Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


The Socinians, who are regarded as blasphemers, do not recognize the divinity of Jesus Christ. They dare to pretend, with the philosophers of antiquity, with the Jews, the Mahometans, and most other nations, that the idea of a god-man is monstrous; that the distance from God to man is infinite; and that it is impossible for a perishable body to be infinite, immense, or eternal.

They have the confidence to quote Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, in their favor, who, in his “Ecclesiastical History,” i., 9, declares that it is absurd to imagine the uncreated and unchangeable nature of Almighty God taking the form of a man. They cite the fathers of the Church, Justin and Tertullian, who have said the same thing: Justin, in his “Dialogue with Triphonius”; and Tertullian, in his “Discourse against Praxeas.”

They quote St. Paul, who never calls Jesus Christ “God,” and who calls Him “man” very often. They carry their audacity so far as to affirm that the Christians passed three entire ages in forming by degrees the apotheosis of Jesus; and that they only raised this astonishing edifice by the example of the pagans, who had deified mortals. At first, according to them, Jesus was only regarded as a man inspired by God, and then as a creature more perfect than others. They gave Him some time after a place above the angels, as St. Paul tells us. Every day added to His greatness. He in time became an emanation, proceeding from God. This was not enough; He was even born before time. At last He was made God consubstantial with God. Crellius, Voquelsius, Natalis Alexander, and Horneck have supported all these blasphemies by arguments which astonish the wise and mislead the weak. Above all, Faustus Socinus spread the seeds of this doctrine in Europe; and at the end of the sixteenth century a new species of Christianity was established. There were already more than three hundred.

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