The question as to the more exact definition of the nature of the Logos-Christ could not have attained the enormous significance which it received in the Church, and might have been stilled by various speculative answers, if it had not been accompanied by the triumph of a very precise idea of the nature of redemption, which acted as a peremptory challenge. Among all the possible ideas on the subject of redemption—forgiveness of sins, release from the power of the demons, and so on—that idea came victoriously to the front in the Church in the third century which conceived of it as redemption from death and therewith as elevation to the divine life, that is to say, as deification. It is true that this conception found a safe starting-point in the Gospel, and support in the Pauline theology; but in the form in which it was now developed it was foreign to both of them and conceived on Greek lines; mortality is in itself reckoned as the greatest evil, and as the cause of all evil, while the greatest of blessings is to live for ever. What a severely Greek idea this is we can see, in the first place, from the fact that redemption from death is presented, in a wholly realistic fashion, as a pharmacological process—the divine nature has to flow in and transform the mortal nature—and, in the second, from the way in which eternal life and deification were identified. But if actual interference in the constitution of human nature and its deification are involved, then the redeemer must himself be God and must become man. It is only on this condition that so marvellous a process can be imagined as actually taking place. Word, doctrine, individual deeds, are here of no avail —how can life be given to a stone, or a mortal made immortal, by preaching at them? Only when the divine itself bodily enters into mortality can mortality be transformed. It is not, however, the hero, but God Himself alone, who possesses the divine, that is to say, eternal life, and so possesses it as to permit of His giving it to others. The Logos, then, must be God Himself, and He must have actually become man. With the satisfying of these two conditions, real, natural redemption, that is to say, the deification of humanity, is actually effected. These considerations enable us to understand the prodigious disputes over the nature of the Logos-Christ which filled several centuries. They explain why Athanasius strove for the formula that the Logos-Christ was of the same nature as the Father, as though the existence or non-existence of the Christian religion were at stake. They show clearly how it was that other teachers in the Greek Church regarded any menace to the complete unity of the divine and the human in the Redeemer, any notion of a merely moral connexion, as a death-blow to Christianity. These teachers secured their formulas, which for them were anything but scholastic conceptions; rather, they were the statement and establishment of a matter of fact, in the absence of which the Christian religion was as unsatisfactory as any other. The doctrines of the identical nature of the three persons of the Trinity—how the doctrine of the Holy Ghost came about, I need not mention—and of the God-Man nature of the Redeemer are in strict accordance with the distinguishing notion of the redemption as a deification of man’s nature by making him immortal. Without the help of the notion those formulas would never have been attained; but they also stand and fall with it.

They prevailed, however, not because they were akin to the ideas of Greek philosophy, but because they were contrasted with them. Greek philosophy never ventured, and never aspired, to meet, in any similar way by “history” and speculative ideas, that wish for immortality which it so vividly entertained. To attribute any such interference with the Cosmos to an historical personality and the manner in which it appeared, and to ascribe to that personality a transformation in what, given once for all, was in a state of eternal flux, must necessarily have seemed, to Greek philosophy, pure mythology and superstition. The “only new thing under the sun”” must necessarily have appeared to it, and did appear, to be the worst kind of fable.