Gregory of Nyssa and Eunomius, Trinitarian Structures Investigated


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6 Responses to Gregory of Nyssa and Eunomius, Trinitarian Structures Investigated

  1. William Ballow says:

    Two excellent quotes:

    “Again, to those same men who think and say that God has no natural energy, but is nought but essence, who suppose the Divine essence and the Divine energy to be entirely identical and undistinguishable and with no apprehensible difference between them; who call the same thing at times essence and at times energy, and who senselessly abolish the very essence of God and reduce it to non-being, for, as the teachers of the Church say, “Only non-being is deprived of an energy” to these men who think as did Sabellios, and who dare now to renew his ancient contraction, confusion and coalescing of the three Hypostases of the Godhead upon the essence and energy of God by confounding them in an equally impious manner; to these men who do not confess in accord with the divinely-inspired theologies of the saints and the pious mind of the Church, that in God there is both essence and essential, natural energy, as a great many of the saints, and especially all those who gathered at the Sixth Oecumenical Council, have clearly explained with respect to Christ’s two energies, both Divine and human, and His two wills; to those then who in nowise wish to comprehend that, even as there is an unconfused union of God’s essence and energy, so is there also an undivided distinction between them, for, among other things, essence is cause while energy is effect, essence suffers no participation, while energy is communicable; to them, therefore, who profess such impieties, Anathema!”

    “Again, to those same men who think and say that the essence of God is communicable, and who thus without shame strive to subtly introduce into our Church the impiety of the Massalians, who of old suffered from the malady of this same opinion, and who thus do not confess in accord with the divinely inspired theologies of the saints and. the pious mind of the Church, that the essence of God is wholly inapprehensible and incommunicable, whereas the grace and energy of God are communicable, Anathema!

    (Council of 1583)

  2. William Ballow says:

    I finished “Anglicans in Exile” but the Christological implications of ADS flew over my head, thanks. I just have to really think through some more for myself. Ecclesiology is still a weak point for me, could you recommend a book or some articles on it for me? What role does ADS play in Reformed theology?

  3. Perry Robinson says:


    To some extent it depends on which explication of ADS that one is referring to. But let’s just go with Aquinas’ version of it.(The implictions of Scotus, Bonaventure or Albert are fundamentally the same but just appear in a different guise or end up taking the other horn of a dialectic, signaling that the fundamental problems remain.

    If the Good is simple, then to will other than the Good is to will the bad. Consequently free will in a libertarian sense is defined dialectically, that is between objects of choice that are of opposing moral value-good-evil.

    Like those in the eschaton, either Christ’s human will as employed by his divine person will be possibly (and actually given Matt 26:39)opposed to the divine will or it will be subordinated to the divine will. Consequently the will of Christ’s humanity is subordinated to the divine will or reduced to not a true willing but a mere desire, thereby making human nature naturally opposed to God. That seems like a kind of Manicheanism, where human nature is naturally opposed to the creator. Christ becomes the paragon of predestination, the archetypal predesinted man. And if predestinating a divine person is acceptable then there can be no reasonable objection to predestinating every human or angelic person. Moreover, the relationship between the Father and the Son now has an intervening principle-Father-attribute-Son, which is an Arian schematic.

    It also becomes problematic to explain how it is that Christ’s humanity is deified if ADS is true. Obviously christ’s humanity cannot become the divine essence on pain of Eutychianism or at least Monophysitism. To speak of Christ’s humanity as deified in terms a created effect implies at least that the divine glory is created which flies in the face of John 17:5. Glossing the union as the divine essence in a created mode of existence does no real work because the union still cannot be entitative and therefore not fully participatory. That is, if the object to which I am united is still the divine essence, regardless of its mode of operation, it still follows that I become the divine essence, just in a created mode of operation. Changing the mode of operation doesn’t change the object, in this case the divine essence.

    This carries over to problems in ecclesiology and eucharistic theology. In the former, if divnity is characterized by simplicity, then the priniple locus of the Church’s divine character will be limited to a singular will, such as the Papacy, the One being opposed to the Many or the Many subordinated to the One and hence manifestations of the One and therefore only truely Many in so far as they are manifestations of the One.

    In the latter, the substance of the eucharist is changed or replaced to explain the multiple instances of the one, for the divnity cannot be many and cannot be entitatively united to the creature without replacing it because the divnity is principly one. This is because presence means identity because there is no presence other than an essential one, even if it is the presence of an attribute since all of the attributes are indentical either to each other formally or formally distinct but identical in act.

    How’s that for starters?

  4. William Ballow says:

    Could you explain to me some or all the Christological implications of ADS?

  5. Thank you for that quote. It’s important to realize what has been done in your quote. Any type of metaphysic is now possible if we can describe reality before and independent of Persons. It becomes the gnostic tactic of “exchanging new meanings with old terms.”


  6. mr_jargon says:

    While I was reading the Institutes, I came across this phrase and you came to mind:

    “For the essence of God being simple and undivided, and contained in himself entire, in full perfection, without partition or diminution……..”

    (Book 1, Chapter 13, Section 2)

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