Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mr. White's method of disputation: part 2 - misdirection and sophistry

In reference to my assessment that Mr. White was inaccurate concerning his claim that, "In the early Church, as was mentioned before, the difference between homoousios and homoiousios is, is a HUGE* gap", just past the 22 minute mark in his DL response, he states:

And so he starts off taking on, now this is ,this a a statement that I did not come up with, this is a statement that many people far, far more trained in Church history than David Waltz could ever pretend to be, uhhh, have likewise stated.

Now, not one of the "many people far, far more trained in Church History" are either named, and/or cited—not one. With this in mind, note what the following scholars had to say about this issue:

Dr. Khaled Anatolios:

He [Athanasius] also concedes that those who follow the "likeness of essence" terminology of Basil Ancyra are substantially in accord with his own (Nicene) teaching, though he continues to prefer homoousios. We find similar conciliatory moves in Hilary of Poitier's On the Trnity, written in the early 360s. Hilary was careful to interpret homoousios in a way that clarified the real distinction between Father and Son, thus avoiding the specter of modalism, and was even more explicit than Athanasius in allowing the legitimacy of homoiousios. (Retrieving Nicaea, 2011, pp. 22, 23.)

Dr. G.W.H. Lampe:

This term [homoiousios] became characteristic of the theology of Basil of Ancyra, George bishop of Laodicea, and others who, while still anxious not to compromise the distinctness of the two hypostases, were moving nearer to the Nicene position in the face of the developed Arianism of the 'Anomoeans'. A formula drawn up in 359 by George of Laodicea asserted a likeness in substance between the Father and the Son as distinct hypostases and identity of deity. At about this same time Athanasius explicitly recognized that this party shared his own view, differing only in respect of their hesitation over the actual term homoousion; if they were content to acknowledge that the Son is both 'of like substance' with the Father and of the Father's substance [which they in fact did affirm], they were in agreement with the homoousion was intended to signify. (A History of Christian Doctrine, edited by H. Cunliffe -Jones, 1978, pp. 110, 111.)

[Note: Dr. Lampe is the author of the massive (1,568 pages) , and invaluable work, A Patristic Greek Lexicon.]

Dr. Jarsolav Pelikan:

But among nonscriptural words, what was so sacrosanct about homoousios? Athanasius, for example, made surprisingly little use of it and wrote his longest defense of the concept, the three Orations against the Arians, almost without mentioning it. And at the very end of his treatise on the councils, Hilary, "calling the God of heaven, and earth to witness," swore that he had not so much as heard of the Council of Nicea until he was about to go into exile in 356, but that he regarded homoousios and homoiousios as synonymous. They were not synonymous to begin with, but they eventually converged—not principally through orthodox suasions, but through the recognition by the adherents of both terms that the threat to what they believed most deeply was coming from the extreme Arian position: Christ the Logos was "unlike the Father" or, more moderately, "like the Father not in ousia." Speaking doctrinally rather than polictically, the homousios was saved by the further clarification of the unresolved problems of the One and the Three and by the recognition of a common religous concern between the partisans of homoousios and homoiousios. The spokemans for that recognition, after various kinds of hesitations, was Athanasius himself, who ultimately asserted his unwillingness to attack Homoiousians "as Ariomaniacss, or as opponents of the fathers; but we discuss the issue with them as brethren with brethren, who mean what we mean and are disputing only about terminology." (The Christian Tradition - The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), 1971, p. 210.)

Dr. Henry Chadwick:

During the mid-4th century, a number of the largest and most important churches were being taken over by Arian bishops who were pressing the notion that:

...the Son is not merely distinct from the Father , but actually belongs to the created order; that all derived being is substantially dissimilar from the underived First Cause; in short, that the Son's essence is unlike (anomoios) the Father's. This position, quickly labled Anomoean or 'dissimilarian', was opposed not merely to the Nicene formula that the essence of the Father and the Son is identical (homoousios), but also to the predominant formula of the great majority of Greek bishops that the Son's essence is 'like' the Father's (homoiousios) as a perfect image resembles its archtype. This homoiousios formula seemed to possess the attractions that it affirmed the highest degree of resemblance short of that 'identity of essence' which, under the umbrella of the Nicene creed, could give dangerous protection to 'Sabellians' like Marcellus of Ancyra. (The Early Church, 1967, p. 141).

In 360 Athanasius realized Basil of Ancyra [a homoiousian] and he were basically fighting for the same cause, and held out a proposal of an alliance even if Basil and his friends retained their scruples about the keyword of the Nicene formula, 'identical in essence' (homoousios) : 'Those who accept the Nicene creed but have doubts about the term homoousios must not be treated as enemies; we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers; they mean the same as we, and dispute only about the word.' (Ibid. p. 144.)

Dr. J.W. Nevin:

These zealous teachers [the Anomoeans (i.e. Arians)], Eunomius in particular, had much to say of the absolute simplicity of the Divine nature, the being of God conceived of in the most abstract way, which made it impossible, they contended, that his substance could be conveyed by any generation to another; the Son could not be, therefore, absolutely like the Father, but must be regarded as the production of the Father's will out of nothing, though endowed with power to create the world, and exalted far above all other creatures. Such was the thinking and reasoning of the strict Arians. Over and against these stood the far larger party of the Semi-Arians of Homoiousians, sometimes called Eusebians, from their distinguishing representative, Eusebius of Cesarea, an unsteady fluctuating party, which felt itself pressed continually between the Arian and Nicene schemes of thought without the power of finding any firm middle ground of its own on which to stand. They contributed in truth little to the movement of theological thought. Their concern all the time was to maintain the distinction between the Father and the Son, which they supposed must fall away, if both were allowed to be of one substance [i.e. Sabellianism/monarchian modalism]...Finding itself thus hard pushed between on both sides, the party was led more and more through the force of its religious instincts, to disown Arianism and make common cause with the Nicene Faith, until, finally, having become reconciled to it at all points, it ceased to exist altogether. Indeed, Semi-nicene, rather than Semi-arian would seem to have been the proper title for the party from the first. ("Arianism", in the Mercersburg Review, vol. 14-1867, p. 438 - bold emphasis mine.)

[Note: Dr. Nevin was the good friend and colleague of the famous historian, Dr. Philip Schaff.]

Dr. Archibald Robertson:

We must now take account of the party headed by Basil of Ancyra and usually (since Epiphanius), but with some injustice, designated as Semi-Arians. Their theological ancestry and antecedents have been already sketched (pp. xxvii., xxxv.) ; they are the representatives of that conservatism, moulded by the neo-Asiatic, or modified Origenist tradition, which warmly condemned Arianism at Nicæa, but acquiesced with only half a heart in the test by which the Council resolved to exclude it. They furnished the numerical strength, the material basis so to call it, of the anti-Nicene reaction ; but the reaction on their part had not been Arian in principle, but in part anti-Sabellian, in part the empirical conservatism of men whose own principles are vague and ill-assorted, and who fail to follow the keener sight which distinguishes the higher conservatism from the lower. They lent themselves to the purposes of the Eusebians (a name which ought to be dropped after 342) on purely negative grounds and in view of questions of personal rights and accusations. A positive doctrinal formula they did not possess. But in the course of years reflexion did its work. A younger generation grew up who had not been taught to respect Nicæa, nor yet had imbibed Arian principles.  Cyril at Jerusalem, Meletius at Antioch, are specimens of a large class. The Dedication Creed at Antioch represents an early stage in the growth of this body of conviction, conviction not absolutely uniform everywhere, as the result shews, but still with a distinct tendency to settle down to a formal position with regard to the great question of the age. There was nothing in the Nicene doctrine that men like this did not hold : but the word ὁμοούσιος opened the door to the dreaded Sabellian error : was not the history of Marcellus and Photinus a significant comment upon it ? But if οὐσία meant not individuality, but specific identity (supr., p. xxxi. sq.) even this term might be innocently admitted. But to make that meaning plain, what was more effective than the insertion of an iota ? Ὁμοιούσιος, then, was the satisfactory test which would banish Arius and Marcellus alike. (Select Writings and Letters of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, NPNF 4.lv.)

Anatolios, Lampe, Pelikan, Chadwick, Nevin, and Robertson (all recognized scholars of the period we are discussing), clearly side with my assessment, contra Mr. White, and his unnamed "many people far, far more trained in Church History".

I did not quote any of the above scholars in my original post, but rather, I quoted directly from St. Athanasius. Mr. White implies that I quoted St. Athanasius out of context, and urges his followers to read St. Athanasius for themselves. I will second that—everyone interested in this issue should read St. Athansius for themselves, for an objective reading of him in context will yield but one result, namely that St. Athanasius did not believe that,"the difference between homoousios and homoiousios is, is a HUGE* gap", and will instead affirm with Dr. Lampe, myself, and others, that "Athanasius explicitly recognized that this party shared his own view, differing only in respect of their hesitation over the actual term homoousion".

Interestingly enough, St. Athanasius himself had no problem with the terms "likeness" and "like":

We understand in like manner that the Son is begotten not from without but from the Father, and while the Father remains whole, the Expression of His Subsistence is ever, and preserves the Father's likeness and unvarying Image, so that he who sees Him, sees in Him the Subsistence too, of which He is the Expression. (Contra Arianos 2.33 - NPNF 4.366.)


For what is sown in every soul from the beginning is that God has a Son, the Word, the Wisdom, the Power, that is, His Image and Radiance; from which it at once follows that He is always ; that He is from the Father; that He is like ; that He is the eternal offspring of His essence ; and there is no idea involved in these of creature or work. (Contra Arianos 2.34- NPNF 4.366.)

So, once again, concerning Mr. White's bold statement that,"In the early Church, as was mentioned before, the difference between homoousios and homoiousios is, is a HUGE* gap": Is that an accurate statement?

Grace and peace,


[*Note: Mr. White took issue with the fact that I placed his "HUGE" statement in all capitals; I did so because in the NCE-E1 video he significantly emphasized "HUGE" by a prolonged elongation of it's pronouncement. I could have of chosen to have used 'huuuuuuuuuuge', instead of HUGE, but selected the latter.]

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