Divine Passivity and Simplicity in Eunomius

“It is interesting, however, that though the Neo-Arians made a clear distinction between God’s ungenerated essence and God’s activity (ένεργεία) as Father, Eunomius treated Jn. 14:28 as if it said, ‘The ungenerated essence who sent me is greater than I.”

Kopecek, A History of Neo-Arianism vo. 2, 320.

“From his introductory remarks it is clear that Eunomius intended to base a number of Part III’s arguments upon a refinement of the Middle Platonic theory of language Neo-Arianism had inherited. Like Albinus, Eunomius assumed that there is a ‘natural conformity of names with things’ and that ‘a name is a tool meant for teaching and differentiating the essence of each thing.’ Because it follows that a difference of names indicates a differences of essence, God who is ‘ungenerated’ and the Son who is ‘generate’ must be different in essence.’

Ibid., 321.

“He [Eunomius] proceeded by examining the nature of God’s ‘activity’ (ένεργεία) as ‘the cause and begining of all things.’ A ‘purified’ and ‘precise; account of God’s activity Eunomius said, excludes from divine generation of all things the ‘human’ activity of ‘division’ or ‘movement’ of the essence. He charged that to unite God’s activity of generation to God’s essence was not a Christian but a Greek notion. Because the greeks, including most Middle Platonists, conceived of the cosmos as eternal, they ‘united’ God’s activity of generation to his ungenerated essence, making God and the result of his activity-the world-co-equal. Eunomius continued,

“But we…, who judge God’s activity from its productions, do not suppose that it is safe to bind it, to unite it, to his essence, since we know that his essence is without begining, simple and without end, but that his activity is not without begining. for if it were, so also its productions would be without begining and without end, since it would not be possible for the activity to be without cessation if the production had ceased. For it would be very childish and belonging to an infantile mind should they say that the activity is ungenerated and endless, and so, too, the essence, if none of the productions of his activity is able to be generated in an ungenerated or endless way.”

According to this statement, Eunomius held that activity is consistent with and appropriate to its production, and hence if the production has begining and end, so does the activity. Because scripture revealed that the cosmos had a begining and will have an end, God’s activity also has begining and end; consequently, it cannot be united to God’s ungenerated and endless essence, unless that is,one wants to hold that the activity of God’s essence is ‘unsuccessful’ in generating a production which shares its ungeneratedness or endlessness. Since the attribution of failure to God is impious, Eunomius suggested that the only alternative is to detach God’s activity from his essence and to claim that ”willing is the activity most true and appropriate to God.’ Indeed, scripture was the source of Eunomius’ view, for Ps 115:3 revealed tha God’s will is ‘sufficient for the existence and preservation of all things’ when it claimed,  ‘For all things whatever he willed, he made.’ And it is God’s characteristic to make all things out of nothing, Eunomius implied since ‘he has no need of anything for the constitution of the things which he wills.’ Eunomius explained the upshot of all this  for the problem of the Son’s likeness to God as follows: ‘Therefore, if scripture has proved that God’s willing is his activity, and his activity is not his essence, and the Uniquely-Generated was made to exist as a hypostasis by the will of theFather, it is necessary that the Son preserve likeness not to God’s essence, but to his activity, which is also his willing.’  Since the Son is one of ‘all things,’ and it is God’s activity of will that produced the Son, the Son, as the production of that activity, must be consistent with and appropriate to that activity-or, in other words, ‘like’ that activity.  The Son is like God’s activity or willing, not like his essence. And because God’s role as generating ‘Father’ is bound up with his activity or willing, the appellation Father refers to God’s activity alone and not to his essence. Hence the Son is like the Father (=God’s activity of will) but not like God’s essence...Eunomius contended that since the Colossians passage used the term image in connection with God’s activity of creating-both his creating ‘all things’ and his creating the Son, for the Son is first born of ‘all creation’ the Son is the image of God’s activity, not the image of his essence…”

Ibid., 338-340.

“The whole acount of our doctrines is summed up as follows: there is the supreme and absolute essence, and there is the essence which exists because of this one but after it, though before all others, and there is a third essence, which is ranked below the first as its cause and below the second as the activity according to which it has been generated. There must also be included in this summary of the whole account the activities which follow the essences and the names which naturally belong to them. Now, each essence both exists and is conceived as absolutely simple and completely one in relation to its own dignity. Its activities are circumscribed by its works, and its works are commensurate with the activities which produced them, being completely necessary, of course, that the activities following each of the essences be less and greater and that some occupy the first rank and some the second–in a word, that their diference amount to that existing between their works, since it is not lawful to say that it is the same activity according which he [the Son] made the angels or the stars and heaven or man…”

Eunomius, Apologia Apologiae, PG 45:296ff, in Kopecek, 451-2.

“All activities, no matter their rank relative to one another, both follow and are lower than the essence to which they pertain. Theirefore, Eunomius stressed that theological methodology should always begin with knowledge of the essences and works its way down to their activities rather than begin with knowledge of activities and work its way up to the essences.” 

Kopecek, 453.

“When Basil claimed that God has aspects or qualities different form his essence, he was [according to Eunomius] compromising God’s simplicity: he was making God a composite of essence and qualities. The only way to protect the divine simplicity was to affirm that God has no qualities (forEunomius, God engages in activities rather than possesses qualities). All the names we se for God are synonyms.”

Ibid., 468.

“If ungeneratedness and indestructibility are not privations, it is not at all immaterial [contra Basil] whether they designate God’s essence or some of his qualities. Once again Eunomius underlined that God’s simplicity was at stake: “…truth bears witness that nothing is united in nature with God.” If God possesses qualities, he becomes composite. So ungeneratedness, indestructibility, and immortality must themselves “be God’s essence itself.” It goes without saying that all of God’s names are synonyms; they all designate the same simle essence.”

Ibid., 470.

“According to Eunomius, scripture and the Christian tradition did not claim that God became man but that the Son, the Word, the one being in the form of God, became man. Eunomius was not saying that God’s sovereign will was not ultimately responsible for the display of love of humanity; he was saying that the acting out of this love belonged to the Son, and not to the sovereign ‘inactive’ God.”

Ibid., 493.

“The ‘one and only true God’ was presented as most exaslted…and changeless…God is virtually passive…The Son and the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, were presented as being exceedingly active. In fact, the creed provides us with Eunomius’ fullest statement of what precisely it is that the Son does as ‘slave and servant’ of God and what precisely the Holy Spirit does as ‘slave and servant’ of the Son, who is virtually passive after his resurrection, acts through the Holy Spirit to teach and care for Christians.”

Ibid., 525.

One comment

  1. The Messiah bore witness unto “The Only True G-D”…….

    And Truth IS, as Paul testified, “G-D was in The Messiah”, Paul did not testify that ‘g-d was the messiah’…….

    And Paul testified of “ONE G-D, Father of ALL”…….

    The Messiah testified of, “The Only True G-D” and The Messiah testified that He had a “G-D and Father”, HE WHO IS The ONE and Only True G-D, Father of ALL…….

    Paul testified, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in G-D, WHO CREATED ALL things by The Messiah”…….(Eph3:9)

    And The Father(Creator) spoke “Let there be Light” and “there was Light”…….

    LIGHT begot Light…….

    The Messiah, “The Light which enlightens every man”, was “The Beginning of The Creation of The ONE and Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL…….(Rev 3:14)

    There is Only ONE True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL, and HE IS The G-D and Father(Creator) of The Messiah and His brethren…….

    John 17:3 “And this is Eternal Life, that they might know YOU The Only True G-D, and The Messiah, Whom YOU have sent”…….

    Mark 12:32-33 “And the scribe said unto The Messiah, Well, Master, You have said The Truth: for there is ONE G-D; and there is NONE OTHER but HE. And to love HIM with all your heart, and with all your understanding, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and to love his neighbor as yourself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices”…….

    Rom 3:30 “Seeing it is ONE G-D, WHO shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith”…….

    1 Cor 8:6 “But to us there is but ONE G-D, The Father, of WHOM are all things, and we in HIM; and one Master, The Messiah, by Whom are all things, and we by Him”…….

    Rev 3:14 The Messiah was “The Beginning of The Creation of The ONE and Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL”…….

    Eph 4:6 “ONE G-D, Father of ALL, WHO is above all, and through all, and in you all”…….

    John 4:24 “G-D is A SPIRIT: and they that worship HIM must worship HIM in Spirit and in Truth”…….

    Luke 24:39 The Messiah testified after He was “raised from among the dead”, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself, handle Me and see, for A SPIRIT DOES NOT HAVE FLESH AND BONES, AS you see I HAVE”…….

    The ONE and Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL can not die…….period…….

    The Messiah died and “The ONE and Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL raised Him from among the dead”……. And The Messiah’s incorruptible body ascended into the clouds…….

    James 1:13 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of G-D, for G-D CAN NOT BE TEMPTED with evil, neither tempts HE any man”…….

    Heb 4:15 “For we do not have a High Priest(The Messiah) Who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, for He WAS in all points TEMPTED like we are, yet without sin”…….

    The ONE and Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL, HE CAN NOT BE TEMPTED with sin AS THE MESSIAH WAS…….period…….

    1 Tim 2:5 “There is ONE G-D, and one mediator between G-D and men, the man-The Messiah”…….

    James 2:19 “You believe that there is ONE G-D, you do well, yet the devils also believe, and tremble”…….

    John 20:17 “The Messiah said unto her, Touch Me not; for I have not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My G-D, and your G-D.”

    Mark 3:33-35 “The Messiah answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brethren”? And He looked round about on them which sat about Him, and said, “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whoever shall do The Will of G-D, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother””…….

    Rom 8:29 “Whom G-D did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of HIS Son, that The Messiah might be the firstborn among many brethren”…….

    Hope is you are one of the brethren of The Messiah…….

    The brethren of The Messiah know there is Only ONE True Living G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL…….

    And Truth is as The Messiah tesified, ” My(Our) Father is greater than I”…….(John14:28)

    And Truth is as Paul testifed, “The HEAD of The Messiah is The ONE and Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL, and The Head of the man is The Messiah, and the head of the woman is the man”…….(1Cor11:3)

    Those who would pervert The Order of The ONE and Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL will have to answer to HIM…….

    For The ONE and Only True Living G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL, “HE Created all things by The Messiah” and The Messiah was “The Beginning of The Creation of The ONE and Only True Living G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL…….

    Truth is “The Messiah is The Son of The ONE and Only True Living G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL”…….

    The Messiah testified that He had a “G-D and Father” and that His “G-D and Father” was also the “G-D and Father” of His Brethren…….

    And The ONE and Only True Living G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL, HE has no god, for HE IS G-D, and HE has no father, for HE IS Father(Creator) of ALL, and HE has no brethren, for HE IS Father(Creator) of ALL…….

    Hope is there would be those who experience The Miracle that is receiving “the love of The Truth” for they will “experience The Messiah and The Power(Our Father) that raised Him from among the dead”…….

    The Faith of those who have received “a love of The Truth” is grounded in Miracles, not mere colored marks(words) written on a dead tree(page) and bound in a book…….

    Thankfully The ONE and Only True G-D, Father of ALL, HE yet communes with HIS Children, HE yet reveals all things…….

    Father Help! and HE does…….

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it’s systems of religion, for “the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one” indeed and Truth…….

    Truth is never ending……. francis


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