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CHAPTER VIIRejection of Arius’s Position

HOLY Scripture calls Christ ‘Son of God’ and the angels ’sons of God,’ yet not in the same sense. To which of the angels did he ever say: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? (Heb. i, 5).

2. If Christ were called ‘Son’ in the same sense as all the angels and saints, He would not be Only-begotten, however much, for the excellence of His nature above the rest, He might be called first-born (Ps. lxxxviii, 27). But the Scripture declares Him to be the Only-begotten (John i, 14).

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5. Of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed for ever (Rom. ix, 5):888888Notes on St Paul, p. 389. Expecting the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Tit. ii. 13): I will raise up to David a just branch, and this is what they shall call him, the Lord our just one (Jerem. xxiii, 5, 6), where in the Hebrew we find the tetragrammaton, the name of God alone.889889The Hebrew is Yahweh our justice: this whole phrase is the name, not Yahweh only: But in Jerem. xxxiii, 16 (heb.), the same name is given to the city of Jerusalem: in Gen. xxxii, 20 (heb.), Exod. xvii 15 (heb. and LXX), a similar name is given to an altar. On which considerations Fr Knabenbauer, Cursus S. Scripturae auctoribus S.J. presbyteris, in h.l., p. 290, writes: Quare consilium erit ad divinam Messiae naturam probandam argumenta conquiri alia et meliora et clariora.

7. No creature receives the whole fulness of the divine goodness: but in Christ there dwells all the fulness of the Godhead (Col. ii, 9).

8. An angel’s mind falls far short of the divine mind: but the mind of Christ in point of knowledge does not fall short of the divine mind: for in Him are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. ii, 3).

9. All things whatsoever that the Father hath are mine; All mine are thine, and thine are mine (John xvi, 15: xvii, 10). [Cf. Luke xv, 31.] Therefore there is the same essence and nature of the Father and the Son.

10. In Phil. ii, 7, 8, by the form of God is understood no other than the nature of God, as by the form of a servant is understood no other than human nature.

11. The Jews sought to kill him because he said that God was his Father, making himself equal to God (John v, 18). This is the narrative of the evangelist, whose testimony is true (John xix, 35): nor is it doubtful to any Christian but that what Christ said of Himself is true.

13. No created substance represents God in His substance: for whatever appears of the perfection of any creature is less than what God is: hence through no creature can the essence of God be known. But the Son represents the Father; for the Apostle says of Him that He is the image of the invisible God (Col. i, 15). And lest He should be accounted an image falling short of and failing to represent the essence of God; or an image whence the essence of God could not be known, even as man is said to be the image of God (1 Cor xi, 7), He is declared to be a perfect image, representing the very substance of God, the splendour of his glory, and figure of his substance (Heb. i, 3).

19. Our final happiness is in God alone; and to Him alone the honour of latria is to be paid (B. III, Chap. CXX). But our happiness is in God the Son: This is life everlasting, that they know thee, and him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ (John xvii, 3). And it is said: That all may honour the Son, as they honour the Father (John v, 23); and again, Adore him, all ye angels (Ps. xcvi, 8), which the Apostle (Heb. i, 6) quotes as applying to the Son.

Taught by these and similar evidences of Holy Scripture, the Catholic Church confesses Christ to be the true and natural Son of God, co-eternal and equal with the Father; true God, of the same essence and nature with the Father; begotten, not created, nor made. Hence it appears that the faith of the Catholic Church alone truly confesses generation in God, referring the generation of the Son to the fact of His receiving the divine nature of the Father. Other teachers heretically refer this generation to a nature extraneous to Godhead, — Photinus and Sabellius to a human nature; Arius not to a human indeed, but still to a created nature, more honorable 346than other creatures. Arius further differs from Sabellius and Photinus in asserting that this generation was before the creation of the world, while they say that it was not before the Virgin birth. Sabellius however differs from Photinus in this, that Sabellius confesses Christ to be true God by nature, which neither Photinus nor Arius confesses; but Photinus says that He was a mere man, Arius that He was a sort of compound super-excellent creature, at once divine and human. Photinus and Arius confess that the person of the Father and of the Son is different, which Sabellius denies. The Catholic faith therefore, taking the middle course (media via incedens) confesses, with Arius and Photinus against Sabellius, that the person of the Father and of the Son is different, the Son being begotten, the Father absolutely unbegotten; but with Sabellius against Photinus and Arius, that Christ is true God by nature, and of the same nature with the Father, — albeit not of the same person. Hence we gather some inkling of the truth of the Catholic position: for to the truth, as the Philosopher says,890890Something of the sort is in Eth. Nic. I, 8: “All existing facts are in harmony with truth, but truth quickly shows itself out of harmony with falsehood.” A false opinion on a complex issue is never wholly false: it must be borne out by some measure of facts; and these facts ultimately fall in with the true opinion, and the true opinion with them. even false opinions testify; whereas false opinions are at variance, not only with the truth, but with one another.


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