Tertullian the Unitarian

The theology of Tertullian is explored in the linked paper. The author of the paper documents that Tertullian is a unitarian.

I already downloaded the paper. I will get back with you on this lively active-voiced writer that has some gems to gleam. Sounds interesting and thank you for it.
 
@Matthias Some notes I took teach...

Some key points noted from this paper concerning Tertullian that I do agree on.

1. Tertullian coined the Latin word 'trinitas' not to mean three persons in one God of equal/same substance as the common Trinitarian believes. He meant that there are three parts that play a central role in our lives and the source of all three is one of them, the Father God.

2. That the lower-cased trinitarian word can mean as what Tertullian describes in point 1. And using only the capitalized version 'Trinitarian' means the Triune god that dominates the Christian scene today since the late 4th century AD.

3. That we worship the Son of God because and only because of the Father God who created him, as his Son.

4. That Christ has a type of divinity not as the Father, who is the source of all things divine. I like to call the Son's divinity as displayed attributes or characteristics given by his Father that he received upon conception. He was born with them.

5. That the Son of God has or possesses only A PART or portion of the Spirit of the Father God since conception.

6. Now it's not too clear in the paper that Tertullian believes that the Son of God was only slated to become into existence later in time. I deduce this from it. And then I also infer then that Tertullian believes that the Son of God came into physical existence when he was actually born, This I would also agree upon.

Note: I know Arius and some other classes of Unitarians believed that the Son of God already existed with the Father God since the beginning of the Genesis creation. I do not!


Now my main disagreement with Tertullian according in this report, and incidentally it's of a much lesser concern for me that with Trinitarians and their beliefs on the whole, is his model of Father God and one of the other key players, HIS Spirit, as IT arrived 'in time.'

His initial state of the Father God is nearly the same as my concept. I agree that in pre-time God was yet the Father and therefore should be called only God.

According to the paper Tertullian believed that God intrinsically possessed HIS word at or before the beginning of time. It was always part of God-self. I do believe this that God before creating, possessed INTERNAL thoughts, expressions and intellect or reasoning. Thus as the paper indicates he was never alone. Again I agree to this illustration.

Now to me, the life or existence of God is found not only in his word, it is also of his Spirit. The Spirit always acts(ed) upon his word as ITS active energy or power and the mechanism for vibration or movement to even permit thoughts and expression to occur. So, God of his Spirit along with HIS Word were always with him, his self.

Even though HIS Spirit was not yet extended out or projected out of himself for creating this 3D-Time environment, his world and spirit always composed him, and were 'alive' within him, who we call God. He was always of Word and Spirit and then they are inseparable.

The word is always an internal feature of God, and his Spirit was always internal before time only, and later became also extended as a projection out of himself for creating things and then of their sustainment, including humankind. He placed both intelligent life of various degrees of/from his word into some things, and 'rock' intelligence into other things, all by his own All powerful Spirit.

---------good paper Matthias------------Tertullian is most definitely a type of conservative biblical Unitarian and not Trinitarian at all--------
 
Thank you for sharing that interesting paper. I have no problem at all saying Tertullian doesn't quite match the modern Trinitarian formula, but I find the paper somewhat disingenuous. The Tuggster can be quite biased without seeming to be aware of it. Look at this quote from the paper when talking about Tertullian's explanations for "Let us make man":

"The third explanation is: ‘Or was it because He was Himself Father, Son, Spirit, for that reason, showing Himself to be plural, He spoke in a plural way to Himself?’ The trinitarian reader may jump at this as the best answer, but to Tertullian it can only be a heretical, ‘monarchian’ mis-reading. (In ch. 10-11 he’s at length refuted the ‘monarchian’ idea that God made himself his own Son.) He rejects this third explanation in favour of a fourth: that God is at this time working together with two others to create the human race, and so he speaks to these two ‘as with servants and eyewitnesses’."

And there is a an extremely poorly marked footnote. But when I chased down the original quote, is that all Tertullian actually said in that passage? Did he really just drop it and leave it at that?

"With these did He then speak, in the Unity of the Trinity, as with His ministers and witnesses."

And later says that man is actually the image of Christ instead of the Father. He goes on even further:

"In what sense, however, you ought to understand Him to be another, I have already explained, on the ground of Personality, not of Substance — in the way of distinction, not of division. But although I must everywhere hold one only substance in three coherent and inseparable (Persons), yet I am bound to acknowledge, from the necessity of the case, that He who issues a command is different from Him who executes it. For, indeed, He would not be issuing a command if He were all the while doing the work Himself, while ordering it to be done by the second. But still He did issue the command, although He would not have intended to command Himself if He were only one; or else He must have worked without any command, because He would not have waited to command Himself. "

https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0317.htm

I don't count Tuggy's citation an accurate and full accounting of Tertullian's words. If I were to be somewhat uncharitable, I would even label it as a dishonest representation. Tuggy is often just using his own worded interpretations with the implication of "Trust me, bro, I'm saying what he said." It's always best to use more direct quotations.

Do I think Tertullian was equal to a modern Trinitarian?

No, not quite.

Do I think Tertullian really qualified as a Unitarian?

No, I do not.

Although he has logical inconsistencies he does clearly differentiate three persons who have divine traits. But he also kind of makes some of the Son's divine attributes a bit gimpy. It's natural to go to the ECF and try to "claim" them for your group to bolster support. In the end, he was neither a modern Trin. or Uni. but his own brand. And we can argue about which different emphases seem closer.

But let's do it honestly.
 
Thank you for sharing that interesting paper. I have no problem at all saying Tertullian doesn't quite match the modern Trinitarian formula, but I find the paper somewhat disingenuous. The Tuggster can be quite biased without seeming to be aware of it. Look at this quote from the paper when talking about Tertullian's explanations for "Let us make man":



And there is a an extremely poorly marked footnote. But when I chased down the original quote, is that all Tertullian actually said in that passage? Did he really just drop it and leave it at that?



And later says that man is actually the image of Christ instead of the Father. He goes on even further:



https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0317.htm

I don't count Tuggy's citation an accurate and full accounting of Tertullian's words. If I were to be somewhat uncharitable, I would even label it as a dishonest representation. Tuggy is often just using his own worded interpretations with the implication of "Trust me, bro, I'm saying what he said." It's always best to use more direct quotations.

Do I think Tertullian was equal to a modern Trinitarian?

No, not quite.

Do I think Tertullian really qualified as a Unitarian?

No, I do not.

Although he has logical inconsistencies he does clearly differentiate three persons who have divine traits. But he also kind of makes some of the Son's divine attributes a bit gimpy. It's natural to go to the ECF and try to "claim" them for your group to bolster support. In the end, he was neither a modern Trin. or Uni. but his own brand. And we can argue about which different emphases seem closer.

But let's do it honestly.

Trinitarians are fond of claiming Tertullian is a trinitarian. I usually see it in cut and pastes by trinitarians who haven’t read Tertullian for themselves.

I‘m fine if you want to claim Tertullian as a non-modern trinitarian, but I don’t know of any trinitarian who would agree with Tertullian that there was a time when the Son did not exist with God.

I would enjoy pinning that tail on the trinitarian donkey.
 
Really Old School trinitarianism -> the Son is not eternal.

 
I think it would be wise of the trinitarians to distance themselves from Tertullian. If instead they champion him, they win a prize that will look awful in a trophy case.

The Son not co-eternal and not co-equal with the Father. The Trinity has no legs.
 
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