среда, 15 июня 2016 г.

The historic doctrine of the Holy Trinity (John of Damascus)

Therefore, we believe in one God: one principle, without beginning, uncreated, unbegotten, indestructible and immortal, eternal, unlimited, uncircumscribed, unbounded, infinite in power, simple, uncompounded, incorporeal, unchanging, unaffected, unchangeable, inalterate, invisible, source of goodness and justice, light intellectual and inaccessible; power which no measure can give any idea of but which is measured only by His own will, for He can do all things whatsoever He pleases; maker of all things both visible and invisible, holding together all things and conserving them, provider for all, governing and dominating and ruling over all in unending and immortal reign; without contradiction, filling all things, contained by nothing, but Himself containing all things, being their conserver and first possessor; pervading all substances without being defiled, removed far beyond all things and every substance as being supersubstantial and surpassing all, supereminently divine and good and replete; appointing all the principalities and orders, set above every principality and order, above essence and life and speech and concept; light itself and goodness and being insofar as having neither being nor anything else that is from any other; the very source of being for all things that are, of life to the living, of speech to the articulate, and the cause of all good things for all; knowing all things before they begin to be; one substance, one godhead, one virtue, one will, one operation, one principality, one power, one domination, one kingdom; known in three perfect Persons and adored with one adoration, believed in and worshiped by every rational creature, united without confusion and distinct without separation, which is beyond understanding. We believe in Father and Son and Holy Ghost in whom we have been baptized. For it is thus that the Lord enjoined the Apostles: 'Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.'

We believe in one Father, the principle and cause of all things, begotten of no one, who alone is uncaused and unbegotten, the maker of all things and by nature Father of His one and only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and Emitter of the All-Holy Spirit. We also believe in one Son of God, the only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was begotten of the Father before all the ages, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made; in regard to whom, when we say that He is before all ages, we mean that His begetting is outside of time and without beginning, for the Son of God was not brought from nothing into being; who is the brightness of the glory and the figure of the substance of the Father, His living power and wisdom, the subsistent Word, the substantial and perfect and living image of the invisible God. Actually, He was always with the Father, being begotten of Him eternally and without beginning. For the Father never was when the Son was not, but the Father and the Son begotten of Him exist together simultaneously, because the Father could not be so called without a Son. Now, if He was not Father when He did not have the Son, and then later became Father without having been Father before, then He was changed from not being Father to being Father, which is the worst of all blasphemies. For it is impossible to speak of God as naturally lacking the power of begetting. And the power of begetting is the power to beget of oneself, that is, of one's own substance, offspring similar to oneself in nature. 

Accordingly, it is impious to say that time intervened in the begetting of the Son and that the Son came into existence after the Father. For we say that the begetting of the Son is of the Father, that is to say, of His nature; and if we do not grant that the Son begotten of the Father exists together with Him from the beginning, then we are introducing a change into the substance of the Father; namely, that He once was not Father, but became Father later. Now, creation, even if it was made at a later time, was not of the substance of God, but was brought from nothing into being by His will and power and does not involve any change in the nature of God. Begetting means producing of the substance of the begetter an offspring similar in substance to the begetter. Creation, on the other hand-- making--is the bringing into being, from the outside and not from the substance of the creator, of something created and made entirely dissimilar [in substance]. 

Therefore, neither the act of begetting nor that of creation has any effect on the one, unaffected, unvarying, unchanging, and ever-the-same God. For, being simple and uncompounded and, consequently, by nature unaffected and unchanging, He is by nature not subject to passion or change, whether from begetting or from creating, nor does He stand in neeed of any cooperation. On the contrary, because the begetting is an action belonging to His nature and proceeding from His substance, it is without beginning and eternal, so that the Begetter undergoes no change and so that He is not a first God and a later God, but receives no addition. But, since with God creation is a work of His will, it is not co-eternal with Him--which is because it is not of the nature of that which is produced from nothing to be co-eternal with that which is without beginning and always existing. Indeed, God and man do not make in the same way. Thus, man does not bring anything from non-being into being. What man makes he makes from already existing material, not by just willing but by thinking it out beforehand and getting an idea of what he is to make and then working with his hands, toiling and troubling and oftentimes failing because the object of his endeavor does not turn out as he wishes. God, on the other hand, has brought all things from nothing into being by a mere act of His will. Hence, God and man do not beget in the same way. For, since God is without time and without beginning, unaffected, unchanging, incorporeal, unique, and without end, He begets without time and without beginning, unaffectedly unchangingly, and without copulation. Neither does His unfathomable begetting have beginning or end. It is without beginning, because He is immutable; it is unchanging, because He is unaffected and incorporeal; it is without copulation, also because He is incorporeal and because He is the only one God and without need of any other; it is unending and unceasing, because He is without time and without end and ever the same--for that which is without beginning is without end, although that which is without end by a gift of grace is by no means without beginning, as is the case with the angels.

Accordingly, the ever-existing God begets without beginning and without end His own Word as a perfect being, lest God, whose nature and existence are outside of time, should beget in time. Now, it is obvious that man begets in quite another manner, since he is subject to birth and death and flux and increase, and since he is clothed with a body and has the male and female in his nature--for the male has need of the female's help. May He be propitious to us who is beyond all things and surpasses all understanding and comprehension.

Therefore, the holy Catholic and apostolic Church teaches that the Father exists simultaneously with His only-begotten Son, who is begotten of Him without time or change or passion and in a manner beyond understanding, as only the God of all knows. They exist simultaneously, as does the fire with its light--without the fire being first and the light afterwards, but both simultaneously. And just as the light is ever being begotten of the fire, is always in it, and is in no way separated from it, so also is the Son begotten of the Father without in any way being separated from Him, but always existing in Him. However, the light, which is inseparably begotten of the fire and always remains in it, does not have any individual existence apart from the fire, because it is a natural quality of the fire. On the other hand, the only-begotten Son of God, who was inseparably and indivisibly begotten of the Father and abides in Him always, does have His own individual existence apart from that of the Father.

Now the Word is also called 'Brightness' because He was begotten of the Father without copulation, without passion, without time, without change, and without separation. He is also called 'Son' and 'Figure of the substance of the Father' because He is perfect and distinctly subsistent and in all things like the Father except in the Father's being unbegotten. And He is called 'Only-begotten' because He alone was begotten alone of the only Father. For neither is there any other begetting like that of the Son of God, nor is there any other Son of God. Thus, although the Holy Ghost does proceed from the Father, this is not by begetting but by procession. This is another manner of existence and is just as incomprehensible and unknowable as is the begetting of the Son. Hence, the Son has all things whatsoever the Father has, except the Father's being unbegotten, which does not imply any difference in substance, nor any quality, but, rather, a manner of existence. Thus, in the same way, Adam is unbegotten, because he was formed by God, while Seth is begotten, because he is the son of Adam; Eve, too, was not begotten, because she was produced from the rib of Adam. Yet, they do not differ in nature, because they are all human beings; they only differ in the manner of their existence. 

Now, one ought to know that ageneton written with one "n" means that which has not been created, or, in other words, that which is unoriginated; while agenneton written with two "n"'s means that which has not been begotten. Therefore, the first meaning implies a difference in essence, for it means that one essence is uncreated, or agenetos with one "n", while some other is created, or originated. On the other hand, the second meaning does not imply any difference in essence, because the first individual substance of every species of living being is unbegotten but not unoriginated. For they were created by the Creator, being brought into existence by His Word. But they were certainly not begotten, because there was no other like substance pre-existing from which they might have been begotten.

Thus, the first meaning applies to all three of the super-divine Persons of the sacred Godhead, for they are uncreated and of the same substance. On the other hand, the second meaning definitely does not apply to all three, because the Father alone is unbegotten insofar as He does not have His being from another person. And only the Son is begotten, for He is begotten of the substance of the Father without beginning and independently of time. And only the Holy Ghost proceeds: not begotten, but proceeding from the substance of the Father. Such is the teaching of sacred Scripture, but as to the manner of the begetting and the procession, this is beyond understanding.

This also should be known, that the terms 'paternity,' 'sonship,' and 'procession' as applied to the blessed Godhead did not originate with us, but, on the contrary, were handed down to us from Scripture, as the divine Apostle says: 'For this cause I bow my knee to the Father, of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.' 

And if we say that the Father is the principle of the Son and greater than the Son, we are not giving to understand that He comes before the Son either in time or in nature, for 'by him he made the world,' nor in any other thing save causality. That is to say, we mean that the Son is begotten of the Father, and not the Father of the Son, and that the Father is naturally the cause of the Son. Similarly, we do not say that the fire comes from the light, but that the light comes from the fire. So, when we hear that the Father is the principle of the Son and greater than He, let us understand this as being by reason of His being the cause. And just as we do not say that the fire is of one substance and the light of another, neither is it proper to say that the Father is of one substance and the Son of another; on the contrary, they are of one and the same substance. What is more, just as we say that the fire is made visible by the light coming from it, yet do not make the fire's light a subsidiary organ of the fire but, rather, a natural power; in the same way, we say that the Father does all things whatsoever through His only-begotten Son, not as through a subsidiary organ, but as through a natural and distinctly subsistent force. And just as we say that the fire gives light, and, again, that the fire's light gives light, so: 'What things soever the Fother doth, these the Son also doth in like manner.' But the light was not created an individual substance apart from the fire, whereas the Son is a perfect individual substance inseparable from that of the Father, as we have set forth above. For it is impossible to find in creation any image which exactly protrays the manner of the Holy Trinity in Itself. For that which is created is also compounded, variable, changeable, circumscribed, having shape, and corruptible; so, how shall it show with any clarity the supersubstantial divine essence which is far removed from all such? It is evident that all creation is subject to these several conditions and that it is of its own nature subject to corruption.

We likewise believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and abides in the Son; who is adored and glorified together with the Father and the Son as consubstantial and co-eternal with Them; who is the true and authoritative Spirit of God and the source of wisdom and life and sanctification; who is God together with the Father and the Son and is so proclaimed; who is uncreated, complete, creative, almighty, all-working, all-powerful, infinite in power; who dominates all creation but is not dominated; who deifies but is not deified; who fills but is not filled; who is shared in but does not share; who sanctifies but is not sanctified; who, as receivng the intercessions of all, is the Intercessor; who is like the Father and the Son in all things; who proceeds from the Father and is communicated through the Son and is participated in by all creation; who through Himself creates and gives substance to all things and sanctifies and preserves them; who is distinctly subsistent and exists in His own Person indivisible and inseparable from the Father and the Son; who has all things whatsoever the Father and the Son have except the being unbegotten and the being begotten. For the Father is uncaused and unbegotten, because He is not from anything, but has His being from Himself and does not have from any other anything whatsoever that He has. Rather, He Himself is the principle and cause by which all things naturally exist as they do. And the Son is begotten of the Father, while the Holy Ghost is Himself also of the Father--although not by begetting, but by procession. Now, we have learned that there is a difference between begetting and procession, but what the manner of this difference is we have not learned at all. However, the begetting of the Son and the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father are simultaneous.

Accordingly, all things whatsoever the Son has from the Father the Spirit also has, including His very being. And if the Father does not exist, then neither does the Son or the Spirit; and if the Father does not have something, then neither has the Son or the Spirit. Furthermore, because of the Father, that is, because of the fact that the Father is, the Son and the Spirit are; and because of the Father, the Son and the Spirit have everything that they have, that is to say, because of the fact that the Father has them, excepting the being unbegotten, the begetting, and the procession. For it is only in these personal properties that the three divine Persons differ from one antoher, being indivisibly divided by the distinctive note of each individual Person.

We say that each of the three has perfect distinct subsistence; not, however, in such a way as to understand one perfect nature compounded of three imperfect natures, but one simple essence, eminently and antecedently perfect, in three Persons. For, anything that is made up of imperfect things is most definitely compounded, and it is impossible for there to be a compound of perfect individual substances. Hence, we do not say that the species is of the Persons, but in the Persons. Those things which do not retain the species of the thing made of them we call imperfect. Thus, stone, wood, and iron are each perfect in themselves according to their individual natures; but in relation to a house built of them they are all imperfect, because no one of them by itself is a house.

And so we speak of perfect individual substances to avoid giving any idea of composition in the divine nature. For composition is the cause of disintegration. And again, we say that the three Persons are in one another, so as not to introduce a whole swarm of gods. By the three Persons we understand that God is uncompounded and without confusion; by the consubstantiality of the Persons and their existence in another and by the indivisibility of the identity of will, operation, virtue, power, and, so to speak, motion we understand that God is one. For God and His Word and His Spirit are really one God.

One should know that it is one thing actually to observe something and another to see it through reason and thought. Thus, in all creatures there is an actual distinction to be seen between the individual substances. Peter is seen to be actually distinct from Paul. But, that which is held in common, the connection, and the unity is seen by reason and thought. Thus, in our mind we see that Peter and Paul are of the same nature and have one common nature, for each is a rational mortal animal and each is a body animated by a rational and understanding soul. Hence, this common nature is perceived by the reason. Now, individual persons do not exist in one another at all, but each one is separate and by itself, that is to say, is distinct and considered in itself, since it has a great many things to distinguish it from the other. For, truly, they are separated in place and the differ in time, judgment, strength, form--or shape, habit, temperament, dignity, manner of life, and all the other distinctive properties--but most of all they differ by the fact that they do not exist in each other but separately. Hence, we speak of two, or three, or several men.

The aforesaid is true of all creation, but is quite the contrary in the case of the holy, supersubstantial, all-transcendent, and incomprehensible Trinity. For, here, that which is common and one is considered in actuality by reason of the co-eternity and identity of substance, operation, and will, and by reason of the agreement in judgment and the identity of power, virtue, and goodness--I did not say *similarity,* but *identity*--and by reason of the one surge of motion. For there is one essence, one goodness, one virtue, one intent, one operation, one power--one and the same, not three similar one to another, but one and the same motion of the three Persons. And the oneness of each is not less with the others than it is with itself, that is to say, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one in all things except the being unbegotten, the being begotten, and the procession. It is by thought that the distinction is perceived. For we know one God and Him in the properties of fatherhood, and sonship, and procession only. The difference we conceive of according to cause and effect and the perfection of the Person, that is to say, His manner of existing. For with the uncircumscribed Godhead we cannot speak of any difference in place, as we do with ourselves, because the Persons exist in one another, not so as to be confused, but so as to adhere closely together as expressed in the words of the Lord when He said: 'I in the Father and the Father in me.' Neither can we speak of a difference in will, or judgment, or operation, or vitue, or any other whatsoever of those things which in us give rise to a definite real distinction. for that reason, we do not call the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost three Gods, but one God, the Holy Trinity, in whom the Son and the Holy Ghost are related to one Cause without any composition or blending such as is the coalescence of Sabellius. For they are united, as we said, so as not to be confused, but to adhere closely together, and they have their circumincession one in the other without any blending or mingling and without change or division in substance such as is the division held by Arius. Thus, must one put it concisely, the Godhead is undivided in things divided, just as in three suns joined together without any intervening interval there is one blending and the union of the light. So, when we contemplate the Godhead, and the First Cause, and the Monarchy, and the unity and identity, so to speak, of the motion and will of the Godhead, and the identity of substance, virtue, operation, and dominion, then that which appears to us is One. But, when we contemplate the things in which the Godhead exists, or, to put it more accurately, those things which are the Godhead and which come from the First Cause independently of time, with equal glory, and inseparably--that is, the Persons of the Son and the Spirit--then we adore Three. One Father, the Father without beginning, that is to say, uncaused, for He is from no one. One Son, the Son who is not without beginning, that is to say, not uncaused, for He is from the Father; but, should you take the beginning as being in time, then He is without beginning, because He is the maker of the ages and not subject to time. One Spirit, the Holy Ghost coming forth from the Father, not by filiation but by procession. And, as the Father does not cease to be unbegotten because He has begotten, nor the Son cease to be begotten because He is begotten of the Unbegotten--for how could He?--so neither does the Spirit change into the Father or the Son, because He proceeds and is God. The property is unchangeable, since how would it otherwise remain a property should it be changed and transformed? Thus, if the Son is the Father, then He is not properly the Father, because there is only one who is properly the Father; and, if the Father is the Son, He is not properly the Son, because there is only one who is properly the Son, and only one who is properly the Holy Ghost.

One should know that we do not say that the Father is of anyone, but that we do say that He is the Father of the Son. We do not say that the Son is a cause or a father, but we do say that He is from the Father and is the son of the Father. And we do say that the Holy Ghost is of the Father and we call Him the Spirit of the Father. Neither do we say that the Spirit is from the Son, but we call Him the Spirit of the Son--'Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ,' says the divine Apostle, 'he is none of his.' We also confess that He was manifested and communicated to us through the Son, for 'He breathed,' it says, 'and he said to his disciples: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.' It is just like the rays and brightness coming from the sun, for the sun is the source of its rays and brightness and the brightness is communicated to us through the rays, and that it is which lights us and is enjoyed by us. Neither do we say that the Son is of the Spirit, nor, most certainly, from the Spirit.

John of Damascus, Exact Exposition, Chapter VIII (Holy Trinity) 

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