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De Moor V:9: Eternal Generation Defended against Roellius, Part 4

And, so that the Theologians of Leiden might gain credit for the things just now said, they subjoin a collation between the principal Objections of Röellius and of the ancient Arians, whereby they assail the doctrine of the Church concerning the true Eternal and Proper Generation of the Son. For example,

1. Röellius Objects, Dissertatione, § 23, page 21, “The Idea of Generation properly so called is the idea of the production of a similar thing. And, either a thing with its attributes is produced out of nothing, or pre-existing matter is arranged in a certain manner, so that it receives a new form; in either way a transition from non-being to being is asserted.” And in § 25, page 25, “On Generation properly so called we noted, 1. Production, and so a transition from non-being to being…. 4. In both (the one generating and the one generated) some mutation.” Aëtius objects similar things in EPIPHANIUS’ against Heresies, book III, tome I, Heresy LXXVI, chapter II, VIII, opera, tome I, pages 935, 943.

Röellius Objects, 2. in Dissertatione, § 23, page 22, “We cannot help conceiving of something active in the one generating, and something passive in the one generated.” And in § 25, page 25, “On Generation properly so called we noted, …3. In the former the active power of generating, in the latter the passive power.” BASIL sets forth the same objection out of Eunomius,[1] book II adversus Eunomium, opera, tome I, page 736, on which see what BASIL answers, pages 736, 737. Arius makes the same objection, in EPIPHANIUS’ against Heresies, book II, tome 2, Heresy LXIX, § 26, page 751; see EPIPHANIUS responding to him on pages 750, 751.

Röellius Objects, 3. in Dissertatione, § 23, page 22, “If active Generation is attributed to Him, who works consciously, as a purely rational being, or at least furnished with reason, the act of generating would have to be voluntary. From which things it is evident that in a generation of this sort, properly so called, the one generating is prior to the one generated.” And in § 25, page 25, “On Generation properly so called we noted, …2. that the one generating is prior to the one generated.” Again in § 23, page 22, “Who can conceive of the act of generating in a Being furnished with reason, without the resolve and determination of the will? …Because He begets as one knowing and willing, He is not able to beget without an intervening resolution of the will.” In the same manner, Arius argues, in EPIPHANIUS’ against Heresies, book II, tome 2, Heresy LXIX, § 26, page 751; but to him EPIPHANIUS responds in the same place according to the sentence of the orthodox Church: Οὐκ εἰμὶ κατὰ σὲ ὦ φιλόνεικε, ἵνα ἕν τι τοιοῦτον εἰς Θεὸν διανοηθῶ· εἰ μὲν γὰρ μὴ βουλόμενος ἐγέννησεν, ἄκων ἐγέννησε· καὶ εἰ βουλόμενος ἐγέννησεν, ἄρα ἦν τὸ βούλημα πρὸ τοῦ Υἱοῦ, καὶ ἔσται κᾂν ῥοπὴ χρόνου μεταξὺ Υἱοῦ διὰ τοῦ βουλήματος· ἐν Θεῷ δὲ οὐ χρόνος εἰς βουλὴν, οὐ βούλησις εἰς διανόησιν· οὔτε οὖν θέλων ἐγέννησεν, οὔτε μὴ θέλων, ἀλλὰ ἐν τῇ ὑπὲρ βουλὴν φύσει, etc., And I am not like unto thee, O troublemaker, to think any such thing of God. For, “If He begot Him without willing, He begot Him unwillingly. And, if he begot him willingly, the will came before the Son, and there will be at least a moment of time between the Son and the willing.” But in God there is no time to will and no will to think. Therefore, He begot neither willingly nor unwillingly, but in his nature which transcends will, etc.

Röellius Objects, 4. in Dissertatione, § 23, page 23, “Moreover, no Generation properly so called is able to be conceived, when we may not conceive of matter and seed, from which something is generated through a different disposition of it.” Similarly Aëtius in EPIPHANIUS’ against Heresies, book III, Heresy LXXVI, chapter IX, page 945.

Röellius Objects, 5. in Dissertatione, § 23, page 23, “Who does not intuitively understand this? …to whatever extent a thing is begotten, to that extent it is dependent upon the thing generating, as an effect upon its cause.” And Aëtius posits this as foundational, in EPIPHANIUS’ against Heresies, book III, Heresy LXXVI, chapter XXVII, page 947; see EPIPHANIUS’ response to him in the same place.

Moreover, all the other similar Objections of Röellius, his πρῶτονψεῦδος, fundamental error, is ever present, that he transfers all the Imperfections of material, human Generation, which arise from the principle of matter, to Generation considered in the abstract, and hence also incorrectly assigns the same to the spiritual, eternal, and internal Generation of the Son of God:there was embarrassment concerning this matter, since formerly the Arians, Semi-Arians, and patrons of Ὁμοιουσίου/homoiousios, of like substance, also alleged this, who in the Epistola Pseudo-Synodi Ancyranæ concede and grant this, in EPIPHANIUS’ against Heresies, book III, tome I, Heresy LXXIII, § 4, page 849, Διὸκαὶ—νοεῖσθαι—καὶ τὸν Υἱὸν μὴ σπερματικῶς καταβεβλημένον σωματικοῖς φύσεως τελειοῦσθαι, καὶ κινουμένοις ἀεὶπρὸς αὔξην καὶ φθορὰν, ὡς τὰ σωματικὰ ἔχειν τοὺς χαρακτῆρας, μόνη παραληφθήσεται ἔννοια τοῦ ὁμοίου, So if…it is understood…that the Son was not physically engendered and brought to maturity by bodily things of nature, which, as is characteristic of bodily things, are constantly made to grow and decay, only the notion of likeness will be left.And when EPIPHANIUS had set forth this Objectionfrom the mind of the Arians, against Heresies, book II, tome 2, Heresy LXIX, § 36, page 759, Ἀλλὰ ναὶ, φησί, etc., But verily, he affirms, etc.; he refutes the same in this manner, Πολλὴ δὲ μωρία τῶν τοιαῦτα λογιζομένων, ὡς ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτῶν τὸ θεῖον εἰκάζειν, καὶ τὰ εἰς αὐτοὺς πάθη τῷ Θεῷ προσάπτειν βουλομένων, τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀπαθοῦς ὄντος παντελῶς, καὶ ἐν τῷ γεννᾷν, καὶ ἐν τῷ κτίζειν· ὡς γὰρ ἡμεῖς πάσχομεν γεννῶντες, ἐπει δὴ κτιστοί ἐσμεν, —πῶς δὲ περὶ Θεοῦ πάθος ἐστὶν εἰπεῖν, καὶ τὸ κάμνειν, εἴπερ κάμνει; ἀλλ᾽οὐ κάμνει, μὴ γένοιτο. —Πνεῦμα οὖν ὁ Θεὸς καὶ Πνεῦμα ἀνάρχως καὶ ἀχρόνως τὸν Υἱὸν ἐγέννησεν, Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ, φῶς ἐκ φωτὸς, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα, οὐκτισθέντα, Great is the foolishness of those that think such things, to imagine the Deity in their likeness, and of those that wish to attribute their frailties to God, since God is wholly impassible, both in begetting, and in creating. For, since we are creatures, we suffer when we beget… but how can one speak of suffering in connection with God, and of his tiring, if He creates? He does not tire; never think it!... God is Spirit, and, as Spirit, has begotten the Son without beginning and not in time, God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made.

[1] Eunomius (died c. 393) was a leader among extreme Arians, who believed that the Son was of a completely different nature than the Father (Anomœanism).

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