Whatcha Gonna Do When Gregory Runs Wild on You?

The Eunomians were followers of Eunomius (c. 335–c. 393), and have been characterized as neo-Arians. They denied that an eternally begotten Son could be consubstantial with the Father, and therefore, no matter how exalted the Son may be, he was created. Not only were their views contrary to orthodoxy, but their methods left something to desired. Paul taught clearly that officers of the church entrusted with teaching the truths of God’s word must be neither pugilists nor quarrelsome (Titus 3:10; 1 Tim. 3:3). Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329–390) identifies something of this tendency in the Eunomians. In his First Theological Oration, Oration 27, paragraph 2, he writes,

They are like the promoters of wrestling-bouts in the theaters, and not even the sort of bouts that are conducted in accordance with the rules of the sport and lead to the victory of one of the antagonists, but the sort which are stage-managed to give the uncritical spectators visual sensations and compel their applause.

pp. 25–26 of the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press edition

Apparently, the Eunomians were the WWE of the ancient world, staging spectacles of theological argumentation as Vince McMahon does WrestleMania. It’s all entertaining when you’re in on the fun. And while pyrotechnics and acrobatics might make presbytery and ETS meetings less drowsy, they do little by way of producing fruit. When debating the truths of God’s word, beware such interlocutors.

William Duncan

1 year ago

I recommend Gregory’s Orations (27-31) in this translation, “On God and Christ”, in the Popular Patristics Series, to everyone. I am no academic and loved it. The sport with which he makes his arguments are wonderful. I almost found myself laughing along with his contemporary audience at his refutation of these heretics.

Jonathan Prater

11 months ago

I love the title of the article! The church has always had to contend for the faith delivered to us. Thankfully, we do so in His strength and by His Word, and not by pile drivers and sleeper holds.


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