Arian Christology

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by muhammad_isa, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    @Thomas
    Thank you for your valuable and enlightening post. It is well written and researched and professionally presented, as always the result of deep thought and hard work -- in response to the OP of the thread. Your scholarship and intelligence is a great asset to IO
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I've been garnering info from various sources and will put together an essay on the emergence of what we now call Arianism, the Council of Nicaea and its aftermath.

    But for now, if you think Nicaea decided anything ... think again :D:

    325: Nicaea ends with the Nicene Creed. Arius and five others are exiled.

    327: Eusebius of Caesarea persuades the emperor to recant. Arius is recalled and, with reservations, signed the Nicene Creed. Constantine still holds him the villain of the piece, and the Nicene Creed is the hallmark of orthodoxy, but intends that peace be restored.

    335: Arius and friends received into communion with the Church. Athanasius is deposed.

    336: Arius dies suddenly in Constantinople on the evening before a formal ceremony was to restore him to his presbyterial rank.

    337: Eusebius of Nicomedia baptizes Constantine, who dies on May 22. His eulogy is delivered by Eusebius of Caesarea.

    The empire is divided among his three sons: Constantine II takes Britain and Gaul, Constans is over Italy and the region of Albania/Croatia, Constantius in the east. Constantius, orders the return of Athanasius to Alexandria.

    338: Eusebius of Nicomedia is installed as bishop of Constantinople. A council at Antioch deposes Athanasius and orders a second exile.

    339: Eusebius of Caesarea dies.

    340: Constantine II dies, Constans becomes sole ruler of the west.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Throughout this period, the Western half of the empire has viewed the Arian Controversy as an 'Eastern problem'. It's worth realising that critics bang on about the Roman Church, or the Roman Catholic Church, which is an anachronism, and means they have no grasp of the actual situation. Pope Sylvester of Rome, ill at the time, did not attend Nicaea. Precious few Western bishops did, because they didn't see the issue as effecting them.

    Now the empire is split in two again: Constans (West) supports the Nicenes, Constantius (East) is pro-Arian.

    341: Two synods at Antioch produce the First, Second, Third and Fourth Arian Confessions (Creeds), written to oppose the Nicene Creed.
    The bishops of the East deny being 'Arians': "How, being bishops, should we follow a presbyter?" Arius is old news and no longer a player.

    Eusebius of Nicomedia dies.

    342: Constans convenes a council, which ends in acrimony. Western and Eastern bishops denounce each other.

    344: Antioch. The Fifth Arian Confession.

    346: Athanasius is restored to the Alexandrian see.

    350: Magnentius murders Constans.

    351: The Sixth Arian Confession is written.

    353: Constantius defeats Magnentius and becomes sole ruler of the empire.

    355: A council in Milan condemns Athanasius.

    356: Athanasius is deposed, beginning his third exile.

    356: George replaces Athanasius in Alexandria. He follows Aetius, who claims the Son is unlike (anomoios) and cannot be of the same or similar essence as the Father.

    357: Eudoxius, influenced by Aetius, becomes bishop of Antioch.

    357: The Seventh Arian Confession is written.
    Western bishops move as close as ever they will to a compromise with the Arians. Both homoousios (of one essence) and homoiousios (alike in essence) are avoided as unbiblical, and it is agreed that the Father is greater than his subordinate son.

    358: A council at Ancyra releases a statement using the term homoiousios. The bishops attending are labelled "Semi-Arian."

    359: The Eighth Arian Confession is written, a compromise designed to please everybody, it satisfies nobody.

    Constantius summons two councils to finish what Nicaea had started, that is, to develop a unifying creed for Christianity.

    The Synod of Ariminum (Rimini) is held in the West attended by more than 400 bishops. The Synod of Seleucia in the East attended by about 160 bishops. Here, the Ninth Arian Confession is written, which affirms that Christ is "like the Father" while, at the same time, anathematizing the Anomoeans. In the end, both councils agree to this semi-Arian statement of Faith, even though it does not specify how the Son is like the Father. However, the agreement seems to have been coerced at Ariminum, which may have otherwise ended in favour of Nicaea.

    360: The Tenth Arian Confession is written.
    Commenting on this council twenty years later, Jerome writes that the world "awoke with a groan to find itself Arian."

    Constantius' armies are facing difficulties and meeting defeat. The Gallic forces declare Julian, Constantius' cousin, emperor, rather than giving their support to the failing Constantius. Constantius dies after naming Julian as emperor.

    361: Euzonius becomes bishop of Antioch. Euzonius was excommunicated with Arius in 318 and 325, restored with him in 335.
    The Eleventh Arian Confession is written. This creed is strongly Anomoean, leading Athanasius to remark that the Arians have reverted back to the first doctrines framed by Arius.

    373: Athanasius dies.

    381: The First Council (Second Ecumenical) of Constantinople convenes to review the controversy since Nicaea. Under the direction of Gregory of Nazianzus, the Nicene Creed is re-evaluated and accepted with the addition of clauses on the Holy Spirit and other matters.

    383: First Constantinople are reviewed. The Arian controversy is ended, the orthodox Church finally accepting a non-Arian statement of faith uncontested by any further Arian confessions.

    Constantinople was mainly an Eastern council, and finally the Eastern bishops agreed to the revised Creed of Nicaea, with the addition of comments on the Holy Spirit. The West generally saw no problem with it.

    Meanwhile, for orthodoxy, a new century and a whole raft of new controversies await ...

    (Note: In the non-Empire West, much of south-east and central Europe, the Germanic tribes had been converted to an Arian Christianity by their first missionary, the genius Ulfilas. Arianism would factor in various wars in the collapsing Roman Empire. Arianism survived in North Africa, Hispania and parts of Italy until the 6th and 7th centuries. Grimoald, King of the Lombards (662–671), and his son Garibald (671), were the last Arian kings in Europe.)
     
  3. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    @Thomas
    It is all very interesting and I'm sure I'm in agreement with much of your post above.
    I certainly don't think that Nicea "decided anything" as such ..

    I note that you left out:

    380 The Edict of Thessalonica , issued by three reigning Roman Emperors, made Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. It condemned other Christian creeds such as Arianism as heresies of madmen, and authorized their persecution.

    This period in the history of Christianity is very complex and we could go on for years :)
    Take Emperor Diocletian and the "great persecution" of Christians [ 303 - 313]. That would be Christians generally, but I think it can be shown that certain groups were more persecuted than others.
     
  4. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Well caught @muhammad_isa
    You are correct. However it seems the problem was not with the divinity of the Son, but of the Holy Spirit? The divinity of the Son had never been in dispute by Arius but the argument involved fine-tuning of the exact nature of Christ? Constantine himself thought it a storm in a teacup (@Thomas #76)

    It appears to me from these threads that Arianism in its original structure neither argued against the divinity of the Son, nor implied that Trinitarianism was polytheism? It is possible that later Arian factions, or later Roman emperors did so, but I don't know? Popular modern understanding of Arianism has certainly done so.

    https://www.bunkertownchurch.org/docs/ce/edict-of-thessalonica.pdf

    Edict of Thessalonica 380 A.D.
    Issued by Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II

    It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our Clemency and Moderation should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus [Bishop of Rome] and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness.

    According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity.

    We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgement they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches.

    They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority that in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict.

    Summary:
    The edict was directed, not against non-Christians, but against Arian Christians. Theodosius summoned a council to meet at Constantinople in May 381, which was to be the 2nd Ecumenical Council. It reaffirmed the Nicene Creed and clarified the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Arian bishops throughout the East were replaced by orthodox bishops and Arians were expelled from Constantinople.

    It is often said that the Edict of Thessalonica made Christianity the ‘official religion’ of the Roman Empire but this is misleading. It reflects a modern understanding of the world that had no meaning for people at the time. It is important to remember that, in all traditional societies, religion and government were inextricably intertwined—indeed, it is fair to say that government was a religious function.

    By the end of the fourth century the religion intertwined with the Empire was Christianity. This situation had developed over the course of a century. It was never ‘officially’ declared and did not need to be—it was simply an obvious fact.


    Resource: http://www.sevencouncils.com/an-orthodox-journey/the-edict-of-thessalonica

    The Nicene Creed:
    https://www.loyolapress.com/catholi...yers-every-catholic-should-know/nicene-creed/
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  5. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Exactly. That is why I said citing early-church history becomes political, imo.

    It does appear at a first glance that the Nicene council was a democratic process that established the majority view.
    However, if we consider "the great persecution" that came immediately before it, one can see that it is not unreasonable
    to think that the bishops were favoured during that persecution due to their loyalty to the empire.
    eg. towed the Roman line and were not "extremists"
     
  6. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Ok. But the reality is the original Arian controversy neither argued against the divinity of the Son, nor implied that belief in the Trinity was polytheism? Although later players -- whether Arian sectarians or Roman emperors -- may have adopted that false idea and run with it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Good point.

    Theodosius certainly believed strongly, and he made a lot of noise, setting out to eliminate nonconformists, Arians, Manichaeans, the Pneumatomachoi, Macedonians, Apollinarians, and then later, outside the Church, pagans. The sheer volume of legislation was impressive.

    There was an increase of rhetorical invective: "madness of their excessively obstinate minds," the "contamination" of heresies described as a "pestilence" and so on. The laws also excel in 'excess verbiage'. Heresies were listed in detail to prevent lawyers using semantic arguments to slip through the net, as it were. Heresies were condemned and churches confiscated. Heretics were forbidden to assemble in, acquire or build churches; to ordain; to teach.

    One of the most striking features of the legislation was the lack of punishment found in most of the laws. Beyond the confiscation of property, ineligibility to inherit or bequeath wealth (via will or exile), there are only four laws which give punishments, and only two seem to indicate the death penalty. The method seems to have been to impede their freedom of assembly, construction of churches and transmission of beliefs through the prohibition of ordinations and teachings.

    There were acts of violence, but often it's hard to determine whether these were directed by the Emperor or his officers, or undertaken at grass-roots level with the mob taking the law into their own hands, often driven by social unrest and the chance to strike at 'the rich' who suddenly found themselves out in the cold.

    We ten to think of these things as global, whereas in fact they were regional and sporadic, and often with limited scope. In the West, where Diocletian had limited influence, the edict was largely ignored.

    The people knew that emperors come and go. The wind and mood changes. Constantius II was pro-Arian. His successor Julian 'The Apostate' revived paganism, championed the religious cult of Rome and favoured Judaism as well as tolerating heterodox Christian sects and schismatics. Jovian, only lasted eight months. Valens was Arian, then along comes Theodosius the Nicene Christian. Gratian in the West promoted persecution of heretics.

    So it's hardly surprising that everybody kept their heads down. The political players used the prevailing currents to settle scores, and much as the emperors liked to legislate, the people were hardly enthusiastic to make a name for themselves when the next one along might rear up and bite them in the backside.
     
  8. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Well, clearly the Arian idea of "divinity of the Son" was different from those that argued in favour of the nicene creed.
    "divine" is a word that can have different connotations .. divine as in Father = Son = God
    ..or as divine Father = God which is greater than the divine Son

    That is true. Arius did not accuse those in favour of the Nicene creed of being polytheists as far as I know.
     
  9. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    No, not clearly. Not clearly at all. In fact it was not the issue. The issue was never the divinity, but the finer philosophical structure.

    You would like it to be so in order to prove your own point. But it is not the case.
    Yes, but that is what the whole discussion was about. It was never about the divinity of the Son, and never that the Trinity was polytheist?

    I keep posting the Nicene Creed. Have you read it yet?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  10. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Let's have it shall we? :)

    We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.
    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
    By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth];
    Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man;
    He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven;
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
    And in the Holy Ghost.


    Very specific .. doesn't leave much wiggle room :)
    Don't forget, this thread is not about the difference between "a Christian creed" and a "Muslim creed".
    It is about the insistence of the above creed being sacred, and all others [ particularly so-called Arians ] being blasphemous.
     
  11. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    No @muhammad_isa
    It is about the divinity of the Son, and that Trinitarianism is falsely and ignorantly labelled polytheism.
     
  12. Tone Bristow-Stagg

    Tone Bristow-Stagg Active Member

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    The only issue with it is limiting the Eternal Spirit to an exclusive single flesh body with one name Jesus.

    Where as, Christ is unlimited.

    Regards Tony
     
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  13. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Come on .. please. Show me where I have said that in this thread. :(
     
  14. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Alright. So that is not what you think, or what you are arguing, or what you believe?
     
  15. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    It most certainly is not what I'm arguing.
    I said:

    ..so, you are entitled to believe whatever you like.
    I am highly suspicious of a creed that emanates from such political turmoil.
    You know what I believe, don't you? I'm a Unitarian.
     
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  16. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    ... who rejects Trinitarianism as polytheism?

    Which is fine it is your right. But from these threads it seems adopting Arianism is not the best way* to push that forward?
    Bingo

    *best honest way
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  17. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    I used to recite the Apostle's creed every Sunday as I was a "choir boy".
    There was some Latin stuff as well that I don't remember now.

    I also had to study Latin in school for 2 years.
    At the time, I didn't realise how lucky I was to have such a good education.
    Praise God!
     
  18. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
  19. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    I don't think we better discuss the Apostle's creed right now.
    I'm not purposely trying to upset people, you know.
     
  20. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    What's the problem? Who's going to be upset? It's an open interfaith forum? Assuming you have reasonable facts, opposed to a whole lot of unsupported conjecture, that is?
     

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