Page images


Father simply suffered, but that “the Father suffered with the Son.

Such was Hippolytus's view of the line of teaching adopted by Callistus, in order to meet the heresy of Sabellius. In his eyes Callistus merely evaded the technical forms of Sabellianism; he held that he retained its substantial principle--the identification of the personality of the Son with that of the Father.

But, on the other hand, too, we glean from the angry criminations of Hippolytus, that he was not permitted to enjoy a monopoly of the power of imputing heterodoxy ; and that, if he condemned as heterodox the line taken by Callistus against Sabellius, Callistus took the same view of his own system of Anti-Sabellianism. If he charged Callistus as a Monarchian, Callistus equally taxed him with being a Ditheist. If he regarded the system of Callistus as involving a unity of person in the Father and the Son, Callistus looked upon his system as fital to the unity of nature in the same Father and Son. While he taxed Callistus with confounding the distinction of personality, Callistus replied by declaring that Hippolytus exaggerated the distinction of personality and the relations between the persons themselves, so as to make the two Persons two distinct Gods.

Such is the case between the two disputants, even with all the disadvantage to Callistus, which results from its resting entirely on the onesided and clearly intemperate statement of his adversary.

Now, what we complain of in all the Protestant critics of the Philosophumena, is, that they have kept out of view the counter-statement of Callistus, which is implied in his very protest against the doctrines of Hippolytus; that they have accepted as decisive evidence of his heterodoxy, the ipse dixit of one whom he himself declared to be a heretic on the opposite side ; and that, far from giving him the benefit of the light which this imputation on his part against Hippolytus should throw upon his real doctrine, they have, on the contrary, refused him even the miserable" justice of a strict and dispassionate scrutiny of his own words and statements as reported by Hippolytus himself. We maintain that it is only by a one-sided and uncritical proceeding of this kind that the imputation of heresy against Pope Callistus, even on the showing of the Philosophumena itself, could ever have gained credit.


The case indeed resolves itself into this.

As Callistus, no less than Hippolytus condemned Sabellius and the Patripassians, the difference between them lay in the systems which they severally adopted, in order to explain, in reply to Sabellius, the relations between the Father and the Logos. And because Hippolytus, in defiance of Callistus's explicit profession, thought proper to declare that Callistus's system was, in reality, but another form of Sabellianism, it is at once concluded that Callistus "lapsed into heresy in a primary article of faith in opposition to the exhortations of orthodox teachers !"}* It is altogether forgotten that the accusation of heresy made by Hippolytus against Callistus is not a whit more explicit or more distinct than that of Callistus against Hippolytus! If Callistus be a concealed Sabellian in Hippolytus's eyes, Hippolytus was denounced publicly by Callistus as á Ditheist. Surely it is an uncritical prejudging of the case to assume, without further enquiry, that Hippolytus is right and Callistus wrong; or rather to ignore altogether the protest of Callistus and his counter-statement, and pronounce him a heretic on the authority of Hippolytus, as though no doubt had ever been suggested either upon his competency or his trustworthiness as a witness. Surely here, if ever, there is ground for a careful investigation of the real merits of the case; and we contend that no critic, fairly considering the evidence even as it stands in the Philosophumena, could arrive at any other conclusion than that of the utter groundlessness of the charge of heresy there preferred against Pope Callistus. It is disproved both by the account which his very adversary himself gives of the doctrine taught by Callistus; and even by an examination of that adversary's own system, the rejection of which constituted in his eyes the worst feature of the heresy of Callistus.

I. We must bear in mind that the error against which, in common with Hippolytus himself, Callistus had to contend,-viz., the denial of the distinct personality of the Father and of the Son,-was to be confuted in such terms as not to compromise the fundamental doctrine of the unity of the Divine Nature, as it exists in both. The Arian heresy, the Photinian heresy, even the various Humanitarian heresies

• Wordsworth's Hippolytus, p. 200.

themselves, arose from this exaggeration of the distinction between the persons of the Father and the Son, their authors regarding the co-equality and co-eternity of the Son with the Father as incompatible with that distinction of the Persons.

It is plain that the fear of falling into this error against the Unity, was strongly before the mind of Callistus. “I will never,” he emphatically declared, “ acknowledge two Gods, the Father and the Son, but one God.” He would say nothing which, by representing the nature of the Son as different from that of the Father, could militate against the Unity.

Nevertheless, his adversary is obliged to admit that he shrunk with equal firmness from the opposite error-the Sabellian confusion of all distinction of Persons. “He would not say," writes Hippolytus,“ that the Father suffered, and that there is but one Persan. And it was distinctly on this ground that he had excommunicated Sabellius,

What then was the system of Callistus?

Plainly it lay between these extremes ;-between asserting, on the one hand, that there was but one Person in the Godhead, called by different names, Father, Son, and Spirit, and admitting, on the other, such a notion of the relations between the Father and the Son, or of the nature of the Son Himself, as would amount to exaggerating the distinction of Person into a distinction of Nature.

Now this is precisely the mean which the Catholic faith has ever maintained, and which is formulized with so much care in the Athanasian creed.

How comes it, therefore, that Hippolytus could represent this as Sabellianism, or as at least a mere nominal evasion of Sabellianism?

We shall presently see a very probable explanation of this in the fact that Hippolytus himself fell, at least in language, into that very extreme which Callistus sought to avoid; and that his language as to the nature of the Son might well be deemed inconsistent with the notion of His coequality, co-eternity, and to adopt the Nicene language, consubstantiality with the Father, But, without recurring to this explanation, we contend, that even the dubious light which his own angry and excited narrative affords, may enable us to discover a very probable solution.




The reader will have observed, that, although, in the body of his accusation against Callistus, Hippolytus describes him as holding that the “ One God is called Father and Son, and this, being one Person, cannot be two,” yet he is afterwards obliged to confess that Callistus “would not say that there is but one Person. Clearly, therefore, the former words charged upon Callistus are but a gloss of Hippolytus on the language of Callistus, or an inference of his from some doctrine or principle of Callistus, but an inference which the latter himself earnestly disclaimed.

Now, the real statement of Callistus, thus distorted by his adversary into a form which he himself repudiated, is, we hold, clearly discoverable from the very narrative of the Philosophumena. But as Dr. Wordsworth's translation of the passage is faulty, and faulty in a matter most unfavourable to Callistus, we think it necessary to transcribe the original text.

Εφεύρεν αιρεσιν τoίανδε, λέγων τον λόγον αυτόν είναι υιόν, αυτόν και πατέρα, ονόματι μεν καλουμενον, έν δε δν το πνεύμα αδιαίρετον, ουκ αλλο είναι Πάτερα, αλλο δε υιόν, ένδε και το αυτό υπάρχειν. p. 260.

“He invented a heresy such as the following ; saying that the Word is the Son, and is also the Father, being so called by name, but being one indivisible spirit, and that the Father is not one (Spirit) and the Son another (Spirit), but that they are both one and the same (Spirit)."

Dr. Wordsworth, by translating this, "and that the Father is not one (Person) and the Son another,” appears fully to justify the construction put upon it by Hippolytus. It is plain, nevertheless, that nothing could be farther from the mind of Callistus than such a sentiment. He explicitly repudiated the notion that the Father and Son were one Person. Even resting on his words as they stand, and without taking into account the probability of their having received a colouring from the medium through which they come to us, we contend that they are susceptible, in themselves, of a thoroughly orthodox interpretation-an interpretation, indeed, which we are necessitated to adopt by what we otherwise learn to have been the language to which Callistus objected when used by Hippolytus in his conflict with Sabellius.

(1.) Callistus, in denying aldo avai Tatepa, "that the Father was one (Spirit)' and also ôè pov, “the Son another," merely asserts that the Father is not one Gud and the Son another God; that there are not two Gods.


He himself declares that he did not deny that they were two Persons.

(2.) In like manner where he is charged with teaching that“ the Spirit which was Incarnate in the Virgin was not different from the Father, but one and the same;" his meaning clearly was, that it was not different in nature, but one and the same. His angry adversary chose to put upon those words a Sabellian interpretation ; but this interpretation was, even according to the confession of that adversary, repudiated by Callistug himself. That he meant no more than the identity of Nature, is clear from the very text which he alleges in proof. “Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" the great stronghold of the Athanasian Fathers in the Arian controversy.

(3.) Again, we learn from Hippolytus himself that Callistus explicitly repudiated the idea that "the Father suffered." It seems clear, therefore, that the statement of the “Father's suffering with the Son,” attributed to him

' by Hippolytus, is but a deduction of the writer's own from the doctrine of the unity of personality, which he falsely ascribes to Callistus. Nay, even if it were admitted that he had used that form of expression, it must necessarily be inferred, when it is recollected that he explicitly naintained the distinction of the Persons, that by it he merely meant to convey that the Divinity of the Father was the same in nature with that of the Son, who was incarnate and suffered. In a word, all his various forms of expression which Hippolytus construes into a recognition of one Personality, were in Callistus's mind but so many emphatic modes of indicating the unity of Natures.

And this brings us to the second branch of the subject, viz., to the examination of the language held on this subject by Callistus's accuser himself,

We have seen that in the conflict with Sabellianism our great danger lies in the possibility of insisting upon the distinction between the Father and the Son, to such a degree, or in such a manner, as to compromise the essential doctrine of the identity of the Divine Nature as it exists in both.

It is evident, too, from repeated observations of Hippolytus—from his reiterated complaint that Callistus had called him a Ditheist—from the emphatic declaration which he quotes from Callistus, that he would "never

« PreviousContinue »