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Archive E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene

“Just So He Makes My Disobedience His Own”: Atonement as Representation

So Gregory of Nazianzus, with his customary eloquence, in the fourth Theological Oration: on the cross, “Christ was in His own Person representing us.” Take, in the next place, the subjection by which you subject the Son to the Father. What, you say, is He not now subject, or must He, if He is God, […]

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

Gregory of Nazianzus on the Development of Doctrine

Earlier this summer I posted and discussed a passage on progressive revelation from Gregory of Nazianzus’ fifth Theological Oration (= Oration 31). I’d like to return to that passage today, but in order to discuss it from a different vantage point. In 31.26-27, Gregory gives a three-stage view of revelation, in which the deity of the Father is […]

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

Monarchy Does Not Mean Rule by One Person

In the third Theological Oration (= Oration 29), Gregory of Nazianzus argues that divine monarchy does not necessitate rule by only one person. Gregory claims in 29.2 that there are three ancient opinions about the divine rule of the world: anarchy, polycarchy, and monarchy. He criticizes anarchy and polyarchy as both tending toward dissolution (λύσις). Polyarchy, he says, is […]

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

Inspiration and Application

In his second Oration, Gregory of Nazianzus contrasts the continuing relevance of the ancient histories of the Bible with the legends of the Greeks. The reason for this continuing relevance seems in his view to be the Spirit’s exhaustive inspiration of every element of the text, down to “the merest stroke and tittle.” This inspiration means […]

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

Gregory against the Internet (2)

I previously posted some quotations from Gregory of Nazianzus’ first Theological Oration that remind us of the importance of Christian character, and that we should not substitute factionalist loyalty for a proper evaluation of such character. Consider this post an addendum to that one. In his second Oration, a massive work on pastoral care, Gregory […]

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

Gregory against the Internet

In the first Theological Oration, Gregory of Nazianzus remarks that we often have our priorities misplaced. We consider “rivalry of speech and endless talking” to be more important than all else. Where we should have a definite and decided concern for Christian character, we instead grant a pass for all kinds of vice as long […]

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

Apologia pro Analogia

Analogy, and especially Trinitarian analogy, gets a bad rap in theology. See, for instance, St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies. Trinitarian analogies, it is said, always end up in some kind of heresy, whether modalism, Arianism, or something else. I’d like to offer some resistance to this criticism on the grounds that it misunderstands the way in […]

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

Gregory of Nazianzus on the Creator-Creature Distinction

In order to avoid misunderstanding what late antique Christian theologians mean (and do not mean) when they discuss “theosis”  or  “deification” (and some  of their statements read without context are very open to misunderstanding),  it is of the utmost importance to recall that orthodox fourth-century theologians rigorously and emphatically affirmed the absolute and essential (I […]

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

Gregory of Nazianzus on Progressive Revelation

Late in the Fifth Theological Oration, “On the Holy Spirit,” Gregory of Nazianzus notes two parallel developments that have occurred in the history of revelation. They proceed side by side, but in opposite directions: one moves from complexity to simplicity (vis-a-vis the worship of God), while the other moves from simplicity to complexity (vis-a-vis the […]

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

Words and Things in Gregory of Nazianzus and the Westminster Divines

One basic tenet of the Reformed doctrine of Scripture is that doctrine should be derived from Scripture as its source, but that Scripture “knows” more than it puts forward explicitly in so many words. That is, the words of Scripture themselves necessitate further deductions that in turn provide matter for dogmatic reflection and formulation. A […]