Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tertullian Says - the Marcionite God was 'Man'

We believe that God has sojourned even on earth, and that for the purpose of man's salvation he has taken upon him the lowliness of human form: we are far removed from the sentiments of those who allege that a god takes no interest in anything. It is from these that the heretics in turn have derived an assertion of this sort—that if a god becomes angry or hostile or proud or embittered, he will be liable to corruption, and so must die. But well it is that Christians are allowed to believe that God has even died, and yet is alive for ever and ever. O these fools, who from things human form conjectures about things divine, and because in mankind passions of this sort are taken to be of a corruptive character, suppose that in God also they are of the same quality. Distinguish the substances, and assign to each its own sensations, as diverse as the substances demand, even though they are seen to make use of the same terminology. We read of God's right hand, his eyes, his feet: yet these are not to be supposed exactly the same as a man's, just because they partake of the same designation. Great is the unlikeness of divine body and human, though their members are identical in name: equally great must be the difference of divine mind and human, though their sensations are referred to in the same terms. And as in man it is the corruptibility of the human substance which makes these a cause of corruption, so it is in God the incorruptibility of the divine substance which makes them no cause of corruption. You admit, I suppose, that the Creator is a god. Certainly, you agree. Then how is it you reckon there is in God something human, instead of everything divine? You do not deny his godhead: you admit he is not human. As soon as you have admitted his godhead you have at once decided that he is the opposite of everything characteristic of human circumstances. Also, since you no less acknowledge that man by God's breathing was made into a living soul, and not that God was so made by man, it is highly inconsistent of you to put human characteristics in God rather than divine characteristics in man, and to clothe God with man's image rather than man with God's. So then the image of God in man is to be understood in this fashion, that the human mind has the same emotions and sensations as God has, yet not of the same quality as God has: in accordance with their substance both their actuality and their consequences are far apart. [Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 2.16]

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