Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/Against Praxeas/XXIX
Chapter XXIX.—It Was Christ that Died. The Father is Incapable of Suffering Either Solely or with Another. Blasphemous Conclusions Spring from Praxeas’ Premises.
Silence! Silence on such blasphemy. Let us be content with saying that Christ died, the Son of the Father; and let this suffice, because the Scriptures have told us so much. For even the apostle, to his declaration—which he makes not without feeling the weight of it—that “Christ died,” immediately adds, “according to the Scriptures,” in order that he may alleviate the harshness of the statement by the authority of the Scriptures, and so remove offence from the reader. Now, although when two substances are alleged to be in Christ—namely, the divine and the human—it plainly follows that the divine nature is immortal, and that which is human is mortal, it is manifest in what sense he declares “Christ died”—even in the sense in which He was flesh and Man and the Son of Man, not as being the Spirit and the Word and the Son of God. In short, since he says that it was Christ (that is, the Anointed One) that died, he shows us that that which died was the nature which was anointed; in a word, the flesh. Very well, say you; since we on our side affirm our doctrine in precisely the same terms which you use on your side respecting the Son, we are not guilty of blasphemy against the Lord God, for we do not maintain that He died after the divine nature, but only after the human. Nay, but you do blaspheme; because you allege not only that the Father died, but that He died the death of the cross. For “cursed are they which are hanged on a tree,”—a curse which, after the law, is compatible to the Son (inasmuch as “Christ has been made a curse for us,” but certainly not the Father); since, however, you convert Christ into the Father, you are chargeable with blasphemy against the Father. But when we assert that Christ was crucified, we do not malign Him with a curse; we only re-affirm the curse pronounced by the law: nor indeed did the apostle utter blasphemy when he said the same thing as we. Besides, as there is no blasphemy in predicating of the subject that which is fairly applicable to it; so, on the other hand, it is blasphemy when that is alleged concerning the subject which is unsuitable to it. On this principle, too, the Father was not associated in suffering with the Son. The heretics, indeed, fearing to incur direct blasphemy against the Father, hope to diminish it by this expedient: they grant us so far that the Father and the Son are Two; adding that, since it is the Son indeed who suffers, the Father is only His fellow-sufferer. But how absurd are they even in this conceit! For what is the meaning of “fellow-suffering,” but the endurance of suffering along with another? Now if the Father is incapable of suffering, He. is incapable of suffering in company with another; otherwise, if He can suffer with another, He is of course capable of suffering. You, in fact, yield Him nothing by this subterfuge of your fears. You are afraid to say that He is capable of suffering whom you make to be capable of fellow-suffering. Then, again, the Father is as incapable of fellow-suffering as the Son even is of suffering under the conditions of His existence as God. Well, but how could the Son suffer, if the Father did not suffer with Him? My answer is, The Father is separate from the Son, though not from Him as God. For even if a river be soiled with mire and mud, although it flows from the fountain identical in nature with it, and is not separated from the fountain, yet the injury which affects the stream reaches not to the fountain; and although it is the water of the fountain which suffers down the stream, still, since it is not affected at the fountain, but only in the river, the fountain suffers nothing, but only the river which issues from the fountain. So likewise the Spirit of God, whatever suffering it might be capable of in the Son, yet, inasmuch as it could not suffer in the Father, the fountain of the Godhead, but only in the Son, it evidently could not have suffered, as the Father. But it is enough for me that the Spirit of God suffered nothing as the Spirit of God, since all that It suffered It suffered in the Son. It was quite another matter for the Father to suffer with the Son in the flesh. This likewise has been treated by us. Nor will any one deny this, since even we are ourselves unable to suffer for God, unless the Spirit of God be in us, who also utters by our instrumentality whatever pertains to our own conduct and suffering; not, however, that He Himself suffers in our suffering, only He bestows on us the power and capacity of suffering.
- 1 Cor. xv. 3.
- Gal. iii. 13.
- Same ver.
- Referimus: or, “Recite and record.”
- Deut. xxi. 23.
- Gal. iii. 13.
- [This passage convinces Lardner that Praxeas was not a Patripassian. Credib. Vol. VIII. p. 607.]
- That is, the divine nature in general in this place.
- That which was open to it to suffer in the Son.
- Suo nomine.
- De nobis.