Against Praxeas by Tertullian
Chapter XIX.--The Son in Union with the Father in the Creation of All Things This Union of the Two in Co-Operation is Not Opposed to the True Unity of God. It is Opposed Only to Praxeas' Identification Theory.
But this very declaration of His they will hastily pervert into an argument of His singleness. |I have,| says He, |stretched out the heaven alone.| Undoubtedly alone as regards all other powers; and He thus gives a premonitory evidence against the conjectures of the heretics, who maintain that the world was constructed by various angels and powers, who also make the Creator Himself to have been either an angel or some subordinate agent sent to form external things, such as the constituent parts of the world, but who was at the same time ignorant of the divine purpose. If, now, it is in this sense that He stretches out the heavens alone, how is it that these heretics assume their position so perversely, as to render inadmissible the singleness of that Wisdom which says, |When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him?| -- even though the apostle asks, |Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?| meaning, of course, to except that wisdom which was present with Him. In Him, at any rate, and with Him, did (Wisdom) construct the universe, He not being ignorant of what she was making. |Except Wisdom,| however, is a phrase of the same sense exactly as |except the Son,| who is Christ, |the Wisdom and Power of God,| according to the apostle, who only knows the mind of the Father. |For who knoweth the things that be in God, except the Spirit which is in Him?| Not, observe, without Him. There was therefore One who caused God to be not alone, except |alone| from all other gods. But (if we are to follow the heretics), the Gospel itself will have to be rejected, because it tells us that all things were made by God through the Word, without whom nothing was made. And if I am not mistaken, there is also another passage in which it is written: |By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hosts of them by His Spirit.| Now this Word, the Power of God and the Wisdom of God, must be the very Son of God. So that, if (He did) all things by the Son, He must have stretched out the heavens by the Son, and so not have stretched them out alone, except in the sense in which He is |alone| (and apart) from all other gods. Accordingly He says, concerning the Son, immediately afterwards: |Who else is it that frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad, turning wise men backward, and making their knowledge foolish, and confirming the words of His Son?| -- as, for instance, when He said, |This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.| By thus attaching the Son to Himself, He becomes His own interpreter in what sense He stretched out the heavens alone, meaning alone with His Son, even as He is one with His Son. The utterance, therefore, will be in like manner the Son's, |I have stretched out the heavens alone,| because by the Word were the heavens established. Inasmuch, then, as the heaven was prepared when Wisdom was present in the Word, and since all things were made by the Word, it is quite correct to say that even the Son stretched out the heaven alone, because He alone ministered to the Father's work. It must also be He who says, |I am the First, and to all futurity I AM.| The Word, no doubt, was before all things. |In the beginning was the Word;| and in that beginning He was sent forth by the Father. The Father, however, has no beginning, as proceeding from none; nor can He be seen, since He was not begotten. He who has always been alone could never have had order or rank. Therefore, if they have determined that the Father and the Son must be regarded as one and the same, for the express purpose of vindicating the unity of God, that unity of His is preserved intact; for He is one, and yet He has a Son, who is equally with Himself comprehended in the same Scriptures. Since they are unwilling to allow that the Son is a distinct Person, second from the Father, lest, being thus second, He should cause two Gods to be spoken of, we have shown above that Two are actually described in Scripture as God and Lord. And to prevent their being offended at this fact, we give a reason why they are not said to be two Gods and two Lords, but that they are two as Father and Son; and this not by severance of their substance, but from the dispensation wherein we declare the Son to be undivided and inseparable from the Father, -- distinct in degree, not in state. And although, when named apart, He is called God, He does not thereby constitute two Gods, but one; and that from the very circumstance that He is entitled to be called God, from His union with the Father.