Arianism A heresy which arose in the fourth century, and denied the Divinity of Jesus Chr ist.

DOCTRINE First among the doctrinal disputes which troubled Christians after Constantine h ad recognized the Church in A.D. 313, and the parent of many more during some three centuries, Arianism occupies a large place in ecclesiastical history. It i s not a modern form of unbelief, and therefore will appear strange in modern eyes. But w e shall better grasp its meaning if we term it an Eastern attempt to rationalize t he creed by stripping it of mystery so far as the relation of Christ to God was concerned. In the New Testament and in Church teaching Jesus of Nazareth appears as the Son of God. This name He too to Himself (Matt., xi, 27; John, x, 36), while the Fourth Gospel declares Him to be the Word (Logos), Who in the beginning was with God and was God, by Whom all things were made. A similar doctrine is laid down by St. Paul, in his undoubtedly genuine Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. It is reiterated in the Letters of Ignat ius, and accounts for Pliny's observation that Christians in their assemblies chanted a h ymn to Christ as God. But the question how the Son was related to the Father (Himsel f ac nowledged on all hands to be the one Supreme Deity), gave rise, between the years A. D. 60 and 200, to number of Theosophic systems, called generally Gnosticism, and having for their authors Basilides, Valentinus, Tatian, and othe r Gree speculators. Though all of these visited Rome, they had no following in th e West, which remained free from controversies of an abstract nature, and was faithful to the creed of its baptism. Intellectual centers were chiefly Alexandr ia and Antioch, Egyptian or Syrian, and speculation was carried on in Gree . The Roman Church held steadfastly by tradition. Under these circumstances, when Gnostic schools had passed away with their "conjugations" of Divine powers, and "emanations" from the Supreme un nowable God (the "Deep" and the "Silence") all speculation was thrown into the form of an inquiry touching the "li eness" o f the Son to His Father and "sameness" of His Essence. Catholics had always maintained that Christ was truly the Son, and truly God. They worshipped Him with divine honors; they would never consent to separate Him, in idea or reality, from the Father, Whose Word, Reason, Mind, He was, and in Whose Heart He abode from eternity. But the technical terms of doctrine were not fully defined; and even i n Gree words li e essence (ousia), substance (hypostasis), nature (physics), pers on (hyposopon) bore a variety of meanings drawn from the pre-Christian sects of philosophers, which could not but entail misunderstandings until they were clear ed up. The adaptation of a vocabulary employed by Plato and Aristotle to Christian truth was a matter of time; it could not be done in a day; and when accomplished for the Gree it had to be underta en for the Latin, which did not lend itself r

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John exalts is an attribute. because they held the creation of the Son to be out of nothing. But the Arian. or equal in dignity. even at the cost of logic. and no small number submitted at length to Catholic teaching. and once had not existed. the Son was originated. God alone was without beginning. These men of the Via Media were named Semi-Arians. And they defined God as simply the Unoriginate. in strict argument. and worldly devices tell us                 . Such is the genuine doctrine of Arius. "God neither begets. it denies that the Son is of one essence. But a view so unli e tradition found little favour. as Himself made out of nothing. and therefore not li e Him. Using Gree terms. either without adjunct. as Mohammed tersely said afterwards. it required softening or pal liation. He described the Son as a second. They approached. their difficulties turned upon language or local prejudice. and the school which supplanted Arianism form an earl y date affirmed the li eness. or substance with God. tumultuous councils. For all that has origin must begin to be. The Logos which St. but many of them held the orthodox faith. though he did not come straight down from the Gnostic. These consequences follow upon the principle which Arius maintains in his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia. to the heretical extreme. or within the real sphere of Deity. and as arraye d in all divine perfections except the one which was their stay and foundation. He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father." Hence the Arian sectarie s who reasoned logically were styled Anomoeans: they said that the Son was "unli e " the Father. and their shifting creeds. and therefore is a Son merely in figure of speech. It was the ultimate scope of Arian opposition to what Christians had always believe d. that the Son "is no part of the Ingenerate. Reason. while denying His co-equal dignity and co-eternal existence. pursued a line of argument and taught a view which the speculations of the Gnostic had mad e familiar. cxii). or in subs tance. belonging to the Divine nature. The drift of all he advanced was this: to deny that in any true sens e God could have a Son. unoriginate. T he Semi-Arians attempted for years to invent a compromise between irreconcilable views. was inevitable. nor is He begotten" (Koran. And of these wranglings the rationalist would ta e advantage in order to substitute for the ancient creed hi s own inventions.eadily to necessary yet subtle distinctions. or in all things. however inconsistently. We have learned to call that denial Unitarianism. as existing before the worlds of the ages. They are also termed the Exucontians (ex ou onton). of the Son to the Father. or inferior God. That disputes should spring up even among the orthodox who all held one faith. not a person distinct from another. yet as ma ing all things else. o r co-eternal. standing midway between the First Cause and creatures. nature.

Three councils held at Antioch (264-268. and. Dionysius of Alexandria (260) was even denounced at Rome for calling the Son a wor or creature of God. was distinct from the Logos. Among the ante-Nicene writers. or. and the Trinity. they imagined Him as having become the Son to create the worlds and redeem man ind. we find the well. by meri t was made the Son of God. "subordinate" to the source of His being. begotten of the Father . but he explaine d himself to the pope on orthodox principles. whose unadvised speculations were charged with the guilt of Arianism. and who employed terms li e "the second God. who was contemporary with Dionysius. The Supreme is one in Person as in Essence.how mixed and motley a crowd was collected under their banner. dreading lest it be ta en to signify one material or abstract substance. Origen himself. whose language appears to involve a peculiar notion of Sonship. >From these doubtful theorizings Rome and Alexandria ept aloof. that Father. yet an opening was left for discussion as regarded the term "Son. and Novatian. Cardinal Newman held that their view. in fact or in thought. that there was only o ne God. The point to be ept in remembrance is that. To these may be added Tertullian and Methodius. is the First-born of creation. but the Anglican Bishop Bull defended them as orthodox. or 269) condemned and excommunicated the Samosatene. and the Circuminession. and was not a Semi-Arian. from one another.nown Lucian. While Catholic teachers held the Monarchia. not without difficulty. accordi ng to the usage of the heathen philosophies. and Spirit could not be separated. Hippolytus. Not. in this way. su ch language might give shelter to unfair disputants. From this learned man the school of Antioch drew its inspiration. but we are not answerable for the slips of teachers who failed to perceive all the consequences of doctrinal truth s really held by them. and confessed the Homoousian Creed. a certain ambiguity of expression may be detected.this very Origen taught the eternal Sonship of the Word. HISTORY Paul of Samosata. Eusebius of Nicomedia. Even if metaphorical. said Paul. the Son." and the period of His "generation" (gennesis). He comes forth from God as the creative Word. To him the Logos. which were never adopted by the Church . Eusebius the historian. who edited the Septuagint and became at last a martyr. as though It did not come into being or were not perfect unti l the dawn of creation. and for years cut o ff from the Catholic communion. may be judged the true ancestor of those heresies which relegated Christ beyond the Divine sphere. Associated with Paul. while they affirmed the Word of God to be everlasting." concerning the Logos. The man Jesus. Petavius construed the same expressions in a reprehensible sense. all came under Lucian's influence. is connected as an antecedent with Arianism. outside the school of Alexandria. in Milton's later language. Theophilus of Antioch. and. whatever epithets of deity they allowed Him. of the Son existing after the Word. from a different po int of view. and Arius himself. But these Fathers would not accept the Homoousian formula. and so is a ministering Agent. therefore. Word. Tatian. to Egypt and i               . that this Absolute One existed in three distinct subsisten ces. Five ante-Nicene Fathers are especially quoted: Athenagoras. touching this last head of doctrine. and Bishop of Antioch. which is found clearly in Tertullian. viz. and Jesus of Nazareth were one ever-subsisting Divine Person.

It is commonly said that Hosius of Cordova presided. by his defeat of Licinius (324). he wielded over the pagan worship. Silvester. Constantine became master of t he Roman world. tutored by this worldly-minded man. almost all from the East. 325. imperfectly acquainted with Gree . which has ever been counted the fir st ecumenical. From this Byzantine conception (labelled in modern terms Erastianism) we must derive the calamities which during many hundreds of years set their mar on the development of Christian dogma. The emperor. therefore. should we loo for the home of an aberration which had it finally triumphed. Epiphanius describes the heresiarch as tall. in a letter to the Nicomedian prelate. and which held its sittings from the middle of June. But Constantine. Political or party motives embitter ed the strife. brought up at Antioch and a school-fellow of Eusebiu s. would have anticipated Islam. but when. and winning. who was present. and the latter found a refuge wit h Eusebius. a Libyan by descent. During several years the argument raged. he accused of teaching that the Son was identic al with the Father (319). in Bithynia. as alr eady in the West he had underta en to put down the Donatists at the Council of Arles. afterwards Bishop of Nicomedia. had boldly rejected the Catholic f aith. in which he treated the controversy as an idle disput e about words and enlarged on the blessings of peace. and thus undoing the Christian revelation. he determined on restoring ecclesiastical order in the East. Arius. too part (306) in the obscure Meletian schism. and yet ambitious to exercise over the Catholic Church a dominion resembling that which. the acts of the Council are not preserv ed. Many bishops of Asia Minor and Syria too up the defence of their "fellow-Lucianist. and opposed t he Sabellians. in public synod. themselves committed to a view of the Trinity which denied all real distinctions in the Supreme. Alexander could not give way in a matter so vitally important. grave. at Caesarea. the Church historian." at Alexandria. A council was. Arius and his supporters would not yield. Synods in Palesti ne and Bithynia were opposed to synods in Egypt. no aspersion on his moral character has been sustained. was made presbyter of the church called "Baucalis. St.ts mystical teaching. where Aristotle flourished with his logic and i ts tendency to Rationalism. and 318 Fathers attende d. much more incompetent in theology. was represented by his legates. but Alexander condemned Arius in a great assembly. but there is so me possibility of personal differences having led to his quarrel with the patriarch Alexander whom. Arius. assembled in Nicaea. The emperor. The actual circumstances of this dispute are obscure. was only a catechumen. reducing the Eternal Son to the ran of a prophet. (See FIRST COUNCIL OF NICAEA). Unfortunately. we should call to mind." as Arius did not hesitate to call himself. but to Syria. sent from Nicomedia to Alexander a famous letter. paid religious deference to a gathering which displayed the authority of Christian teaching in a manner so remar able. From th e                 . as Pontifex Maximus. The Pope.

the ever-memorable Athanasius who engaged in discussion with the heresiarch himself. involving Arius in his ruin. Every bishop made this declaratio n except six. no other test save the Homoousion would prove a match for the subtle ambiguities of language that. The heresiarch a nd his followers underwent their sentence in Illyria. antecedent to the Council. to which anathemas were subjoined against those who should affirm that the Son once did not exist. or that He was of a different substance or essence from the Father. had recommended Arius. The saint firmly declined. and these were speedily reduced to seven. and were passionately orthodox. Meanwhile. Hosius drew out the concil iar statements. and Christ Himself. His unblemished life. and led on to the most complicated proceedings of which we read in the fourth century. "I and the Father are on e". of whom four at length gave way. and the Emperor sent his command that Athanasius should receive Arius bac into communion. display. only thirteen bishops dissenting. were seconded by Asiatic intrigues. then. those political prelates who sided with Eusebiu s carried on a double warfare against the term "consubstantial". then as always. The Fathers appealed to tradition against the innovators. and. and its champion. and loyalty to his friends made him by no means easy to attac . proved a beginning of strife. a mastery of the issues involved which no Catholic teacher could surpass. or was created or changeable. in thought and precision . He was not more than thirty years of age. Alexander was accompanied by his youthful deacon. considerate temper. St. who in 328 recovered Constantine's favour. But the wiles of Eusebius. but his published writings. were eagerly adopted by dissidents from the mind of the Church. the alternative proposed was subscription or banishment. as St. John. while a letter was received from Eusebius of Nicomedia. though not simply to be found in Scripture. had furnished from its own scabbard a weapon to cut off its head. Clearly. By the emperor. or t hat He was made out of nothing. which might seem to close the chapter. and a period of Arian reaction set in.         . The "consubstantial" was accepted. Heresy. except the oneness of substance. Constantia.first it was evident that Arius could not rec on upon a large number of patrons among the bishops. and his sojourn of eighteen months in those parts cemented Alexandria more closely to Rome and the Catholic West. This avowal suggested a means of discriminating between true believers and all those who. but would not sign the condemnation of Arius. A formula had been discovered which would serve as a test. was attributed to O ur Lord. In 325 the heresiarch was absolved by two councils. or that before He was begotten He was not. Athanasius. This greatest of the Eastern Fathers had succeeded Alexander in the Egyptian patriarchate (326). the Bishop of Nicomedia w as exiled not long after the council. and from that moment became the leader of the Catholics during well-nigh fifty years. He was banished to Trier. the former of which deposed Athanasius on false and shameful grounds of personal misconduct. declaring openly that he would never allow Christ to be of one substance with Go d. A creed was drawn up on behalf of the Arian party by Eusebius of Caesarea in which every term of honour and dignity. Ambrose remar s. at Tyre and Jerusalem. Paul. But these incidents. under that pretext. did not hold the Faith handed down. Eusebius of Nicomedia withdrew his opposition to the Nicene term. whom she thought an injured man. Eustathius of Antioch was deposed on a charge of Sabellianism (331). While the plain Arian creed was defended by few. yet summing u p the doctrine of St. on political grounds. who considered heresy as rebellion. the Emperor's sister.

The term "li e in substance". Arius openly triumphed. which had been employed merely to get rid of the Nicene formula. bore decisive witness to the need and efficacy of the Catholic touchstone which they all rejected. produced the unhappy schi sm of East and West. in which every shade of heretical subterfuge found expression. but the y could not come to terms. Therefore it was that Athanasius repaired to Rome. But the young prince passed away. that party which sought to overcome made its appearance in the Vatican. Valens. Gregory. He obeyed the Eusebian faction. who nominally governed the East. Constantine now favoured none but Arians. he was baptized in his last moments by the shifty prelate of Nicomedia. remar s the German scholar. Bishop of Mursa. prelates began the debates. which Catholics could not help regarding as a judgment of heaven. and by the influence of that emperor's son and namesa e. later on. Constantius. he had been restored to his people. Gibbon quotes and adopts "a judicious observation" of Wetstein which deserves to be ep t always in mind. It has been justly said that the Council of Sardica reveals the first symptoms of discord which. extracted from him a solemn adhesion to the Nicene faith. and the Asiatics withdrew. and he recalled the Lybian. Her dying words affected him. cultivated the Papal majesty. who now too refuge in Rome. The Roman Council proclaimed his innocence.to Constantine's leniency. A stranger. and at length entreating his return to Alexandria (349). But as many as fourteen councils. held between 341 and 360. From the fourth century onwards. which allowed of appeals to Po pe Julius. Constans. The factiou s                   . summoned the bishops to meet at Sardica in Pannonia. seemed an epilogue which completed the Nicene legislation. he expired from a sudden disorder. did what in him lay to infect Italy and the W est with Arian dogmas. About 340. H is death. but as he went about in parade. did not stay the plague. however. an Alexandrian gathering had defended its archbishop in an epistle to Pope Julius. became a watchword. when the Eastern Churches were almost equally divided in eloquence and ability between contending sections. and in 341 the celebrated Antiochene Council of the Dedication a second time degraded Athanasius. due to the bishop's prayers. Having won over Constans. or the Roman Church. Homoiousion. was himself the puppet of his empress and the palace-ministers. the invincible Athanasius received from his Oriental and Semi-Arian sovereign three letters commanding. who warmly too up his cause. and to this effect it was quoted by Innocent I in his correspondenc e with the bishops of Africa. and he bequeathed to his three sons (337) an empire torn by dissensions which his ignorance and wea ness had aggravated. the evening befor e this event was to ta e place. usurped his place. his spiritual director. Ninety-four Latin. conquered and establish ed the orthodox creed by the help of the Latin bishops. There he spent three years. who ruled over the West from Illyria to Britain. In 343. holding a separate and hosti le session at Philippopolis in Thrace. to give him Communion in his own church (336). On the death of Constantine. But to the Latins this meeting. seventy Gree or Eastern. and ordered Alexander. Bishop of the Imperial City.

li e Eusebius of Caesarea. but made a stand against the so-called "Homoean" formulae of Ariminum. the crowd of court-prelates did him abject homage. It was concerning this last council (359) that St.e. Athanasius retired into the des ert among the solitaries. Cyril of Jerusalem. prelates gave in t heir submission to Pope Liberius. would have no terms employed which were not found in Scripture. Theodosius. Gregories. Ariminum. yet slowly drawing nearer to the true creed and finally accepting it. Four year s afterwards fifty-nine Macedonian. As an intellectual movement the heres y had spent its force. retracted their charges against him in the hands o f Pope Julius. Milan. undoubtedly orthodox. Some. i. Personal issues di sguised the dogmatic importance of a struggle which had gone on for thirty years. the strict and p ious Homoiousians. was metropolitan over Palestine. at Alexandria. However. and not St. For the Latin bishops were driven by threats and chicaner y to sign concessions which at no time represented their genuine views. Asia Minor. This new party was led by Acacius of Caesarea. the two St. by way of Thrace. and the reconciled Semi-Arians. in tone Semi-Arian (compiled chiefly from one of Sirmium). a Spaniard and a Catholic. Athanasius died in 373. George o f Cappadocia persecuted the Alexandrian Catholics. These men veered with every wind. brave at first. When the vacillating Emperor died (361). declared the Son to be "unli e" the Father. And a new party had arisen. in 362. Basil. indifferent to dogma. In the councils which now follow these good men play their part. The Pope of the day. though they declined the Arian blasphemies. li e Hilary of Poitiers and Eusebius of Vercellae banished to A sia for holding the Nicene faith. a fierce heretic. were directed by Eunomius. Julian. Ursacius and Valens. The Homoeans. However. long           . and thus evaded signing the "Consubstantial". not friends of Athanasius. but his cause triumphed at Constantinople. But the Emperor Valens. governed the whole Empire. Councils were so frequent that their dates are still matter of controversy. a sort of Protestants. hitherto anti-Nicene. followed Aetius. Liberius. "the whole world groaned and marvelled to find itself Arian". Jerome wrote. A momentous gathering. By a series of intrigues the Western bishop s were persuaded to cast him off at Arles. over which Athanasius presided. when Constans died (350). renounced Athanasius. held meetings at Antioch and Sirmium. were acting in unison with St. the "Anomoeans". A more extreme set. suffered all ali e to return home who had been exiled on account of religion. held a Platonizing doctrine which they would not give up. and Syria. the persecutio n of Athanasius redoubled in violence. signed a creed. an aspiring churchman who maintained that he. Hosius had been compelled by torture to subscribe a fashionable creed. united the orthodox Semi-Arians with himself and the West. and as he travelled home. Western bishops. nown as the Apostate.bishops. nor willing to subscribe to the Nicene terms. and his Semi-Arian brother was left supreme. But many were time-servers. and made themselves powerful in the last years of Constantius within the palace. the long battle was now turning decidedly in favour of Catholic traditi on. still lai d the Church waste. but torn from h is see and banished to the dreary solitude of Thrace..

who translated the Scriptures into Maeso-Gothic. Gregory Nazianzen (q. In the whole story there is but one single hero . Meletius died almost immediately. as his great spirit to the vicissitudes. represented a moderate influence which won the day. Vandals. were perhaps tainted with it. and the Catholic bishops. the latter being due. the action of the Papacy. Heruli. In the form which it to o under Arius.the undaunted Athanasius .). and now.         . Eusebius of Caesarea. among them are Milton and Sir Isasc Newton. No deputies appeared from the West. Alans. and Eunomius.whose mind was equal to the problems. Neither has any Arian leader stood forth in history with a character of heroic proportions. Gregory Nazianzen. From this moment Arianism in all its forms lost its place within the Empire. and Lombards received a system which they were as little capable of understanding as they were of defending. made an end of it before the eighth century. but it is not the one that is chanted at Mass. v. then in the Second General Council (381). Africa. Cyril of Jerusalem. Gregory of Nyssa. Epiphanius and the Church of Jerusalem. the mon s. to St. at the opening of which Meletius of Antioch presided. in company of St. a question on which the future of Christianity depended. St. The Council became ecumenical by acceptance of the Pope and the ever-orthodox Westerns. Its developments among the barbarians were political rather than doctrin al. A creed embodying the Nicene wa s drawn up by St. first by the preaching of St. Arian ingdoms arose in Spain. But the Socinian tendency out of which Unitarian doctrines have grown owes nothing to the school of Antioch or the councils which opposed Nicaea. it is said. taught the Goths across the Danube an Homoean theology. Ulphilas (311-388). The Gepidae.an Arian city. but he made peace with Athanasius. very soon resigned. Individuals. Thi s saintly man had been estranged from the Nicene champions during a long schism. Italy. the sword of Clovis. it has never been revived. who too his place.

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