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§21. The blasphemy of these heretics is worse than the Jewish unbelief.

But let us assume that this is not so: for they allow, forsooth, in theoretic kindness towards humanity, that the Only-begotten and the Holy Spirit have some personal existence: and if, in allowing this, they had granted too the consequent conceptions about them, they would not have been waging battle about the doctrine of the Church, nor cut themselves off from the hope of Christians. But if they have lent an existence to the Son and the Spirit, only to furnish a material on which to erect their blasphemy, perhaps it might have been better for them, though it is a bold thing to say, to abjure the Faith and apostatize to the Jewish religion, rather than to insult the name of Christian by this mock assent. The Jews at all events, though they have persisted hitherto in rejecting the Word, carry their impiety only so far as to deny that Christ has come, but to hope that He will come: we do not hear from them any malignant or destructive conception of the glory of Him Whom they expect. But this school of the new circumcision116116    this school of the new circumcision. This accusation is somewhat discounted by Gregory’s comparison of Eunomius elsewhere to Bardesanes and Marcion, to the Manichees, to Nicholaus, to Philo (see Book XI. 691, 704, VI. 607, and especially VII. 645), and by his putting him down a scholar of Plato. But a momentary advantage, calculated in accordance with the character and capacities of the great mass of Gregory’s audience, could not be lost. The lessons of Libanius, the rhetorician, had not been thrown away on Gregory., or rather of “the concision,” while they own that He has come, resemble nevertheless those who insulted our Lord’s bodily presence by their wanton unbelief. They wanted to stone our Lord: these men stone Him with their blasphemous titles. They urged His humble and obscure origin, and rejected His divine birth before the ages: these men in the same way deny His grand, sublime, ineffable generation from the Father, and would prove that He owes His existence to a creation, just as the human race, and all that is born, owe theirs. In the eyes of the 60Jews it was a crime that our Lord should be regarded as Son of the Supreme: these men also are indignant against those who are sincere in making this confession of Him. The Jews thought to honour the Almighty by excluding the Son from equal reverence: these men, by annihilating the glory of the Son, think to bestow more honour on the Father. But it would be difficult to do justice to the number and the nature of the insults which they heap upon the Only-begotten: they invent an ‘energy’ prior to the personality of the Son and say that He is its work and product: a thing which the Jews hitherto have not dared to say. Then they circumscribe His nature, shutting Him off within certain limits of the power which made Him: the amount of this productive energy is a sort of measure within which they enclose Him: they have devised it as a sort of cloak to muffle Him up in. We cannot charge the Jews with doing this.


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