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Tertullian And Foreordination


Joseph Antley

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"We have been predestined by God, before the world was, to [appear] in the extreme end of times. And so we are trained by God for the purpose of chastening . . . the world." (Tertullian, 4.23)

Would I be off in interpreting this as Tertullian's belief in a pre-existance where God foreordained himself and others to lead the church in the latter days? Or is he saying that God just knew that Tertullian and others would be put here in the latter days, implying that they did not exist before they were born?

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Would I be off in interpreting this as Tertullian's belief in a pre-existance where God foreordained himself and others to lead the church in the latter days?

Possibly. Tertullian believed that there was once a time when the Son and Spirit did not exist as such:

"For from the moment when those things began to exist, over which the power of a Lord was to act, God, by the accession of that power, both became Lord and received the name thereof. Because God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father." [Tertullian, Against Hermogenes 3, in ANF 3:478.]

But Tertullian is in that zone were the doctrine was changing to trinitarianism.

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Joseph Antley,

Or is he saying that God just knew that Tertullian and others would be put here in the latter days, implying that they did not exist before they were born?

Tertullian is not speaking of existing "before they were born". Tertullian is speaking of foreknowledge and grace (see link below for more information). It says:

Predestination

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12378a.htm

Between these two extremes the Catholic dogma of predestination keeps the golden mean, because it regards eternal happiness primarily as the work of God and His grace, but secondarily as the fruit and reward of the meritorious actions of the predestined. The process of predestination consists of the following five steps: (a) the first grace of vocation, especially faith as the beginning, foundation, and root of justification ; ( b ) a number of additional, actual graces for the successful accomplishment of justification; © justification itself as the beginning of the state of grace and love; (d) final perseverance or at least the grace of a happy death; (e) lastly, the admission to eternal bliss. If it is a truth of Revelation that there are many who, following this path, seek and find their eternal salvation with infallible certainty, then the existence of Divine predestination is proved (cf. Matthew 25:34; Revelation 20:15). St. Paul says quite explicitly (Romans 8:28 sq.): "we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the first born amongst many brethren. And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified." (Cf. Ephesians 1:4-11) Besides the eternal "foreknowledge" and foreordaining, the Apostle here mentions the various steps of predestination: "vocation", "justification", and "glorification". This belief has been faithfully preserved by Tradition through all the centuries, especially since the time of Augustine.

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Possibly. Tertullian believed that there was once a time when the Son and Spirit did not exist as such:

"For from the moment when those things began to exist, over which the power of a Lord was to act, God, by the accession of that power, both became Lord and received the name thereof. Because God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father." [Tertullian, Against Hermogenes 3, in ANF 3:478.]

But Tertullian is in that zone were the doctrine was changing to trinitarianism.

Fascinating quote. Tertullian, of course, was just an Arian in disguise.......

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One thing that always frustrates me is when mainstream Christians claim "there is no evidence in ancient Christianity that LDS doctrines were restored", yet when we propose that certain LDS doctrines can be found in the writings of Tertullian or Origen, both are suddenly dismissed as heretics.

Which Ancient Christian Father was an Evangelical?

Sargon

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One thing that always frustrates me is when mainstream Christians claim "there is no evidence in ancient Christianity that LDS doctrines were restored", yet when we propose that certain LDS doctrines can be found in the writings of Tertullian or Origen, both are suddenly dismissed as heretics.

Origen stated that in his time, there was nothing concrete in the teaching of the Church regarding the derivation of the soul. There were some competing doctrines such as traducianism, creationism, and pre-existence However, his take as well as probably the take of Clement of Alexandria before him and Peter in the Clementine Recognitions favored pre-existence. In fact pre-existence seems to me to be the default understanding.

Which Ancient Christian Father was an Evangelical?

Pre Nicea? None of them are. None of them are trinitarian either.

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Pre Nicea? None of them are. None of them are trinitarian either.

LOL, thanks BC. My question was actually rhetorical. There were no Evangelical ACF's.

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Origen has also made statements that indicate that there was a time when Jesus became divine. In response to that, I was told Origen was simply an Arian in disguise and a heretic.

Basically it works this way:

If,

1) Mormons believe X or Y

and

2) Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Peter, James, John, Paul or Jesus believe X or Y

then

3) Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Peter, James, John, Paul or Jesus were

A) misquoted

or

B ) heretics.

:P

See Temple Ordinances in Early Christianity?

and

Evidence in Early Christianity for the Restoration

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BCSpace,

In fact pre-existence seems to me to be the default understanding.

Clearly Tertullian did not teach "pre-existence", see quotes below:

"The soul, then, we define to be sprung from the breath of God, immortal ..."

Tertullian,A treatise on the soul,22:2(A.D. 212),in ANF,III:203

"The object of our worship is the One God, He who by His commanding word, His arranging wisdom, His mighty power, brought forth from nothing this entire mass of our world, with all its array of elements, bodies, spirits, for the glory of His majesty; whence also the Greeks have bestowed on it the name of Cosmos."

Tertullian,Apology,17:1(A.D. 197),in ANF,III:31

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BCSpace,

Clearly Tertullian did not teach "pre-existence", see quotes below:

"The soul, then, we define to be sprung from the breath of God, immortal ..."

Tertullian,A treatise on the soul,22:2(A.D. 212),in ANF,III:203

"The object of our worship is the One God, He who by His commanding word, His arranging wisdom, His mighty power, brought forth from nothing this entire mass of our world, with all its array of elements, bodies, spirits, for the glory of His majesty; whence also the Greeks have bestowed on it the name of Cosmos."

Tertullian,Apology,17:1(A.D. 197),in ANF,III:31

Belief in creation does not somehow disprove pre-existence. LDS believe that spirits are created (or at least begotten).

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DispensatorMysteriorum,

Belief in creation does not somehow disprove pre-existence. LDS believe that spirits are created (or at least begotten).

Tertullian believed very differently than Mormons. Tertullian did not believe that spirits came from heavenly parents he believed spirits were "brought forth from nothing" and the soul "from the breath of God".

The ECF's did not believe in pre-existence.

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Belief in creation does not somehow disprove pre-existence. LDS believe that spirits are created (or at least begotten).
Tertullian believed very differently than Mormons.

Indeed. He was halfway between original and apostate Christianity. He certainly was no trintarian....

1) He believed that the "Divine Substance" was a material substance.

2) He believed that there was a time when the Son and Spirit did not exist as such (which I mentioned).

3) He considered the Son and Spirit to be portions of the "Divine Substance", rather than interpenetrating "centers of consciousness" in a simple, indivisible "Divine Substance".

4) As a result, he believed the Father to first in rank and glory, while the Son and Spirit were second and third. Subordinationism.

The ECF's did not believe in pre-existence.

You obviously don't know what you are talking about. For example....

Origen believed that God created a certain number of souls and gave them free will. They could choose to advance in glory by imitating God or rebel. All except Christ rebelled to a certain extent, experiencing a "pre-cosmic fall" (postulated) and this resulted in various differences of rational beings in the world who came about not by God's will but by freedom of individual will.

ECD 180 and Origen, De Principiis, 2:9:6

Justin Martyr believed that souls were begotten, at one time, apart from their bodies. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 5

Mathetes taught that the sould does not have it's origin in the body and that we are strangers on the earth. Mathetes to Diognetus 5-6

The Church was created before the world.

The Pastor of Hermas, Vis 2:4

2 Clement 14:2

The NT explicitly teaches pre-existence of Christ, the Church, and individual Christians.

Hammerton-Kelly, Pre-Existence, Wisdom, and the Son of Man, 22, 154, 224, 270

etc. etc.

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BCSpace,

Indeed. He was halfway between original and apostate Christianity. He certainly was no trintarian....

Clearly Tertullian was a trinitarian:

Tertullian (Apology,21(A.D. 197),in ANF,III:34-35)

"We have already asserted that God made the world, and all which it contains, by His Word, and Reason, and Power. It is abundantly plain that your philosophers, too, regard the Logos--that is, the Word and Reason--as the Creator of the universe...And we, in like manner, hold that the Word, and Reason, and Power, by which we have said God made all, have spirit as their proper and essential substratum, in which the Word has inbeing to give forth utterances, and reason abides to dispose and arrange, and power is over all to execute. We have been taught that He proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun--there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. The material matrix remains entire and unimpaired, though you derive from it any number of shoots possessed of its qualities; so, too, that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence--in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united." From Corunum Catholic Apologetic

Tertullian

"We do indeed believe that there is only one God, but we believe that under this dispensation, or, as we say, oikonomia, there is also a Son of this one only God, his Word, who proceeded from him and through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made. . . . We believe he was sent down by the Father, in accord with his own promise, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father and the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. . . . This rule of faith has been present since the beginning of the gospel, before even the earlier heretics" (Against Praxeas 2 [A.D. 216]).

"And at the same time the mystery of the oikonomia is safeguarded, for the unity is distributed in a Trinity. Placed in order, the three are the Father, Son, and Spirit. They are three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in being, but in form; not in power, but in kind; of one being, however, and one condition and one power, because he is one God of whom degrees and forms and kinds are taken into account in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (ibid.).

"Keep always in mind the rule of faith which I profess and by which I bear witness that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are inseparable from each other, and then you will understand what is meant by it. Observe now that I say the Father is other [distinct], the Son is other, and the Spirit is other. This statement is wrongly understood by every uneducated or perversely disposed individual, as if it meant diversity and implied by that diversity a separation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" (ibid., 9).

"Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent persons, who are yet distinct one from another. These three are, one essence, not one person, as it is said, â??I and my Father are oneâ?? [John 10:30], in respect of unity of being not singularity of number" (ibid., 25).

You obviously don't know what you are talking about. For example....

It is obviously you don't know what you are talking about. The ECF's did not believe in pre-existence. For example....

"In reply I said to her, 'This is magnificent and marvellous. But who are the six young men who are engaged in building?' And she said, 'These are the holy angels of God, who were first created, and to whom the Lord handed over His whole creation, that they might increase and build up and rule over the whole creation. By these will the building of the tower be finished.' 'But who are the other persons who are engaged in carrying the stones?' These also are holy angels of the Lord, but the former six are more excellent than these."

Shephard of Hermas,Vision 3:4(A.D. 140),in ANF,II:14

"And as I prayed, the heavens were opened, and I see the woman whom I had desired saluting me from the sky, and saying, 'Hail, Hermas!' And looking up to her, I said, 'Lady, what doest thou here? 'And she answered me, 'I have been taken up here to accuse you of your sins before the Lord.' 'Lady,' said I, 'are you to be the subject of my accusation?' 'No,' said she; 'but hear the words which I am going to speak to you. God, who dwells in the heavens, and made out of nothing the things that exist, and multiplied and increased them on account of His holy Church, is angry with you for having sinned against me."

Hermas,Shepard,1:1:1(A.D. 80),in ANF,II:9

"First Of all, believe that there is one God who created and finished all things, and made all things out of nothing."

Hermas,Shepard,2:1:1(A.D. 80),in ANF,II:20

"Let us turn now, O King, to the elements in themselves, that we may make clear in regard to them, that they are not gods, but a created thing, liable to ruin and change, which is of the same nature as man; whereas God is imperishable and unvarying, and invisible, while yet He sees, and overrules, and transforms all things."

Aristides,Apology,4(A.D. 140),in ANF,X:266

"God was in the beginning; but the beginning, we have been taught, is the power of the Logos. For the Lord of the universe, who is Himself the necessary ground of all being, in as much as no creature was yet in existence, was alone; but in as much as He was all power, Himself the necessary ground of things visible and invisible, with Him were all things; with Him, by Logos-power , the Logos Himself also, who was in Him, subsists."

Tatian,Address to the Greeks,5:1(A.D. 175),in ANF,II:67

"For, to attribute the substance of created things to the power and will of Him who is God of all, is worthy both of credit and acceptance. It is also agreeable [to reason], and there may be well said regarding such a belief, that 'the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.' While men, indeed, cannot make anything out of nothing, but only out of matter already existing, yet God is in this point proeminently superior to men, that He Himself called into being the substance of His creation, when previously it had no existence."

Irenaeus,Against Heresies,2,10:4(A.D. 180),in ANF,I:370

"And further, as God, because He is uncreated, is also unalterable; so if matter, too, were uncreated, it also would be unalterable, and equal to God; for that which is created is mutable and alterable, but that which is uncreated is immutable and unalterable. And what great thing is it if God made the world out of existent materials? For even a human artist, when he gets material from some one, makes of it what he pleases. But the power of God is manifested in this, that out of things that are not He makes whatever He pleases; just as the bestowal of life and motion is the prerogative of no other than God alone." Theophilus of Antioch,Autolycus,2:4(A.D. 181), in ANF,II:95

"And first, they taught us with one consent that God made all things out of nothing; for nothing was coeval with God: but He being His own place, and wanting nothing, and existing before the ages, willed to make man by whom He might be known; for him, therefore, He prepared the world. For he that is created is also needy; but he that is uncreated stands in need of nothing." Theophilus of Antioch,Autolycus,2:10(A.D. 181), in ANF,II:97-98

[H]e[Hermogenes] takes from Him everything which is God, since he will not have it that He made all things of nothing." Tertullian,Hermogenes,1-2,in ANF,III:477

"The object of our worship is the One God, He who by His commanding word, His arranging wisdom, His mighty power, brought forth from nothing this entire mass of our world, with all its array of elements, bodies, spirits, for the glory of His majesty; whence also the Greeks have bestowed on it the name of Cosmos."

Tertullian,Apology,17:1(A.D. 197),in ANF,III:31

"Now, with regard to this rule of faith-that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend-it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son."

Tertullian,Prescription Against the Heretics,13:1(A.D. 200),in ANF,III:249

"For if God produced all things whatever out of nothing, He will be able to draw forth from nothing even the flesh which had fallen into nothing; or if He moulded other things out of matter, He will be able to call forth the flesh too from somewhere else, into whatever abyss it may have been engulphed."

Tertullian, Resurrection of the Flesh,11(A.D. 210),in ANF,III:553

"On the first day God made what He made out of nothing. But on the other days He did not make out of nothing, but out of what He had made on the first day, by moulding it according to His pleasure."

Hippolytus, Six Days Work(Hexameron)(A.D. 217),in ANF,V:163

"First, That there is one God, who created and arranged all things, and who, when nothing existed."

Origen, Fundamental Doctrines,Preface 1(A.D. 225),in ANF,IV:239

"Therefore arming him, and strengthening him, and so bearing her son by a more blessed birth, she said, "O son, pity me that bare thee ten months in the womb, and gave thee milk for three years, and nourished thee and brought thee up to this age; I pray thee, O son, look upon the heaven and the earth; and having considered all the things which are in them, understand that out of nothing God made these things and the human race."

Cyprian, Exhortation to Martyrdom,11(A.D. 253),in ANF,V:504-505

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Indeed. He was halfway between original and apostate Christianity. He certainly was no trintarian....

1) He believed that the "Divine Substance" was a material substance.

2) He believed that there was a time when the Son and Spirit did not exist as such (which I mentioned).

3) He considered the Son and Spirit to be portions of the "Divine Substance", rather than interpenetrating "centers of consciousness" in a simple, indivisible "Divine Substance".

4) As a result, he believed the Father to first in rank and glory, while the Son and Spirit were second and third. Subordinationism.

Clearly Tertullian was a trinitarian:

Clearly he was not as you simply noted the similarities and ignored the differences...

For 1 and 2 above.....

"Writers who are usually reckoned orthodox but who lived a century or two centuries before the outbreak of the Arian Controversy, such as Irenaeus and Tertullian and Novatian and Justin Martyr, held some views which would later, in the fourth century, have been branded heretical.... Irenaeus and Tertullian both believed that God had not always been a Trinity but had at some point put forth the Son and the Spirit so as to be distinct from him. Tertullian, borrowing from Stoicism, believed that God was material (though only of a very refined material, a kind of thinking gas), so that his statement that Father, Son and Spirit were 'of one substance', beautifully orthodox though it sounds, was of a corporeality which would have profoundly shocked Origen, Athanasius and the Cappadocian theologians, had they known of it." [Hansen, R., "The Achievement of Orthodoxy in the Fourth Century AD", in Williams, ed., The Making of Orthodoxy, pp. 151-152.]

"For from the moment when those things began to exist, over which the power of a Lord was to act, God, by the accession of that power, both became Lord and received the name thereof. Because God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father." [Tertullian, Against Hermogenes 3, in ANF 3:478.]

For 3 and 4 above....

"For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole, as He Himself acknowledges: "My Father is greater than I." [T]he Paraclete [is] distinct from Himself, even as we say that the Son is also distinct from the Father; so that He showed a third degree in the Paraclete, as we believe the second degree is in the Son, by reason of the order observed in the Economy." [Tertullian, Against Praxeas 9, in ANF 3:603-604.]

"Whatever, therefore, was the substance of the Word that I designate a Person, I claim for it the name of Son; and while I recognize the Son, I assert His distinction as second to the Father." [Tertullian, Against Praxeas 7, in ANF 3:602.]

The ECF's did not believe in pre-existence.

It doesn't help your case to ignore the references I gave.

Origen believed that God created a certain number of souls and gave them free will. They could by their own choice, advance in glory by imitating God or rebel against Him. Except for Christ's pre-existent soul, all rebelled to one degree or another and expereinced a 'pre-cosmic' fall prior to the creation of the earth and this gave rise various gradations of spiritual beings in the world. Kelly, J.N.D., Early Christian Doctrines, 180

Peter said "after all things He made man, on whose account He prepared all things, who's internal species is older, and for whose sake all things that are were made..." Regarding the "internal species", the Presbyterian translators add the footnote: "That is, his soul, according to the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls." Clementine Recognitions 1:28, in ANF 8:85

"One is impressed by the ease with which the idea of pre-existence is assumed as the background for certain aspects of Paul's theology, especially for his doctrines of Christ and the Church..." Hammerton-Kelly, Pre-Existence, Wisdom, and the Son of Man, 156, 152

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BCSpace,

If you did not ignore my earlier post you would understand how Tertullian speaks of subordinate, it is in terms of position, for example a son comes after a father. Tertullian speaks of light from light, again it is in terms of position. The words of Tertullian are consisent with the Nicene Creed and Athansian Creed (see below)

Nicene Creed

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (

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Pre Nicea? None of them are. None of them are trinitarian either.

Nor were there any Mormon ones.

Would I be off in interpreting this as Tertullian's belief in a pre-existance where God foreordained himself and others to lead the church in the latter days? Or is he saying that God just knew that Tertullian and others would be put here in the latter days, implying that they did not exist before they were born?

A number of church fathers/saints (and also early Jews) who had been influenced by Neoplatonism believed in some sort of pre-existence. This belief has actually remained current in Christian and Jewish mystical traditions down to the present day, including Quakerism and the Kabbalah. I doubt, however, that the parallels between the way most of them conceived pre-existence and the way the Mormons do bear more than superficial similarities. It's interesting that you should highlight Tertullian, because he actually was opposed to the introduction of Platonic philosophy into Christian doctrine. He was more of an Aristotelian. So I doubt that he believed in pre-existence. But if he did, it would probably be more like the LDS view than the typical early Christian and Jewish views.

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