Tuesday, June 23, 2015

St Gregory Nazianzen on God

The Church Fathers have always tried to explain what God is, who He is, how He functions etc. There are many exegeses of God in the Orthodox Tradition. And they are very difficult to comprehend. Knowing God is not an easy endeavour. We can comprehend Him only through what he has shown to us. Here, St Gregory Nazianzen, one of the greatest Fathers of the Church, explains the dogma of the Trinity.


‘When I speak of God you must be illumined at once by one flash of light and by three. Three in Properties, or Hypostases, or Persons, if any prefer so to call them, for we will not quarrel about names so long as the syllables amount to the same meaning; but One in respect of the ουσία – that is, the Godhead. For they are divided indivisibly, if I may so say; and they are conjoined dividedly. For the Godhead is one in three, and the three are one in whom the Godhead is, or, to speak more accurately, Who are the Godhead.’[1] ‘The very fact of being unbegotten, or begotten, or proceeding, has given the name Father to the First, of the Son to the Second, and to the Third, Him of whom we are speaking, of the Holy Ghost, that the distinction of the Three Hypostases may be preserved in the one nature and dignity of the Godhead. For neither is the Son Father, for the Father is One, but He is what the Father is; nor is the Spirit Son because He is of God, for the Only-begotten is One, but He is what the Son is. The Three are One in Godhead, and the One Three in properties; so that neither is the Unity a Sabellian one, nor does the Trinity countenance the present evil division.’[2] [i.e. Arianism]. 




[1] ‘In sancta lumina, Oratio XXXIX, xi’, P.G., XXXVI, 345 CD.
[2] ‘Oratio XXXI (Theologica V), ix’ P.G., XXXVI, 144 A.

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