St Gregory the Theologian and the One God

Eclectic Orthodoxy

“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth”—thus begins the Nicene Creed, recited every Sunday by Christian congregations around the globe. Though rarely noted by trinitarian Christians, the creed specifies, not the Holy Trinity, but the Father as the one God. The creed, of course, goes on to state “And in one Lord Jesus Christ” and “And in the Holy Ghost”; but it is the Father who is named the one God. This manner of speech reflects the creed’s biblical and liturgical roots. The apostolic Church did not proclaim a different God than the one God of Israel, just as Jesus himself did not. Our Lord no doubt offered the traditional prayers of synagogue Judaism and recited the Shema. “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked the rich young man. “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18). Yet the resurrection and ascension…

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3 Responses to St Gregory the Theologian and the One God

  1. Why not explain the Trinity as Moses did in Deuteronomy 33:27: “The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are His Eternal Arms…” From God, the Father, emanates His Word (now Incarnate) and the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 53:1 also calls the prophesied Messiah, “The Arm of Yahweh-God”, and the rest of the chapter describes His future suffering and Atonement.


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Greetings, David. I wonder how the Church Fathers exegeted Deuteronomy 33:27. St Irenaeus, as you probably know, spoke of the Word and Spirit as the two hands by which God creates the world. This is perfectly fine and acceptable imagery. I do not recall St Gregory Nazianzus, or his fellow Cappadocians, ever using this particular metaphor in his Orations, but that doesn’t mean that they could not have.

      But the problem with the metaphor is that Arius & Company would also have had no problem using it. Irenaeus didn’t have to worry about the heresy of Arianism, but Gregory did—hence the need to find new language and conceptuality by which to speak of both the distinctions between the Father, Son, and Spirit and their shared divinity.


  2. J Clivas says:

    Tertullian: “Jesus and the Holy Ghost are the Father’s two arms.”


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