2.22.1 The philosopher’s response to the company of holy bishops: “Since you have led me to a higher level of thinking in saying that one must apprehend and believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have one divine nature, I recall what you said before: The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.

2.22.2 Now you affirm that the three perfect persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—have one divine nature. Please explain these thoughts to me more clearly.”

2.22.3 The holy fathers’ answer to the philosopher through the same Bishop Leontius: “It is inexpressible, for the divine, indescribable essence which transcends and encompasses all things is incomprehensible to mind and thought and entirely inscrutable.

2.22.4 But listen to us: We have not spoken to you about two different gods, as ungodly Arius did in his blasphemy, saying that there is one uncreated God and another created one and likewise proclaiming that the Spirit of God is created (perish the thought!); rather, we apprehend and believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have one divine nature, one essence, one lordship and will.

2.22.5 We know that the persons of the Holy Trinity are neither separate nor localized. But by faith alone we apprehend and believe, as we have often said, that the Holy, consubstantial Trinity, deserving of worship, has one divine nature.

2.22.6 Through all this the true faith has shown that one must not conceive of any difference in the Holy Trinity. Therefore, willingly give us your attention for a little while, and your faith will be strengthened as you receive from the Holy Spirit, through us, salutary instructions so that you may know that the Holy Trinity has one divine nature, which eternally exists and subsists—a Trinity which is truly a Trinity, none of them existing before another, but always an indivisible, consubstantial Trinity.”

2.22.7 The philosopher’s response: “Don’t think that I am turning away from true doctrine (if I were, I would have rejected your words from the very start of the debate), but I am weighing the implications of your thoughts so that the conclusion you are defending may be clearly evident to me.”

2.22.8 The holy fathers’ answer to the philosopher in hypothetical terms about fire, radiance, and light, through the same Bishop Leontius: “Listen, now, philosopher. Through many passages of the Holy Scriptures we have already explained to you that the divine nature is simple and not composite, as you yourself confessed when you started asking questions.

2.22.9 It is everlasting, eternal, uncreated fire, for it is uncontained, unapproachable light by nature. One must not think of it as one person, as the Jews do. Rather, all Christians believe in and proclaim the inseparable Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—as a Trinity, for the persons are eternally inseparable, as has been shown.

2.22.10 Learn now, philosopher. Even though we act boldly, the majestic God nevertheless deals with us mercifully, for we are working to save you and everyone else. Therefore learn from objects of perception about objects of consideration, from objects of the mind about objects beyond the mind, from words about objects beyond words.

2.22.11 Although everything in creation, perceivable and only conceivable, ‘in heaven and on earth and under the earth’ [Philippians 2:10], is incomparable to the uncreated, incomprehensible, immortal essence of God, a suitable illustration is, nevertheless, of considerable value to those who receive it in faith. Rather, let’s say it provides an adequate picture of piety to those who want to understand it piously.

2.22.12 Perceivable fire, although it has one nature or essence, is a trinity. It is at the same time fire, radiance, and light. One finds that none of these exist before another; the three are inseparable from each other—the fire, the radiance which comes from it, and the light.

2.22.13 Therefore, philosopher, separate the three, if you can, and show us which one exists before another, whether fire existed by itself before radiance, and radiance came after fire, or perhaps light came after fire and radiance or before them.

2.22.14 Separate the three from each other, if you can, and show us that fire, radiance, and light are not simultaneous although the nature of fire is one.

2.22.15 Keep these perceivable created things in mind. Although they are incomparable to the eternal, incomprehensible essence of God (as we just said), even so, receive from them a starting point towards salvation, and by faith furnish your mind’s eye with wings to ascend to sublime knowledge of God.

2.22.16 As we pray and believe, the grace of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will come to you like lightning and show you that there is one divine nature, which is everlasting fire, radiance, and light, simple, not composite, inseparable, indivisible, incomprehensible, and indescribable, a truly consubstantial Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

2.22.17 The philosopher believes in the Holy Trinity: Having heard these things, the philosopher became speechless for quite a while as if he were in a trance, “his thoughts troubled him” [Daniel 5:6], and great fear seized him. Then he came to his senses and cried out in a loud voice:

2.22.18 “Glory to you, O God, who breathed into these saints of yours the mystery beyond every mind of the immaculate, inseparable, uncreated divine nature. Moreover, I implore you, Christ, as the benevolent Son of the benevolent Father, to forgive the sins I committed against you while the ungodly opinions of Arius held sway over me so that I will not have to endure your punishment, righteous Judge, for those ungodly words which I, a wretch, spoke against you.

2.22.19 Woe to Arius and his ungodly associates, who blasphemously say against the Son of God, ‘He did not always exist.’ They also say that the Son of God and the Holy Spirit are creatures, products, and of a different essence. They say that the Son of God and the Holy Spirit are not of the same essence as the Father.

2.22.20 Now and forever I anathematize Arius, his ungodly opinions, all who agree with him, and all who blaspheme against the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Whoever does not have the Son ‘does not have the Father’ [1 John 2:23], and whoever has blasphemed against the Son and the Holy Spirit has blasphemed against the Father.

2.22.21 I beseech you, holy council of elders: Help me by praying to Christ, the Son of God, on my behalf, for I am certainly a follower of the teachings the Holy Spirit has explained and defined through you. I confess that they are true and reliable.

2.22.22 I am confident that this is what Paul, the teacher of sacred truths, called ‘the mystery which has been kept hidden for ages and generations,’ which ‘has now been revealed’ [Colossians 1:26], as it says, ‘to his holy apostles and prophets’ (and to you) ‘by the Spirit’ [Ephesians 3:5]—that the Son and the Holy Spirit exist eternally, coexisting and coenduring with God the Father.”


Next Chapter – 2.23 The holy fathers continue to speak to the philosopher about a fount and river and water through Bishop Leontius

Previous Chapter – 2.21 The philosopher’s counter-argument against the Holy Spirit

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