“If there was a “when” when the Father did not exist, there was a “when” when the Son did not exist. If there was a “when” when the Son did not exist, there was a “when” when the Holy Spirit did not exist. If one existed from the beginning,(11) so did all three. If you cast one down, I make bold to tell you not to exalt the other two. What use is incomplete deity? Or rather what is deity if it is incomplete? Something is missing if it does not have Holiness, and how could it have Holiness without having the Holy Spirit? Either God’s Holiness is independent of the Holy Spirit (and in that case I should like to be told what it is supposed to be) or if it is identical with the Holy Spirit, how, I ask, could it fail to be from the beginning(12) —as if it had at one time been to God’s advantage to be incomplete and without his Spirit. If he did not exist from the beginning,(13) he has the same rank as I have, though with a slight priority—we are both separated from God by time. If he has the same rank as I have, how can he make me God,(14) how can he link me with deity?
11 1 John1:1 , 12 Ibid.13 Ibid. 14 Cf. 2 Pet 1:4, Mt 28:19
But I will now take the investigation a stage further back for you—we have discussed the Trinity earlier. The Sadducees alleged that the Holy Spirit does not exist at all and that there are no angels and no resurrection. I do not know what grounds they had for their scornful rejection of so many important proof-texts in the Old Testament. Amongst non-Christians,(15) on the other hand, the more theologically-minded, with views nearer our own, had, I think, some mental picture of him. They were divided, though, as to his name; “mind of the universe,” “external mind,” and suchlike were the titles they gave him. Amongst our own experts,(16) some took the Holy Spirit as an active process, some as a creature, some as God. Others were agnostic on this point out of reverence, as they put it, for Scripture, which has given no clear revelation either way.
On these grounds they offer him neither worship nor disrespect; they take up a sort of halfway (or should I say “a thoroughly pitiful”?) position about him. Amongst those who take him as God, some keep their devotion to their own minds, others venture to express it with their lips as well. I understand that there are others besides, even more expert at measuring out Godhead. These acknowledge as we do that it is three beings that are spiritually discerned, but they put a vast distance between them. One is infinite in substance and power; one is infinite in power but not in substance, and one is finite on both counts. These people copy, if in a slightly different form, those who use the names “Creator,” “Co-worker,” and “Minister,” alleging that the rank inherent in the names coincides with the quality of the realities.
15 No precise references have been found, but for the second phrase cf. Aristotle De generatione animalium 736b. Plotinus and the Neoplatonists knew a sort of Trinity and to this Gregory here appeals.
16 No names can be attached to the views, except Origen’s to the notion that the Spirit is created. See below para 7.
“We shall not argue with those who deny the Holy Spirit’s existence or with pagan chitchat we must forgo the luxury of the “oil of sinners”(17) and get on with the sermon. With the rest though we shall take issue. The Holy Spirit must be presumed to be either a being existing in its own right or an inherent property of something else—what the subtle here call a “substance” or an “accident” respectively. If “accident” applies here, the Holy Spirit must be an activity of God. What otherwise, whose otherwise, could it be? The Holy Spirit has, after all, a certain superiority and is unscathed by composition. If an activity, clearly it must be activated, because he has no active power and ceases with the cessation of his production—that is the kind of thing an activity is. How comes it then that he does act?(18) He says things,(19) he decrees,(20) he is grieved,(21) he is vexed(22 ) all of which belong to a being with motion, not to the process of motion. If he is a substance, not the attribute of a substance, he must be taken either as a creature or as God. Not even the inventors of fabulous goat-stags could envisage a halfway being here, or anything that belonged to, or was composed out of, both sides. But if he is a creature why do you believe in him, why are we baptized in him? “Believing in” is not the same thing as “believing a fact about.” The first applies to God, the second to everything. If he is God, then he is not a “creature,” or a “product” or a “fellow-slave” none of these lowly names belongs to him at all”. (17) Ps 141(140):5.
(18) 1 Cor 12:11. (19) Acts 13:2.( 20 Ibid. ) 21) Eph 4:30. (22) Is 63:10.