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Mars Hill Apologetic Discussions
Perry Robinson's Response to Rick Stamp
on the Doctrine of the Personality of the Holy Spirit in the 4th Century
The following is copied verbatim from Mark Cunningham's website. I have reproduced it here for two reasons.
1. I met and fellowshipped with Perry on several occasions. He is one of the most widely-read individuals I have ever met, with interests in Patristic studies, Philosophy, Biblical Studies, and Apologetics. He is also one of the nicest guys I have ever met.
2. This particular apologetic response became something of a model for me. It inspired me to be much more thorough in my research and to, as Mark Cunningham says, "leave no stone unturned." Perry told me that he approached apologetic dialogs as "little research projects," and I have tried to apply that approach to my own efforts. Thanks for setting the bar so high, Perry!
Mark Cunningham wrote the Introduction. Perry takes over from there.
The First to plead his case seems just, until another comes and examines
him. Proverbs 18:17
To those interested parties, Perry Robinson has been having an exchange with Rick Stamp (a Jehovah's witness) concerning the nature of the belief that existed regarding the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit in the fourth century. The debate began with a citation on Rick's part of Augustine of Hippo alleging that Augustine was unsure of the deity or personality of the Holy Spirit late in the fourth century. Rick has since retracted that claim. His own words were the following,
From: rs[email protected][SMTP:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 1998 10:36 AM
To: Robinson,Perry (Anaheim)
Subject: Re: Augustine and the Pnuematomachi
Perry, thank you for your thoughtful response and research.I must admit that I did jump to a hasty conclusion regarding Augustines personal beliefs regarding the HS because I did not read the entire document carefully.
Since Rick has stated publically that he has retracted his position regarding Augustine's views, Perry has only given passing attention to his rejoinder on this issue. The debate then shifted to another Church Father of the fourth century, St. Gregory of Nazianzen. Rick made a number of claims regarding St. Gregory to which Perry responded to in detail. Rick then sent a third volley in Perry's direction using various scholarly works to support his conclusion. Perry was unable to respond at the time because of school and other commitments. Perry was criticized by other Jehovah's Witnesses such as Mark Ross for allegedly holding himself up as an expert in the field of Patristics. To Perry's knowledge or recall he had not and has not made any such claim, but rather only claimed that he have read widely in the field for a layman. As a matter of fact, Rick Stamp said the following on March 27th 1998,
PS, I am sure with your advanced knowledge of Patristics you will find exception to some of what I have written. Please feel free to correct any errors on my part.
Since making this citation known to Mr. Ross, Perry has not heard any further accusations from him.
In the pages that follow Perry will give a detailed and lengthy response to Rick Stamp leaving no stone unturned. Perry's response will encompass three general areas of criticism; sources, logic, and history. Perry will begin with a rehearsal of Rick's initial claims and his secondary claims regarding St. Gregory...now, unto the address:
Rick's Claims Regarding St. Gregory
On March 27th 1998 Rick claimed the following:
1.. 351 The position of The holy spirit was undecided in the years following Nicaea, and for the first time at the council of Sirmium in 351 this was discussed as a question which had to be decided.
2.. 380 In 380 the church Father Gregory Nazianzus wrote about the different views of the Spirit
"But of the wise men amongst ourselves, some have conceived of him as an Activity, some as a Creature, some as God; and some have been uncertain which to call Him." [ Gregory does not himself advocate these teachings, but they are clearly not being denounced as heretical, as they are being proposed by "the wise amongst ourselves".]
3. 381 To put an end to the heresies and schisms that were disturbing both the Church and the State, emperor Theodosius I convened a council at Constantinople in 381. There were two main divisions of opinion, the Machedonians or Pneumatomachians who denied the full deity of the Spirit, and the Cappadochians who defended it. The council reaffirmed the Nicene creed except that it omitted the words 'of the substance of the Father' and 'God from God', but its words about the Spirit were amazingly vague. The Spirit was not called 'God' but 'the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who spoke through the prophets.' This sounds to me as if the words of this creed were chosen either as a compromise between two differing factions and also to be as unprovocative as possible.
4. Considering that the Pneumatomachians clearly taught that the Holy Spirit was not God, and that this council was to directly address this issue it is amazing that the creed which was affirmed at this council does NOT call the Holy Spirit God.
5. My conclusion is that there were many viewpoints on the nature of the Holy Spirit at this time, and even though the Pneumachati prior to the council in 381 asserted that the Holy Spirit was not God, others who did believe that the Holy Sprit was God did not force the issue.
"It would be quite some time before any council would affirm that the Orthodox belief included the confession that the Holy Spirit was God, WHY?"
At a later date Rick issued a more detailed and researched set of criticisms in which he extended his claims and made them more clear. I shall give a brief summary of his points below.
1. Rick claims that I claimed that the sense of the citation from the 5th theological oration under dispute was in a negative or pejorative sense.
2. St. Gregory includes himself among the "wise men" who hold varying views on the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit and that he says so himself.
3. St. Gregory's view is the minority view at the time.
4. That Socrates and Didymus the Blind both refrain from calling the Holy Spirit God because of a lack of clear scriptural evidence.
5. That I had criticized Rick for not having any opinions to support his position but his own opinions.
6. That I claimed that Rick had no scholarly support for his view.
7. That I had "backed off" the above alleged claim.
8. That I stated that it did not matter if scholars agreed with him or not.
9. That as late as 308 A.D. that most of the theologians of the Church could not be classified as Trinitarian because of their belief about the Holy Spirit.
10. The Apostle's Creed does not mention the Holy Spirit as divine nor Jesus as divine, thus implying that these doctrines were absent from the Church.
11. The Nicene Creed did not say anything about the deity of the Holy Spirit, again implying that the beleifs were absent from the Church.
12. That the position on the Holy Spirit was undecided in the period following the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.).
13. That the deity of the Holy Spirit was decided first in the second council of Sirmium in 351 A.D.
14. It was at the Synod of Alexandria (362 A.D.) that the orthodox first took up the definite position with regard to whether the Holy Spirit is a creature, but the creed did not in effect renounce this view.
15. That the orthodox withheld speaking forth their position and only held it as a pious opinion.
16. Rick claims that Harnack substantiates the view that the belief in the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit was not handed down from the Apostles.
17. That St. Gregory somehow denies that this doctrine is based in Scripture and that Harnack and Lampe support the perspective that it is either not found in scripture or that the Fathers did not think it could be found or was to be found in Scripture.
18. That the doctrine of the Holy Spirit was not articulated as late as 380 A.D. because not all of the Church's theologians held to the orthodox perspective.
19. That the Creed of Constantinople did not call the Holy Spirit "God."
20. That George Park Fisher supports the claim that some of the theologians of the Church did not hold the orthodox viewpoint and rather held a great diversity of opinion.
21. That Adolf von Harnack supports the claim that some of the Church's theologians did not hold the orthodox view and adduces the Homoiousians as evidence of this fact.
22. That G.H.W. Lampe supports the contention that the Church's position was still undecided regarding the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit.
23. That Adolf von Harnack thinks that the sense of the term "wise men" is not in a negative way or connotation.
24. Adolf von Harnack claims that the lack of a tangible tradition exercised a strong influence on the Fathers.
25. That Adolf von Harnack claims that according to St. Gregory that God merely indicated the deity of the Holy Spirit in scripture and did not reveal it till post-apostolic times so as to not place too much burden upon men.
26. That St. Gregory claims that those who affirm the deity of the Holy Spirit have something heroic about them. (Orat. 41, 6)
27. That Adolf von Harnack claims that the first of the question of the Holy Spirit is found at the council of Sirmium in 351 A.D.
28. That Harnack claims that it was at the Synod of Alexandria (362) that the orthodox first took up the definite position with regard to this question that whoever regards the Holy Spirit as a creature and separates it from the substance of Christ, in so doing divides up the Holy Trinity, gives a hypocritical adherence to the Nicene Faith, and has merely in appearance renounced Arianism.
29. That Adolf von Harnack claims that the Creed of Constantinople's declaration of the Holy Spirit does not go as far as the Homousian position.
These are all the claims that I can see in the collection of Rick's Reponses to me over the past few months. I have listed them so as to make clear that I have not left anything out and that I have accurately represented his position. I do not want to find myself misrepresenting him or causing an argument where there should not be one if we are simply missing each others' points.
Now that I have laid out the battlefield I would like to begin by examining the structure of a number of Rick's arguments.
Appeals to Authority
Rick makes a number of appeals to authority in his responses to me and so I would like to present some criticisms of his use of them and what exactly an appeal to authority really proves.
An appeal to authority can be defined simply as citing another person's opinion to support a specific conclusion. This is usually in the form of appealing to someone who is in a specific position to know what occurred at a specific time or place. For example, "The Volcano did not explode at 10 am because James was there monitoring it until 12 noon." This example brings out the fact that James was in a position to have access to the correct information. Hence some types of appeals to authority have to do with the accessibility of an agent to specific information in order to support a conclusion. Another form of the appeal to authority is related to expert opinion. That is, a specific person has specialized in acquiring information on a specific area of knowledge. Often times in court cases a forensic specialist will come to give his opinion about the information. That is, his interpretation of the facts, or his knowledge of the facts is seen as carrying weight because of his or her privileged position which was gained for them by recognized means of study. This second type seems to be what Rick is using in order to make his argument against the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Spirit. But what exactly makes an appeal an appeal to authority?
Generally, one must have specialized knowledge in a specific field of study and acquired the peer recognized badges or tokens of scholarship and credibility, i.e. a Ph.D. degree, etc. It can also be the case that one does not have these credentials in the field in question, but one brings to the field knowledge from another field of study that has relevance for the point being discussed. Hence Carsten Theide, who is a papyrologist is not a New Testament textual critic, but his expertise in ancient manuscripts gives him special insight into the field of NT textual criticism. Hence, relevance plays an important factor in appealing to authorities.
Now there are problems with appealing to authorities. The first thing to note is that an appeal to an authority does not make what is being claimed by the authority true. Authorities are fallible and can be in error. For example, Aristotle's opinion that the sun and planets revolved around the earth was taken on his authority, and he was obviously in error. That is, Aristotle was thought to be a trustworthy source of information because of his possession of information and his reasoning abilities. Patrick Hurley lists some reasons why authorities might not be trustworthy or correct in their opinions.
"There are several reasons why an authority or witness might not be trustworthy. The person might lack the requisite expertise, might be biased or prejudiced, might have a motive to lie or to disseminate 'misinformation,' or might lack the requisite ability to perceive or recall." (Hurley, Patrick J., A Concise Introduction to Logic, Univ. of San Diego, Wadsworth Pub Co., 1991, p. 126)
This general point should not be missed. If one were to grant that all of the information that a specific authority presented was accurate, that does not mean that the authorities' opinion about the information is true. Other than the problem of fallibility, there is the problem of multiple authorities in a given field which ties into the above mentioned problem.
For example, I am often confronted by atheists or skeptics on the topic of the historical Jesus who cite the "Jesus Seminar" as an authority to try and prove that either Jesus never existed or that much of what is believed to be his words and deeds were attributed to him as a process of mythologization by the early Church. While it is true that there are biblical scholars on the Jesus Seminar it is also true that there are other scholars who disagree with them. Hence the atheist or skeptic who cites them and thinks that by citing one group of scholars that the issue is settled has not really grasped the problem.
Secondly, there can be problems in the assumptions or methods of an authority that is being cited. For example, I once had the pleasure of listening to a lecture by Ronald Hawk who was at the time the head of the Religion Department at USC and is a member of the Jesus Seminar. Dr. Hawk had some very interesting views. These views rested on specific assumptions and methodologies that I found to be questionable. For example, he assumed that the NT documents were folklore or mythological. He based his methods of criticism on this and other assumptions. I proposed problems regarding this assumption, such as it starts with a naturalistic view of the world, assumes a late date for the text, etc. which rendered his conclusions either false or highly questionable. The Jesus Seminar's method of dissimilarity, for example, seems to be an example of how faulty methods can lead to faulty conclusions. The principle generally states that those things which were not uttered by Jews or Hebrews previous to Jesus or which the early church believed were to be excluded from the set of things that Jesus did say or teach. This left them with a small number of sayings. From this, in part, they support the idea that the teaching of Jesus first started with small sayings and eventually evolved into mythological gospels and that much of what we thought Jesus said or taught, he probably did not.
Now, does not this principle assume that everything that Jesus taught was original to him, such that if he reiterated a point of theology that Moses had mentioned or some other prophet that the scholars on the Jesus Seminar would have excluded this from consideration a priori without examining the evidence for its authenticity? I think it does. Hence faulty assumptions and faulty methodologies can lead to faulty or at the very least, questionable conclusions.
Thirdly, there is another problem with citing authorities. Sometimes an authority's work done in the past becomes outdated. That is, current studies show faulty methods, assumptions or reasoning on the part of the authority in question. Margaret Mead, the "mother" of modern sociology for example proclaimed that peoples of the Southern Pacific viewed sexuality very loosely. She claimed that the society was basically "if it itches, scratch it." This research of hers deeply influenced sociology for years to come and it had a deep impact on the counter-culture of the 1960's in the U.S. But now, after some 40 years, it has come to light that low and behold Margaret Mead falsified her data. That is, she lied. She did so because she was having an affair with, I believe, her brother-in-law. (For a discussion of this see Jones, Peter, Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior.)
This example ties more in with a kind of bias that I will discuss below so let me find another example. In the realm of geology for example, before the 1950's the geological community believed that the continents were fixed items. When this view was challenged near the beginning of this century by a laymen who advocated that the continents moved, he was ignored. Now this view is agreed upon by all geologists in the field. It is known as plate-tectonics. Other examples could be sited such as Newton's physics being superceded by Einstein's theory of Relativity or Quantum Mechanics. But the point is easy to see, to appeal to these thinkers now would obviously be fallacious or at least questionable on those areas of knowledge where new information has caused us to change our views.
Now we come to the question of bias or prejudice and I would like to say a few things at this juncture. What exactly do I mean by bias? I take bias to mean two distinct things in this context. First bias refers to a state of mind in which an agent is committed to a view held with or without sufficient warrant with such tenacity that they will violate the right rules of reason and/or procedure to continue to hold them. This generally carries the connotation of prejudice with it. Bias can also refer to a lack of objectivity in evaluating some view. But what the heck is "objectivity?" I take it that there are three general conceptions of objectivity which I will list below.
1.. That an agent follows the right rules or procedures of examination and evaluation in an inquiry. (logical and empirical)
2.. That an agent examines information from a neutral or "God's eye" perspective.
3.. That things exist independent of an agents' assent or lack of assent to them.
I think the first one is highly relevant to my discussion here as is # 2. While I think that # 1 is possible, I do not think that # 2 is possible. Let me explain. Everyone has a perspective or worldview from which they understand the world. These are deeply seated assumptions or presuppositions about reality, ethics and how we know things. These assumptions form the basis, web and structure of our beliefs such that we interpret all incoming information according to them. Hence if a Christian is arguing with an atheist and both are appealing to some fact in the world to prove or disprove the existence of God (let's say causality for example) the Christian and the atheist will interpret the same information in different ways because of their presuppositions about reality. There is no neutral starting point or common ground between them. Hence, a debate in which one person claims to be "unbiased" or to have no "presuppositions" is an illusion. It is simply not the case. The question is, who has the right presuppositions?
Now the relevance here is that part of my contention is that certain sources or authorities that Rick has cited are either biased in the sense that they violate the right rules of reason or procedure or they claim to be neutral in examining the topic and are not. Some of them may be coming from a non-Christian, and I would even venture to say, an anti-Christian perspective which not only motivates them, but also "flavors" their interpretation of the facts. Furthermore, I will argue that some of those sources apply methods to come to the conclusions in certain areas that Rick has cited, but which he rejects when applied to other areas of study. This posits a double standard on Rick's part. On top of this some of his sources are quite dated. I will discuss this in more detail later.
The three points that I want to make clear from this discussion is that appeals to authority at best only accomplish two things,
1.. The level of probability for a claim to be true is increased
2.. Appealing to an authority does not make the claim true ipso facto.
3.. That appealing to an authority with the thought that just because an authority says something that that makes it true is an informal fallacy.
Let's move on to look at two other fallacies other than appeal to authority that I think will be relevant in this discussion.
Stacking the Deck
This fallacy generally stated occurs when one party in an argument only presents evidence or arguments for one side of the debate. Hence the individual "stacks" the evidence in his or her favor such that they ignore pertinent evidence for the opposing side.
Absence of Evidence
This fallacy occurs when an individual argues by the lack of evidence for a position that the opposite conclusion is true. This is a kind of the ad ignoratiam fallacy. Atheists for example, argue that since we have no physical evidence of the crossing of the Red Sea by Moses that it did not occur. Many scholars years ago held the view that the group of people called the Hittites mentioned in the Bible were fictitious because we lacked physical evidence of their existence. A simple axiom will help a person in not committing this fallacy: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is also an argument from silence.
Adolf von Harnack: A Case in Point
In his response to me Rick Stamp makes use of the German scholar Adolf von Harnack to a large degree to substantiate his case against the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit. But who was Harnack? Was he a reliable and trustworthy authority? Was he prejudiced? Are his methods based on faulty assumptions? Are his conclusions based on anti-Christian presuppositions? Are his conclusions outdated? I will examine these questions below.
Adolf von Harnack was born in 1778 and was the son of a famous Lutheran theologian Theodosius Harnack. In 1886-1898 he wrote his History of Dogma for which he became famous or infamous, depending on who you asked. In 1889 he became a professor in Berlin and continued teaching there until his death. (See The Westminster Dictionary of Church History, Westminster Press, 1971, p. 386-387)
"His appointment to Berlin was a cause of serious controversy; it was held up for several months, and the matter was finally resolved by the Emperor William II's decision overuling the Church's officials. Opposition to Harnack's appointment was based on his History of Dogma, the first volume of which had appeared in 1885. The publication of the multivolume Dogmengeschichte introduced Harnack to a lifetime of theological controversy and lead to a painful break with his father. The shadow of suspicion was never completely removed from Harnack's career as church historian and, despite his eminent position, he never was given any position of authority or honour by the Church." Livingstone, James C., Modern Christian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Vatican II, Macmillian Pub Co., 1971, p. 257)
Harnack was a follower of Albrecht Ritschl, a major thinker in Protestant Liberalism at the time. Harnack himself soon became a model of German Protestant Liberalism. He naturalized theology, that is, he saw Christianity in terms of anthropology.
"The Christian faith was reinterpreted through 'general anthropology,' not identified by a revealed Word transcendently addressed to man. Adolf von Harnack (1851-1931), who clung to this illusion to the end of his life, voiced the neo-Protestant credo as follows: the 'proper object of faith is not God in his revelation, but man himself believing in the divine." (Carl F.H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, Word Publishers, Waco, TX, Vol. 2, 1976, p. 120)
"Of the many influences that helped to shape Harnack the historian and theologian, none was greater than that of Albrecht Ritschl. It was during his period in Leipzig that Harnack first identified himself with the Ritschlian school. A few years later Harnack acknowledged that his own Dogmengeschichte [History of Dogma] would not have been possible without Ritschl" Livingstone, James C., Modern Christian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Vatican II, Macmillian Pub Co., 1971, p. 258
The first quote reveals Harnack's anti-supernaturalistic presupposition against the truth of Christianity. In essence he was a humanist who interpreted the facts according to his humanistic presuppositions. Thus Harnack was deemed a leading representative of liberal theology.
"These two thinkers, Schleiermacher and Hegel, are the points toward which all elements go and from which they then diverge, later bringing about the demand for new syntheses. We will see how these new syntheses have been attempted again and again, and finally what in my opinion has to be done today. So the whole story has a dramatic character. It is the drama of the rise of a humanism in the midst of Christianity which is critical of the Christian tradition, departs from it and produces a vast world of secular existence and thought. Then there is the rise of some of the greatest philosophers and theologians who try to unite these divergent elements again. Their syntheses in turn are destroyed and the divergent elements collide and try to conquer each other, and new attempts to reunite them have to be made. The Ritschlian school is an example of this, with Harnack as its leading representative. And in our century there is the Bultmann school and so on." Braaten, Carl E., Paul Tillich and the Classical Christian Tradition, in Tillich, Paul, Perspectives on the 19th & 20th Century Protestant Theology, 1967, p.5
"Toward the close of the last century human thought was generally under the influence of the Darwinian theory of evolution. Mankind was said to be in an upward march, and the idea of a real fall into sin seemed absurd. Great strides in science and invention were being made; new discoveries were carried out. In the field of theology the ideas of Ritschl were widespread and their practical effect made itself known in the phenomenon which is popularly called 'modernism', a new phenomenon which has wrought unbelievable harm to the well-being of the Church of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament studies the influence of Adolf Harnack with his purely human Jesus was very prominent. The philosophy of Hegel undergirded certain views of the history of Israel. A veritable complex of ideas held sway. It was a climate of opinion which was hostile to the supernatural redemptive Christianity and which proved to be one of the greatest foes of that religion." E.J. Young, Thy Word is Truth, Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, reprint, p. 193
"Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930). He taught at Leipzig (1874), Giessen (1879), Marbug (1886) and Berlin (1888-1921). Though mainly a Church historian, he covered New Testament matters as well, and was the most prominent representative of liberal German criticism until his death. His support for Germany's war aims in 1914 disillusioned the young Karl barth, and helped to set him on a theological journey away from liberalism. His main work was the History of Dogma (Dogmengeschichte), which came out in several volumes between 1886 and 1869, and was soon translated into English (1894-9). (Bray, Gerald, Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present, IVP, 1996, p. 338)
Harnack produced some popular works in which he tried to communicate his views to the masses.
"When this century opened. Liberal theology was rapidly moving to the fore in sophisticated circles. Harnak's book, What is Christianity? became a record-setting best seller. In it the ideas that had been maturing through Schleiermacher, Ritschl , and others were presented forcefully in a form that the average man could grasp." William Hordern, New Directions in Theology Today, Westminster Press, 1966, Vol. 1 Introduction, p. 13
"At the turn of the century the great church historian Adolf von Harnack delivered a series of popular lectures at Berlin in answer to the question What is Christianity? His reply stressed the spiritual and moral content and pushed the supernatural into the background. He insisted that 'Jesus himself did not assign that critical importance to his miraculous deeds which even the evangelist Mark and the others all had attributed to them.' Harnack saw the essence of Jesus' teaching grouped under three headings; 'Firstly, the kingdom of God and its coming. Secondly, God the Father and the infinite value of the human soul. Thirdly, the higher righteousness and the commandment to love.' Jesus took over two views of the kingdom of God that were related to each other as a husk is to the kernel. From Judaism he inherited the husk: the kingdom as a future event-the external rule of God. But he also saw the kingdom as an inward reality that elevates people spiritually and transforms them morally. This was the central reality of Jesus' message. The stories of exorcisms belong to the outer husk of contemporary beliefs that the evangelists shared. Harnack treated them as primitive ways of describing mental disorders that are 'rare occurrence nowadays.' 'Where they occur the best means of encountering them is to-day, as it was formerly, the influence of a strong personality.'" (Colin Brown, Miracles and the Modern Mind, Eerdmans/Paternoster Press, 1984, p. 127)
"The consequences of this false distinction between judgements of fact and judgements of value have proved a veritable hereditas damnosa in the subsequent theological discussion. From it springs directly the false contacts between the 'simple Gospel' of Jesus and the 'theology' of the apostolic Church. The true Gospel is regarded as consisting in the simple facts about Jesus and teachings of the historical Jesus, who can thus be objectively portrayed by modern historical research, while the interpretations of St. Paul and the other apostles may be discarded as representing values for them which are no longer values for us. Hence the Ritschlians present the history of Christian dogma as pronouncing its own condemnation in the eyes of all unprejudiced Christians people. Harnack worked out this view with massive thoroughness in the learned volumes of his History of Dogma. The Creed of Nicea, the formulary of Chalcedon, the dogmatic writings of the Fathers, even the Epistles of St. Paul, represent 'the work of the spirit of a decadent antiquity on the soil of the Gospel.' The Chief emphasis is placed upon the contrast between the original Gospel of Jesus and the theological interpretations of the Church, between the Sermon on the Mount and the Nicene Creed. ' The one belongs to the world of Syrian peasants, the other to a world of Greek philosophers.' [Comment by Hatch] Thus it was thought necessary to separate the kernal from the husk, to get back behind 'the religion about Jesus' to 'the religion of Jesus'. The apostles ought to have been content to report the words and record the deeds of Jesus, instead of becoming, as they did, interpreters of the significance and value of His person. So we come to the familiar antithesis, beloved Jesus taught simple, ethical monotheism; Paul invented Christology and is the real founder of Christianity. Paul was the first on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus to develop a theology as a means of separation from the religion of the Old Testament. Not dogmas but value judgements were the fruits of revelation, and so Ritschl refuse to discuss such doctrines as the pre-existence of Christ, or the Two Natures in Christ, or the relation of the Persons within the Trinity, as having no real bearing upon our experience and as therefore lying beyond our range; we understand Christ's person and nature by understanding what He has done for men, by His worth for our own souls, by recognizing that He has done for us what only God can do. Thus according to the Ritschlian theology revelation is given in the formation of true judgements of value upon certain historical events or deeds. It is an error to suppose that the Richlians thought that judgements of fact were more important than judgements of value, or that judgements of value were false because they were subjective. They were trying to safeguard the objectivity of the facts themselves, as existing independently of the wishes of the believer. They thus placed great emphasis upon the historical character of the revelation, and they held that historical research, being scientific and independent of all value-judgements, could put an end to subjective speculation and free us from all the 'accretions' of traditional dogmas. Hence the importance of the 'quest of the historical Jesus'." Alan Richardson, Christian Apologetics, Harper & Brothers, 1947, p. 148-149
Harnack thus saw the New Testament as existential truth shrouded within layers of mythology. Basically, Jesus was only a good moral teacher and Paul was the real inventor of Christianity. What this also shows is that Harnack made a claim to being neutral in examining the facts, which is impossible. Everyone examines the facts from a certain perspective. So in essence Harnack read back into history his own biases and prejudices.
"The most memorable comment on Harnack's best-selling portrait of Jesus came from the pen of the Catholic Modernist, Father George Tyrell, 'The Christ that what Harnack sees, looking back through nineteen centuries of Catholic darkness, is only the reflection of a Liberal Protestant face, seen at the bottom of a deep well." (Colin Brown, Miracles and the Modern Mind, Eerdmans/Paternoster Press, 1984, p. 128)
"Adolf von Harnack, one of Karl Barth's mentors, had correlated the so-called objective historical-scientific criticism of Scripture with philosophical idealism and insisted that a primitive non-supernatural Jesus has priority over the supernatural Pauline Christ. Barth assailed this popular critical view and launched a strikingly different approach to biblical interpretation and New Testament exegesis. While Barth agreed with Harnack's insistence that as a corpus of historical records the Bible should be open to critical investigation, he emphasized that historical criticism had not in fact achieved consensus on a single authentic portrait of Jesus of Nazereth. Barth labeled Harnack's supposedly neutral historical exegesis and non-supernatural Jesus as in actuality a reflection of Harnack's personal theological prejudices; liberal theology, observed Barth, neglected the primary theme of revelation by its one sided historical interest that eclipses revelatory relationships between God and man." (Carl F.H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, Word Publishers, Waco, TX, Vol. 4, 1979, p. 297 See also Brown, Colin, Jesus in European Protestant Thought: 1778-1860, Baker Book House, 1985, pp. 72-73)
Harnack's liberalism got him into trouble on occasion and not a few others as well.
"In the 1880's and 1890's the issue of subscription to the Apostles' Creed was hotly debated. In 1888 a candidate was denied ordination for refusing to assent to the virgin birth of Christ and the descent into hell. In Wittemberg in 1892 Schrempf, a pastor, was removed from his post for affirming that "conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,' 'ascended into heaven,' and 'the resurrection of the body' were not to be taken literally. That same decade Harnack was censured for saying that the virgin birth of Christ need not be accepted as historic fact but could be regarded merely as a symbol of the incarnation. It was also in the 1890's that Prussian ecclesiastical bodies were divided over the question of assent to the Apostles' Creed as a requirement for ordination and that a somewhat ambiguous compromise was effected."Kenneth Scott Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age: Vol. 2-The 19th Century in Europe, Zondervan, 1969, p. 37
His works were soon published in other countries and he found opponents there as well on various subjects, not the least of which was the Holy Spirit and the Apostles Creed. In these two areas he was met with an able opponent in the Anglican scholar Henry Barclay Swete.
"In Germany recent controversy has been more thoroughgoing, turning upon history of the Creed. There are indications that public attention amongst ourselves will shortly be directed to the latter point. Professor Harnack's pamphlet, which in Germany passed through five-and-twenty editions during the course of a year, has been reproduced in the pages of an English periodical with a commendatory preamble by the pen of the authoress of Robert Elsmere." Swete, H.B., The Apostles' Creed: It's Relation to Primitive Christianity, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1894, p. 12
Harnack not only was liberal in his views on Church history and the Trinity but also in other areas of Christian theology as well, such as the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and Miracles. Harnack writes,
"We are firmly convinced that what happens in space and time is subject to the general laws of motion, and that in this sense, as an interruption of the order of nature, there can be no such things as miracles." (What is Christianity? p. 28f)
Regarding the Virgin birth, Harnack claims "…it is one of the best established results of history that the clause does not belong to the earliest gospel preaching." (Cited in Swete, The Apostles' Creed, p. 43)
Regarding the Resurrection of the flesh, Harnack claims, "…we can hardly doubt that from the very earliest times the resurrection of the flesh was preached by a few Christians, but it was not a universal doctrine." (Cited in Swete, The Apostles'Creed, p. 90)
It should also be noted that Harnack also thought that such doctrines as the Ascension and the pre-existence of Jesus were not part of "the earliest gospel preaching" either. For a deeper discussion, see Swete, The Apostles' Creed and J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ and The Origin of Paul's Religion.
But how did Harnack deduce this? What was his basic outlook? Harnack viewed the history of Christianity as a process of Hellenization, that is, a process where Christianity moved away from Jesus' simple ethical teachings and became wedded to philosophical concepts of Greek philosophy. Harnack did not see the Greeks in themselves as Greeks as the problem. He argued that any intellecutualization of the faith was a Hellenization. Thus, he saw St. Paul as the primary culprit with the idea of a divine saviour, resurrection, etc. The Gnostic heretic Marcion was Harnack's chief hero since he hellenized Christianity in a way that was more towards individual ethics. This thesis of a process of hellenzation was derived from Hegel's dialectical process of history. Hegel thought that there was a movement of history in which contradictory statements became synthesized into an agreement. This outlook flavored Harnack's whole approach and hence he read Church history as a process of hellenization. His major work, The History of Dogma was written to support this thesis. Eventually his theory was disproved and hence his starting assumptions left many of his conclusions highly questionable.
"Adolf von Harnack, in his classic study of Christian thought, asserted that gnosticism was the result of the 'lasting influence of Greek philosophy and the Greek spirit generally on Judiasm.' He went on to say, in a phrase which for many years would remain the definitive statement on the subject, 'The gnostic systems represent the acute secularizing or hellenizing of Christianity.' Following Harnack's lead, A.D. Nick felt tempted to speak of the Gnostic movement as 'Platonism run wild.' After the Nag Hammadi discovery as well as the unearthing of the Dead Sea Scrolls at approximately the same time, it became impossible to accept Harnack's simple hellenization theory any longer." Philip J. Lee, Against the Protestant Gnostics, Oxford, 1987, pp. 5-6
"Harnack saw in this development a second wave of Hellenization. The first wave was gnosticism, and the second wave was the formulation of the ancient dogma." in Tillich, Paul, Perspectives on the 19th & 20th Century Protestant Theology, 1967, p. 220
"With the rise of modern historical criticism a great gulf became fixed between the Old and the New Testaments. Again, voices could be heard within the church urging the removal or de-emphasis of the Old Testament. Shades of Marcionism returned in Adolf von Harnack's book on Marcion. 'The rejection of the Old Testament in the second century was an error which the great church rightly opposed; holding on to it in the sixteenth century was a destiny which the Reformation was not able to escape; but for Protestantism to preserve it since the nineteenth century as a canonical document is the result of a religious and ecclesiastical paralysis. To clear the table and to honor the truth in our confession and instruction, that is the great feat required of Protestantism today-almost too late.' The Church is asked by Harnack to admit that the Old Testament forms no essential part of her faith and life." Carl E. Braaten, New Directions in Theology Today, Westminster Press, Vol. 2 History and Hermeneutics, p. 106
"Marcion (d. c. 144) He believed that the God of the Old Testament was a deity inferior to the Father of Jesus Christ, because he was the creator ('Demiurge') of matter, which was intrinsically evil. The Christian revelation therefore had to be purified of its Jewish elements, which were primitive and unworthy of true religion. Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930) thought that Marcion was a restorer of Pauline theology in the face of Judaizing tendencies, but this idea has never been widely accepted. Marcions's radical rejection of the creator God had its philosophical basis in Platonism, which thought of matter as evil and of salvation as the separation of the soul from it. His programme of radical 'cleansing' of the New Testament reduced the canonical text to Luke-Acts and the Pauline epistles, but even these could not be understood apart from their Jewish background, and had to be purged. Marcion's hermenutical project virtually destroyed the New Testament along with the Old, and the church has never been tempted to follow his lead, however much it may have allegorized or even ignored the Jewish Scriptures." (Bray, Gerald, Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present, IVP, 1996, p. 80)
"…Harnack produced this massive study [History of Dogma] to demonstrate historically that if the Christian gospel was to remain a living force in the modern world, it must be freed from dogma-the reason being that 'as the adherents of the Christian religion had not these dogmas from the beginning…the business of the history of dogma is to ascertain the origin of Dogmas and then to describe their development.' For by delineating the process by which dogmas originate and develop 'the history of dogma' furnishes the most suitable means for the liberation of the Church from dogmatic Christianity'– or of overcoming history by history." Livingstone, James C., Modern Christian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Vatican II, MacMillian Pub Co., 1971, p. 258
"In the twentieth century however the sharpest questioning has been directed not so much to the doctrine itself as to its origin, with historical exegesis providing the challenge rather than philosophical speculation. A. Harnack had already defined the development of dogma as the progressive hellenization of the gospel, as the transplanting of the gospel of Jesus 'into Greek modes of thought', a process which goes back to Paul himself. The History of Religions school which pioneered the investigation of Christian origins within the context of the religious thought and practice of the wider Hellenistic world, raised the more provocative question of whether the whole idea of God become man had in fact simply been taken over from surrounding religious syncretism, an already well developed myth of a divine figure descending to earth to redeem the elect (the so-called 'Gnostic redeemer myth') borrowed by the early Christians and applied to the risen Jesus. With Harnack's formulation, the dogma of the incarnation could be said to have originated as a translation equivalent as the gospel of Jesus was re-expressed in the wider and different catagories of Greek philosophy. But if the dogma originated as a foreign import into Christianity of an already established Gnostic myth the issue becomes more serious: did the doctrine of the incarnation begin as an alien intrusion into Christianity? In the last thirty years or so the question as thus posed has been answered with an increasingly confident No!" (Dunn, James D.G., Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry Into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation, Westminster Press, 1980, pp. 2-3)
"The idea that the first Christian churches were more like Greek religious associations than like synagogues was developed by E. Hatch, whose views were to have a great influence in Germany as well as in England. The discovery of the Didache in 1883 forced A. von Harnack to modify these ideas considerably, by recognizing that the offices of apostle, prophet and teacher were intended for the use of the whole church, and not just the local congregation, so that the 'club' model was inappropriate. However, Harnack never deserted Hatch's main thesis, in spite of the evidence which appeared to contradict it." (Bray, Gerald, Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present, IVP, 1996, p.362)
"But the church nevertheless used concepts of the hellenistic world. You should not call them Greek pure and simple, for Classical Greek did not last far beyond the second century before Christ. Hellenism followed this, and Hellenism is a mixture of Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Jewish and even Indian elements, and mystical groups of all kinds. It is a mixed religiosity in which the Greek concepts were used, but in a religiously transformed sense." Tillich, Paul, Perspectives on the 19th & 20th Century Protestant Theology, 1967, p. 221
"Harnack's criticism was that in this way Christianity became intellectualized. But Harnack was wrong in this respect. My Main criticism of his has been right on this point. The more our knowledge of the gnostics and the whole Hellenistic culture has increased in the last fifty years, the more we see how wrong he was in this respect. He considered Hellenism as identical with intellectualization. This is not at all true. This is not even true of Plato, or Aristotle and the Stoics. Every great philosophy is rooted in an existential emergency, in a situation of questioning out of which saving answers must come." (Tillich, Paul, Perspectives on the 19th & 20th Century Protestant Theology, 1967, p. 221)
"According to Harnack a foreign element entered into Christianity when terms like ousia and hypostasis were used in constructing the official dogma of the church. This process began not only in the fourth and fifth-century councils, but already in the apostolic fathers, and that means in the generation which is contemporaneous with the latest biblical writings. Then this process received a strong impetus from the apologists who elaborated the logos concept in theology. All this can be called Hellenization, but how else could it have happaned? The pagans were not Jews, and so the Jewish concepts could not be used. Besides, the Jewish concepts were not used so much even in the circles in which Jesus and John the Baptist arose. If you read the Dead Sea Scrolls, you will find that the Old Testament concepts are there, but even more you will find elements from the apocalyptic movements from the intertestamental period. Even Judaism had adapted to the new situation. It could not have been done in any other way if Judaism or Christianity were to survive. Harnack's greatness is that he showed this process of Hellenization. His shortcoming is that he did not see the necessity of it. Those of us who studied under the influence of Harnack's History of Dogma sensed a tremendous liberation. It was the liberation from the necessity of identifying Hellenistic concepts with the Christian message itself. On the other hand, I would not accept the idea which one hears so much that all the Greek elements must be thrown out and only the old Testament terms should be used. Christianity, it is suggested, is basically a matter of the Old Testament language and a continuation of Old Testament theology and piety. If this were to be done consistently, at least two-thirds of the new Testament wold have to be ruled out, for both Paul and John used a lot of Hellenistic concepts. Besides, it would rule out the whole history of doctrine. This idea is a new bondage to a particular development, the Old Testament development. Christianity is not nearer to the Jews than to the Greeks. I believe that the one who expressed that was the great missionary to the Greeks and to the Hellenistic pagan world." (Tillich, Paul, Perspectives on the 19th & 20th Century Protestant Theology, 1967, p. 221-222)
"My criticism of the whole liberal theology, including Harnack, is that it had no real systematic theology; it believed in the results of historical research in a wrong way. Therefore, its systematic utterances were comparatively poor." (Tillich, Paul, Perspectives on the 19th & 20th Century Protestant Theology, 1967, p. 223-Also of note is the fact that one of Rick's own sources, Woflson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers criticizes Harnack for his views on the alleged "Hellenization" of Christianity. See Wolfson, p. 574, foot note 121, p. 358-359)
"The approach to study of the Fathers from the viewpoint of patristic writings as literature has opened new views. Their beauty and strength and spontaneity were discovered. On the basis of literary and philological study, it has been claimed the writings were of high literary style, and not a decay of classical culture. Gibbon in his history said Christianity killed culture, but philological study denies this. There are two positions (thesis): 1) Christianity disrupted ancient culture; 2) Christianity absorbed too much ancient culture. Harnack's thesis that man suffered so much throughout the centuries simply because Christianity opposed ancient culture, is unacceptable today." Constantine N. Tsorpanlis, An Introduction to Eastern Patristic Thought and Orthodox Theology, Liturgical Press, 1991 p. 22
"Professor Harnack brings to his study of sub-apostolic writers a preconception which to his own mind has assumed the dimensions of a historical fact." Swete, H.B., The Apostles' Creed: It's Relation to Primitive Christianity, MacMillian Pub Co., 1894, p. 28)
It should also be noted that amid all of the controversies that he was embroiled in Harnack is not considered a patrictics scholar.
"Bauer was the founder of the Tubigen School and also the first to use the term dogmageshichte (History of Dogma), as well as the dialectical method in interpreting Christian Doctrine. He discovered Paulinism in the New Testament and a synthesis of the Antiochian and Alexandiran school. Bauer believed that the process would go on. Ritshl continued the thought of Bauer. This was in turn picked up by Von Harnack, one of the greatest patrologists and philologists, but not a patristics scholar. He was a great historian, but he believed his history was a history of human accretions. Dogma was a human accretion too, according to Harnack-an intellectual cultivation of Hellenization of Christian Doctrine. The basic idea of Harnack was that dogma is an intellectual exercise and certain nineteenth-century methods. Harnack was inspired by old anti-Hegelianism and, although a great historian, he did not know secular history or world political history. Hence, he was attacked by the political historians as un-historical." Constantine N. Tsorpanlis, An Introduction to Eastern Patristic Thought and Orthodox Theology, Liturgical Press, 1991 p. 20-21
Let me review the pertinent points of the various scholars.
1.. Harnack was not a patristics scholar
2.. Harnack started with anti-Christian and anti-supernaturalistic presuppositions.
3.. Harnack had a preconceived notion of Christian history which colored his whole approach.
4.. Harnack was motivated by his own personal theological and philosophical prejudices.
5.. Harnack was never accepted into any position of authority in the Church.
6.. Harnack's basic theory of history was shaped by Hegelianism.
7.. Harnack's conclusions are outdated and criticised today by both liberal and conservative scholars in multiple fields.
8.. Harnack's methods and assumptions forced him to reject major doctrines of Christianity such as the Virgin birth, the deity and pre-existence of Jesus, the Resurrection of the body, the possiblity of miracles, the existence of demons, exorcism and Jesus as the promised Messiah.
I think these 8 points lessen the authority of Harnack as appealed to by Rick Stamp. These problems with Harnack lessen the probable truth-value of Rick's overall claims. It is no surprise to me that Rick would use Harnack and other liberal theologians, especially those of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jehovah's Witnesses are in the habit of presenting evidence from liberal/humanistic scholars in order to undermine traditional Christian doctrines, while ignoring these same scholars' conclusions when it applies to doctrines that he holds as true. That is, they hunts for citations from scholars to substantiate their opinions, while neglecting and rejecting the methods and assumptions that those scholars used to come to various conclusions. This is exemplified in the JW booklet, "Should You Believe in the Trinity?" page 11 where they cite Harnack. I find this to an inconsistency both on the part of the WT society and Rick Stamp. The Society has clearly prescribed a position on this point.
"When you make references to the Scriptures or to any other authority, be definite. And use reliable, capable authority. The Bible is the most conclusive and reliable of all. Quoting from official publications of an organization to show what they believe is good. Also one wants to use evidence from an authority that the hearers will accept." (Qualified to Be Ministers¸WTBTS, 1967, p. 166)
Now did Rick:
1.. Use a reliable and capable authority?
2.. Quote from official publications of an organization to show what they believe?
3.. Use evidence from an authority that his hearer (me) would accept?
The answer to the first question is at best lessened on the count of reliability, if not fully negated. The second count of capable I would generally agree that he did use someone capable. Did he cite official publications from my organization? No. Did he use authorities that I would accept? No. Did he use evidence that I would accept? Did he really expect me to take citations from Harnack without question?
The point of all of this is to show that the Rick has used questionable sources, and stacked the deck in his favor. Even the weight other sources that I have not examined here are mitiaged by other authorities and similar problems as I will demonstrate later. For example, Lampe is a follower of Harnack's Hellenization thesis and is regarded as in the minority. This will come into play later as well. At most, Rick has only shown by citing four or five authorities that the probable truth of his claim is higher, NOT that citing four or five authorities makes his claim true. But I have shown, that Harnack, upon whom Rick rests much of his argument is at the very least a questionable authority who's methods Rick would reject when Harnack used them to argue against doctrines such as the Ascension, the Virgin Birth, the reliability of the Gospels, the pre-existence of Jesus and to maintain views such as pagan influence on Paul. I find it curious that Rick accepts Harnack's conclusions, when it supports his theories and would I presume, reject them when using the very same methods and assumptions when Harnack attacks doctrines central to Rick's own system of theology?
But how about the argument from silence? Does Rick or his sources commit this fallacy as well? Let me take a few examples and offer some criticisms. Rick states on his web page the following,
"The 'Apostles Creed' was current until the end of the 4th Century. Not only did it NOT mention the holy spirit as divine, it did not even call Jesus God. Jesus is called the only-begotten Son of God, just as the bible does."
This is a classical argument from silence. One cannot logically conclude from the absence of evidence what beliefs were not held. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The Apostles' Creed does not mention the teaching that the Bible is the Word of God and is inspired. The Apostles Creed does not specify which books are inspired. The Apostles' Creed does not specify the method of the Virgin birth of Christ. The Apostles' Creed does not specify the polity of the Church. The Apostles creed does not say to worship on Sunday or how to worship for that matter. Now, do we conclude from this silence on these and many other issues that these beliefs did not exist at all? No. This type of reasoning results in all kinds of inane conclusions. Another example would be the Descensus in the Apostles Creed, that is, the phrase that speaks of Christ going down to Hades or the realm of departed souls. That is in the Apostles Creed, but it is not in the Nicene Creed. Are we to believe, using Rick's reasoning, that the Nicene Fathers ceased to believe in the Descensus simply because it is not mentioned in the Nicene Creed? Obviously not. Even looking at Scripture, H.B. Swete notes, echoing Ambrose that,
"The Silence of Scripture about the Spirit in certain places where the Father and the Son are named is not to be pressed any more than its silence about the Father and the Son where the Spirit alone is named." (H.B. Swete, The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, MacMillian, 1912, p. 318)
If we were to carry Rick's reasoning out and apply it to Scripture, we would come to all kinds of inane conclusions.
Another fallacy that I would like to take time to look at is the fallacy of a straw man. The Straw man fallacy is committed when a proponent of a view gives a refutation of position that is similar to his opponant and then claims that he has sufficiently refuted his opponant's arguments. I think Rick does this in at least one place. He says,
"It is Perry's incredible assertion that the "wise men" mentioned above are merely so-called in a perjoritive sense, in modern terms a "flame". However it is obvious that he INCLUDES HIMSELF. How so ? GREGORY SAYS SO ! 'Of the 'wise men amongst ourselves' includes him ! For proof just continue reading ! The group of "wise men" includes four different positions :
1) The holy spirit is an 'energia' and Activity (my view)
2) The holy spirit is a creature (the Arian view)
3) The holy spirit is 'God' (The view of Gregory himself)
4) Undecided (the _majority_ view)
So, since Gregory's view is INCLUDED in that of the 'wise men' amongst ourselves' he is NOT using "wise men" in a negative sense, no matter WHAT Perry's fantasy."
Now did I really claim that Gregory was using the phrase in the negative sense? What did I really say? Let's peek back at my original statements.
"I think you will agree that in these passages that the persons being referred to here, or wisdom itself, does not always carry a positive connotation. That is to say, that the wisdom being referred to is not something one would wish for themselves. Hence the phrase "wise men" in the passage from St. Gregory does not of itself require it to hold such a positive connotation or sense. Why do you assume that it does? What evidence from the surrounding context have you given that St. Gregory put a positive sense on those words? I have seen none. And since there is nothing prima facia of the text to indicate which sense it is, I see no reason on the basis of the citation alone to grant either connotation. I think you have here again failed to make your case with sufficient care."
What I would like to know, is where I said that the phrase has a negative connotation? I have claimed in the above citation that Rick has not shown that the phrase "wise men" is in a positive sense. I gave at that time quotations from Scripture (2 Cor. 11:19, 1 Cor. 1:19ff, Romans 1:22 see also 11:25, 12:16, Matt 11:25, Is 5:21) to show that when using that phrase or similar language it does not have to be taken in a positive sense. That is, Rick's argument from the citation from Gregory rested in part on the idea that Gregory admits that the position is undecided because there are different views that are held in equal esteem and were not condemned by Gregory. My contention was simply that the assumption that Gregory was speaking in a positive sense was exactly that, an assumption, which at that time, Rick did not give any evidence to support such an assumption. On the contrary I think it is quite clear that he views the other positions as deficient at best or heretical at worst. On May 10th I made my position quite clear to Mark Ross, who I can only assume passed it on to Rick Stamp.
"Dear Mr. Ross,
It is my intention to set the record straight. My position was never that the theologians that Saint Gregory refereed to were not contemporaneous, but rather that Mr. Stamp never proved his assertion that Gregory did not condemn their opinions or that the phrase "wise men" was being used in a positive connotation and that the phrase "among us" proved that Trinitarian view was a later "development."
What was unclear about what I said? Obviously Rick has created a straw man, because I only argued that the tense was not demonstrated by Rick at that time to be in a positive tense. Rick simply did not bear his burden of proof at that time.
In conclusion to this section, I think I have shown that Rick makes a fallacious appeal to authority, argues from silence and creates a straw man to further his aims. Not that this by itself makes his claims wrong, but it does show that the probable truth-value of them is greatly diminished. I will proceed to examine the factual claims that Rick makes in the next section and go through every line of his argument.
The Main Event
What exactly is Rick's argument? I believe his argument is that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and hence the Trinity was "undecided" in the Church until after the Council of Constantinople in 381. What do I take issue with? I perfectly agree that there were persons and even theologians and bishops in the Church who did not hold the Holy Spirit to be God or a distinct person or hypostasis during the 4th century. I also would state that the above proposition is applicable to the 3rd century as well. (Saballianism) What I do disagree with is the idea that the doctrine of the Council of Constantinople was "undecided" previous to the Council. Councils are called to deal with issues and general church business. The Church Council in Acts 15 bears this out. Now, I have gone to great pains to show that many teachers in the Church explicitly held the Holy Spirit to be deity or at the very least in the case of the Arians to be a person prior to the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD in my previous post to Rick. This does not mean that the Church invented the teaching simply because it defined it at Constantinople and anathmatized heretics any more than the Apostles invented the doctrine of including the gentiles in the church at the Council in Acts 15. What it means, is, that during times of heresy, political and social upheaval there was much confusion in the Church. Communication was not easy over a Christian Church that went all the way from Britain to Africa and all the way into India. It took weeks or months for "express" communications to reach their destination. Secondly, it also means that it would be natural to find many of the common people and some theologians holding to heretical views. After all, there was no public education and seminaries were scarce. After all, Christianity had just come out of 250 yrs or so persecution. Rick seems to expect the perfect rank and file doctrinal conformity and definitions that exist in the Watchtower society from the Church in the 4th century. Just think about it for a moment. No email, no postal service, no telephones or printing presses, few libraries, no electricity, no trains, no power driven ships, no planes, multiple languages and cultures spaning three continents, etc. (One wonders how the WT would fair in such a situation.) With this background information one begins to understand why A) there were heresies in the Church at various points of time and B) why doctrinal uniformity was not universally present. Consider also the fact that the Canon of Scripture was not fixed until almost 20 years after the Council of Constantinople. This point should not be glossed over too lightly. A clean third of the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament were in doubt in various parts of the Church. Why is it that Rick does not see this a reason to doubt the truthfulness of the Scriptures he believes in, but uses the fact that doctrinal uniformity did not exist regarding the Trinity to cast doubt and disbelief on it? That seems like a double standard to me. After all, it was a Church council that canonized the Bible which the WT and Rick use. And that council was made up of Trinitarians. If they can be trusted with knowing and discerning which works of the Old and New Testaments are inspired and from God, why cannot they also be trusted to define authoritatively the doctrine of God? Rick can't have it both ways.
Now I will begin to cite Rick's statements (in italics) in his post to me and examine them one by one.
"In particular a quotation by St. Augustine became a matter of disagreement between us. I acknowledged that my understanding of that quotation was not complete and thanked Perry for his bringing it to my attention. Augustine is not really an issue at this point any more, except I did find an interesting viewpoint by John S. Romanides, which I have included on my web page which faults Augustine for confusion of the doctrine of the holy spirit which resulted in the 'filoque' which splits the East and West to this day. I have not had the time to determine if Romanides is alone in his belief, but he is a very well known scholar."
This is part of Rick's opening statement. I find it quite curious as to how he plays down his concession to me on this topic. The fact of the matter is that it was not that his understanding of Augustine was "incomplete" but WRONG. His original position was that Augustine was unsure of the deity and personality of the Spirit when he wrote "A Treatise on the Faith and the Creed" in 393 AD. What I argued and what Rick conceded to, was that what Augustine was unsure of, was the specific property that individuated the Holy Spirit's personality from the other persons of the Trinity. Obviously Rick plays this fact down with such euphemisms that his understanding was "incomplete". The fact is, is that he was wrong.
Augustine is no longer an issue between us, because he has conceded that he was wrong. It's just that simple. I also find it interesting that he lands upon the Eastern Orthodox scholar John Ramanides in his critique of Augustine as if critiques of Augustine's doctrine of the Spirit was something new. I mean, really, anyone who was familiar and at home with Patristics and the history of the Church knows that Augustine formulated the Filioque clause and that it was later inserted into the Creed in the West. Furthermore anyone worth their salt knows that there are gobs of Eastern Orthodox thinkers who hold the same general criticisms of Augustine's Pneumatology. It is one of the main reasons for the split between the Eastern and Western Church in the 11th century. See for a Roman Catholic discussion of the topic Yves Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, Seabury Press, 1983, volume 3. Also of note, is how would Rick know that he is a "very well known scholar" if Rick isn't even aware of the general opinion of Eastern Orthodox Scholarship? I find that another curious tidbit.
"Gregory states in the year 380 CE in thirty-first Oration [Orat 31,5] ' But of the wise men amongst ourselves, some have conceived of him as an Activity, some as a Creature, some as God; and some have been uncertain which to call Him.'"
Let me reason with you about Him from a somewhat earlier point, for we have already discussed the Trinity. The Sadducees altogether denied the existence of the Holy Spirit, just as they did that of Angels and the Resurrection; rejecting, I know not upon what ground, the important testimonies concerning Him in the Old Testament. And of the Greeks those who are more inclined to speak of God, and who approach nearest to us, have formed some conception of Him, as it seems to me, though they have differed as to His Name, and have addressed Him as the Mind of the World, or the External Mind, and the like. But of the wise men amongst ourselves, some have conceived of him as an Activity, some as a Creature, some as God; and some have been uncertain which to call Him, out of reverence for Scripture, they say, as though it did not make the matter clear either way. And therefore they neither worship Him nor treat Him with dishonor, but take up a neutral position, or rather a very miserable one, with respect to Him. And of those who consider Him to be God, some are orthodox in mind only, while others venture to be so with the lips also. And I have heard of some who are even more clever, and measure Deity; and these agree with us that there are Three Conceptions; but they have separated these from one another so completely as to make one of them infinite both in essence and power, and the second in power but not in essence, and the third circumscribed in both; thus imitating in another way those who call them the Creator, the Co-operator, and the Minister, and consider that the same order and dignity which belongs to these names is also a sequence in the facts.
The italicized section is what is in dispute between Rick and I. Gregory begins by noting how the Sadducees denied the existence of the Holy Spirit as well as the angels and the resurrection because they rejected a substantial portion of what we consider to be the Old Testament. Then he moves on to the Greek philosophers and how they seem to speak of the Holy Spirit as the "World Mind", a kind of Greek Idealism.
Now when Gregory speaks of those "wise men amongst ourselves" which of them hold his own position? Let's look at the views he elucidates.
1.. The Holy Spirit is an Activity (energia)
2.. The Holy Spirit is a Creature
3.. The Holy Spirit is God
4.. Some are uncertain.
Now of those that believe that the Holy Spirit is God, Gregory further distinguishes the position.
1.. Some hold him to be God only in their mind or conceptually.
2.. Some hold the HS to be God in their thoughts as well as what they profess.
Then Gregory notes that there are others who agree that there are three persons, but yet hold no unity of essence and end up with three gradations of deities.
"It is Perry's incredible assertion that the "wise men" mentioned above are merely so-called in a pejorative sense, in modern terms a "flame". However it is obvious that he INCLUDES HIMSELF. How so ? GREGORY SAYS SO ! 'Of the 'wise men amongst ourselves' includes him ! For proof just continue reading ! The group of "wise men" includes four different positions :
1) The holy spirit is an 'energia' and Activity (my view)
2) The holy spirit is a creature (the Arian view)
3) The holy spirit is 'God' (The view of Gregory himself)
4) Undecided (the _majority_ view)
So, since Gregory's view is INCLUDED in that of the 'wise men' amongst ourselves' he is NOT using "wise men" in a negative sense, no matter WHAT Perry's fantasy."
I think I have demonstrated the Straw man argument that Rick commits in this first part so I will not comment on it. Let's examine some of the more minor points first. Rick labels his perspective as viewing the Holy Spirit as an energia or activity. He then labels the view that the Holy Spirit was a creature the Arian view. Actually both of these views are Arian. The view that the Holy Spirit was a personal creature is the earlier Arian view and the belief that the Holy Spirit was an activity or power was a later view of some Arians known as the Pneumatomachi. Their view did not arise until between the period of 356-360 AD. Hence previous to that point in time, the only views on the theological landscape were 2, 3 and 4. The view that the Spirit was a mere principle, force or activity was unknown to the Nicene and pre-Nicene Church except to one heretic. In short, both views 1 and 2 are Arian.
Now as to what was the majority viewpoint, Rick states that the majority view was undecided. Where does Rick get this idea? Where in the text cited by Rick does it say who is the majority or minority? IT DOESN'T. St. Gregory specifically uses the term "some". "Some hold X, Some hold Y, Some hold Z." He doesn't list their numbers. ? Where does Gregory denote who or what is the majority? What constitutes a majority in the early Church? The number of laymen and clergy combined? The laymen only? The clergy only? St. Gregory does not say in this text. But I think that I can safely say that from the practice of only having bishops decide matters in a council that what was considered the majority were the bishops. So it would seem that a majority would be counted by bishops. But Rick has not even shown where he gets the conclusion that the undecided were the majority from! It just pops out of thin air! But how many bishops were at the Council of Constantinople? 186, at least at the beginning. There were 150 Orthodox bishops and about 36 Pneumatomachi bishops. How Rick gets the idea that 36 is the majority over 150 is beyond me! This is not only my opinion, but the opinion of a number of scholars. H.B. Swete, an opponent of Harnack, for example comments that
"Whatever individuals may have thought, the consensus of opinion in the ancient Church supported a belief in the personal subsistence of the Holy Spirit." (See his The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, MacMillan, 1912, p. 375)
"those who took Him [the Holy Spirit] for an energy were probably a small minority of persons who were either infected will Sabellian views, or sought to escape from the controversy of the hour by denying that the Holy Spirit was an entity of any kind, created or Divine. Such a rejection of the personal life of the Spirit must have been rare within the Catholic Church…" Ibid, p. 375
R.P.C. Hanson, a Church historian and Patristics scholar notes,
"Certainly neither Egyptians nor the representatives of more westerly dioceses were particularly troubled by Macedonian views; this was a deviation mostly appearing in the prefecture of Oriens[the East]." (R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy 318-381, T. & T. Clark, 1997, p. 809)
Other Church historians agree, such as Hans-Georg Beck, Eugen Ewig, Hermann Josef and Vogt when they comment, "An agreement between the orthodox majority and the Pneumatomachoi or Macedonians was of the deepest concern to Theodosius too." ( Hans-Georg Beck, Eugen Ewig, Hermann Josef and Vogt The Imperial Church: From Constantine to the Early Middles Ages, Seabury Press, 1980, p.63.)
John Henry Newman, in his The Arians of the Fourth Century states, "As to Semi-Arianism it disappears from ecclesiastical history at the date of the proposed Council of Tarsus (A..D. 367); from which time the portion of the party, which remained non-conformist, is more properly designated Macedonian, or Pneumatomachist, from the chief article of their heresy." (John Henry Newman, The Arians of the Fourth Century, Longmans Green 1901, p. 379)
"Except for Milan and sections of Illyria, the battle for Nicea was largely won in the West." (Leo Donald Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils: Their History and Theology, Liturgical Press, 1983, p. 109- NOTE-the author refers to the year 364 A.D.)
Other examples are given below from contemporaries. In Edessa Sozomen gives this report,
"The emperor went to Antioch, and entirely ejected from the churches of that city and of the neighboring cities all those who adhered to the Nicene doctrines; moreover, he oppressed them with manifold punishments; as some affirm, he commanded many to be put to death in various ways, and caused others to be cast into the river Orontes. Having heard that there was a magnificent oratory at Edessa, named after the Apostle Thomas, he went to see it. He beheld the members of the Catholic Church assembled for worship in the plain before the walls of the city; for there, too, they had been deprived of their houses of prayer. It is said that the emperor reproached the prefect thoroughly and struck him on the jaw with his fist for having permitted these congregations contrary to his edict. Modestus (for this was the name of the prefect), although he was himself a heretic, secretly warned the people of Edessa not to meet for prayer on the accustomed spot the next day; for he had received orders from the emperor to punish all who should be seized. He uttered such threats with the forethought that none, or at least but a few, would incur danger, and with the desire to appease the wrath of the monarch. But the people of Edessa, totally disregarding the threat, ran together with more than their customary zeal, and filled the usual place of meeting.
Modestus, on being apprised of their proceedings, was undecided as to what measures ought to be adopted, and repaired in embarrassment to the plain with the throng. A woman, leading a child by the hand, and trailing her mantle in a way unbefitting the decency of women, forced her way through the files of the soldiers who were conducted by the prefect, as if bent upon some affair of importance. Modestus remarked her conduct, ordered her to be arrested, and summoned her into his presence, to inquire the cause of her running. She replied that she was hastening to the plain where the members of the Catholic Church were assembled. "Know you not," replied Modestus, "that the prefect is on his way thither for the purpose of condemning to death all who are found on the spot?" "I have heard so," replied she, "and this is the very reason of my haste; for I am fearful of arriving too late, and thus losing the honor of martyrdom for God." The governor having asked her why she took her child with her, she replied, "In order that he may share in the common suffering, and participate in the same reward." Modestus, struck with astonishment at the courage of this woman, went to the emperor, and, acquainting him with what had occurred, persuaded him not to carry out a design which he showed to be disgraceful and disastrous. Thus was the Christian faith confessed by the whole city of Edessa." (Sozom 6, 18)
In Samosata Theodoret relates,
"The Arian faction, after depriving the flock of their right excellent shepherd, set up another bishop in his place; but not an inhabitant of the city, were he herding in indigence or blazing in wealth, not a servant, not a handicraftsman, not a hind, not a gardener, nor man nor woman, whether young or old, came, as had been their wont, to gatherings in church. The new bishop lived all alone; not a soul looked at him, or exchanged a word with him. Yet the report is that he behaved with courteous moderation, of which the following instance is a proof. On one occasion he had expressed a wish to bathe, so his servants shut the doors of the bath, and kept out all who wished to come in. When he saw the crowd before the doors he ordered them to be thrown open, and directed that every one should freely use the bath. He exhibited the same conduct in the halls within; for on observing certain men standing by him while he bathed he begged them to share the hot water with him. They stood silent. Thinking their hesitation was due to a respect for him, he quickly arose and made his way out, but these persons had really been of opinion that even the water was affected with the pollution of his heresy, and so sent it all down the sinks, while they ordered a fresh supply to be provided for themselves. On being informed of this the intruder departed from the city, for he judged that it was insensate and absurd on his part to continue to reside in a city which detested him, and treated him as a common foe. On the departure of Eunomius (for this was his name) from Samosata, Lucius, an unmistakable wolf, and enemy of the sheep, was appointed in his place. But the sheep, all shepherdless as they were, shepherded themselves, and persistently preserved the apostolic doctrine in all its purity. How the new intruder was detested the following relation will set forth.
Some lads were playing ball in the market place and enjoying the game, when Lucius was passing by. It chanced that the ball was dropped and passed between the feet of the ass. The boys raised an outcry because they thought that their ball was polluted. On perceiving this Lucius told one of his suite to stop and learn what was going on. The boys lit a fire and tossed the ball through the flames with the idea that by so doing they purified it. I know indeed that this was but a boyish act, and a survival of the ancient ways; but it is none the less sufficient to prove in what hatred the town held the Arian faction." ( Theodoret 4, 13)
Of Pontus we read,
"Eulalius, bishop of Amasia in Pontus, was one of those who pursued this course of conduct. It is said that when he returned from exile, he found that his church was presided over by an Arian bishop, and that scarcely fifty inhabitants of the city had submitted to the control of this new bishop. Eulalius, desiring unity above all other considerations, offered to take part with the Arian bishop in the government of the church, and expressly agreed to allow him the precedence. But as the Arian would not comply with this proposition, it was not long before he found himself deserted by the few who had followed him, and who went over to the other party. " (Sozom7,2)
Of Nicomedia we read,
"Certain pious men of the clerical order, eighty in number, among whom Urbanus, Theodore, and Menedemus were the leaders, proceeded to Nicomedia, and there presented to the emperor a supplicatory petition, informing him and complaining of the ill-usage to which they had been subjected. The emperor was filled with wrath; but dissembled his displeasure in their presence, and gave Modestus the prefect a secret order to apprehend these persons, and put them to death. The manner in which they were destroyed being unusual, deserves to be recorded. The prefect fearing that he should excite the populace to a seditious movement against himself, if he attempted the public execution of so many, pretended to send the men away into exile. Accordingly as they received the intelligence of their destiny with great firmness of mind the prefect ordered that they should be embarked as if to be conveyed to their several places of banishment, having meanwhile enjoined on the sailors to set the vessel on fire, as soon as they reached the mid sea, that their victims being so destroyed, might even be deprived of burial." (Socr. 4, 16)
In Rome and in the West we read,
"With respect to doctrine, however, no dissension arose either at Rome or in any other of the Western churches. The people unanimously adhered to the form of belief established at Nicea, and regarded the three persons of the Trinity as equal in dignity and in power." (Sozom 6, 23)
In Scythia we read,
"Arianism met with similar opposition at the same period in Osröene; but in the Cappadocias, Providence allotted such a divine and most educated pair of men,-Basil, the bishop of Caesarea in that country, and Gregory, bishop of Nazianzen. Syria and the neighboring provinces, and more especially the city of Antioch, were plunged into confusion and disorder; for the Arians were very numerous in these parts, and had possession of the churches. The members of the Catholic Church were not, however, few in number. They were called Eustathians and Paulinists, and were under the guidance of Paulinus and Meletius, as has been before stated. It was through their instrumentality that the church of Antioch was preserved from the encroachments of the Arians, and enabled to resist the zeal of the emperor and of those in power about him. Indeed, it appears that in all the churches which were governed by brave men, the people did not deviate from their former opinions. It is said that this was the cause of the firmness with which the Scythians adhered to their faith. There are in this country a great number of cities, villages, and fortresses. The metropolis is called Tomi; it is a large and populous city, and lies on the sea-shore to the left of one sailing to the sea, called the Euxine. According to an ancient custom which still prevails, all the churches of the whole country are under the sway of one bishop. Vetranio ruled over these churches at the period that the emperor visited Tomi. Valens repaired to the church, and strove, according to his usual custom, to gain over the bishop to the heresy of Arius; but this latter manfully opposed his arguments, and after a courageous defense of the Nicene doctrines, quitted the emperor and proceeded to another church, whither he was followed by the people. Almost the entire city had crowded to see the emperor, for they expected that something extraordinary would result from this interview with the bishop. Valens was extremely offended at being left alone in the church with his attendants, and in resentment, condemned Vetranio to banishment. Not long after, however, he recalled him, because, I believe, he apprehended an insurrection; for the Scythians were offended at the absence of their bishop." (Sozom 6,23)
In Illyria we read,
"The parents of Theodosius were Christians, and were attached to the Nicene doctrines; he was pleased with Ascholius, who maintained the same doctrines, and was, in a word, endowed with every virtue of the priesthood. He also rejoiced at finding that the Arian heresy had not been participated in by Illyria." (Sozom 6, 23)
I think this makes it clear who in general was the "majority" and that Rick simply asserts his claim that the majority was "undecided." Now, does Gregory say that he is one of the "wise men" or philosophers? He says that they are "among" a group of people whom he labels as "ourselves." But let's take a step back. What if Rick is right? What if Gregory is one of the "wise men?" What does it prove? It proves that there were various leaders in the Christian Church at that time who did not hold the orthodox position. SO WHAT? Does that prove that the Orthodox position was invented? No, because as I have shown in my previous post, there were numerous Fathers who stated either the personality of the Spirit or His deity or both prior to Nicea all the way back to the late 1st century and early 2nd century. Not only that, but there are pre-Nicene prayers from Hippolytus' The Apostolic Tradition (200 AD) which include prayers ascribing worship, honor and glory not only to the Father and the Son, but to the Holy Spirit as well. Not only were they public prayers but it was part of the baptismal rite to ascribe glory, honor and worship to the Spirit as well as to the other persons of the Trinity. ( See Sec 3:6, 4:13, 8:4-5, 21:11b, 22:1, 26:26) These references among a plethora of others proves that though there was a lack of a formal explication of the orthodox position there was the practice and the basic Trinitarian theology in the life of the early Church a clean 100 years before Nicea, let alone Constantinople in 381 AD. Secondly, it doesn't make a big difference to me if there were teachers or wise men or philosophers or theologians in the early church who were heretical. What matters is what Jesus' Church decided in Council. Rick's argument amounts to the fact that there were Judiazers in the Church who rejected Paul's position (which was later ratified by the Acts 15 Council) as somehow proving that Paul's position was not true, or not the position of the Church. This is non-sense. Jesus himself gives us the model of settling disputes in the Church. You take it to the Church to decide the matter. If the parties don't listen to the decision of the Church they are to considered as unbelievers. If Rick wishes to reject the Church's decisions I find it curious that he accepts their Bible and accepts their decisions as to what is and what is not the Bible. Why? The Bible was canonized AFTER the Nicene controversy. If they cannot be trusted with the doctrine of God, how can Rick believe that they can be trusted with selecting and recognizing which books are Scripture? Even without the Council of Carthage in 398 AD the Gospel manuscripts are anonymous I believe before 250-300 AD. That is, the names of the Apostles ascribed to them are part of the Nicene period by and large. Not only that but Hebrews is anonymous and other texts such as Revelation, 1st & 2nd Peter, 1st, 2nd, 3rd John, James and Jude were in question as well. This is only to scratch the surface of knowing authorship apart from Church decisions and Tradition. One is left to rely on Church Fathers to know if the Gospels are Apostolic or not. In short, Rick has to rely on the Tradition that he sees as unreliable and demonic in order to even KNOW what works are Scripture. If he wishes to run to the Jews for assistance, I don't think he will fair any better there. For the pre-Christian Jews differed among themselves as to what was Scripture and what was not, as did the Jews of the first century. The Jewish council of Jamnia held in 90 AD after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD consolidated the remaining Pharasaical traditions of Judaism as well as adding a daily prayer cursing Christians. Now, if Rick would like to use them as a source as to know what is or is not Scripture (the OT only since obviously they flat out rejected the NT) then I would like to know how he can trust the spiritual discernment of persons who could not even recognize Messiah when he was in their own generation?! Not to mention the fact that they were pronouncing curses on God's people. The point is, if the Church is not guided by the Spirit, by God, then we can't trust the contents of the Bible. Now, another point of similar interest is that I find it so very very strange that Rick and other JW's have such an implicit trust in the WT organization as being guided by Jehovah God and that the "light gets brighter and brighter" but yet the Church blew it. This is the common ad hoc argument of all self proclaimed prophets. They think they get some new revelation or liver shiver, whether it be LDS, Adventism, JW's, The Way International, etc. etc. etc., and the only way they can justify that revelation after the fact is by denying that the Church is valid. They point to moral failures in history and theological controversies and make claims that the victors write the history. First, the point that they miss is that their sect did not even exist in order to make moral failures or have doctrinal controversies, let alone write any history. The second point to notice is that they all posit the "secret invisible church" doctrine. They try to argue that before some such "apostasy" they were the first century church, but they can't prove it in any clear way. Or they modify this and maintain that their believers were present at various times continuous throughout Church history. They claim the Arians or Modalists or whatever groups is like them now, but what they fail to see is that there is no continuity between the various groups. For example, the JW's like to pick out the Arians and then later on in the middle ages various Anabaptist groups that denied the Trinity or the Incarnation. But what they can't show is that one group is related to another in any real or organic way, which is exactly what they do need to prove. The Oneness Pentacostals do the same thing by picking up on Sabellius or Zypherinius or Michael Servetus. And yet there is no historical connection or coherent similarity between the two parties. The fact is, the WT was not there to be a winner or loser because the WT is just another sect which, when all is said and done, is another fly speck on the map of Christian History. The point is, either the Church is guided by God, established by God and loved by God and the Scriptures which the Church gives us are His Infallible Inerrant Word, or the Scriptures are a collection of books which some people think are inspired but no one is quite sure if they all are or if we are missing some. Rick must chose that either both are reliable or both are not, and not just one or the other. If the Church was not reliable and capable by God's power to overcome the powers of Satan and apostasy, then the Scriptures are not reliable. If the Scriptures are reliable, then the so is the Church. This is a common dilemna for all sectarians, Rick included. But the problem is worse. The WT society posits that one cannot rightly understand the Scriptures without the interpretation of God's Organization. Now, how do we know that the WT is God's organization? Any appeal to the Scriptures is question begging since one would need God's Organization (not to mention to know what God was like) in order to properly understand the Scriptures to begin with. I can easily show historical and doctrinal continuity through 2,000 of God's people where as Rick can only show from 1873 onward. Which do you think is closer to Jesus? Polycarp, Ireneaus, Ignatius, Clement, Justin, Origen, Tertullian and dozens of Church councils or the WT Society? Gee, that's NOT a hard one to sort out. But back to Gregory and his "wise men."
Rick argues that the phrase "among ourselves" means that Gregory was one of the "wise men" of the groups that he elucidates. But is this phrase always used in this way? Let's look at a Scriptural example.
Romans 16:7 "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me."
Now, are Junia and Andornicus apostles simply because they are AMONG the Apostles? Were their women Apostles? Obviously not, so why would one think that just because Gregory says that there are various groups "among ourselves" that he is necessarily including himself in those categories, even if one of them happens to agree with his perspective? After all, Gregory uses the phrase "wise men" in other contexts in a derogatory or pejorative manner. For example,
"He next, by constant meditation on the divine words, though a late student of such matters, gathered together so much wisdom within a short time that he was in no wise excelled by those who had spent the greatest toil upon them, and received this special grace from God, that he became the father and teacher of orthodoxy--not, like our modern wise men, yielding to the spirit of the age, nor defending our faith by indefinite and sophistical language, as if they bad no fixity of faith, or were adulterating the truth; but, he was more pious than those who possessed rhetorical power, more skilled in rhetoric than those who were upright in mind; or rather, while he took the second place as an orator, he surpassed all in piety. He acknowledged One God worshipped in Trinity, and Three, Who are united in One Godhead; neither Sabellianising(g) as to the One, nor Arianising as to the Three; either by contracting and so atheistically annihilating the Godhead, or by tearing It asunder by distinctions of unequal greatness or nature. For, seeing that Its every quality is incomprehensible and beyond the power of our intellect, how can we either perceive or express by definition on such a subject, that which is beyond our ken? How can the immeasurable be measured, and the Godhead be reduced to the condition of finite things, and measured by degrees(a) of greater or less?" (Oration, 18, sec 16)
Hence the phrase can be used by Gregory in more than one sense. But this is not generally what I think the passage in Gregory means, but it is a question that I think Rick needs to ponder. As a last parting point, it should also be pointed out that the phrase "wise men" can be translated differently and has been by different scholars. For example, Swete translates it "Christian philosophers." (Swete, The Apostles' Creed, p. 36) That certainly puts a different spin on the subject does it not?
Context, Context, Context…
I think in examining this passage Rick misses a crucial piece of information, namely that of context. Rick seems to think that the mere presence of various views at a specific point of time proves an indecision on the part of the Church on the issue of the Holy Spirit's personality and deity. But obviously if these varieties took place during a period when false teaching had Imperial support, as the Arians did for a long period, and was widespread, Gregory is not giving the idea that the Church is undecided. But rather that during that period and place there are a variety of positions, which would only be natural during a time of heresy.
Where is Gregory preaching this oration on the Holy Spirit and why? The sermons were preached in Constantinople which had been under Arian control for forty years. The Orthodox were dispossed of their churches by Imperial command. Gregory preaches this sermon upon the Orthodox regaining the churches of Constantinople, even though many of the people there were still Arian. This occurred about 380 AD. H.B. Swete notes,
"In the year of St. Basil's death [379 AD] his friend Gregory of Nanzianzus, Bishop of Sasima, was called to Constantinople to reorganize the small Catholic minority which languished in the capital. His five great Theological Orations probably belong to the following year (380); the last of them is a pronouncement on the theology of the Holy Spirit which, delivered at the heart of the Empire on the eve of the Council which was summoned to reaffirm the Nicene Faith, must at that time have exercised a greater influence than fell to the lot of Basil's treatise." (The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, p. 240)
"Early in 379, by which time the reign of Valens was over and the prospects were much brighter for the pro-Nicenes, he responded to a call to come to Constantinople and preach the pro-Nicene faith in a private house (the Arians having possession of all the churches in that city) which was later made into a little church and called Anastasia. Here he developed and expanded his oratorial powers on behalf of the cause which he championed. Here he delivered the famous Five Theological Orations." R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, T&T Clark, 1997, p.703)
Hence the historical context does not mean that every theologian in the church held those views, of the ones "amongst ourselves." This too is a possible understanding of St. Gregory's words. Gregory is simply noting the various views held in the geographical area that he is in. He is speaking about his immediate social context. In light of other evidence it would be foolish for Gregory to say that those views existed in other parts of the Church since the Pneumatomachi were limited to the West and Arianism was pretty much wiped out in the West by 380. Not only that Gregory's knowledge of the West was limited. He is then most likely speaking of his own general context, Constantinople. Even if this view were not the case, and Gregory were speaking of all Christian theologians at that time it would only mean that some Christian theologians were heretical. This had taken place during the time of Sabellius and the Gnostics and even after the Nicene period. Heretical theologians in the Church at periods of controversy does not mean that the Church lacks a definite position on the subject. If this were the case it would mean that the Church lacked a doctrine of Jesus coming in the flesh because John notes that there were those who denied the humanity of Jesus who went out from us, were within the body, though not really part of the body. They went out of the Church because they rejected the humanity of Christ. Hence the presence of false opinions and teachers in the Church at various times does not mean that the church lacks a position, any more than the Church lacked a position in relation to the Judaizers before the Acts 15 council, it was found in St. Paul, confirmed in St Peter's vision and pronounced by St. James. Even beyond that, it is found in Jesus's teaching in the Gospels, prior to that controversy.
Let us move on to examine the next section of Rick's post. In the next section he says,
"In fact the view of Gregory was a MINORITY view !!!!! How do we know ? He says in Orat. 41,6, that there is something HEROIC about those who will call the holy spirit 'God'. In this same section he states that this belief was NOT plainly revealed to men because it would have been too great of a burden on them. Wolfson also quotes Gregory (Orat 31,5) as saying that of those who believed that the holy spirit was 'God', that they held it so in their hearts but did not DARE utter it with their lips ! This is in 380 AD !"
First, I would like to know how Rick jumps from there being something heroic about proclaiming the deity of the Holy Spirit to that view being the minority view? Just because it may be heroic does not mean that it is the minority view. It could be that in that locale it is the minority or say at that time the Government supported another view, even though the majority of Christians in the Empire did not. It does not necessarily follow that just because there is something heroic about holding the Orthodox viewpoint that it is the minority viewpoint. I will show WHY Gregory says this. At the same time I will explain why those who did not dare to utter it on their lips did not dare to do so.
A Topsey-Turby World
During the Arian controversy the state and the Church were related, though the official religion of the empire did not become Christianity until 380. After the death of Constantine in 337 AD there were a series of emperors who were by and large Arian. Some like Julian the Apostate reverted back to paganism and persecuted the Church to some extant. The Arian Emperors to a greater or lesser degree persecuted the Orthodox. They were killed, beaten, exiled or deprived of Churches in which to worship. I think I made this manifest in the numerous citations that I gave above. But in case that does not suffice let me provide first a general historical outline and then more documenation.
336-Athanasius' first exile
337 Constantine dies-Three Emperors rule the Empire (Constans, Constantine II, Constantius II)
340 Constans rules West-Nicene; Constantius rules East-Arian
341 Council of Antioch (Eusebian-Semi-Arian)
343 Councils of Sardica (Nicene), Philipopolis (Eusebian-Semi-Arian)
345 Synod of Milan (Eusebian-Semi-Arian)
350 Constans dies-Constantius sole ruler of the empire (Arian)
351 First Council of Sirmium (Eusebian-Semi-Arian)
352 Liberius succeeded Julius at Rome (352-366)
353 Council of Arles (Eusebian)
355 Council of Milan (Eusebian)-Liberius and Ossius are exiled (Nicene)
356 Hilary of Pointiers is exiled
357 Second Sirmium Council (Anomean-Arian)
358 Council of Ancyra (Homoiousian-Semi-Arian)
359 Council of Rimini-Seleucia (Homoean-Arian)
360 Council of Constantinople (Homoean-Arian)
361 Julian the Apostate takes the throne as sole ruler (Pagan)
362 Conference of Alexandria led by Athanasius
363 Jovian succeeded Julian as sole emperor (Nicene)
364 Jovian dies-Valentinian I emperor of the West (Nicene)-Valens is emperor of the East)
366 Athanasius returns from his fifth and final exile
370 Basil becomes bishop of Cesarea in Cappadocia
373 Ambrose becomes bishop of Milan
375 Valentinian dies-Gratian becomes western emperor
377 Council of Rome Condemns Apollinarianism and Macedonianism
378 Valens dies in battle
379 Theodosius becomes emperor in the East
(See Leo Donald Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils: Their History and Theology, Liturgical Press, 1983, p. 131-132)
Regarding the persecution that the Orthodox received at the hands of the Arians, let me first burden the reader with citations from contemporary and primary course material and then I present some scholarly opinions on the matter.
"The enemy were on the watch for the unqualified statement "the Spirit is God;" which, although it is true, they and the wicked patron of their impiety imagined to be impious; so that they might banish him and his power of theological instruction from the city, and themselves be able to seize upon the church, and make it the starting point and citadel, from which they could overrun with their evil doctrine the rest of the world. Accordingly, by the use of other terms, and by statements which unmistakably had the same meaning, and by arguments necessarily leading to this conclusion, he so overpowered his antagonists, that they were left without reply, and involved in their own admissions,--the greatest proof possible of dialectical power and skill." (Gregory of Nanzianzus, Orat. 43.68)
"But we must now mention in what way Macedonius desolated the churches in the cities and provinces around Constantinople. This man, as I have already said, having seized the bishopric, inflicted innumerable calamities on such as were unwilling to adopt his views. His persecutions were not confined to those who were recognized as members of the catholic church, but extended to the Novatians also, inasmuch as he knew that they maintained the doctrine of the homoousion; they therefore with the others underwent the most intolerable sufferings, but their bishop, Angelius by name, effected his escape by flight. Many persons eminent for their piety were seized and tortured, because they refused to communicate with him: and after the torture, they forcibly constrained the men to be partakers of the holy mysteries, their mouths being forced open with a piece of wood, and then the consecrated elements thrust into them. Those who were so treated regarded this as a punishment far more grievous than all others. Moreover they laid hold of women and children, and compelled them to be initiated [by baptism]; and if any one resisted or otherwise spoke against it, stripes immediately followed, and after the stripes, bonds and imprisonment, and other violent measures. I shall here relate an instance or two whereby the reader may form some idea of the extent of the harshness and cruelty exercised by Macedonius and those who were then in power. They first pressed in a box, and then sawed off, the breasts of such women as were unwilling to communicate with them. The same parts of the persons. of other women they burnt partly with iron, and partly with eggs intensely heated in the fire. This mode of torture which was unknown even among the heathen, was invented by those who professed to be Christians. These facts were related to me by the aged Auxanon, the presbyter in the Novatian church of whom I spoke in the first book. He said also that he had himself endured not a few severities from the Arians, prior to his reaching the dignity of presbyter; having been thrown into prison and beaten with many stripes, together with Alexander the Paphlagonian, his companion in the monastic life. He added that he had himself been able to sustain these tortures, but that Alexander died in prison from the effects of their infliction. He is now buried on the right of those sailing into the bay of Constantinople which is called Ceras, close by the rivers, where there is a church of the Novatians named after Alexander. Moreover the Arians, at the instigation of Macedonius, demolished with many other churches in various cities, that of the Novatians at Constantinople near Pelargus. Why I particularly mention this church, will be seen from the extraordinary circumstances connected with it, as testified by the same aged Auxanon. The emperor's edict and the violence of Macedonius had doomed to destruction the churches of those who maintained the doctrine of consubstantiality; the decree and violence reached this church, and those also who were charged with the execution of the mandate were at hand to carry it into effect. I cannot but admire the zeal displayed by the Novatians on this occasion, as well as the sympathy they experienced from those whom the Arians at that time ejected, but who are now in peaceful possession of their churches. For when the emissaries of their enemies were urgent to accomplish its destruction, an immense multitude of Novatians, aided by numbers of others who held similar sentiments, having assembled around this devoted church, pulled it down, and conveyed the materials of it to another place: this place stands opposite the city, and is called Sycae, and forms the thirteenth ward of the town of Constantinople. This removal was effected in a very short time, from the extraordinary ardor of the numerous persons engaged in it: one carried tiles, another stones, a third timber; some loading themselves with one thing, and some with another. Even women and children assisted in the work, regarding it as the realization of their best wishes, and esteeming it the greatest honor to be accounted the faithful guardians of things consecrated to God. In this way at that time was the church of the Novatians transported to Sycae. Long afterwards when Constantius was dead, the emperor Julian ordered its former site to be restored, and permitted them to rebuild it there. The people therefore, as before, having carried back the materials, reared the church in its former position; and from this circumstance, and its great improvement in structure and ornament, they not inappropriately called it Anastasia. The church as we before said was restored afterwards in the reign of Julian. But at that time both the Catholics and the Novatians were alike subjected to persecution: for the former abominated offering their devotions in those churches in which the Arians assembled, but frequented the other three-for this is the number of the churches which the Novatians have in the city-and engaged in divine service with them. Indeed they would have been wholly united,had not the Novatians refused from regard to their ancient precepts. In other respects however, they mutually maintained such a degree of cordiality and affection, as to be ready to lay down their lives for one another: both parties were therefore persecuted indiscriminately, not only at Constantinople, but also in other provinces and cities. At Cyzicus, Eleusius, the bishop of that place, perpetrated the same kind of enormities against the Christians there, as Macedonius had done elsewhere, harassing and putting them to flight in all directions and [among other things] he completely demolished the church of the Novatians at Cyzicus. But Macedonius consummated his wickedness in the following manner. Hearing that there was a great number of the Novatian sect in the province of Paphlagonia, and especially at Mantinium, and perceiving that such a numerous body could not be driven from their homes by ecclesiastics alone, he caused, by the emperor's permission, four companies of soldiers to be sent into Paphlagonia, that through dread of the military they might receive the Arian opinion. But those who inhabited Mantinium, animated to desperation by zeal for their religion, armed themselves with long reap-hooks, hatchets, and whatever weapon came to hand, and went forth to meet the troops; on which a conflict ensuing, many indeed of the Paphlagonians were slain, but nearly all the soldiers were destroyed. I learnt these things from a Paphlagonian peasant who said that he was present at the engagement; and many others of that province corroborate this account. Such were the exploits of Macedonius on behalf of Christianity, consisting of murders, battles, incarcerations, and civil wars: proceedings which rendered him odious not only to the objects of his persecution, but even to his own party." ( Socrates, 2:38)
"Chapter II.-Constantius Again Ejects Athanasius, and Banishes Those Who Represented the Homoousian Doctrine. Death of Paul, Bishop of Constantinople. Macedonius: His Second Usurpation of the See, and His Evil Deeds.
The emperor, deceived by the calumnies of the heterodox, changed his mind, and, in opposition to the decrees of the council of Sardica, exiled the bishops whom he had previously restored. Marcellus was again deposed, and Basil re-acquired possession of the bishopric of Ancyra. Lucius was thrown into prison, and died there. Paul was condemned to perpetual banishment, and was conveyed to Cucusum, in Armenia, where he died. I have never, however, been able to ascertain whether or not he died a natural death. It is still reported, that he was strangled by the adherents of Macedonius. As soon as he was sent into exile, Macedonius seized the government of his church; and, being aided by several orders of monks whom he had incorporated at Constantinople, and by alliances with many of the neighboring bishops, he commenced, it is said, a persecution against those who held the sentiments of Paul. He ejected them, in the first place, from the church, and then compelled them to enter into communion with himself. Many perished from wounds received in the struggle; some were deprived of their possessions; some, of the rights of citizenship; and others were branded on the forehead with an iron instrument, in order that they might be stamped as infamous. The emperor was displeased when he heard of these transactions, and imputed the blame of them to Macedonius and his adherents.
Chapter III.-Martyrdom of the Holy Notaries.
The persecution increased in violence, and led to deeds of blood. Martyrius and Marcian were among those who were slain. They had lived in Paul's house, and were delivered up by Macedonius to the governor, as having been guilty of the murder of Hermogenes, and of exciting the former sedition against him. Martyrius was a sub-deacon, and Marcian a singer and a reader of Holy Scripture. Their tomb is famous, and is situated before the walls of Constantinople, as a memorial of the martyrs; it is placed in a house of prayer, which was commenced by John and completed by Sisinnius; these both afterwards presided over the church of Constantinople. For they who had been unworthily adjudged to have no part in the honors of martyrdom, were honored by God, because the very place where those conducted to death had been decapitated, and which previously was not approached on account of ghosts, was now purified, and those who were under the influence of demons were released from the disease, and many other notable miracles were wrought at the tomb. These are the particulars which should be stated concerning Martyrius and Marcian. If what I have related appears to be scarcely credible, it is easy to apply for further information to those who are more accurately acquainted with the circumstances; and perhaps far more wonderful things are related concerning them than those which I have detailed." (Socr 4:2-3)
"The Arians ordain Demophilus after the Death of Eudoxius at Constantinople; but the Orthodox Party constitute Evagrius his Successor.
The Emperor Valens leaving Constantinople again set out towards Antioch; but on his arrival at Nicomedia, a city of Bithynia, his progress was arrested by the following circumstances. Eudoxius the bishop of the Arian church who has been in possession of the seat of the Constantinopolitan church for nineteen40 years, died soon after the emperor's departure from that city, in the third consulate41 of Valentinian and Valens. The Arians therefore appointed Demophilus to succeed him; but the Homoousians considering that an opportunity was afforded them, elected a certain Evagrius, a person who maintained their own principles; and Eustathius, who had been bishop of Antioch, formally ordained him. He had been recalled from exile by Jovian, and had at this time privately come to Constantinople, for the purpose of confirming the adherents to the doctrine of the homoousion.
The Emperor banishes Evagrius and Eustathius. The Arians persecute the Orthodox.
When this had been accomplished the Arians renewed their persecution of the Homoousians: and the emperor was very soon informed of what had taken place, and apprehending the subversion of the city in consequence of some popular tumult, immediately sent troops from Nicomedia to Constantinople; ordering that both he who had been ordained, and the one who had ordained him, should be apprehended and sent into exile in different regions. Eustathius therefore was banished to Bizya a city of Thrace; and Evagrius was conveyed to another place. After this the Arians, becoming bolder, grievously harassed the orthodox party, frequently beating them, reviling them, causing them to be imprisoned, and fined; in short they practiced distressing and intolerable annoyances against them. The sufferers were induced to appeal to the emperor for protection against their adversaries if haply they might obtain some relief from this oppression. But whatever hope of redress they might have cherished from this quarter, was altogether frustrated, inasmuch as they thus merely spread their grievances before him who was the very author of them.
Certain Presbyters burnt in a Ship by Order of Valens. Famine in Phrygia.
Certain pious men of the clerical order, eighty in number, among whom Urbanus, Theodore, and Menedemus were the leaders, proceeded to Nicomedia, and there presented to the emperor a supplicatory petition, informing him and complaining of the ill-usage to which they had been subjected. The emperor was filled with wrath; but dissembled his displeasure in their presence, and gave Modestus the prefect a secret order to apprehend these persons, and put them to death. The manner in which they were destroyed being unusual, deserves to be recorded. The prefect fearing that he should excite the populace to a seditious movement against himself, if he attempted the public execution of so many, pretended to send the men away into exile. Accordingly as they received the intelligence of their destiny with great firmness of mind the prefect ordered that they should be embarked as if to be conveyed to their several places of banishment, having meanwhile enjoined on the sailors to set the vessel on fire, as soon as they reached the mid sea, that their victims being so destroyed, might even be deprived of burial. This injunction was obeyed; for when they arrived at the middle of the Astacian Gulf, the crew set fire to the ship, and then took refuge in a small barque which followed them, and so escaped. Meanwhile it came to pass that a strong easterly wind blew, and the burning ship was roughly driven but moved faster and was preserved until it reached a port named Dacidizus, where it was utterly consumed together with the men who were shut up in it."(Socr. 4: 14-16)
"To recount all the sufferings inflicted on us by the power of the Arians, and to attempt to give information to your reverences, as though you were not already well acquainted with them, might seem superfluous. For we do not suppose your piety to hold what is befalling us as of such secondary importance as that you stand in any need of information on matters which cannot but evoke your sympathy. Nor indeed were the storms which beset us such as to escape notice from their insignificance. Our persecutions are but of yesterday. The sound of them still rings in the ears alike of those who suffered them and of those whose love made the sufferers' pain their own. It was but a day or two ago, so to speak, that some released from chains in foreign lands returned to their own churches through manifold afflictions; of others who had died in exile the relics were brought home; others again, even after their return from exile, found the passion of the heretics still at the boiling heat, and, slain by them with stones as was the blessed Stephen, met with a sadder fate in their own than in a stranger's land. Others, worn away with various cruelties, still bear in their bodies the scars of their wounds and the marks of Christ. Who could tell the tale of fines, of disfranchisements, of individual confiscations, of intrigues, of outrages, of prisons? In truth all kinds of tribulation were wrought out beyond number in us, perhaps because we were paying the penalty of sins, perhaps because the merciful God was trying us by means of the multitude of our sufferings. For these all thanks to God, who by means of Such afflictions trained his servants and, according to the multitude of his mercies, brought us again to refreshment. We indeed needed long leisure, time, and toil to restore the church once more, that so, like physicians healing the body after long sickness and expelling its disease by gradual treatment, we might bring her back to her ancient health of true religion. It is true that on the whole we seem to have been delivered from the violence of our persecutions and to be just now recovering the churches which, have for a long time been the prey of the heretics. But wolves are troublesome to us who, though they have been driven from the fold, yet harry the flock up and down the glades, daring to hold rival assemblies, stirring seditious among the people, and shrinking from nothing which can do damage to the churches. So, as we have already said, we needs must labour all the longer." (Council of Constantinople: the Synodical Letter)
I think that establishes at least from a number of primary sources the existence and level of persecution going on at the time. Let me now give some citations from modern scholars on this point.
"Few Semi-Arian leaders can escape the charge of persecution. The exile of the Arians in 358 fixes it on Basil and Eustathius. The cruelties of the Macedonians against the Nicenes and Novatians of Constantinople are recorded by Socrates ii. 38, and were blamed even by Constantius (Soz. iv. 2)." (Gwatkin, Henry Melvill, Sudies in Arianism, Cambridge, London, 1900, p. 167, note 2)
"But the Arians rioted against him [Gregory of Nazianzus], and once almost killed him at the altar. When Gregory, a timid man, wanted to flee, his people pleaded with him to stay and not take the Trinity away from them." (Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils: Their History and Theology, p. 118)
"All over the East, the life of the Church was disrupted by the deposition and exile of recalcitrant clergy. To crown the troubles, in 373 Athanasius died after forty-five stormy years as bishop of Alexandria. The Nicenes immediately elected his brother Peter in his place, but the government refused to ratify the election. Instead, an Arian, Lucius, was ordered installed by force. The major church of Alexandria was invaded by the police and a mob from the gutters. Terrible scenes followed. A young man dressed as a woman danced obscenely on the altar; another, naked sat in Athanasius' episcopal throne preaching filthy homilies. Finally, the imperially appointed Lucius was enthroned in the desecreated church, attended by the aged Euzoius of Antioch, one of Arius' original disciples fifty years before, now wreaking vengeance on the dead Athanasius. Amid the reign of terror which now fell on the Nicenes of Egypt, with twelve bishops and over 100 priests and monks in exile, Peter fled to the protection of the bishop of Rome as his brother had done thirty years before." (Davis, p. 110-111)
"Valens was, as we have already seen, a convinced believer in the creed of Homoian Arianism and, wherever he had the power, tried to advance and support it. Early in 365 Valens produced an edict declaring that all bishops who had returned on Jovian's accession to sole power were to be banished again." (Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 653)
"But he [Valens] banished Gregory from Nyssa and Eusebius from Samosata and when Athanasius died in 373 Valens made sure that the Arian Lucius was installed as archbishop of Alexandria and Peter, Athanasius' pro-Nicene successor, chased out of that city and compelled to take refuge in Rome. At the same time he sent a number of pro-Nicene clergy and monks of the see of Alexandria to work in the mines at Phaeno in Palestine and Proconnessus, an island in the Propontis, and also in Diocaesarea in Palestine. As soon as Eudoxius died the pro-Nicenes in Constantinople in 369 elected a successor, Evagrius,but Valens immediately exiled him and welcomed the Arian choice, Demophilus, for that see." (Hanson, p. 791)
I think the historical information that I have presented above removes the wind from Rick's sales. It is quite evident reading the above evidence or any survey of the period that it was rife with political and ecclesiastical instability. In parts of the East, especially Constantinople, it could be hazardous to one's health to openly proclaim the orthodox teaching because of the persecutions by the Arians/Pneumatomachians. The above evidence also makes it plain that Gregory was being watched for such an opportunity to place him under imperial arrest. Added to this the fact that the Arians in that city had rioted against his preaching and he almost fled for his life. Hence it could easily be seen to be heroic to openly proclaim the Orthodox position in Constantinople at that time. I grant Rick that in Constantinople the Arians/Pneumatomachians were in power and had possession of the churches, save St. Gregory's chapel. This does not mean that, as I showed previously, that the Nicenes were the minority everywhere or overall. This is a non-sequitor on Rick's part. It simply doesn't follow from,
1.. The Nicenes were a minority in Constantinople,
2.. They were a minority everywhere.
The argument proceeds from the assumption that because certain states obtained in a subset, that they obtained within the whole. If Rick wishes to prove that the Orthodox position was invented or undecided by the Church at that period or that it was a minority, he will simply have to try some other form of argumentation other than fallaciously reasoning from the part to the whole. As far as a translation of Oration 41:6 goes, Harnack's (which Rick uses) is not the only one. Brown and Swallow translate the passage differently as seen below.
"VI. They who reduce the Holy Spirit to the rank of a creature are blasphemers and wicked servants, and worst of the wicked. For it is the part of wicked servants to despise Lordship, and to rebel against dominion, and to make That which is free their fellow-servant. But they who deem Him God are inspired by God36 and are illustrious in their mind; and they who go further and call Him so, if to well disposed hearers are exalted; if to the low, are not reserved enough, for they commit pearls to clay, and the noise of thunder to weak ears, and the sun to feeble eyes, and solid food to those who are still using milk; whereas they ought to lead them little by little up to what lies beyond them, and to bring them up to the higher truth; adding light to light, and supplying truth upon truth. Therefore we will leave the more mature discourse, for which the time has not yet come, and will speak with them as follows." (Oration 41:6)
Of interest to our discussion is note 36. The translators comment on this passage by saying,
"36 S. Gregory here commends the practice of reserve in respect of the Deity of the Holy Ghost. To believe it is necessary to salvation, he would say; but in view of the prevailing ignorance it is well to be careful before whom we give Him the Name of God. But he demands that his hearers should give to the Holy Ghost all the Attributes of Godhead, and should bear with those who, like himself, gave Him also the Name, as he prays that they all may have grace to do (Bénoît)."
I think this comment sheds some light on the passage. They state essentially what I have argued above, that the Nicene inhabitants of Constantinople should be careful because of the prevailing heresy among the Arians and because of the persecution from the former faction. This does not support Rick's claim that St. Gregory says that the Orthodox were the minority within the whole Church.
Next, Rick claims that Gregory says that God did not plainly reveal the doctrine of the Holy Spirit until a later period so as to not burden men. Let's say hypothetically that Rick is right. Notice the important word "plainly." Was the pre-existence and coming of Messiah "plainly" or explicitly revealed in the OT? No, obviously not. Was the idea of a dying Messiah "plainly" or explicitly revealed in the OT? No again. Were these doctrines implicitly revealed in the OT? Yes they were. Gregory does NOT say that they are not revealed in Scripture at all, but that the are not explicitly revealed in Scripture. And from this idea he argues for progressive revelation and/or illumination. Not everything in Scripture at various times is "plainly" or explicitly revealed. Paul's epistles for example do not "plainly" reveal everything. The Apostle Peter says of them,
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." 2 Pet 3:16
"Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." (1 Pet 1:10-12) Or Paul "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory" (1 Cor 2:7)
Just search out the word mysterion or mystery in the New Testament. Christ and the Church are said to be a mytery, fellowship with Christ is said to be a mystery. The gospel is said to be a mystery. Israel's fall is said to be a mystery. The Incarnation is said to be a mystery. The faith itself is said to be a mystery. The manna of God is said to be hidden or a mystery. All of these mysteries and Rick chides the Church for having a gradual illumincation or a gradual process of formalization. Amazing.
Also it is obvious to anyone familiar with the NT that the Gospel authors read back into their previous experiences with Jesus their post-Resurrection understanding. Not only that, they read back into texts in the OT their post-Resurrection understanding. Obviously this practice of gradual revelation and/or illumination is not foreign to the Scriptures. Nor should we think it foreign to the Church which continues the Apostolic ministry. Even the WTBTS claims to put forth a gradual illumination of Scriptural texts. Why does Rick condemn in the Church what he holds in his own sect? That seems to smack of a double standard.
I also find it of great interest that Rick quotes Henry Wolfson, an author who held the theory that Philo's Hellenized Judaism combined with Gnosticism provided the grid for early Church to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity. Wolfson also argued that the Spirit was originally identified with the Logos. For criticisms of Woflson's dated theories see R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 60, 856-868. What is of greater interest to me is that Rick cites Wolfson on page 243. That's fine, but Rick for some reason neglects to mention this statement by Wolfson on the very next sentence,
"Evidently the reference is to people among whom the belief in the divinity of the Holy Spirit survived as a lingering old tradition from before the time of the Apologists, but because they could not reconcile it with the new harmonization introduced by the Apologists, of which they were followers, they did not dare to confess it openly. In Tertullian, this lingering old tradition was given full expression openly. In a passage in which he tries to show by Old Testament verses and by one New Testament verse that the pre-existent Christ or Logos is God, Tertullian concludes his discussion by the following statement: 'For we, who by the grace of God possess an insight into both the times and the occasions of the Sacred Writings, especially we who are followers of the Paraclete, not of human teachers, do indeed definitively declare that two beings are God, the Father and the Son, and with the addition of the Holy Spirit even three.' Shortly after that he restates the same view with certainty: 'The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.'" (Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, pp. 243-244)
In this entire section, Wolfson is arguing that the Spirit and the Logos were, because of the influence of Gnosticism and Philo's Hellenized Judaism, seen as identical. Later this old tradition, the belief in the deity of the Spirit, was formulated by the Apologists so as to distinquish the Spirit from the Logos, but yet hold on to the divinity of each. Wolfson argues that the belief in the divinity of the Logos as well as that of the Spirit are pre-Apologist doctrines. (Not that I agree with Wolfson since I think many of his assumptions are quite dated.) Now the Apologists are about from 160-250 AD. Tertullian being about 190-210 or so. Wolfson argues that this belief in the divinity of the Spirit, the OLD TRADITION is OLDER than the Apologists. That means it is older than 160 AD. This means that the doctrine of the deity of the Spirit is OLDER than the Apologists according to Rick's OWN sources!
This directly undermines Rick's claim that the belief in the divinity of the Spirit was somehow invented in 380 AD or that the Church was undecided on the issue. Why did Rick leave out this relevant information? Did he read Woflson and neglect to cite it because it undermined his case significantly? Did he find the quote from Wolfson in some other work and did not bother to check the citation? I will leave the reader to draw his own conclusions about Rick's motivations and practices. But at the very least, Wolfson does not unambiguiously support Rick's thesis. As far as the Orthodox in Constantinople not daring to utter the teaching of the deity of the Holy Spirit on their lips, I think I have given sufficient evidence earlier in this section to account for that fact, namely persecution. But something that Wolfson leaves out as well as Rick is the fact that in the section that Wolfson cites, the Fifth Theological Oration, sec. 5, Gregory does say that SOME DO utter it with their lips there. This qualifies Wolfson's claim, and in turn, Rick's as well. In summary, Rick has not proven anything more than what was already known to be the case, that the Orthodox during the Arian heresy were a minority in city of Constantinople. That hardly proves that the Orthodox position was invented or that there was not a pre-Nicene position of the Church on the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit.
Something else of note in Wolfson though that is relevant to our discussion. Wolfson notes that in the 2nd century that there were those in the church who regarded the Logos as an impersonal power or energy. (See Justin Martyr, Dialog Sec. 128, Wolfson, 581-582) Now, why does not Rick claim that the doctrine of the Church that the logos was a personal agent was invented at this point as well since there were those who rejected his personal existence? It would seem that if Rick were to be consistent that if the presence of persons who did not believe in the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit proves that the Church did not have a position during the latter half of the 4th century, then by the very same reasoning it proves that the Church did not have a position on the personality of the Son in the 2nd century due to the presence of persons who did not believe in the Son's personal existence. This is obviously rediculous in the 2nd century and it is obviously rediculous in the 4th century as well.
Now, on to Rick's next section
"The sentiment that the belief that the holy spirit was 'God' in a trinitarian sense is a dificult one for the Fathers to belief because the felt that there was a 'lack of positive Scriptural teaching' (Harnack). He quotes Socrates (Socr. h.e 2.45) and Didymus (Trin 2.8) where they refuse to speak of the Spirit as a creature, but that the could now acknowledge him to be 'God' 'BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF POSITIVE SCRIPTURAL TEACHING' !"
Now I think that Rick has made a simple mistake, because Lampe cites Socrates 2:45 and Didymus Trinite 2:8 regarding this supposed lack of positive scriptural teaching. This is found in Lampe, pp. 111-112, and not in Harnack as Rick makes reference. If Rick has Harnack in mind here, I have been unable to find the reference. But in either case, I think the reader will find my exposition enlightening. Now, did Socrates refuse to speak of the Spirit as a creature but also equally refuse to designate him as God in chapter 2, section 45? Perhaps Rick should have checked the citation, or rather, perhaps Lampe should have checked it first. What does the section say? Let us take a look.
The Heresy of Macedanius.
"Macedonius on being ejected from Constantinople, bore his condemnation ill and became restless; he therefore associated himself with the other faction that had deposed Acacius and his party at Seleucia, and sent a deputation to Sophronius and Eleusius, to encourage them to adhere to that creed which was first promulgated at Antioch, and afterwards confirmed at Seleucia, proposing to give it the counterfeit name of the `homoiousian' creed. By this means he drew around him a great number of adherents, who from him are still denominated `Macedonians.' And although such as dissented from the Acacians at the Seleucian Synod had not previously used the term homoiousios, yet from that period they distinctly asserted it. There was, however, a popular report that this term did not originate with Macedonius, but was the invention rather of Marathonius, who a little before had been set over the church at Nicomedia; on which account the maintainers of this doctrine were also called `Marathonians.' To this party Eustathius joined himself, who for the reasons before stated had been ejected from the church at Sebastia. But when Macedonius began to deny the Divinity of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, Eustathius said: `I can neither admit that the Holy Spirit is God, nor can I dare affirm him to be a creature.' For this reason those who hold the homoousion of the Son call these heretics `Pneumatomachi. By what means these Macedonians became so numerous in the Hellespont, I shall state in its proper place. The Acacians meanwhile became extremely anxious that another Synod should be convened at Antioch, in consequence of having changed their mind respecting their former assertion of the likeness `in all things' of the Son to the Father. A small number of them therefore assembled in the following consulate which was that of Taurus and Florentius, at Antioch in Syria, where the emperor was at that time residing, Euzoïus being bishop. A discussion was then renewed on some of those points which they had previously determined, in the course of which they declared that the term `homoios' ought to be erased from the form of faith which had been published both at Ariminum and Constantinople; and they no longer concealed but openly declared that the Son was altogether unlike the Father, not merely in relation to his essence, but even as it respected his will i asserting boldly also, as Arius had already done, that he was made of nothing. Those in that city who favored the heresy of Aëtius, gave, their assent to this opinion; from which circumstance in addition to the general appellation of Arians, they were also termed `Anomoeans,'and `Exucontians,'by those at Antioch who embraced the homoousian, who nevertheless were at that time divided among themselves on account of Meletius, as I have before observed. Being therefore questioned by them, how they dared to affirm that the Son is unlike the Father, and has his existence from nothing, after having acknowledged him `God of God' in their former creed? they endeavored to elude this objection by such fallacious subterfuges as these. `The expression, "God of God,"' said they, `is to be understood in the same sense as the words of the apostle, "but all things of God." Wherefore the Son is of God, as being one of these all things: and it is for this reason the words "according to the Scriptures" are added in the draught of the creed.' The author of this sophism was George bishop of Laodicea, who being unskilled in such phrases, was ignorant of the manner in which Origen had formerly explained these peculiar expressions of the apostle, having thoroughly investigated the matter. But notwithstanding these evasive cavilings, they were unable to bear the reproach and contumely they had drawn upon themselves, and fell back upon the creed which they had before put forth at Constantinople; and so each one retired to his own district. George returning to Alexandria, resumed his authority over the churches there, Athanasius still not having made his appearance. Those in that city who were opposed to his sentiments he persecuted; and conducting himself with great severity and cruelty, he rendered himself extremely odious to the people. At Jerusalem Arrenius was placed over the church instead of Cyril: we may also remark that Heraclius was ordained bishop there after him, and after him Hilary. At length, however, Cyril returned to Jerusalem, and was again invested with the presidency over the church there. About the same time another heresy sprang up, which arose from the following circumstance.
Now, Lampe, who makes this citation says
"Socrates and also Didymus, indicate that they refused positively to speak of the Spirit as a creature, but that they could not acknowledge him to be God." (See Christian Theology in the Patristic Period, by Lampe, in A History of Christian Doctrine, Edited by Hubert Cunliffe-Jones, T&T Clark, 1978, p 112.)
Now this is NOT what Socrates says. Socrates is QUOTING ESTATHIUS. This is NOT Socrates' opinion, as Lampe and hence Rick seem to think. Again, the relevant section from Socrates 2:45 reads as follows,
"To this party Eustathius joined himself, who for the reasons before stated had been ejected from the church at Sebastia. But when Macedonius began to deny the Divinity of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, Eustathius said: `I can neither admit that the Holy Spirit is God, nor can I dare affirm him to be a creature.'"
So Rick is clearly WRONG as is Lampe in asserting that Socrates held this opinion, because Socrates is clearly anti-Arian in his work. The whole section 45 is entittled "The Heresy of Macedonius" He clearly in the very next sentence calls those who deny the deity and personality of the Spirit "heretics." Rick is obviously relying on a scholarly authority in the field, but as I showed before, just because an authority in a field claims something does not make it true. This example proves this to be the case.
Now what as to Didymus the Blind? Did he affirm the Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit? Let us take a glance at a number of citations from him.
"Note that the very term 'pouring out' indicates that the Holy Spirit is uncreated. When he sends an angel or another creature, God does not say, 'I shall pour out My angel or principality or throne or domination.'" (On the Holy Spirit, chap 11 as cited in Burns, J. Patout S.J., Fagin, Gerald M., S.J., The Holy Spirit: The Message of the Fathers of the Church, Michael Glazier Press, 1984, p. 115)
"Therefore whoever shares in the Holy Spirit shares immediately in the Father and the Son. And he who has love from the Father has it from the Son and joined with the Holy Spirit. And he who has a share of the grace of Jesus Christ has that grace given by the Father through the Holy Spirit. For in all these things it is proven that the operation of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is the same. But those who have the same operation have the same substance, because those things which are homoousia in the same substance have the same operations and those which are different substance and not homoousia are different and separate in operation." (Ibid. p. 116)
"For if the Holy spirit has placed in charge of the church those persons whom Christ sent to preach the gospel and baptize the nations, and they also being appointed by the judgement of the Father, then there is no doubt that the work and the approval of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, and as a result that substance of the Trinity is the same." (Ibid. p. 117)
"In operation the Spirit is one with the Father and the Son, and this oneness of operation involves oneness of essence. He is the Finger of God; the Seal which stamps the Divine image on the human soul. But He is not merely an operating force, He is a Divine Person." (On The Holy Spirit, chap. 34 as cited in Swete, The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, p. 224)
"For when anyone has received the grace of the Holy Spirit he will have it as a gift from the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. By one same grace, however which is from the Father and the Son, completed by the operation of the Holy Spirit, is proved the Trinity of one substance." (On the Trinity, chap. 16)
"It has been proved that the Holy Spirit is not only God but also equal and similar to the Father, because in an equal and similar way man is an example of the three persons; and likewise whoever is the dwelling place of the Father has the Son also dwelling within him, as well as the Spirit of God; just as in turn whoever has the dignity of having the Holy Spirit or the Son has the Father also." (On the Trinity 2:10)
"The Holy Spirit as God renovates us in baptism, and in union with the Father and the Son, brings us back from a state of deformity to our pristine beauty and so fills us with His grace that we can no longer make room for anything that is unworthy of our love.." (On the Trinity 2:12)
I think I have shown it to be the case that Didymus did clearly teach that the Holy Spirit is God and a Person, contrary to what Lampe and Rick seem to think. But I am not alone in my assesment. A number of other scholars agree with me on this point. For example, Jaroslav Pelikan says,
"From the same passage he [Didymus] also showed a sin against the Spirit was a sin against the Holy One of Israel therefore the Spirit was God." (The Christian Tradition, Vol 2 p.214)
Swete, in describing Didymus doctrine of the Spirit says that Didymus thought that the Scriptures proved that the Spirit was deity.
"The tittles which the Holy Spirit receives in Scripture confirm this belief. He is called the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit of sonship. Of grace, truth, wisdom; the sovereign Spirit, the good Spirit. All this points to His being essentially Divine, since He has the notes of the Divine nature." (Swete, The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, p. 223)
Harnack himself says of Didymus's work On the Trinity that it,
"…contains the fullest Fourth Century proof of the complete Godhead of the Holy Spirit which we possess." (History of Dogma, Vol. 4, p. 116 footnote 1)
R.P.C. Hanson says of Didymus,
"The author has no doubt that the Holy Spirit is divine. He is not merely 'activity' (operatio) but 'substance' (substantia), and he exhibits both 'a share in the nature' of the Godhead, and also 'the peculiar property of belonging respectively tot he Persons.' He is uncreated and consubstantial." (Hanson, p. 755)
This Lampe has No Light
Now as to the comment by Rick and Lampe that the two Church Fathers (Socrates/Didymus) did not speak of the Holy Spirit as God because of a lack of clear scriptural teaching I think I have made it clear that not only is Rick in error, but so is his source. Both authors are clearly Nicene and hold to the deity and personality of the Spirit.
Now who is Lampe? Lampe is a patristics scholar and has written a number of works relating to the Church Fathers. But Lampe is certainly not in the majority in his ideas about Trinitarianism. Lampe basically argues that Unitarianism is acceptable and that God is then necessarily dependant upon creation in order to be love. Also of note is that Lampe was influenced by the liberal theology of Harnack and is a liberal theologian himself. For a detailed discussion of these points see Hebblethwaite, Brian, The Incarnation: Collected Essays in Christology, Cambridge University Press, 1987, pp. 126-138, 160-167. Needless to say, Rick is hardly citing an impartial authority.
Let me move on to the next section of Rick's post to me.
"Now, lets all _reason_ together. Take the four views stated by Gregory and eliminate the views that Didymus could not support. We are left with 1) The holy spirit is an "Activity" (active force) or 4) they were undecided. However, they had big problems with the viewpoints of the Arians and the camp of Gregory Naz.
In Perry's last email which was posted by Mark Cunninham in it's entirety ( I am sure everyone just LOVED that LOL) he criticized me for not having any opinions but my own on who these "wise men" were. I believe he said to me to 'put up or shut up'. Well I did. I put it UP on this webpage
Rick encourages us to reason together, but fails to note that everyone's reason may not be equally clear or capable. Why assume that they are? Why assume that logic is a neutral thing and not rather the epistemic property of a true paradigm? That is, Rick assumes that logic is a neutral arbiter of truth. This betrays the influence of 19th century rationalism which has been with the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (WT) since its' inception in the 1870's. If the WT posits that God can change, why does Rick put so much confidence in logic? If Jehovah can change, why can't logic? If Jehovah does not know everything, perhaps he does not know that logic itself could change? In a world such as this, how can you trust your own ability to think? This is why I find it curious that Rick calls us to "reason" together. In my worldview, reason or logic can't change because God does not change and God knows all things. Logic is invariable because God is invariable. Secondly, does Rick think that his reason is the standard of truth or what the Bible teaches? Is Rick's reason or anyone elses omni-competent? I wonder.
As to Didymus, Didymus did believe that he could support the orthodox view from Scripture and did so, as I showed above. If we again look at the various views we can see a number of things. The belief that the Holy Spirit was a person and divine is clearly older than Nicea as I showed in my previous post. I also showed that in the liturgical life (prayer) of the Church prior to Nicea, the Holy Spirit was given honor, glory and worship with the Father and the Son. But it is a fact of history that the Pneumatomachi position (that the Spirit was a creature or an impersonal force or gift) did not come into existence until about 360 AD. This is something that Rick seems to miss. I went to great pains to show in my previous email that the Spirit was believed to be a Person and divine by numerous persons prior to Nicea. I perfectly grant that there were those in the same pre-Nicene period who did not always define the doctrine in the best way. But what should be noted is that NONE of those unorthodox views were ever part of the prayer life of the Church. The Church never worshipped by Pneumatomachian means, but by Trinitarian means, ascribing honor, glory and worship to the Spirit, as well as to the Son and the Father. The upshot is that Rick cannot show a clear case coming from the Apostles and in the Fathers that the Holy Spirit was a force or a creature up until the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD and I can and have shown the opposite to be the case.
I think I have also shown that Rick is totally disillusioned when he states that the majority of Christians, let alone theologians were undecided. This fact is borne out by the fact that when orthodoxy was under imperial pressure, it survived and spread. When the tables were turned under Theodosius in 379/380 Arianism virtually died. As a matter of fact the Pneumatomachians were almost totally extinct within 30 years. To me this bears out the fact that God was leading His visible organization to triumph over false teaching, which it continues to do so through history. Rick like every sectarian has to postulate a break, an apostasy of some sort in order to try and explain away this fact.
As far as Rick's webpage goes, I plan to put this response up on an adjacent site so readers can compare. The fact that Rick has assembled four sources to support his opinion does not make his opinion true. I think I have also shown that the sources he uses are questionable, if not outright inadmissible. Even if they were not, they employ dubious methods of argumentation. For those sources that do not do so, such as Fisher I can only point to my other arguments which show the irrelevance of Rick's claim that some theologians were heretical. Again, so what? I addressed this in my previous post to Rick which he ignored. The fact of the matter is, almost every major heresy in the Church in the last 2,000 years was put forth by a theologian. Big deal.
"He has now, unless I missed something in that document backed off of the claim that I have no scholars to support my view and states that it does not matter if the scholars agree with me or not. Unbelievable ! He (Perry) criticizes me for not reading Gregory's entire Oration, which is also not true. I read everything at the link I have provided above. Does he also criticize Harnack, Fisher, Lampe and Wolfson of not reading his works also, for they ALL agree with me."
I said at that time that I wrote the second email that you (Rick) did not bear your burden of proof, which you had not. Hence the statement was true at the time it was made. Secondly, now that you have cited certain authorities, I have sought to correct your rather implied faulty notion that citing an authority makes something true. Though citing authorities is one step in showing the probable truth-value of a position, it does not of itself make a position true.
As far as reading St Gregory, I had asked you several times on IRC that at the time of citing the passage from Gregory, had you read the entire oration? You declined to answer. The question was NOT had you read it at all, but WHEN did you read it? My other questions were directed to inquire as to the source of the quotation. Were you just reading St Gregory one day and found this text? Or were you reading some other source and it had this text in it? This is another question which you have declined to answer.
As far as the scholars that you cited agreeing with you, I think you should consider that again. Harnack for example makes a number of interesting comments that contradict your theory. For example, Harnack on page 117 of Vol. 4, page 121 says that the doctrine of the Trinity as considered by the Cappadocians was identical with that of Tertullain, even in its details. On page 110 he says that one can trace the orthodox teaching from Justin and Origin as a "well marked line of development." Harnack even makes reference in Vol. 2 p. 261 of Hippolytus prayers involving the Holy Spirit. As far as Lampe, I have shown that Lampe misquoted the Fathers. As far as Fisher, I happen to own a copy of his work and other than saying that some theologians did not hold the orthodox view, he does not say that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by the Orthodox was invented, nor does he say that the orthodox were a minority in the Church. As far as Wolfson goes, his theories about Hellenistic influence from Philo and Gnosticism are long since discarded among scholars, as are Harnack's. But even without that, Wolfson says that the belief in the divinity of the Spirit and his personality is OLDER than the Apologists and is apostolic in origin. So much for all the scholars agreeing with Rick.
"Take away the doctrine that the holy spirit is 'God' and the house of cards that is called the Trinity crumbles. Fact is that as late as 380 and who knows how much longer, most of the theologians could not be classified as "Trinitarians" precisely because of their belief on the holy spirit !!!!! Add that to the expressed opinion that this doctrine was NOT handed down from the apostles to the 'apostolic' Fathers to the 'apologists' to the "Fathers" of the 4th century and the very basis for belief in the Triune being vanishes !"
I think I have shown how foolish the above statements made by Rick are since belief in the Deity and Personality predates not only 380, but 360, before the Pneumatomachians even existed. Rick certainly has been shown to be in error by his assertion that "most" of the theologians were undecided or held a heterodox view. As far as knowing "and who knows how much longer" I think this bears eloquent testimony to Rick's ignorance of Church history. Within 30 years of the Council of Constantinople the Pneumatamochians were almost extinct and Arianism was limited to the Barbarian invaders in pockets in the West. By the 7th century they were gone. So much for the gates of hades not prevailing!
Yes, let us add to that the expressed opinion of a man who was generally hostile to any form of Christianity who regarded Jesus as nothing more than a nice moral teacher. I have shown why his arguments are in error and why he is hardly representative of current scholarship on the matter since he wrote on the topic about 100 years ago. But even beyond that, Harnack's own statements show that he thought there was a clear line of development from the Apologists to the Cappadocians. What vanishes are Rick's attempts to justify his rebellion against God's visible organization, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Christian Church.
"In short, Perry has not addressed any of my (Rick) material in a meaningful way, but frankly there is very little more to say on this subject. It is all very cut and dry. It is a slam dunk, a done deal ....."
That is simple to answer. I could not address what did not exist at the time. "The first to plead his case seems just, until another comes and examines him." Proverbs 18:17
Now that I have completed an examination of Rick's post to me I would like to move on to address some points in his web page on the same topic.
"Development of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit Pre 325 The "Apostles Creed" was current until the end of the 4th Century. Not only did it NOT mention the holy spirit as divine, it did not even call Jesus God. Jesus is called the only-begotten Son of God, just as the bible does. John 3:16 [Apostles Creed from Early Church FathersK]"
Argument from silence. I have dealt with this in detail previously.
"325 The Nicene creed did not say anything about the divinity of The holy spirit. It says (...) "and we believe in the Holy Ghost" Harnack, "History of Dogma" ,Volume IV,1898, page 111 J "
Same fallacy, different context. See examination of this point above.
"351 The position of The holy spirit was undecided in the years following Nicaea, and for the first time at the council of Sirmium in 351 this was discussed as an issue for resolution. [(ibid page 111-112) F, G]
362 It was at the Synod of Alexandria that the orthodox first took up the definite position with regard to whether the Holy Spirit is a creature, but the creed did not in effect renounce this view. [(ibid page 114) H, I] "
The issue with the Holy Spirit was not decided between the Arians, Semi-Arians and the Orthodox because the question did not come up between them until about 360. Secondly, I have shown previously that in worship, in apologetics and polemical writings that the Church did have a position on the deity and personality of the Spirit. The Synod at Alexandria was mainly to bring the East and West to recognize that even though they were using terminology differently (the West one hypostasis, three substances-East One Substance three hypostasis) that they both held the same position. Secondly, since the Alexandrian council was a meeting of the Orthodox parties of eastern and western perspectives, it obviously excluded the various Arian positions that were emerging. Rick fails to notice an impotant statement in Harnack. Harnack says "The first trace of the emergence of the question as to the Spirit is found, so far as I know, in the Anathemas (20 ff.) of the very conservative Creed of the Eusebian Council of Sirmium(351)." The Sirmium Council was Eusebian and was generally undertaken to refute modalism. (See Hanson, pp. 325-328) It was a local synod overseen by Constantius, the Arian emperor. The dealing of the question by that synod was miniscule and was generally directed against Modalistic understandings. Similar phrases exist in documents a century earlier when Modalism was being condemned. Hence if Harnack thinks that that is the first trace of the question, then he needs to look to the Modalist controversies in the third century, because they use the same language in condemning Modalism. Also this synod can hardly be said to be a mark of universal opinion in the Church. The Orthodox position existed in prior teachings of the Apologists and other Fathers. But even beyond that, the question of the Spirit's deity was what was at issue, not his Personality at the outset of the debate since the Arians themselves called the Spirit a person on numerous occasions. His personality was only denied by the Pneumatomachians later on. But the point that should be obvious is that the First Council of Sirmium can hardly be seen as representative of the Orthodox since it was a Semi-Arian local synod being headed by an Arian emperor! Also of note is the fact the Arians in denying the deity of the Spirit contradicting prior church teaching on the subject as was made manifest in my previous listing of pre-Nicene Fathers who upheld the deity of the Spirit.
"380 In 380 the church Father Gregory Nazianzus wrote about the different views of the Spirit: But of the wise men amongst ourselves, some have conceived of him as an Activity, some as a Creature, some as God; and some have been uncertain which to call Him. Who are these wise men ? [(ibid page 114),B, "A History of Church Doctrine" by G.P Fisher/A,1906" A]. Also of great interest is the opinion of notable Patristic scholar G.W.H Lampe in his Chrisitan Theology in the Patristic Period [footnote LP] Henry Austryn Wolfson in his Philosopy of the Church Fathers page 243 states that "while there were those who held the Holy Spirit to be an energy or a creature, there were also those who held it to be God, but concealed this as a pios belief within their heard, without daring to utter it with their lips". [(Oratio 31,5 (PG 36,137 C)]"
I have dealt with this at length, but let me recapitulate some of my prior counter-points. First the fact that there were heretical theologians in Constantinople where the Penumatomachian heresy was localized by and large does not prove that much. What Rick needs to prove is that the Early Church continuously held that the Spirit was a force or that the Church had no general position prior to this debate, which he has not done. All that he has done is given an example of heresy that died out within 30 years or so after it was condemned. On the contrary I have shown in the previous post that the deity and personality of the Spirit was believed from the Apologists, at the very least, if not in the Apostolic Fathers. Secondly, there was good reason why the Orthodox dared not in that geographical location to utter their views because to do so could mean death or severe punishment.
"381 The First Council of Constantinople met to decide among other things the issue of the divinity of the holy spirit. Even though a group called Pneumatomachi (fighters against the spirit) maintained that the holy spirit was a creature, the creed which resulted from this council did not call the holy spirit God, "And [we believe] 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." Other creeds contemporary to this time period did not call the holy spirit God either, but were very general in nature. Harnack page 114 I]"
This theory is based on an argument from silence. Secondly, the Creed of Constantinople sought to limit counter arguments by using Scriptural language. Obviously the Pnuematomachians were so heretical that they could not even subscribe to that. The fact that it said that the Spirit was to be worshipped, that He was the Giver of Life, who proceedes from the Father and who inspired the prophets excludes their heresy. Hanson comments,
"The omission of 'that is from the ousia of the Father' has caused much heart-searching among scholars. Harnack and those who supported his view that the Cappadocians and the compilers of C[onstantinople] intended a 'generic' interpretation of the homoousion hailed it as a sign that supported their view. On the other hand, as we have seen, some Macedonians objected to the doctrine that the Spirit was from the ousia of the Father, and this has caused some moderns to claim that C was a formula especially designed to accommodate the views of the Macedonians, and they point out too that the penumatological article never directly calls the Holy Spirit God nor applies to him the epithet homoousion. But the difficulty which this theory encounters is that what C omits is the claim declaring that the Son is from the ousia of the Father, which some Macedonians at least would not wish to deny, and says nothing about the relation of the Spirit to the Father's ousia. Further, the Clause in C 'who with (sun) the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified' (not 'after', meta + acc., nor 'below') was precisely the doctrine which the Macedonians denied, was calculated to exclude them and must be regarded as intentionally anti-Macedonian." (Hanson, p. 817-818)
It should be noted that the Creed states what no Pneumatomachian or modern day Jehovah's Witness could confess, namely the worship of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son. The Creed did not need to call the Spirit God since it calls Him the Lord and Giver of Life who inspired the prophets and Who is worshipped and Glorified with the Father and the Son. Secondly, the Canons of Constantinople roundly condemn those who denied the deity and personality of the Spirit. Rick is simply treating the Church of the 4th century as if it ought to be like the Watchtower Society in that every belief is explicitly stated. The Fathers themselves speak of unwritten teachings that were kept from the unbeliving public in order to protect them during times of persecution. These were part of the arcani and were not part of the kergyma or public proclamation of the Church. The fact that the Spirit is not labled as God in no way lends credibility to the idea that it did not fully set forth the Orthodox doctrine.
"393 Augustine in De Fide et Symbolo [A Treatise on Faith and the Creed] 19. says "With respect to the HOLY SPIRIT, however, there has not been as yet, on the part of learned and distinguished investigators of the Scriptures, a discussion of the subject full enough or careful enough to make it possible for us to obtain an intelligent conception of what also constitutes His special individuality (proprium)" [ See notes from the "Patriarch Athenagoras Memorial Lecture series" given in 1981 by Orthdox scholar John S. Romanides ]"
I have no idea why Rick makes reference to this point since he has already conceded to me that Augustine was quite sure that the Holy Spirit was God and was a Person. Again, Augustine speaks of theologians investigating the nature of the Spirit's individuality. That is, what is that thing that distinguishes the Son from the Spirit, what is that property? It is not a question of if the Spirit is a Person or deity. As far as Romanides, what is the big deal with an Orthodox scholar rejecting or criticising Augustine's formulation of the problem? The Easterners have done so for well over 1,000 years. This does not give credence to the idea that the Easterners reject the deity and personality of the Spirit, because they do not. Nor does it give credence to the concept that they are attacking the Augustine's belief in such doctrine, but only in how Augustine formulated the specific property possessed by the Spirit that distinguished Him from the Father and the Son.
Questions to ponder regarding this Doctrine "Was there a tradition passed down from the days of the apostles which taught that the holy spirit was a divine being equal to the Father and the Son? Not according to Harnack's interpretation of the writings of Gregory and Basil. [Harnack page 115-116 C, D"
And I suppose that just because Harnack says something that that makes it so? Hardly. Harnack also denied that there was an apostolic doctrine passed down regarding the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Why does not Rick accept Harnack's opinion there? Rick is curiously silent on this point. Secondly, as I have referenced before, Harnack does state that there is a clear line of development from the Apologists to the Cappadocians. But even beyond that Harnack must deny that there is a passing down of this and many other doctrines in order to hold on to his now refuted and outdated presupposition that the original Gospel consisted of no doctrine, but moral platitudes and exhortations. Harnack presupposed this and then interpreted Church history to fit his assumptions, as I have demonstrated before. His assumptions are largely rejected by scholars today, as I have proved above as well, and hence his conclusions are highly questionable. Other scholars such as Hanson disagree with Harnack's thesis arguing that in the arcani there was preserved a general Trinitarianism from the Apostles through the Apologists to Nicea.
"Was this doctrine based upon Scripture ? No, for the Gregory said [Harnack page 115]that "the love of letters is a cloak for impiety". Lampe, page 111 is also of the opinion that the Fathers found no scriptural support for the doctrine that they were proposing for the holy spirit."
Gregory does not deny that it is revealed in Scripture, as Harnack notes, but that it was not explicitly set forth. Secondly, Gregory in his 5th Theological Oration uses multiple Scriptural references and arguments. If he did not think it was revealed in Scripture, what the heck is he doing using Scripture to teach that his doctrine of the Spirit is IN Scripture? Gregory in the very section that Harnack cites uses Scriptural arguments. I find it odd that Hrnack gives no reference for Gregory's supposed admission of a lack of Scriptural support. What Gregory says, is that certain unholy people cling to specific words, which they misunderstand, and hide behind them heretical meanings. Hence they wish to confine themselves to Scriptural terms to escape from having their heresy uncloaked. It would be like someone who thought that Adam was the first man and then defined "man" as demons or aliens from space. No matter what you asked using Scriptural terms, you would not be able to exclude his heresy, because if you asked, "Is Adam a man?" He would say, "He is a man." But if you asked him the same question using scientific or specific terminology which contained the teaching and sense of the Scriptural Tradition, his concepts would be excluded and you would be under the charge of using unscriptural terms. This is true, but he is under the charge of putting a non-scriptural meaning on Scriptural words. Hence in this way heretics of all ages hide their heresy from the light. This is what Gregory meant.
As far as Lampe in relation to Didymus and Socrates, I think I have made it clear that he was in error.
"Was the doctrine not articulated merely because it had not been an issue with "heretics" ? No, because the doctrine was not held by all theologians as late as 380, as well as attacked vigorously by the pnuemomachians and in spite of this fact the Creed drawn up at Constantinople in 381 did not call the holy spirit God, it merely stated that the holy spirit 'proceeded from the Father' which refuted the belief of the Pneumatomachi that it was created by the Son."
I find that odd since Harnack says that Athanasius and other Nicenes did not give much attention to the doctrine of the Spirit because initially with the Arians they were concerned with the doctrine of the Son. (p. 112) The early Arians believed that the Spirit was a person, a Son of the Son, and some of them did not begin to deny the personality of the Spirit until about 356-360 AD. The denial of the personality of the Spirit did not begin until that period. Hence there is no prior tradition except one heretic, Lactiantius denying the personality of the Spirit. All parties previous to 360 believed in three persons, a Triad or Trinity, but the Arians believed in multiple gods, where as the Nicenes believed in One true God.
Secondly, a lack of precision or exposition is easily accounted for at this period by a number of factors.
1. Not everyone had the same canon of Scripture. Some works were still in dispute from the Old and New Testaments and were not fixed until about 398 AD at the Council of Carthage.
2. Lack of fast and effective means of communication posed problems. It could take weeks for a letter to get from one end of the empire to the other, and that was considered express!
3. The long lasting persecution of the Church up until 313 AD with the Edict of Milan. The Church had a public proclamation and doctrines and practices that it kept hidden from non-Christians. Scholars such as Hanson, and Fathers such as Gregory and Basil both cite this as a fact for why not everyone knew of the full teaching of the Church.
4. This was compounded by the fact there were few if any seminaries and clergy generally had a high school education at best.
5. The over influence of Greek philosophy on such persons as Arius who subscribed to Platonic notion of a Triad where the ultimate Forms or the Good was totally transcendent and could not be revealed in creation. The fact that all theologians did not agree in these circumstances during a controversy that had been going on for more than 40 years is not great wonder. The fact that there were theologians in the Church who did not all agree about what was to be done in regards to the Gentiles did not make the decisions of the Acts 15 Council any less binding either. The Council of Constantinople was quite clear in the Creed that the Spirit was God, this is testified today by the very fact that Rick himself could not believe what it states and still be a JW. The Canons of the Council support this perspective since canon 1 states the following,
"The Bishops out of different provinces assembled by the grace of God in Constantinople, on the summons of the most religious Emperor Theodosius, have decreed as follows:
The Faith of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Fathers assembled at Nice in Bithynia shall not be set aside, but shall remain firm. And every heresy shall be anathematized, particularly that of the Eunomians or [Anomoeans, the Arians or] Eudoxians, and that of the Semi-Arians or Pneumatomachi, and that of the Sabellians, and that of the Marcellians, and that of the Photinians, and that of the Apollinarians."
The Creed of Constantinople not only refutes the idea that the Spirit is a created person, but that the Spirit is anything less than a person as well. True worship cannot be ascribed to anything less than the personal and True God. Again, Rick's statements suffer from the fallacy of arguing from silence, not to mention arguing against the explicit canons of the council in question, not to mention the Synodal letter which reads in part,
"Through them we wish to make it plain that our disposition is all for peace with unity for its sole object, and that we are full of zeal for the right faith. For we, whether we suffered persecutions, or afflictions, or the threats of emperors, or the cruelties of princes, or any other trial at the hands of heretics, have undergone all for the sake of the evangelic faith, ratified by the three hundred and eighteen fathers at Nicaea in Bithynia. This is the faith which ought to be sufficient for you, for us, for all who wrest not the word of the true faith; for it is the ancient faith; it is the faith of our baptism; it is the faith that teaches us to believe in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. According to this faith there is one Godhead, Power and Substance of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; the dignity being equal, and the majesty being equal in three perfect hypostases, i.e. three perfect persons. Thus there is no room for the heresy of Sabellius by the confusion of the hypostases, i.e. the destruction of the personalities; thus the blasphemy of the Eunomians, of the Arians, and of the Pneumatomachi is nullified, which divides the substance, the nature, dud the godhead, and super-induces on the uncreated consubstantial and co-eternal Trinity a nature posterior, created and of a different substance. We moreover preserve unperverted the doctrine of the incarnation of the Lord, holding the tradition that the dispensation of the flesh is neither soulless nor mindless nor imperfect; and knowing full well that God's Word was perfect before the ages, and became perfect man in the last days for our salvation. Let this suffice for a summary of the doctrine which is fearlessly and frankly preached by us, and concerning which you will be able to be still further satisfied if you will deign to read the tome of the synod of Antioch, and also that tome issued last year by the Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople, in which we have set forth our confession of the faith at greater length, and have appended an anathema against the heresies which innovators have recently inscribed."
Rick's next comment reads,
"B History of Dogma by Dr. Adolph Harnack, 1898, page 114-115 The statements regarding the Spirit were indeed further amplified in subseqent years in connection with the remodelling of the old Confessions, but amongst the Homoiousians who were becoming Homoousians, the greatest uncertainty continued to prevail up till 380. The thirty-first oration of Gregory of Nazianzus which was composed at that time, proves this."
This view has been curtailed by current scholarship. (See Hanson, p.762, 766) Some of the Homoiousians clearly rejected the idea that the Spirit was a mere energy or created. For example, Cyril of Jerusalem was viewed as a Homoiusian and he clearly held a strong Trinitarian position. Some of Cyril of Jerusalem's pertinent statements make this fact obvious.
"We need the grace of the Holy Spirit to treat aright of His Person and Work." (Catachetical Lectures, 16:1,2)
"The Holy Spirit is not, like the wind or the breath, an impersonal force, but one that lives and speaks. (Swete, The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, p. 203)
"3. There is One Only Holy Ghost, the Comforter; and as there is One God the Father, and no second Father;-and as there is One Only-begotten Son and Word of God, who hath no brother;-so is there One Only Holy Ghost, and no second spirit equal in-honour to Him. Now the Holy Ghost is a Power most mighty, a Being divine and unsearchable; for He is living and intelligent, a sanctifying principle of all things made by God through Christ.' He it is who illuminates the souls of the just; He was in the Prophets, He was also in the Apostles in the New Testament. Abhorred be they who dare to separate the operation of the Holy Ghost! There is One God, the Father, Lord of the Old and of the New Testament: and One Lord, Jesus Christ, who was prophesied of in the Old Testament, and came in the New; and One Holy Ghost, who through the Prophets preached of Christ, and when Christ was come, descended, and manifested Him . 4. Let no one therefore separate the Old from the New Testament ; let no one say that the Spirit in the former is one, and in the latter another; since thus he offends against the Holy Ghost Himself, who with the Father and the Son together is honoured, and at the time of Holy Baptism is included with them in the Holy Trinity. For the Only-begotten Son of God said plainly to the Apostles, Go ye, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Our hope is in Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost. We preach not three Gods; let the Marcionites be silenced; but with the Holy Ghost through One Son, we preach One God. The Faith is indivisible; the worship inseparable. We neither separate the Holy Trinity, like some; nor do we as Sabellius work confusion. But we know according to godliness One Father, who sent His Son to be our Saviour we know One Son, who promised that He would send the Comforter from the Father; we know the Holy Ghost, who spake in the Prophets, and who on the day of Pentecost descended on the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues, here, in Jerusalem, in the Upper Church of the Apostles; for in all things the choicest privileges are with us. Here Christ came down from heaven; here the Holy Ghost came down from heaven. And in truth it were most fitting, that as we discourse concerning Christ and Golgotha here in Golgotha, so also we should speak concerning the Holy Ghost in the Upper Church; yet since He who descended there jointly partakes of the glory of Him who was crucified here, we here speak concerning Him also who descended there: for their worship is indivisible." (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catachetical Lecture 16:3-4)
Another Homoiousian was George of Laodicea wrting in 359 AD he writes,
"The Easterners confess that there is one Godhead embracing everything through the Son in the Spirit, and they confess one Godhead and one sovereignty and one rule, but still they recognize the Persons in the properties of their hypostasis, perceiving the Father subsisting in the paternal authority and the Son…and they confess the Holy Spirit also, whom the Scripture names the Paraclete, recognizing him as subsisting from the Father through the Son." (As cited in Hanson, p. 743)
Others made similar professions such as Asternius, Narcissus of Neronias, Lucifer of Claris, Phoebadius of Agen,Theopholis of Castabla, and George of Elvira. But the confusion among the various sects of the Homoiusians does not prove that the Church had no definite position on the matter. By the 370's there the Pneumatomachians had already been condemned in the West which Harnack testifies took place rather "quickly." ( Harnack p. 117) I certainly do not deny that in the East in the "backyard" of the Penumatomachians that there was a great uncertainty since the Church at Constantinople had been in the control of the Arians for 40 years. Nor do I deny the fact that the some of the Homoiusians were either confused or undecided or rejected the orthodox position. Again, as St. Paul speaks of men of your own number shall arise and introduce heresies. In the social, political, and religious chaos that was in existence, I dare say I would expect plenty of misunderstandings, heresy and uncertainty. But once the Council decided (just like in Acts 15) the matter was settled.
"C On Page 115 Harnack states The absence of any tangible tradition exercised a strong influence on them (2)Gregory of Nazazianzus has consequently (Orat 31.2) to begin by remarking that he had been accused of introducing a QEOS ZENOS KAI AGRAFOS He himself practically admits the want of any explicit Scriptural proof, and has recourse to the plea (c. 3) that "love of the letter is a cloak for impiety." Basil undoubtedly appealed (de s.s. 29) to Irenaeus, Clemens Alex.,Origen, and Dionysis of Rome in defense of his doctrine, but he felt all the same that there was little evidence in support of it. Gregory made a similar admission. Page 115, footnote."
First off, that is Harnack's opinion. Gregory, like Basil appeals to a tangible tradition in Scripture, expositions by ante-Nicene Fathers and the practice of the Church. If that is not tangible, I don't know what is. Basil contradicts Harnack's argument in De Spiritu Sanctu chapter 29, sec 71-75. Basil gives all kinds of evidence that he feels is sufficient to base the doctrine on, in those sections and in others. Secondly, Rick misses the key word in Harnack "explicit". I agree, there is little EXPLICIT doctrine in the Bible, let alone about the Holy Spirit. That does not mean it is not implicitly revealed in the Bible and handed on by the Apostles. Basil uses Scripture himself to justify his appeal to the unwritten traditions in the Church, as did Gregory of Nazianzus.
"71. In answer to the objection that the doxology in the form "with the Spirit" has no written authority, we maintain that if there is no other instance of that which is unwritten, then this must not be received. But if the greater number of our mysteries are admitted into our constitution without written authority, then, in company with the many others, let us receive this one. For I hold it apostolic to abide also by the unwritten traditions. "I praise you," it is said, "that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you;" and "Hold fast the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word, or our Epistle." One of these traditions is the practice which is now before us, which they who ordained from the beginning, rooted firmly in the churches, delivering it to their successors, and its use through long custom advances pace by pace with time. If, as in a Court of Law, we were at a loss for documentary evidence, but were able to bring before you a large number of witnesses, would you not give your vote for our acquittal? I think so; for "at the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the matter be established." And if we could prove clearly to you that a long period of time was in our favour, should we not have seemed to you to urge with reason that this suit ought not to be brought into court against us? For ancient dogmas inspire a certain sense of awe, venerable as they are with a hoary antiquity. I will therefore give you a list of the supporters of the word (and the time too must be taken into account in relation to what passes unquestioned). For it did not originate with us. How could it? We, in comparison with the time during which this word has been in vogue, are, to use the words of Job, "but of yesterday." I myself, if I must speak of what concerns me individually, cherish this phrase as a legacy left me by my fathers. It was delivered to me by one who spent a long life in the service of God, and by him I was both baptized, and admitted to the ministry of the church. While examining, so far as I could, if any of the blessed men of old used the words to which objection is now made, I found many worthy of credit both on account of their early date, and also a characteristic in which they are unlike the men of to-day-because of the exactness of their knowledge. Of these some coupled the word in the doxology by the preposition, others by the conjunction, but were in no case supposed to be acting divergently,-at least so far as the right sense of true religion is concerned." (On the Holy Spirit, Chap 29)
What is interesting to me, is that Harnack claims that Basil made an admission for a lack of explicit Scriptural material for the orthodox doctrine, which the reference in Basil's work "On the Holy Spirit" has nothing to do with. Basil gives Scriptural arguments in that work in other sections and in other works against the Eunomians. In that section he is arguing from Tradition using some Scriptural verses as a supporting argument and nowhere is there any clear admission of a lack of explicit Scriptural material on his part. In the case of Gregory, Harnack gives NO REFERENCE where Gregory makes this supposed admission. We are just supposed to believe it I suppose on Harnack's authority! Excuse me if I abstain from believing him. In reference to Gregory being accused of introducing a strange God, so what? Gregory made the same kind of claim against the Arians and Pneumatomachians as did Athanasius before him in his letters to Seripion in 356 AD. Accusations don't make valid arguments or produce evidence.
"LP The book A History of Church Doctrine,in the section written by G.W.H Lampe, Christian Theology in the Patristic Period, page 111, In one field, however, the issue was still undecided: the question of the deity of the Holy Spirit. As late as the delivery of his Theological Orations (Orations 27-31), probably in 380, Gregory of Nazianzus complains that the subject is hard, and that some regard the Spirit as a divine operation, some as a creature, others as God, while others again either take up an agnostic position on the ground that Scripture gives, no clear guidance here, or make a broad hierarchical distinction between the Spirit and the Father and the Son. (...) Page 112 : Socrates (Socr. h.e. 2.45.), and also Didymus (Didym. Trin 2.8), indicate that they refused positively to speak of the Spirit as a creature, but that they could not acknowledge him to be God. One of the difficulties was the lack of positive Scriptural teaching, and Gregory Nazianzen, admitting this, has to content that it was not until after man had assimilated the revelation of the Son that God could reveal, after the close of the period of the Canon, the truth about the being of the Spirit. (Gr. Naz.or 31.24-27).
I have dealt with this in detail previously. Lampe is wrong on Socrates and Didymus because he misquotes Socrates and Didymus explicitly calls the Holy Spirit God and argues it from Scripture as Pelikan and other scholars have shown. Here again, Lampe is mistaken, Gregory does not state that God had to reveal the orthodox doctrine later, but that it is in the New Testament, that God suggested it, implied it or intimated it in the New Testament, but that it was not clearly set forth until later on. Secondly, why should the development of understanding and an increase in the teaching of the Scriptures be such a surprise after 250 years of persecution? The Apostles' themselves read specific OT passages in the light of their post-resurrection understanding. They themselves came to understand the place of the gentiles YEARS after the Ascension of Jesus. The Canon of Scripture was not formally fixed until almost 20 years after Gregory preached. If the doctrine of the Spirit is in question, why then is not the canon of Scripture in question on the very same basis, namely that the Church developed or increased in understanding and recognition?
"Wise men One opinion which appears to fly in the face of the clear words used herein is that the term "wise men" is being used in a negative sense, and not that these were comtemporary theologians that were peers of Gregory Naz., but can that be supported ? Harnack, page 115, thinks otherwise.C There are, from the words of Gregory three distinct views which were held by "the wise men amongst ourselves" (who would have included Gregory)  that the holy spirit was an "activity" (not a person)  that the holy spirit was a "creature" (the Arian view)  that the holy spirit was God (the view of Gregory himself) and those who were undecided. It was not considered a heretical view as late as 380 when Gregory writes this to consider the holy spirit to be an "activity" (latin energia) of God !"
Rick is clearly in error here when he says that it was not considered heretical to view the Spirit as an energy or gift from God. The fact of the matter is that Athanasius deemed it so in the 350's, as did Tertullian and others in the 2nd century during the Modalist controversies. Gregory in the 5th Oration calls the position heretical and unholy. The view of the Pneumatomachians did not even come into existence until about 360. (See Basil Studor, Trinity and Incarnation: The Faith of the Early Church, Liturgical Press, 1993, pp. 139-165) Not only that but the Western Council held by Damasus condemned it in 372 AD. It was not condemned previous to about 360 because it did not exist YET!!
And by the way, I believe energia is a Greek not a Latin term.
"The Greek Fathers use as almost synonymous the words 'gifts' (doreai), 'powers' (dynameis), 'energies' (energeiai), 'chrisms' (charismata)." Constantine N. Tsorpanlis, An Introduction to Eastern Patristic Thought and Orthodox Theology, Liturgical Press, 1991 p. 87
Unless of course the Patristic scholar of the Greek Fathers Tsorpanlis doesn't know Greek. But on to the next section in Rick's webpage.
"D Harnack on Page 116, footnote: "According to Gregory of Naz. God himself merely indicated the Godhead of the Holy Spirit in the N.T and did not plainly reveal it till later on in order not to lay too great a burden on men (!) ---a theory which overthrows the whole Catholic doctrine of tradition. It is thus also permitted to the faithful not to initate this divine "economy" and to bring forward the doctrine of the Spirit with caution and to introduce it gradually. "Those who regard the Holy Spirit as God are godly men illuminated with knowledge, and those who say that He is God, when this is done in presence of well-disposed hearers, have something herioic about them; but if it be done in presence of vulgar-minded it shews that they do not possess the true teaching wisdom, EI DE TAPENOIS OUK OIKINONIKOI, because they are casting their pearls into the mud, or are giving strong meat instead of milk," and so on (Orat.41.6)"
Yes, God merely indicated the orthodox doctrine of the Spirit, so what? God did not indicate the Canon of Scripture at all!! God did not indicate explicitly how New Testament Christians were to worship! What a terrible crime! Only to a Jehovah's Witness who is being inconsistent or a German Liberal theologian of the 19th century. Again, the doctrine is implicit. I just find it really amusing that JW's argue that the light gets brighter and brighter for the WT society but yet attack the idea of the development of doctrine in the early Church. And by the way, Harnack was mistaken, it is not contrary to the Catholic doctrine of Tradition, but is part and parcel with it, as Newman made clear, as well as Bicknell. As far as there being something heroic about affirming orthodoxy, I have treated that above in detail. Generally the answer is that in that area of the empire the orthodox were not in power and were suffering persecution, hence they were deemed by Gregory and others to be spiritual, heroic, etc.
"F On Page 112 Harnack states The first trace of the emergence of the question as to the Spirit is found, so far as I know, in the Anathemas (20 ff.) of the very conservative Creed of the Eusebian Council of Sirmium(351). Here the identification of the Holy Spirit with the unbegotten God and with the Son, as also the designation of it as MEROS TOU PATROS H TOU hUIOU, (part of the Father and of the Son,) are forbidden. It was towards the end of the fifties that Athanasius directed his attention to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and he at once took up a firm position.'"
Yes, as FAR AS HARNACK KNOWS, that is an interesting qualification. The Eusebian council
condemned what it thought was Modalism on the part of some of the Nicenes. But as was made clear previously, there was much confusion and when the smoke had cleared years later, most of the Homoiusians joined the Nicenes. What should have been said was the first emergence of the debate about the Spirit was in the Creed of the First Council of Sirmium. But Studor disagrees and argues with Hanson that the debate about the Spirit did not begin at the very least until the Tropici and Athanasisus reply to Seripion in about 356 if not later at 360 AD. The phrase "part of the Father and the Son" is obviously directed toward a modalistic understanding, which the Nicene's and Cappadocians obviously rejected. This is easily accounted for by terminology differences and other social factors by and large as I have noted above.
"G On Page 111, footnote 3, Harnack states "See the so-called Confession of Lucian, i.e. the Second Creed of Antioch; cf. besides the third and fourth formulae of Antioch , the so-called formula of Sardicia--a proof that the orthodox theologians of the West had not yet given attention to the question; their statement : PISTEUOMEN TON PARAKLHTON TO hAGION PNEUMA, hOPER HMIN AUTOS hO KURIOS KAI EPHGGEILATO KAI EPEMYEN KAI TOUTO PISTEUOMEN PEMFQEN, KAI TOUTOU OU TEPINQEN, ALL hO ANQRWPOS, if it has been corrected handed down, shews, besides, a highly suspicious want of clearness; further the formula macrostich., the formulae of Philippopolis and the later Sirmian and Homoean formulae; in the formula of 357 we have "spiritus paracletus per filium est.'"
And why should they bother to be more specific than Tertullian and other Roman and Western bishops had already been 100 years prior? Why should they be more specific than the Baptismal Rite in Hippolytus' Apostolic Tradition from 200 AD? Both Liberius and Damasus fought against Arianism in all its various forms. There was no need to combat the Pneumatomachians until they existed about 360 or so. Besides, they were generally limited to the East of the empire.
"H Harnack states on page 114 that "It was at the Synod of Alexandria (362) that the orthodox first took up the definite position with regard to this question that whoever regards the Holy Spirit as a creature and separates it from the substance of Christ, in so doing divides up the Holy Trinity, gives a hypocritical adherence to the Nicene Faith, and has merely in appearance renounced Arianism."
That synod was to generally resolve terminological differences between East and West. The fact that an explicit definition was produced there is no proof that the position came into existence at that point. This is obvious because Athanasius held a position on the matter years before and he was at this Synod, if I am not mistaken. Harnack's point rests on the simple fallacy that the first mentioning of an idea from available evidence is proof of the first actual instance of the position or idea.
"I Harnack States on page 114, footnote 3 that "The formula of the revised Creed of Jerusalem, i.e., the later creed of Constantinople, is characteristic. It only demands the complete adoration and glorifying of the Spirit along with the Father and the Son, but otherwise confines itself to general predicates: "TO KURION, TO ZWOPOIN, TO EK TOU PATROS EKPOREUOMENON, TO LALHSAN DIA TWN PROFHHTWN." These are undoubtedly of a very exalted kind and seem also to exclude the idea of the dependance of the Spirit on the Son, but nevertheless they do not get the length of the complete Homousia."
Funny, the Canons and the Synodal Letter of the Council of Constantinople thought it did attribute the concept of Homoousia to the Spirit. The creed of that councils appears at about 373 in the works of Epiphanius and he certainly thought that the Spirit was Homoousia with the Father and the Son. Not only that, but the Pneumatomachians thought it went the whole way because they refused to subscribe to it. See references to Hanson above for further elucidation on Harnack's outdated opinion on this point.
"J Harnack, page 111 "In the first thirty years after the commencement of the Arian controversy, the Holy Spirit is scarcely ever mentioned Basil ep 125, although the Lucianists and consequently Arius too regarded it as indeed a divine hypostasis, but at the same time as the most perfect creature, which the Father had created through the Son and which therefore was inferior to the Son also in nature, dignity, and position." See Basil., ep. 125: hO DE PERI TOU PNEUMATOS LOGOS EN PARADROMH KEITAI OUDEMIAS EZERGASIAS hAZIWQEIS, DIA TO MHDEPW TOTE KEKINHSQAI TO ZHTHMA, i.e., at the time of the Nicene Council. [ The doctrine of the Spirit, however, is merely mentioned, as needing no elaboration, because at the time of the Council no question was mooted, and the opinion on this subject in the hearts of the faithful was exposed to no attack.]"
Yeah so? The Arian controversy began as a question of the Son's status and later moved to the question of the Spirit. This citation proves what I have been saying for quite some time actually, that the denial of the Spirit's personality did not generally come about until 360 AD because even the Arians held initially to the personality of the Spirit. The Arians even attacked the Pneumatomachians at various times. ( See Hanson, p. 767, footnote 140.)
I have taken a great amount of time answering Rick's accusations against myself and Trinitarianism in general. I hope that someone finds it helpful. I do not actually think that Rick will change his view, even in the face of the compelling evidence that I have laid before him. I have gone through Rick's post to me and his web page in detail, leaving no stone unturned. By doing so I believe that I have amply shown that the doctrine of the Personality and the Deity of the Holy Spirit is impervious to such vain and fallacious attacks. I do not wish to argue with Rick any further because it seems to me that no matter what I refute him with and no matter how many times he concedes to me, nothing will change his mind. I have a commitment to the orthodox faith as found in the Catholic and Apostolic Anglican body that I presently reside in. He has a commitment to the Watchtower as his final authority. All I can say is that the Church has been here since day one and the WT is another Johnny-come-lately. I trust the Church that Jesus founded to persevere by the power of the Spirit through all trials, heresies and schisms. Rick does not. I do think then that Rick should question the idea that the WT is presently God's organization. If the Church that Jesus established can fall away once, why not twice? After all, there are multiple denominations of Jehovah's Witnesses. In short the question is not about facts or dates or anything like that, but about commitment or presuppositions. If we cannot understand the Scriptures without being connected to God's organization, than any appeal to the Scriptures BEFORE you know who is God's organization and are joined to it is useless. How does Rick know who is God's organization then without quoting the Bible?
As far as development goes, Rick seems to see development of doctrine as evolution from one thing into something totally different, where as I see it as an increase in understanding of an already delivered message within an already established people of God. I find the former concept to be something that a JW would be required to believe considering that the WT has changed its teachings numerous times on various issues, including whom we are to worship and what counts as idolatry. Russell himself in the book, The Three Worlds, defends the personality of the Holy Spirit against the Christadelphians, using a reductio ad absurdum argument that if the Spirit is a force then so is Jehovah and Jesus and Satan, etc. (pp. 57-58) (That was in 1877, when they were still teaching that you should worship Jesus.) Why is any kind of development valid for the WT society and NOT for the early Church? Anyhow, there is plenty of material in the works that I have cited or referenced to keep anyone busy looking deeper into the topic for quite some time. I have found Hanson's work The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God to be probably one of the better up to date works on the topic, though there are others.
In closing, Rick, if you still disagree with me, I really don't care. I am not convinced of your fictitious history and fallacious arguments. If you want to discuss this in a way that you are willing to learn in private, then perhaps I would be open to that, but any more of this type of playing with the sources I really want no part of. I pray that you would seriously think about these matters. I just don't have the time to argue with someone who is not interested in real and meaningful dialog but rather wishes to take on perceived authorities on the Net and make slams against them in order to gain followers and points in the eyes of men.
In Christ the Victor
Athansius Contra Mundum
This appendix is added to Perry's original post in order to address some new amendments to Rick Stamp's site and some recent claims he has made by email. Rick has attempted to answer some of Perry's claims in general but has offered no detailed response to the above entire critique. Some of the additions will answer the question as to why some of the body the response to his page does not appear on his page. It appears that some sections were deleted or moved in reaction to some of Perry's criticisms. Hence the reader should not be troubled by the recent edition of Rick's page and Perry's original reply to the older version.
This appendix will begin by answering some of Rick's claims (in italics) in email and then move on to the new portions of Rick's page that are relevant.
The New Email
Monday, February 15, 1999 4:54 PM Rick Stamp wrote,
"I see that you have copied Perry on this and so I will kill two birds with one stone. My article on the holy spirit may have had some additions that Perry was not aware of, such as quotes from J.N.D Kelly on the subject of the wise men amongst us. I organized it a bit and pulled some references into the main outline to make it easier to see. This makes it clear that Harnack, who Perry spent so much time refuting is really only a minor contributor to the list of scholars who comment on the "wise men".
I was quite aware of Kelly's thoughts on the topic as I own a number of his works. As a matter of fact I read 2 pages over the phone to Mark Cunningham the other day before I received your comments regarding Kelly. I did not cite Kelly in my first response because I did not think that he added anything to the argument. But since you think that he does and that you have taken the liberty of citing him I will examine your citations of him.
I used Harnack as an example of your fallacious appeal to authority. I showed that:
1. Harnack was not a patristics scholar
2. Harnack started with anti-Christian and anti-supernaturalistic presuppositions.
3. Harnack had a preconceived notion of Christian history which colored his whole approach.
4. Harnack was motivated by his own personal theological and philosophical prejudices.
5. Harnack was never accepted into any position of authority in the Church.
6. Harnack's basic theory of history was shaped by Hegelianism.
7. Harnack's conclusions are outdated and criticised today by both liberal and conservative scholars in multiple fields.
8.Harnack's methods and assumptions forced him to reject major doctrines of Christianity such as the Virgin birth, the deity and pre-existence of Jesus, the Resurrection of the body, the possiblity of miracles, the existence of demons, exorcism and Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Which of these points have you refuted or even addressed? Secondly, on your original page you relied on Harnack perhaps more than any other source. But the fact of the matter is that I dealt with every comment you made on your page and in email to me. Removing Harnack as a major source does not strengthen your argument since you would also need to answer every criticism that I made of every point and thinker on your page and in your emails to me. This you have not done. Why? Also of note is that my interpretation of the phrase "wise men" is that they refer to the theologians or philosophers in the East where Gregory is speaking in 380. You have yet to show that the various views described were universally present from day one, let alone before Nicea. This also you have not done.
"I have also made a few minor additions as of this weekend and today that Perry will not have seen yet.
1) A short, limited and incomplete biography of the scholars. Right now I only have Fisher, but this is sufficient to show that the scholars run the gamut, so to speak from liberal to conservative."
Rick even if that were so, and I plan to show that it is not, that would not make their position true just because they said it. Again, appeals to authorities at best merely raise the probable truth-value of a claim, they do not establish the said claim's truth-value.
2) An entry on the meaning and usage of Wisdom from Trench that you will find VERY illuminating as will as the actual Greek text of Naz's 31,5 which provides a basis for comparison of other so-called similar language in the GNT. I think you will find if you compare the Greek of Perry's "among ourselves" examples that there is no comparison.
Again, how does this touch my interpretation that the "wise men" that Gregory refers to are limited to the East, especially to Constantinople where Gregory is preaching? Again, the question is not one of wording but of interpretation. My initial claim when this dialog began was that you had not supported the claim that the phrase could be used in more than one way. That claim was true when I made it, though that was not my interpretation of Gregory's words. The question was only given in order to show that at that time you had not born the burden of proof and were far from proving your case.
3) I have added Swete's translation of 31,5. Since Perry quotes him I think he will probably accept it better than some of the other authors.
I accept either translation. Either translation is equally acceptable to me, either "wise men" or "Christian Philosophers" since either translation fits my interpretation of the facts.
"You will probably find that Perry's document does not really do that much damage to my article when you take these factors into account."
Well taking these factors into account actually misses the vast majority of my argument since I went line by line through your entire page on the topic. Why didn't you go line by line through my response? But at the very least you do admit that my criticisms did do some damage to your thesis, even if you try to mitigate it by the qualification "that much."
"I will say that I don't see how Perry can criticize me for 'appeals to authority' as it appears that he does the same thing himself with his quotes. I think you will find that my scholars are selected from a much wider cross section of beliefs and world views than his are, but of course that is subjective."
I do not appeal to various scholarly authorities in such a way that I think that something is true just because they said so, but rather I support their interpretations with primary source evidence and various arguments. If you had carefully read the long section on appeals to authority, I do not see how you could have missed this point.
Secondly your argument on this point is that I do what you have done and then chide you for doing it. But this is nothing more than a "tu quo que" fallacy. (You too! Fallacy)
Thirdly I fail to see how the sources I used are lesser in scope than yours since I used your sources plus many others. But even if I did use fewer or not as representative a sample, it is not the spectrum that matters as much as the validity of the arguments and evidence presented. Fourthly, you are accusing me of a double standard or special pleading. I think you fail to see the difference between what you did on your web page and what I did in my critique. You simply presented citations from authorities as if that made your position correct. I did a number of things in response. I showed that some of those authorities were not reliable or that you were unreliable in using them. I showed how their arguments were faulty or did not speak to the point that you implied that they did. Hence I did not make a fallacious appeal to authority as you have done in the past.
"Kelly was on my web page before I received Perry's response. I added a quote from Swete on the "wise men". While Swete's theology agrees with you, he admits to a rendering of Gregry Naz. in Orat 31,5 which supports my claim that the term "wise men" is being used in a positive sense."
It is true that Swete agrees with that reading, but my interpretation is not proved wrong because of it.
"I think you should take a look at it for yourself. It is at this link
"The scholars who support my view are J.N.D Kelly, Swete (newly added), G.P Fisher, Lampe, Wolfson and Harnack. I would consider Swete and Fisher to be conservative, Harnack to be liberal and I think Kelly is conservative as I have seen James White quote him. I have seen no scholar of the opinion that the term wise men is being use in a negitive sense."
Let us be clear on what the scholars support you on. They support a reading of Gregory that among the various theologians present in the East there were diverse opinions. Just a note, Lampe, Wolfson and Harnack are liberals, and I dare suspect Fisher of being a liberal as well because of his praise for Briggs during the controversy that he was involved. All I asked for in the initial post to you was that you substantiate its connotation. I can perfectly agree that the connotation is a positive one and it does nothing to my interpretation. Why not deal with the interpretation that I put forward?
"Oh, yes, and I have Migne who translated the Greek into Latin with the phrase 'Nostrates vere sapientes' which has vere (genuine or true) s an adjective to sapientes (wise). This I added today along with a quote from Thucydides who uses the same Greek phrase that Gregory did which proves that 'among ourselves' includes Gregory."
How does this prove that my interpretation is wrong? You seem to think that the phrase "among us" is applicable or descriptive of the state of the whole Church, rather than it being a description of local circumstances. How is such a reading justified?
"My page speaks for itself and has been fortified considerably in just the last few days. Some of Perry's arguments appear to address things from previous emails that I neither remember or care about. There is even something from Mark Ross in there. What's that all about anyway? The point made re Gregories 31,5 remains solid. Nothing in Perry's response invalidates it in any way. I suggest you take a look at the site for yourself."
Rick, the things in the previous emails that I addressed are the same general points STILL on your page. Do you mean to say that you do not care about the things on your page? If you read the post, how is it that you have to ask what the issue with Mark Ross was about? Secondly, you seem to affirm that your position remains firm by ignoring everything I wrote. Why not deal with everything I have written line by line as I have done with you?
The New Material
Pre 325 1. Justin Martyr G.P. Fisher in "History of Christian Doctrine", page 65 says " Justin speaks of the Spirit in conjunction with the Father and Christ, in such terms as naturally to imply that the Spirit is regarded as distinct from both, although subordinate to them. It is evident that his conception of the Holy Spirit and of the relation of the Spirit to the Father and the Son is not well defined in his own thoughts."
Yes it is quite true that Justin had subordinationalistic tendencies, but he obviously thought of the Spirit as divine and personal. For example from the Dialog with Trypho chap. 36 he states,
"'And the Holy Spirit, either from the person of His Father, or from His own person, answers them, `The Lord of hosts, He is this King of glory.'"
Simply because Justin had subordinationalistic tendencies does not mean that he was a forrunner of Arianism as Stanley M. Burgess states,
"The subordination of the second and the third Persons appears to be one of rank and function only. There is little evidence to suggest that Justin is a true forerunner of Arius, Macedonius, or Eunomius, who make distinctions within the Trinity on matters of essence and nature." (The Holy Spirit: Ancient Christian Traditions, Hendrickson, 1984, p. 28-See also Swete on page 37 of The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church says the same thing.)
I agree that the relation of the three Persons in Justin's theology was not "well defined". How does that prove that the Church had no definite position in relation to the doctrine of the Spirit? Secondly one can hold to a position and not be aware of how to articulate it well or have it well defined. (Doesn't the light get brighter and brighter?) You think that the lack of a formal definition entails the non-existence of a position. This is clearly not the case. Hence you seem to constantly confuse the existence of a position with the existence of formal authoritative definitions.
[ In Apol. I.6 Justin enumerates as the objects of Christian worship the most true God , the Son who came from Him, "and the host of other good angels," and the Spirit of Prophecy.]
Here you are citing Fisher's footnote number 2 on page 65, that is, you are citing part of it. The very next line of the footnote reads as follows,
"The placing of the angels in the list before the Spirit was probably an accident, being suggested not unlikely by the mention of the Son as sent from God; that is, as a messanger, the literal sense of 'angel.' But what of the worship which is said to be accorded to angels? As Justin nowhere else refers to a worship of angels, but asserts that only the Father, Son and Spirit are to be worshipped (Apol I. 13, 61, 65, 66), it is probable that the term 'worship' is used in Apol. I. 6, without reflection, in a loose sense, his aim being here to confute the charge of atheism. The Christians, he would say, are not so destitute, as you assert, of celestial objects of veneration. The apologetic motive leads Justin here to show that these are numerous." (Fisher, History of Christian Doctrine, 1896, p. 65, ft 2.)
I think this context gives us a better understanding of Justin's view of the Holy Spirit. Rather than denying the Spirit is God, the Spirit is an object of Christian veneration or worship. Swete himself has some interesting comments on this passage when he states,
"Yet the inferiority which he ascribes to the Second and Third Persons is one of place and rank only (!!!!!!!) not of essence or nature (!!!!!!), so that he is not a forerunner of Arius, Macedonius, or Eunomius. It is more startling to find him (i. 6) apparently coordinating the angelic host with the Son and the Spirit. But the angels find a place in this context as the bodyguard of the Son, reflecting His likeness (!!!!!!!), and it is in this capacity that they precede the Holy Spirit in Justin's enumeration. He cannot have intended to subordinate the Holy Spirit to angels, since in the same treatise he assigns to the Spirit the next rank after the Son." (Swete, Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, p.37)
Swete, Burgess, and Fisher seem to contradict your implications regarding Justin. But even beyond this, in the Schaff and Wace Ante-Nicene Fathers, the translators have included an interesting footnote that I shall include here,
"This is the literal and obvious translation of Justin's words. But from C. 13, 16, and 61, it is evident that he did not desire to inculcate the worship of angels. We are therefore driven to adopt another translation of this passage, even though it be somewhat harsh. Two such translations have been proposed: the first connecting 'us' and "the host of the other good angels" as the common object of the verb 'taught;' the second connecting 'these things' with 'the host of,' etc., and making these two together the subject taught. In the first case the translation would stand, 'taught these things to us and to the host,' etc.; in the second case the translation would be, 'taught us about these things, and about the host of the others who follow Him, viz. the good angels.'" (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, p. 164, right column, note 3.)
I think this nails shut your usage of Fisher in support of the contention that Justin lacked a position on the Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit. You confuse Fisher's comment that sometimes Justin spoke confusedly with Justin having no position at all. The two are obviously not the same.
But let us move on to your usage of Swete.
"Swete on page 49 of his book "The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church", says of The Greek Apologists that "There was still a disposition to confuse the use of 'Spirit' to express the pre-existent nature of Christ". He also comments on the citation from Justin Martry in Apol. I.6 quoted above and says 'There was also, but not in all, a tendency to subordinate unduly the Second Person to the First and the Third to both. In one place Justin has placed the ministering spirits between the Word and the Spirit of God." Of course this would be quite natural for one who considered the holy spirit to be not a person, but the Power of God!"
This is a real stretch especially in light of what Swete says just a few pages previous to this, which I cited above. I will first cite this and then give the whole passage from Swete that you cited.
"Yet the inferiority which he ascribes to the Second and Third Persons is one of place and rank only (!!!!!!!) not of essence or nature (!!!!!!), so that he is not a forerunner of Arius, Macedonius, or Eunomius. It is more startling to find him (i. 6) apparently coordinating the angelic host with the Son and the Spirit. But the angels find a place in this context as the bodyguard of the Son, reflecting His likeness (!!!!!!!), and it is in this capacity that they precede the Holy Spirit in Justin's enumeration. He cannot have intended to subordinate the Holy Spirit to angels, since in the same treatise he assigns to the Spirit the next rank after the Son." (Swete, Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, p.37)
Either Swete was a wacko or you have misrepresented him. Swete's whole work was conservative in tone and he firmly believed that the Fathers upheld the Apostolic teaching of the Deity and Personality of the Spirit. Swete was one of the conservative Anglican scholars who opposed the German Liberalism that was sweeping across Europe. Anyone who has read his work knows this to be the case. Obviously Swete does not think that your conclusion can be drawn from the text of Justin. As I have shown, he contradicts it. I just find it interesting what you have left out in your citation of Swete, which I shall display in bold.
"Those of the Apologists who were philosophers found it easier to develop the doctrine of the Logos than that of the Holy Spirit. But the attempt was made, especially by Justin and Athenagoras, to find a place for the Spirit in the theology of the Church; and it was not altogether without success. There was still a disposition 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. There was also, but not in all, a tendency to subordinate unduly the Second Person to the First and the Third to both. In one place Justin has placed the ministering spirits between the Word and the Spirit of God. But elsewhere he expressly reserves the third place for the Holy Spirit, and his slip has been tacitly corrected by Athenagoras, though even the latter includes created spirits in his (!!!!.) Swete, Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, p. 49)
Now I want to point something out to the reader. If you examine Rick's citation and compare it to the complete passage from Swete you should notice something that Rick does not do. It is customary that when one cites from a passage and leaves out information mid sentence or at the end of the sentence that one should place elipses at the point where the citation ceases if the original sentence is being left incomplete. (Elipses are three periods in a row such as …) Now, why did Rick leave these out? Could it be because they would signal the reader to the fact that Rick was leaving out some pertinent information? Secondly, look at the information that Rick excised from Swete. Swete designates in Justin the Holy Spirit as "of the Third Person in God." Swete also qualifies his comments noting that when Justin is speaking of worship in a strict sense, he only includes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and NOT angels or any other created thing. Surely in light of the comments by Fisher and Swete this makes perfect sense and overthrows Rick's whole contention. To sum it all up I would like to cite J.N.D. Kelly,
"In spite of incoherencies, however, the lineaments of a Trinitarian doctrine are clearly discernable in the Apologists. The Spirit was for them the Spirit of God; like the Word, He shared the divine nature, being (in Athenagoras's words) an 'effluence' from the Deity. Although much of Justin' s language about Him has a sub-personal ring, it becomes more personal when he speaks of 'the prophetic Spirit'; and there is no escaping the personal implications contained in his pleas that Plato borrowed his conception of a third One from Moses, and that the pagan custom of erecting statues of Kore at springs was inspired by the Scriptural picture of the Spirit moving upon the waters." (Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 1978, p. 103)
Obviously, Fisher did not mean to imply what Rick selectively cited him to imply. Neither does Burgess, Swete or Kelly. Rick is clearly wrong and is twisting citations to fit his interpretation of the facts.
On to the next point.
"Arius taught that "the Holy Spirit is the first created nature produced by the Son." according to George Park Fisher, D.D. LL.D, "History of Christian Doctrine", page 144. There is no record that this was disputed at Nicea in 325."
First, let me correct Fisher here. Arius taught that there were three "realities" or "Persons" (hypostasis) that form a "Triad" or "Trinity". For example, he says,
"For when the Father gave him the inheritance of everything he did not deprive himself of that which he posses unoriginatedly in himself; for he is the source of all. Consequently there are three existing realities (hypostasis). (Arius's Profession of Faith, 320 AD)
He taught, from what we can gather from a few of his genuine letters, that God was totally transcendent to created things and could not be fully known or represented by anyone else. This idea he culled from Neo-Platonism. He also taught that the Son was begotten before time but was created before time was created. The Son in turn created the Spirit, another Person. This was Arius's "Trinity." He emphasized the distinctions of the Persons in part based on his commitment to Platonic philosophy and he reacted to Modalism, which said that God was One being who acted as three different persons. The only way in Arius's mind to counter-act this heresy was to assert that the three Persons of the Trinity were different beings, hence three gods or deities. From what we can tell, Arius did not think that the Spirit was a "nature" but a Person. For a complete discussion see R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, T.&T. Clark, 1997, pp. 3-123) This is also born out by later Arian synods which explictly described the Spirit as a Person. These are mentioned in my previous post.
Secondly, Rick's argument is that since there is no record of a debate at Nicea of it, that it logically follows that a debate about it did not ensue. This is an argument from silence. This is akin to concluding that since we have no tangible evidence of the Crossing at the Red Sea or the forty year pilgrimage in the desert that it did not take place. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But let me grant you that there was no debate about the Spirit at Nicea, how does it follow from such a assumed fact that the Church had no position regarding the Holy Spirit prior to Nicea? Fisher, Burgess, Swete, Kelly and many others state that there was a pre-Nicene position on the Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit and it was "Trinitarian." Your reasoning here Rick is very weak. It is a non-sequitor. Your conclusions simply do not follow from the premises.
As to the facts of the matter though Socrates records the creed of Eusebius of Cesarea that he proposed at the Council of Nicea, which I think settles the matter. The citation is as follows,
"We believe also in one Holy Spirit. We believe in the existence and subsistence of each of these [persons]: that the Father is truly Father, the Son truly Son, and the Holy Spirit truly Holy Spirit; even as our Lord also, when he sent forth his disciples to preach the Gospel, said, `Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' " (Socrates, HE, 1, 8, 24)
The fact that a creed with this conclusion could be put forth and not rebuked at an ecumenical council on that point, and that contained a clear Trinitarian implication regarding the person of the Spirit disproves your whole point. It wasn't disputed at Nicea because it was already implictly believed and taught.
"J.N.D Kelly observes in Early Christian Doctrines , page 258, that while Athanasius considered the Holy Spirit to be God, "In deference to current convention Athanasius abstains from calling Him God directly"
Athanasisus does not use the formula, "The Spirit is God." Granted. He does not use the formula "See Jesus Run."either. Athanasius was arguing for the deity of the Spirit when the Tropici/Pneumatamochi heresy began about 360 AD. He clearly affirmed that the Holy Spirit was God and even applied the term homoousious to the Spirit. He affirms quite clearly that the Spirit must be divine like the Father, otherwise we could not be said to worship Him in the Liturgy. If you would like some citations, see Swete's section on Athanasius, since you seem to have access to his work. If not, I will be happy to post some for you.
Again you seem to leave out pertinent information. For example the very next line of Kelly reads, "But his doctrine is that He [The Spirit] belongs to the Word and the Father, and shares one and the same substance (!!!!!!!) with Them." (Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, p. 258) As a matter of fact Kelly gives a nice summation of Athanasius Trinitarianism in the very next paragraph.
"What Athanasius says about the Spirit, we should observe rounds off his teaching about the Trinity. The Godhead, according to this conception, exists eternally as a Triad of Persons (we recall that he had no term of his own for this) sharing one identical and indivisible substance or essence. All three Persons, moreover are possesed of one and the same activity (!!!!!!), so that 'the Father accomplishes all things through the Word in the Holy Spirit.' Whatever the Father effects in the way of creation, or government of the universe, or redemption, he effects through His Word; and whatever the Word carries out, He carries out through the Spirit. Hence he can write, 'The holy and blessed Triad is indivisible and one in Itself When mention is made of the Father, the Word is also included, as also the Spirit Who is in the Son. If the Son is named, the Father and the is in the son and the Spirit is not outside the Word. For there is a single grace which is fulfilled from the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.'" (Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, p. 258)
Here again, another example of the same left out pertinent information by way of selective citation:
"At the outset of this council, the majority were 'not agreed among themselves on the questions in debate.' 'They were generally opposed to the homoousian' [that the Father and Son were the same substance] because of the fear of Sabellianism and also because 'they were Arians from conviction.' "The Nicene Creed was carried in the Council by the pressure of imperial influence, against the judgment and inclinations of the major part of the body. " "History of Christian Doctrine",Fisher, page 138.
Let me give the full citation from Fisher since you again leave out pertinent information. I will place the qualifying information in bold to make the difference clear to you.
"There was a great middle party, constituting a majority, who were far from being agreed among themselves on the questions in the debate, but were united in opposing the introduction of new terminology. They wanted to frame a statement of belief that would satisfy all, and thus pacify the disputants. They were generally opposed to the Homoousian,- a part from fear of a Sabellian interpretation, and another part because they were Arians from conviction." (Fisher, p. 138)
Hence a PART of the party which came to be known as the Homoiusian party disliked the term Homoousian because it had been condemned in 268 for it's meaning in the theology of Paul of Samosata which was Modalistic. Hence part of that faction feared the term because of its past theological denotation. Another PART of that group rejected it, says Fisher, because they were Arians at heart. Hence the majority was by no means Arian. As Fisher himself says just about 3 lines above where you quoted,
"When it came to the shaping of the creed, neither of the parties comprised at the outset more than a minor portion of the members of the Council." (Fisher, p. 138)
This makes it quite clear that Fisher did not mean to say, as your omissions seem to try to make him say, that the majority of the Council was Arian. As far as Constantine determining the outcome of the Council, this is pure fiction for a number of reasons. First, these are the same bishops by and large who suffered under previous Roman emperors who had tried to force them to sacrifice to idols under pain of torture, confiscation of property, execution of themselves or their loved ones or both. It seems highly improbable that they would have just simply gone along with whatever Constantine wanted if they thought that the doctrine was idolatry.
Secondly, previous to the Council Constantine had labeled the Novatians heretics and prescribed various injunctions against them, along with various other groups. The Council of Nicea rejected that and established that the Novatians were orthodox in their teaching, but the dispute with them was jurisdictional, not theological. Hence if the Council were the lap dog of Constantine, they surely would not have dared to contradict him.
Thirdly Constantine to my knowledge had no vote in the council and neither did Athanasius, since Constantine was a layman and Athanasisus was still only a deacon.
In conclusion I think that Elliot's comments are most appropriate on this issue,
"It seems to me that at Nicea, as at Arles, and as at Tyre, Constantine smoothed the bishops' way to the council, but that he left the theological questions to them, and provided some enforcement of their decisions." (Elliot, p. 332)
"If he had ever tried to bend the doctrine of the Church in the interests of unity it could be argued that political considerations influenced him more than theological ones did. As things stand, this cannot be demonstrated: he is not on record as having opposed the verdict of any of the councils which he convoked." (Elliot, T.G., The Christianity of Constantine the Great, Univ of Scranton Press, 1996, p. 333)
Hanson echoes this conclusion when he is commenting on the composition of the Creed of Nicea and says,
"This at least informs us that the Creed produced by the Council was carefully and thoroughly debated, and not merely imposed by Constantine." (Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 162)
In short, as Elliot argues, this theory promulgated by Gibbon in the 18th century is "a quack theory."
Another citation of Rick's reads as follows:
"362 It was at the Synod of Alexandria that the orthodox first took up the definite position with regard to whether the Holy Spirit is a creature, but the creed did not in effect renounce this view. [(ibid page 114) H, I]Kelly in "Early Christian Doctrines", page 259, states that Athanasius secured acceptance of the proposition that the Spirit is not a creature" and that "the underlying divergences of opinion are brought out into the light of day" as a result."
First off, there were many Church Fathers who taught that the Spirit was a Person, as even the Arians affirmed, and that the Spirit was divine or deity. Secondly, the Nicene position as reiterated at Constantinople in 381 was that the Spirit was to be worshipped, as many Fathers maintained in the past. Thirdly, again you leave out pertinent information.
Kelly says, "In 362 at the council of Alexandria, Athanasius secured the acceptance of the proposition that the Spirit is not a creature but belongs to, and is inseparable from, the substance of the Father and the Son." (Kelly, p. 259)
You make it seem like Athanasius did this all on his little lonesome. Secondly, the Nicene council did not need to renounce a view that by and large did not even exist until 360 AD as Studor and other scholars indicate. Thirdly it was necessary to do so because the denial of the Spirit was by and large limited to the East as was Arianism in general.
Continuing, Rick state as follows:
"He then quotes Gregory Nazianzus [see next section on 380] in his Or.31,5. 372 "Gregory of Nazianzus, describes[Ep 58] how Basil, when preaching in 372, studiously abstained from speaking openly of the Spirit's deity.", according to Kelly, page 260. He also says (ibid) that "because of the wide variety of opinion which had to be placated, progress towards the full Athanasian position [homoousian of the Spirit] was necessarily gradual"."
Yes, where Gregory and Basil lived, Arianism was dominant and it was hazardous to one's health to openly oppose it as I showed before. This was born out by the simple fact that Greogry himself says that he had to flee for his life because of the Arian mobs at Constantinople. I perfectly agree that in sections of the East Arianism was dominate from about 262-375 AD. This easily explains why they had to be cautious. It hardly follows from this that this was the case everywhere in or outside of the Empire.
J.N.D Kelley , says of this Oratio 31,5 on page 259 of Early Christian Doctrines, "In a sermon preached in 380 Gregory of Nazianzus gives an illuminating of the wide variety of views which still held the field. Some, he reports, consider the Holy Spirit to be a force (energeia), others a creature, others God. Others, making the vagueness of Scripture their excuse, decline to commit themselves. Of those who acknowledge His deity, some keep it as a pious opinion to themselves, other proclaim it openly, and yet others seem to postulate three Persons possessing deity in different degrees. "
While that is what Kelly says, it should be kept in its historical context of what was happening in the EAST and not necessarily throughout the entire Church. To do otherwise is to reason from the part to the whole which is fallacious and historically incorrect.
J.N.D. Kelley says "The opponents of the full deity of the Spirit were known as Macedonians or Pneumatomachians ("Spirit-fighters"). The former name, which only came into use after 380, recalls Macedonius ... The Pneumatomachians, as they are more suitable named, harked back to the left-wing Homoeousians whom Athanasius must have had in mind when insisting on the homoousian of the Spirit at Alexandria.
Actually Basil the Great uses the term in the early 370's in his work, On the Holy Spirit. Other than that, this citation says little and proves less.
In closing regarding Kelly, I find it interesting that you cited Lampe in your previous edition of your page and in your emails to me you cited him to prove that Socrates and Didymus did not believe in the deity in the Spirit in saying that they "did not choose to call the Spirit God nor presume to call Him a creature." I showed that Lampe misquotes Socrates and that Didymus explicitly held to the Deity and Personality of the Spirit. What I find interesting is that now you are using Kelly and are mysteriously silent on this point? Could it be that on the very same page that you cited to prove other points Kelly accurately quotes Socrates as quoting Eustathius?
Let's see what Kelly says.
"The position of both groups is aptly summarized in the statement attributed to Eustathius that he 'did not choose to call the Spirit God nor presume to call Him a creature.'" (Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, p. 260)
Hence if you had checked Lampe or checked Socrates and Didymus or compared Lampe with Kelly you would have seen that Lampe was obviously mistaken. Hence Kelly here upholds my point against you, that Lampe and you in turn, misquoted Socrates and Didymus who both upheld the Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit.
As to G.P. Fisher, Rick writes:
G.P Fisher DD, "History of Christian Doctrine", page 146 " In the Nicene and Constantinopolitan Creeds, there stands first the confession of one God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things. There is a paraphrase of the language of the Apostle Paul (I Cor viii. 5) where he defines the Christian faith, in contrast with the belief of the heathen "in gods many and lords many." While the Eastern theology likewise insisted on the consubstantiality of the Son, there was always recognized the subordination of the second and third persons."
Please note that first of all, Fisher admits that the pre-Nicenes held that there were three persons.
Secondly, the Eastern Orthodox to this day still hold that there is a type of subordination within the Trinity, and yet not a subordination of essence. This is the case because in Eastern Theology only the Father is autotheos, God of Himself. For a discussion see Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, and his Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. Otherwise, this citation from Fisher doesn't have much importance in our debate.
In a question - answer presentation Rick looks to develop his theme of the uncertainty of the identity of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Tri-Une God, hence writing:
Was this doctrine based upon Scripture? No, for the Gregory said [Harnack page 115]that "the love of letters is a cloak for impiety". Lampe, page 111 is also of the opinion that the Fathers found no scriptural support for the doctrine that they were proposing for the holy spirit. Was the doctrine not articulated earlier merely because it had not been an issue with "heretics"?
Gregory said that because heretics in the past, and in the present hide behind Biblical terms their heresies, by which they spin various individual interpretations of Scripture. Secondly, I have already shown that Lampe misquotes the Fathers and hence his point falls dead to the ground.
No, because the doctrine was not held by all theologians as late as 380, as well as attacked vigorously by the pnuemomachians and in spite of this fact the Creed drawn up at Constantinople in 381 did not call the holy spirit God, it merely stated that the holy spirit 'proceeded from the Father' which refuted the belief of the Pneumatomachi that it was created by the Son.
Yes, because not every theologian was orthodox, some were heretics. Secondly, the Canon of Scripture was not articulated until about the late 390's. Does this mean as well that the Church had no idea what was Scripture either? Thirdly, the Creed of Constantinople did not need to call the Spirit explicitly God, because by saying that the Spirit proceeded from the Father, that the Holy Spirit was the "Lord and Giver of Life", that the Holy Spirit was to be Worshipped, it was quite clear what they thought about the Holy Spirit. Even the Nicene Creed does not say "Jesus is God" , but anyone but a complete idiot would think that it taught anything else. Fourthly, this is an argument from silence which you seem to have a habit of committing.
"No, because Arius taught that the Holy Spirit was created at the Nicene Council at 325 and Athanasius did not dare call it God because of the current convention at the time would not allow for it."
Funny, Eusebius of Cesarea called the Holy Spirit God at the Council of Nicea, and even before the Council of Nicea and he was never labeled, accused or suspected of being a heretic for doing so. Many of the Fathers expclicitly and implicitly called the Spirit God prior to Nicea, as I have shown you in the past. Thirdly, Athanasius certainly called the Spirit God when the Pneumatamochoi heresy erupted in 360. He certainly had no fear of doing so prior to that date as my previous points demonstrate.
In conclusion to the citations made by Rick such is said by him:
Authors cited in this article have been chosen because they are authorities in their field, not for their opinions alone, but because they also give substantial reasons based on objective histories to back up their claims. It is significant to note that authors who have been criticized for liberal theology agree with someone like G.P. Fisher who believes that "Christianity is the Revelation of God." Fisher himself writes in his preface to "History of Christian Doctrine" that " The primary aim has been to present in an objective way and in an impartial spirit the course of theological thought respecting the religion of the Gospel." The diverse backgrounds of the experts cited assures that the quotations are not simple "appeals to authority".
First, history is not "objective" as in being biasless. This is simply not possible. It is not possible to be epistemologically neutral. Secondly, I have examined the arguments and the source you have given in detail and I have missed nothing. Secondly, Fisher may have been an orthodox Christian, but Lampe and Harnack certainly aren't. Thirdly, Fisher's work is largely outdated since the last edition known to me is from 1896! Obviously there have been new discoveries and new arguments in the field of Church history and Patrisitics in the last 100 years. The fact that Fisher says that he is attempting an "impartial" examination and presentation only dates his work as being from the modernistic period. Now that we are living in a Post Modern world, this makes his methods and assumptions about history and how to do history quite questionable at the very least. Fourthly, the diversity of sources or their number in no way frees you from the fallacy of Appeal to Authority. If you appeal to 500 authorities and you think or argue that what they say is true because of their position, it is still fallacy. Nor does a consensus of scholars in and of itself make the views that they hold correct or true. Rather it is the arguments that they present that gives weight to their positions. I have examined your sources and found that at times, you have misquoted, misrepresented, or left out pertinent information. I have also found that the theories that they presented were in error or didn't prove what you think they prove.
In conclusion, the citation from Gregory regarding the various views of theologians only proves that theologians in the East were infected with heresy. It does not prove that those views were universal throughout the Church, nor does it prove that the Church did not believe and teach that the Spirit as a Person and God. Hence your whole attempt to use this citation from Gregory has failed. If you still wish to maintain this fallacious position, I would invite you to post a link to this site so that people can examine both sides of the issue and decide the truth for themselves. If you have nothing to hide, surely there is no obstacle for not doing so.