Introduction to Gregory of Nyssa and his piece on the Incarnation:
In the fourth century God had raised up various Christian teachers and theologians to defend and articulate such cardinal Christian doctrines as the Deity of Christ, the Trinity and salvation. Three such men: Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzus and today’s featured writer: Gregory Nyssa, were collectively known as the “Cappadocian Fathers”. Dr. Norman Geisler in his book: A General Introduction to the Bible, page 428, writes: “The Three Cappadocian Fathers: Basil of Caesarea, ‘The Great’ (329-379 A.D), Gregor of Nazianzus (330-390 A.D) and Basil’s younger brother, Gregory of Nyssa (died 395 A.D)….were archdefenders of orthodoxy and wrote numerous items attacking Arianism.” Arianism was the belief that Jesus was the highest of God’s creations, but was not equal to the Father. The heresy promoted the idea of Jesus being a mere man and was very similar in teaching to that of the modern day Jehovah Witnesses. Clearly God used these three men in their day to reaffirm truths taught in scripture.
Why today’s Ancient Advent Meditation is so valuable to the Christian reader Gregory goes onto argue in the larger context of book 2 that the incarnation necessarily leads to understanding Christ’s Deity, which in turn leads us to understand the Triune nature of God. Certainly, as in all great works, the reader may not agree with every single word, however the thrust of the statements made by Gregory regarding the importance of the incarnation to the Christian faith certainly makes today’s reading worthwhile. The entirety of Gregory of Nyssa’s works can be found at the following link: http://christianbookshelf.org/gregory/gregory_of_nyssa_dogmatic_treatises_etc/index.html.
In the piece below, Gregory of Nyssa gives the reader insight into how the incarnation can lead us to the correct knowledge, relationship and understanding of the Deity of Christ. The below quoted section derives from “Book Two, Section One” of Gregory of Nyssa’s Dogmatic Treatises at: http://christianbookshelf.org/gregory/gregory_of_nyssa_dogmatic_treatises_etc/section_1_the_second_book.htm May the reader be blessed this advent season and may these blog posts serve to raise the mind and heart to focus ever more on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gregory of Nyssa: The Incarnation’s apologetic & evangelistic value
“The Christian Faith, which in accordance with the command of our Lord has been preached to all nations by His disciples, is neither of men, nor by men, but by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who being the Word, the Life, the Light, the Truth, and God, and Wisdom, and all else that He is by nature, for this cause above all was made in the likeness of man, and shared our nature, becoming like us in all things, yet without sin.
He was like us in all things, in that He took upon Him manhood in its entirety with soul and body, so that our salvation was accomplished by means of both:—He, I say, appeared on earth and “conversed with men,” that men might no longer have opinions according to their own notions about the Self-existent, formulating into a doctrine the hints that come to them from vague conjectures, but that we might be convinced that God has truly been manifested in the flesh, and believe that to be the only true “mystery of godliness,” which was delivered to us by the very Word and God, Who by Himself spake to His Apostles, and that we might receive the teaching concerning the transcendent nature of the Deity which is given to us, as it were, “through a glass darkly” from the older Scriptures,—from the Law, and the Prophets, and the Sapiential Books, as an evidence of the truth fully revealed to us, reverently accepting the meaning of the things which have been spoken, so as to accord in the faith set forth by the Lord of the whole Scriptures, which faith we guard as we received it, word for word, in purity, without falsification, judging even a slight divergence from the words delivered to us an extreme blasphemy and impiety.
We believe, then, even as the Lord set forth the Faith to His Disciples, when He said, “Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” This is the word of the mystery whereby through the new birth from above our nature is transformed from the corruptible to the incorruptible, being renewed from “the old man,” “according to the image of Him who created” at the beginning the likeness to the Godhead. In the Faith then which was delivered by God to the Apostles we admit neither subtraction, nor alteration, nor addition, knowing assuredly that he who presumes to pervert the Divine utterance by dishonest quibbling, the same “is of his father the devil,” who leaves the words of truth and “speaks of his own,” becoming the father of a lie. For whatsoever is said otherwise than in exact accord with the truth is assuredly false and not true.