The same personalistic emphasis appears in the Greek Fathers' insistence on the «monarchy» of the Father. Contrary to the concept which prevailed in the post-Augustinian West and in Latin Scholasticism, Greek theology attributes the
of hypostatic «subsistence» to the
of the Fathernot to the common essence. The Father is the «cause» (aitia)
and the «principle» (arche)
of the divine nature, which is in the Son and in the Spirit. What is even more striking is the fact that this «monarchy'' of the Father is constantly used by the Cappadocian Fathers against those who accuse them of «tritheism»: «God is one», writes Basil, «because the Father is one»
PG 31:605A]. And the same thought is found in Gregory of Nazianzus: «God is the common nature of the three, but the Father is their union
PG 36:476B]. Pseudo-Dionysius also speaks of the Father as the «source of Divinity»
De div. nom.
PG 3:645B], and John of Damascus in his
Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith
also affirms the essential dependence of the Son and the Spirit upon the
of the Father:
Whatsoever the Son has from the Father, the Spirit also has, including His very being. And if the Father does not exist, then neither does the Son and the Spirit;
and if the Father does not have something, then neither has the Son or the Spirit. Furthermore, because of the Father, that is, because of the fact that the Father is, the Son and the Spirit are;
and because of the Father, the Son and the Spirit have everything that they have
[De fide orthodoxa
trans. F. H. Chase,
Fathers of the Church.
37 (New York, 1958), p. 184].
By accepting Nicaea, the Cappadocian Fathers eliminated the ontological subordinationism of Origen and Arius, but they preserved indeed, together with their understanding of hypostatic life, a Biblical and Orthodox subordinationism, maintaining the personal identity of the Father as the ultimate origin of all divine being and action: «The three
one God when contemplated together;
one God because of the monarchy
[of the Father]»
[Gregory of Nazianzus,
PG 36:417B]. Developing his well-known doctrine of the divine image in man, Gregory of Nyssa defines one aspect of human personal existence which is clearly
from that of God:
human person possesses the power of reproducing himself, while, in God, there is only «one and the same Person of the Father from whom the Son is born and the Spirit proceeds»
PG 45:180]. Thus, the human race is in a constant process of fragmentation, and can recover its unity only through
by the Father in Christ i.e., by becoming children of the one single hypostasis which generates without fragmenting, or multiplying. The origin of unity in the Trinity, the Father restores the unity of creation by adopting humanity in His Son, the New Adam, in whom humanity is «recapitulated» through the activity of the Spirit.