Creeds: Eusebius of Caesarea

We continue our discussion of creeds with “Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea, in Palestine (d. 340), the Church historian, the friend and eulogist of Constantine I., and a leading member of the Council of Nicæa (325), forms the connecting link between the ante-Nicene and the Nicene Church. In his account of that Council he mentions the following creed, which his church in Cæsarea had received from the bishops of former times in catechizing and at baptism, which he himself had learned from Scripture, believed, and taught, and which he had laid before the Emperor and the Council. It comes very near the Nicene Creed as adopted in 325, and was the basis of it, but the characteristic mantra of Nicene orthodoxy, the term homoousios or consubstantial, is wanting.” (Schaff)

Consubstantial was considered by the Arians and Eusebians to be a Modalistic word, although it was invented by Tertullian who modern oneness believers hold as the creator of the Trinitarian doctrine. I would contend that the Latin consubstantial is wholly different than the Greek homoousios, finding Scriptural proof for the former word, in that still holds to the monotheistic principle of the Jews and the Apostles while allowing for the Economy.

We have to remember that Eusebius believed in three separate and distinct members of the God-family, ordered by rank and creation. (For Eusebius, ‘separate’ meant individuals) The Father was uncreated, the Son was begotten – not made, which separates the Eusebians from the Arians – and the Spirit which proceeds from the Son. Eusebius follows Lucian in stating that the Son is God from God. In the author’s mind, this creates two Gods, but holds to monotheism because there is one first principle. (Note that this language would no be used again until the ecumenical creeds, and ignored by Cyril with his creed in 350.)

Eusebius was the leader of the group that opposed both Marcellus of Ancrya and Athanasius (the Great), and would finally remove them from office. Marcellus, writing against Eusebius states that it was not the Church that first created the statement of the three ‘hypostaseis’ but the heretical sect of the gnostics founded by Valentinus:

Now with the heresy of the Ariomaniacs, which has corrupted the Church of God…These then teach three hypostases, just as Valentinus the heresiarch first invented in the book entitled by him On the Three Natures. For he was the first to invent three hypostases and three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he is discovered to have filched this from Hermes, Plato and Aristotle. (Source: AHB Logan: Marcellus of Ancyra (Pseudo-Anthimus), On the Holy Church: Text, Translation and Commentary. Verses 8-9. Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Volume 51, Pt. 1, April 2000, p.95).

The Creed:

We believe in one God the Father Almighty,
Maker of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Word of God,
God of God,
Light of Light,
Life of Life,
the only-begotten Son,
the first-born of every creature,
begotten of God the Father before all ages,
by whom also all things were made;
who for our salvation was made flesh and made his home among men;
and suffered;
and rose on the third day;
and ascended to the Father;
and will come again in glory, to judge the quick and the dead.
[We believe] also in one Holy Ghost.

And attached at the end of the Creed is a confession by Eusebius,

We believe that each of these is and exists, the Father truly Father, and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Ghost truly Holy Ghost; even as our Lord, when sending forth his disciples to preach, said: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’

Post By Joel L. Watts (10,124 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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