De Moor V:5: Three Person, Equal in Honor and Glory



β. These Persons agree in Ἰσότητι or Equal participation of Dignity andHonor, which proceeds from the one supreme Nature. So that we might repudiate here indecent ways of speaking, according to which, for example, the Spirit is called Great, the Son Greater, the Father the Greatest, which DANÆUS relates concerning the Apollinarians,[1] ad Augustinum de Hæresibus, chapter LV, page 984a, but AUGUSTINE himself tells this of Donatus, Bishop of the Donatistic faction,[2] de Hæresibus, chapter LXIX, page 995b, in which place consult DANÆUS, page 998. Thus the Theology of Episcopius is to be altogether rejcted here, who teaches that Divinity and Divine Perfections are attributed to the three Persons, not collaterally or coordinately, but subordinately: whence not obscurely follows only an Identity of species, not a numeric Identity of the Divine Essence in the three Persons of the Deity, and hence a Tritheism of the Three unequal Gods: see TRIGLAND’S Antapologiam, chapterV, pages 77b, 78b, chapter XLV, page 579b, where are cited Episcopius’ Institutiones Theologicas, book IV, SectionII, de Deo, chapter XXXII. With which Theology of Episcopius the doctrine of Vorstius is able to be compared, Exegese Apologetica, chapter III, mentioned by TRIGLAND in Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, volume 4, page575b compared with page 603. From the school of Valentinus Gentilis, an Italian from Campania,[3]executed at Bern in the year 1566, rather than of Sacred Scripture, this Theology appears to have been drawn, since he asserted three eternal Spirits, distinct in degree and number; see PICTET’S Syllabum Controversiarum, bookI, chapter XI, pages 81, 82; SPANHEIM’S Elenchum Controversiarum cum Socinianis, opera, tome 3, column798; CALVIN’S Explicationem Perfidiæ Valentini Gentilis, opera, tome7, pages 659-678, and his Brevem Admonitionem ad Fratres Polonos, ne triplicem in Deo Essentiam pro tribus Personis imaginando, tres sibi Deos fabricent, pages 683-687. On the other hand, 1. Scripture testifies to this ἰσότητα/equality, John 5:18, 23; Philippians 2:6, on which passage see our AUTHOR’S Exercises XLI and XLII, Part II, Exercitationibus Textualibus: and, 2. a Nature one in number, and Infinite and Supreme, does not admit of inequality and various degrees of honor and dignity.



Therefore, it is asked, whether there ought not to be thought any Personal ὑπεροχὴ/superiority of the Father as such? Our AUTHOR acknowledges that this is admitted by some of Our Own, for example, by HEINRICH ALTING, certainly a most proven Theologian, Theologia problematica nova, locus III, problem XXXIII, pages 228, 229, who indeed altogether denies that with respect to Essence or Deity ὑπεροχὴν/ superiority or ἐξοχὴν/pre-eminence is able to be attributed to the Father above the Son; but acknowledges that a ὑπεροχὴν/superiority is applicable to the Father above the Son, not only as ἔνσαρκον/incarnate, but also as ἄσαρκον, not incarnate, and in Himself considered from eternity, with respect to the Mode, even indeed both in subsistence, and in operation. Indeed, MARESIUS, Systemate Theologico, locus III, § 25, note c, page115, admits a certain Dependence with respect to Mode in the Son and the Spirit: “The Son and the Holy Spirit are coessential and coeternal with the Father: but they both have in the Father, who is the fount and source of all divinity, as it is communicated internally, a principium of order and origin. And in this sense is attributed to each a principium of order and origin; each could even be said to depend upon the Father, not with a dependence of essence and duration, but only of order and origin.” But our AUTHOR rightly observes that this is done without sufficient reason, since in the case of the Divine Persons, enjoying one and the same Essence, infinitely perfect and altogether Independent, and possessing this with equal independence, according to John 5:26, no greater or lesser and unequal degree of Dignity and Excellence is able to be thought. Therefore, all ὑπεροχὴ/superiority attributed to the Father above the Son does not have regard to the Natural Mode of the subsistence of the Father and the son considered in itself, but to the Economy of Redemption, and the Mediatorial Office voluntarily undertaken by God the Son: by this reasoning He, who on account of the Equality of the Divine Persons had said, John 5:23, ἵνα πάντες τιμῶσι τὸν Υἱόν, καθὼς τιμῶσι τὸν Πατέρα, etc., that all men should honor the Son, even as the honor the Father, etc., elsewhere pronounces, John 14:28, ὁ Πατήρ μου μείζων μού ἐστι, my Father is greater than I. That is, on account of the undertaken Mediatorial Office, He, who ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ ὑπάρχων, οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἶσα Θεῷ—ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε, μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, etc., being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God…made Himself of no reputation, taking the forum of a servant, etc., Philippians 2:6-8: in this σχέσει/relation we see the Son to be subordinated to the Father, 1 Corinthians 15:24, 28.


But what things others set forth, so that they might prove that ὑπεροχὴν/superiorityis applicable to the Father with respect to personal Mode, sought, 1. from His priority of Order in subsistence and operation, since the Father is of none, and does not work by another; the Son and the Spirit are of the Father, who works through them, do not evince the matter: seeing that priority of Order in Persons altogether equal and of infinite dignity, is not able imply a priority of Dignity; neither ought it to be thought to be any lesser Perfection in the Son and the Holy Spirit, to be and to work by the Father, than in the Father to be of none, and to work through the Son and the Holy Spirit. What they add, 2. that the Name of Θεοῦ/Godis often attributed to the Father absolutely, that in many passages is also observed concerning the Son and the Holy Spirit. But when, 3. the Father is called God with respect to the Son, that is done, not with respect to the divine Subsistence of the Son considered in itself, but with respect to the Meditorial Office undertaken. Therefore, although the most highly regarded Fathers, Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzen, and others, have perhaps led the way here, with BULL reporting at great length, Defensione Fidei Nicænæ, SectionIV, pages 251-290, it is piety for us to follow their authority in this matter: compare STAPFER’S[4] Theologicæ polemicæ, tome I, chapter III, section XVI, § 1140, 1141.


[1]Apollinaris the Younger (died 382), bishop of Laodicea in Syria, was a vigorous opponent of Arianism; but, in his zeal for the true Deity of the Lord Jesus, he blended the two natures of Christ (a proto-monophysitism). Taking a trichotomous view of human nature, he asserted that the body and soul of Jesus are human, but that the rational soul has been replaced with the Divine Logos. This error was condemned at Constantinople in 381. [2]The Donatists were schismatics of the fourth and fifth centuries; they followed Donatus Magnus (died c. 355), who likewise taught that readmission to the church of Christians that had lapsed under persecution was to be denied. [3]On the south-western coast of Italy. [4]John Frederick Stapfer (1708-1775) was a Swiss Reformed divine of the first order. He served as a Pastor in the canton of Berne. His Institutiones theologicæ, polemicæ, universæ, ordine scientifico dispositæ ranks among the best elenctic theologies.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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