Gregory of Nyssa on the Holy Trinity

Now the fact that there is no distinction in the operations we learn from the community of the attributes, but of the difference in respect of nature we find no clear proof, the identity of operations indicating rather, as we said, community of nature. If, then, Godhead is a name derived from operation, as we say that the operation of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, so we say that the Godhead is one: or if, according to the view of the majority, Godhead is indicative of nature, since we cannot find any diversity in their nature, we not unreasonably define the Holy Trinity to be of one Godhead .

St Gregory of Nyssa
On the Holy Trinity


FrGregACCA said…
My name Saint! He rocks!
Lucian said…
...with the rather very important observation that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one Godhead...NOT one God.
FrGregACCA said…
I don't have the Greek text available to me, but, given the citations from Colossians and especially from Romans, it is pretty clear that "Godhead" is not the best translation here: rather, "deity", "divinity" or even, paraphrastically, "divine nature".

In any event, the whole trust of this is to defend the doctrine of One God, Three Divine Persons: specifically, in this case, Gregory is defending the teaching that the Holy Spirit, along with Father and Son, is also God. This became an issue in the years after Nicea, resulting in the Council of Constantinople, and the so-called Nicene Creed as we have it today.
Samuel said…
It depends on how one, or in this case St Gregory of Nyssa, defines 'Godhead,' 'divinity', 'deity,' etc. He probably included divinity, but perhaps he meant much more, seeing that he is ascribing to it the ultimate divine figures of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Back then people didn't define their terms properly or clearly, so it lead to confusion and debates.) (Depending on one's theology, there probably is a theological gap between 'divinity' and God, unless both are defined to be the same thing.)

I do agree, however, that the model of the Trinity best fits the data (the New Testament) regarding the nature and relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It became all the more urgent for the Church to do so when they had competitors like the Marcionites who challenged the divinity of Jesus; this forced the church to get its doctrines in order in terms of council creeds (after much debate, of course).
And this, brothers, is one of the major issues with communicating the concept of a triune God with Muslims. We use the word "God" both for one of the persons of the Godhead AND for the entire Godhead collectively. Contrast this with the Muslim use of the word Allah which is reserved only for the Godhead. Since realizing this language phenomenon, I have become much more careful in the way I word these things and my words seem to be understood much better.

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