Chapter XXVII.—Account Given, by Gregory the Theologian, of Apolinarius and Eunomius, in a Letter to Nectarius. Their Heresy was distinguished by the Philosophy of the Monks who were then Living, for the Heresy of these two held Nearly the Entire East.
It is obvious that Eunomius and Aëtius held the same opinions. In several passages of his writings, Eunomius boasts and frequently testifies that Aëtius was his instructor. Gregory, bishop of Nazianzen, speaks in the following terms of Apolinarius in a letter addressed to Nectarius, the leader of the church in Constantinople: 1484 “Eunomius, who is a constant source of trouble among us, is not content with being a burden to us himself, but would consider himself to blame if he did not strive to drag every one with him to the destruction whither he is hastening. Such conduct, however, may be tolerated in some degree. The most grievous calamity against which the Church has now to struggle arises from the audacity of the Apolinarians. I know not how your Holiness could have agreed that they should be as free to hold meetings as we ourselves. You have been fully instructed by the grace of God, in the Divine mysteries, and not only understand the defense of the Word of God, but also whatever innovations have been made by heretics against the sound faith; yet it may not be amiss for your revered Excellency to hear from our narrowness, that a book written by Apolinarius has fallen into my hands, in which the proposition surpasses all forms of heretical pravity. He affirms that the flesh assumed for the transformation of our nature, under the dispensation of the only begotten Son of God was not acquired for this end; but that this carnal nature existed in the Son from the beginning. He substantiates this evil hypothesis by a misapplication of the following words of Scripture: No man hath ascended up into heaven. 1485 He alleges from this text, that Christ was the Son of man before He descended from heaven, and that when He did descend, He brought with Him His own flesh which He had already possessed in heaven which was before the ages and essentially united. He also states another apostolic saying: The second man is from heaven. 1486 He, moreover, maintains that the man who came down from heaven was destitute of intellect (νοῦς), but that the Deity of the only begotten Son fulfilled the nature of intellect, and constituted the third part of the human compound. The body and soul (ψυχὴ) formed two parts, as in other men, but there was no intellect, but the Word of God filled the place of intellect. Nor does this end the awful spectacle; for the most grievous point of the heresy is, that he asserts that the only-begotten God, the Judge of all men, the Giver of life, and the Destroyer of death, is Himself subject to death; that He suffered in His own Godhead, and that in the resurrection of the body in the third day, the Godhead also was raised from the dead with the body; and that it was raised again from the dead by the Father. It would take too long to recount all the other extravagant doctrines propounded by these heretics.” What I have said may, I think, suffice to show the nature of the sentiments maintained by Apolinarius and Eunomius. If any one desire more detailed information, I can only refer him to the works on the subject written either by them or by others concerning these men. I do not profess easily to understand or to expound these matters, as it seems to me the fact that these dogmas did not prevail and make further advance is to be attributed, in addition to the causes mentioned, especially to the monks of that period; for all those philosophers in Syria, Cappadocia, and the neighboring provinces, were sincerely attached to the Nicene faith. The eastern regions, however, from Cilicia to Phœnicia, were endangered by the heresy of Apolinarius. The heresy of Eunomius was spread from Cilicia and the mountains of Taurus as far as the Hellespont and Constantinople. These two heretics found it easy to attract to their respective parties the persons among whom they dwelt, and those of the neighborhood. But the same fate awaited them that had been experienced by the Arians; for the people admired the monks who manifested their virtue by works and believed that they held right opinp. 365 ions, while they turned away from those who held other opinions, as impious and as holding spurious doctrines. In the same way the Egyptians were led by the monks to oppose the Arians.
Greg. Naz. Ep. ccii., quoted in part.364:1485
John iii. 13.364:1486
1 Cor. xv. 47.