trinitarian or unitarian? 1 – Irenaeus

Saint_IrenaeusIn this series, it is important that you keep in mind clear and (what should be) non-controversial definitions of “trinitarian,” and of “Christian unitarian.”

In this post, some quotes from Irenaeus, late 2nd c. bishop famous for his long treatise against the various gnostics.

I have not modified the translations, other than adding bold type. Some of the clarifying insertions [in brackets] are by the translators, others by me.

Wherefore I do also call upon thee, LORD God of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob and Israel, who art the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, though the abundance of Thy mercy, hast had a favour towards us, that we should know Thee, who hast made heaven and earth, who rulest over all, who art the only and the true God, above whom there is none other God; grant, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the governing power of the Holy Spirit; give to every reader of this book to know Thee, that Thou art God alone, to be strengthened in Thee, and to avoid every heretical, and godless, and impious doctrine.   Against Heresies III.6.4, p. 419.

neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the Lord Christ in his own person, did acknowledge any other Lord or God, but the God and Lord supreme: the prophets and the apostles confessing the Father and Son; but naming no other as God [than the Father], and confessing no other as Lord [than the Son]: and the Lord Himself [i.e. Jesus] handing down to His disciples, that He, the Father, is the only God and Lord, who alone is God and ruler of all; – it is incumbent on us to follow, if we are their disciples indeed, their testimonies to this effect. …[Jesus] did not declare to them another God, besides Him who made the promise to Abraham… There is therefore one and the same God, the Father of our Lord, who also promised, through the prophets, that He would send His forerunner [i.e. John the Baptist]; and His salvation – that is, His Word – He caused to be made visible to all flesh, [the Word] Himself being made incarnate…  Against Heresies III.9.1, p. 422.

Next, an interesting deception argument, directed particularly against the gnostic Marcion, who taught that the god of the Old Testament was an evil and inferior deity to the one true God taught by Jesus.

Now to whom is it not clear, that if the Lord [Jesus] had known many fathers and gods, He would not have taught His disciples to know [only] one God, and to call Him alone Father? But He did the rather distinguish those who by word merely (verbo tenus) are termed gods, from Him who is truly God, that they should not err as to His doctrine, nor understand one [in mistake] for another. And if He did indeed teach us to call one Being Father and God, while he does from time to time Himself confess other fathers and gods in the same sense, then He will appear to enjoin a different course upon His disciples from what He follows Himself. Such conduct, however, does not bespeak the good teacher, but a misleading and invidious one. The apostles too, according to these men’s showing, are proved to be transgressors of the commandment, since they confess the Creator as God, and Lord, and Father, as I have shown – if He is not alone God and Father. Jesus, therefore, will be to them the author and teacher of such transgression, inasmuch as He commanded that one Being should be called Father, thus imposing upon them the necessity of confessing the Creator as their Father, as has been pointed out. Against Heresies IV.1.2, p. 463.

Later in the book:

Both the Lord [Jesus], then, and the apostles announce as the one only God the Father, Him who gave the law, who sent the prophets, who made all things; and therefore does He say [in the parable in Matthew 22], “He sent his armies,” because every man, inasmuch as he is a man, is His workmanship, although he may be ignorant of his God. For He gives existence to all; He, “who maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and unjust.” [Luke 15:11]   Against Heresies IV.36.6, p. 517.

In the one God here one and the same as Father (unitarian)?

Or is the one God here a tripersonal deity consisting of or somehow containing three equally divine persons? (trinitarian)

You be the judge.

About Dale

Dale Tuggy is a Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

19 Responses to trinitarian or unitarian? 1 – Irenaeus

  1. Helez says:

    Irenaeus seemed to be a unitarian. He proclaims that the prehuman Jesus had a separate existence from God and was inferior to him. (See also Against Heresies, Book II, chapter 28.8, or Book V, chapter 18.2.)

  2. Mark says:

    Dale,

    I have gone through the whole Adversus, and took around 5 pages of note, in which Irenaeus’s One God is none but the Father. Same goes for Justin and probably all the pre-Nicene fathers and the fathers who were alive at the time of the Council. Even Athanasius, I never recall him calling the three persons one God.

    The notion that the three persons are One God is nowhere to be found in the Bible, nor the primitive writers, no one single place.

    However, regarding the term Unitarians, Irenaeus is definitely not a unitarian, for this word rather intend Socinianism, or a doctrine of Jesus to be a mere man. None of the pre-Nicene fathers held to such belief, they all believe in the Logos, the Word, in some sort of metaphysical pre-existence.

    Irenaeus is not a trinitarian in the Western Augustinian setting, because he believes in three objects, not just one, but Irenaeus is surely a simple trinitarian in the original sense, a triad of God, God’s Son and God’s Spirit.

  3. Helez says:

    Mark, you shouldn’t confuse Christian unitarianism with Socinianism. The latter is a subgroup of this first.

    Dale describes this pretty good in his SEP entry: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/unitarianism.html

  4. IMO, Dale is attempting to read a 17th invention back into the early Church Fathers—i.e. anachronism. I find this problematic, especially so when one attempts to ‘label’ the theological position/s of pre-Nicene, Nicene, and early post-Nicene Fathers with terms that came much later. I think the ‘problem’ begins with the following presupposition from the entry linked to above:

    >>The term “unitarian” was popularized in late 1680′s England as a less pejorative and more descriptive term for those who held God to be identical to one divine person, the Father.>>

    CFs like Irenaeus had no problem with applying the term God (Gr. theos) to both the Son and the Holy Spirit, while at the same time reserving the phrase “the one God” for the Father alone. These facts complicate Dale’s simplistic definition of the term “unitarian”. As such, I personally refrain from attempting to label CFs like Irenaeus as “unitarian”, while at the same time refusing to acknowledge that those same CFs believed in a “triune” God—i.e. that the “one God” is a triune being (interestingly enough, the term “triune” is another 17th invention).

    Grace and peace,

    David

  5. villanovanus says:

    @ David Waltz [#4, February 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm]

    I largely agree with the two main criticisms of the OP in your comment, viz. anachronism and simplism.

    OTOH, while not only the CFs refer to Jesus as theos, but also the NT (albeit ALWAYS in a qualified way, as can be demonstrated), the NT definitely NEVER refers to the Holy Spirit as theos, and I would like to see your quotations in support of your claim that “Irenaeus had no problem with applying the term God (Gr. theos) to … the Holy Spirit”.

    A relevant question, IMO, is this: can we call “unitarian” someone who affirms that Jesus, somehow, pre-existed his birth in Palestine, ca. 6 BCE, as a person (= distinct conscious entity, endowed with reason, freedom and will)?

    (As is well known this was the position of Arius …)

    MdS

  6. Hi villanovanus,

    Thanks much for your response. In your post, you wrote:

    >>OTOH, while not only the CFs refer to Jesus as theos, but also the NT (albeit ALWAYS in a qualified way, as can be demonstrated), the NT definitely NEVER refers to the Holy Spirit as theos,>>

    Me: Agreed.

    >>and I would like to see your quotations in support of your claim that “Irenaeus had no problem with applying the term God (Gr. theos) to … the Holy Spirit”.>>

    Me: I misspoke concerning Irenaeus as one of the CFs who applied “the the term God (Gr. theos) to … the Holy Spirit”; he did not directly do so. However, along with the Son, the HS was called one of the “Two Hands of God”; and interestingly enough, for Irenaeus, he was the “Wisdom of God”, while the Son was the “Word of God.” Another fascinating aspect of Irenaeus’ theology is that he did apply the term God (Gr. theos) to the deified Sons of God.

    >> A relevant question, IMO, is this: can we call “unitarian” someone who affirms that Jesus, somehow, pre-existed his birth in Palestine, ca. 6 BCE, as a person (= distinct conscious entity, endowed with reason, freedom and will)?>>

    Me: I would say yes, if that same person does not affirm ETERNAL pre-existence, along with divinity, as the nature of the pre-existent Jesus.

    Grace and peace,

    David

  7. Helez says:

    Hi Villanovanus,

    Your question – i.e., can we call “unitarian” someone who affirms that Jesus, somehow, pre-existed his birth in Palestine, ca. 6 BCE, as a person (= distinct conscious entity, endowed with reason, freedom and will)? – should, by definition, be answered with an unambiguous “yes”, as long as this distinct prehuman person differs from the one God and, as Dale described it, that one God just is (i.e. is numerically identical to) a certain self [e.g. the Father] and not to any other self. (See also “Subordinationism”: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/unitarianism.html#Sub)

    This is the case with Irenaeus. Though applying the title “god” to both the Son and the Father, the One God is indeed none but the Father. The Son is inferior to him.

  8. villanovanus says:

    @ David Waltz [#6, February 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm]

    [a] I misspoke concerning Irenaeus as one of the CFs who applied “the term God (Gr. theos) to … the Holy Spirit”; he did not directly do so. However, along with the Son, the HS was called one of the “Two Hands of God”; and interestingly enough, for Irenaeus, he was the “Wisdom of God”, while the Son was the “Word of God.”

    [b] Another fascinating aspect of Irenaeus’ theology is that he did apply the term God (Gr. theos) to the deified Sons of God.

    [c] I would say [that we can we call “unitarian” someone who affirms that Jesus, somehow, pre-existed his birth in Palestine, ca. 6 BCE, as a person (= distinct conscious entity, endowed with reason, freedom and will)], if that same person does not affirm ETERNAL pre-existence, along with divinity, as the nature of the pre-existent Jesus.

    [a] I have examined the question of “Irenaeus and the Arms (or Hands) of God” (in particular, Irenaeus supporting quotations) in my post at Beliefnet, Word and Spirit: the “Everlasting Arms” of God (community.beliefnet.com/miguel_de_servet/blog/2013/03/01/word_and_spirit:_the_everlasting_arms_of_god). While Irenaeus certainly affirms (on solid OT ground) the metaphor of God’s Word and Spirit as His “Everlasting Arms”, there is NO evidence that they are ever referred to as persons, BUT as eternal attributes.

    [b] That is interesting. Can you provided the reference(s)? Thanks.

    [c] Once again, and for the umpteenth time this was (also) the position of Arius. If his “there was [a time] when [he] was not” had not been considered so devastating by the Church, why would the ensuing Arian Controversy have ever deflagrated at all, and lasted for more than 60 years, until its “mysterian compromise” solution with the formula of the Cappadocian scoundrels (“one ousia in three hypostases)?

    MdS

  9. villanovanus says:

    @ Helez [#7, March 1, 2013 at 4:08 am]

    Your question – i.e., can we call “unitarian” someone who affirms that Jesus, somehow, pre-existed his birth in Palestine, ca. 6 BCE, as a person (= distinct conscious entity, endowed with reason, freedom and will)? – should, by definition [uh? why "by definition"? – MdS], be answered with an unambiguous “yes”, as long as this distinct prehuman person differs from the one God and, as Dale described it, that one God just is (i.e. is numerically identical to) a certain self [e.g. the Father] and not to any other self. (See also “Subordinationism”: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/unitarianism.html#Sub)

    This is the case with Irenaeus. Though applying the title “god” to both the Son and the Father, the One God is indeed none but the Father. The Son is inferior to him.

    See my above comment #8 for David Waltz. While Irenaeus certainly spoke about God’s Word and Spirit as God’s “everlasting hands” (with sound support in the OT – see Deut 33:27 and Psalm 33:6), it is far from obviously that he called God’s Eternal Word “Son” other than in a metaphoric and proleptic way.

    Also, once again, and for the umpteenth + 1 time, that Jesus pre-existed his birth in Palestine, ca. 6 BCE, as a “distinct pre-human person”, albeit not eternal, was (also) the position of Arius and (once again, and for the umpteenth + 1 time), if Arius’ “there was [a time] when [he] was not” had not been considered so devastating by the Church, why would the ensuing Arian Controversy have ever deflagrated at all, and lasted for more than 60 years, until its “mysterian compromise” solution with the formula of the Cappadocian scoundrels (“one ousia in three hypostases)?

    The question, once again, IMO, is NOT whether the “Son” was pre-existent, even eternal like the Father, BUT whether the “Son” was a proper person (in the obvious sense of the word person = distinct conscious entity, endowed with reason, freedom and will) before the Incarnation of God’s Eternal Word in/as Jesus of Nazareth.

    As for Dale’s expression “subordinationist unitarianism”, I consider it a biased oxy-moron.

    MdS

  10. Hello again villanovanus,

    In your last response to me you wrote:

    >>[a] I have examined the question of “Irenaeus and the Arms (or Hands) of God” (in particular, Irenaeus supporting quotations) in my post at Beliefnet, Word and Spirit: the “Everlasting Arms” of God (community.beliefnet.com/miguel_de_servet/blog/2013/03/01/word_and_spirit:_the_everlasting_arms_of_god). While Irenaeus certainly affirms (on solid OT ground) the metaphor of God’s Word and Spirit as His “Everlasting Arms”, there is NO evidence that they are ever referred to as persons, BUT as eternal attributes.>>

    Me: That view seemed to be quite popular among 19th century German patristic scholars. However, the majority of the late 20th and early 21st century patristic scholars I have read disagree with the assessment. (See THIS THREAD for examples; especially the works of Donovan, Lawson, Osborn and Wingren)

    >>[b] That is interesting. Can you provided the reference(s)? Thanks.>>

    Me: “…there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption. Since, therefore, this is sure and steadfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption, that is, those who believe in the one and true God, and in Jesus Christ the Son of God.” (Irenaeus – Adv. Her. 4.Pref. – 4.1.1 -ANF 1.463). [See THIS THREAD for an extensive list of quotes from the CFs concerning the doctrine of deification.]

    >>[c] Once again, and for the umpteenth time this was (also) the position of Arius. If his “there was [a time] when [he] was not” had not been considered so devastating by the Church, why would the ensuing Arian Controversy have ever deflagrated at all, and lasted for more than 60 years, until its “mysterian compromise” solution with the formula of the Cappadocian scoundrels (“one ousia in three hypostases)?>>

    Me: Arius believed in the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, but denied his eternality and true divinity.

    Grace and peace,

    David

  11. villanovanus says:

    @ David Waltz [#10, March 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm]

    [a] That view [that Ireneus did not refer to God's and Spirit as persons, BUT as God's eternal attributes] seemed to be quite popular among 19th century German patristic scholars. However, the majority of the late 20th and early 21st century patristic scholars I have read disagree with the assessment. (See THIS THREAD for examples; especially the works of Donovan, Lawson, Osborn and Wingren)

    [b] “…there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption. Since, therefore, this is sure and steadfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption, that is, those who believe in the one and true God, and in Jesus Christ the Son of God.” (Irenaeus – Adv. Her. 4.Pref. – 4.1.1 -ANF 1.463). [See THIS THREAD for an extensive list of quotes from the CFs concerning the doctrine of deification.]

    [c] Arius believed in the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, but denied his eternality and true divinity.

    [a] Thank you for your interesting link, but I have very limited time for the (ever fluctuating, as your own comment proves …) “scholarly consensus”. I am perfectly capable of reading texts and quotations on my own, and of drawing motivated conclusions on my own. I suggest you do the same …

    [b] Thank you. Anyway, I consider this verse the prime source and epitome of the “doctrine of deification”:

    And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:28)

    [c] I fully agree, but you should be aware that our “blogmaster” Dale, for instance, considers the difference between Arius’ creationism, on one side, and the previous “three-hypostatic subordinationism” rather unimportant, compared to the fact that for Origen (and others, including Eusebius) the Son was evidently inferior to the Father, and that for Origen (and other “subordinationists”), according to Dale, the Father is therefore the only “self” to whom the appellative God (within the premise of monotheism) properly appertains.

    Of course I find Dale’s position artificially simplistic, but there you are …

    MdS

  12. Dale,

    The original post makes two critical mistakes. The first error is in the quote of Against Heresies III.9.1. In brackets it states that the Lord refers to Christ. This clarification is incorrect. Without your brackets, it reads:

    This, therefore, having been clearly demonstrated here (and it shall yet be so still more clearly), that neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the Lord Christ in His own person, did acknowledge any other Lord or God, but the God and Lord supreme: the prophets and the apostles confessing the Father and the Son; but naming no other as God, and confessing no other as Lord: and the Lord Himself handing down to His disciples, that He, the Father, is the only God and Lord, who alone is God and ruler of all…

    The interesting thing about this quote is that while claiming that only the Father is “God and Lord” Irenaeus also refers to Christ as Lord. Thus, the “only Lord” is the Father AND the Son. Think I’m making too big a deal of this? Let’s move onto the second problem…

    You’ve missed the recently discovered text from Irenaeus: Proof of the Apostolic Preaching. Paragraph 47 says:

    So then the Father is Lord and the Son is Lord, and the Father is God and the Son is God; for that which is begotten of God is God. And so in the substance and power of His being there is shown forth one God; but there is also according to the economy of our redemption both Son and Father.

    The second sentence of this quote is *the* theological principal that kicks off the Trinitarian system. In fact, it is this quote which gives the meat to his thesis of the work:

    This then is the order of the rule of our faith, and the foundation of the building, and the
    stability of our conversation: God, the Father, not made, not material, invisible; one God, the creator of all things: this is the first point of our faith. The second point is: The Word of God, Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord, who was manifested to the prophets according to the form of their prophesying and according to the method of the dispensation of the Father: through whom all things were made; who also at the end of the times, to complete and gather up all things, was made man among men, visible and tangible in order to abolish death and show forth life and produce a community of union between God and man. And the third point is: The Holy Spirit, through whom the prophets prophesied, and the fathers learned the things of God, and the righteous were led forth into the way of righteousness; and who in the end of the times was poured out in a new way upon mankind in all the earth, renewing man unto God.

    So while, for Irenaeus, the “one God” is the Father, nonetheless the Son is also in some sense God since He is begotten of God and shares God’s substance and power. All of this is rooted in the double-terms God and Lord (itself probably an homage to John 20:28).

  13. Dale says:

    Hey – thanks for the comment.

    “The interesting thing about this quote is that while claiming that only the Father is “God and Lord” Irenaeus also refers to Christ as Lord. Thus, the “only Lord” is the Father AND the Son.”

    That doesn’t follow! I call my manager “Boss”, and the owner of the company “Boss”, it does not follow that I think my manager and the owner of the company are one and the same, or that the Boss is some sort of bizarre bi-personal entity.

    This stuff is tricky – the language is getting to be pretty equivocal by Irenaeus’ time; in contrast, the NT is much simpler. “God” is nearly always the Father. And “Lord” in Paul is usually the Son. Not as cut and dry as it could be – context usually makes it clear, though – but not nearly as convoluted as later.

    Also, I don’t see error in my quote.

    Thanks for the ref to that work. I hadn’t read that yet, and I will. But the bits you quote look as unitarian as the parts I have seen, viz

    “God, the Father, not made, not material, invisible; one God, the creator of all things: this is the first point of our faith.”

    Yes, he calls the Son “God” and thinks he must be in a sense divine because he was in some sense created out of God. But he still seems to be a 2-stage logos theorist, like the apologists, so for him the Father is literally older than the Son – though he may imagine that the Son was always there, but as a mere attribute of God.

    “kicks off the Trinitarian system”

    Not really. God, some time ago, mysteriously externalized his attributes, resulting in Son and Spirit, by whom God then created. Where, in this scheme, is a triune God?

  14. Dale,

    “I don’t see error in my quote.”

    You said: “and confessing no other as Lord [than the Son]: and the Lord Himself [i.e. Jesus] handing down to His disciples”

    Your error is that you attribute both “Lord”s to Jesus. The first Lord is the Father and the second Lord is the Son. And yes, you could (theoretically) interpret this according to your boss analogy; but this is only convincing without Irenaeus’ second work where he expressly links the terms.

    The dialectic you have created between Trinitarianism and Christian Universalism is only between St Augustine and “other.” This is so broad as to be unhelpful. Do you not realize that exactly the same language used by Irenaeus is used by the Nicene Creed? There is One God: the Father. There is One Lord: the Son. The Son is homoousias with the Father. This is *precisely* the language you wish us to admit is not Trinitarian in Irenaeus. Is the Nicene Creed not Trinitarian?

    I will completely admit that St Augustine’s De Trinitate isn’t found in either the NT or the Church Fathers. However, what we see here in Irenaeus and at Nicea and in St Basil are all slight variations of Irenaeus’ language in The Proof of the Apostolic Preaching.

    While I admit that Lord and God are usually used more distinctly in the NT, you’re missing the point that the careful use of these terms for both Christ and the Father in Irenaeus is an intentional theological point. Specifically: “So then the Father is Lord and the Son is Lord, and the Father is God and the Son is God; for that which is begotten of God is God. And so in the substance and power of His being there is shown forth one God; but there is also according to the economy of our redemption both Son and Father.” You should note that this phrase goes *further* than Nicea. Where Nicea maintains God = Father and Lord = Son, Irenaeus equates the two. The essential philosophical point that Irenaeus makes (and will become a big point of contention under Origen) is substance and activity are distinct and yet both reveal oneness. Augustine doesn’t follow Irenaeus at all on this point, but rather Plotinus.

    For Irenaeus, the Son/Logos:
    1. Is YHWH (Proof 2)
    2. Pre-exists “with the Father, begotten before all the creation of the world” (Proof 30, 43, 52)
    3. In the latter days, appears “to all the world as man” (Proof 30, 53)
    4. Is the Son of the Father “continually” (Proof 10)
    5. Is the incorruption of God made visible (Proof 31)
    6. Shares the title “Almighty God” with the Father (Proof 40, 54)
    7. Is Lord and God as the Father is (one God by substance and power). (Proof 49)
    8. Is the one, eternal (not temporal) King (Proof 56, 66)
    9. Is an impartial judge, proving his divinity (Proof 60)
    10. Is glorified like God (Proof 61)
    11. Is “in power” like God (Proof 62)

    You seem to be fixated on the notion that if the “one God” is the Father that this is some how not Trinitarian. But yet the language of Irenaeus is in no ways different from the language of Nicea. The only major contention at Nicea is whether there was a time when the Son was not. I would argue that according to numerous points in Irenaeus that he would disagree with Arius. For Irenaeus there is no evidence that the Father is “older” than the Son. In fact, points #1, #2, #4, #7, and #8 expressly argue against this conclusion.

    In short, you seem to me to think that any treatment of the monarchy of the Father is to escape the domain of Trinitarian thought. It is true when speaking of Augustinian Trinitarian thought. But it is hardly true of the Cappadocians or of the Nicene Creed itself.

    I’d highly recommend reading these:
    1. http://www.amazon.com/Apostolic-Preaching-Irenaeus-Saint-Bishop/dp/0881411744
    2. http://www.amazon.com/Way-Nicaea-Formation-Christian-Theology/dp/0881412244/ref=sr_1_7

    TL;DR – Your definition of trinitarian is too narrow and your definition of unitarian too broad.

  15. villanovanus says:

    @ Nathaniel McCallum [#14, March 16, 2013 at 1:59 am]

    Your [Dale's] definition of trinitarian is too narrow and your definition of unitarian too broad.

    I fully agree. This is the bottom line.

    And one cannot avoid to wonder, in view of Dale’s proclaimed “humanitarian unitarianism” (which has nothing to do –or should have nothing to do, anyway– with any “pre-existing hypostases of the Son and of the Spirit”) why he does it … ;

    MdS

  16. Matt13weedhacker says:

    I have to say, that I dissagree on the summation of Irenaeus’ “Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching” given above.

    Aside from the transmission and corruption issues with the Armenian manuscripts, and the, (relatively) modern Latin translation, the same portrays the Word/Jesus speaking through the prophets: “…concerning himself…” and speaks of his begetting and generation this way:

    IRENAEUS OF LYONS (circa. 130-200 C.E.): “…Christ says ( by ) David … He properly says other things ( of ) Himself ( by ) the prophets [...] WHO CREATED ME HIS SERVANT from the womb […] I will be glorified before THE LORD AND MY GOD…” – (Chapter 50, “The Proof of Apostolic Preaching,” Translated By Karapet Ter Mekerttschian & S. G. Wilson from the Armenian text, 1919.)

    So I disagree with Tri{[3}nitarians on this one.

    Irenaeus can be described as BI{2}nitarian, (in a sense), but certainly not TRI{3}nitarian.

    As in the previous posts, he rules out all possibility that the holy spirit is truly God.

  17. Matt13weedhacker says:

    There are major Tri{3}nitarian translation bias issues with both Adersus Haer. and the Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching into English, and into the Latin of Adv. Haer.

    Which I would love to spend weeks on, but impossible at the moment with my schedule.

  18. Matt13weedhacker,

    Your quote is from paragraph 50. This is entirely a quote from scripture. What matters is how Irenaeus interprets this verse, which he does in the next paragraph. In paragraph 51 we find that Irenaeus interprets “created me his servant from the womb” as referring to the incarnation of the Word. It is thus not referring to his eternal generation, but rather his birth according to the economy. And while Irenaeus teaches the subjection of the Son to the Father, so do the councils.

  19. Dale says:

    Hey Nathaniel,

    Honestly, I think you’re refusing to look at Irenaeus other than through post-Nicea spectacles.

    About the quote: “in the substance and power of His being there is shown forth one God; but there is also according to the economy of our redemption both Son and Father.” As others have said, this sounds suspiciously post-2nd c. I just doesn’t fit with everything else we have from Irenaeus; and it’s no conspiracy theory – we *know* there are massive corruption problems with even earlier figures, notoriously in the case of Ignatius and Justin. (Most people don’t know this, but Justin’s genuine – and I think uncorrupt – writings are found in the manuscript with a whole wad of writings considered later by all scholars who’ve read them.)

    You’re engaging in apologetics style proof-texting, e.g.

    “For Irenaeus, the Son/Logos:
    1. Is YHWH (Proof 2)”

    Proof 2? What does that mean? And what would it mean if he says that the Son “is Yahweh”? We know that he thinks Yahweh, the God of the Jews, is one and the same as the Father. And we know that he thinks some things are true of the Father that aren’t true of the Son, and vice-versa. So, we know that he dosen’t identify them (i.e. consider them numerically one). If you think he does – well, you are proposing a very uncharitable reading of Irenaeus, one were he refutes himself.

    “Your definition of trinitarian is too narrow and your definition of unitarian too broad.”
    Finally, this has not been shown. You should (1) provide a clear counterexample to either, and (2) offer a better definition of that term, one immune from counterexamples It’s no good to simply complain that the definition is wrong.

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