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Arianism is a Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (c. AD 256–336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that the Son of God is not co-eternal with God the Father and is distinct from the Father (therefore subordinate to him). However, as in mainstream Trinitarianism, Arianism holds that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was begotten by God the Father.
The term Arian is derived from the name Arius and, like the term Christian, it was not what they called themselves, but rather a term used by outsiders.The nature of Arius's teachings and his supporters were opposed to the theological views held by Homoousian Christians, regarding the nature of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. The Arian concept of Christ is based on the belief that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten within time by God the Father, therefore Jesus was not co-eternal with God the Father.
There was a controversy between two interpretations of Jesus' divinity (Homoousianism and Arianism) based upon the theological orthodoxy of the time, one Trinitarian and the other also a derivative of Trinitarian orthodoxy, p6) and both of them attempted to solve its respective theological dilemmas. The former was formally affirmed by the first two ecumenical councils, and in the past several centuries, Arianism continued to be viewed as "the heresy or sect of Arius". As such, all mainstream branches of Christianity now consider Arianism to be heterodox and heretical. The Trinitarianism, or Homoousianism, viewpoint was promulgated by Athanasius of Alexandria, who insisted that Jesus (God the Son) was "same in being" or "same in essence" with God the Father. Arius stated: "If the Father begat the Son, then he who was begotten had a beginning in existence, and from this it follows there was a time when the Son was not." The ecumenical First Council of Nicaea of 325, convened by Emperor Constantine to ensure church unity, declared Arianism to be a heresy. According to Everett Ferguson, "The great majority of Christians had no clear views about the nature of the Trinity and they did not understand what was at stake in the issues that surrounded it."(
Ten years later, however, Constantine the Great, who was himself later baptized by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia in 337 AD,convened another gathering of church leaders at the regional First Synod of Tyre in 335 (attended by 310 bishops), to address various charges mounted against Athanasius by his detractors, such as "murder, illegal taxation, sorcery, and treason", following his refusal to readmit Arius into fellowship. Athanasius was exiled to Trier (in modern Germany) following his conviction at Tyre of conspiracy, and Arius was, effectively, exonerated. Athanasius eventually returned to Alexandria in 346, after the deaths of both Arius and Constantine. Though Arianism had spread, Athanasius and other Nicene Christian church leaders crusaded against Arian theology, and Arius was anathemised and condemned as a heretic once more at the ecumenical First Council of Constantinople of 381 (attended by 150 bishops). The Roman Emperors Constantius II (337–361) and Valens (364–378) were Arians or Semi-Arians, as was the first King of Italy, Odoacer (433?–493), and the Lombards were also Arians or Semi-Arians until the 7th century. Visigothic Spain was Arian until 589. Many Goths adopted Arian beliefs upon their conversion to Christianity. The Vandals actively spread Arianism in North Africa.
Arianism is also used to refer to other nontrinitarian theological systems of the 4th century, which regarded Jesus Christ—the Son of God, the Logos—as either a begotten creature of a similar or different substance to that of the Father, but not identical (as Homoiousian and Anomoeanism) or as neither uncreated nor created in the sense other beings are created (as in semi-Arianism).
Arius had been a pupil of Lucian of Antioch at Lucian's private academy in Antioch and inherited from him a modified form of the teachings of Paul of Samosata.He taught that God the Father and the Son of God did not always exist together eternally.
Arianism taught that the Logos was a divine being begotten by God the Father before the creation of the world, made him a medium through whom everything else was created, and that the Son of God is subordinate to God the Father.A verse from Proverbs was also used: "The Lord created me at the beginning of his work." Therefore, the Son was rather the very first and the most perfect of God's creatures, and he was made "God" only by the Father's permission and power.
Religiously, Emperor Constantine the Great summoned the First Council of Nicaea, which defined the dogmatic fundaments of the Christian religion through more accurately defining Christian dogmas as an answer to the Arian dilemma.All the bishops who were there were in agreement with the major theological points of the proto-orthodoxy, since at that time all other forms of Christianity "had by this time already been displaced, suppressed, reformed, or destroyed". Although the proto-orthodox won the previous disputes, due to the more accurate defining of orthodoxy, they were vanquished with their own weapons, ultimately being declared heretics, not because they would have fought against ideas regarded as theologically correct, but because their positions lacked the accuracy and refinement needed by the fusion of several contradictory theses accepted at the same time by later orthodox theologians. According to Bart Ehrman that is why the Trinity is such an absurd, irrational concept.
Controversy over Arianism arose in the late 3rd century and persisted throughout most of the 4th century. It involved most church members—from simple believers, priests, and monks to bishops, emperors, and members of Rome's imperial family. Two Roman emperors, Constantius II and Valens, became Arians or Semi-Arians, as did prominent Gothic, Vandal, and Lombard warlords both before and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Such a deep controversy within the early Church during this period of its development could not have materialized without significant historical influences providing a basis for the Arian doctrines.Of the roughly three hundred bishops in attendance at the Council of Nicea, two bishops did not sign the Nicene Creed that condemned Arianism. Constantine the Great also ordered a penalty of death for those who refused to surrender the Arian writings:
In addition, if any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offence, he shall be submitted for capital punishment. ...
Reconstructing what Arius actually taught, and why, is a formidable task, both because little of his own work survives except in quotations selected for polemical purposes by his opponents, and also because there is no certainty about what theological and philosophical traditions formed his thought.
Arians do not believe in the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. p 72) The letter of Arian Auxentius regarding the Arian missionary Ulfilas gives a picture of Arian beliefs. Arian Ulfilas, who was ordained a bishop by Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work as a missionary, believed: God, the Father, ("unbegotten" God; Almighty God) always existing and who is the only true God. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, ("only-begotten God" ), Mighty God; begotten before time began and who is Lord/Master. The Holy Spirit (the illuminating and sanctifying power, who is neither God the Father nor Lord/Master. 1 Corinthians|8:5–6 was cited as proof text:(
Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords/masters—yet for us there is one God (Gk. theos – θεός), the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord/Master ( kyrios – κύριος), Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.— NRSV
The creed of Arian Ulfilas (c. 311–383), which concludes a letter praising him written by Auxentius,distinguishes God the Father ("unbegotten"), who is the only true God from Son of God ("only-begotten"), who is Lord/Master; and the Holy Spirit, the illuminating and sanctifying power, who is neither God the Father nor Lord/Master:
I, Ulfila, bishop and confessor, have always so believed, and in this, the one true faith, I make the journey to my Lord; I believe in only one God the Father, the unbegotten and invisible, and in his only-begotten Son, our Lord/Master and God, the designer and maker of all creation, having none other like him. Therefore, there is one God of all, who is also God of our God; and in one Holy Spirit, the illuminating and sanctifying power, as Christ said after his resurrection to his apostles: "And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high"and again "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you"; Neither God nor Lord/Master, but the faithful minister of Christ; not equal, but subject and obedient in all things to the Son. And I believe the Son to be subject and obedient in all things to God the Father.
A letter from Arius (c. 250–336) to the Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia (died 341) succinctly states the core beliefs of the Arians:
Some of them say that the Son is an eructation, others that he is a production, others that he is also unbegotten. These are impieties to which we cannot listen, even though the heretics threaten us with a thousand deaths. But we say and believe and have taught, and do teach, that the Son is not unbegotten, nor in any way part of the unbegotten; and that he does not derive his subsistence from any matter; but that by his own will and counsel he has subsisted before time and before ages as perfect as God, only begotten and unchangeable, and that before he was begotten, or created, or purposed, or established, he was not. For he was not unbegotten. We are persecuted because we say that the Son has a beginning but that God is without beginning.— Theodoret: Arius's Letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, translated in Peters' Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, p. 41
Principally, the dispute between Trinitarianism and Arianism was about:
For the theologians of the 19th century it was already obvious that in fact Arius and Alexander/Athanasisus did not have much to quarrel about, the difference between their views was very small, and that the end of the fight was by no means clear during their quarrel, both Arius and Athanasius suffering a lot for their own views.Arius was the father of Homoiousianism and Alexander the father of Homoousianism, which was championed by Athanasius. For those theologians it was clear that Arius, Alexander and Athanasius were rather far from a true doctrine of Trinity, which developed later, historically speaking.
Berndt and Steinacher state quite clearly that the beliefs of Arius were acceptable ("not especially unusual") to a huge number of orthodox clergy;that's why it was such a major conflict inside the Church and Arius was not simply dismissed as a loon.
Arianism had several different variants, including Eunomianism and Homoian Arianism. Homoian Arianism is associated with Akakius and Eudoxius. Homoian Arianism avoided the use of the word ousia to describe the relation of Father to Son, and described these as "like" each other.Hanson lists twelve creeds that reflect the Homoian faith:
In 321, Arius was denounced by a synod at Alexandria for teaching a heterodox view of the relationship of Jesus to God the Father. Because Arius and his followers had great influence in the schools of Alexandria—counterparts to modern universities or seminaries—their theological views spread, especially in the eastern Mediterranean.[ citation needed ]
By 325, the controversy had become significant enough that the Emperor Constantine called an assembly of bishops, the First Council of Nicaea, which condemned Arius's doctrine and formulated the original Nicene Creed of 325. : ὁμοούσιος), or Consubstantiality, meaning "of the same substance" or "of one being" (the Athanasian Creed is less often used but is a more overtly anti-Arian statement on the Trinity).The Nicene Creed's central term, used to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son, is Homoousios (Ancient Greek
The focus of the Council of Nicaea was the nature of the Son of God and his precise relationship to God the Father (see Paul of Samosata and the Synods of Antioch). Arius taught that Jesus Christ was divine/holy and was sent to earth for the salvation of mankindbut that Jesus Christ was not equal to God the Father (infinite, primordial origin) in rank and that God the Father and the Son of God were not equal to the Holy Spirit. Under Arianism, Christ was instead not consubstantial with God the Father since both the Father and the Son under Arius were made of "like" essence or being (see homoiousia) but not of the same essence or being (see homoousia).
In the Arian view, God the Father is a deity and is divine and the Son of God is not a deity but divine (I, the LORD, am Deity alone.)God the Father sent Jesus to earth for salvation of mankind. Ousia is essence or being, in Eastern Christianity, and is the aspect of God that is completely incomprehensible to mankind and human perception. It is all that subsists by itself and which has not its being in another, God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit all being uncreated.
According to the teaching of Arius, the preexistent Logos and thus the incarnate Jesus Christ was a begotten being; only the Son was directly begotten by God the Father, before ages, but was of a distinct, though similar, essence or substance from the Creator. His opponents argued that this would make Jesus less than God and that this was heretical.Much of the distinction between the differing factions was over the phrasing that Christ expressed in the New Testament to express submission to God the Father. The theological term for this submission is kenosis. This ecumenical council declared that Jesus Christ was true God, co-eternal and consubstantial (i.e., of the same substance) with God the Father.
Constantine is believed to have exiled those who refused to accept the Nicean Creed—Arius himself, the deacon Euzoios, and the Libyan bishops Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais—and also the bishops who signed the creed but refused to join in condemnation of Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicaea. The emperor also ordered all copies of the Thalia, the book in which Arius had expressed his teachings, to be burned. However, there is no evidence that his son and ultimate successor, Constantius II, who was a Semi-Arian Christian, was exiled.[ citation needed ]
Although he was committed to maintaining what the Great Church had defined at Nicaea, Constantine was also bent on pacifying the situation and eventually became more lenient toward those condemned and exiled at the council. First, he allowed Eusebius of Nicomedia, who was a protégé of his sister, and Theognis to return once they had signed an ambiguous statement of faith. The two, and other friends of Arius, worked for Arius's rehabilitation.
At the First Synod of Tyre in AD 335, they brought accusations against Athanasius, now bishop of Alexandria, the primary opponent of Arius. After this, Constantine had Athanasius banished since he considered him an impediment to reconciliation. In the same year, the Synod of Jerusalem under Constantine's direction readmitted Arius to communion in 336. Arius died on the way to this event in Constantinople. Some scholars suggest that Arius may have been poisoned by his opponents.Eusebius and Theognis remained in the Emperor's favor, and when Constantine, who had been a catechumen much of his adult life, accepted baptism on his deathbed, it was from Eusebius of Nicomedia.
The First Council of Nicaea did not end the controversy, as many bishops of the Eastern provinces disputed the homoousios , the central term of the Nicene Creed, as it had been used by Paul of Samosata, who had advocated a monarchianist Christology. Both the man and his teaching, including the term homoousios, had been condemned by the Synods of Antioch in 269.
Hence, after Constantine's death in 337, open dispute resumed again. Constantine's son Constantius II, who had become emperor of the eastern part of the Roman Empire, actually encouraged the Arians and set out to reverse the Nicene Creed.His advisor in these affairs was Eusebius of Nicomedia, who had already at the Council of Nicaea been the head of the Arian party, who also was made the bishop of Constantinople.
Constantius used his power to exile bishops adhering to the Nicene Creed, especially St Athanasius of Alexandria, who fled to Rome.In 355 Constantius became the sole Roman emperor and extended his pro-Arian policy toward the western provinces, frequently using force to push through his creed, even exiling Pope Liberius and installing Antipope Felix II.
The Third Council of Sirmium in 357 was the high point of Arianism. The Seventh Arian Confession (Second Sirmium Confession) held that both homoousios (of one substance) and homoiousios (of similar substance) were unbiblical and that the Father is greater than the Son.(This confession was later known as the Blasphemy of Sirmium.)
But since many persons are disturbed by questions concerning what is called in Latin substantia, but in Greek ousia, that is, to make it understood more exactly, as to 'coessential,' or what is called, 'like-in-essence,' there ought to be no mention of any of these at all, nor exposition of them in the Church, for this reason and for this consideration, that in divine Scripture nothing is written about them, and that they are above men's knowledge and above men's understanding;
As debates raged in an attempt to come up with a new formula, three camps evolved among the opponents of the Nicene Creed. The first group mainly opposed the Nicene terminology and preferred the term homoiousios (alike in substance) to the Nicene homoousios, while they rejected Arius and his teaching and accepted the equality and co-eternality of the persons of the Trinity. Because of this centrist position, and despite their rejection of Arius, they were called "Semi-Arians" by their opponents. The second group also avoided invoking the name of Arius, but in large part followed Arius's teachings and, in another attempted compromise wording, described the Son as being like ( homoios ) the Father. A third group explicitly called upon Arius and described the Son as unlike ( anhomoios ) the Father. Constantius wavered in his support between the first and the second party, while harshly persecuting the third.
Epiphanius of Salamis labeled the party of Basil of Ancyra in 358 "Semi-Arianism". This is considered unfair by Kelly who states that some members of the group were virtually orthodox from the start but disliked the adjective homoousios while others had moved in that direction after the out-and-out Arians had come into the open.
The debates among these groups resulted in numerous synods, among them the Council of Serdica in 343, the Fourth Council of Sirmium in 358 and the double Council of Rimini and Seleucia in 359, and no fewer than fourteen further creed formulas between 340 and 360, leading the pagan observer Ammianus Marcellinus to comment sarcastically: "The highways were covered with galloping bishops."None of these attempts were acceptable to the defenders of Nicene orthodoxy; writing about the latter councils, Saint Jerome remarked that the world "awoke with a groan to find itself Arian."
After Constantius' death in 361, his successor Julian, a devotee of Rome's pagan gods, declared that he would no longer attempt to favor one church faction over another, and allowed all exiled bishops to return; this resulted in further increasing dissension among Nicene Christians. The emperor Valens, however, revived Constantius' policy and supported the "Homoian" party,exiling bishops and often using force. During this persecution many bishops were exiled to the other ends of the Roman Empire (e.g., Saint Hilary of Poitiers to the eastern provinces). These contacts and the common plight subsequently led to a rapprochement between the western supporters of the Nicene Creed and the homoousios and the eastern Semi-Arians.
It was not until the co-reigns of Gratian and Theodosius that Arianism was effectively wiped out among the ruling class and elite of the Eastern Empire. Valens died in the Battle of Adrianople in 378 and was succeeded by Theodosius I, who adhered to the Nicene Creed. [ citation needed ]This allowed for settling the dispute. Theodosius's wife St Flacilla was instrumental in his campaign to end Arianism.
Two days after Theodosius arrived in Constantinople, 24 November 380, he expelled the Homoiousian bishop, Demophilus of Constantinople, and surrendered the churches of that city to Gregory of Nazianzus, the leader of the rather small Nicene community there, an act which provoked rioting. Theodosius had just been baptized, by bishop Acholius of Thessalonica, during a severe illness, as was common in the early Christian world. In February he and Gratian had published an edict that all their subjects should profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria (i.e., the Nicene faith),or be handed over for punishment for not doing so.
Although much of the church hierarchy in the East had opposed the Nicene Creed in the decades leading up to Theodosius's accession, he managed to achieve unity on the basis of the Nicene Creed. In 381, at the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, a group of mainly Eastern bishops assembled and accepted the Nicene Creed of 381, [ citation needed ]which was supplemented in regard to the Holy Spirit, as well as some other changes: see Comparison of Nicene Creeds of 325 and 381. This is generally considered the end of the dispute about the Trinity and the end of Arianism among the Roman, non-Germanic peoples.
During the time of Arianism's flowering in Constantinople, the Gothic convert and Arian bishop Ulfilas (later the subject of the letter of Auxentius cited above) was sent as a missionary to the Gothic tribes across the Danube, a mission favored for political reasons by the Emperor Constantius II. Ulfilas's translation of the Bible in Gothic language and his initial success in converting the Goths to Arianism was strengthened by later events; the conversion of Goths led to a widespread diffusion of Arianism among other Germanic tribes as well (Vandals, Langobards, Svevi and Burgundians).When the Germanic peoples entered the provinces of the Western Roman Empire and began founding their own kingdoms there, most of them were Arian Christians.
The conflict in the 4th century had seen Arian and Nicene factions struggling for control of Western Europe. In contrast, among the Arian German kingdoms established in the collapsing Western Empire in the 5th century were entirely separate Arian and Nicene Churches with parallel hierarchies, each serving different sets of believers. The Germanic elites were Arians, and the Romance majority population was Nicene.
The Arian Germanic tribes were generally tolerant towards Nicene Christians and other religious minorities, including the Jews. [ citation needed ]However, the Vandals tried for several decades to force their Arian beliefs on their North African Nicene subjects, exiling Nicene clergy, dissolving monasteries, and exercising heavy pressure on non-conforming Nicene Christians.
The apparent resurgence of Arianism after Nicaea was more an anti-Nicene reaction exploited by Arian sympathizers than a pro-Arian development.By the end of the 4th century it had surrendered its remaining ground to Trinitarianism. In Western Europe, Arianism, which had been taught by Ulfilas, the Arian missionary to the Germanic tribes, was dominant among the Goths, Langobards and Vandals. By the 8th century, it had ceased to be the tribes' mainstream belief as the tribal rulers gradually came to adopt Nicene orthodoxy. This trend began in 496 with Clovis I of the Franks, then Reccared I of the Visigoths in 587 and Aripert I of the Lombards in 653.
The Franks and the Anglo-Saxons were unlike the other Germanic peoples in that they entered the Western Roman Empire as Pagans and were forcibly converted to Chalcedonian Christianity by their kings, Clovis I and Æthelberht of Kent (see also Christianity in Gaul and Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England). [ citation needed ]The remaining tribes – the Vandals and the Ostrogoths – did not convert as a people nor did they maintain territorial cohesion. Having been militarily defeated by the armies of Emperor Justinian I, the remnants were dispersed to the fringes of the empire and became lost to history. The Vandalic War of 533–534 dispersed the defeated Vandals. Following their final defeat at the Battle of Mons Lactarius in 553, the Ostrogoths went back north and (re)settled in south Austria.
Much of south-eastern Europe and central Europe, including many of the Goths and Vandals respectively, had embraced Arianism (the Visigoths converted to Arian Christianity in 376), which led to Arianism being a religious factor in various wars in the Roman Empire.In the west, organized Arianism survived in North Africa, in Hispania, and parts of Italy until it was finally suppressed in the 6th and 7th centuries. Visigothic Spain converted to Nicene Christianity at the Third Council of Toledo in 589. Grimoald, King of the Lombards (662–671), and his young son and successor Garibald (671), were the last Arian kings in Europe.
Following the Protestant Reformation from 1517, it did not take long for Arian and other nontrinitarian views to resurface. The first recorded English antitrinitarian was John Assheton, who was forced to recant before Thomas Cranmer in 1548. At the Anabaptist Council of Venice 1550, the early Italian instigators of the Radical Reformation committed to the views of Michael Servetus, who was burned alive by the orders of John Calvin in 1553, and these were promulgated by Giorgio Biandrata and others into Poland and Transylvania.
The antitrinitarian wing of the Polish Reformation separated from the Calvinist ecclesia maior to form the ecclesia minor or Polish Brethren. These were commonly referred to as "Arians" due to their rejection of the Trinity, though in fact the Socinians, as they were later known, went further than Arius to the position of Photinus. The epithet "Arian" was also applied to the early Unitarians such as John Biddle, though in denial of the pre-existence of Christ they were again largely Socinians, not Arians.
In 1683, when Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, lay dying in Amsterdam – driven into exile by his outspoken opposition to King Charles II – he spoke to the minister Robert Ferguson, and professed himself an Arian.
In the 18th century the "dominant trend" in Britain, particularly in Latitudinarianism, was towards Arianism, with which the names of Samuel Clarke, Benjamin Hoadly, William Whiston and Isaac Newton are associated. 's article on Arianism: "In modern times some Unitarians are virtually Arians in that they are unwilling either to reduce Christ to a mere human being or to attribute to him a divine nature identical with that of the Father."To quote the Encyclopædia Britannica
A similar view was held by the ancient anti-Nicene Pneumatomachi (Greek: Πνευματομάχοι, "breath" or "spirit" and "fighters", combining as "fighters against the spirit"), so called because they opposed the deifying of the Nicene Holy Ghost. Although the Pneumatomachi's beliefs were somewhat reminiscent of Arianism, they were a distinct group.
The teachings of the first two ecumenical councils – which entirely reject Arianism – are held by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and most churches founded during the Reformation in the 16th century or influenced by it (Lutheran, Reformed/Presbyterian, and Anglican). Also, nearly all Protestant groups (such as Methodists, Baptists, Evangelicals and most Pentecostals) entirely reject the teachings associated with Arianism. Modern groups which currently appear to embrace some of the principles of Arianism include Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses. Although the origins of their beliefs are not necessarily attributed to the teachings of Arius, many of the core beliefs of Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses are very similar to them.
The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) concerning the nature of the Godhead teaches a nontrinitarian theology. The church's 1st Article of Faith states: "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." The Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 states: "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us." Similarities between LDS doctrines and Arianism were noted as early as 1846.There are, however, a number of key differences between Arianism and Latter-day Saint theology, including that Latter-Day Saints affirm the co-eternality of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost with the Father and deny any form of Creation Ex Nihilo, whereas Creation Ex Nihilo and Christ's created and inferior nature are fundamental premises of Arianism. Latter-day Saint theology also teaches that Christ is equal in nature, power, and glory with the Father, but has achieved this through subordinating his will to the will of the Father. However, Christ's existence is not contingent on the Father and he is not ontologically subordinate to the Father, as in Arianism. The Father is in turn understood to have his power only by virtue of his own perfect character and subordination to eternal and uncreated principles of righteousness, with the Book of Mormon stating in Alma 42:13 that were God not to be perfectly just then "God would cease to be God". Thus, Christ's subordination to the Father's will is understood as subordination to those same eternal and uncreated principles of righteousness through perfectly emulating the Father's character and example.
The LDS Church's view of the Godhead breaks with Nicene Creed tradition and believes it returns to the teachings taught by Jesus. Similarly, LDS doctrine does not accept the creed's definition of Trinity that the three are consubstantial nor agree with the Athanasian Creed's statement that God and Christ are incomprehensible.In contrast, the view of the LDS Church view is that it is self-evident in the Bible that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons: three divine beings as illustrated in the Farewell Prayer of Jesus, his baptism at the hands of John, his transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen.
Jehovah's Witnesses are often referred to as "modern-day Arians" or they are sometimes referred to as "Semi-Arians",usually by their opponents, although Jehovah's Witnesses themselves have denied these claims. While there are some significant similarities in matters of doctrine, Jehovah's Witnesses differ from Arians by stating that the Son can fully know the Father (something which Arius himself denied), and by their denial of personality to the Holy Spirit. The original Arians also generally prayed directly to Jesus, whereas Jehovah's Witnesses exclusively worship and pray to Jehovah God, through Jesus as a mediator.
Other groups which oppose the belief in the Trinity are not necessarily Arian.
God is unoriginate, unending, eternal, constant, uncreated, unchanging, unalterable, simple, incomplex, bodiless, invisible, intangible, indescribable, without bounds, inaccessible to the mind, uncontainable, incomprehensible, good, righteous, that Creator of all creatures, the almighty Pantocrator. (p 57)
Athanasius I of Alexandria, also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His intermittent episcopacy spanned 45 years, of which over 17 encompassed five exiles, when he was replaced on the order of four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.
Eusebius of Nicomedia was an Arian priest who baptized Constantine the Great on his deathbed in 337. A fifth-century legend evolved that Pope Saint Sylvester I was the one to baptize Constantine, but this is dismissed by scholars as a forgery 'to amend the historical memory of the Arian baptism that the emperor received at the end of his life, and instead to attribute an unequivocally orthodox baptism to him.' He was a bishop of Berytus in Phoenicia. He was later made the bishop of Nicomedia, where the Imperial court resided. He lived finally in Constantinople from 338 up to his death.
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325.
In Christianity, Sabellianism is the western Church heresy equivalent to the eastern historic Patripassianism, which are both forms of theological modalism. Sabellianism is the belief that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different modes or aspects of God, as opposed to a Trinitarian view of three distinct persons within the Godhead. The term Sabellianism comes from Sabellius, who was a theologian and priest from the 3rd century. None of his writings have survived and so all that is known about him comes from his opponents. All evidence shows that Sabellius held Jesus to be deity while denying the plurality of persons in God and holding a belief similar to modalistic monarchianism. Modalistic monarchianism has been generally understood to have arisen during the second and third centuries, and to have been regarded as heresy after the fourth, although this is disputed by some.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity holds that God is one God, but three coeternal and consubstantial persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature" (homoousios). In this context, a "nature" is what one is, whereas a "person" is who one is.
Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity that rejects the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity—the belief that God is three distinct hypostases or persons who are coeternal, coequal, and indivisibly united in one being, or essence. Certain religious groups that emerged during the Protestant Reformation have historically been known as antitrinitarian.
Arius was a Cyrenaic presbyter and ascetic, and priest in Baucalis in Alexandria, Egypt, who is most known for having been the founder of the heresy known as Arianism. His teachings about the nature of the Godhead in Christianity, which emphasized God the Father's uniqueness and Christ's subordination under the Father, and his opposition to what would become the dominant Christology, Homoousian Christology, made him a primary topic of the First Council of Nicaea, which was convened by Emperor Constantine the Great in 325.
The Councils of Sirmium were the five episcopal councils held in Sirmium in 347, 351, 357, 358 and finally in 375 or 378. The third—the most important of the councils—marked a temporary compromise between Arianism and the Western bishops of the Christian church. At least two of the other councils also dealt primarily with the Arian controversy. All of these councils were held under the rule of Constantius II, who was sympathetic to the Arians.
Semi-Arianism was a position regarding the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God, adopted by some 4th-century Christians. Though the doctrine modified the teachings of Arianism, it still rejected the doctrine that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-eternal, and of the same substance, or consubstantial, and was therefore considered to be heretical by many contemporary Christians.
Marcellus of Ancyra was a Bishop of Ancyra and one of the bishops present at the Council of Ancyra and the First Council of Nicaea. He was a strong opponent of Arianism, but was accused of adopting the opposite extreme of modified Sabellianism. He was condemned by a council of his enemies and expelled from his see, though he was able to return there to live quietly with a small congregation in the last years of his life. He is also said to have destroyed the temple of Zeus Belos at Apamea.
Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two persons, personas, or aspects in one substance/Divinity. Classically, binitarianism is understood as a form of monotheism—that is, that God is absolutely one being—and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God, which means one God family. The other common forms of monotheism are "unitarianism", a belief in one God with one person, and "trinitarianism", a belief in one God with three persons.
Homoiousios is a Christian theological term, coined in the 4th century by a distinctive group of Christian theologians who held the belief that God the Son was of a similar, but not identical, essence with God the Father. Homoiousianism arose as an attempt to reconcile two opposite teachings, homoousianism and homoianism. Following Trinitarian doctrines of the First Council of Nicaea (325), homoousians believed that God the Son was of the same essence with God the Father. On the other hand, homoians refused to use the term οὐσία, believing that God the Father is "incomparable" and therefore the Son of God can not be described in any sense as "equal" or "same" but only as "like" or "similar" to the Father, in some subordinate sense of the term. In order to find a theological solution that would reconcile those opposite teachings, homoiousians tried to compromise between the essence-language of homoousians and the notion of similarity, held by homoians. Their attempt failed, and by the First Council of Constantinople (381) homoiousianism was already marginalized.
Homoousion is a Christian theological term, most notably used in the Nicene Creed for describing Jesus as "same in being" or "same in essence" with God the Father. The same term was later also applied to the Holy Spirit in order to designate him as being "same in essence" with the Father and the Son. Those notions became cornerstones of theology in Nicene Christianity, and also represent one of the most important theological concepts within the Trinitarian doctrinal understanding of God.
In Christian theology, the incarnation is the belief that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos, "was made flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos. The doctrine of the incarnation, then, entails that Jesus is fully God and fully human.
Subordinationism is a belief that began within early Christianity that asserts that the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to God the Father in nature and being. Various forms of subordinationism were believed or condemned until the mid-4th century, when the debate was decided against subordinationism as an element of the Arian controversy. In 381, after many decades of formulating the doctrine of the Trinity, the First Council of Constantinople condemned Arianism.
The Arian controversy was a series of Christian theological disputes that arose between Arius and Athanasius of Alexandria, two Christian theologians from Alexandria, Egypt. The most important of these controversies concerned the substantial relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
The Pneumatomachi, also known as Macedonians or Semi-Arians in Constantinople and the Tropici in Alexandria, were an anti-Nicene Creed sect which flourished in the countries adjacent to the Hellespont during the latter half of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth centuries. They denied the godhood of the Holy Ghost, hence the Greek name Pneumatomachi or 'Combators against the Spirit'.
In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.
Christianity in late antiquity traces Christianity during the Christian Roman Empire – the period from the rise of Christianity under Emperor Constantine, until the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The end-date of this period varies because the transition to the sub-Roman period occurred gradually and at different times in different areas. One may generally date late ancient Christianity as lasting to the late 6th century and the re-conquests under Justinian of the Byzantine Empire, though a more traditional end-date is 476, the year in which Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus, traditionally considered the last western emperor.
Arian Creeds are the creeds of Arian Christians, developed mostly in the fourth century when Arianism was one of the main varieties of Christianity. A creed is a brief summary of the beliefs of a group of religious practitioners, expressed in a more or less standardized format. Arian creeds are a subset of Christian Creeds.
All of these bishops agreed with the major theological positions hammered out by their proto-orthodox forebears; as I have noted, the forms of “lost Christianity” we have been discussing had by this time already been displaced, suppressed, reformed, or destroyed.
Just about everyone in the Christian church at large agreed that Jesus was himself divine, but that there was only one God. But how exactly did it work? How could they both be God?
Other examples could well be chosen, in which the early proponents of the faith, attempting to uncover its mysteries in ways that laid the foundation for later reflection, were themselves condemned by their own successors, who refined their understanding to such a point that the partially developed, imprecise, or allegedly wrongheaded claims of their predecessors were necessarily seen not simply as inadequate but as heretical and so not to be tolerated.
The Doctrine of the Trinity says that there are three distinct persons. They are distinct. They're not the same. They're all three different persons. They are all equally God and yet there's only one god. Now the best theologians have always classified that as a mystery, which means that you can't understand it with your rational mind. If you think you do understand it, then you misunderstand it.
The mystery of the Trinity: (1+1+1=1) = Nonsense! This idea that three persons add up to one individual seems like nonsense. And logically, it is. So Christians don't try to understand the doctrine of the Trinity logically or as a problem of arithmetic. Unfortunately most other attempts to explain the Trinity don't really capture the concept either, or are very difficult to understand.
The pagan Ammianus Marcellinus says of the councils under Constantius: "The highways were covered with galloping bishops;" and even Athanasius rebuked the restless flutter of the clergy.
Most of them were Christians, but, crucially, they were not Catholic Christians, who believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, that God is one God but three distinct persons of the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. They were rather Arians, who believed that Jesus was lesser than God the Father (see Chapter Six). Most of their subjects, however, were Catholics.