My Backyard

Steve Hays responded in part to my challenge concerning three doctrines and their lack of support from Scripture. Of course it really wasn’t a response. He just posted to articles that he thinks are sufficient to answer my challenge. Of course, he lists no article on divine simplicity. And there is a good reason for that. Steve knows that it is not justifiable by Scripture alone. So again, I wonder, why aren’t Calvinists protesting that doctrine? It matters not if Steve personally subscribes to it. His confession does and I’d bet his elders do and practically the entire Protestant tradition does. In fact his own confession also subscribes to denying any knowledge of the divine essence, (“whose Essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself”) which is really quite funny given his recent rants against Orthodoxy on the very same point.  What was especially funny was Steve’s invocation of Platonism to deny that God’s glory is visible, even though Scripture says otherwise (Lev 9:6, Num 20:6, Ex 34:29-35) All one has to do is read Augustine’s De Trinitate books 1-6 to see the same Platonic moves to deny God’s visibility, which incidentally was the same line of thinking that the Arians employed to deny the divinity of the Son.

As for the two articles, I think they are rather weak. Copan’s article on creation ex nihilo manages to repeatedly confuse appeals to authorities with demonstration. In the interests of time, I am simply dismissing it. I can give him creation ex nihilo since it changes essentially nothing. I do want to romp through the Bray article on the filioque. What will become apparent is that Steve hasn’t done his homework if he thinks the Bray article is going to do any real work for him. Which is ironic given his statements that I haven’t done mine. We could simply re-word Steve’s own statements.

“Evidently, Steve’s tactic is to scrape up whatever mud he can find and hurl it at Orthodoxy to see if anything sticks. And, in the process, he acts as if he’s leveling novel objections which would leave an Orthodox speechless. Why is Steve schlepping off? Why doesn’t he do his homework? Before he raises an objection, why doesn’t he bother to do a bit of research in order to see if his objection has already been addressed? If there are preexisting answers in the public domain, shouldn’t he at least acknowledge the answers and interact with the answers? Or has he become too indolent and partisan to crack the books or even click his mouse to acquaint himself with the opposing literature?”

The fact is there is nothing new in Bray’s article. Most of it is just re-hashed from 19th century anti-Orthodox Catholic polemics, Protestant Scholasticism and late 20th century Feminist theology and the material that isn’t is just re-telling well known historical facts.  The genealogy reminds one of Eta Linnemann’s discovery that key “facts” of higher criticisms were simply assertions passed down from one authority to another.

If Hays thinks Bray’s article is significant it is because he isn’t familiar

with the literature on the filioque. What we need from Hays via Bray is

a scriptural demonstration where the doctrine is taught. Let’s see what

we get.To begin, Bray is factually in error when he says that we cannot

point to a specific date or occasion when the filioque first became a hot

topic. We sure can. We can point to the insertion of it via Charlemagne

and its rejection by Saint Photios in the 9th century.  We can point out

that even earlier that Maximus the Confessor talks about a non-

hypostatic filioque among the Latins in the 6th century and that the

Eastern interpretation of it as a hypostatic procession caused

problems.If the matter is as straightforward as Hays would have us

believe why is Bray sensitive to the difficulty of defending the doctrine

via scripture alone?

“Catholic theologians who have defended the double procession have often used arguments that are drawn from tradition or from their understanding of Church authority. Evangelicals do not usually share these and are often unsympathetic to them, which makes it difficult for us to engage fully in the debate. For example, when Eastern theologians attack the filioque as a sign of papal arrogance and Catholics defend it because Rome has spoken and cannot be contradicted, where will evangelical sympathies most naturally lie? What is more, it can safely be said that the teaching of Scripture on this particular point is less than crystal clear, though of course that does not mean that the Bible has nothing at all to say about it.”

Now Bray provides a numbered summary of NT scholars’ findings on

the key passages in John. Of course, Bray doesn’t provide us with a

single footnote in the entire paper which makes it rather difficult to

evaluate his claims.He argues that the Latin procedere has come to be

utilized as the equivalent of ekporeuesthai. If this were so, one

wonders why the Greek meaning was narrower than the Latin? That is,

why was it that the term covered more conceptual ground in the Latin

than in the Greek? Of course this is not as bad as it seems since Bray

argues that eventually the Latins “soon” acquired the necessary linguistic

sophistication needed to capture the meaning of ekporeuesthai. I

wouldn’t call 600-800 years “soon” which is about when the Latin’s

figured out that the Orthodox had something more specific and narrow

in mind and attempt to adjust to it.John 15:26 doesn’t favor the double

procession for it is speaking of the economy of salvation. The Filioque

isn’t a thesis about economia but theologia. The only way one can get

from the economia to the theologia with the double procession as a

result is by assuming divine simplicity which has no scriptural support

as Hays admits. It is only following Rahner for example that the

economic is the theological that it would follow. If we took the sending

of the Spirit by the Son as indicative of their hypostatic relation, then

why wouldn’t we also be licensed to infer that the hypostasis of the Son

is begotten by the Spirit given the fact that the Spirit in the economia

brings about the conception of the Son in the world? Moreover, Bray

needs to demonstrate that sending is identical with procession. But if it

were, the Son would proceed from the Father rather than be begotten

or vice versa so that we’d have two sons or two spirits, as the Arians

argued. And much of the language of the Son being sent is in reference

to his Incarnation and temporal mission and not his being begotten by

the Father. Bray needs an argument that begotten = sending. Of course

he sees this and backs off. This means that his previous discussion of

what “NT scholars have found” does no work to ground the doctrine in

scripture on pain of Arianism or Montanism.Bray then admits that Jn

15:26 is primarily about the economia or the Spirit’s temporal mission. 

Of course he wants to sneak in a theological relation on the basis that

the procession of the Spirit is mentioned in the passage. Of course to

do so one has to identify facts mentioned about the Spirit with facts

mentioned about the Spirit’s mission. To say that the Son who is

begotten by the Father is sent into the world is not to say that his being

sent into the world is the same thing as being begotten. And then it just

happens. Bray just flat out begs the question. When he can’t find the

theological space between hypostatic generation and economical

mission, such as an energetic procession, he just begs the question.

Notice what he writes,

“It is a basic principle of Biblical thought that the temporal mission of both the Son and the Holy Spirit reflects their eternal relations within the Godhead, since otherwise the authenticity of our knowledge of God would be called into question.”

It is a basic principle of Biblical thought that the temporal missions

reflect their eternal hypostatic existence? Really? What verses teach this

“basic principle of Biblical thought” I wonder? The ones in question?

Can we say, question begging?  And if it is a “basic principle of Biblical

thought”, why does Bray need to use an epistemological worry to

establish the principle? Where’s the scriptural beef? His argument is

essentially that if we don’t believe that one mirrors the other then we

can’t know anything about God. Well, this simply doesn’t follow since

it assumes that the activities and persons would be cut off from the

essence and metaphysically free standing penumbral objects with no

footing in deity. And even if it did, it wouldn’t be a scriptural

argument. But what if the activities and persons weren’t “cut off?” All

that would follow then would be that our knowledge of God would be

limited and that of itself is a “basic principle of Biblical thought.” Sure

we would know that the Father begot the Son and Spirit proceeds

from the Father but the content of that would be inaccessable to

created intellects. Even on Bray’s gloss it is not as if his “basic principle

of biblical thought” affords him oodles of information about the divine

essence, so it is not as if much if anything is lost. The authenticity of our

knowledge of God would only be called into question on such a model

if we assumed that God was simple and pure activity (esse/energia)

such that the only metaphysical space available is essence or accident.

Theophanies and revelation would then be extrinsic accidents (You can

see how indebted Hays is to this Platonism here). Bray’s problem is

that he is am implicit Platonist. Moreover, why do Protestants require

epistemological access to the divine essence in order for the statements

of Scripture to be known to be true or authentic? Bray doesn’t say.So

far, we have yet to encounter scriptural support for the doctrine.

What we have gotten are arguments from epistemology grounded in

platonic metaphysics. That’s great if that’s what you want to do.

Catholics are quite good at it, but that is not sola scriptura. In fact, I

have to wonder if Hays even read the article for Bray concedes that the

doctrine lacks explicit scriptural warrant. 

“The only question is whether the Holy Spirit can also be said to proceed from the Son. This is not expressly stated anywhere in Scripture…”

This is not to say that the doctrine can’t be implicit in Scripture, but so

far, Bray has given us no good reason to think that this it is and neither

has Hays. Bray then contrasts Augustine’s position with that of Photios.

As for Photios insistence on the Father as the source (arche) of the o

ther two persons, one wonders why call him Father if he isn’t the

source? This is no small matter for the notion of Patriarchy has serious

theological and social ramifications. If Father is simply a name divested

of the meaning of source or origination, then why can’t that name be

applied to anyone? And given that the earliest Christians modeled their

ecclesiology on the Trinity with the Apostles as the source of the

ministry and then later the bishops, a Gnostic ecclesiology of complete

egalitarian ecclesiology seems to be the logical result (The Gnostics

drew straws to determine who would minister on a particular day since

no bodily distinction touched the spirit). Feminist “theologians” have

certainly noticed that one the term Father has been cut free of denoting

the hypostatic source of the other two persons, and that the only

ground for it is in patriarchal culture, which is quite dispensable.And of

course Bray misses the underlying reasoning at work motivating the

filioque in Spain.  The Arians thought of causality as the principle

property of deity and so the Son could not be deity since he caused no

one. The filioque doctrine implicitly accepted this view of the divine

essence and just added the Son as a cause. Of course, the Spirit causes

no one. What we end up with is essentially a Platonic triad of

Uncaused, Caused Cause and an Uncausing Effect. Why? Because of

the assumption that God is being and these are all of the possible logical

relations for being in relation to causation.  This is why Platonists

independent of Christian theology could come up with a triad of

relations in the One.And Bray writes as if the western church simply

accepted this addition carte blanch. But that certainly isn’t so. The

Filioque gains acceptance over time, in opposition to the formal

teaching of its official See, Rome. And so much so that the 8th council,

which Rome assents to removes it from the Creed in 880 A.D. So Bray

is simply wrong factually that its acceptance in 1014 was due to

Rome’s liturgical conservativism than any theological dispute. I suppose

he doesn’t’ consider Photios’ Mystagogy to be a theological text, not

to mention the declaration of western bishops at the 880 council that

condemned it on theological grounds as a corruption of the faith of the

apostles. They were quite able to distinguish between regional liturgical

differences and matters of theology and they took it to be the latter and

not the former. Moreover, the fact that its initial inclusion at a regional

synod in Spain provoked no great controversy has more to do with the

great distances the church was spread out over and other contingencies

than any tacit assent given to it across the West.But again, we are still

waiting for an argument that shows that the doctrine is implicitly

taught in Scripture. What Bray treats us to first is a theological

comparison concerning the two positions. He criticizes the Orthodox

view on the basis that it leaves up in the air the relation of the Son to the

Spirit. Well, why think that we need an exhaustive account, especially

to the point of postulating a hypostatic generation?  The underlying

philosophy here should be apparent. He wants a science of being under

the domain of reason and God just has to fit into that picture somehow. 

So the Orthodox view is to be faulted because it doesn’t lend itself to

such a project. But we can run the argument in the other direction, just

as easily, too bad for that project. It is amazing how Catholic Bray is

at this point.As to Florence, the reason why the doctrine of double

procession could not be harmonized with the teaching of Mark and

some of the other “Greeks” was that there is no room for an energetic

procession in the filioque. There is no conceptual room between

hypostases and economia. An energetic procession is eternal but not a

hypostatic procession. It is in part because of the imperial prohibition

on a discussion of the energies, making Florence ipso facto an invalid

council, that this point was never sufficiently discussed.  This is why a

procession of the Spirit through the Son is acceptable because it is

energetic and not hypostatic. It was the faithfulness of Saint Mark to

Scripture, namely the fact that Scripture speaks of the Spirit resting on

the Son and glorifying him that kept him from adhering to the Florentine

decisions. But Bray can’t seem to press further than the surface at this

point.This is why he mistakenly chalks up the Orthodox rejection to

“mysticism.”  Well it just ain’t so. It is because of our doctrine of God

that an attempt to use Aristotle’s relations, purified by late Platonism to

give philosophical content to the Trinity is out of bounds. It is not

because we start with some fideistic commitment and then rule such a

project out of court. God would have to be esse in order for the whole

project of inner and economical relations to get off the ground.Then

Bray makes the asinine claim about the “latent heresy of the Eastern

tradition” giving rise to Arianism. Arianism came out of Lucian’s

Platonism and attempting to synthecize it with Christian theology. In late

platonism effects of causes are metaphysically deficient. They are

necessarily lesser powers and the essences that produced them were

simple necessarily possessing singular properties. For Arius, either it

would be the case that the power of God (Christ was of the same

essence, and hence the same person as the Father, and the world

would therefore be eternal or the Son and the world would be created

and the Son and the Father would be separate beings. He chose the

latter, and the modalists the century prior chose the former.Bray claims

that Arianism can be generated from principles internal to the Orthodox

tradition. What principles might those be?  Well it’s the insistence on

the Father alone as source of the two other persons. Well then one

wonders why Scripture calls him “Father?”  Bray thinks that the

monarchy of the Father lends itself to Arianism in subordinating the Son

and the Spirit. Well this is only true if we inject Christian theology with

platonism such that persons just are simple essences. Then you have

only a handful of options to distinguish the persons. Either they will be

absorbed into a single substance with all distinctions being ultimately

accidental and ephemeral (modalism) or they will be separate

substances all equal no no priority but different by opposing properties

or one will subordinate the others. Of course, no platonism, no problem

and so contra Bray it does not in fact make Arianism easier to hold

since it cuts the ground out from Arianism in the first place. This is why

Arius had to bring pagan philosophers to testify in his defense at Nicea

and why his teaching was rightly and quickly recognized by Alexander

as an innovation.Then Bray runs to the baptism of Jesus. He argues

essentially the same point but this time with adoptionism. If we take the

narrative to tell us the eternal relationships then adoptionism results. Of

course it seems that bray has conveniently forgotten his “basic principle

of Biblical thought” just at this point. The problem only goes through if

we assume his “basic principle of Biblical thought.” I don’t. And of

course I can’t help but see Bray’s worry about lowering God in theosis

as the age old gnostic concern that God will have genuine contact with

his creation and suffer. Bray’s worry simply turns on a confusion of

person with activity as well as thinking that humans could turn divine

activities into purely created things (Pelagianism). His worry could only

be substantial if such a confusions were in play, but they aren’t not.But

we are still waiting for a scriptural demonstration of the doctrine. Of

course Bray goes on to express more or less the Orthodox worry

about turning persons into attributes and of course he doesn’t say what

the difference is. In fact, I don’t know what the difference is. In any

case, I haven’t seen any scriptural proof for the doctrine.In the last

section of the paper, Bray gives us what he takes to be an “Evangelical”

approach. Of course he begs the question at the outset. He writes,

“We must admit that our tendency to skip over this issue and go directly to that of the work of the Spirit is unbalanced and unhelpful, not least because the work the Spirit does is directly dependent on who the Spirit is, and his identity is defined by his relationship to the Father and the Son.”

It is rather prejudicial to say that the Spirit’s identity is defined by his

relationship to the Father and the Son. At best it is ambiguous and at

worst it is question begging.  Then he simply asserts that “there must be

a relationship between the Son and the Holy Spirit that is eternal.” Ok,

where is the Scriptural proof? Let’s see Sola Scriptura in action. But no

dice. I agree that there is in fact an eternal relationship, but it isn’t

hypostatic. In any case, Bray gives no scriptural justification. He just

expresses his views. Then he claims that all sides would agree that the

eternal procession of the Spirit cannot be understood apart from the

Son. Well, I think what he means by “understood” is rather vague. I

don’t think anyone understands the procession of the Spirit, save God.

Moreover, Bray just assumes that eternal relationship = hypostatic

generation. Of course he gives no argument for this view. It’s just part

of his tradition.And the whole autotheos line seems rather lame.

Hypostatic derivation doesn’t imply essential inequality. It only does so

if you inject a platonic view of causation. But of course God would

have to be being in order for that move to get off the ground, but he

isn’t and so it doesn’t.  Then Bray appeals to Christian experience,

specifically Protestant experience of the Spirit working directly in the

heart of the believer. He then continues to confuse temporal missions

with hypostatic generation without argumentation of any kind. Then he

makes another asinine statement.

“But still we must ask whether Christ sends the Spirit by divine right or only by divine permission. This ultimately takes us back to the whole question of Arianism, which is where the debate originally began. If Christ sends the Spirit only by permission, then there is a sense in which he is not fully and ultimately God.”

It would only follow that the Son wasn’t fully God if he sent the Spirit

by “permission” if “sending” were a property of the divine essence and

the Son lacked it and so only had it extriniscally. Of course, that just

takes us back to the pagan philosophical construal of the divine essence

as a simple causing substance. The funny thing is that Bray in accusing

the East of implicit Arianism is in fact assuming an Arian doctrine of

God in order to make the point. He still has not grasped the issues. The

confusion between “sending” and procession that Bray rejected earlier

in the paper, and rightly so, he has not seemingly accepted.Then he


“If divinity is absolute being, how can it depend on something (or someone) else? Either a being is divine and therefore absolute, or it is not. By regarding the Father as the “source of divinity” in an exclusive way, have the Eastern churches not exposed themselves to the charge of Arianism?”

First notice the dialectical framing. Either X is divine absolutely or not.

Ok, here is the crucial question. Is X a person or an essence? If the

Father qua person is the sole source of hypostatic generation, how

does that imply a subordinating inequality of essence? It could only do

so by confusing person with essence, which Bray has apparently done.

That is the only way the charge of Arianism could stick. If the

Fatherhood was the property of the essence, then Arianism would

follow, but its not. It’s hypostatic. The appeal to yet another

problematic innovation like “autotheos” for all of the persons is

unnecessary, not to mention lacking scriptural support.Of course, yet

again, Bray is doing systematic theology or philosophical theology and

not biblical theology. Where is the scriptural justification and grounding

of the doctirne? So far, no where. Bray goes on to say that when

Protestants endorse the filioque they mean to say that the Father and

the Son relate to the Spirit. Well fine, but the Orthodox say that too.

That doesn’t require the filioque to do that and Bray hasn’t given us any

good reason to think so. If we must believe that the Father and the Son

share everything in common, even their relation to the Spirit, why isn’t

spirituque the logical result? Isn’t it the case that the Father and the

Spirit share everything in common too? And Isn’t it the case the Spirit

and the Son share everything in common as well? Perhaps the Son and

the Spirit caused the Father eternally, a kind of eternal Freudianism!  I

suppose I can only quote Bray here “This is the true glory of a sola

Scriptura approach.” Uhm yeah dude. No scriptural justification

whatsoever. Now the Catholics reading this will proffer answers. I

reject those as well for other reasons. But that is not the point. The

point is that the doctrine is supposed to be justifiable on the grounds of

Sola Scriptura and this article by Hays is supposed to be the proof.

Now, this was a fairly typical article. Is this what Steve means by “doing your homework?” This again shows that Steve doesn’t grasp Orthodox theology and has no substantial knowledge of it. He is just digging around for articles, quotes from popular works, hopping to find anything to tar us with. If he had read anything substantial he would not have proffered the article as scriptural proof or any other kind, if he even read the article. Heck if he had even read this blog he would have been able to anticipate some of my criticisms.  Now Steve is not dumb. He could do better but that would require time and a touch of charity. And something else to note. We aren’t arguing on his turf. He made a simple mistake. He came into my backyard. I pretty much know what is out there in terms of criticisms of my view. I know the Classical Protestant tradition fairly well. And I know my own tradition better and have greater resources than an outsider like Steve.  Steve needs to learn to stay out of other people’s backyard. Read the sign, dude. Beware of dog.

9 Responses to My Backyard

  1. Orthodox says:

    Bravo for another insightful response.

    Of course to discuss the pros and cons of the filioque with someone who by their own confession rejects Nicene trinitarianism is about as meaningful as discussing it with a Jehovah’s Witness.

    I think it’s telling that Steve rejects Nicaea as understood by those who penned it, but accepts a development that came to full prominence about half a millenium later called the filioque. I think the reason is clear for all to see: Steve thinks he can see a hole in the Nicene creed to park his own particular views in, but he still needs to on some level defend the filioque. In other words, Steve has a tradition to defend – the reformed protestant tradition. Oh sure, he’s willing to redefine the words and the meaning of the creeds as he sees fit, no matter if it means what it meant at Nicea, or for that matter in Geneva or Wittenburg. But his congregation is probably reciting the creed every week, so he has a need to believe it on some level, or else the double think would be too much even for him to cope with of being heretical in his own church.

  2. David Richards says:

    Could someone tell me what “autotheos” means? Self-God?

  3. I think I speak for all Orthodox readers when I say:


  4. Of the objections I had in mind when I linked this, you hit practically all of them, but you missed one whopper that practically blew me off my chair:
    “I am not saying this in order to try to score points against another tradition of Christian theology but in order to point out that both the Eastern and the medieval Western Trinitarian traditions have not absorbed the full implications of what it means to say that each person of the Godhead is autotheos, a statement that was first clarified by John Calvin but that is surely latent in the entire theological tradition of both East and West.”

    I’ve never heard a more ridiculous piece of nonsense advocated by a so-called scholar. This is on the level of holocaust denial; it is so much contrary to the historical facts that it’s delusion. No one seriously maintains that autotheos was “surely latent” in the Nicene dogma. It’s clearly a revision of the Nicene dogma, and it’s debated even among Reformed scholars as to whether it is a revision that makes sense, particularly as elucidated in the Old Princeton Reformed tradition:

    I think autotheos is tri-theist, and I think most Orthodox think it’s tri-theist as well. It’s not a question of not absorbing “the full implications,” whatever that means, but of outright condemning the belief as heterodox. But what is even more incredible is that this is yet another example of Bray citing tradition contrary to his own principle. My respect for Bray has been steadily plummeting ever since I saw his thoroughly uncritical reliance on dubious conclusions regarding Antiochene interpretation in his book on Biblical interpretation, and between his contribution to The Trustworthiness of God and this article, I find it hard to trust him. The disregard for faithfully representing the subjects of his historical inquiry is at best disturbing; he does history like a theologian rather than a historian.

  5. Joseph says:


    Congratulations. You did not even put up a fight. It’s not going to be reprinted anytime soon either.

  6. Daniel Jones says:

    Another thing. This all highlights a point that I’ve held for a long time. When it comes to holding to the material sufficiency in regards to dogmatic points of doctrine, the only people that really practice anything close to “sola scriptura,”, are the Orthodox. That is scripture is the sole source and content of our formal dogmatic statements.


  7. jacob says:

    On a related note, my copy of FREE CHOICE IN SAINT MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR arrived yesterday, in the very good condition described by the merchant. Thanks to the person here who convinced me to buy it because he said that I may never again be able to get it for the (high to me) $50 price, and he’s right; the only copies now are $113 Canadian or 78,68 / 83,04 Euros or £57.50, plus shipping, and there are no U.S. copies on the Internet (though the Canadian one ships from Oregon). I.e., about $110 U.S. dollars + shipping.

    Maybe someone can convince Wipf and Stock to reprint it, if St. Tikhon’s will release the rights. (Of course, that would lower the value of my “prize”!) Since we attend St. Maximus the Confessor Orthodox Church (OCA), it’s good to know something about the man that we hymn nearly every Sunday.

  8. Daniel Jones says:

    That article that Hays posted from an evangelical on the filioque was a mixed bag. He had sympathies that I can understand, yet his understanding of the “mystical” view of Eastern Triadology was weak. Real weak. He says it lends itself to Arianism, and seems oblivious to the philosophical theology that laid the fertile ground of filioqiuism. Just why do Arianism and filioqiuism have the same Triadological STRUCTURE? No familiarity of the real ideas going on as far as I could see. He would’ve been better off learning and reading Farrell’s little book on Photios or my paper on Gregory of Nyssa and Eunomius. It would’ve set him up to actually think about how all these ideas are cross connected: philosophy being the hand-maiden of theology. Nicene Orthodoxy was the answer to Arianism. Arianism grew up out of Origenism. And Origienism was laid a fertile ground PARTLY (notice partly) by the Apologists. Origenism is proto-filioquist in structure and this is no surprise. It’s funny that Balas mentioned to me one time that Gregory of Nyssa (and the Cappadocians in general) gutted and ripped apart so much of Origen’s “insites” on the Trinity. I was like, Yeah I know, but that is precisely the point.


  9. Rob Grano says:

    Bravo, Perry. I find it interesting that Bray is saying that the monarchy of the Father leads to subordinationalism. The Evangelical theologian Donald Bloesch made the exact same claim against Fr. Reardon in the pages of Touchstone some years ago. Fr. Pat responded in a footnote to his well-known article “Father, Glorify Thy Name!”:

    ‘When he [Bloesch] went on to claim, however, that to “teach the monarchy of the Father almost invariably ends in subordinationism,” I confess to a reaction quite beyond astonishment. Among those who have somehow managed this allegedly improbable task—that is, to teach the monarchy of the Father without ending in subordinationism—mention may be made of Saints Athanasius ( Contra Arianos 4.1), Basil ( Homiliae 24), Gregory Nazianzen ( Orationes Theologicae 20.7; 31.14; 42.15), Maximus the Confessor ( Scholia 2.3), and John of Damascus ( De Fide Orthodoxa 1.8). Identical, non-subordinationist testimonies in the Latin West include Toledo VI (in Denzinger/Schönmetzer, Enchiridion Symbolorum [Freiburg: Herder, 1973], p. 168), Toledo XI (p. 175.), Toledo XVI (p. 192), and the 1897 encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Spiritus Sanctus (p. 652). ‘

    The entire article is here:

    Have you ever read Bray’s intro to the Ancient Christian Commentary volume on Romans? He grants that the patristic consensus tends to go against the Protestant understanding of St. Paul, and laments the fact that St. Augustine didn’t write a commentary on Romans, because then we’d have a more balanced Patristic reading of St. Paul. But as such, we have to take what we have. In other words, we’re stuck with Chrysostom, the Cappadocians, etc. , and we all know how much less “Pauline” they are than Augustine.

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