According to extant history the development of some of its main tenets ("The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity" and "consubstantialism") clearly do not have their roots in the scriptures (and are refuted by Hebrews 1:3) so do they consider their use of Gnostic thought to be part of their "Sacred Tradition"?:

...The term ὁμοούσιος had been used before its adoption by the First Council of Nicaea. The Gnostics were the first to use the word ὁμοούσιος, while before the Gnostics there is no trace at all of its existence.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19] The early church theologians were probably made aware of this concept, and thus of the doctrine of emanation, taught by the Gnostics.[20] In Gnostic texts the word ὁμοούσιος is used with the following meanings:

Identity of substance between generator and generated. Identity of substance between things generated of the same substance. Identity of substance between the partners of a syzygy.

For example, Basilides, the first known Gnostic thinker to use ὁμοούσιος in the first half of the 2nd century AD, speaks of a threefold sonship consubstantial with the god who is not.[21][22] The Valentinian Gnostic Ptolemy claims in his letter to Flora that it is the nature of the good God to beget and bring forth only beings similar to, and consubstantial with, himself.[23] The term ὁμοούσιος was already in current use by the 2nd-century Gnostics, and through their works it became known to the orthodox heresiologists, though this Gnostic use of the term had no reference to the specific relationship between Father and Son, as is the case in the Nicene Creed...

In other words, was the Creed of "Athanasius" (though attribution is to a man of the 4th century AD doubtful as it rests on one man, Erasmus, from the middle ages based on style) developed from pagan ideas by the "Holy Ghost" or received by divine inspiration through a single inspired Catholic deacon?

  • "The Gnostics were the first to use the word ὁμοούσιος" is this supposed to prove that the Trinitarian use is Gnostic, or? The word just means "of one substance with...." SImilarly, "transubstantiation" means 'it's no longer bread' and has nothing to do with pre-Christian usage of the word.. which is where exactly? What is your question exactly? Are you asking with a straight face if Catholic Tradition includes or incorporates anticatholic tradition? – Sola Gratia Feb 3 at 15:02
  • I'm asking if the "Church" claims that its Creed/"Catholic Faith" was given to the Catholic deacon "Athanasius" by inspiration of the "Holy Ghost" (the medieval attribution) or that it was developed over time based on the Gnostic principle of "homoousion" where when God "generates" that which he generates is of the "same substance": "Light from Light; Very God from Very God", etc. You, yourself, in a recent answer explained that "homoousion" is the basis of Trinitarian theology! – Ruminator Feb 3 at 15:17
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    No one claims the Athanasian Creed was 'given' to him. The Creed is a doctrinal formulation of the faith of the Christian Church; a product of bishops, like all catechetical works are. Besides, you've created a false dichotomy ('the creed was handed on to Athanasius, or based on Gnosticism'). A word having been used by Gnostics wouldn't be the same as a word having been used by Gnostics being used by Christians to describe a Christian belief. I mean you can separate Christ being of one substance with the Father, and Gnosticism, so it's a fallacy of post hoc propter hoc or the genetic fallacy. – Sola Gratia Feb 3 at 15:23
  • So what you are saying is that the Holy Spirit taught "Athanasius" the same principle of "same substance" as the Gnostics had been using coincidentally, not from the Gnostics? – Ruminator Feb 3 at 15:28
  • I'm not saying that and have not said that. I'm saying the Greek word ομοουσιος doesn't mean anything Gnostic in its use by Greek-speaking Christians by definition—it only means 'of one substance/essence with,' nothing else—nothing. To be clear, you're asking Christians not to use the only apt word for what they're trying to precisely say because a heretic has before used it for something else... you find this reasonable? Sounds a lot like 'Winter had pagan holidays, therefore no celebration of the Nativity in December' nonsense—it just makes no rational sense. – Sola Gratia Feb 3 at 15:29

No, just as using the notion of ousía to define the doctrine of the Holy Trinity does not mean that the Nicene Fathers considered Platonic or Aristotelian thought to be part of Apostolic Tradition [1], or just as using the notion of hypostasis with God the Father does not mean that the author of Hebrews considered Stoic and/or Epicurean thought to be part of Divine Revelation [2] [3].


[1] Deriving then from the verb "to be", ousía enters the Greek philosophical discourse with Plato, who uses it to mean the primary, fundamental kind of being, ("prōtē ousíā", pl. "prôtai ousíai"), with Aristotle afterwards using it with the same meaning.

[2] Hypostasis may have been introduced in the Greek philosophical discourse either by the Stoic Poseidonius (c. 135 BC - c. 51 BC) according to some, or by the Epicurean Demetrius Lacon (fl. late 2nd century BC) according to others, in both cases with the meaning of objective or concrete existence or reality.

[3] I reviewed at some length the previous two points in sections 1 and 2 of my article at http://ousiakaihypostasis.blogspot.com

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