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Deceptive quote & False Dilemma: Trinitarian

They project the false impression that Fortman either rejects trinity, or that he is willing to accept trinity without any Bible support for the doctrine.

Fortman, Edmund: The Triune God

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The Triune God, quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication

Watchtower Deception exposed

Although they identify Fortman as a Catholic, they project the false impression that Fortman either rejects trinity, or that he is willing to accept trinity without any Bible support for the doctrine. The Watchtower is a master at "the slight of hand" technique in quoting from orthodox trinitarian sources.

Documentation of selective Quoting that misleads:

How the Watchtower quoted the source

What they left out to deliberately misrepresent the source and deceive you:

"The New Testament writers . . . give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. . . . Nowhere do we find any trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead." (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication)

The doctrine of the Triune God has had an amazing history. Convinced that this doctrine is a Christian doctrine that did and could originate only from divine revelation. I start the study from the authentic record of divine revelation that is found in the sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments. What does the Old Testament tell us of God? It tells us there is one God, a wonderful God of life and love and righteousness and power and glory and mystery, who is the creator and lord of the whole universe, who is intensely concerned with the tiny people of Israel. It tells us of His Word, Wisdom. Spirit, of the Messiah He will send, of a Son of Man and a Suffering Servant to come. But it tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If we take the New Testament writers together they tell us there is only one God, the creator and lord of the universe, who is the Father of Jesus. They call Jesus the Son of God, Messiah, Lord, Savior, Word, Wisdom. They assign Him the divine functions of creation, salvation, judgment. Sometimes they call Him God explicitly. They do not speak as fully and clearly of the Holy Spirit as they do of the Son, but at times they coordinate Him with the Father and the Son and put Him on a level with them as far as divinity and personality are concerned. They give us in their writings a triadic ground plan and triadic formulas. They do not speak in abstract terms of nature, substance, person, relation, circumincession, mission, but they present in their own ways the ideas that are behind these terms. They give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But they do give us an elemental trinitarianism, the data from which such a formal doctrine of the Triune God may be formulated. To study the gradual transition from an unformulated Biblical witness to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to a dogmatic formulation of a doctrine of the Triune God, we look first to the Eastern Church where most of this development took place. The Apostolic Fathers were witnesses to the Biblical data and the traditional faith rather than theologians, but they furnished useful insights into the lines along which the Church's unconscious theology was developing. Most of them indicated quite clearly a belief in the divinity of Christ, less clearly a belief in the distinct personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit. They gave solid evidence of a belief in three pre-existent 'beings,' but they furnished no trinitarian doctrine, no awareness of a trinitarian problem.

"The Jews never regarded the spirit as a person; nor is there any solid evidence that any Old Testament writer held this view. . . . The Holy Spirit is usually presented in the Synoptics [Gospels] and in Acts as a divine force or power." (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication)

The spirit of Yahweh was often described in personal terms. The spirit was grieved, guided men, instructed them, caused them to rest (Ps 143.10; Neh 9.20; Is 63.10, 14). But it seems quite clear that the Jews never regarded the spirit as a person; nor is there any solid evidence that any Old Testament writer held this view. A few scholars today maintain, however, that even though the spirit is usually presented as an impersonal divine force, there is an under-lying assumption that the spirit was a conscious agent, which 'provided a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable." (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p6)

The Holy Spirit is usually presented in the Synoptics and in Acts as a divine force or power. But in a few passages the sacred writers leave a vivid impression that for them He was someone distinct from both Father and Son with a distinct personal existence. In both Synoptics and Acts there are traces of the triadic pattern of Father. Son, and Holy Spirit. The clearest expression of this pattern is found in the baptismal formula where Matthew presents the three together as at once a triad and a unity. But nowhere do we find any trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead. And when the three are coordinated on the same divine level in a triadic pattern there seems to be no realization of the problem of the relationship between the three and of the three to the same Godhead. In both the Synoptics and Acts there is a realization that Jesus' tremendous works-His salvific death, resurrection, and exaltation -indicate that He was and always had been more than a mere man and that only divine titles could properly describe Him. But is there in them, any clear indication that a community in divine function meant a community of nature between Father and Son, so that they could say explicitly that Jesus is one same God with the Father? It seems not. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p15)

"Although this spirit is often described in personal terms, it seems quite clear that the sacred writers [of the Hebrew Scriptures] never conceived or presented this spirit as a distinct person." (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication)

Although this spirit is often described in personal terms, it seems quite clear that the sacred writers never conceived or presented this spirit as a distinct person. ... Perhaps it can be said that some of these writings about word and wisdom and spirit did provide a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable to Jews. However, these writers definitely do give us the words that the New Testament uses to express the trinity of persons, Father, Son, Word, Wisdom, Spirit. And their way of understanding these words helps us to see how the revelation of God in the New Testament goes beyond the revelation of God in the Old Testament. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p8-9)

"There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a [Trinity] within the Godhead." -(The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, quoted in, Should you believe the Trinity?, Watchtower publication)

Notice the Fortman's comment is specifically referring to Old Testaments writers, not New Testament writers. Further he goes on to say the New Testament writers do indeed teach the trinity! Also notice they delete the words, "paternity and filiation" and replace it with trinity.

The Old Testament Witness to God, SUMMARY: To the Old Testament writers ... There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a divine paternity and filiation within the Godhead. ... Perhaps it can be said that some of these writings about word and wisdom and spirit did provide a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable to Jews. However, these writers definitely do give us the words that the New Testament uses to express the trinity of persons, Father, Son, Word, Wisdom, Spirit. And their way of understanding these words helps us to see how the revelation of God in the New Testament goes beyond the revelation of God in the Old Testament. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p8-9)

What else does Fortman say that JW's and anti-Trinitarians won't tell you:

Scriptures are the origin of Trinity

"As a Catholic and a firm believer in the Triune God ... The doctrine of the Triune God has had an amazing history. Convinced that this doctrine is a Christian doctrine that did and could originate only from divine revelation. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, introduction, p.xv)

In the New Testament the eternity and divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit were indicated clearly enough but nowhere formally declared. There was no formal doctrine about Christ's origin, nature, relation to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. There was no formal doctrine about a Triune God. But the elements for such a doctrine were there. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p68-70)

Old Testament witness

The Old Testament Witness to God, SUMMARY: ... Perhaps it can be said that some of these writings about word and wisdom and spirit did provide a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable to Jews. However, these writers definitely do give us the words that the New Testament uses to express the trinity of persons, Father, Son, Word, Wisdom, Spirit. And their way of understanding these words helps us to see how the revelation of God in the New Testament goes beyond the revelation of God in the Old Testament. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p8-9)

[OT witness] The spirit of Yahweh was often described in personal terms. The spirit was grieved, guided men, instructed them, caused them to rest (Ps 143.10; Neh 9.20; Is 63.10, 14). But it seems quite clear that the Jews never regarded the spirit as a person; nor is there any solid evidence that any Old Testament writer held this view. A few scholars today maintain, however, that even though the spirit is usually presented as an impersonal divine force, there is an under-lying assumption that the spirit was a conscious agent, which 'provided a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable." (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p6)

New Testament witness

They [Bible writers] assign Him [Jesus] the divine functions of creation, salvation, judgment. Sometimes they call Him God explicitly. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, introduction, p.xv)

They [the scriptures] give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But they do give us an elemental trinitarianism, the data from which such a formal doctrine of the Triune God may be formulated. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, introduction, p.xv)

Johannine Writings: Summary: It is not hard to see the triadic pattern of John's Gospel. ... John comes closer to a trinitarian position than any other New Testament writer. He presents the divinity of the Son and the personality of the Spirit more clearly than any other. He stresses the divinity of Jesus and His unity with the Father more than any other writer and calls Jesus the Son of God more often than they do. ... He does not call the Holy Spirit 'God,' though he does regard Him as divine and puts Him on the same divine level with the Father and the Son in the Paraclete passages. More clearly than the other New Testament writers does he regard the Holy Spirit as a 'person' distinct from the Father and the Son and sent by the Father and by the Son. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p29)

Pauline Writings, Summary: ... Without doubt Paul attributes full divinity to Jesus ... Though at times he presents the Son as in some sense subordinate to the Father, he never makes the Son a creature. ... Many passages suggest that the Spirit is an impersonal divine power; but in other passages so many personal activities are attributed to Him and He is presented in such close parallel to Christ that it is extremely difficult to regard Him as other than a distinct divine person. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p23)

Summary Of New Testament Witness To God: ... To Him are ascribed the strictly divine functions of creation, salvation, and judgment, and sometimes He is explicitly called God. The New Testament writers attribute divinity to Him in different ways. The Synoptists usually assign to Him the powers and prerogatives of Yahweh in the work of salvation, and at times put Him on the same divine level with the Father in knowledge and power. Paul calls Him the image of God, Lord, Son of God, Christ. and Savior; he says that He subsists in the form of God and is equal to God; he assigns to Him the divine functions of creation, salvation, and judgment; and he probably also calls Him God explicitly. Paul makes Christ's eternal pre-existence more explicit than the Synoptists did. If at times he sees the Son as in some sense subordinate to the Father, yet he never makes Him a creature but always puts Him on the side of the creator.

If the New Testament writers nowhere explicitly call the Holy Spirit God and do not explicitly ascribe to Him the divine functions of creation, salvation and judgment, still they do at times put the Holy Spirit on the same divine level as the Father and the Son, and ascribe to Him the divine functions of vivification, justification, and sanctification.

There is no formal doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament writers. if this means an explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But the three are there, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and a triadic ground plan is there, and triadic formulas are there. ... This means that a trinitarian schema or ground plan is there and must be there. And it seems clear that some of the New Testament writers not only deliberately coordinated the three in triadic formulas, but also to some extent were aware of the trinitarian problem that this involved, namely, the relationship of Christ and the Holy Spirit to the Godhead.' Only Paul and John seem to have attempted something of a solution of this problem, in terms of mission and economic trinity, and possibly something deeper. But where Paul only insinuates that the Holy Spirit is sent by both the Father and the Son. John clearly states this, and thus seems to put 'relational opposition' as a basis for the distinction of the three in the economic trinity. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p30-33)

John says simply but correctly 'the Word was with God and the Word was God,' the 'Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,' 'the Father and I are one,' 'the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son,' 'the Father sends the Son,' In the following centuries when heretics rise up to contest the divinity of the Son or of the Holy Spirit, the Fathers will be forced to reflect more deeply on the Biblical truths and to find more precise terms in which to express them. so that they can present and explain these truths of their faith in a way that will be intelligible and relevant to the men of their day. Their work will be necessary and invaluable, but it will add nothing essentially new to the Biblical witness to God. It will only give this witness a new mode of expression. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p30-33)

Overall Summary: It will be helpful to recapitulate the flow of trinitarian thought thus far so as to see what its status was on the eve of the Nicene conflict that was to play such a tremendous part in the further development of trinitarian thought and dogma. In the New Testament writings Jesus was called the 'Son of God,' 'Lord,' and 'Word' and was assigned the divine functions of creation, salvation, and judgment. He was explicitly said to be God and with God from eternity, to be one with the Father and in the Father. The Holy Spirit was not explicitly called God, but at times He was put on a level with the Father and Son in terms of divinity and personality. To Him were ascribed the divine functions of inspiration. vivification, justification. sanctification. There was no formal doctrine of one God in three co-equal persons, but the elements of this doctrine were there.

The Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers were witnesses to the Biblical data and the traditional faith rather than theologians, but they furnished useful insights into the lines along which the Church's unconscious theology was developing. Most of them indicated quite clearly a belief in the divinity of Christ, less clearly a belief in the distinct personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit. They gave solid evidence of a belief in three pre-existent 'beings,' but they furnished no trinitarian doctrine, no awareness of a trinitarian problem. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, introduction, p.xv)

Apostolic Fathers: Summary: ... All, except perhaps Hermas, subscribe to the divinity of Christ. I Clement coordinates Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit in an oath. Ignatius calls Christ God 14 times. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p43)

The Apostolic Fathers maintained that there was only one God. They affirmed the divinity and distinct personality of Christ quite clearly and that of the Holy Spirit less clearly. They offered no trinitarian doctrine and saw no trinitarian problem. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p59-61)

The Apologists

The Apologists were, in a sense, the Church's first theologians ... They identified Christ with God, with the Logos, with the Son of God, but they seemed to count His Sonship not from eternity but from the moment of his pre-creational generation. In thus using a two-stage theory of a pre-existent Logos to explain the Son's divine status and His relation to the Father. They Probably did not realize that this theory had a built-in 'inferiorizing principle' that would win for them the accusation of 'subordinationism.' (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, introduction, p.xv)

Origen, the greatest theologian of the East, rejected this two-stage theory and maintained the eternal generation of the Son. But to reconcile the eternity of the Son with a strict monotheism, he resorted to a Platonic hierarchical framework for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and ended up by also making the Son and Holy Spirit not precisely creatures but 'diminished gods.' (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, introduction, p.xv)

The Apologists: Summary: In the Apologists we see a belief in the unity of God and in a trinity of divine 'persons.' Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, although there is as yet no distinct conception of divine person and divine nature. There is an identification of Christ with the Son of God. with the Logos and with God. To the Logos they ascribe a divine pre-existence that is not only pre-creational but also strictly eternal. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p43)

The Apologists do not take the Sabellian road of a merely nominal trinity of persons but hold to a real distinction of the three, a distinction that is not in name only, not only in thought but in number. They base their distinction on rank or order. They realize there is a trinitarian problem and try to solve it for the Son in terms of an eternal Logos, for the Holy Spirit in terms of 'an effluence of God.' (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p50-52)

The Apologists went further. They affirmed that God is one but also triadic. To Christ they ascribed divinity and personality explicitly, to the Holy Spirit only implicitly. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p59-61)

To some extent Origen was a subordinationist, for his attempt to synthesize strict monotheism with a Platonic hierarchical order in the Trinity could have and did have only a subordinationist result. He openly declared that the Son was inferior to the Father and the Holy Spirit to the Son. But he was not an Arian subordinationist for he did not make the Son a creature and an adopted son of God. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p59-61)

Subordination and adoptionist

Thus the New Testament writers were not adoptionists, although in a few passages they can seem to point in this direction. ... Nor were they subordinationists in intention or words, if subordinationist is understood in the later Arian sense of the word; for they did not make the Son a creature but always put Him on the side of the creator. The New Testament writers do not witness to the Holy Spirit as fully and clearly as they do to the Son. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p30-33)

The Apologists were, in a sense, the Church's first theologians ... They identified Christ with God, with the Logos, with the Son of God, but they seemed to count His Sonship not from eternity but from the moment of his pre-creational generation. In thus using a two-stage theory of a pre-existent Logos to explain the Son's divine status and His relation to the Father. They Probably did not realize that this theory had a built-in 'inferiorizing principle' that would win for them the accusation of 'subordinationism.' (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, introduction, p.xv)

If God must have His Logos from eternity, must He also have His Son? Later theology and dogma will say yes unequivocally. But the Apologists are not quite clear on this point and rather seem to say no. For them. if the origination of the Logos from God is eternal, the generation of the Logos as Son seems rather to be pre-creational but not eternal, and it is effected by the will of the Father. This view. if compared with later theology and dogma, will smack of a sub-ordination or 'minoration' of the Son of God. This subordination of the Son was not precisely the formal intent of the Apologists. Their problem was how to reconcile monotheism with their belief in the divinity of Christ and with a concept of His divine sonship that they derived from the Old Testament. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p43)

To some extent Origen was a subordinationist, for his attempt to synthesize strict monotheism with a Platonic hierarchical order in the Trinity could have and did have only a subordinationist result. He openly declared that the Son was inferior to the Father and the Holy Spirit to the Son. But he was not an Arian subordinationist for he did not make the Son a creature and an adopted son of God. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p59-61)

Full Text:

"As a Catholic and a firm believer in the Triune God my belief will inevitably affect to some extent my selection, interpretation and presentation of the documents and writings that manifest the historical development of this doctrine, but hopefully it will not substantially distort these. This is not an exhaustive and definitive study but it is meant to be more than a superficial survey, and it is hoped it may stimulate other fuller studies. The doctrine of the Triune God has had an amazing history. Convinced that this doctrine is a Christian doctrine that did and could originate only from divine revelation. I start the study from the authentic record of divine revelation that is found in the sacred writings of the Old and New Testaments. What does the Old Testament tell us of God? It tells us there is one God, a wonderful God of life and love and righteousness and power and glory and mystery, who is the creator and lord of the whole universe, who is intensely concerned with the tiny people of Israel. It tells us of His Word, Wisdom. Spirit, of the Messiah He will send, of a Son of Man and a Suffering Servant to come. But it tells us nothing explicitly or by necessary implication of a Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If we take the New Testament writers together they tell us there is only one God, the creator and lord of the universe, who is the Father of Jesus. They call Jesus the Son of God, Messiah, Lord, Savior, Word, Wisdom. They assign Him the divine functions of creation, salvation, judgment. Sometimes they call Him God explicitly. They do not speak as fully and clearly of the Holy Spirit as they do of the Son, but at times they coordinate Him with the Father and the Son and put Him on a level with them as far as divinity and personality are concerned. They give us in their writings a triadic ground plan and triadic formulas. They do not speak in abstract terms of nature, substance, person, relation, circumincession, mission, but they present in their own ways the ideas that are behind these terms. They give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But they do give us an elemental trinitarianism, the data from which such a formal doctrine of the Triune God may be formulated. To study the gradual transition from an unformulated Biblical witness to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to a dogmatic formulation of a doctrine of the Triune God, we look first to the Eastern Church where most of this development took place. The Apostolic Fathers were witnesses to the Biblical data and the traditional faith rather than theologians, but they furnished useful insights into the lines along which the Church's unconscious theology was developing. Most of them indicated quite clearly a belief in the divinity of Christ, less clearly a belief in the distinct personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit. They gave solid evidence of a belief in three pre-existent 'beings,' but they furnished no trinitarian doctrine, no awareness of a trinitarian problem. The Apologists were, in a sense, the Church's first theologians: the first to attempt a sketch of trinitarian doctrine and an intellectually satisfying explanation of Christ's relation to God the Father. To set forth the truths handed down to them from the Apostles they used the terminology and philosophy that were then current, and in the process they christianized Hellenism to some extent. They manifested a belief in the unity of God and in some sort of 'trinity of divinity.' even though they had as yet no distinct conception of 'divine person' and 'divine nature.' They identified Christ with God, with the Logos, with the Son of God, but they seemed to count His Sonship not from eternity but from the moment of his pre-creational generation. In thus using a two-stage theory of a pre-existent Logos to explain the Son's divine status and His relation to the Father. They Probably did not realize that this theory had a built-in 'inferiorizing principle' that would win for them the accusation of 'subordinationism.' Origen, the greatest theologian of the East, rejected this two-stage theory and maintained the eternal generation of the Son. But to reconcile the eternity of the Son with a strict monotheism, he resorted to a Platonic hierarchical framework for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and ended up by also making the Son and Holy Spirit not precisely creatures but 'diminished gods.' Thus two currents of thought and belief began to stand out. One read the Biblical witness to God as affirming that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three who are equally God and somehow one God. The other read the Biblical witness differently and concluded that Christ, although divine to some extent, was not equal to the Father in divinity but somehow an 'inferior god.' This set the stage for Arius, one of the pivotal figures in the development of trinitarian dogma. The idea of a 'diminished god' he found repugnant. Christ, he declared. must be either God or creature. But since God is and must be uncreated, unoriginated, unbegotten, and the Son is and must be originated and begotten, He cannot be God but must be a creature. And thus the subordinationist tendency in the Apologists and Origen reached full term. Now the Church had to make its faith and its position clear, and it did this at the Council of Nicea in 325. the first ecumenical council. There it rejected Arius' doctrine that the Son is not true God but is a creature, and declared solemnly: 'We believe . . . that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of the Father, i.e., of the substance of the Father, true God from true God; begotten not created, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.' The significance of the Nicene definition is obvious. It gave a definitive answer to a question of vital importance for the Christian faith of the Church. It did not describe. it defined. It defined what the Son is in Himself and in His relation to the one God, the Father. And it defined this, 'not in the empirical categories of experience, not in the relational category of presence. not even in the dynamic categories of power and function, but in the ontological category of substance, which is a category of being.' By doing this it 'sanctioned the principle of development of doctrine, of growth in understanding of the primitive affirmations contained in the New Testament revelation.' Arianism had received its dogmatic deathblow. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, introduction, p.xv)

The Old Testament Witness to God, SUMMARY: To the Old Testament writers God is a God of life, love, wisdom, and holiness, a God of righteousness. a God both immanent and transcendent, a God of power, glory, and majesty, the one and only God. the creator and lord of the universe. Sometimes they call Him Father, especially of Israel. They give the title 'son of God' not only to Israel collectively but also to the king. to the judges, to the upright Jew, and perhaps to the Messiah. There is no evidence that any sacred writer even suspected the existence of a divine paternity and filiation within the Godhead. They write of the word of God and regard it as revelatory and creative, as instructive and illuminative. If at times they seem to show a slight tendency to hypostatize the word of God, nowhere do they present the word of God as a personal divine being distinct from Yahweh. They write much of the wisdom of God that was 'created before all things' and is the 'worker of all things.' But to the people of the Old Testament the wisdom of God was never a person to be addressed but only a personification of an attribute or activity of Yahweh. The spirit of Yahweh is a creative force, a saving power, a spirit of judgment, a charismatic spirit, a spirit of life and of inward renewal, a prophetic spirit. Although this spirit is often described in personal terms, it seems quite clear that the sacred writers never conceived or presented this spirit as a distinct person. Many of the sacred writers spoke of a Messiah who was to be Yahweh's agent in establishing the kingdom of Yahweh in the messianic age. However, they regarded the Messiah not as a divine person but as a creature, a charismatic leader, a Davidic king. Thus the Old Testament writings about God neither express nor imply any idea of or belief in a plurality or trinity of persons within the one Godhead. Even to see in them suggestions or foreshadowings or 'veiled signs' of the trinity of persons, is to go beyond the words and intent of the sacred writers. Perhaps it can be said that some of these writings about word and wisdom and spirit did provide a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable to Jews. However, these writers definitely do give us the words that the New Testament uses to express the trinity of persons, Father, Son, Word, Wisdom, Spirit. And their way of understanding these words helps us to see how the revelation of God in the New Testament goes beyond the revelation of God in the Old Testament. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p8-9)

Johannine Writings: Summary: It is not hard to see the triadic pattern of John's Gospel. In the beginning was God, and the Word was with God. The Word was God and was the only-begotten Son of God in the bosom of the Father. The Word took part in the creation of the world. The Father sent His Son to the world, and the Word was made flesh and lived and died for us, rose and ascended into heaven. The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to be the living link between the Church and Jesus. The Father-Son relationship is stressed more in the Johannine writings than in any other New Testament work. 'Son' is the most prominent tide for Christ: it is used 52 times in John's Gospel and Epistles and only 67 times in the rest of the New Testament. 'Father' is the most prominent title for God: it occurs 137 times in John's Gospel and Epistles and only 123 times in the rest of the New Testament. John comes closer to a trinitarian position than any other New Testament writer. He presents the divinity of the Son and the personality of the Spirit more clearly than any other. He stresses the divinity of Jesus and His unity with the Father more than any other writer and calls Jesus the Son of God more often than they do. Apparently he considered the Father-Son relationship best fitted to express the unity and interaction of the Father and Son within the Godhead and the priority of the Father over the Son. In the Paraclete passages he stresses the personality of the Holy Spirit, His distinction from the Father and the Son, and His mission by the Father and the Son, more than the other New Testament writers. There seems little doubt that John was aware of the problem involved in the mysterious relationship of Jesus and the Father. For he made it clear that Jesus, the only-begotten Son, is one with the Father and God as well as the Father, and yet the Father sends the Son and is greater than the Son. To what extent he was aware of the problem of the Holy Spirit's relationship with the Father and the Son and with the one Godhead is not clear. He does not call the Holy Spirit 'God,' though he does regard Him as divine and puts Him on the same divine level with the Father and the Son in the Paraclete passages. More clearly than the other New Testament writers does he regard the Holy Spirit as a 'person' distinct from the Father and the Son and sent by the Father and by the Son. It has been pointed out that 'though with St. John we are still in the pre-dogmatic stage of the Trinitarian teaching, the sayings about the Paraclete carry us a degree farther than any other writing in the development of the NT doctrine of the Godhead. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p29)

The Synoptics and Acts, Summary: The Synoptics and Acts clearly indicate that there is a unique relationship between Jesus and the Father and that Jesus' sonship transcends other sonships. At times this sonship is presented in such a way that it seems to be really divine and to imply equality with the Father in terms of divine knowledge and power. In the Synoptics Jesus often calls Himself Son of Man. and as Son of Man claims to have divine power to forgive sins and to be lord of the Sabbath. In Acts Jesus is often called Lord, and at times this title implies not only a messianic lordship but a really divine lordship. In Acts as in the Synoptics Jesus is presented sometimes as subordinate to the Father, sometimes as equal to Him in certain divine functions. The Holy Spirit is usually presented in the Synoptics and in Acts as a divine force or power. But in a few passages the sacred writers leave a vivid impression that for them He was someone distinct from both Father and Son with a distinct personal existence. In both Synoptics and Acts there are traces of the triadic pattern of Father. Son, and Holy Spirit. The clearest expression of this pattern is found in the baptismal formula where Matthew presents the three together as at once a triad and a unity. But nowhere do we find any trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead. And when the three are coordinated on the same divine level in a triadic pattern there seems to be no realization of the problem of the relationship between the three and of the three to the same Godhead. In both the Synoptics and Acts there is a realization that Jesus' tremendous works-His salvific death, resurrection, and exaltation -indicate that He was and always had been more than a mere man and that only divine titles could properly describe Him. But is there in them, any clear indication that a community in divine function meant a community of nature between Father and Son, so that they could say explicitly that Jesus is one same God with the Father? It seems not. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p15)

At times Paul writes as if Christ were 'subordinate' to the Father. For he tells us that 'God sent forth his Son to redeem' (Gal 4-4) and 'did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all' (Rom 8.32). And in a notable passage he declares that 'when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to everyone' (1 Cor 15.28). Taken by themselves these passages might warrant the conclusion that Paul held a merely subordinationist view of Christ and did not place Him on the same divine level with the Father. But if they are taken together with the passages cited above in which Paul does put Christ on the same divine level as the Father by presenting Him as the creator of all things and the 'image of the invisible God' who was 'in the form of God' and equal to God. it becomes clear that Paul views Christ both as subordinate and equal to God the Father. Possibly he thus means merely to subordinate Christ in His humanity to the Father. But more probably he wishes to indicate that while Christ is truly divine and on the same divine level with the Father, yet there must be assigned to the Father a certain priority and superiority over the Son because He is the Father of the Son and sends the Son to redeem men, and there must be ascribed to the Son a certain subordination because He is the Son of the Father and is sent by the Father. Nowhere, however, does Paul say or imply that the Son is a creature, as the Arian subordinationists will say later on. On the contrary he makes it clear that the Son is not on the side of the creature but of the Creator and that through the Son all things are created. Paul is dealing with the mystery of Christ and is aware of the problem of his relationship with the Father. Perhaps his nearest approach to a solution of this problem turns not on the 'mission' of Christ by the Father but on the kenosis whereby being 'in the form of God ... [he] emptied himself, taking the form of a servant' (Phil 2.6, 7). (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p18)

Pauline Writings, Summary: In Paul the Father is called 'God' (ho theos) and there is no question of His full divinity and distinct personality. Without doubt Paul attributes full divinity to Jesus, God's 'own Son,' the 'Lord of the living and the dead,' who was 'in the form of God' and 'before an things' and through whom 'all things were created.' He makes Christ's pre-existence very explicit. In the two 'Christological hymns' (Col 1. 15-20; Phil 2.5-12) we see his view of the three stages of Jesus' life: the eternal pre-existence of the Son with the Father, His historical appearance on earth in the form of man, and His glorious exaltation as the risen, Christ. Paul ascribes to Jesus a divine nature, origin, power, and sonship that put Him on the same divine level as the Father. Though at times he presents the Son as in some sense subordinate to the Father, he never makes the Son a creature. Paul's Christology is largely functional, although not entirely so, for some of it has what will later be called 'metaphysical implications.' As one scholar has observed, 'it might be said that he came as near to asserting a metaphysical equality of community of natures as his non-metaphysical framework of thought permitted him to do. This was the reason why the Church later had to move on from a purely functional to an essential Christology. The Spirit plays a large if not always clear and consistent part in the Pauline writings. In the work of sanctification the Spirit and Christ are closely associated but not identified. Many passages suggest that the Spirit is an impersonal divine power; but in other passages so many personal activities are attributed to Him and He is presented in such close parallel to Christ that it is extremely difficult to regard Him as other than a distinct divine person. However, just as Paul was more concerned about the work of Christ than the person of Christ, so he is more concerned about the work of the Spirit than the person of the Spirit. Paul has many triadic texts and in some of them he seems to present Christ and the Spirit as distinct from one another and from the Father and on the same divine level with the Father. He has no formal trinitarian doctrine and no clear-cut realization of a trinitarian problem, but he furnishes much material for the later development of a trinitarian doctrine. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p23)

Summary Of New Testament Witness To God: No more than the Old Testament writers do the New Testament writers set forth a systematic doctrine about God. For them, too, there is only one God, the creator and lord of the universe; and He is the God of Abraham, Isaac. and Jacob. He is the heavenly Father, but more especially the Father of Jesus. The New Testament writers also use the concepts of the Word of God, the Wisdom of God, and the Spirit of God, but now these are much more than mere personifications. The Messiah appears too, and He is Jesus of Nazareth. In the New Testament writings Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Word of God, the Wisdom of God, and the Lord. To Him are ascribed the strictly divine functions of creation, salvation, and judgment, and sometimes He is explicitly called God. The New Testament writers attribute divinity to Him in different ways. The Synoptists usually assign to Him the powers and prerogatives of Yahweh in the work of salvation, and at times put Him on the same divine level with the Father in knowledge and power. Paul calls Him the image of God, Lord, Son of God, Christ. and Savior; he says that He subsists in the form of God and is equal to God; he assigns to Him the divine functions of creation, salvation, and judgment; and he probably also calls Him God explicitly. Paul makes Christ's eternal pre-existence more explicit than the Synoptists did. If at times he sees the Son as in some sense subordinate to the Father, yet he never makes Him a creature but always puts Him on the side of the creator. John calls Jesus the only-begotten Son and the Word, and says that the Word was with God in the beginning and that the Word was God and that through the Word all things were made. He adds that Jesus is one with the Father and is in the Father and yet is sent by the Father and the Father is greater than He. Something of the mystery and paradox of Jesus, something of the basic trinitarian problem caught hold of the New Testament writers. Jesus is God and one with the Father and yet not the Father. One in what sense? One in function, operation, power? One in nature and being? These questions they did not answer. Perhaps they did not even clearly formulate them. But John came closer to the heart of this problem than the other New Testament writers when he wrote that in the beginning 'the Word was with God' and 'the Word was God.' Thus the New Testament writers were not adoptionists, although in a few passages they can seem to point in this direction. If they assigned to Jesus a messianic sonship and lordship at His resurrection and exaltation, they also assigned to Him a prior and deeper sonship and lordship that put Him on the same divine level as the Father. They did not attempt, however, to explain the nature of this unique divine sonship. Nor were they subordinationists in intention or words, if subordinationist is understood in the later Arian sense of the word; for they did not make the Son a creature but always put Him on the side of the creator. The New Testament writers do not witness to the Holy Spirit as fully and clearly as they do to the Son. In the Matthean baptismal command the Holy Spirit is coordinated with the Father and the Son and put on a level with them as far as divinity and personality are concerned. The book of Acts so often attributes personal activities to the Holy Spirit as to leave a vivid impression that its author regarded the Holy Spirit as someone on a level with the Father and the Son and yet distinct from them. Paul often associates the Holy Spirit with the risen Christ in the work of sanctification, but he does not identify the two. At times he seems to view the Holy Spirit merely as a power and effluence of God, and not as a person. But the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit, at least some of the many triadic texts in which he brings together the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do seem to indicate a distinct personality for the Holy Spirit. John, however, clearly distinguishes the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son. If the New Testament writers nowhere explicitly call the Holy Spirit God and do not explicitly ascribe to Him the divine functions of creation, salvation and judgment, still they do at times put the Holy Spirit on the same divine level as the Father and the Son, and ascribe to Him the divine functions of vivification, justification, and sanctification. There is no formal doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament writers. if this means an explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But the three are there, Father. Son. and Holy Spirit. and a triadic ground plan is there. and triadic formulas are there. The three are not considered in and for themselves but rather in terms of their roles and functions in the divine plan of salvation. Even if Christ and not the three is the center of the New Testament message of salvation, unless this Christ and His salvific activity are connected with the salvific activity of the Father and the Holy Spirit, the essence and the fullness of the New Testament message is lacking. This means that a trinitarian schema or ground plan is there and must be there. And it seems clear that some of the New Testament writers not only deliberately coordinated the three in triadic formulas, but also to some extent were aware of the trinitarian problem that this involved, namely, the relationship of Christ and the Holy Spirit to the Godhead.' Only Paul and John seem to have attempted something of a solution of this problem, in terms of mission and economic trinity, and possibly something deeper. But where Paul only insinuates that the Holy Spirit is sent by both the Father and the Son. John clearly states this, and thus seems to put 'relational opposition' as a basis for the distinction of the three in the economic trinity. Did he realize all this? It is difficult to say. But later theologians will take the hint and expand it into a coherent theology of the inner divine life where the unity of the three is rooted in identity of nature and the distinction of the three persons turns on their relative opposition. The New Testament writers do not speak in abstract terms of nature, substance, person, relation, circurnincession, mission; but they present the ideas that are back of these terms in their own Biblical modes of expression. John says simply but correctly 'the Word was with God and the Word was God,' the 'Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,' 'the Father and I are one,' 'the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son,' 'the Father sends the Son,' In the following centuries when heretics rise up to contest the divinity of the Son or of the Holy Spirit, the Fathers will be forced to reflect more deeply on the Biblical truths and to find more precise terms in which to express them. so that they can present and explain these truths of their faith in a way that will be intelligible and relevant to the men of their day. Their work will be necessary and invaluable, but it will add nothing essentially new to the Biblical witness to God. It will only give this witness a new mode of expression. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p30-33)

The spirit of Yahweh was often described in personal terms. The spirit was grieved, guided men, instructed them, caused them to rest (Ps 143.10; Neh 9.20; Is 63.10, 14). But it seems quite clear that the Jews never regarded the spirit as a person; nor is there any solid evidence that any Old Testament writer held this view. A few scholars today maintain, however, that even though the spirit is usually presented as an impersonal divine force, there is an under-lying assumption that the spirit was a conscious agent, which 'provided a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable." (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p6)

Apostolic Fathers: Summary: The Apostolic Fathers fall far short of Paul and John in their doctrine of God. For all of them there is one God who is the creator, ruler, judge, Father of the universe and in a special sense of Christ. All, except perhaps Hermas, subscribe to the divinity of Christ. I Clement coordinates Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit in an oath. Ignatius calls Christ God 14 times. In the Didache the Son is coordinated with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the baptismal formula, and in the Martyrdom of Polycarp He is given glory equally with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In the Epistle of Barnabas He is the Lord of the whole world and pre-existent with God at the foundation of the world. 2 Clement says we must think of Christ as God. The Apostolic Fathers do not call the Holy Spirit God, but most them indicate adequately their belief in His distinct personality and divinity. For they coordinate Him with the Father and the Son in an oath and in the baptismal formula, give Him equal glory with the Father and the Son, and ascribe to Him the strictly divine function of inspiration. It is incorrect, then, to say that 'by the end of the period of the Apostolic Fathers there was no belief in a pre-existent Trinity, and that before the birth of Christ there were only two pre-existent beings, God and the Holy Spirit . Only for Hermas was this probably true, and possibly for 2 Clement. In the other Apostolic Fathers there is solid evidence of a belief, in three pre-existent beings, both from their actual words and more especially from the fact that they ascribed strict divinity to the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. There is in them, of course, no trinitarian doctrine and no awareness of a trinitarian problem. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p43)

The Apologists: Summary: In the Apologists we see a belief in the unity of God and in a trinity of divine 'persons.' Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, although there is as yet no distinct conception of divine person and divine nature. There is an identification of Christ with the Son of God. with the Logos and with God. To the Logos they ascribe a divine pre-existence that is not only pre-creational but also strictly eternal. Did they conceive this as a distinct personal existence of the Logos? To some extent they did, for they viewed the eternal Logos as Someone with whom the Father could commune and take counsel. Probably no more could be expected at this early stage of theological development when the concepts of person and nature were as yet undefined. If God must have His Logos from eternity, must He also have His Son? Later theology and dogma will say yes unequivocally. But the Apologists are not quite clear on this point and rather seem to say no. For them. if the origination of the Logos from God is eternal, the generation of the Logos as Son seems rather to be pre-creational but not eternal, and it is effected by the will of the Father. This view. if compared with later theology and dogma, will smack of a sub-ordination or 'minoration' of the Son of God. This subordination of the Son was not precisely the formal intent of the Apologists. Their problem was how to reconcile monotheism with their belief in the divinity of Christ and with a concept of His divine sonship that they derived from the Old Testament. For to their minds Prov 8.22 and other texts seemed to ascribe to Christ not precisely an eternal origination but rather a pre-creational generation for the purpose of creation. So they ascribed to Christ the title and reality of divine Logos from eternity, and to the Logos the title and reality of divine Son not from eternity but from the moment of this pre-creational generation. The Apologists contributed much less with regard to the Holy Spirit, although Justin and Athenagoras did try to find a place for the Spirit in the theology of the Church. Justin sometimes coordinated the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son in baptismal and eucharistic formulas. Athenagoras regarded the Holy Spirit as 'an effluence of God.' Theophilus identified the Holy Spirit with Wisdom and coordinated 'God and His Word and His Wisdom.' But: aside from ascribing to the Holy Spirit the inspiration of the Prophets. the Apologists seem to have been very vague about His function in the work of salvation, and still more vague about His relations to the Father and Son within the Godhead. At times they tended to confuse the use of 'Spirit' to express the pre-existent nature of Christ with its use as the name of the Third Person in God. But none of them spoke of the Spirit of God as one of the creatures. There are many more clear-cut trinitarian passages in the Apologists than in the Apostolic Fathers. Theophilus was the first to speak;,, of the 'trinity of God and of His Word and of His Wisdom.' Four times Justin gives the formula, 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,' but elsewhere he says Christians, honor Jesus Christ in the second place after God and the prophetic Spirit in the third rank. Atlienagoras has one of the clearest trinitarian passages: 'men who speak of God the Father and of God the Son and of the Holy Spirit and declare both their power in union and their distinction in order' (Suppl. 10). The Apologists do not take the Sabellian road of a merely nominal trinity of persons but hold to a real distinction of the three, a distinction that is not in name only, not only in thought but in number. They base their distinction on rank or order. They realize there is a trinitarian problem and try to solve it for the Son in terms of an eternal Logos, for the Holy Spirit in terms of 'an effluence of God.' They stress the unity of God as well as the trinity of persons. To the question, what kind of unity is there between these three who are really distinct and yet only one God, they answer: a unity of power, a unity of rule. Thus Justin speaks of 'the monarchy' of God (Dial. 1), Tatian about 'the rule of one' (Orat. 14). Theophilus about the 'monarchy of God' (Autol. 2.35.38). while ' Athenagoras states that God, the Logos. and the Holy Spirit are 'united in power' (Suppl. 24). Do they conceive any deeper unity than this? They seem vaguely aware of a unity based on the fact that both the Son and the Holy Spirit somehow have their origin from the Father and not by way of creation. And since they hold that although they originate from the Father, they are not divided or separated from the Father, they seem to conceive them as one in essence or fundamental being with the Father. But they did not say this in explicit terms. Only later will this deeper unity come to be expressed as a unity of 'sub-stance' or 'essence' in a trinity of 'persons.' Toward A.D. 200 there were signs of a new development in the Church. The Apologists had laid the foundations of Christian theology, but no Christian author had yet attempted to make a systematic presentation of the entire body of belief. There was a need for an orderly and comprehensive exposition of the tenets of the Christian religion that could be used for the instruction of catechumens. Thus were created the theological schools that became the cradles of sacred science. The oldest and most famous of these was at Alexandria in Egypt. At Alexandria the Septuagint was produced, and Philo developed his synthesis of the teaching of the Old Testament and of Greek speculation. The Christian school of Alexandria counted among its students and teachers Clement, Origen, Dionysius, Athanasius. Didymus. Cyril. This school was characterized by its interest in a more metaphysical investigation of the content of the faith. by its leaning to the philosophy of Plato, and an allegorical interpretation of sacred Scripture. It brought about a fertile contact of revelation and Greek philosophy. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p50-52)

Overall Summary: It will be helpful to recapitulate the flow of trinitarian thought thus far so as to see what its status was on the eve of the Nicene conflict that was to play such a tremendous part in the further development of trinitarian thought and dogma. In the New Testament writings Jesus was called the 'Son of God,' 'Lord,' and 'Word' and was assigned the divine functions of creation, salvation, and judgment. He was explicitly said to be God and with God from eternity, to be one with the Father and in the Father. The Holy Spirit was not explicitly called God, but at times He was put on a level with the Father and Son in terms of divinity and personality. To Him were ascribed the divine functions of inspiration. vivification, justification. sanctification. There was no formal doctrine of one God in three co-equal persons, but the elements of this doctrine were there. The Apostolic Fathers maintained that there was only one God. They affirmed the divinity and distinct personality of Christ quite clearly and that of the Holy Spirit less clearly. They offered no trinitarian doctrine and saw no trinitarian problem. The Apologists went further. They affirmed that God is one but also triadic. To Christ they ascribed divinity and personality explicitly. to the Holy Spirit only implicitly. To try to express Christ's mysterious relationship with God. they used the concept of a pre-existing Logos somehow originating in and inseparable from the Godhead, which was generated or emitted for the purposes of creation and revelation. Thus they had what is called a 'two-stage theory of the pre-existent Logos.' or a Logos endiathetos and a Logos prophorikos. But in describing the origin of the Logos-Son, they sometimes presented the personality of the Logos and the generation of the Son so obscurely as to leave a strong impression that the Logos-Son was a non-eternal divine person, a diminished God drastically subordinate to the Father. But they did not go as far as the later Arians would and make the Son only a creature and an adopted son of God. The Alexandrines made further contributions to the development of Trinitarian thought. Clement affirmed one God and adored the trinity of Father, Word, and Holy Spirit. Although he has some subordinationist passages. his general doctrine is that the Son is eternally generated by the Father and is one and the same God with the Father. But how the three are one and the same God he does not explain. Origen maintained the eternal generation of the Son and thus abandoned 'the twofold stage theory of the pre-existent Logos' and substituted 'for it a single stage theory."' While other writers had spoken of the three, they had not answered the question. 'Three what'? Origen answered it by saying they were 'three hypostases' (Jo. 2.6), and thus seems to have been the first to apply to the Trinity this word that Greek theology ultimately' accepted as the technical description of what the Latins called the personae of God. He made it clear also that these three hypostases were not only 'economically' distinct, but essentially and eternally. In some of his commentaries (Num. 12.1; Lev. 13.4) he apparently applies 'the conception of a single ousia to the divine triad' and contends that there 'is a single substance and nature of the triad and in one passage he seems to say the Son is homoousios with the Father. But he probably meant He was only generically, not identically, consubstantial. To some extent Origen was a subordinationist, for his attempt to synthesize strict monotheism with a Platonic hierarchical order in the Trinity could have and did have only a subordinationist result. He openly declared that the Son was inferior to the Father and the Holy Spirit to the Son. But he was not an Arian subordinationist for he did not make the Son a creature and an adopted son of God. Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria made a notable, if unintended, contribution to the developing crisis by bringing into prominence the three basic trinitarian deviations that are known to history as Sabellianism, Subordinationism, and Tritheism. and the urgent need of precise trinitarian concepts, terms, and distinctions. His encounter with the Pope of Rome also turned a strong light on the term homoousios that was soon to occupy the center of the stage at Nicea. (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p59-61)

The Nicene Phase and Arius: Summary: In the New Testament the eternity and divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit were indicated clearly enough but nowhere formally declared. There was no formal doctrine about Christ's origin, nature, relation to the Father and to the Holy Spirit. There was no formal doctrine about a Triune God. But the elements for such a doctrine were there. In their somewhat infelicitous attempts to explain the Son's divine status and His relation to the Father by a two-stage theory of a preexistent Logos, the Apologists obscured if they did not deny the eternal personality and the eternal generation of the Son. Clement and Origen rejected the two-stage theory of the Apologists and maintained the eternal generation of the Son. But Origen, in his attempt to combine strict monotheism with a hierarchical order in the Trinity, ended up by making the Son and the Holy Spirit not precisely creatures but 'diminished gods,' inferior to the Father who alone was God in the strict sense. The stage was set for Arius. He saw in Scripture, the Apologists, and especially Origen two interwoven ideas. One that the Son was God. The other that the Son was subordinate and inferior to the Father in divinity. He saw a tension between a Father alone was God in the strict sense and that the Son was a 'diminished god' but not a creature, and he was not satisfied with the tension. He felt it must be resolved, and so he put a blunt question: Is the Son God or creature? He answered his question just as bluntly: The Son is not God, He is a perfect creature, not eternal but made by the Father out of nothing. And thus the subordinationist tendency in the Apologists and in Origen had reached full term. The question that Arius put and answered so bluntly was a 'live' question, of vital importance to the Christian and trinitarian faith of the Church and one that was deeply disturbing. The Church had to face up to the Arian question and go on record for or against the Arian answer. It did this at Nicea. Though there may be doubt about the understanding of 'consubstantial' at Nicea, there can be no doubt about the historical and dogmatic importance of the Council itself. For there the Church definitively rejected the answer that Arius gave to the question he put: Is the Son God or creature. The Council firmly rejected Arius' contention that the Son was a creature, not eternal, and made out of nothing. It firmly declared that He was begotten, not made. was born of the Father's substance, was true God from true God, was consubstantial with the Father. It did more. In the New Testament affirmations about the Son were largely functional and soteriological, and stressed what the Son is to us. Arians willingly recited these affirmations but read into them their own meaning. To preclude this Arian abuse of the Scripture affirmations Nicea transposed these Biblical affirmations into ontological formulas, and gathered the multiplicity of scriptural affirmations. titles, symbols, images. and predicates about the Son into a single affirmation that the Son is not made but born of the Father, true God from true God, and consubstantial with the Father. 'A definitive answer was given to the question of Arius not in the empirical categories of experience, the relational a category of presence, or, even the dynamic categories of power and function but in the ontological category of substance, which is a category of being. Nicaea did not describe; it defined. it defined what the Son is, in himself and in his relation to the one God the Father. The Son is from the Father in a singular, unshared way, begotten as Son, not made as a creature. The Son is all that the Father is, except for the Name of Father. This is what homoousion means. This is what the Son is. . . . The Nicene definition ... formally established the statute of the ontological mentality within the Church. It was the precedent for the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, which resolved the issue of the internal constitution of Christ, the Son Incarnate, in the ontological categories of nature and person. . . . By its passage from the historical-existential categories of Scripture to the ontological or explanatory categories exhibited in the homoousion Nicaea sanctioned the principle of the development of doctrine . . . of growth in understanding of the primitive affirmations contained in the New Testament revelation.'" (The Triune God, Edmund Fortman, p68-70)

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