Today I want to discuss another one of the Cappodocian Fathers, Gregory of Nazianzus, also known as “the Theologian” (which is quite the title). Along with Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa he contributed to the doctrine of the Trinity as we know it as the defeat of Arianism. He is known for his support of Christ being of the “same substance” (homoousia) as God the Father. Also, he provided the church with the language regarding the Spirit “proceeding” from the Father in order to differentiate from the Son being “begotten” of the Father, an idea that I admit not fully understanding.
One of the things that stood out to me about Gregory is that he is known to some as “the Patron Saint of Those Who Do Not Want to be Bishops”–a great title. When he was ordained as a priest he fled the scene. When he was installed as a Bishop he did the same. Apparently, he craved the ascetic (and even scholarly) life more than the pastoral. My memory may be failing me, but I think Basil coerced him into the office to strengthen his own ecclesiastical-political strength. Poor Gregory! I blogged about this a while back in “Gregory of Nazianzos, the Patron Saint of Those Who Do Not Want to be Bishop”.
What do you find to be the most important things to know about Gregory of Nazianzus?
See my other posts wherein I prepare for my Th.M. oral defense:
If you’d like to discuss Origen of Alexandria and Irenaeus of Lyons, go here.
If you’d like to discuss Athanasius of Alexandria, go here.
If you’d like to discuss Basil the Great, go here.
Basil didn’t coerce as much as trick (with the help of his Father). If you read McGuckin’s biography on Gregory (which I highly recommend), Basil comes off as a jerk and in Gregory’s eyes, he was.
Also, Gregory was the first to say that the Holy Spirit was God (as opposed to the roundabout-ness of Basil, Nyssen, and the Council of Constantinople  which he found disappointingly timid towards the Holy Spirit; note though that it is through his writings after the Council we interpret it through his lens), he also wrote thousands of lines of poetry, set the standard for Greek writing in the Byzantine empire, and is quoted the most in Byzantium after the Bible. Much more could be said, of course. 🙂 Just avoid lumping Gregory in too much with Basil and Nyssen, as has often been the habit. He’s been made out to be a weak thinker; merely a propagandist for Basil and Nyssen. McGuckin tries to show otherwise, and reveals Gregory to be a creative and original thinker that can stand on his own right.
You do realize that I’m just spying on these discussions to find out what you don’t know so I can ask you about it during your exam, right?
Thank you for the insights. I do remember Basil avoided direct language about the Spirit as “God” I think to avoid accusations of Sabellianism, no?
I thought I blocked your ISP! 🙂
I thought you meant ESP 😉
I think his direct concern was to hold together the homoousians and the homoiousians (of whom he was once a member under his mentor Eustathius of Sebaste) who were skeptical about the Holy Spirit.
‘The unassumed is the unhealed’. A favorite line for many theologians; especially of the Barthian and Torrancean line 🙂 .
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