3. Players in this drama to understand Christ as fully God and God as a Trinity of Persons
Some of the forerunners who helped in framing the question and beginning to articulate an answer:
- Irenaeus of Lyons (c115-c202) taught that the Father with his two “hands”, the Son and the Holy Spirit, were active in Creation. The Scriptures tell a coherent story of “God’s Economy”.
- Tertullian of Carthage (160-c225) lay person, lawyer, wrote in Latin. Spoke of the “Trinity” of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Origen of Alexandria (185-254) Dialog with Hereclides, newly discovered in 1941. “Is the Son distinct from the Father?” Some “take offense at the statement that there are two Gods … we must express the doctrine carefully to show in what sense they are two and in what sense the two are one God.”
Some of the significant defenders of the Creed who developed key thinking about what Scripture tells us were:
- Athanasius (296-373) was a brilliant young deacon in the church of Alexandria present with his Bishop at Nicaea. He later became Bishop of Alexandria and was a tireless defender of Nicene orthodoxy, enduring 4 different times of exile for taking his stance. Among his most well-known works are On the Incarnation of the Word and The Life of Antony. C. S. Lewis said every Christian should read On the Incarnation.
- Hilary of Poitiers (315-367) was raised in a wealthy pagan family, converted to Christianity, became Bishop of Poitiers around 350. He was exiled to the east due to his defense of the Nicene position among the Arian Gauls and wrote On the Trinity. He is sometimes called “the Athanasius of the West.”
- The “Cappadocian Fathers” were Basil the Great (330-379), bishop of Caesarea, Basil’s brother Gregory of Nyssa (c.330-395) bishop of Nyssa, and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389), Patriarch of Constantinople in 381, known as “The Theologian.” All were key players in defending Nicene orthodoxy and developing the doctrine of the Trinity.
- Augustine of Hippo (354-430) grew up as a pagan, converted to Christianity, and became a Bishop, teacher, a prolific writer (Confessions, On Christian Doctrine, On the Holy Trinity, The City of God, etc.). Augustine had a profound intellect and was a dominant figure in shaping Christian doctrine in the Latin West.
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