The Cappadocian Fathers and the Holy Trinity


Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity 


Today is the day the Church remembers Basil of Caesarea, who is one-third of the Cappadocian Fathers, the other two being Gregory of Nazianzus and his brother Gregory of Nyssa. (The Uniting Church remembers all three on this day; we are nothing if not economical with our Church Year celebrations.)
They lived in the fourth century, at a time when the doctrine of the Trinity was still fluid; there were those who minimised the Trinity, and said that God showed different aspects of God’s being to us in Christ and the Holy Spirit; and there were others who split the Godhead, so that the Father alone was properly ‘God’, and that Christ was a created being, and the Holy Spirit some kind of force.

The Cappadocians spoke of the Unity of God in the essence of God, and the specific properties of the Father, Son and Spirit were what differentiated them. This is important; otherwise, God did not come to us in Jesus Christ, but a created being; and we do not have God within us in the Holy Spirit, just a force or influence.
The icon is not the Cappadocian Fathers! It is the well-known icon of the Holy Trinity painted by the Russian monk Andrei Rublev, around 1410. It portrays the incident in Genesis 18 where three angels came to Abraham and Sarah, and were received with hospitality. It shows the hospitality of God to us, in inviting us to the Table. It has been said that this icon is a kinda ‘proof’ of the Trinity. I kinda agree!
I thank the holy triune God for it, and for the Cappadocian Fathers!

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