1So stands the doctrine of the Son. It has passed through the midst of its adversaries unscathed by their stones(1) The Word cannot be stoned. The Word, if you like, flings stones, striking the wild beasts, the arguments, which mischievously approach the mount.
But what do you say, they ask, about the Holy Spirit? Where did you get this strange, unscriptural “God” you are bringing in?
This is the view of people already fairly sound so far as the Son is concerned. You find roads and rivers will divide and join up again, and the same thing occurs here because there is a wealth of irreligion. People elsewhere divided concur on some points, and the result is that it is impossible to get a clear idea of what they agree on and on what they disagree.(1 Cf. Jn 8:59; Lk 4:30.)
2 Of course there is something especially difficult in the doctrine of the Spirit. It is not just that men exhausted by discussions of the Son are more eager to take on the Spirit—they must have something to blaspheme or life would be unlivable—but also that we become worn out by the quantity of issues. We are in the same condition as men who lose their appetite for all food regardless of what it is, after being disgusted with some particular dish; we take an equal dislike to all doctrinal discussion. All the same, let the Spirit aid us, and the Word will have its course and God be glorified. We leave to others a careful, critical analysis of the many different senses in which “spirit” and “holy” are used in Scripture, with the texts that bear upon the enquiry. We leave too the additional problem of the particular sense resulting from the combination of the terms—I mean “Holy Spirit.” Others(2) have benefited themselves and us, as we too have benefited them, by systematic studies here. We, though, shall now turn to o a further stage in the discussion.(2 Origen and contemporaries like Basil).
3 Yes, some people, very eager to defend the letter, are angry with us for introducing a God, the Holy Spirit, who is a stranger and an intruder. They must understand that “they are afraid where no fear is.”(3)They must recognize clearly that their love for the letter is a cloak(4)for irreligion, as shall be proved presently when we do our best to refute their objections. For our part we have such confidence in the Godhead of the Spirit, that, rash though some may find it, we shall begin our theological exposition by applying identical expressions to the Three. “He was the true light that enlightens every man coming into the world”(5) —yes, the Father. “He was the true light that enlightens every man coming into the world”—yes, the Son. “He was the true light that enlightens every man coming into the world”—yes, the Comforter.(6)These are three subjects and three verbs—he was and he was and he was. But a single reality was. There are three predicates—light and light and light. But the light is one, God is one. This is the meaning of David’s prophetic vision: “In your light we shall see light.”(7)We receive the Son’s light from the Father’s light(8)in the light of the Spirit: that is what we ourselves have seen and what we now proclaim—it is the plain and simple explanation of the Trinity. Let the treacherous deal treacherously, let the transgressor transgress(9) —we shall preach what we know. We shall climb a lofty mountain and shout it out, if we are not given a hearing below. We shall extol the Spirit; we shall not be afraid.(10) If we do have fear, it will be of silence not of preaching.
3 Ps 13:5 [LXX]; 53(52):5(6).
4 Cf. Mt 7:15.
5 Jn 1:9.
6 Jn 14:16 and 26.
7 Ps 36(35):9(10)
8 Cf. Jn 1:5.
9 Cf. Is 21:2.
10 Is 40:9.