Georges Florovsky, Eusebius of Caesarea


Against this background the theology of Eusebius of Caesarea becomes clearer. Eusebius is far from agreeing with Arius on everything and he flatly rejects Arius’ basic idea about the “generation” of the Son from “things that do not exist.” At the same time, however, he denies that the Son is “coeternal” with the Father. As the cause or source of origin of the Son, the Father precedes Him, although not in time. Even before His actual generation the Son exists “in the Father,” but “in potential” alone. Only later is He generated by and from the will of the Father as a real and independent hypostasis, and even as a “second essence” [“vtoraia sushchnost’” (or “second being” [“vtoroe suschestvo”]) with the Father.
In the doctrine of Eusebius the Son in His objective reality is turned toward the world, and in this sense He is the “first-born of all creation.” He is the demiurge and the creator of all visible and invisible beings, the first among which is the Spirit of the Comforter. Since He is a direct creation of the Father, the Son is inherent in Him but since He is generated from the Father, He is less than the Father and is an “intermediate” force between the Father and the world. He is the “second God” but not the first, in spite of all His honor from the Divinity. Although He is “not like other creatures,” He is still a creature.
Like Arius, Eusebius is essentially dealing with a problem of cosmology, not theology. He continually refers to “generation,” and he almost identifies the existence of the Son “in His own hypostasis” with the existence of the world. In order not to efface the boundary between God and the world, he maintains a sharp separation between the Son and the Father: “the existence of the Son is not necessary for the completeness of the being and the divinity of the Father.” For Eusebius the existence of the Son is connected with time because the existence of the world is also temporal. He does make a distinction between the generation of the Son and the creation of the world, γενεσις and δημουργια. but even this does not completely resolve the problem.
The Divine “generation” and its relation to time were the main subjects of debate in the Arian controversies. In a certain sense both Arianism and Origenism can be called heresies about time because this was the basic doctrine on which both systems were built.

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