Creeds: Second Century

We are continuing our week of examining early Church creeds with two creedal statements from the 2nd Century. The below creed is from Justin Martyr (Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldon, New York: The Christian Literature Company). We know that Justin generally referred to Christ as ‘another God’ (Trypho, 56).

We worship the God of the Christians, whom we consider One from the beginning, the creator and maker of all creation, visible and invisible.

And the Lord Jesus Christ, the Servant of God, who had also been proclaimed beforehand by the prophets as about to be present with race of men, the herald of salvation and teacher of good instructions.

Justin forcefully distinguishes the Servant of God from the God of the Christians.

During Hippolytus’ schism with the Church at Rome, during the trouble Modalism, he enlisted the aid of past Elders who seemingly issued a creedal statement against Noetus

We also know in truth one God, we know Christ, we know the Son, suffering as he suffered, dying as he died, and risen on the third day, and abiding at the right hand of the Father, and coming to judge the living and the dead. And in saying this we say what has been handed down to us.

According to Hippolytus, Noetus had stated,

“When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another’s.” (Book IX Refutation of All Heresies)

It should be remembered that while Justin had proclaimed Heraclitus as a ‘Christian’ although he lived some 600 years before Christ, Hippolytus accused the same deceased as being the progenitor of the heresy of Noetus. The heresy of Noetus is that the Father produced the Son and declared the Son the Father, creating a paradox and troublesome thought of patripassianism.

Unlike Justin in Europe, the Asians carried from God to Christ to the Son without removing Christ from God, but assigning the suffering to the Son.

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