Irenaeus on Theology and Christology 5

For by means of the creation itself, the Word reveals God the Creator; and by means of the world [does He declare] the Lord the Maker of the world; and by means of the formation [of man] the Artificer who formed him; and by the Son that Father who begot the Son. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.6.6)

. . .

For the Son, being present with His own handiwork from the beginning, reveals the Father to all; to whom He wills, and when He wills, and as the Father wills. Wherefore, then, in all things, and through all things, there is one God, the Father, and one Word, and one Son, and one Spirit, and one salvation to all who believe in Him. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.6.7)

Irenaeus here has a very high Christology, but it is still subordinationist, the one God is still the Father, it is God who is the creator, and the Word reveals Gods.

Irenaeus on Theology and Christology 4

Truly, then, the Scripture declared, which says, First of all believe that there is one God, who has established all things, and completed them, and having caused that from what had no being, all things should come into existence (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.20.2)

. . .

I have also largely demonstrated, that the Word, namely the Son, was always with the Father; and that Wisdom also, which is the Spirit, was present with Him, anterior to all creation, He declares by Solomon: God by Wisdom founded the earth, and by understanding has He established the heaven. By His knowledge the depths burst forth, and the clouds dropped down the dew. Proverbs 3:19-20 And again: The Lord created me the beginning of His ways in His work: He set me up from everlasting, in the beginning, before He made the earth, before He established the depths, and before the fountains of waters gushed forth; before the mountains were made strong, and before all the hills, He brought me forth. And again: When He prepared the heaven, I was with Him, and when He established the fountains of the deep; when He made the foundations of the earth strong, I was with Him preparing [them]. I was He in whom He rejoiced, and throughout all time I was daily glad before His face, when He rejoiced at the completion of the world, and was delighted in the sons of men. Proverbs 8:27-31. There is therefore one God, who by the Word and Wisdom created and arranged all things (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.20.3–4)

. . .

Therefore the Son of the Father declares [Him] from the beginning, inasmuch as He was with the Father from the beginning (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.20.7)

As we saw in the previous post, Irenaeus sees the Father as the self-existant God, this God established all things, bringing them into existence ex-nihilo. Irenaues also says that the Son, and Spirit, was “always with the Father,” prior to all creation. The Son was with God from the beginning. So far, what Irenaeus is saying seems to be compatible with both a subordinationist theology and a trinitarian theology. The Son is with the Father “from the beginning,” meaning the beginning of creation, but not necessarily from eternity. Irenaeus’s use of Proverbs 8 seems to imply the contrary.

Irenaeus on Theology and Christology 3

For consider, all you who invent such opinions, since the Father Himself is alone called God, who has a real existence, but whom you style the Demiurge; since, moreover, the Scriptures acknowledge Him alone as God; and yet again, since the Lord confesses Him alone as His own Father, and knows no other (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2.28.4)

Notice what Irenaeus says here, it is the Father alone (not the Father and the Son, not the Trinity) that has real existance, and who is truely “God.” This argument is against the Gnostics who argued that the Father, or God, the God of Israel, was a Demiurge.

Irenaeus on Theology and Christology 2

So then we must believe God in all things, for in all things God is true. Now that there was a Son of God, and that He existed not only before He appeared in the world, but also before the world was made, Moses, who was the first that prophesied says in Hebrew: Baresith bara Elowin basan benuam samenthares. And this, translated into our language, is: “The Son in the beginning: God established then the heaven and the earth.” This Jeremiah the prophet also testified, saying thus: Before the morning-star I begat thee: and before the sun (is) thy name; and that is, before the creation of the world; for together with the world the stars were made. And again the same says: Blessed is he who was, before he became man. Because, for God, the Son was (as) the beginning before the creation of the world (Irenaeus, Demonstration, 43)

He makes an even clearer ontological distinction a bit later:

So then the Father is Lord and the Son is Lord, and the Father is God and the Son is God; for that which is begotten of God is God. And so in the substance and power of His being there is shown forth one God; but there is also according to the economy of our redemption both Son and Father. Because to created things the Father of all is invisible and unapproachable, therefore those who are to draw near to God must have their access to the Father through the Son. (Irenaeus, Demonstration, 47)

So the Son is as the beginning of creation, in other words, he is not eternal. The Son’s begetting is not presented as being eternal, but “before” creation, which seems to put it in a sequence.


Irenaeus on Theology and Christology 1

Thus then there is shown forth One God, the Father, not made, invisible, creator of all things; above whom there is no other God, and after whom there is no other God. And, since God  is rational, therefore by (the) Word He created the things that were made; and God is Spirit, and by (the) Spirit He adorned all things: as also the prophet says: By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and by his spirit all their power. Since then the Word establishes, that is to say, gives body and grants the reality of being, and the Spirit gives order and form to the diversity of the powers; rightly and fittingly is the Word called the Son, and the Spirit the Wisdom of God. Well also does Paul His apostle say: One God, the Father, who is over all and through all and in its all. For over all is the Father; and through all is the Son, for through Him all things were made by the Father; and in us all is the Spirit, who cries Abba Father, and fashions man into the likeness of God. (Irenaeus, Demonstration, 5)

There is, for Irenaues, one God: The Father, defined as the highest God, not made, invisible, and the creator of all things. This God creates by his “word,” because of his rationality (continuing the trend found in Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Tatian, of thinking of the word as a kind of attribute of God). The way this is done seems to be, in a sense, similar to the way the Logos works in Platonism in the Timeaus: The Logos gives “body”, or reality, to being. Yet over all is the Father. So far we could fit this with a fully subordinationist Christology, but it could argueably also fit with a monarchian trinitarian Christology. Either way, there is most definately a heirarchy, and the Son functions as a kind of demiurge.

On Love and Beauty and the Demonic as Saturated Phenomena

Is a flower primarily beautiful, and secondarily the scientific descriptions that model it? Or is it primarily those scientific descriptions, after which we assign the category of beauty to it? Mirroring this question is larger question: is this world the result of a telos which has an inherent claim on us or is it a blind system driven by mechanistic forces with no purpose, meaning, or any inherent claim on us, there being, for us, only desire and self-interest? This essay will examine these two positions, defending the Christian claim by appeal to the saturated phenomenon as a pointer to God; first in terms of the world, then in terms of ethics. It will then examine evil as a saturated phenomenon, claiming that it points to the reality of the demonic. I will then claim that the ideologies that deny the telos of creation are themselves, not only wrong, but evil.

Continue reading “On Love and Beauty and the Demonic as Saturated Phenomena”

An Irenaeun cosmological argument.

The cosmological argument (as well as the contingency argument) is well known, a famous version being that of Thomas Aquinas in his 5 ways.[1] The argument, broadly, relies on the necessity of a first cause, or a necessary being from which all contingent reality receives its existence, and the impossibility of an infinite causal regress (be that causal regress temporal or atemporal) or an infinite regress of contingency. Irenaeus argues, in his Against Heresies, against the Gnostic idea of a higher pleroma above the creator, which I think can be restated, bringing together different arguments in Against Heresies, as a cosmological argument for the existence of God.

Continue reading “An Irenaeun cosmological argument.”

Tertullian on Theology and Christology 8

Let Hermogenes then confess that the very Wisdom of God is declared to be born and created, for the special reason that we should not suppose that there is any other being than God alone who is unbegotten and uncreated. For if that, which from its being inherent in the Lord was of Him and in Him, was yet not without a beginning — I mean His wisdom, which was then born and created, when in the thought of God It began to assume motion for the arrangement of His creative works — how much more impossible is it that anything should have been without a beginning which was extrinsic to the Lord! But if this same Wisdom is the Word of God, in the capacity of Wisdom, and (as being He) without whom nothing was made, just as also (nothing) was set in order without Wisdom, how can it be that anything, except the Father, should be older, and on this account indeed nobler, than the Son of God, the only-begotten and first-begotten Word? (Tertullian, Hermogenes, 18)

Tertullian, as was common at this time, associates Wisdom of Proverbs 8 with the Son of God, the first-begotten Word. Tertullian is very clear that there is only one being that is unbegotten and uncreated: God; and that because of this Wisdom is born and created. This Wisdom, being created, seeing that nothing other than God is uncreated, was the beginning of creation, and this Wisdom is the Word of John’s prologue: the Son of God. This is confirmed a little later on.

They did not even mention any Matter, but (said) that Wisdom was first set up, the beginning of His ways, for His works. Proverbs 8:22-23 Then that the Word was produced, through whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. John 1:3 Indeed, by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth. (Tertullian, Hermogenes, 45)

Tertullian on Theology and Christology 7

Because God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father. In this way He was not Lord previous to those things of which He was to be the Lord. But He was only to become Lord at some future time: just as He became the Father by the Son, and a Judge by sin, so also did He become Lord by means of those things which He had made, in order that they might serve Him. (Tertullian, Hermogenes, 3)

God was always God, but not always Lord, why? Because there was not always creation, nor was he always Father, why? Because there was not always the Son, here Tertullian as is pre-emptively taking the Arian side in the Arian controversy against Athanasius. Tertullian is very clear here, the Son comes into being, and through the son coming into being, God becomes Father.