“When the Lord taught us the doctrine of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he did not make arithmetic a part of this gift!” (On the Holy Spirit 18.44). Thus St Basil introduces a lengthy discussion of the numbering of the Trinity. Basil is contesting a simplistic numbering of the the divine hypostases that appears to terminate in tritheism. God has given us holy Names, not numbers, he declares. “The Unapproachable One is beyond numbers, wisest sirs … Count if you must, but do not malign the truth. Either honor Him Who cannot be described with your silence, or number holy things in accord with true religion. There is one God and Father, one Only-Begotten Son, and one Holy Spirit. We declare each Person to be unique, and if we must use numbers, we will not let a stupid arithmetic leads us astray to the idea of many gods” (18.44).
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