In this post I will be quoting from the works of another early church father, namely Hilary of Poitiers, in respect to his Trinitarian beliefs.
The citations will show that Hilary affirmed that the Son was timelessly begotten, and therefore not a creature, since the Son has been eternally God with the Father. The quotations will further prove that Hilary believed the Son to be subject or subordinate to the Father, yet not as a creature of God, but rather as the Father’s eternally begotten Son from whom he timelessly derives his divine essence and authority. All emphasis will be mine.
X. And if any one admits that God became Father of the Only-begotten Son at any point in time and not that the Only-begotten Son came into existence without passion beyond all times and beyond all human calculation: for contravening the teaching of the Gospel which scorned any interval of times between the being of the Father and the Son and faithfully has instructed us that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God John 1:1, let him be anathema.
24. It is a pious saying that the Father is not limited by times: for the true meaning of the name of Father which He bore before time began surpasses comprehension. Although religion teaches us to ascribe to Him this name of Father through which comes the impassible origin of the Son, yet He is not bound in time, for the eternal and infinite God cannot be understood as having become a Father in time, and according to the teaching of the Gospel the Only-begotten God the Word is recognized even in the beginning rather to be with God than to be born.
XI. And if any one says that the Father is older in time than His Only-begotten Son, and that the Son is younger than the Father: let him be anathema.
25. The essential likeness conformed to the Father’s essence in kind is also taught to be identical in time: lest He who is the image of God, who is the Word, who is God with God in the beginning, who is like the Father, by the insertion of times between Himself and the Father should not have in Himself in perfection that which is both image, and Word, and God. For if He be proclaimed to be younger in time, He has lost the truth of the image and likeness: for that is no longer likeness which is found to be dissimilar in time. For that very fact that God is Father prevents there being any time in which He was not Father: consequently there can be no time in the Son’s existence in which He was not Son. Wherefore we must neither call the Father older than the Son nor the Son younger than the Father: for the true meaning of neither name can exist without the other…
A copy of the creed composed at Sirmium by the Easterns to oppose Photinus.
38. We believe in one God the Father Almighty, the Creator and Maker, from whom every fatherhood in heaven and in earth is named.
And in His only Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the Father before all ages, God of God, Light of Light, through whom all things were made in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible. Who is the Word and Wisdom and Might and Life and true Light: who in the last days for our sake took a body, And was born of the Holy Virgin, And was crucified, And was dead and buried: who also rose from the dead on the third day, And ascended into heaven, And sits on the right hand of the Father, And shall come at the end of the world to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom continues without end and remains for perpetual ages. For He shall be sitting at the right hand of the Father not only in this age, but also in the age to come.
And in the Holy Ghost, that is, the Paraclete, whom according to His promise He sent to the apostles after He ascended into heaven to teach them and to remind them of all things, through whom also are sanctified the souls of those who believe sincerely in Him.
I. But those who say that the Son is sprung from things non-existent, or from another substance and not from God, and that there was a time or age when He was not, the holy Catholic Church regards as aliens.
II. If any man says that the Father and the Son are two Gods: let him be anathema.
III. And if any man says that God is one, but does not confess that Christ, God the Son of God, ministered to the Father in the creation of all things: let him be anathema…
If any man says that the man alone born of Mary is the Son: let him be anathema. We cannot declare that the Son of God is born of Mary without declaring Him to be both Man and God. But lest the declaration that He is both God and Man should give occasion to deceit, the Council immediately adds,
If any man though saying that God and Man was born of Mary, understands thereby the Unborn God: let him be anathema.
47. Thus is preserved both the name and power of the divine substance. For since he is anathema who says that the Son of God by Mary is man and not God; and he falls under the same condemnation who says that the Unborn God became man: God made Man is not denied to be God but denied to be the Unborn God, the Father being distinguished from the Son not under the head of nature or by diversity of substance, but only by such pre-eminence as His birthless nature gives.
XI. If any man hearing The Word was made Flesh thinks that the Word was transformed into Flesh, or says that He suffered change in taking Flesh: let him be anathema.
48. This preserves the dignity of the Godhead: so that in the fact that the Word was made Flesh, the Word, in becoming Flesh, has not lost through being Flesh what constituted the Word, nor has become transformed into Flesh, so as to cease to be the Word; but the Word was made Flesh in order that the Flesh might begin to be what the Word is. Else whence came to His Flesh miraculous power in working, glory on the Mount, knowledge of the thoughts of human hearts, calmness in His passion, life in His death? God knowing no change, when made Flesh lost nothing of the prerogatives of His substance.
If any man hearing that the only Son of God was crucified, says that His divinity suffered corruption or pain or change or diminution or destruction: let him be anathema.
XIII. If any man says Let us make man Genesis 1:26 was not spoken by the Father to the Son, but by God to Himself: let him be anathema.
XIV. If any man says that the Son did not appear to Abraham , but the Unborn God, or a part of Him: let him be anathema.
XV. If any man says that the Son did not wrestle with Jacob as a man , but the Unborn God, or a part of Him: let him be anathema.
If any man does not understand The Lord rained from the Lord to be spoken of the Father and the Son, but says that the Father rained from Himself: let him be anathema. For the Lord the Son rained from the Lord the Father…
If any man says that the Lord and the Lord, the Father and the Son, are two Gods because of the aforesaid words: let him be anathema. For we do not make the Son the equal or peer of the Father, but understand the Son to be subject. For He did not come down to Sodom without the Father’s will, nor rain from Himself but from the Lord, to wit, by the Father’s authority; nor does He sit at the Father’s right hand by His own authority, but because He hears the Father saying, Sit on My right hand.
51. The foregoing and the following statements utterly remove any ground for suspecting that this definition asserts a diversity of different deities in the Lord and the Lord. No comparison is made because it was seen to be impious to say that there are two Gods: not that they refrain from making the Son equal and peer of the Father in order to deny that He is God. For, since he is anathema who denies that Christ is God, it is not on that score that it is profane to speak of two equal Gods. God is One on account of the true character of His natural essence and because from the Unborn God the Father, who is the one God, the Only-begotten God the Son is born, and draws His divine Being only from God; and since the essence of Him who is begotten is exactly similar to the essence of Him who begot Him, there must be one name for the exactly similar nature. That the Son is not on a level with the Father and is not equal to Him is chiefly shown in the fact that He was subjected to Him to render obedience, in that the Lord rained from the Lord and that the Father did not, as Photinus and Sabellius say, rain from Himself, as the Lord from the Lord; in that He then sat down at the right hand of God when it was told Him to seat Himself; in that He is sent, in that He receives, in that He submits in all things to the will of Him who sent Him. But the subordination of filial love is not a diminution of essence, nor does pious duty cause a degeneration of nature, since in spite of the fact that both the Unborn Father is God and the Only-begotten Son of God is God, God is nevertheless One, and the subjection and dignity of the Son are both taught in that by being called Son He is made subject to that name which because it implies that God is His Father is yet a name which denotes His nature. Having a name which belongs to Him whose Son He is, He is subject to the Father both in service and name; yet in such a way that the subordination of His name bears witness to the true character of His natural and exactly similar essence.
If any man says that the Father and the Son are one Person: let him be anathema…
If any man deny that, as the Lord has taught us, the Paraclete is different from the Son; for He said, And the Further shall send you another Comforter, whom I shall ask: let him be anathema…
XXII. If any man says that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are three Gods: let him be anathema…
XXVII. Once more we strengthen the understanding of Christianity by saying, If any man denies that Christ who is God and Son of God, personally existed before time began and aided the Father in the perfecting of all things; but says that only from the time that He was born of Mary did He gain the name of Christ and Son and a beginning of His deity: let him be anathema. (On the Councils, or the Faith of the Easterns)
5. They think also that they have a compendious refutation of Prophets, Evangelists and Apostles alike, in their assertion that the Son was born within time. They pronounce us illogical for saying that the Son has existed from everlasting; and, since they reject the possibility of His eternity, they are forced to believe that He was born at a point in time. For if He has not always existed, there was a time when He was not; and if there be a time when He was not, time was anterior to Him. He who has not existed everlastingly began to exist within time, while He Who is free from the limits of time is necessarily eternal. The reason they give for their rejection of the eternity of the Son is that His everlasting existence contradicts the faith in His birth; as though by confessing that He has existed eternally, we made His birth impossible.
6. What foolish and godless fears! What impious anxiety on God’s behalf! The meaning which they profess to detect in the word homoousion, and in the assertion of the eternity of the Son, is detested, rejected, denounced by the Church. She confesses one God from Whom are all things; she confesses one Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom are all things; One from Whom, One through Whom; One the Source of all, One the Agent through Whom all were created. In the One from Whom are all things she recognises the Majesty which has no beginning, and in the One through Whom are all things she recognises a might coequal with His Source; for Both are jointly supreme in the work of creation and in rule over created things. In the Spirit she recognises God as Spirit, impassible and indivisible, for she has learned from the Lord that Spirit has neither flesh nor bones Luke 24:39; a warning to save her from supposing that God, being Spirit, could be burdened with bodily suffering and loss. She recognises one God, unborn from everlasting; she recognises also one Only-begotten Son of God. She confesses the Father eternal and without beginning; she confesses also that the Son’s beginning is from eternity. Not that He has no beginning, but that He is Son of the Father Who has none; not that He is self-originated, but that He is from Him Who is unbegotten from everlasting; born from eternity, receiving, that is, His birth from the eternity of the Father. Thus our faith is free from the guesswork of heretical perversity; it is expressed in fixed and published terms, though as yet no reasoned defense of our confession has been put forth. Still, lest any suspicion should linger around the sense in which the Fathers have used the word homoousion and round our confession of the eternity of the Son, I have set down the proofs whereby we may be assured that the Son abides ever in that substance wherein He was begotten from the Father, and that the birth of His Son has not diminished ought of that Substance wherein the Father was abiding; that holy men, inspired by the teaching of God, when they said that the Son is homoousios with the Father pointed to no such flaws or defects as I have mentioned. My purpose has been to counteract the impression that this ousia, this assertion that He is homoousios with the Father, is a negation of the nativity of the Only-begotten Son…
33. Continue your study of the witness borne by Moses; mark how diligently he seizes every opportunity of proclaiming the Lord and God. You take note of the passage, Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is One. Deuteronomy 6:4 Note also the words of that Divine song of his; See, See, that I am the Lord, and there is no God beside Me. While God has been the Speaker throughout the poem, he ends with, Rejoice, you heavens, together with Him and let all the sons of God praise Him. Rejoice, O you nations, with His people, and let all the Angels of God do Him honour. God is to be glorified by the Angels of God, and He says, For I am the Lord, and there is no God beside Me. For He is God the Only-begotten, and the title ‘Only-begotten’ excludes all partnership in that character, just as the title ‘Unoriginate’ denies that there is, in that regard, any who shares the character of the Unoriginate Father. The Son is One from One. There is none unoriginate except God the Unoriginate, and so likewise there is none only-begotten except God the Only-begotten. They stand Each single and alone, being respectively the One Unoriginate and the One Only-begotten. And so They Two are One God, for between the One, and the One Who is His offspring there lies no gulf of difference of nature in the eternal Godhead. Therefore He must be worshipped by the sons of God and glorified by the angels of God. Honour and reverence is demanded for God from the sons and from the angels of God. Notice Who it is that shall receive this honour, and by whom it is to be paid. It is God, and they are the sons and angels of God. And lest you should imagine that honour is not demanded for God Who shares our nature , but that Moses is thinking here of reverence due to God the Father — though, indeed, it is in the Son that the Father must be honoured — examine the words of the blessing bestowed by God upon Joseph, at the end of the same book. They are, And let the things that are well-pleasing to Him that appeared in the bush come upon the head and crown of Joseph. Deuteronomy 33:16 Thus God is to be worshipped by the sons of God; but God Who is Himself the Son of God. And God is to be reverenced by the angels of God; but God Who is Himself the Angel of God. For God appeared from the bush as the Angel of God, and the prayer for Joseph is that he may receive such blessings as He shall please. He is none the less God because He is the Angel of God; and none the less the Angel of God because He is God. A clear indication is given of the Divine Persons; the line is definitely drawn between the Unbegotten and the Begotten. A revelation of the mysteries of heaven is granted, and we are taught not to dream of God as dwelling in solitude, when angels and sons of God shall worship Him, Who is God’s Angel and His Son…
37. The fact is obvious from His own words. For He says to Hosea the prophet, I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, but will altogether be their enemy. But I will have mercy upon the children of Judah, and will save them in the Lord their God. Hosea 1:6-7 Here God the Father gives the name of God, without any ambiguity, to the Son, in Whom also He chose us before countless ages. Their God, He says, for while the Father, being Unoriginate, is independent of all, He has given us for an inheritance to His Son. In like manner we read, Ask of Me, and I will give You the Gentiles for Your inheritance. None can be God to Him from Whom are all things , for He is eternal and has no beginning; but the Son has God, from Whom He was born, for His Father. Yet to us the Father is God and the Son is God; the Father reveals to us that the Son is our God, and the Son teaches that the Father is God over us. The point for us to remember is that in this passage the Father gives to the Son the name of God, the title of His own unoriginate majesty. But I have commented sufficiently on these words of Hosea. (On the Trinity, Book IV)
11. We do not know Christ the God unless we know God the Begotten. But to be born God is to belong to the nature of God, for the name Begotten signifies indeed the manner of His origin, but does not make Him different in kind from the Begetter. And if so, the Begotten owes indeed to His Author the source of His being, but is not dispossessed of the nature of that Author, for the birth of God can arise but from one origin, and have but one nature. If its origin is not from God, it is not a birth; if it is anything but a birth, Christ is not God. But He is God of God, and therefore God the Father stands to God the Son as God of His birth and Father of His nature, for the birth of God is from God, and in the specific nature of God.
12. See in all that He said, how carefully the Lord tempers the pious acknowledgment of His debt, so that neither the confession of the birth could be held to reflect upon His divinity, nor His reverent obedience to infringe upon His sovereign nature. He does not withhold the homage due from Him as the Begotten, Who owed to His Author His very existence, but He manifests by His confident bearing the consciousness of participation in that nature, which belongs to Him by virtue of the origin whereby He was born as God. Take, for instance, the words, He that has seen Me, has seen the Father also John 14:9, and, The words that I say, I speak not from Myself. He does not speak from Himself: therefore He receives from His Author that which He says. But if any have seen Him, they have seen the Father also: they are conscious, by this evidence, given to show that God is in Him, that a nature, one in kind with that of God, was born from God to subsist as God. Take again the words, That which the Father has given unto Me, is greater than all , and, I and the Father are one. To say that the Father gave, is a confession that He received His origin: but the unity of Himself with the Father is a property of His nature derived from that origin. Take another instance, He has given all judgment unto the Son, that all may honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He acknowledges that the judgment is given to Him, and therefore He does not put His birth in the background: but He claims equal honour with the Father, and therefore He does not resign His nature. Yet another example, I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me , and, The Father is greater than I. The One is in the Other: recognise, then, the divinity of God, the Begotten of God: the Father is greater than He: perceive, then, His acknowledgment of the Father’s authority. In the same way He says, The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He has seen the Father doing: for whatever things He does, these the Son also does in like manner. He does nothing of Himself: that is, in accordance with His birth the Father prompts His actions: yet whatever things the Father does, these the Son also does in like manner; that is, He subsists as nothing less than God, and by the Father’s omnipotent nature residing in Him, can do all that God the Father does. All is uttered in agreement with His unity of Spirit with the Father, and the properties of that nature, which He possesses by virtue of His birth. That birth, which brought Him into being, constituted Him divine, and His being reveals the consciousness of that divine nature. God the Son confesses God His Father, because He was born of Him; but also, because He was born, He inherits the whole nature of God. (On the Trinity, Book XI)
Ignatius of Antioch’s Proclamation of the Essential Deity of Christ
Justin Martyr’s Witness to Christ’s essential and eternal Deity
IRENAEUS AND THE DEITY OF CHRIST
MORE FROM IRENAEUS ON THE DEITY OF CHRIST
Tertullian and the Doctrine of the Trinity
DID TERTULLIAN DENY THE ETERNAL NATURE OF CHRIST?
Ante-Nicene Witness to Jesus’ Deity
WERE EARLY CHRISTIANS TRINITARIANS?
Did the Ante-Nicene Fathers Worship the Holy Spirit as God Almighty?
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