Gregory of Nyssa Against The Chiliasts

Now if we loudly preach all this, and testify to all this, namely that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, always changeless, always imperishable, though He comes in the changeable and the perishable; never stained Himself, but making clean that which is stained; what is the crime that we commit, and wherefore are we hated? And what means this opposing array4 of new Altars? Do we announce another Jesus? Do we hint at another? Do we produce other scriptures? Have any of ourselves dared to say “Mother of Man” of the Holy Virgin, the Mother of God5: which is what we hear that some of them say without restraint? Do we romance about three Resurrections6? Do we promise the gluttony of the Millennium? Do we declare that the Jewish animal-sacrifices shall be restored? Do we lower men’s hopes again to the Jerusalem below, Imagining its rebuilding with stones of a more brilliant material? What charge like these can be brought against us, that our company should be reckoned a thing to be avoided, and that in some places another altar should be erected in opposition to us, as if we should defile their sanctuaries?

Gregory of Nyssa | “Epistle 17,” in Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises, Etc., ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. H. C. Ogle, Henry Austin Wilson, and William Moore, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1893), 5.544. (HT: Pete Smith)


4. ἀντεξαγωγὴ

5. As early as 250, Dionysius of Alexandria, in his letter to Paul of Samosata, frequently speaks of ἡ θεοτόκος Μαρία. Later, in the Council of Ephesus (430), it was decreed that “the immaculate and ever-Virgin mother of our Lord should be called properly (κυρίως) and really θεοτόκος,” against the Nestorian title χριστοτόκος. Cf. Theodoret. Anath. I. tom. iv. p. 709, “We call Mary not Mother of Man, but Mother of God;” and Greg. Naz. Or. li. p. 738. “If any one call not Mary Mother of God he is outside ‘divinity.’ ”

6. μὴ τρεῖς ἀναστάσεις μυθοποιοῦμεν; For the first Resurrection (of the Soul in Baptism) and the second (of the Body), see Rev. 20:5, with Bishop Wordsworth’s note.


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. I love that even here, Mary as theotokos is clearly a Christological affirmation; it says nothing really about Mary (how special and blessed and exalted she is), but instead about Jesus, the divine Son. Romanists are obsessed over the title, but I really see no reason why Protestants should dispense with it (as long as the proper qualifications are included, of course).

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