Friday, 2 January 2009

Quote of the day: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

Dan has drawn our attention to the church calendar for a good reason - it's Gregory Nazianzus' day today! I've been enjoying a light reminder of the first 5 centuries in For Us and For Our Salvation by Nichols, so a timely quotation from good ol' Greg (329-390):
These words let everyone who threatens me today concede to me; the rest let whoever will claim. The Father will not endure to be deprived of the Son, nor the Son of the Holy Ghost. Yet that must happen if They are confined to time, and are created Beings ... for that which is created is not God.

Neither will I bear to be deprived of my consecration; One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. If this be cancelled, from whom shall I get a second? What say you, you who destroy Baptism or repeat it? Can a man be spiritual without the Spirit? Can he honour Him who is baptised into a creature and a fellow-servant? It is not so; it is not so; for all your talk.

I will not play Thee false, O Unoriginate Father, or Thee O Only-begotten Word, or Thee O Holy Ghost. I know Whom I have confessed, and Whom I have renounced, and to Whom I have joined myself. I will not allow myself, after having been taught the words of the faithful, to learn also those of the unfaithful; to confess the truth, and then range myself with falsehood; to come down for consecration and to go back even less hallowed; having been baptised that I might live, to be killed by the water, like infants who die in the very birth pangs, and receive death simultaneously with birth. Why make me at once blessed and wretched, newly enlightened and unenlightened, Divine and godless, that I may make shipwreck even of the hope of regeneration?

A few words will suffice. Remember your confession. Into what were you baptised? The Father? Good but Jewish still. The Son? ... good... but not yet perfect. The Holy Ghost? ... Very good ... this is perfect. Now was it into these simply, or some common name of Them? The latter. And what was the common Name? Why, God. In this common Name believe, and ride on prosperously and reign, and pass on from hence into the Bliss of Heaven. And that is, as I think, the more distinct apprehension of These; to which may we all come, in the same Christ our God, to Whom be the glory and the might, with the Unoriginate Father, and the Lifegiving Spirit, now and for ever and to ages of ages. Amen.
[Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 33, "Against the Arians," Paragraph 17; date: 380; source: Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol.VII - cited by Nichols.]

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