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Archive Early Church Fathers Nota Bene Steven Wedgeworth

The Hermeneutics of the Two Natures of Christ in Gregory of Nazianzus

In his famous “Third Theological Oration,” Gregory of Nazianzus gives this rule for interpreting biblical passages about Christ: To give you the explanation in one sentence.  What is lofty you are to apply to the Godhead, and to that Nature in Him which is superior to sufferings and incorporeal; but all that is lowly to […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

Deification: The Patristic Roots of the Reformation (2)

“Theosis” and “deification” are culpably ambiguous terms. On the other hand, using one of them in the title did get you to click on the link, did it not? There are unobjectionable (as well as objectionable) ways of construing the concept behind the term, and there were senses in which the Reformers did so, as […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene

The Eternal Non-Subordination of the Son in Gregory of Nazianzus

A couple of months ago there was a lot of discussion as to whether the Son, or Word, as such stands in a relation of obedience to the Father. The suggestion was also floated a couple of times that there was a wealth of patristic support for such an idea. The following passage from Gregory […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene

“Person” Doesn’t Mean Person

Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 21, again. Though the term “person” in Trinitarian theology carries a lot of baggage with it now, and often imports misleading ideas into reflection on the Godhead (e.g. “individual center of self-consciousness,” vel sim.), such ideas have little to do with the term as it was originally used in the fourth century. Gregory […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene

“Mighty in the Word,” Again

Gregory’s twenty-first Oration, again. Last time we saw that Athanasius’ fluency in the Word was, in Gregory’s view, his chief characteristic. The importance of the Word for the Arian conflict returns again later in the oration. The Council of Nicaea spoke against, but did not end, the Arian problem, and so Athanasius saw much conflict in […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene

Athanasius, “Mighty in the Word”

Oh, you wanted more on yesterday’s theme? That’s a relief; I thought you’d never ask. After sketching some aspects of Athanasius’ character, Gregory goes on to say: On these grounds, as I have said, I leave others, who have leisure to admire the minor details of his character, to admire and extol him. I call […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene

Apostolic Succession according to Gregory of Nazianzus

Who was the churchman in charge of the whole world in the fourth century? According to Gregory of Nazianzus, it was Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria. Thus in Oration 21 (“On the Great Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria”), referred to briefly yesterday, Gregory writes: Thus brought up and trained, as even now those should be who are to […]

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Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene

The Platonism of Gregory of Nazianzus

It is well known that Platonism was a much more powerful philosophical force in the fourth century than Aristotelianism (this judgment must, of course, be modified somewhat due to the incorporation of elements of Aristotelian philosophy in later strands of Platonism; but that modification is not going to happen in this short post). Many images […]

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Archive E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene Philosophy Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

All the World a Stage

Exeunt Omnes? Is it appropriate for Christians to think of life in theatrical terms? Despite the present popularity of the dramatic metaphor, one could be forgiven for thinking we should not. After all, does it not lead, even subliminally, to our construing our lives as one big game of make-believe, with our selves (as created […]

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Archive E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

God’s Will as God’s Act in Gregory of Nazianzus

In Oration 29.6 (the third Theological Oration), Gregory of Nazianzus responds to a charge attributed to the opponents of Nicaea and its Trinitarian reception. They attempt, Gregory says, to force a dilemma upon those who do not limit deity to the Unbegotten but claim it also for the Son: did the Father beget willingly or unwillingly? If the […]