Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Arius and the Eternal Generation of the Son Once More

1. The heretic Arius maintained that the Son is less than the Father because He is a created being, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses share this wicked belief to this day. Arius mentioned twelve modes of generation in an attempt to prove that if the Son is from the Father then He is less than the Father in His Divine nature and/or later than the Father (i.e. there was a time when He was not). These are the twelve modes with their respective problems:
(1) issue of a line from a point – inequality of simplicity
(2) emission of rays from the sun – inequality of nature
(3) mark/impression made by a seal – no consubstantiality or executive power
(4) infusion of a good will from God – no consubstantiality
(5) emanation of an accident from its subject – accident has no subsistence
(6) abstraction of a species from matter, as sense receives the species from the sensible object – inequality of spiritual simplicity
(7) exciting of the will by knowledge – excitation is temporal instead of eternal
(8) transformation, as an imagine is made of brass – this transformation is material instead of immaterial
(9) motion from a mover – effect and cause
(10) taking of species from genera – does not happen in God because the Father is not predicated of the Son as the genus of a species
(11) realization of an idea – external coffer arises from the one in the mind
(12) birth, as a man is begotten of his father – priority and posteriority of time

2. Obviously Arius was an intelligent and thoughtful man, but not intelligent enough to grasp the truth of the eternal generation of the Son from the Father, which involves consubstantiality and thus equality of greatness, power, etc. Arius thought that generation implies that the Son is not equal to the person from Whom He proceeds in eternity. On the contrary, the procession of the Son from the Father can be called generation. For the Son proceeds by way of an intelligible action (a vital operation) and by way of similitude (the concept of the intellect is a likeness of the object conceived), and the Son exists in the same nature (in God the act of understanding is His existence).

3. The procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and/through the Son is not called generation. The procession of the intellect is by way of similitude and is called generation since every generator begets its own like, while the procession of the will is not by way of similitude but by way of impulse and movement towards an object. There are but two processions in God since the divine processions can be derived only from the actions which remain within the agent, i.e. in the intellectual nature.

4. The Son is other than the Father but we must use extreme caution when we affirm this truth. "Distinction" is a good term to use because it implies relative opposition which is intrinsic to real relation. The masculine "alius" is good because it implies only a distinction of suppositum and the Son is another eternal suppositum of the Divine nature as He is another person and another hypostasis.

Avoiding Heretical Terminology
5. On the other hand, "difference" and "diversity" are poisonous terms because they imply disunity of essence. Likewise "separation" and "division" are bad because they belong to the parts of a whole and thus take away the singleness of the Divine essence. "Disparity" is bad because it takes away quality and "alien" and "discrepant" are bad because they remove similitude. Moreover, "singularity" is bad because it takes away the communicability of the Divine essence (by way of an intelligible emanation), and "only" as in "unici" is bad because it takes away the number of the Persons (three, viz. Father, Son, Holy Ghost)."Confused" is bad because it removes the order of the Persons' nature. Finally, do not use "solitary" because that adjective removes the society of the three Persons.

Source: St. Thomas Aquinas (Doctor Angelicus), Summa Theologica 1.27.1-2,4-5; 1.31.2; 1.36.2-3; 1.42.1-4,6

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