Monday, November 02, 2015

Tertullian's Angelomorphic Christology (Addressed to a Friend and Brother)

Written and submitted to a public forum on 11/5/2001:

Tertullian's Christology can be confusing at first.
But one thing that helps is to note his distinction
between the eternal Word or Reason of God and the
"created" or "begotten" Son. While Tertullian might
have written that the RATIO DEI or divine SERMO is/was
eternal, he did not say that the Son is/was eternally
generated. Adv Prax 7 makes this point very clear when
it speaks of the complete nativity of the Word. In
other words, the generation of the Son is a temporal
process that occurs prior to and for the purpose of
God's act of creation. By virtue of his begettal AND
the OT 'theophanies' that he performs, the Son
(according to Tertullian) shows himself to be lower
than the angels. But the minoration of the Son is only
for a time. Tertullian employs 1 Cor 15:25ff in Adv
Prax IV to show that the Son will eventually hand over
the MONARXIA TOU QEOU to the Father in order that God
may be all in all. Jurgen Moltmann (The Trinity and
the Kingdom of God
)thus quips that Tertullian teaches
the begotten Son, who is lower than the angels
(Moltmann does not note this point about the angels),
will be subsumed into the One: he will evidently once
again function as the RATIO DEI just as he did before
his complete heavenly nativity. Tertullian's "Trinity"
is therefore much different from later formulations of
the Trinity.


JimSpace said...

Hey Edgar, I remember this conversation we had. :-)

Edgar Foster said...

Hey Jim,

I thought you might recall that conversation. I'm glad you raised the question. :)