John Romanides on The Orthodox and Arians and the Patristic Method

The controversy between the Orthodox and Arians was not about who the Logos is in the Old and New Testament, but about what the Logos is and what His relationship is to the Father. The Orthodox insisted that the Logos is uncreated and unchangeable, having always existed from the Father, who by nature generates the Logos before the ages. The Arians insisted that this same Logos is a changeable creature, deriving His existence from non-being before the ages by the will of the Father.

Thus the basic question was, did the prophets see in God’s uncreated glory a created Logos, or an uncreated Logos, a Logos who is God by nature and, therefore, has all the energies and powers of God by nature, or a God by grace who has some, but not all, the energies of the Father and then only by grace and not by nature.

Both Orthodox and Arians agreed in principle that, if the Logos has every power and energy of the Father by nature, then He is uncreated. If not, He is a creature.

Since the Bible is a witness of whom and what the prophets and apostles saw in the glory of the Father, the Bible itself will reveal whether or not the Logos has all the energies and powers of the Father by nature. Thus, we will know whether the prophets and apostles saw a created or an uncreated Logos oμοούσιος with the Father.

Once can see clearly how, for the Fathers, the con-substantiality of the Logos with the Father is not only the experience of the apostles and saints, but also of the prophets.

One of the most amazing things in doctrinal history is the fact that both Arians and Orthodox use both the Old and New Testaments indiscriminately. The argument is very simple. They make a list of all the powers and energies of the Father. They do the same for the Son. Then they compare them to see if they are identical or not. The important thing is for them to be not similar, but identical.

Parallel to this, both Arians and Orthodox agree against the Sabellians and Samosatenes that the Father and Son have individual hypostatic properties which are not common, although they do not completely agree on what these are. When the controversy is extended into the question of the Holy Spirit, the exact same method of theologizing is used. Whatever powers and energies the Father and Son have in common, the Holy Spirit must also have both in common and by nature, in order to be God by nature.

However, parallel to this argumentative process is the personal experience of those living spiritual masters who themselves reach theoria, as we saw expounded by Saint Gregory [Nazianzus] above. This experience verifies or certifies the patristic interpretation of the Bible, which witnesses to the uncreatedness of the Logos and the Holy Spirit and their oneness nature with the Father and the identity of their uncreated glory, rule, grace, will, etc. This personal experience of the glory of God also certifies the biblical teaching that there is absolutely no similarity between the created and the uncreated. This means also that there can be no uncreated universals of which creatures are supposedly copies. Each individual creature is dependent upon the uncreated glory of God, which is, on the one hand, absolutely simple, yet indivisibly divided among individual creatures. All of God is present in each and every energy simultaneously. This the Fathers know by experience, not by speculation.

John Romanides, The Filioque, Kleronomia, 7 (1975), 285.

One Response to John Romanides on The Orthodox and Arians and the Patristic Method

  1. James Caillaugh says:

    Romanides points out the fact, disconcerting for many, that the Orthodox have always properly distinguished between the revealed categories of essence, attribute, and person. It follows that all heresy is some Trinitarian confusion or “category error”. For elaboration, read the Fathers of the Church, especially St. Athanasius the Great, Against the Arians, where the great saint points out the Arians’ wretched impiety in conceiving the essence of God as determined by a “hypostatic property” (the Father creates), thereby calumniating Christ our Lord and the Holy Spirit, who are reduced to extra-essential aeons. Romanides-heads should check out the writings of Bishop Photius (Joseph) Farrell, whose concept of an Orthodox “First Europe” attacked by a “Second Europe” based on Arian methodology in theology and politics is parallel with R.s idea of (Augustino-Arian)Franks vs. (Orthodox)Romans.

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