Oct 5 2019
It’s become a trend among certain Muslim polemicists to goldmine citations from notable Christian historians in order to mislead people into thinking that the early church fathers, particular the Ante-Nicene writers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian etc., were not Trinitarians and did not hold to the ontological equality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One such historian whose work on the early church that is often misrepresented is J. N. D. Kelly. I have therefore decided to cite what Kelly states in respect to the early Apologists’ beliefs on the Trinity, specifically their view of the Person of Christ . All bold and/or capital emphasis will be mine.
Here is what this renowned scholar wrote:
The Apologists were the first to frame an intellectually satisfying explanation of the relation of Christ to God the Father. They were all, as we have seen, ARDENT MONOTHEISTS, determined at all costs NOT TO COMPROMISE THIS FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH. The solution they proposed, reduced to essentials, was that, AS PRE-EXISTENT, Christ was the Father’s THOUGHT OR MIND, and that, as manifested in creation and revelation, He was its EXTRAPOLATION OR statement. In expounding this doctrine they had recourse to the imagery of the divine Logos, or Word, which had been familiar to later Judaism as well as to Stoicism, and which had become a fashionable cliché through the influence of Philo. Others had, of course, anticipated them. In the Fourth Gospel, for example, the Word is declared to have been with God in the beginning and to have become flesh in Christ, while for Ignatius Christ was the Father’s Word issuing from silence. The Apologists’ originality (their thought was more Philonic than Johannine) lay in drawing out the further implications of the Logos idea in order to make plausible the twofold fact of Christ’s pre-temporal oneness with the Father and His manifestation in space and time. In so doing, while using such Old Testament texts as Ps. 33, 6 (‘By the word of the Lord were the heavens made’), they did not hesitate to blend with them the Stoic technical distinctions between the immanent word (logos endiathetos) and the word uttered or expressed (logos prophorikos).