Calvin’s Institutes – 1.13.17 – Let us beware of imagining such a Trinity of persons as will distract our thoughts

Calvin continues commenting on the Trinity. In today’s quote he refers to an early church father Gregory Nazianzen. Anyone ever heard of him?

This is part of my series on Calvin’s Institutes.


On the other hand, the Scriptures demonstrate that there is some distinction between the Father and the Word, the Word and the Spirit; but the magnitude of the mystery reminds us of the great reverence and soberness which ought to he employed in discussing it. It seems to me, that nothing can be more admirable than the words of Gregory Nanzianzen: … “I cannot think of the unity without being irradiated by the Trinity: I cannot distinguish between the Trinity without being carried up to the unity.” (Greg. Nanzian. in Serm. de Sacro Baptis.) Therefore, let us beware of imagining such a Trinity of persons as will distract our thoughts, instead of bringing them instantly back to the unity. (Calvin, Instit. 1.13.17)


Calvin is clearly well read in the early church fathers. So far he has quoted Augustine, Tertullian and Ireneaus several times. In this reading he quotes from Gregory Nazianzen (try and say that three times quickly) whom I’ve never heard of. He quotes to him with respect.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2017. All Rights Reserved.