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For the Fifth Sunday in Lent: St. Athanasius on “The Eternity of the Son”

March 23, 2015

For the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the book Faith and Life also had this from Athanasius, on “The Eternity of the Son”:

If He is called the eternal offspring of the Father’, He is rightly so called. For the essence of the Father was at no period imperfect, that what was properly its own should be an accidental addition to it; nor has the Son been begotten in the way that one man is by another, so as to be later than His Father’s existence; but He is God’s offspring, and as being the proper Son of the eternally existent God, He exists eternally. For it is the property of men to beget in time, because of the imperfection of their nature; but God’s offspring is eternal, because of the eternal perfection of God’s nature. If then He is not a Son, but has come into existence as a thing made out of nothing, let them first prove it, and then, as if speculating about a creature, cry aloud, “Once the Son was not,” for things which are made once were not in existence, and then come to exist. But if He is Son,—and that He is so, the Father says, and the Scriptures proclaim,—and Son means simply the Begotten of the Father, and what is begotten of the Father is His Word and Wisdom and Effulgence; what must we say but that by saying, “Once the Son was not,” they, like robbers, strip God of His Word, and openly affirm of Him that once He existed without His own Word and Wisdom, that the Light was once without radiance, and the Fountain once barren and dry?

–St. Athanasius, First Oration against Arians, 14.

And this has much to do with why Jesus is able to save: He is indeed the Word and Wisdom of the Father, from all eternity.

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