Ante-Nicene beliefs on GOD

I ran across this list of Ante-Nicene Christians who supposedly taught non-Trinitarian doctrines. I intend on eventually looking them all up and quoting them within their context, but I place them here as they are for now simply so that I don’t lose the list.

Many Christian writers identified Jesus with Yahweh, and until the 5th century it was common to call Jesus either a “second God”, the chief angel, or both. It was also made clear that the Holy Spirit occupies the third place.
Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, 146

Justin Martyr wrote that the “first-begotten”, the Logos, “is the first force after the Father”: he is “a second God, second numerically but not in will,” doing only the Father’s pleasure.
Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church, 268

Then I replied, “I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel…”
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 56, in ANF 1:223

Hermas spoke of the angel of the prophetic Spirit and Jesus as the “glorious…angel” or “most venerable…angel”
The Pastor of Hermas, Commandment 11, in ANF 2:27-28

The Ascension of Isaiah referred to both Jesus and the Spirit as angels as well: “And I saw how my Lord worshipped, and the angel of the Holy Spirit, and how both together praised God.”
Ascension of Isaiah, in TOB, 528

Clement of Alexandria referred to Jesus as the “Second Cause”.
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 7:3

Peter not only called Jesus both God and angel but also identified him with Yahweh, the prince of the Sons of God mentioned in Deut. 32:7-8
Peter, in Clementine Recognitions 2:42, in ANF 8:109

Hippolytus called Jesus “the Angel of [God’s] counsel”
Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition 4:4, p.7

and Tertullian spoke of Christ as “second” to the Father. However Tertullian stopped short of saying there was a second God because he considered the Father to be the “only true God” and Jesus to be a secondary being. (Note that the creedal trinity is alien to Tertullian)
Tertullian, Against Praxeas 7, in ANF 3:602 and
Tertullian, Against Praxeas 13, in ANF 3:607-608

Origen could spoke of Jesus as a “second God”
Origen, Against Celsus 5:39, in ANF 4:561

He also qualified: “We are not afraid to speak, in one sense of two Gods, in another sense of one God.” (Very LDS btw)
Origen, Dail Heracl. 2:3, quoted in Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, 251

How are they one? “And these, while they are two, considered as persons or subsistences, are one in unity of thought, in harmony and in identity of will.
Origen, Against Celsus, 8:12, in ANF 4:643-644

Novatian: Christ is both angel and God.
Novatian, On the Trinity 19, in ANF 5:630, cf. On the Trinity in ANF 5:628

He equates this God/angel with the Lord (Yahweh) of Hosts.
Novatian, On the Trinity 12 , in ANF 5:621

The Spirit is subject to the Son.
Novatian, On the Trinity 16, in ANF 5:625

The unity of the Godhead is not a metaphysical “oneness”, but unity of will.
Novatian, On the Trinity 27, in ANF 5:637-638

Novatian named other angels “gods” as well: “If even the angels themselves…as many as are subjected to Christ, are called gods, rightly also Christ is God.”
Novatian, On the Trinity 20, in ANF 5:631

Lactantius approvingly quoted a Hermetic text which spoke of a “second God”
Lactantius, Divine Institutes 4:6, in ANF 7:105

Eusebius of Caesarea called Jesus a “secondary being” who is both angel and God.
Eusebius, The Proof of the Gospel 1:5, 2 vols. translated by W. J. Ferrar

Eusebius compared the hierarchy of beings (The Three) to the sun, moon, and stars as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:40-42
Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 7:15, pp.351-352

After of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., such doctrine became unpopular, and some theologians tried to sweep them under the rug. For example, Basil of Caesarea feigned that such a thing as a “second God” was unheard of in the “orthodox” faith.
Basil of Caesarea, On the Holy Spirit 45, in NPNF Series 2, 8:28

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One comment on “Ante-Nicene beliefs on GOD

  1. Hey James!

    This is a great post!

    I personally find the fact that these early Christian fathers identified Jesus as an “angel.” Do you know if they also identified Satan/Lucifer as a “fallen angel” as many Christians do today? If so, then the brotherhood of Satan and Christ (based on the understanding of Jesus as the “chief angel”) could be a sound logical conclusion.

    The reason I find that matter significant ought to be obvious.

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