A Treatise Of Novatian Concerning The Trinity by Novatian
Chapter XXX. Argument.--In Fine, Notwithstanding the Said Heretics Have Gathered the Origin of Their Error from Consideration of What is Written: Although We Call Christ God, and the Father God, Still Scripture Does Not Set Forth Two Gods, Any More Than T
And now, indeed, concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, let it be sufficient to have briefly said thus much, and to have laid down these points concisely, without carrying them out in a lengthened argument. For they could be presented more diffusely and continued in a more expanded disputation, since the whole of the Old and New Testaments might be adduced in testimony that thus the true faith stands. But because heretics, ever struggling against the truth, are accustomed to prolong the controversy of pure tradition and Catholic faith, being offended against Christ; because He is, moreover, asserted to be God by the Scriptures also, and this is believed to be so by us; we must rightly -- that every heretical calumny may be removed from our faith -- contend, concerning the fact that Christ is God also, in such a way as that it may not militate against the truth of Scripture; nor yet against our faith, how there is declared to be one God by the Scriptures, and how it is held and believed by us. For as well they who say that Jesus Christ Himself is God the Father, as moreover they who would have Him to be only man, have gathered thence the sources and reasons of their error and perversity; because when they perceived that it was written that |God is one,| they thought that they could not otherwise hold such an opinion than by supposing that it must be believed either that Christ was man only, or really God the Father. And they were accustomed in such a way to connect their sophistries as to endeavour to justify their own error. And thus they who say that Jesus Christ is the Father argue as follows: -- If God is one, and Christ is God, Christ is the Father, since God is one. If Christ be not the Father, because Christ is God the Son, there appear to be two Gods introduced, contrary to the Scriptures. And they who contend that Christ is man only, conclude on the other hand thus: -- If the Father is one, and the Son another, but the Father is God and Christ is God, then there is not one God, but two Gods are at once introduced, the Father and the Son; and if God is one, by consequence Christ must be a man, so that rightly the Father may be one God. Thus indeed the Lord is, as it were, crucified between two thieves, even as He was formerly placed; and thus from either side He receives the sacrilegious reproaches of such heretics as these. But neither the Holy Scriptures nor we suggest to them the reasons of their perdition and blindness, if they either will not, or cannot, see what is evidently written in the midst of the divine documents. For we both know, and read, and believe, and maintain that God is one, who made the heaven as well as the earth, since we neither know any other, nor shall we at any time know such, seeing that there is none. |I,| says He, |am God, and there is none beside me, righteous and a Saviour.| And in another place: |I am the first and the last, and beside me there is no God who is as I.| And, |Who hath meted out heaven with a span, and the earth with a handful? Who has suspended the mountains in a balance, and the woods on scales?| And Hezekiah: |That all may know that Thou art God alone.| Moreover, the Lord Himself: |Why askest thou me concerning that which is good? God alone is good.| Moreover, the Apostle Paul says: |Who only hath immortality, and dwelleth in the light that no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see.| And in another place: |But a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.| But even as we hold, and read, and believe this, thus we ought to pass over no portion of the heavenly Scriptures, since indeed also we ought by no means to reject those marks of Christ's divinity which are laid down in the Scriptures, that we may not, by corrupting the authority of the Scriptures, be held to have corrupted the integrity of our holy faith. And let us therefore believe this, since it is most faithful that Jesus Christ the Son of God is our Lord and God; because |in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. The same was in the beginning with God.| And, |The Word was made flesh, and dwelt in us.| And, |My Lord and my God.| And, |Whose are the fathers, and of whom according to the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for evermore.| What, then, shall we say? Does Scripture set before us two Gods? How, then, does it say that |God is one?| Or is not Christ God also? How, then, is it said to Christ, |My Lord and my God?| Unless, therefore, we hold all this with fitting veneration and lawful argument, we shall reasonably be thought to have furnished a scandal to the heretics, not assuredly by the fault of the heavenly Scriptures, which never deceive; but by the presumption of human error, whereby they have chosen to be heretics. And in the first place, we must turn the attack against them who undertake to make against us the charge of saying that there are two Gods. It is written, and they cannot deny it, that |there is one Lord.| What, then, do they think of Christ? -- that He is Lord, or that He is not Lord at all? But they do not doubt absolutely that He is Lord; therefore, if their reasoning be true, here are already two Lords. How, then, is it true according to the Scriptures, there is one Lord? And Christ is called the |one Master.| Nevertheless we read that the Apostle Paul also is a master. Then, according to this, our Master is not one, for from these things we conclude that there are two masters. How, then, according to the Scriptures, is |one our Master, even Christ?| In the Scriptures there is one |called good, even God;| but in the same Scriptures Christ is also asserted to be good. There is not, then, if they rightly conclude, one good, but even two good. How, then, according to the scriptural faith, is there said to be only one good? But if they do not think that it can by any means interfere with the truth that there is one Lord, that Christ also is Lord, nor with the truth that one is our Master, that Paul also is our master, or with the truth that one is good, that Christ also is called good; on the same reasoning, let them understand that, from the fact that God is one, no obstruction arises to the truth that Christ also is declared to be God.