism [i.e. 'Neo-Arianism']. (Early Christian Creeds, 2nd edition, 1960, p. 294.)

So, is it accurate to call Maximinus an Arian? With all due respect to the scholars that do attribute the label "Arian" to Maximinus, to do so is, IMO, a "misnomer", for Maximinus emphatically denied (as did all homoians) the most basic tenant of Arian theology: the creation of the Son of God ex nihilo. To call Maximinus an Arian would be analogous to calling someone who emphatically rejects TULIP a Calvinist!

So much more to cover, but given the length of this post, I think it best to do so in a subsequent thread.


Grace and peace,

David

24 comments:

Ken said...

Contra Maximinum Arianum

So, why do they title Augustine's work as "Against Maximinum the Arian" (Translating the Latin above)
??

Apparently it is not in the ccel / Schaff standard Early Church Father's series. Why?

Most of your corrections are about page numbers, etc. - you don't seem to have much substance against Turretinfan's point.

Why was Augustine writing against him, if he wasn't some sort of Arian heretic?

If Maximinum was against the Nicene Creed (right ?) and also didn't agree with Arius, what exactly was he arguing?

The point that Turretinfan makes is right, that Augustine argued that the ultimate authority is Scripture, not a council.

I have never heard of that group, the homoian - it doesn't explain what exactly they believed about the Son. Is the Son eternal, the word from all eternity? The only unique/one of a kind God, the monogenes theos (John 1:18) ? There must be a good doctrinal reason that Augustine was arguing against him.

That (below) is a good passage and good evidence from Augustine of his ultimate authority. Why should Protestants not use it??

"After all, what does “homoousios” mean but “of one and the same substance”? What does “homoousios” mean, I ask, but the Father and I are one (Jn 10:30)? I should not, however, introduce the Council of Nicaea to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the Council of Ariminum that way. I am not bound by the authority of Ariminum, and you are not bound by that of Nicaea. By the authority of the scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witnesses for both of us, let position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason."

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Earlier today, you wrote:

>>Contra Maximinum Arianum

So, why do they title Augustine's work as "Against Maximinum the Arian" (Translating the Latin above)
??>>

Me: Habit, and a bad one IMHO, for it is inaccurate and misleading.

>>Apparently it is not in the ccel / Schaff standard Early Church Father's series. Why?>>

Me: There are a number of Augustine’s writings that are not in Nicene Post Nicene Fathers series (nor any other English series, though The Works of Saint Augustine – A Translation for the 21st Century series is planning to translate ALL of Augustine’s extant works into English eventually).

>>Most of your corrections are about page numbers, etc. - you don't seem to have much substance against Turretinfan's point.>>

Me: Guess we will have to agree to disagree on this. TF thinks Shea’s entire argument is based on the two councils being “local”, whilst I believe that the primary thrust of his argument is based on the fact councils well into the 5th century did not have the same authoritative status that they later had, and this due to development.

>>Why was Augustine writing against him, if he wasn't some sort of Arian heretic?>>

Me: Because Maximinus (as did all Homoians) refused to use non-Biblical terms in their statements of faith.

>>If Maximinum was against the Nicene Creed (right ?) and also didn't agree with Arius, what exactly was he arguing?>>

Me: He was arguing against the use of the term homoousios on the one hand, and against Arius’ doctrine that the Son was created ex nihilo (both of which are not found in the Bible).

>>The point that Turretinfan makes is right, that Augustine argued that the ultimate authority is Scripture, not a council.>>

Me: Actually, Augustine’s “ultimate authority” was the Scriptures (his canon being larger than what you accept) along with the regula fidei, which all adults had to subscribe to before baptism.

>>I have never heard of that group, the homoian - it doesn't explain what exactly they believed about the Son. Is the Son eternal, the word from all eternity? The only unique/one of a kind God, the monogenes theos (John 1:18) ? There must be a good doctrinal reason that Augustine was arguing against him.>>

Me: Yes, the Homoians believed that the only-begotten Son of the Father was His word from all eternity, that he was “God from God”, etc. Once again, what Augustine disliked about them was their refusal to embrace the non-Biblical homoousios.

cont'd

David Waltz said...

cont'd

>>That (below) is a good passage and good evidence from Augustine of his ultimate authority. Why should Protestants not use it??

"After all, what does “homoousios” mean but “of one and the same substance”? What does “homoousios” mean, I ask, but the Father and I are one (Jn 10:30)? I should not, however, introduce the Council of Nicaea to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the Council of Ariminum that way. I am not bound by the authority of Ariminum, and you are not bound by that of Nicaea. By the authority of the scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witnesses for both of us, let position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason.">>

Me: Actually, homoousios was a highly ambiguous, non-Biblical term, used in different senses. Please note the following from a recent, conservative, Protestant historian:

Homoousios was, however, a word with a difficult history. For a start, it was not biblical, which meant that the council [i.e. Nicaea 325] was proposing to talk about the nature of the Godhead in terms that were philosophical or conceptual rather than in language drawn directly from the Scriptures.

…the outcome of the council was virtually unanimous. All but two of the bishops agreed to sign the creed. The dissenters, Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais, were both from Libya, where Arius had particularly loyal support. They suffered exile, as did Arius himself. The rest, it seemed, were at one, and Constantine had got his way; the church was united in its opposition to the teaching of Arius [i.e. that the Son was a created being, created ex nihilo, and that there was “a time he was not”].

The reality, however, was for more complex. The apparently all-important homoousios could in fact be understood in a variety of ways. Literally, it meant “same being.” But what was the “sameness” here? To be “the same as” can be “identical to” in a specific sense or “exactly like” in a generic sense. The “being” in question is also vague: a human and animal may both be described as “beings,” but one has on form of “being” (or “nature” or “substance”) and the other another. For staunch enemies of Arius, such as Eustanthius and Marcellus, homoousios meant “one and the same being.” For Eusebius of Caesarea, on the other hand, it meant “exactly like in being”—potentially a very significant difference. Is the Son, the same as God in his being, or is he exactly like God in his being? To Eusebius and many other Greek bishops it seemed better to say that he is like God. (Ivor J. Davidson, The Baker History of the Church, Vol. 2 – A Public Faith: From Constantine to the Medieval World, AD 312-600, 2005, pp. 35, 36.)

Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Me: Yes, the Homoians believed that the only-begotten Son of the Father was His word from all eternity, that he was “God from God”, etc. Once again, what Augustine disliked about them was their refusal to embrace the non-Biblical homoousios.

Are you saying that they actually believed all the same things doctrinally regarding the Son of God, as the orthodox (Augustine, Athanasius) but just didn't want to use the term "homo-ousias" ?

What did you think of John Piper's point in his chapter in Contending For Our All (about Athanasius) that sometimes we have to use non-biblical language in order to communicate biblical truths and content? ( like homo-ousias, Trinitas Unitas, etc.

what is the formal definition of the "homoian" group?

Are you a "homoian" ?

From the quote you gave from Ivor J. Davidson:
Literally, it meant “same being.”

I thought literally it meant, "same substance"; "same essence"; "same nature".

Although "being" is also another way to state the first truth of the doctrine of the Trinity - "there is one being of God" or "one substance of God" - ie, there is only one God;

it seems that there is a slight difference in the word meaning of "being" (pointing to existence) and substance/essence (what quality the being has).

Ken said...

Me: Actually, Augustine’s “ultimate authority” was the Scriptures (his canon being larger than what you accept) along with the regula fidei, which all adults had to subscribe to before baptism.


Jerome, contemporary with Augustine, has been shown to be right with regard to the Apocrypha books written in between the time of Malachi / Chronicles (450-430 BC, the last OT books written) and the appearing of John the Baptist.

But Augustine and Athanasius and Jerome (and I ) (smile) are in complete agreement on the NT books.

Where in Augustine does he tell us exactly what the regula fidei (rule of faith, canon of faith) is ?

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for responding; you posted:

>>Are you saying that they actually believed all the same things doctrinally regarding the Son of God, as the orthodox (Augustine, Athanasius) but just didn't want to use the term "homo-ousias" ?

...what is the formal definition of the "homoian" group?>>

Me: See my NEW THREAD

>>Are you a "homoian" ?>>

Me: As I have stated before (at least 3 times) I am a pre-Nicene trinitarian; which means, that my view lies in between Augustinian trinitarianism and homoianism.

>>From the quote you gave from Ivor J. Davidson:
Literally, it meant “same being.”

I thought literally it meant, "same substance"; "same essence"; "same nature".

Although "being" is also another way to state the first truth of the doctrine of the Trinity - "there is one being of God" or "one substance of God" - ie, there is only one God;

it seems that there is a slight difference in the word meaning of "being" (pointing to existence) and substance/essence (what quality the being has).>>

Me: A little bit later in the same quote that I supplied from Davidson, he states:

"The “being” in question is also vague: a human and animal may both be described as “beings,” but one has on form of “being” (or “nature” or “substance”) and the other another. For staunch enemies of Arius, such as Eustanthius and Marcellus, homoousios meant “one and the same being.” For Eusebius of Caesarea, on the other hand, it meant “exactly like in being”—potentially a very significant difference. Is the Son, the same as God in his being, or is he exactly like God in his being? To Eusebius and many other Greek bishops it seemed better to say that he is like God."

As one who describes himself as a pre-Nicene trinitarian, I appreciate Eusebius of Caesarea's view; which, is analogous (IMHO) to saying that our Lord, "was in the form of God" (Phi. 2:6).


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

You asked the following:

>>Where in Augustine does he tell us exactly what the regula fidei (rule of faith, canon of faith) is ?>>

See Augustine's, De symbolo ad catechumenos (The Creed to Catechumens); De fide et symbolo (Faith and the Creed); and Sermon's 212-215.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

What did you think of John Piper's point in his chapter in Contending For Our All (about Athanasius) that sometimes we have to use non-biblical language in order to communicate biblical truths and content? ( like homo-ousias, Trinitas Unitas, etc.

Thanks for your answers to the other questions!

It is still hard to wrap my brain around what the different middle positions are. I can understand the orthodox homo-ousias and the Trinitas Unitas (Athanasius, Augustine) and how it is Biblical; and I can understand the Arian doctrine and how it is unbiblical. But the other ones in the middle (homoian and ? whatever) and yours are not comprehendible. (IMO)

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

I agree with Dr. Piper that we sometimes need to use non-Biblical terminology to express with precision certain aspects of theology; but, and this importantly, when one enlists non-Biblical terminology, one must make sure that they explain exactly how those terms are being used. I think that one of the biggest obstacles with the term homoousios is that it can be understood in a number of different senses; on one end of the spectrum it seems Sabellian, and at the other end, Tritheistic. With this in mind, I am not surprised at all with the following assessment by Dr. Letham:

“Evangelicals have their own particular problems. Biblicism has been a strong characteristic. The post-Reformation slide into a privatized, individualistic religion that neglects the church and the world has led many to downplay the ecumenical creeds in favor of the latest insights from biblical studies, whatever may be the motivation behind them. Prominent aspects of the church’s doctrine of the Trinity have often been derided or neglected as unbiblical speculation. Opposition to the orthodox doctrine has often tended to come from those who stress the Bible at the expense of the teachings of the church. These people forget that the church was forced to use extrabiblical language because biblical language itself was open to a variety of interpretations…

Today most Western Christians are practical modalists…This practical modalism goes in tandem with a general lack of understanding of the historic doctrine of the Trinity.” (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, pp. 5, 6.)

It was the fear of Sabellianism (i.e. modalism) that fueled “the different middle positions” (i.e. the Eusebians, Homoiousians, and Homoians) of the 4th and 5th centuries; and it is the “practical” modalism of today that compels me to take seriously those “different middle positions”.

BTW, I would be interested in knowing what you thought of the creed of Ariminum; more specifically, if there is anything in the creed that you find un-Biblical.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Good quote by Dr. Letham. More and more, I see the need to get that book and the other one you recommended by R. P. C. Hanson.

The Arminium creed" and "Sirmium Creed" - ? same ?
Isn't this the groups and Arian councils or semi-Arian councils that condemned Athanasius?

Isn't the "Sirmium creed" the one that Liberius, bishop of Rome, signed? and is seen as condemned by Protestants, since he signed on to heresy (and thus proved against the infallibility of the bishop of Rome doctrine) even though he later reversed his decision?

What did Athanasius write about it?

I would have to study it more deeply than just that short quote of it, of yours. I suspect there is a lot more to it than just those bare words. (context and background)

Part of the creed you posted:

'We believe in one only and true God, the Father Almighty, the Creator and Framer of all things: and in one only-begotten

[what did they mean by that? "unique" "one of a kind" or "generated, shining out of like rays from the sun ?]

Son of God, before all ages, before all beginning, before all conceivable time, and before all comprehensible thought, begotten without passion

[what does that mean? "not physical" ? "no sexual lust" only ? ]:

by whom the ages were framed, and all things made: who was begotten

[ meaning ? again ]

as the only-begotten of the Father, only of only, God of God, like to the Father who begat

[meaning ?]


him, according to the Scriptures: whose generation no one knows, but the Father only who begat him. We know that this his only-begotten Son came down from the heavens . . . "

I don't know enough to make an informed decision, except that as far as I can tell, both Athanasius and Augustine were right, and more Biblical.

Doesn't the problem of modalism/Sabellianism become solved by the 3 persons (hupo-stasis) explanation of the Cappadocian fathers (Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Naziansus ) ?

Lvka said...

more than 130 councils were convened


Councils are held twice a year from Apostolic times (the Didache).

From 325 to about 425 there are 100 years, meaning 200 councils held in EACH larger region.

And since Arianism was raging, no wonder the issue was discussed at these 200*N councils, where N is the number of the larger regions or areas where Christianity spread (especially since the uprooting of heresies is the very reason given in the Didache for the convening of these biannual councils).

Ken said...

David W. wrote:
I think that one of the biggest obstacles with the term homoousios is that it can be understood in a number of different senses; on one end of the spectrum it seems Sabellian, and at the other end, Tritheistic.

However, didn't Athanasius, Augustine, and the Cappodocian fathers (Basil, Gregory of Naziansus, Gregory of Nyssa) explain how the term avoids those 2 extremes? It seems to me that they did; (and others also, probably Hillary and Jerome, others?) Why do you not include them in the context and background of these writers that fully explain the terms?

Ken said...

spelling error on my part;

Should have been Gregory of Nazianzus

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Sorry about the delay in responding, but was out of town over the weekend picking up grandkids. Will be busy with them until late Sunday, so I don’t know exactly when I will be able to address the thoughts and questions presented in your last few posts (maybe one of these nights after the kids go to bed, if I have any energy left). For now, just want to say that the issues involved are quite complex; as such, the ‘traditional’ labels are just not adequate enough to do proper justice (IMHO).

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Grandkids are finally back with their parents and my beachbum status has returned (grin)!

Back on the 20th, you posted:

>>The Arminium creed" and "Sirmium Creed" - ? same ?>>

Me: Couple of items need to mentioned: first, there is more than one "Sirmium Creed" (at least 4); if you are referring to the 4th creed of Sirmium (359), then yes, the " Arminium creed" and "Sirmium Creed" are the "same".

>>Isn't this the groups and Arian councils or semi-Arian councils that condemned Athanasius?>>

Me: Not really, note the following:

"Athanasius had been removed on moral and political ground..." (Ivor J. Davidson, The Baker History of the Church, Vol. 2 – A Public Faith: From Constantine to the Medieval World, AD 312-600, 2005, pp. 41.)

'Athanasius was not deposed [by the Eusebians] for heresy." (Lewis Ayres, Nicaea and its Legacy, p. 105.)

>>Isn't the "Sirmium creed" the one that Liberius, bishop of Rome, signed? and is seen as condemned by Protestants, since he signed on to heresy (and thus proved against the infallibility of the bishop of Rome doctrine) even though he later reversed his decision?>>

Me: Liberius FOR SURE did not sign the 4th creed of Sirmium (359) for he had been restored to the see of Rome before 359. Some important scholars speculate that he had signed the 1st creed of Sirmium (351), but I think R.P.C. Hanson is correct when he concludes that as for what Liberius actually signed the, "matter must be left open." (Search, p. 362.)

>>What did Athanasius write about it?>>

Me: Athansius was not always clear and consistent here, at times he adopted language very similar to that Eustanthius and Marcellus, for whom homoousios meant “one and the same being.” (It is not without warrant that scholars have identified the teaching of Eustanthius and Marcellus as a form of modalism.) At other times, Athanasius seems quite close to the teaching of Eusebius of Caesarea, who came to accept homoousios as meaning, “exactly like in being”.

>>I don't know enough to make an informed decision, except that as far as I can tell, both Athanasius and Augustine were right, and more Biblical.>>

Me: But, and this importantly, Athanasius and Augustine did not teach the exact same doctrine of the Trinity.

>>Doesn't the problem of modalism/Sabellianism become solved by the 3 persons (hupo-stasis) explanation of the Cappadocian fathers (Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Naziansus ) ?>>

Me: The Cappadocians clearly rejected any form of modalism/Sabellianism, but their formulations have been termed "tritheistic" by a number of Augustinian Trinitarians.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

On the 22nd you posted:

However, didn't Athanasius, Augustine, and the Cappodocian fathers (Basil, Gregory of Naziansus, Gregory of Nyssa) explain how the term avoids those 2 extremes? It seems to me that they did; (and others also, probably Hillary and Jerome, others?) Why do you not include them in the context and background of these writers that fully explain the terms?

Me: In older threads, I documented that for the Cappadocians (and pretty much every CF before Augustine) "the one true God" was the Father, but Augustine identified the "the one true God" as the Trinity; as such, a number EO theologians identify Augustinian Trinitarianism as a form of modalism, while a number of Augustinian Trinitarians believe the Cappadocian view to be tritheistic.

Confusion over competing models of the Trinity still exists nearly 1,700 years after the creed of Nicaea (and hundreds of books!!!).

Fact is, pro-Nicene theologians did not, and still have not, "fully" explained "the terms", and important differences existed, and continue to exist.


Grace and peace,

David

Lvka said...

"Athanasius had been removed on moral and political ground..."

Pretexts...

"Athanasius was not deposed [by the Eusebians] for heresy."

So they said...
___________________________________

Fact is, pro-Nicene theologians did not, and still have not, "fully" explained "the terms", and important differences existed, and continue to exist.

Non-sense!

For the Cappadocians, it meant having all essence in common, save for personal attributes (fatherhood, sonship, and procession). Being one, without being the same.

Augustine did not exclude the personal attributes from the [common] essence.

So we do know what those at Niceea meant.

Ken said...

David Waltz wrote:
Me: The Cappadocians clearly rejected any form of modalism/Sabellianism, but their formulations have been termed "tritheistic" by a number of Augustinian Trinitarians.

“have been termed” – means others are describing it as such, interpreting them as such, and “tritheistic” means “tending to tritheism”, but the Eastern Orthodox themselves reject that description and interpretation of them.

Who are these “Augustinian Trinitarians” ??

Case in point, Lvka, an Eastern Orthodox is objecting to your interpretation of the history, and thinking that the Cappodians tended to tritheism, etc.

Interesting that a Protestant (me) and an Eastern Orthodox have unity and in agreement with one another on this issue of the doctrine of the Trinity. Athanasius, Augustine, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil, and Gregory of Nyssa all agree with one another on the Trinity, and the Scriptures drove them to it. (which points to Sola Scriptura, as I pointed out in my recent post at Beggar’s All. )

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/08/man-made-religion-tries-to-make-god.html

The Scriptures are the basis for unity over doctrine, not extra-biblical sources.

Ken said...

David Waltz wrote:
" . . .
a number EO theologians identify Augustinian Trinitarianism as a form of modalism,

who? where? names and sources?

while a number of Augustinian Trinitarians believe the Cappadocian view to be tritheistic.

see above comment.

Confusion over competing models of the Trinity still exists nearly 1,700 years after the creed of Nicaea (and hundreds of books!!!).

"David, your own learning and many books has driven you mad!"

see Acts 26:24

Paul was right and not crazy; but you seem to border on it by this obsession of yours - when you were RC, you complained about Protestant dis-unity; BUT now, you are attacking one of the doctrines in which there is unity between the 3 great branches of Christiandom. that seems weird to me; and would make you very lonely; I would think.

But there is no confusion or competing doctrines of the Trinity by any true believing Protestants, EOs, nor Roman Catholics - from what I understand, they are all unified on the Trinity.

You seem to want some kind of what you call a "pre-Nicean doctrine" or "Subordinationism" - that the Father is the only true God, yet the Son was always there (eternal; “generating out from the Father, like rays from the Sun” ? – you never seem to really answer directly what you believe. ), yet you are unwilling to say what that means, you just leave it hanging, and deny Jehovah's witness doctrine (that the Son was created and not eternal), and imply that the Son was a being in between God the Father and the angels in some kind of Divine Counsel (Michael Heiser) – yet, it doesn’t seem to affirm the Deity of Christ; and seems like a hybrid view in between Arianism and orthodox Christianity. (the other views you laid out in these recent posts, Homoian and Eusebian, or whatever?.

Is the Holy Spirit a person? or an impersonal force? (like the JWs belief ?)


Fact is, pro-Nicene theologians did not, and still have not, "fully" explained "the terms", and important differences existed, and continue to exist.

I don’t think that is true – you are the first person I have ever read that makes that claim; - as Athanasius, Augustine, and the Cappodian fathers all together hammered it all out; all based on Scripture. Why is that not good enough for you? Why not see the unity of Protestantism, EO, and RC on this and make your decision? “How long will you limp between two opinions? ( I Kings 18:21) I’ve never seen any formal disagreement between the 3 groups on the Trinity.

I don't see the value of your struggle or investigation, when it is never ending and fruitless, when we have enough official doctrinal statements of all three bodies of Christendom and they all agree with each other. You are straining at a atom in a flea's stomach.

Ken said...

It seems to me that they - Athanasius, Augustine, the 3 Cappodocian fathers were more clear than you are;

One Substance/ One Being / One Essence = One God
and
three persons - "the Father loves the Son"; "the Son prays to the Father, and glorifies the Father"; "the Spirit testifies to the Son", "the Holy Spirit is lied to" (Acts 5) - these point to the three persons.

One God in three persons is much clearer than your view, which no one can grasp.

you are the one who is confusing, by your unclear views of the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Divine counsel, Subordinationism (Yet all Trinitarians believe in an economic trinity of subordination and different roles) , unwilling to say that the Father and Son and Spirit are equal and of the same substance/essence/being.

David Waltz said...

Hello Lvka,

Thanks for responding; you posted:

>>"Athanasius had been removed on moral and political ground..."

Pretexts...

"Athanasius was not deposed [by the Eusebians] for heresy."

So they said...>>

Me: We have been over this before, and I suggested that you need to read Hanson's chapter, "The Behaviour of Athanasius" (ch. 9), in his Search for the Christian Doctrine of God (pp. 239-273), wherein he provides plenty of solid evidence for the so-called "Pretexts" offered by the other two scholars I cited.

>>Fact is, pro-Nicene theologians did not, and still have not, "fully" explained "the terms", and important differences existed, and continue to exist.

Non-sense!

For the Cappadocians, it meant having all essence in common, save for personal attributes (fatherhood, sonship, and procession). Being one, without being the same.

Augustine did not exclude the personal attributes from the [common] essence.

So we do know what those at Niceea meant.>>

Me: OK, here is your chance to back-up what you penned above—demonstrate that post-Nicene CFs (Catholic/Orthodox) all understood the term hypostasis (person) the same way; that they all understood the term homoousios (same nature/substance) the same way; that they all understood and applied the term monarchia (monarchy) the same way; numerous patristic scholars I have read (e.g. Dorner, Hanson, Kelly, Prestige, et al.) state that they did not, so I eagerly await your reflections.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

You wrote the following:

==Interesting that a Protestant (me) and an Eastern Orthodox have unity and in agreement with one another on this issue of the doctrine of the Trinity. Athanasius, Augustine, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil, and Gregory of Nyssa all agree with one another on the Trinity, and the Scriptures drove them to it. (which points to Sola Scriptura, as I pointed out in my recent post at Beggar’s All. )==

Me: So you now agree with conservative EO theologians (e.g. Behr, Hopko, Lossky, et al.) that "the one true God" is the Father, not the Trinity; that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father only; that the Father is the "beginning" of the Son and the Spirit; that "the Godhead is one because the Father is one"; that there is a distinction between God's essence and His energies ???

Anyway, after lunch, I am going to start working on a new post that details areas of significant disagree between competing Trinitarian views.

In the meantime, I recommend that you go back and read THIS THREAD.


Grace and peace,

David

Lvka said...

Don't buy Hanson's biased agenda.

I only said the Fathers of Niceea (and of the East in general) understood their own words.

Ken said...

David Waltz wrote:
Me: So you now agree with conservative EO theologians (e.g. Behr, Hopko, Lossky, et al.) that "the one true God" is the Father, not the Trinity;


I don’t know. I don’t recognize those names, but I am assuming those (or at least one of them), you discussed it before, as I recall. I seem to recall your posts on that issue and several EOs were discussing theology with you on that issue, one J. Norman and Lvka and several others. It was too deep for me; and I couldn't keep up with it.

I don't see a contradiction between "the one true God" as the Father, and "the one true God" as Trinity, since the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One God in three persons. Don't the EOs believe that each person is God?

You never answer the questions directly as to what that means exactly, that the Father alone is God. ie - Does that mean that the Son is not God? Does that mean that the Holy Spirit is not God?

I don’t think the EO s would agree with that.

I think you are isolating too much on that phrase, "the one true God" from John 17:3 and Ephesians 4:6 (one God and Father) and I Cor. 8:6 (one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ). Those verses are true, the Father is God, and there is only one God; but Jesus is also God, and the Holy Spirit is also God, yet there is only One God. Calling Jesus Lord (kurios) is also affirming that He is God. Yahweh is both Elohim (God) and Lord (The Lxx renders Yahweh as kurios, LXX). Psalm 110 - you never really admit that the NT treats that Christ is Lord God and equal to the Father. It does not seem true that by affirming “the one true God is the Father” that that also means that “the Son is not also God”. - that they are saying Jesus or the Holy Spirit as somehow not God; even though the Father is God also. the Holy Spirit is God - Acts 5:3-5. As James White likes to say " Jesus was not an atheist when He was on earth"; and "Jesus was not some renegade deity; He was unified with His Father."


that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father only;

I assume you are referring to the controversial “filoque clause”. It seems, according to what I have read, the main mistake the western church made was not consulting with the easterners and the Pope acting proud.

John 15:26 – When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me.” Jesus send the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father, so, at least I can see where the western church got the idea of “from the Father through the Son” – also Acts 2:33-36; John 7:37-39; John 16:7 – “I will send Him to you”; but I have no doubt that the Popes were very arrogant.


that the Father is the "beginning" of the Son

What does that mean?
Was there a time that the Son did not exist into the past?

If you agree that it is not an Arian understanding, that the Son is eternal, always existed, the Word (John 1:1) – then what exactly does it mean?


and the Spirit; that "the Godhead

What is “the Godhead” – “the Trinity” ?; what exactly does that word mean, in the way you are using it.

is one because the Father is one"; that there is a distinction between God's essence and His energies ???

I have seen EOs talking about the "energies", but, I do not understand the “energies” issue. Where is the basis for the “energies” of God in the Scriptures?

I can see how nature/substance/existence/being is necessary to discuss; and I can see the persons (the many verses that talk about the Father loves the Son; the Son prays to the Father; the Spirit is grieved; and is lied to, etc. ; but I don’t really know much about the “energies”, I admit.