St DIONYSIUS 259-268

 

The Trinity and the Incarnation *

 

[Fragment from epistle (2) against the Tritheists and Sabellians, about the year 260]

 

48 (1) Now assuredly it is just to preach against those who destroy the 48 one power which is the most sacred teaching of the Church of God, dividing and rending it into some three powers and distinct substances and three deities. For I have heard that some who preach and explain the divine word among you are teachers of this belief; yet they, so to speak, are diametrically opposed to the opinion of Sabellius.

 

For the latter blasphemes when he says that the Son himself is the Father and the reverse: the former indeed in a certain measure proclaim three gods, when they divide the sacred unity into three different substances altogether distinct from one another. For it is necessary that the divine Word be united to the God of all, and that the Holy Spirit abide in God and dwell in Him: and thus the divine Trinity is reduced to and gathered into one, as it were, into a certain head, that is into the omnipotent God of all. For foolish Marcion’s doctrine which divides and separates the monarchy into three principles is surely diabolical; moreover, it is not of the true disciples of Christ or of those to whom the teaching of the Savior is pleasing. For these know well that the Trinity is indeed proclaimed in divine Scripture, moreover, that three gods are taught neither in the Old nor in the New Testament.

 

49 (2) But none the less they should be blamed who think that the Son is 49 a work, and that the Lord was made just as one of those things which were actually created; since divine statements bear witness that He was begotten, as is proper and fitting, not created or made.

 

It is therefore not a trifling, but a very great irreverence to say that the Lord was made in some way. For if the Son was made, there was a time when He did not exist; and yet He always was, if He undoubtedly is, as He himself declares, in the Father [John 14:10 f.]. Moreover, and if Christ is the word, the wisdom, and the power (for the divine Scriptures teach that Christ is [John 1:14; 1 Cor. 1:24], as you yourselves know), surely these are the powers of God. Wherefore, if the Son was made, there was a time when these powers did not exist; and so there was a time when God was without them; which is very absurd.

 

50 But why should I treat further about these matters with you, man full of the Spirit, and especially who understand what absurdities follow from that opinion which asserts that the Son was made? It seems to me that the leaders of this belief did not consider these at all, and thus have completely strayed from the truth, when they explain differently from what the divine and prophetic Scripture wishes, the passage: “The Lord created man in the beginning of his ways” [Prov. 8:22: LXX]. Certainly there is not, as you know, only one meaning of the word “created.” For in this passage “created” is the same as “he set him over works made by Him,” made, I say, by the Son Himself.

 

But here “created” ought not to be understood exactly as “made.” For ” to make” and “to create” differ from each other. “Is not he thy father that hast possessed thee, and made thee, and created thee?” [Dt. 32:6:LXX] said Moses in the great canticle of Deuteronomy. And so who can rightly refute them: O rash and inconsiderate men, was he then a made thing “the first born of every creature” [Col. 1:15], “begotten from the womb before the daystar” [Ps. 109:3:LXX] of whom as Wisdom says, “before all the hills he brought me forth”? [Prov. 8:25:LXX]. Finally anybody may read in many passages of the divine statements that the Son was “begotten,” but nowhere “made.” By reason of this they who dare to call His divine and inexplicable begetting a making, are clearly proved to speak falsely about the Lord’s generation.

 

51 (3) Neither therefore ought the admirable and divine unity be separated into three godheads, nor ought the dignity and supreme magnitude of the Lord be lessened by the designation of making; but we must believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Christ Jesus his Son, and in the Holy Spirit, that the Word, moreover, is united to the God of all.

 

For He said: “I and the Father are one” [ John 10:30], and: “I am in the Father, and the Father in me” [ John 14:10]. Thus it is evident that the divine Trinity and the holy proclamation of the monarchy will be preserved intact.

 

  1. FELIX I 269-274 ST. CAIUS 283-296

 

  1. EUTYCHIANUS 275-283 ST. MARCELLINUS 296-304
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