Sydney H. Mellone on Tertullian's Subordinationist Christology
"He [Tertullian] has not avoided a subordination not only in the order of revelation to mankind but in essential being. Even if we set aside his purely metaphorical illustrations, we find it clearly stated that the Father is the originating principle of the Son and the Spirit, and therefore holds in relation to them a certain superiority: 'The Father is wholly essential being (SUBSTANTIA): the Son is derived from the Whole as part thereof (PORTIO TOTIUS): the Father is greater than the Son, as One who begets, who sends, who acts, is greater than the One is begotten, who is sent, through whom He acts," (Leaders of Early Christian Thought, London: The Lindsey Press, 1954, Page 178).
The salient point that I wish to extract from Mellone's writing is the one that he makes about Tertullian subordinating the Son "in essential being" and not simply in the order of divine revelation. In Adversus Praxean 12 and Adversus Praxean 3, Tertullian suggests that the Father is superior to the Son in essential being, not just in the order of Heilsgeschichte.
Sydney H. Mellone (M.A., D.Sc.) was external examiner in Philosophy at the University of London.