Third-century church fathers and gnosticism


The rule of faith, indeed, is altogether one, alone immovable and unchangeable; the rule is as follows: believing in one only God omnipotent, the Creator of the universe, and His Son Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, raised again the third day from the dead, received in the heavens, sitting now at the right (hand) of the Father, destined to come to judge living and dead through the resurrection of the flesh as well (as of the spirit).—Tertullian (c. 212)


The rule of truth requires that we believe, first in God and Father and Almighty Lord, the most perfect Creator of all things. He suspended the heavens above in their lofty height, made firm the earth with the heavy mass under it, poured forth the freely flowing water of the seas; and he arranged all these, in full abundance and order, with appropriate and suitable essentials.

The same rule of truth teaches us, after we believe in the Father, to believe also in the Son of God, Christ Jesus, the Lord our God, nevertheless the Son of God. We are to believe in the Son of this God who is the one and only God; namely, the Creator of all things, as has already been set forth above.

Next, well-ordered reason and the authority of the faith bid us (in the words and writings of our Lord set down in orderly fashion) to believe, after these things, also in the Holy Spirit, who was in times past promised to the church and duly bestowed at the appointed, favorable moment.—Novatian of Rome (c. 245)


Now to him who is able to open the ears of your hearts to receive the incisive words of the Lord through the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus Christ the Nazarene who was crucified in the days of Pontius Pilate, and slept, that he might announce to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob and to all his saints the end of the world and the resurrection that is to come for the dead, and rose from the dead, that he might show and give to us, that we might know him, a pledge of his resurrection, and was taken up into heaven by the power of God his Father and of the Holy Spirit, and at the right hand of the throne of God Almighty upon the cherubim, to him who cometh with power and glory to judge both the dead and the living, to him be dominion and glory, etc.—Teaching of the Apostles (third century)

By Tertullian, Novatian, and others

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #96 in 2007]

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