The Developing Pro-Nicene Method

Part of M. Barnes and Ayres’ criticism of the “neo-Platonic” Augustine is that Augustine shares more in common with the, by his time, somewhat established catholic tradition than he does any identifiable “neo-Platonic” tradition of the 4th century. This is seen in that his principle for divine unity is not simply an appeal to “substance,” nor even the psychological analogy, but rather the inseparable operations of the Persons. This is very similar to Gregory’s one “Power.”

The divine “work” is an aspect of the one nature. This is true for both East and West, of which there is really no dichotomy at this point in history. If there were, as Timothy Barnes’ (not Michel) helpful book on Athanasius and Constantine’s sons shows, then the two parties would actually be Western/pro-Nicenes vs. Eastern/anti-Nicenes., which is not what folks seem to be looking for today.

Again, D. H. Williams’ book on Ambrose is a good way to get a grasp on the emerging Western pro-Nicene tradition.

This entry was posted in augustine, church history by Steven Wedgeworth. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.

One thought on “The Developing Pro-Nicene Method

  1. Barnes and Aryes do a lot to correct misreadings of Augustine and that much is true. Augustine is not an out-right NeoPlatonist. The Eastern argument rather is that he has NeoPlatonic distinctives that are irreconcilible with the gospel. Gilson recognizes his concept of deity and “being” is still pagan. His concept of simplicity is NeoPlatonic. I do not believe Augustine is monolithic at times and not entirely consistent in his Trinitarian though, but certain elements that get sucked up into the subsequent tradition are what the Easterners criticize especially with the Carolingian theologians Ratramnus and Alcuin.

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