Tuesday, April 7, 2015

ANF V: Novatian On the Trinity IX-XIX

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 5

Novatian: Treatise Concerning the Trinity IX-XIX


Continuing his discussion of the Trinity, in chapter IX through XXVIII, Novatian discusses the second Person,  the Song of God. He begins by clearly articulating the full Deity and humanity of Christ, contrary to the claims by pop-religious books that this wasn't settled until nearly a century and a half later.
For this Jesus Christ, I will once more say, the Son of this God, we read of as having been promised in the Old Testament, and we observe to be manifested in the New, fulfilling the shadows and figures of all the sacraments, with the presence of the truth embodied. 
Novatian is especially clear that Christ was fully a person, who came to redeem our bodies as well as our souls:
it is not the substance of the flesh that is condemned, which was built up by the divine hands that it should not perish, but only the guilt of the flesh is rightly rebuked, which by the voluntary daring of man rebelled against the claims of divine law. 
Novatian likewise argues powerfully for the Deity of Christ, largely using OT proof-texts. And while this has some value as an apologetic approach, it has more for us as Christians in showing us how the early church regarded the authority of the Bible. Specifically, to deny that Jesus is God is to deny the Scripture, while to deny the Scripture inevitably leads to denying the divinity of Christ. Which of course we see both truths in our own day as well.
But Christ promises to give salvation for ever, which if He does not give, He is a deceiver; if He gives, He is God.
He finds these arguments in both the New and Old Testaments, arguing that they are veiled in the Old Testament because humanity just wasn't ready to receive that truth yet--just as you want to wake up in dim light rather than in the full light of day...

While you could probably technically skim these sections without too much loss, I wouldn't recommend it. Novatian has some interesting arguments and fascinating reads on Scripture (which I don't always agree with, but so far have been always intrigued by). So I'd say skim it if you must, read it if you can.

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