Gregory of Naziansus, Basil, and Gregory of Nyssa become the “Cappadocian Fathers” and battle Eunomianism and Binitarianism. Questions for Discussion: Lesson 14A- Chapter 12 “The Cappadocian Fathers Settle the Issue” from The Story of Christian Theology by Roger E. Olson
1. Olson refers to a pervasive, modern misunderstanding about the process by which the doctrine of the Trinity came to be defined at Nicaea. What is this “misunderstanding”?
2. Olson describes “a particularly virulent” form of Arianism call Eunomianism. What did Eunomianism teach; that is, what was its “main assertion” against the Trinity and what did Basil’s four points of refutation argue?
3. One of your Sunday school students asks, ” I understand Basil opposed the group called the Binitarians. What was he fighting against exactly? I guess I’m asking what were these Binitarians advocating? What did Basil argue?” How will you respond?
4. Gregory of Naziansus, Basil’s best friend, played a significant role for a time at the Council of Constantinople. Though we lack definitive evidence of the issues that surfaced to disrupt his leadership of the Council, what are the probable causes of his early departure from the meeting? What happened to Gregory after the Council in 381?
5. How did Gregory of Naziansus employ the concept of “relations” to illuminate the mystery of the Trinity?
6. Apollinarius, Bishop of Laodicea, presented a view of the incarnation soon labeled Apollinarianism. What did his theology of the incarnation involve? How did the Trinitarians respond?
7. What did Gregory of Nyssa accomplish in his work On ‘Not Three Gods’: To Ablabius?
8. A student in your class asks “For all their writings and debates at Councils, what did the Cappadocian Fathers really accomplish? Did they leave a legacy that matters?” How will you respond?
See Lesson 14Bfor Correlated Readings:
Selected passages from the writings of Gregory of Nyssa and Basil the Great
Bible Verses for Reflection