Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Athanasius on the Semi-Arians: De Synodis, ca. 359 AD

Those who deny the council (of Nicaea) altogether, are sufficiently exposed by these brief remarks; those, however, who accept everything else that was defined at Nicaea, and doubt only about the Co-essential (i.e., homoousios), must not be treated as enemies; nor do we here attack them as Ariomaniacs, nor as opponents of the Fathers, but we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers, who mean what we mean and dispute only about the word. For, confessing that the Son is from the essence of the Father, and not from another subsistence, and that he is not a creature nor work, but his genuine and natural offspring, and that he is eternally with the Father as being his Word and Wisdom, they are not far from accepting even the phrase Co-essential. Now such is Basil of Ancyra, who wrote concerning the faith. For only to say 'like according to essence' (i.e., homoiousios) is very far from signifying 'of the essence', by which, rather, as they say themselves, the genuine relationship of the Son to the Father is signified....This is sufficient to show that the meaning of the beloved ones, that is, the Semi-arians, is not foreign nor far from the 'Co-essential' (Athanasius, De Synodis, 41, 43).

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