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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE THIRD ARTICLE
    • ERRORS RELATING TO THE THIRD ARTICLE
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ERRORS RELATING TO THE THIRD ARTICLE

 

On this point there arose many errors; and the holy Fathers at the Council

of Nicea added in that other Creed a number of things which suppress all

these errors.

 

Origen said that Christ was born and came into the world to save even the

devils, and, therefore, at the end of the world all the demons will be

saved. But this is contrary to the Holy Scripture: Depart from Me, you

cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his

angels."7 Consequently, to remove this error they added in the Creed: "Who

for us men (not for the devils) and for our salvation, came down from

heaven." In this the love of God for us is made more apparent.

 

Photinus would have Christ born of the Blessed Virgin, but added that He

was a mere man who by a good life in doing the will of God merited to

become the son of God even as other holy men. This, too, is denied by this

saying of John: "I came down from heaven, not to do My own will but the

will of Him that sent Me." 8 Now if Christ were not in heaven, He would not

have descended from heaven, and were He a mere man, He would not have been

in heaven. Hence, it is said in the Nicene Creed: "He came down from

heaven."

 

Manichaeus, however, said that Christ was always the Son of God and He

descended from heaven, but He was not actually but only in appearance

clothed in true flesh. But this is false, because it is not worthy of the

Teacher of Truth to have anything to do with what is false, and just as He

showed His physical Body, so it was really His: "Handle, and see; for a

spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have."9 To remove this

error, therefore, they added: "And He was incarnate."

 

Ebion, who was a Jew, said that Christ was born of the Blessed Virgin in

the ordinary human way.10 But this is false, for the Angel said of Mary:

"That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."11 And the holy

Fathers to destroy this error, added: "By the Holy Ghost."

 

Valentinus believed that Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, but would

have the Holy Spirit deposit a heavenly body in the Blessed Virgin, so that

she contributed nothing to Christ's birth except to furnish a place for

Him. Thus, he said, this Body appeared by means of the Blessed Virgin, as

though she were a channel. This is a great error, for the Angel said: "And

therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son

of God."12 And the Apostle adds: "But when the fullness of time was come,

God sent His Son, made of a woman."13 Hence the Creed says: "Born of the

Virgin Mary."

 

Arius and Apollinarius held that, although Christ was the Word of God and

was born of the Virgin Mary, nevertheless He did not have a soul, but in

place of the soul was His divinity. This is contrary to the Scripture, for

Christ says: "Now is My soul troubled."14 And again: "My soul is sorrowful

even unto death."15 For this reason the Fathers added: "And was made man."

Now, man is made up of body and soul. Christ had all that a true man has

save sin. All the above-mentioned errors and all others that can be offered

are destroyed by this, that He was made man. The error of Eutyches

particularly is destroyed by it. He held that, by a commixture of the

divine nature of Christ with the human, He was neither purely divine nor

purely human. This is not true, because by it Christ would not be a man.

And so it is said: "He was made man." This destroys also the error of

Nestorius, who said that the Son of God only by an indwelling was united to

man. This, too, is false, because by this Christ would not be man but only

in a man, and that He became man is clear from these words: "He was in

habit found as man."16 "But now you seek to kill Me, a man who have spoken

the truth to you, which I have heard of God.17

 




7. Matt., xxv. 41.

 



8.John, vi. 38.

 



9. Luke, xxiv. 39]

 



10. We believe and confess that the same Jesus Christ, our only Lord, the

son of God when He assumed human flesh for us in the womb of the virgin.

was not conceived iike other men, from the seed of man but in a manner

above the order of nature, i. e., by the power of the Holy Ghost; so that

the same Person, remaining God as He was from all eternity, became man,

what He was not before" ("Roman Catechism," Third Article, 1).

 



11. Matt., i. 20.

 



12. Luke, i. 35

 



13. Gal., iv. 4.

 



14. John, xii, 27.

 



15. Matt., xxvi. 38.

 



16. Phil. ii. 7.

 



17. John viii. 40.

 






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