Quotables: Christ is God (Hilary)

quotables

Every now and then I like posting something incisive that was written in the past because it speaks so well into the present. The sweet thing about this is that these guys, who are often waved away today, have dealt with a lot of the same issues while remaining simultaneously (by the modern mind) ignored.

6. My reader must bear in mind that I am silent about the current objections through no forgetfulness, and no distrust of my cause. For that constantly cited text, The Father is greater than I, and its cognate passages are perfectly familiar to me, and I have my interpretation of them ready, which makes them witness to the true Divine nature of the Son. But it serves my purpose best to adhere in reply to the order of attack, that our pious effort may follow close upon the progress of their impious scheme, and when we see them diverge into godless heresy we may at once obliterate the track of error. To this end we postpone to the end of our work the testimony of the Evangelists and Apostles, and join battle with the blasphemers for the present on the ground of the Law and the Prophets, silencing their crooked argument, based on misinterpretation and deceit, by the very texts with which they strive to delude us. The sound method of demonstrating a truth is to expose the fallacy of the objections raised against it; and the disgrace of the deceiver is complete if his own lie be converted into an evidence for the truth. And, indeed, the universal experience of mankind has learned that falsehood and truth are incompatible, and cannot be reconciled or made coherent; that by their very nature they are among those opposites which are eternally repugnant, and can never combine or agree.

7. This being the case, I ask how a distinction can be made in the words, Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness, between a true God and a false. The words express a meaning, the meaning is the outcome of thought; the thought is set in motion by truth. Let us follow the words back to their meaning, and learn from the meaning the thought, and from the thought attain to the underlying truth. Thy enquiry is, whether He to Whom the words Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness were spoken, was not thought of as true by Him Who spoke; for they undoubtedly express the feeling and thought of the Speaker. In saying Let Us make, He clearly indicates One in no discord with Himself, no alien or powerless Being, but One endowed with power to do the thing of which He speaks. His own words assure us that this is the sense in which we must understand that they were spoken.

9. But now let us continue our reading of this Scripture, to shew how the consistency of truth is unaffected by these dishonest objections. The next words are, And God made man; after the image of God made He him. The image is in common; God made man after the image of God. I would ask him who denies that God’s Son is true God, in what God’s image he supposes that God made man? He must bear constantly in mind that all things are through the Son; heretical ingenuity must not, for its own purposes, twist this passage into action on the part of the Father. If, therefore, man is created through God the Son after the image of God the Father, he is created also after the image of the Son; for all admit that the words After Our image and likeness were spoken to the Son. Thus His true Godhead is as explicitly asserted by the Divine words as manifested in the Divine action; so that it is God Who moulds man into the image of God, Who reveals Himself as God, and, moreover, as true God. For His joint possession of the Divine image proves Him true God, while His creative action displays Him as God the Son.

10. What wild insanity of abandoned souls! What blind audacity of reckless blasphemy! You hear of God and God; you hear of Our image. Why suggest that One is, and One is not, true God? Why distinguish between God by nature and God in name? Why, under pretext of defending the faith, do you destroy the faith? Why struggle to pervert the revelation of One God, One true God, into a denial that God is One and true? Not yet will I stifle your insane efforts with the clear words of Evangelists and Prophets, in which Father and Son appear not as one Person, but as One in nature, and Each as true God. For the present the Law, unaided, annihilates you. Does the Law ever speak of One true God, and One not true? Does it ever speak of Either, except by the name of God, which is the true expression of Their nature? It speaks of God and God; it speaks also of God as One. Nay, it does more than so describe Them. It manifests Them as true God and true God, by the sure evidence of Their joint image. It begins by speaking of Them first by their strict name of God; then it attributes true Godhead to Both in common. For when man, Their creature, is ceated after the image of Both, sound reason forces the conclusion that Each of Them is true God.

15. But perhaps it will be argued that, when the Angel of God is called God, He receives the name as a favour, through adoption, and has in consequence a nominal, not a true, Godhead. If He gave us an inadequate revelation of His Divine nature at the time when He was styled the Angel of God, judge whether He has not fully manifested His true Godhead under the name of a nature lower than the angelic. For a Man spoke to Abraham, and Abraham worshipped Him as God. Pestilent heretic! Abraham confessed Him, you deny Him, to be God. What hope is there for you, in your blasphemy, of the blessings promised to Abraham? He is Father of the Gentiles, but not for you; you cannot go forth from your regeneration to join the household of his seed, through the blessings given to his faith. You are no son, raised up to Abraham from the stones; you are a generation of vipers, an adversary of his belief. You are not the Israel of God, the heir of Abraham, justified by faith; for you have disbelieved God, while Abraham was justified and appointed to be the Father of the Gentiles through that faith wherein he worshipped the God Whose word he trusted. God it was Whom that blessed and faithful Patriarch worshipped then; and mark how truly He was God, to Whom, in His own words, all things are possible. Is there any, but God alone, to Whom nothing is impossible? And He, to Whom all things are possible, does He fall short of true Divinity?

19. Be with me now in thy faithful spirit, holy and blessed Patriarch Jacob, to combat the poisonous hissings of the serpent of unbelief. Prevail once more in thy wrestling with the Man, and, being the stronger, once more entreat His blessing. Why pray for what thou mightest demand from thy weaker Opponent? Thy strong arm has vanquished Him Whose blessing thou prayest. Thy bodily victory is in broad contrast to thy soul’s humility, thy deeds to thy thoughts. It is a Man whom thou holdest powerless in thy strong grasp; but in thine eye this Man is true God, and God not in name only, but in nature. It is not the blessing of a God by adoption that thou dost claim, but the true God’s blessing. With Man thou strivest; but face to face thou seest God. What thou seest with the bodily eye is different far from what thou beholdest with the vision of faith. Thou hast felt Him to be weak Man; but thy soul has been saved because it saw God in Him. When thou wast wrestling thou wast Jacob; thou art Israel now, through faith in the blessing which thou didst claim. According to the flesh, the Man is thy inferior, for a type of His passion in the flesh; but thou canst recognise God in that weak flesh, for a sign of His blessing in the Spirit. The witness of the eye does not disturb thy faith; His feebleness does not mislead thee into neglect of His blessing. Though He is Man, His humanity is no bar to His being God, His Godhead no bar to His being true God; for, being God, He must indeed be true.

21. Human judgment must not pass its sentence upon God. Our nature is not such that it can lift itself by its own forces to the contemplation of heavenly things. We must learn from God what we are to think of God; we have no source of knowledge but Himself. You may be as carefully trained as you will in secular philosophy; you may have lived a life of righteousness. All this will contribute to your mental satisfaction, but it will not help you to know God. Moses was adopted as the son of the queen, and instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; he had, moreover, out of loyalty to his race avenged the wrong of the Hebrew by slaying the Egyptian, and yet he knew not the God Who had blessed his fathers. For when he left Egypt through fear of the discovery of his deed, and was living as a shepherd in the land of Midian, he saw a fire in the bush, and the bush unconsumed. Then it was that he heard the voice of God, and asked His name, and learned His nature. Of all this he could have known nothing except through God Himself. And we, in like manner, must confine ourselves, in whatever we say of God, to the terms in which He has spoken to our understanding concerning Himself.

33. But it may be argued that the Apostle was not inspired by the Spirit of prophecy when he borrowed these prophetic words; that he was only interpreting at random the words of another man, and though, no doubt, everything the Apostle says of himself comes to him by revelation from Christ, yet his knowledge of the words of Isaiah is only derived from the book. I answer that in the beginning of that utterance in which it is said that the servants of the true God shall bless Him and swear by Him, we read this adoration by the prophet:—From everlasting we have not heard, nor have our eyes seen God, except Thee, and Thy works which Thou will do for them that await Thy mercy. Isaiah says that he has seen no God but Him. For he did actually see the glory of God, the mystery of Whose taking flesh from the Virgin he foretold. And if you, in your heresy, do not know that it was God the Only-begotten Whom the prophet saw in that glory, listen to the Evangelist:—These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him3. The Apostle, the Evangelist, the Prophet combine to silence your objections. Isaiah did see God; even though it is written, No one hath seen God at any time, save the Only-begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father; He hath declared Him, it was God Whom the prophet saw. He gazed upon the Divine glory, and men were filled with envy at such honour vouchsafed to his prophetic greatness. For this was the reason why the Jews passed sentence of death upon him.

34. Thus the Only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, has told us of God, Whom no man has seen. Either disprove the fact that the Son has thus informed us, or else believe Him Who has been seen, Who appeared to them who knew Him not, and became the God of the Gentiles who called not upon Him and spread out His hands before a gainsaying people. And believe this also concerning Him, that they who serve Him are called by a new name, and that on earth men bless Him and swear by Him as true God. Prophecy tells, the Gospel confirms, the Apostle explains, the Church confesses, that He Who was seen is true God; but none venture to say that God the Father was seen. And yet the madness of heresy has run to such lengths that, while they profess to recognise this truth, they really deny it. They deny it by means of the new-fangled and godless device of evading the truth, while making a studied pretence of adhesion to it. For when they confess one God, alone true and alone righteous, alone wise, alone unchangeable, alone immortal, alone mighty, they attach to Him a Son different in substance, not born from God to be God, but adopted through creation to be a Son, having the name of God not by nature, but as a title received by adoption; and thus they inevitably deprive the Son of all those attributes which they accumulate upon the Father in His lonely majesty.

Hilary of Poitiers. (1899). On the Trinity

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Early Church On Jesus’ Deity

Right up front, some of these guys are making a good point. To read the text through the lens of later theological developments winds up ignoring what the text is actually saying. So in some sense, they are (at least on the surface level) trying to be faithful to the reading of the text as it stands.

But some of them go further:  the text, they conclude, doesn’t contain any of those things that later theologians noticed. Some are quick to add some note about the importance of tradition but they do so to point out what they see as a deficiency in relying on Scripture as ones ultimate guide.

In so doing they suggest, without being explicit, that these doctrines originated in a vacuum filled only by necessity. A teaching arose, a response had to be formulated, a doctrine was created. But, it wasn’t Christ’s Deity ex nihilo and I think history proves that. The teaching arose and was recognized as aberrant exactly because there was something substantial already in place.

If you recall, the council of Nicaea was in 325 AD. But jumping solely to Nicaea leaves one ignoring years choc-full of declaring Christ as the Divine God.

So here’s a sampling of early church writings I’ve found that underscored the understanding that Christ is God.

Hippolytus, Treaties on Christ and Antichrist 230 AD

Now, as our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also God, was prophesied of under the figure of a lion, on account of His royalty and glory, in the same way have the Scriptures also aforetime spoken of Antichrist as a lion, on account of his tyranny and violence.

Hippolytus, Fragments from Commentaries on Scripture

By the Ancient of days he means none other than the Lord and God and Ruler of all, and even of Christ Himself, who maketh the days old, and yet becometh not old Himself by times and days.

Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor Book I 195 A.D.

But our Instructor is the holy God Jesus, the Word, who is the guide of all humanity. The loving God Himself is our Instructor. Somewhere in song the Holy Spirit says with regard to Him, “He provided sufficiently for the people in the wilderness. He led him about in the thirst of summer heat in a dry land, and instructed him, and kept him as the apple of His eye, as an eagle protects her nest, and shows her fond solicitude for her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, and bears them on her back. The Lord alone led them, and there was no strange god with them.” Clearly, I trow, has the Scripture exhibited the Instructor in the account it gives of His guidance.

Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor Book III

For the Word Himself is the manifest mystery: God in man, and man God

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 180 A.D.

For it was for this end that the Word of God was made man, and He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God. For by no other means could we have attained to incorruptibility and immortality, unless we had been united to incorruptibility and immortality.

Again, that it should not be a mere man who should save us, nor [one] without flesh—for the angels are without flesh—[the same prophet] announced, saying: “Neither an eider,(1) nor angel, but the Lord Himself will save them because He loves them, and will spare them He will Himself set them free.” (2) And that He should Himself become very man, visible, when He should be the Word giving salvation, Isaiah again sap: “Behold, city of Zion: thine eyes shall see our salvation.” (3) And that it was not a mere man who died for us, Isaiah says: “And the holy Lord remembered His dead Israel, who had slept in the land of sepulture; and He came down to preach His salvation to them, that He might save them.”

Since, therefore, the Father is truly Lord, and the Son truly Lord, the Holy Spirit has fitly designated them by the title of Lord.

Melito, On the Nature of Christ, 160 A.D.

For the deeds done by Christ after His baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the Deity hidden in His flesh. For, being at once both God and perfect man likewise, He gave us sure indications of His two natures: of His Deity, by His miracles during the three years that elapsed after His baptism; of His humanity, during the thirty similar periods which preceded His baptism, in which, by reason of His low estate as regards the flesh, He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing before all ages.

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 150 A.D.

And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying; but since I am aware that this is denied by all of your nation, I do not address myself to these points, but I proceed to carry on my discussions by means of those passages which are still admitted by you.

And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom, has been demonstrated fully by what has been said.

Ignatius’ Epistle to the Philadelphians (105-115 A.D)

If any one says there is one God, and also confesses Christ Jesus, but thinks the Lord to be a mere man, and not the only-begotten God, and Wisdom, and the Word of God, and deems Him to consist merely of a soul and body, such an one is a serpent, that preaches deceit and error for the destruction of men. And such a man is poor in understanding, even as by name he is an Ebionite.

Obviously I didn’t include every ante-Nicene Father but that is rather an issue with space than lack of finding. After all, Tertullian, a pre-Nicaea writer who I didn’t quote, first coined “Trinity”!

But the point here was not only to show that the deity of Christ wasn’t a novel idea, but that it goes right back to a disciple of a living apostle: John. So either these ideas suddenly started to percolate after his death or it was exactly what the apostle had been teaching.

For that, we’ll have to examine John’s teaching.

 

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Jesus, God and the Gospel of Men

The idea reads something like this: obviously, the Church at Nicaea believed Jesus was the Son of God in terms of deity, but the authors of the Bible didn’t think in that category. They believed Jesus to be Son of God in terms of Israel’s King. Theology progressed—that is unsurprising; but first and foremost the Gospel is a presentation of Jesus as Israel’s King.

Here’s a few quotes that bear markings of the proposition above. Some outright deny the claim that Jesus is God and should not be taken as representative of Christianity.

Dan Brown’s Teabing , a character in the Davinci Code, referring to the council at Nicaea:

“At this gathering,” Teabing said, “many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon—the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of sacraments, and, of course, the divinity of Jesus.” “I don’t follow. His divinity?” “My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.” “Not the Son of God?” “Right,” Teabing said. “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.” “Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?” “A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added. “Nonetheless, establishing Christ’s divinity was critical to the further unification of the Roman empire and to the new Vatican power base. By officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity who existed beyond the scope of the human world, an entity whose power was unchallengeable. This not only precluded further pagan challenges to Christianity, but now the followers of Christ were able to redeem themselves only via the established sacred channel-the Roman Catholic Church.” Sophie glanced at Langdon, and he gave her a soft nod of concurrence. “It was all about power,” Teabing continued. “Christ as Messiah was critical to the functioning of Church and state. Many scholars claim that the early Church literally stole Jesus from His original followers, hijacking His human message, shrouding it in an impenetrable cloak of divinity, and using it to expand their own power.

Scot McKnight on what is the Gospel:

The gospel is to announce that the Story of Jesus, who is Messiah/King, Lord and Savior, fulfills or completes the Story of Israel. It is the good news that God’s promises have now been realized in Jesus Messiah, Lord and Savior.

…Our evangelism would be declaring what Peter declares in Acts 2, 3, 10-11 and what Paul declares in Acts 13, 14 and 17. And it would see that every passage in the Gospels is pure gospel. It would show how Romans explains how Gentiles now join Jews in God’s Story in this world, and it would show how they are both accepted on the same basis: in Christ. And they respond to that message by faith and by faith alone.

NT Wright on the clues to Gospel christology:

I suggest, in short, that the return of YHWH to Zion, and the Temple theology which it brings into focus, are the deepest keys and clues to gospel christology. Forget the ‘titles’ of Jesus, at least for a moment; forget the pseudo-orthodox attempts to make Jesus of Nazareth conscious of being the second person of the Trinity; forget the arid reductionism that is the mirror image of that unthinking would-be orthodoxy. Focus, instead, on a young Jewish prophet telling a story about YHWH returning to Zion as judge and redeemer, and then embodying it by riding into the city in tears, symbolizing the Temple’s destruction and celebrating the final exodus. I propose, as a matter of history, that Jesus of Nazareth was conscious of a vocation: a vocation, given him by the one he knew as ‘father’, to enact in himself what, in Israel’s scriptures, God had promised to accomplish all by himself. He would be the pillar of cloud and fire for the people of the new exodus. He would embody in himself the returning and redeeming action of the covenant God. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 653.

Andrew Perriman’s non-Nicene creedal statement:

We believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, Israel’s king;

Born under Augustus, executed under Tiberius;

Who died to save his rebellious people from destruction;

Who was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and was exalted to the right hand of the Father;

Who was given the name which was above every name, for the sake of the glory of Israel’s God in the ancient world;

Who was made judge and ruler of the nations;

And through whom his persecuted followers came to inherit the empire and then the world.

Here’s a quote from myself regarding the Son of God language in regard to Christ:

Whereas you have a King being declared a functional son of God in regards to ruling and anointed, we now have Christ who was the sent Son with all these other entailments tied into His position. Whereas you have Adam, the Son of God, to be God’s vice-gerent over the created order yet fails dramatically bringing it all down with him, we now have Christ, the Son of God who dramatically obeys before the incarnation (setting aside what He didn’t have to steal: his divinity) becoming a servant obedient to death on the cross, raising again and bringing all of creation up with Him. Whereas you have Israel, the Son of God, as a nation of priests; we now have Jesus Christ, who is both priest and king.

Here’s William Kellly, a classic dispensational writer, on the Jewish expectation:

It would appear that, in John the Baptist’s preaching it, we have no ground for supposing that either he believed at this time, or that any other men till afterwards were led into the under­standing of the form which it was to assume through Christ’s rejection and going on high as now. This our Lord divulged more particularly in Matthew 13. I understand, then, by this expression, what might be gathered justly from Old Testament prophecies; and that John, at this time, had no other thought but that the king­dom was about to be introduced according to expec­tations thus formed. They had long looked for the time when the earth should no longer be left to itself, but heaven should be the governing power; when the Son of man should control the earth; when the power of hell should be banished from the world; when the earth should be put into association with the heavens, and the heavens, of course, therefore, be changed, so as to govern the earth directly through the Son of man, who should be also King of restored Israel. This, substantially, I think, was in the mind of the Baptist.

I don’t mean that all the above quotes are teaching the same thing. Indeed, you’ll find William Kelly quickly affirming that Christ is God—you won’t find the same thing occurring with Andrew Perriman. And in all cases, Dan Brown’s character resides in a world of fiction while speaking from a position of pseudo-history that is actively being pushed on the masses.

It is simply impossible to trace the reasons how or why these positions are being put forward, or even if they’re correct in doing so, but one must look at their claims in light of Scripture. In other words: there is a lot being said but very little substantiation from the text.

That is not to say that there isn’t substantiation. For example, NT Wright uses the same exact texts everyone else uses but gives a historical milieu that changes the reading of the text. The trick is to hover above the text stating what the text says then dropping some casual information (as if established fact) to then deny what later theologians (and possibly everyone) have understood it to be saying. Lest you point that out, they quickly grant that there is no doubt that later theologians interpreted things in such a way, but that is not how the writers themselves understood those very same things.

For my own mind, I intend to examine this in several points. First a historical scan; second an overview of John’s Christology; third a look at Paul’s theological thinking; and finally an examination of the Synoptic writers.

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Quotables: Early Church on Sex and Marriage

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Modern readers may imagine that until recently pastors never dared to provide sex and marriage counseling. Not so. These selections from the earliest period of the Christian pastoral tradition (pre-Nicene, before 325 a.d.), will provide glimpses of the sort of counsel Christian pastors have been giving from the very outset of the tradition. It should be kept in mind that much of the writing of this period was done under hazardous conditions of persecution and social stress, when the Christian community was a tiny minority in a hostile political environment. Our purpose for including these selections is not to imply that a completely adequate view of sexuality was worked out by these earliest pastoral writers, or one that could be adequate for all other historical situations. At least they demonstrate that the need to provide guidance and understanding of sexuality has been perceived from the beginning of Christian pastoral activity.

Clement of Alexandria developed some preliminary theories on the psychology of sexuality. He suggested, for example, that the delay of intercourse tended to make it more desirable:

In the evening, after dinner, it is proper to retire after giving thanks for the good things that have been received. Sometimes, nature denies them the opportunity to accomplish the marriage act so that it may be all them more desirable because it is delayed. (Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator, Bk. II, Ch. 10.97. FC 23, p. 174)

He did not think much of the heavy use of perfumes for the enhancement of sexual attractiveness:

Let the women make use of a little of these perfumes, but not so much as to nauseate their husbands, for too much fragrance suggests a funeral, not married life. (Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator, Bk. II, Ch. 8.65, FC 23, p. 150)

Since sexual differentiation is the gift of God, so must sexual conjunction of married partners be blessed by God, as part of God’s own design in creation for propagation:

For the conjunction of man and wife, if it be with upright intent, is agreeable to the mind of God. “For He that made them at the beginning made them male and female; and He blessed them, and said, ‘Increase and multiply, and fill the earth’” (Gen. 1:27, 28). If, therefore, the difference of sexes was made by the will of God for the generation of multitudes, then must the conjunction of male and female be also acceptable to His mind. (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Bk. VI. Sec. V, ch. xxvii, ANF VII, p. 462)*

In sexuality, human beings share actively in God’s own work of creation. It is precisely because of the great value, not disvalue, of the generative capacity that important social constraints are attached to its use:

“Do not sow the unconsecrated and bastard seed with concubines, where you would not want what is sown to grow.” In fact, he says: “Do not touch anyone, except your wedded wife,” because she is the only one with whom it is lawful to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh for the purpose of begetting lawful heirs. This is to share in God’s own work of creation, and in such a work the seed ought not be wasted nor scattered thoughtlessly nor sown in a way it cannot grow. (Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator, Bk. II, Ch. 10.91, FC 23, p. 170; cf. Lev. 18:20ff.)

The early tradition did not hesitate to speak of human cooperation with God in married sexual intercourse:

It remains for us now to consider the restriction of sexual intercourse to those who are joined in wedlock. Begetting children is the goal of those who wed, and the fulfillment of that goal is a large family, just as hope of a crop drives the farmer to sow his seed, while the fulfillment of his hope is the actual harvesting of the crop. But he who sows in a living soil is far superior, for the one tills the land to provide food only for a season, the other to secure the preservation of the whole human race; the one tends his crop for himself, the other, for God. We have received the command: “Be fruitful” (Gen 1:28), and we must obey. In this role human beings become like God, because they cooperate, in a human way, in the birth of another (Clement of Alexandria, Christ the Educator, Bk. II, Ch. 10.83, FC 23, p. 164)*

Promiscuous sexual intercourse was never thought to have the dimension of mystical communion available to those whose married union of fidelity in love God has blessed:

There are some who call Aphrodite Pandemos [i.e., physical love] a mystical communion. This is an insult to the name of communion…. They have impiously called by the name of communion any common sexual intercourse. The story goes that one of them came to a virgin of our church who had a lovely face and said to her: “Scripture says, ‘Give to every one that asks you.’” She, however, not understanding the lascivious intention of the man gave the dignified reply: “On the subject of marriage, talk to my brother.”… These thrice wretched men treat carnal and sexual intercourse as a sacred religious mystery, and think that it will bring them to the kingdom of God. It is to the brothels that this “communion” leads. (Clement of Alexandria, On Marriage, secs. 27–28, LCC II, pp. 52–53)

Oden, T. C. (1986). Crisis Ministries (107). New York: Crossroad.

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