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Trinity & Apollinarian controversy. The divinity of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity according to the Cappadocian Fathers. The teaching of Apollinaris of Laodicea. The Second Ecumenical Council: Constantinople, 381. Public dimension of Arian controversy.

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trinity apollinarian controversy
Trinity & Apollinarian controversy
  • The divinity of the Holy Spirit.
  • The doctrine of the Trinity according to the Cappadocian Fathers.
  • The teaching of Apollinaris of Laodicea.
  • The Second Ecumenical Council: Constantinople, 381.
public dimension of arian controversy
Public dimension of Arian controversy

The whole city is full of it [controversy], the squares, the market places, the cross-roads, the alleyways; men in old-clothes, money changers, food sellers: they are all busy arguing. If you ask someone to give you change, he philosophizes about the Begotten [Son] and the Unbegotten [Father]; if you inquire about the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply that the Father is greater and the Son inferior; if you ask ‘Is my bath ready?’ the attendant answers that the Son was made out of nothing.

Gregory of Nyssa, On the Deity of the Son (PG 46:557B).

the spirit fighters
The ‘Spirit-fighters’
  • Emerged in 361
  • Taught that the Holy Spirit was one of God’s gifts, not a divine person
  • Opposed by the Cappadocian Fathers
cappadocian fathers on the holy spirit
Cappadocian Fathers on the Holy Spirit
  • Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force:
    • Possible to sin against the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31-32)
    • Possible to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30)
  • Holy Spirit is divine:
    • Sanctification as new creation
    • Baptismal practices
the doctrine of the trinity
The Doctrine of the Trinity

Inadequate extreme positions (heresies):

1. Modalism

2. Subordinationism (Arianism)

3. Tritheism (three gods)

Orthodox definition:

One essence, three persons


Subordinationism (Arianism)

Unity of three persons

Distinction of three persons




Equality of F., S. & H. S.

who do you say that i am
Who do you say that I am?
  • What is Jesus’ relationship to God the Father?
  • What is Jesus’ relationship to human beings?
the teaching of apollinaris of laodicea 310 390
The teaching of Apollinaris of Laodicea (310-390)
  • Friend of Athanasius
  • Gifted exegete and apologist
  • Loyal to the Nicene faith: emphasized full divinity of Christ
  • His teaching regarding humanity of Christ condemned at the council of Constantinople in 381 (to be discussed during seminar)
gregory of nazianzus 325 389
Gregory of Nazianzus (325-389)
  • One of the Cappadocian Fathers
  • Major defender of the doctrine of the Trinity at the council of Constantinople
  • Argued against Apollinaris: ‘That which was not assumed was not healed.’
the second ecumenical council
The Second Ecumenical Council
  • Met in Constantinople in 381
  • Condemned the teaching of Apollinaris
  • Affirmed that Christ is fully human
  • Defined the doctrine of the Trinity
theodosius i 346 395 makes pro nicene orthodoxy the only acceptable form of religion
Theodosius I (346-395) makes pro-Nicene orthodoxy the only acceptable form of religion

All the people who are ruled by the administration of our Clemency shall practice that religion which the divine Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans… It is evident that this is the religion that is followed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity…

We command that those persons who follow this rule [of trinitarian faith] shall embrace the name of Catholic Christians. The rest, however, whom we adjure demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of our own initiative, which we shall assume in accordance with the divine judgment.”

seminar questions
Seminar questions
  • How does Gregory formulate the fundamental dilemma involved in speaking about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? (p. 256)
  • What is the gist of Ablabius’ argument? (p. 256-7)
  • What is Gregory’s initial answer to the difficulty involved? What answer would be deemed satisfactory for simple Christians? (p. 257)
  • What does the term ‘Godhead’ refer to? (pp. 259-260)
  • What distinguishes the actions of Father, Son & Holy Spirit from the actions of human beings? (pp. 261-62)
  • What distinctions does Gregory admit among the persons of the Trinity? (p. 266)
gregory of nazianzus epistle 101
Gregory of Nazianzus, Epistle 101
  • Who is the recipient of the letter? (consult p. 124-25).
  • What are the main heresies about Christ that Gregory condemns? (pp. 217-218).
  • What is Apollinaris’ position (p. 218, bottom)
  • What is Gregory’s main objection to Apollinaris? (p. 218, 221)
  • What two difficulties did Apollinaris see in attributing to Christ human mind? (p. 219, 220)
  • How does Gregory respond to these difficulties? (pp. 219 & 220)
  • According to Gregory, how does scripture use the word ‘flesh’? (pp. 221-22)).