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This doctrine of creation ex nihilo was accepted by the authors of the 3rd c., by Tertullian, Hippolytus and Origen. Radicalized, probably under the influence of philosophical debates on the eternity of the world see Ricken, it provoked, or at least decisively determined, the Arian controversy, Best vacations in US which was a matter of distinguishing the creation of the world from the eternal generation of the Son see the creed, with the anathemata: DS 125-126, and then the question of the Holy Spirit, not created, but proceeding from the Father, creator of all things visible and invisible see Basil., De Spir. S. 18,45: DS 150. But this creationist orientation, expressed above all in the adage omnia opera ad extra communia sunt, risked compromising the trinitarian consideration of creation, as ante-Nicene theology had developed it, following esp. Paul and John. In the field of Christology, the radical distinction made at Nicaea between God the immutable Creator and creatures created once from nothing, per voluntatem divinam, and hence mutable, led to the exploration of the distinction between the divine and the human in Christ, and to the establishment of the one person of the divine Word as principle of union between these two distinct elements see the formula inconfuse, immutabiliter, indivise, inseparabiliter of the Chalcedonian Creed: DS 302. But the doctrine of creation ex nihilo in more concrete terms, the doctrine that one almighty God created all things without outside help and, in his totally gratuitous goodness, continually preserves them, which was presupposed in the great dogmatic controversies and then explicitly dogmatized against certain Manichean tendencies see DS 285-286, did not find the same resonance in every theologian who elaborated it or took it up.
Indeed, in Irenaeus, who in his polemic against the dualistic and pessimistic tendencies of gnosticism and Marcionism took it to its clearest expression, it is inserted in a profoundly economic context. Profiting from all the resources of the Bible including the NT and of tradition, the great defender of the goodness of all creatures, spiritual and material, explains with great clarity that God, needing nothing, created humanity and the world to demonstrate his love. Placing humanity in the world, he began a patient process of education through which, by means of many economies, but especially through the incarnation, he accustoms humanity to being his children, finally to resemble the divine immortality see Adv. haer. III,21,10; IV,5,1; V,36,1-3.
While remaining more or less faithful to this economic approach to the theology of creation, later authors put it in a mainly rational and ontological perspective. Thus Tertullian not only explored the idea of the creative action of the Word Adv. Prax. 7 but also brought out what is proper to the world and to human beings, who nonetheless depend entirely on their Creator see Scheffczyk 47-48. Origen, feeling his way to a Christian gnosis, tried to integrate the now traditional doctrine of creation ex nihilo into his unified vision of the world.
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