But in principle it is the other way around. The Trinity is the answer to the Christological problem. But it is an answer which seems in its final formulas to deny the basis on which it has arisen. The question was: If the Son is of one substance with the Father, how can the historical Jesus be understood? This was the purpose of the whole Trinitarian dogma, but now if the Trinitarian dogma was formulated as it was in Nicaea, is it still able to make Jesus understandable? How can He who is of Divine nature, without restriction, be a real man at the same time? The answer to this question was given – or at least one attempted to give it – in the Christological struggle which, according to its importance, lasted for almost three centuries and again brought the Christian Church to the edge of self-destruction.

There were always two main types of Christological thought: Either ,God as Father (or as Logos or as Spirit) has used the man Jesus of Nazareth, begetting and inspiring and adopting him as Son – this is the one possibility; or a Divine being, the Logos, the eternal Son, has become man in an act of transformation. The Nicaenum, with its homoousios and with the Monarchianistic trend, favors the former solution. And so does the Roman theology. The emphasis on the Divinity of the eternal Son makes the emphasis on the humanity of the historical Son much easier. A half-God can be transformed; God Himself can only adopt man.

But this former solution was not in the line of Origenism. In Origen the eternal Logos is inferior to the Father and has, by His union with the soul of Jesus, in eternity, the traits of the historical Jesus. Therefore He can easily be transformed into Him with the help of the body, and a transformation Christology can be developed. In the Trinitarian struggle, no sharp distinction between these possibilities has been made. The homoousios could be interpreted nearer to Sabellius or nearer to Arius. So the Christological interpretations could be more in the sense of adaptation, or in the sense of transformation. This uncertainty was discovered by some theologians and became a matter of- controversy when one man acted in the Christological struggle as Arius did in the Trinitarian struggle, namely drawing the consequences of the Origenistic position. This man was Apollinarius of Laodicaea, of whom we have to speak more next time.

Paul Tillich, A History Of Christian Thought – Table of Contents