Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 12. The Development of Catholic Theology in Conflict with Heresy” Sections 137-158, Loc. 18758-20235.
§ 145. The Divinity of Christ.
Schaff observes that in the growth of theological commentary up to the 4th century, the deity of Christ was an important dogma. The rationalistic and Gnostic heresies tended to view Christ as elevated or superhuman, but normally along the same lines as pagan views of their gods (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19368). Counter to this ws the very high Christology of John, which clearly ascribed unique divine nature and dignity to Christ prior to the incarnation. Justin Martyr articulated this as he described the divine nature of Christ in two facets, “the immanent, or that which determines the revelation of God to himself within himself; and the transitive, in virtue of which God reveals himself outwardly (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19382). He sees Christ as the true object of worship, divine and unified with the Father. Schaff asserts that if Justin, Tertullian, and Origen had lived later they would have subscribed to the Nicene Creed (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19389).
The development of the Logos doctrine of Christ as God’s word/reason continued especially in Alexandria, where the Logos was taken very seriously but his specific personality was left rather obscure (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19403). Origen, Schaff says, was conflicted with the idea of the eternal generation of the Son, finding it impossible to consider the Father without the Son, so having a problem wit h”generation.” However, Origen tended to differentiate Father and Son in substance, eroding his divinity (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19416).
In the West, apologists “reached the position that Christ must be one with the Father, yet personally distinct from him (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19422). Schaff observes that Polycarp and Irenaeus consciously avoided trying to explain the doctrine, preferring simply to state what we know from Scripture itself (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19429). Regardless, the apologists reach a conclusion that Christ is God the Son who created and redeemed the world and served as the definitive revelation of God to man. Their agreement was based on Scripture rather than any abstract speculation (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19443).