In the Nicene Creed we confess that “we believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made…”
Last week, in episode 5, we explored with Athanasius how and why it is significant that the Incarnate Word is of the same being as the Father. Today, in episode 6 of Passages, Caleb and Joshua explore the backstory to the confession that the Son of God is eternally begotten of the Father, begotten but not made.
In this episode, at last, we introduce one of the most important theological figures in the 4th century: Gregory of Nazianzus, often known simply as Gregory the Theologian. Before we explore Gregory’s understanding of the Trinity and the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son in Gregory’s Five Theological Orations (Orations 27-31), this episode first introduces listeners to Gregory as a real, flesh-and-blood person.
By listening to excerpts from Gregory’s poetry and other writings, we get a sense of Gregory’s relatable struggles. Gregory at times was defeated by ideological rivals in the church and prompted to retreat, and he writes about his disappointments and his longing for release from heartache in his own life and relationships. Yet, Gregory places his ultimate hope in the eternal Son of God himself. Gregory is a massively influential figure in the history of Christian theology, and we hope that Gregory’s astonishing words in Oration 27 will pique your interest, on why not only the content of theology is important, but also the kinds of persons we must become who do the work of theology, whether in formal settings or in everyday life in the workaday world.
Next time on Passages, we will continue learning from Gregory of Nazianzus, and speak with Dr. Scott Swain, on what it means that the Son of God is “eternally begotten of the Father” but “not made.” Passages is available on most podcast platforms.
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Joshua Heavin serves as the lead writer and host of Passages, while Caleb Wait serves as the lead producer and co-host. Original music by Aaron Feeney, who welcomes inquires.