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   Chapter 10 The Triumph Of The New Nicene Orthodoxy Over Heterodoxy And Heathenism

A Source Book for Ancient Church History By Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr., Ph.D. Characters: 40442

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


The Arian controversy was the most important series of events in the internal history of the Christian Church in the fourth century, without reference to the truth or error of the positions taken or the rightful place of dogma within the Church. It roused more difficulties, problems, and disputes, led to more persecutions, ended in greater party triumphs than any other ecclesiastical or religious movement. It entered upon its last important phase about the time of the accession of the Emperor Julian. From that time the parties began to recognize their real affiliations and sought a basis of union in a common principle. The effect was that on the accession of Christian emperors the Church was able to advance rapidly toward a definitive statement. Of the [pg 337] emperors that followed Julian, Valentinian I (364-375), who ruled in the West, took a moderate and tolerant position in the question regarding the existence of heathenism alongside of the Church and heretical parties within the Church, though afterward harsher measures were taken by his son and successor (§ 69). In the East his colleague Valens (364-378) supported the extreme Arian party and persecuted the other parties, at the same time tolerating heathenism. This only brought the anti-Arians more closely together as a new party on the basis of a new interpretation of the Nicene formula (§ 70, cf. § 66, c). On the death of Valens at Adrianople, 378, an opportunity was given this new party, which it has become customary to call the New Nicene party, to support Theodosius (379-395) in his work of putting through the orthodox formula at the Council of Constantinople, 381 (§ 71).

§ 69. The Emperors from Jovian to Theodosius and Their Policy toward Heathenism and Arianism

The reign of Jovian lasted so short a time, June, 363, to February, 364, that he had no time to develop a policy, and the assertion of Theodoret that he extinguished the heathen sacrificial fires is doubtful. On the death of Jovian, Valentinian was elected Emperor, who soon associated with himself his brother Valens as his colleague for the East. The two were tolerant toward heathenism, but Valens took an active part in favor of Arianism, while Valentinian held aloof from doctrinal controversy. On the death of Valentinian I, his sons Gratian (murdered at Lyons, 383) and Valentinian II (murdered at Vienne by Arbogast, 392), succeeded to [pg 338] the Empire. Under them the policy of toleration ceased, heathenism was proscribed. In the East under Theodosius, appointed colleague of Gratian in 379, the same policy was enforced. Arianism was now put down with a strong hand in both parts of the Empire.

(a) Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History, XXX, 9, § 5.

The religious policy of Valentinian I.

Ammianus Marcellinus is probably the best of the later Roman historians, and is the chief authority for much of the secular history from 353 to 378, in which period he is a source of the first rank, writing from personal observation and first-hand information. Ammianus was himself a heathen, but he seems not to have been embittered by the persecution to which his faith had been subjected. He was a man of a calm and judicial mind, and his judgment is rarely biassed, even when he touches upon ecclesiastical matters which, however, he rarely does.

Valentinian was especially remarkable during his reign for his moderation in this particular-that he kept a middle course between the different sects of religion, and never troubled any one, nor issued any orders in favor of one kind of worship rather than another; nor did he promulgate any threatening edicts to bow down the necks of his subjects to the form of worship to which he himself was inclined; but he left these parties just as he found them, without making any alterations.

(b) Codex Theodosianus, XII, 1, 75; A. D. 371.

In this edict Valentinian I confirms the immunities of the heathen priesthood which had been restored by Julian. The heathen priesthood is here shown to continue as still open to aspirants after political honors and conferring immunities upon those who attained it. The curial had to pass through the various offices in fixed order before he attained release from burdens which had been laid upon him by the State's system of taxation.

Let those be held as enjoying immunity who, advancing by the various grades and in due order, have performed their various obligations and have attained by their labor and approved actions to the priesthood of a province or to the honor [pg 339] of a chief magistracy, gaining this position not by favor and votes obtained by begging for them, but with the favorable report of the citizens and commendation of the public as a whole, and let them enjoy the repose which they shall have deserved by their long labor, and let them not be subject to those acts of bodily severity in punishment which it is not seemly that honorati should undergo.

(c) Theodoret. Hist. Ec., IV, 21; V, 20. (MSG, 82:1181.)

The following statement of Theodoret might seem to have been inspired by the general hatred which was felt for the violent persecutor and pronounced Arian, Valens. Nevertheless the statement is supported by references to the conditions under Valens made by Libanius in his Oratio pro Templis, addressed to the Emperor Theodosius.

IV, 21. At Antioch Valens spent considerable time, and gave complete license to all who under cover of the Christian name, pagans, Jews, and the rest preached doctrines contrary to those of the Gospel. The slaves of this error even went so far as to perform pagan rites, and thus the deceitful fire which after Julian had been quenched by Jovian, was now rekindled by permission of Valens. The rites of the Jews, of Dionysus and Demeter were no longer performed in a corner as they would have been in a pious reign, but by revellers running wild in the forum. Valens was a foe to none but to them that held the apostolic doctrine.

V, 20. Against the champions of the apostolic decrees alone he persisted in waging war. Accordingly, during the whole period of his reign the altar fire was lit, libations and sacrifices were offered to idols, public feasts were celebrated in the forum, and votaries initiated in the orgies of Dionysus ran about in goatskins, mangling dogs in Bacchic frenzy.

(d) Symmachus, Memorial to Valentinian II; Ambrose, Epistula 17. (MSL, 16:1007.)

A petition for the restoration of the altar of Victory in the Senate House at Rome.

Symmachus, prefect of the city, had previously appealed to Gratian [pg 340] to restore the altar which had been removed. The following petition, of which the more impressive parts are given, was made in 384, two years after the first petition. The opening paragraph refers to the former petition. The memorial is found among the Epistles of Ambrose, who replies to it.

1. As soon as the most honorable Senate, always devoted to you, knew what crimes were made amenable to law, and saw that the reputation of late times was being purified by pious princes, following the example of a favorable time, it gave utterance to its long-suppressed grief and bade me be once again the delegate to utter its complaints. But through wicked men audience was refused me by the divine Emperor, otherwise justice would not have been wanting, my lords and emperors of great renown, Valentinian, Theodosius, and Arcadius, victorious, triumphant, and ever august.

3. It is our task to watch on behalf of your clemency. For by what is it more suitable that we defend the institutions of our ancestors, and the rights and destiny of our country, than by the glory of these times, which is all the greater when you understand that you may not do anything contrary to the custom of your ancestors? We request, then, the restoration of that condition of religious affairs which was so long of advantage to the State. Let the rulers of each sect and of each opinion be counted up; a late one [Julian] practised the ceremonies of his ancestors, a later [Valentinian I], did not abolish them. If the religion of old times does not make a precedent, let the connivance of the last [Valentinian and Valens] do so.

4. Who is so friendly with the barbarians as not to require an altar of Victory?…

5. But even if the avoidance of such an omen113 were not sufficient, it would at least have been seemly to abstain from injuring the ornaments of the Senate House. Allow us, we beseech you, as old men to leave to posterity what we received as boys. The love of custom is great. Justly did the act of [pg 341] the divine Constantius last for a short time. All precedents ought to be avoided by you, which you know were soon abolished.114

6. Where shall we swear to obey your laws and commands? By what religious sanctions shall the false mind be terrified, so as not to lie in bearing witness? All things are, indeed, filled with God, and no place is safe for the perjured, but to be bound in the very presence of religious forms has great power in producing a fear of sinning. That altar preserves the concord of all; that altar appeals to the good faith of each; and nothing gives more authority to our decrees than that our order issues every decree as if we were under the sanction of an oath. So that a place will be opened to perjury, and my illustrious princes, who are defended by a public oath, will deem this to be such.

7. But the divine Constantius is said to have done the same. Let us rather imitate the other actions of that prince [Valentinian I], who would have undertaken nothing of the kind, if any one else had committed such an error before him. For the fall of the earlier sets his successor right, and amendment results from the censure of a previous example. It was pardonable for your clemency's ancestor in so novel a matter not to guard against blame. Can the same excuse avail us, if we imitate what we know to have been disapproved?

8. Will your majesties listen to other actions of this same prince, which you may more worthily imitate? He diminished none of the privileges of the sacred virgins, he filled the priestly offices with nobles. He did not refuse the cost of the Roman ceremonies, and following the rejoicing Senate through all the streets of the Eternal City, he beheld the shrines with unmoved countenance, he read the names of the gods inscribed on the pediments, he inquired about the origin of the temples, and expressed admiration for their founders. Although he himself followed another religion, he maintained these for the Empire, for every one has his own customs, [pg 342] every one his own rites. The divine Mind has distributed different guardians and different cults to different cities. As souls are separately given to infants as they are born, so to a people is given the genius of its destiny. Here comes in the proof from advantage, which most of all vouches to man for the gods. For, since our reason is wholly clouded, whence does the knowledge of the gods more rightly come to us, than from the memory and records of successful affairs? Now if a long period gives authority to religious customs, faith ought to be kept with so many centuries, and our ancestors ought to be followed by us as they happily followed theirs.

9. Let us now suppose that we are present at Rome and that she addresses you in these words: "Excellent princes, fathers of your country, respect my years to which pious rites have brought me. Let me use the ancestral ceremonies, for I do not repent of them. Let me live after my own fashion, for I am free. This worship subdued the world to my laws, these sacred rites repelled Hannibal from the walls, and the Senones from the capitol. Have I been reserved for this, that when aged I should be blamed? I will consider what it is thought should be set in order, but tardy and discreditable is the reformation of old age."

10. We ask, therefore, peace for the gods of our fathers and of our country. It is just that what all worship be considered one. We look on the same stars, the sky is common, the same world surrounds us. What difference does it make by what paths each seeks the truth? We cannot attain to so great a secret by one road; but this discussion is rather for persons at ease; we offer now prayers, not conflict.115

(e) Ambrose, Epistula 18. (MSL, 16:1013.)

Reply of Ambrose to the Memorial of Symmachus.

Immediately after the receipt of the Memorial of Symmachus by Valentinian II, a copy was sent to Ambrose, who wrote a reply or letter of advice to Valentinian, which might be regarded as a counter-petition. [pg 343] In it he enters upon the arguments of Symmachus. Although he could not present the same pathetic figure of an old man pleading for the religion of his ancestors, his arguments are not unjust, and dispose satisfactorily of the leading points made by Symmachus. The line of reasoning represents the best Christian opinion of the times on the matter of the relation of the State to heathenism.

3. The illustrious prefect of the city has in a memorial set forth three propositions which he considers of force-that Rome, he says, asks for her rites again, that pay be given to her priests and vestal virgins, and that a general famine followed upon the refusal of the priests' stipends.…

7. Let the invidious complaints of the Roman people come to an end. Rome has given no such charge. She speaks other words. "Why do you daily stain me with the useless blood of the harmless herd? Trophies of victory depend not upon the entrails of the flock, but on the strength of those who fight. I subdued the world by a different discipline. Camillus was my soldier who slew those who had taken the Tarpeian rock, and brought back to the capitol the standards taken away; valor laid low those whom religion had not driven off.… Why do you bring forward the rites of our ancestors? I hate the rites of Neros. Why should I speak of emperors of two months,116 and the ends of rulers closely joined to their commencements. Or is it, perchance, a new thing for barbarians to cross their boundaries? Were they, too, Christians whose wretched and unprecedented cases, the one a captive emperor117 and under the other118 the captive world,119 made manifest that their rites which promised victory were false? Was there then no altar of Victory?…"

8. By one road, says he, one cannot attain to so great a secret. What you know not, that we know by the voice of God. And what you seek by fancies we have found out from [pg 344] the very wisdom and truth of God. Your ways, therefore, do not agree with ours. You implore peace for your gods from the Emperor, we ask peace for our emperors themselves from Christ.…

10. But, says he, let the ancient altars be restored to their images, and their ornaments to the shrines. Let this demand be made of one who shares in their superstitions; a Christian emperor has learned to honor the altar of Christ alone.… Has any heathen emperor raised an altar to Christ? While they demand the restoration of things which have been, by their own example they show us how great reverence Christian emperors ought to pay to the religion which they follow, since heathen ones offered all to their superstitions.

We began long since, and now they follow those whom they excluded. We glory in yielding our blood, an expense moves them.… We have increased through loss, through want, through punishment; they do not believe that their rites can continue without contribution.

11. Let the vestal virgins, he says, retain their privileges. Let those speak thus who are unable to believe that virginity can exist without reward, let those who do not trust virtue, encourage it by gain. But how many virgins have their promised rewards gained for them? Hardly are seven vestal virgins received. See the whole number whom the fillet and chaplets for the head, the robes of purple dye, the pomp of the litter surrounded by a company of attendants, the greatest privileges, immense profits, and a prescribed time for virginity have gathered together.

12. Let them lift up the eyes of soul and body, let them look upon a people of modesty, a people of purity, an assembly of virginity. Not fillets are the ornament of their heads, but a veil common in use but ennobled by chastity; the enticement of beauty not sought out, but laid aside; none of those purple insignia, no delicious luxuries, but the practice of fasts; no privileges, no gains; all other things, in fine, of such a kind that one would think them restrained from desire [pg 345] whilst practising their duties. But whilst the duty is being practised the desire for it is aroused. Chastity is increased by its own sacrifice. That is not virginity which is bought with a price, and not kept through a desire for virtue; that is not purity which is bought by auction for money or which is bid for a time.

16. No one has denied gifts to shrines and legacies to soothsayers; their land only has been taken away, because they did not use religiously that which they claimed in right of religion. Why did not they who allege our example practise what we did? The Church has no possessions of her own except the faith. Hence are her returns, her increase. The possessions of the Church are the maintenance of the poor. Let them count up how many captives the temples have ransomed, what food they have contributed for the poor, to what exiles they have supplied the means of living. Their lands, then, have been taken away, but not their rights.

23. He says the rites of our ancestors ought to be retained. But why, seeing that all things have made a progress toward what is better?… The day shines not at the beginning, but as time proceeds it is bright with increase of light and grows warm with increase of heat.

27. We, too, inexperienced in age, have an infancy of our senses, but, changing as years go by, lay aside the rudimentary conditions of our faculties.

28. Let them say, then, that all things ought to have remained in their first dark beginnings; that the world covered with darkness is now displeasing because it has brightened with the rising of the sun. And how much more pleasant is it to have dispelled the darkness of the mind than that of the body, and that the rays of faith should have shone than that of the sun. So, then, the primeval state of the world, as of all things, has passed away that the venerable old age of hoary faith might follow.…

30. If the old rites pleased, why did Rome also take up foreign ones? I pass over the ground hidden with costly [pg 346] buildings, and shepherds' cottages glittering with degenerate gold. Why, that I may reply to the very matter which they complain of, have they eagerly received the images of captured cities, and conquered gods, and the foreign rites of alien superstition? Whence, then, is the pattern of Cybele washing her chariots in a stream counterfeiting the Almo? Whence were the Phrygian prophets and the deities of unjust Carthage, always hateful to the Romans? And he whom the Africans worship as Celestis, the Persians as Mithra, and the greater number as Venus, according to a difference of name, not a variety of deities?

31. They ask to have her altar erected in the Senate House of the city of Rome, that is where the majority who meet together are Christians! There are altars in all the temples, and an altar also in the Temple of Victory. Since they delight in numbers, they celebrate their sacrifices everywhere. To claim a sacrifice on this one altar, what is it but to insult the faith? Is it to be borne that a heathen should sacrifice and a Christian be present?… Shall there not be a common lot in that common assembly? The faithful portion of the Senate will be bound by the voices of those who call upon the gods, by the oaths of those who swear by them. If they oppose they will seem to exhibit their falsehood, if they acquiesce, to acknowledge what is a sacrilege.

(f) Codex Theodosianus, XVI, 10, 12; A. D. 392.

Decree of Theodosius prohibiting heathen worship as a crime of the same character as treason.

The following decree may be said to have permanently forbidden heatheni

sm, at least in the East, though as a matter of fact many heathen not only continued to practise their rites in defiance of the law or with the connivance of the authorities, but also received appointments at the court and elsewhere. The law was never repealed. In course of time heathenism disappeared as a religious system.

XVI, 10, 12. Hereafter no one of whatever race or dignity, whether placed in office or discharged therefrom with honor, powerful by birth or humble in condition and fortune, [pg 347] shall in any place or in any city sacrifice an innocent victim to a senseless image, venerate with fire the household deity by a more private offering, as it were the genius of the house, or the Penates, and burn lights, place incense, or hang up garlands. If any one undertakes by way of sacrifice to slay a victim or to consult the smoking entrails, let him, as guilty of lese-majesty, receive the appropriate sentence, having been accused by a lawful indictment, even though he shall not have sought anything against the safety of the princes or concerning their welfare. It constitutes a crime of this nature to wish to repeal the laws, to spy into unlawful things, to reveal secrets, or to attempt things forbidden, to seek the end of another's welfare, or to promise the hope of another's ruin. If any one by placing incense venerates either images made by mortal labor, or those which are enduring, or if any one in ridiculous fashion forthwith venerates what he has represented, either by a tree encircled with garlands or an altar of cut turfs, though the advantage of such service is small, the injury to religion is complete, let him as guilty of sacrilege be punished by the loss of that house or possession in which he worshipped according to the heathen superstition. For all places which shall smoke with incense, if they shall be proved to belong to those who burn the incense, shall be confiscated. But if in temples or public sanctuaries or buildings and fields belonging to another, any one should venture this sort of sacrifice, if it shall appear that the acts were performed without the knowledge of the owner, let him be compelled to pay a fine of twenty-five pounds of gold, and let the same penalty apply to those who connive at this crime as well as those who sacrifice. We will, also, that this command be observed by judges, defensors, and curials of each and every city, to the effect that those things noted by them be reported to the court, and by them the acts charged may be punished. But if they believe anything is to be overlooked by favor or allowed to pass through negligence, they will lie under a judicial warning. And when they have been warned, if by any negligence [pg 348] they fail to punish they will be fined thirty pounds of gold, and the members of their court are to be subjected to a like punishment.

§ 70. The Dogmatic Parties and Their Mutual Relations

The parties in the Arian controversy became greatly divided in the course of the conflict. Speaking broadly, there were still two groups, of which one was composed of all those who regarded the Son as a creature and so not eternal and not truly God; and the other, of those who regarded Him as uncreated and in some real sense eternal and truly God, yet without denying the unity of God. The former were the various Arian parties tending to constant division. The latter can hardly yet be comprised under one common name, and might be called the anti-Arian parties, were it not that there was a positive content to their faith which was in far better harmony with the prevailing religious sentiment of the East and was constantly receiving accessions. In the second generation after Nic?a, a new group of theologians came to the front, of whom the most important were Eustathius of Sebaste, Cyril of Jerusalem, and the three Cappadocians, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, most of whom had at least sympathized with the Homoiousian party. Already at the synod of Ancyra, in 358, an approach was made toward a reconciliation of the anti-Arian factions, in that, by a more careful definition, homoousios was rejected only in the sense of identity of being, and homoiousios was asserted only in the sense of equality of attributes in the not identical subjects which, however, shared in the same essence. Homoiousios did not mean mere similarity of being. (Anathemas in Hahn, § 162; Hefele, § 80.) The line of development ultimately taken was by a precise distinction between hypostasis and ousia, whereby hypostasis, which never meant person in the modern sense, which later is represented by the [pg 349] Greek prosopon, was that which subsists and shares with other hypostases in a common essence or ousia.

Additional source material: Athanasius, De Synodis (PNF); Basil, Epp. 38, 52, 69, 125 (PNF, ser. II, vol. VIII); Hilary of Poitiers, De Synodis, cc. 87-91 (PNF, ser. II, vol. IX); Socrates, Hist. Ec., III, 25.

Council of Alexandria A. D. 362. Tomus ad Antiochenos. (MSG, 26:797.)

The Council of Alexandria, A. D. 362, was held by Athanasius in the short time he was allowed to be in his see city at the beginning of the reign of Julian. In the synodal letter or tome addressed to the Nicene Christians at Antioch we have the foundation of the ultimate formula of the Church as opposing Arianism, one substance and three persons, one ousia and three hypostases. The occasion of the letter was an attempt to win over the Meletian party in the schism among the anti-Arians of Antioch. Meletius and his followers appear to have been Homoiousians who were strongly inclined to accept the Nicene confession. Their church was in the Old Town, a portion of Antioch. Opposed to them was Paulinus with his party, which held firmly to the Nicene confession. The difficulty in the way of a full recognition of the Nicene statement by Meletius and his followers was that it savored of Sabellianism. The difficulty of the party of Paulinus in recognizing the orthodoxy of the Meletians was their practice of speaking of the three hypostases or subsistences, which was condemned by the words of the Nicene definition.120 The outcome of the Alexandrian Council in the matter was that a distinction could be made between ousia and hypostasis, that the difference between the parties was largely a matter of terminology, that those who could use the Nicene symbol with the understanding that the Holy Ghost was not a creature and was not separate from the essence of Christ should be regarded as orthodox. Out of this understanding came the "New Nicene" party, of which the first might be said to have been Meletius, who accepted homoousios in the sense of homoiousios, and of which the "three great Cappadocians" became the recognized leaders.

The Council of Alexandria, in addition to condemning the Macedonian heresy, in advance of Constantinople, also anticipated that assembly by condemning Apollinarianism without mentioning the teacher by whom the heresy was taught. It is condemned in the seventh section of the tome.

§ 3. As many, then, as desire peace with us, and especially those who assemble in the Old Town, and those again who are seceding from the Arians, do ye call to yourselves, and [pg 350] receive them as parents their sons, and as tutors and guardians welcome them; and unite them to our beloved Paulinus and his people, without requiring more from them than to anathematize the Arian heresy and confess the faith confessed by the holy Fathers at Nic?a and to anathematize also those who say that the Holy Ghost is a creature and separate from the essence of Christ. For this is in truth a complete renunciation of the abominable heresy of the Arians, to refuse to divide the Holy Trinity, or to say that any part of it is a creature.

§ 5. … As to those whom some were blaming for speaking of three subsistences (hypostases), on the ground that the phrase is unscriptural and therefore suspicious, we thought it right, indeed, to require nothing beyond the confession of Nic?a, but on account of the contention we made inquiry of them, whether they meant, like the Arian madmen, subsistences foreign and strange and alien in essence from one another, and that each subsistence was divided apart by itself, as is the case with other creatures in general and those begotten of men, or like substances, such as gold, silver, or brass; or whether, like other heretics, they meant three beginnings and three Gods, by speaking of three subsistences.

They assured us in reply that they neither meant this nor had ever held it. But upon our asking them "what, then, do you mean by it, or why do you use such expressions?" they replied: Because they believe in a Holy Trinity, not a trinity in name only, but existing and subsisting in truth, both Father truly existing and subsisting, and a Son, truly substantial and subsisting, and a Holy Ghost subsisting and really existing do we acknowledge, said they, and that neither had they said there were three Gods or three beginnings, nor would they at all tolerate such as said or held so, but that they acknowledged a Holy Trinity, but one Godhead and one beginning, and that the Son is co-essential with the Father, as the Fathers said; and the Holy Ghost not a creature, nor external, but proper to, and inseparable from, the essence of the Father and the Son.

[pg 351] § 6. Having accepted, then, these men's interpretation of their language and their defence, we made inquiry of those blamed by them for speaking of one subsistence, whether they use the expression in the sense of Sabellius, to the negation of the Son and Holy Ghost, or as though the Son was non-substantial, or the Holy Ghost without subsistence. But they in their turn assured us that they neither said this nor had ever held it, but, "we use the word subsistence thinking it the same thing to say subsistence or essence."121 But we hold there is One, because the Son is of the essence of the Father and because of the identity of nature. For we believe that there is one Godhead, and that the nature of it is one, and not that there is one nature of the Father, from which that of the Son and of the Holy Ghost are distinct. Well, thereupon, they who had been blamed for saying that there were three subsistences agreed with the others, while those who had spoken of one essence, also confessed the doctrine of the former as interpreted by them. And by both sides Arius was anathematized as an adversary of Christ, and Sabellius, and Paul of Samosata as impious men, and Valentinus and Basilides as aliens from the truth, and Manich?us as an inventor of mischief. And all, by God's grace, and after the above explanations, agreed together that the faith confessed by the Fathers at Nic?a is better and more accurate than the said phrases, and that for the future they would prefer to be content to use its language.

§ 7. But since, also, certain seemed to be contending together concerning the fleshly economy of the Saviour, we inquired of both parties. And what the one confessed the others also agreed to: that not as when the word of the Lord came to the prophets, did it dwell in a holy man at the consummation of the ages, but that the Word himself was made flesh; and being in the form of God, He took the form of a servant, and from Mary after the flesh became man for us, and that thus in Him the human race is perfectly and wholly [pg 352] delivered from sin and made alive from the dead, and led into the kingdom of heaven. For they also confess that the Saviour had not a body without a soul, nor without sense or intelligence;122 for it was not possible, when the Lord had become man for us, that His body should be without intelligence; nor was the salvation, effected in the Word himself, a salvation of the body only, but of the soul also. And being Son of God in truth, He became also Son of Man; and being God's only begotten Son, He became also at the same time "first-born among many brethren." Wherefore neither was there one Son of God before Abraham, another after Abraham: nor was there one that raised up Lazarus, another that asked concerning him; but the same it was that said as man, "Where does Lazarus lie?" and as God raised him up; the same that as man and in the body spat, but divinely as Son of God opened the eyes of the man blind from his birth; and while, as Peter says, in the flesh He suffered, as God He opened the tomb and raised the dead. For which reasons, thus understanding all that is said in the Gospel, they assured us that they held the same truth about the Word's incarnation and becoming man.

§ 71. The Emperor Theodosius and the Triumph of the New Nicene Orthodoxy at the Council of Constantinople, A. D. 381

The Emperor Theodosius was appointed colleague of Gratian and Valentinian II, 378. He issued in conjunction with these emperors an edict (Cod. Theod., XVI, 1, 2; cf. Cod. Just., I, 1, 1, v. infra, § 72, b, e), requiring all subjects of the Empire to hold the orthodox faith in the Trinity. He then called a council of Eastern bishops to meet at Constantinople in 381 to settle the question as to the succession to the see of that city and to confirm the creed of Nic?a as the faith of the Eastern half of the Church. Gregory of Nazianzus [pg 353] was appointed bishop of Constantinople, but was forced to resign, having formerly been bishop of Sasima, from which he had been translated in violation of the Nicene canons. As soon as it was apparent that the bishops would have to accept the Nicene faith the thirty-six Macedonians withdrew. Their opinion as to the Holy Spirit, that He was not divine in the same sense that the Son was divine, was condemned, without express statement of the point condemned, as was also the teaching of Apollinaris as to the nature of Christ. The council was not intended to be an ecumenical or general council, and it was not regarded as such even in the East until after the Council of Chalcedon, A. D. 451, and then probably on account of the creed which was then falsely attributed to the Fathers of Constantinople. In the West the council was not recognized as an ecumenical council until well into the sixth century. (See Hefele, § 100.) The council issued no creed and made no additions to the Nicene creed. It published a tome, since lost, setting forth the faith in the Trinity. It enacted four canons, of which only the first three are of general application.

Additional source material: Percival, Seven Ecumenical Councils (PNF); Theodoret, Hist. Ec., V, 6-9; Socrates, Hist. Ec., V, 8; Basil, De Spiritu Sancto (PNF), Hefele, §§ 95-100.

(a) Council of Constantinople, A. D. 381, Canons, Bruns, I, 20. Cf. Kirch, nn. 583 ff.

The text of the canons of the council may be found in Hefele, § 98, and also in Bruns. The Translations and Reprints of the University of Pennsylvania give translations. For the address of the council to Theodosius, see § 72, b. The fourth canon is of a merely temporary importance.

Canon 1. The faith of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers who were assembled at Nic?a in Bithynia shall not be set aside but shall remain dominant. And every heresy shall be anathematized, especially that of the Eunomians or Anom?ans, the Arians or Eudoxians, the semi-Arians or [pg 354] Pneumatomachians, the Sabellians, Marcellians, Photinians, and Apollinarians.

Canon 2. The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on churches; but let the bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nic?a, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian matters. And let not the bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited. And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the synod of each province will administer the affairs of that particular province as was decreed at Nic?a. But the churches of God in heathen nations must be governed according to the custom which has prevailed from the time of the Fathers.

Canon 3. The bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honor after123 the bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome.

(b) Cyril of Jerusalem, Creed. (Cf. MSG, 35:533.) Cf. Hahn, § 124.

The clauses which are here given are the headings of the sixth to the eighteenth Catechetical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem in which the writer expounded the baptismal creed of Jerusalem. This creed is approximately reconstructed by bringing together the headings. Its date is circa 345. It should be compared with the creed of the church of Salamis, in the next selection. They are the precursors of what is now known as the Nicene creed, incorrectly attributed to the Council of Constantinople A. D. 381.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only [pg 355] begotten, begotten of the Father, true God, before all the ages, through whom all things were made;

Incarnate and made man; crucified and buried;

And rose again the third day;

And ascended into heaven;

And sat on the right hand of the Father;

And shall come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead, of whose kingdom there shall be no end.

And in one Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, who spake by the prophets;

And in one baptism of repentance for remission of sins;

And in one holy Catholic Church;

And in the resurrection of the flesh;

And in the life eternal.

(c) Epiphanius, Ancoratus, chs. 119 f. (MSG, 43:252.) Cf. Hahn, § 125.

Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, was the most important of the hereseologists of the Fathers, gathering to form his work on heresies some scores of heterodox systems of teachings. His passion for orthodoxy was taken advantage of by Theophilus of Antioch to cause trouble for Chrysostom and others; see Origenistic controversy, § 87. The Ancoratus, from which the following creed is taken, is a statement of the Catholic faith which, amidst the storms of the Arian controversy, should serve as an anchor of salvation for the Christians. The date of the following creed, which has come to be known as the Salaminium, is 374. It is evidently based upon that of Jerusalem given by Cyril.

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, that is, of the substance of the Father, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance [homoousios] with the Father; by whom all things were made, both those in heaven and those on earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, and was made man; He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered [pg 356] and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end.

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets; and in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and we look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

But those who say there was a time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten, or He was made of nothing, or of another substance or essence [hypostasis or ousia], saying that the Son of God is effluent or variable-these the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes.

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