Archive for the ‘Tertullian’ Category

Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent personae, who are yet distinct one from another. These three are, one essence, not one person

January 6, 2010

Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent personae, who are yet distinct one from another. These three are, one essence, not one person, as it is said, ‘I and my Father are one’ [John 10:30], in respect of unity of being not singularity of number.

Tertullian (ca. 160 – ca. 220 A.D.), Against Praxeas

NB the early formulation of the Trinitarian doctrine based, as it is, firmly in the text of the NT. It is not a (very) late development entirely unknown to the early church.

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Now this heresy of yours does not receive certain Scriptures; and whichever of them it does receive, it perverts by means of additions and diminutions, for the accomplishment of it own purpose; and such as it does receive, it receives not in their entirety

November 25, 2009

Now this heresy of yours does not receive certain Scriptures; and whichever of them it does receive, it perverts by means of additions and diminutions, for the accomplishment of it own purpose; and such as it does receive, it receives not in their entirety; but even when it does receive any up to a certain point as entire, it nevertheless perverts even these by the contrivance of diverse interpretations. Truth is just as much opposed by an adulteration of its meaning as it is by a corruption of its text. Their vain presumptions must needs refuse to acknowledge the (writings) whereby they are refuted. They rely on those which they have falsely put together, and which they have selected, because of their ambiguity. Though most skilled in the Scriptures, you will make no progress, when everything which you maintain is denied on the other side, and whatever you deny is (by them) maintained. As for yourself, indeed, you will lose nothing but your breath, and gain nothing but vexation from their blasphemy.

Tertullian – The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 17. Heretics, in Fact, Do Not Use, But Only Abuse, Scripture. No Common Ground Between Them and You.

If you have had anything to do with heretics, you will sympathise entirely with Tertullian here. There is nothing new under the sun.

Can it be lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that ‘he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword’?

November 15, 2009

Can it be lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that ‘he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword’? And shall the son of peace take part in battle, when it does not become him even to sue at law? Shall he apply the chain, the prison, the torture, and the punishment, when he is not [even] the avenger of his own wrongs?”

Tertullian, The Crown , chap. 11

It pains me to criticise the great Tertullian, but surely a Christian occupies two kingdoms? The sword is not an instrument of the Church but it is of the earthly State. To advance the Kingdom of God, the sword must never be used. But as a citizen of a given State, a Christian may lawfully bear and use arms in his civil duty.

Note well the context of the two Scripture passages Tertullian quotes and alludes to. They are used a) in the potential use of the sword in the defence of the person of Christ Mt.26.52, and by extension, the Church and b) in inter-Church disputes. Neither case respects earthly duties, as Christians all have, to obey the powers that be (Rom.13.1f and 1 Peter 2.13).

So whilst it is apposite to quote Justin Martyr who said,

We, who formerly murdered one another, not only refuse to make war against our enemies, but in order not to lie nor deceive our judges, meet death willingly, confessing Christ. (Apology I, 39)

We note that this pertains in the kingdom of God and not of man. The lawful, earthly sovereign may command his subjects, including Christians, to take up arms to defend his kingdom.

Thus, any ‘Holy War’, which has man brandishing a sword, is de facto Satanic. But if I defend my house by force against an intruder who would harm my family, I do so as a citizen of that country. After I have subdued him I may preach the gospel to him – if he will listen!

The leg does not feel the chains when the mind is in heaven

October 30, 2009

140-230 AD Tertullian, encouraged a group of local Christians who were languishing in a Roman dungeon with these words, “Blessed ones, count whatever is hard in this lot of yours as a discipline of your powers of mind and body. You are about to pass through a noble struggle, in which the living God is your manager and the Holy Spirit is your trainer. The prize is an eternal crown of angelic essence-citizenship in the heavens, glory everlasting.” He also told them, “The prison does the same service for the Christian that the desert did for the prophet. Our Lord himself spent much time in seclusion so he would have greater freedom to pray and so he would be away from the world…. The leg does not feel the chains when the mind is in heaven.

Tertullian To the Martyrs chaps. 2, 3

The Power of the Gospel

July 31, 2009

About 200AD Tertullian wrote, ‘Parts of Britain were inaccessible to the Romans but have yielded to Christ.’

Douglas C. Wood, The Evangelical Doctor, Evangelical Press, p.2