“Homoousios (ὁμοούσιος), however, has another important nuance. If the Son is eternally begotten of the Father within the being of the Godhead, then as well as expressing the oneness between the Son and the Father, ὁμοούσιος expresses the distinction between them that obtains within that oneness. ‘for nothing can be ὁμοούσιος with itself, but one thing is ὁμοούσιος with another.’ As we have seen, it implies that while the Father and the Son are the same being they are eternally distinct for the Father is unchangeably the Father and not the Son and the Son is unchangeably the Son and not the Father. The homoousion was thus the bulwark against Sabellianism and Arianism, against unitarianism and polytheism, alike. This internal reference of ὁμοούσιος to eternal distinctions within the one being of the Godhead, will come before us later when we consider its application by Athanasius to the Holy Spirit, which enabled him and the other theologians in the fourth century to clarify the Church’s understanding of the Holy Trinity.”
57. Basil Ep., 52.3 A distinction is already implied, of course, in the derivation of the compound word ὀμοούσιος from ὁμοῦ and οὐσία.
61. Recall that for Irenaeus ‘the kerygma of truth’ and ‘the canon of truth’, were equivalent. Adv. haer., 1.20, vol. 1, p. 87f (1.9.4); 1.15, pp.188f (1.22.1); 2.8.1, p. 272 (2.9.1); 2.40f, pp. 347f (2.27.1); 3.1-5, vol. 2, pp. 2-20 (3.1.1); 3.11.7, pp. 41 (3.10.1); 3.12.6f, pp. 58ff (3.12.6); 3.15.1, p. 79 (3.15.1); 3.38.1f, pp. 131f (3.24.1); 4.57.2ff, pp. 273ff (4.35.2); 5 pref., p. 313f (5.preface); 5.20.1f, pp. 377f (5.20.1); and Dem., 1-6. Recall also Origen’s conception of ‘the canon of godliness’ which enables the Church to interpret Scriptures in accordance with ‘the mind of Christ’ – De princ., praef. 1-2; 1.5.4; 2.6.2; 3.1.17, 23; 3.3.4; 3.5.3; 4.2.2f; 4.3.14f. This must be distinguished from Tertullian’s rather legalist notion of regula fidei, De praescr. her., 13f, 20-28, 31f; Adv., Prax., 2; De virg. vel., 1; De an., 2; de spect., 4.
62. Cf. again my essay ‘The Deposit of Faith’, SJT, 1983, vol. 36.1, pp. 1-28
63. Athanasius Ad Afr., 4.
64. It was rightly pointed out by Alfred Robertson that the conception of a general council as the supreme expression of the Church’s mind did not give rise to Nicaea, but vice versa – Introduction to St Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, pp. xvii and lxxv
68 Athanasius De decr., 18f, 32; Hilary De syn., 88, 91. In any case, Athanasius pointed out, the non-biblical terms were actually taken from the earlier fathers, De decr., 18, 25; De syn., 43; cf. 33ff. See C. Stead’s examination of the use of οὐσία and ὁμοούσιος before the Council of Nicaea, op. cit. pp. 199-232.
70. Athanasius De decr., 10f. This applies for example, to ‘create’ and ‘make’ – De decr., 11; De syn., 51. Cf. Hilary De syn., 17; Basil Con Eun., 2.23; Gregory Naz., Or., 20.9 (N/A). See further my essay ‘The Hermeneutic of St Athanasius’ (this whole essay is available in Divine Meaning: Studies in Patristic Hermeneutics, try your local theological library), Ekklesiastikos Pharos, vol 52, 1970, pp. 446-468; 89-106; 237-49; vol. 53, 1971, pp. 133-149.
72. In view of the variable use of terms, found even in the Scriptures, Athanasius declared that attention should be given to the fact that ‘each council has a sufficient reason for its own language’ – De syn 45.
74. Athanasius De decr., 4
76. G L Prestige. Fathers and Heretics, 1954, p. 88; God in Patristic Thought. pp. 168f, 188ff. See also T F Torrance, Theology in Reconciliation, 1975, 243ff; and Methodius Fouyas, The Person of Jesus Christ in the Decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, 1976, pp. 65ff.
77. Athanasius, Ad Ant., 5-6.
78. Athanasius, De syn., 51.
79. Athanasius, De syn., 45