The Trinity: Genesis of a doctrine

RJM

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Hmm .. I'm not sure what you two are saying here..
Do you want me to continue with "my" evidence .. or do you want me to drop it? :)
Can you not provide references for the Wikipedia passages you post? Wikipedia articles do provide references to the sources of their information. Wikipedia itself is not adequate as a source, unless the source of the information published on Wikipedia is provided?

Without speaking for him, I think the point made by @Thomas is that any real information Wikipedia can provide on the subject of Arius and Arianism, is eventually going to have to come down to documents and letters and historical evidence?
 

muhammad_isa

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Without speaking for him, I think the point made by @Thomas is that any real information Wikipedia can provide on the subject of Arius and Arianism, is eventually going to have to come down to documents and letters and historical evidence?

I realise that is what he is saying .. but do we all want to go deeper into this argument?
I don't mind, but I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.

We have established that the Arians believed "the divinity of Jesus was not as great as that of the Father".

Me: They were not denying the divinity of Jesus .. this is the whole point .. they were saying that his divinity was not as great as the Father.
Thomas: Well we agree on that! :D

..so is it really just about historical documents? ..do we really need those to construct a coherent argument about whether Arians believed Jesus was "very God of very God"?
I wouldn't have thought so.

However .. I don't want to 'bang on' about this if it's upsetting people.
 

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don't mind, but I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.
I'm not threatened
We have established that the Arians believed "the divinity of Jesus was not as great as that of the Father".
But have we? As far as I can see it's established that Arius believed the divinity of the Son was equal to but begotten of the Father? Begotten branch of unbegotten vine.

What later Arians or writers turned it into is irrelevant. The full divinity of the Son was accepted by Arius. What later people did with what he really thought is immaterial? It's fake news?

That's what I've learnt from these Arius discussions so far?
Arians believed Jesus was "very God of very God"?
I wouldn't have thought so.
See above.
However .. I don't want to 'bang on' about this if it's upsetting people
No. But you're already decided according to your inerrant scripture, so it doesn't matter what anybody says -- your only requirement is to satisfy yourself that your own scripture is correct.

If Arius stood in front of you right now and told you that he was in line with the full divinity of the Son, you'd be telling him no he didn't -- and then be telling him what he actually did think. Imo

So don't worry: it's not about you banging on, but about your rejecting evidence that doesn't fit your paradigm, and making people repeat themselves continuously.

You will never be able to accept anything contrary to your fixed belief.
 
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muhammad_isa

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RJM

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so is it really just about historical documents?
You should read the following medium length thesis..
https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1045&context=honorsprojects

I believe the book Early Christian Doctrines by J. N. D. Kelly is mentioned in both wiki and that thesis.

https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Early_Christian_Doctrines.html?id=UivDgM0WywoC&redir_esc=y
I'll have a look. Doctrinal wranglings don't mean that much to me
 
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Cino

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Do you want me to continue with "my" evidence .. or do you want me to drop it?
If I may? Just try your best to trace back your evidence. If you got it from wikipedia, look up the sources at the bottom of the page. If it is your own reasoning or inspired thought, say so, although unless based on direct revelation from the beyond, your scholarship or research on those ancient debates will be based on material available to you in some form, and you can say which it is.

Thanks, and I'm back to reading along. I best liked the bits where I learn things I didn't know yet.
 
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Thanks. It’s well written and gives a good 'beginners' overview of the Arian controversy. I don't know how more experienced scholars will feel about it, but as a 'beginner' myself I am glad I read it, and learned quite a lot from it. In the end I don't see how it's going to change anything? In the final analysis we have this:

As a finite being the Son cannot understand the infinite God. Like all creatures the son sees and knows God proportional to his capacity and power”

And this:

“Arius believed that the Son was created before time, which should be presupposed as Arius believes that the Son created time itself along with everything else in the world. In other words, the Son was created before time, because as the agent of creation the Son created time itself. While Arius accepts that the Son was created before time he cannot accept him as coeternal with the Father, because that would presuppose two self existent beings.” (Page 22)

And this:
In his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, Arius says:
"... the Son is not unbegotten, nor a part of an unbegotten entity in any way, nor from anything in existence, but that he is subsisting in will and intention before time and before the ages, fully God" (πλήρης θεός pleres theos, fully God) And the letter is quoted by both Athanasius and Theodoret – and it seems reasonable if they, as 'victors' were casting Arius in a poor light, they would not have included that phrase.

To me it is doctrinal wrangling. Why does it matter so much? Trinitarian Christians believe Christ is THE Son of God. Fully God, and fully man. Begotten branch of unbegotten vine. The finer points will always be mysterious to human minds. Muslims believe TCs will go to hell for their belief. TCs don't give a fig what Muslims think they should believe. No offence to Muslims intended or implied.

Where is the middle ground?

Each to his own. Does God care for human wrangling? God knows the heart and soul of every person.
Blessings, brother Muhammad

(edited ...)
 
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muhammad_isa

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To me it is doctrinal wrangling. Why does it matter so much? Trinitarian Christians believe Christ is THE Son of God..

A good question .. why DOES it matter so much? Why does this topic cause men to kill each other from before Muhammad was born up until this day?
[ a clue .. the devil loves to divide & rule ]

God knows the heart and soul of every person.
Blessings, brother Muhammad

Indeed "the One God" knows all.
..and may God bless you.
 
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I hope @Thomas will not mind that I have tried to collect the relevant parts of his recent posts on the subject of Arianism and the Trinity together here, including his excerpts from letters etc, for quick reference
In his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, Arius says:

"... the Son is not unbegotten, nor a part of an unbegotten entity in any way, nor from anything in existence, but that he is subsisting in will and intention before time and before the ages, fully God" (πλήρης θεός pleres theos, fully God) And the letter is quoted by both Athanasius and Theodoret – and it seems reasonable if they, as 'victors' were casting Arius in a poor light, they would not have included that phrase.

All the Creed says is "And the Holy Spirit" ... hardly the Romans handing down a definition of the Trinity!
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No he wasn't, he was arguing against the eternity of the Son. The whole dispute rides on "the was a time when he (the Son) was not".
Arius never mentions the Trinity, nor the Holy Spirit ... it was Christology … Arius' theology would suggest an hierarchical Trinity.
Christology of the Arian Controversy:

Arius Letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, c318AD:

"... But what do we say and think and what have we previously taught and do we presently teach? — that the Son is not unbegotten, nor a part of an unbegotten entity in any way, nor from anything in existence, but that he is subsisting in will and intention before time and before the ages, fully God, the only-begotten, unchangeable. Before he was begotten, or created, or defined, or established, he did not exist. For he was not unbegotten." (para 4 & 5)

Letter of Eusebius of Caesarea to Euphration of Balanea: (uncertain, between 318-323AD)

"But he (Jesus) teaches that that one (the Father) is alone true when he says, "that they may know you, the only true God" (John 17:3), not as if one only is God, but that one is the (only) true God, with the very necessary addition of true. For also he himself is Son of God, but not true, as God is. For there is but one true God, the one before whom nothing existed. But if the Son himself is true, it is simply as an image of the true God, and he is God, for (Scripture says) "and the Word was God" (John 1:1), but not as the only true God." (para 3)

Arius Letter to Alexander of Alexandria (320AD) He also writes The Banquet (Thalia), a verse collection perhaps to popularise his doctrine.

"We acknowledge One God, alone unbegotten, alone everlasting, alone without beginning, alone true, alone having immortality, alone wise, alone good, alone sovereign, judge, governor, and provider of all, unalterable and unchangeable, just and good, God of the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament; who begat an only-begotten Son before time and the ages, through whom he made both the ages (Hebrews 1:2) and all that was made... that he made him (Son) subsist at his own will, unalterable and unchangeable, the perfect creature of God, but not as one of the creatures; offspring, but not as one of the other things begotten ... but, as we say, he was created at the will of God, before time and before the ages, and came to life and being from the Father, and the glories which coexist in him are from the Father. (para 2-3)

Letter of Eusebius of Caesarea to Alexander of Alexandria (320AD):

Your letters have misrepresented them (the Arians) as though they were saying that since the Son came into being from nothing (ek tou mē ontos), he must therefore be just like the rest of creation (‘eis tōn pantōn). But they have brought forth their own document, which they have written for you, in which they explain their faith, confessing it with these very words: "The God of the Law and of the Prophets and of the New Testament begat an only begotten son before time began (pro chronōn aiōnōn), through whom he also made the ages (aiōnas) (Hebrews 1:2) and all things, begetting him not in appearance but in reality, causing him to exist by his own will. He is unchanging and unchangeable, God’s perfect creation, but not a creation in the same way like one of God’s other creations."

"And so surely indeed their writings speak the truth, since these opinions are certainly held by you also when they confess that the son of God existed before time began, that God also made the ages through him, that he is unchanging, God’s perfect creation, but not like God’s other creations. But your letter surely misrepresents them as saying that the son is the same as the other created things. They are not saying this! But they clearly draw a distinction, saying that he is, "not like one of the created things." (para 2-3)

Letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia to Paulinus of Tyre (321AD):

"We have never heard that there are two unbegotten beings, nor that one has been divided into two, nor have we learned or believed that the unbegotten has ever undergone any change of a corporeal nature. On the contrary, we affirm that the unbegotten is one. One also is that which exists in truth by him, yet was not made out of his substance, and does not at all participate in the nature or substance of the unbegotten, entirely distinct in nature and in power, and made after perfect likeness both of character and power to the maker. We believe that the mode of His beginning not only cannot be expressed by words but even in thought, and is incomprehensible not only to man, but also to all beings superior to man." (para 3)

Fragment of a letter of Presbyter George to Alexander of Alexandria (322AD):

"Don’t find fault with Arius and his followers for saying, "There was a time when the Son of God did not exist." For Isaiah became the son of Amos, and, since Amos existed before Isaiah came to be, Isaiah did not exist prior, but afterwards came into being."

Fragment of a letter of Presbyter George to the Arians (322AD):

"Why do you find fault with Bishop Alexander for saying that the Son is from the Father? For you also should not be afraid to say that the Son is from God. For if the Apostle wrote 'All things are from God' (1 Corinthians 11:12), (though all things have clearly been made from nothing), and if also the Son is also a creature (κτίσμα), and he too was made, then the Son can can be said to be 'from God,' just as all things are said to be 'from God'."

Finally, Emperor Constantine wrote to them both (Spring, 325AD):

"So when I found that an intolerable spirit of mad folly had overcome the whole of Africa, through the influence of those who with heedless frivolity had presumed to divide the religion of the people into diverse sects, I was anxious to stop the course of this disorder. After I had removed the common enemy of mankind (Licinius, who was Emperor of the East, and was defeated by Constantine, Emperor of the West) who had interposed his lawless sentence which prohibited your holy synods, I could discover no other remedy equal to the occasion, except to send some of you churchmen to aid in restoring mutual harmony among the disputants." (para 2)

".... now that I have made a careful enquiry into the origin and foundation of these differences, I have found the cause to be of a truly insignificant character, and quite unworthy of such fierce contention. I feel compelled to address you in this letter, and to appeal at the same time to your unity and discernment. I call on Divine Providence to assist me in the task, while I interrupt your dissension as a minister of peace..." (para 4)

"I understand that the origin of the present controversy is this. When you, Alexander, demanded of the priests what opinion they each maintained respecting a certain passage in Scripture, or rather, I should say, that you asked them something connected with an unprofitable question. You then, Arius, inconsiderately insisted on what ought never to have been speculated about at all, or if pondered, should have been buried in profound silence. Hence it was that a dissension arose between you, fellowship was withdrawn, and the holy people were rent into diverse factions, no longer preserving the unity of the one body. And so I now ask you both to show an equal degree of consideration for the other, and to receive the advice which your fellow-servant impartially gives.

"What then is this advice? It was wrong in the first instance to propose such questions as these, and also wrong to reply to them when they were presented. For those points of discussion are not commanded by the authority of any law, but are rather the product of an argumentative spirit which is encouraged by the idle useless talk of leisure. Even though they may be intended merely as an intellectual exercise, they ought certainly to be confined to the region of our own thoughts, and not hastily produced in the popular assemblies, nor unadvisedly entrusted to the ears of the general public.

"For how very few are there able either accurately to comprehend, or adequately to explain subjects so sublime and difficult to comprehend in their nature? Or, granting that one were fully competent for this, how many people will he convince? Or again, who in dealing with questions involving such subtle distinctions as these can be sure he is not dangerously departing from the truth in some point? We ourselves may be unable, through the weakness of our natural abilities, to give a clear explanation of the subject before us, or, on the other hand, our hearers understanding may prevent them from arriving at an accurate understanding of what we say. Lest that be the case, it is our obligation to be sparing with our words, so that neither of these situations will cause the people to be reduced either to blasphemy or to schism." (para 6-8)

"Now forgive one another for both the careless question and the ill-considered answer. The cause of your difference has not been any of the leading doctrines or precepts of the Divine law, nor has any new heresy respecting the worship of God arisen among you. You are really of one and the same judgment; and so it is fitting for you to join in communion and fellowship." (para 9)

Suffice to say both parties chose to ignore the Emperor's wishes in the matter.

Constantine calls an Ecumenical Council (ie 'of the whole world') for which he will foot the bill for travel costs and accommodation. He invites 1,800 bishops to attend, each allowed to bring two priests and three deacons – 10,000 participants! He convenes this council at Nicaea, so he can keep an eye on proceedings.

Numbers are uncertain, but generally agreed that around only 200 or so bishops attend. Mostly Easterners, notably the Bishop of Rome did not attend, although he sent delegates.
Recent scholarships has knocked Arius from his ownership of the controversy that bears his name.

Previously, Arius was viewed as the originator of a theology that lasted for decades after his death. Recent studies treats Arius as "a catalyst for a controversy within which his particular theology rapidly becomes marginal" (Lewis Ayres, Nicaea and its legacy). Maurice Wiles' essay (Attitudes to Arius in the Arian Controversy, Barnes and Williams, Arianism After Arius, 31–43) end with: "the figure of Arius was not perhaps, in fact, very important to any of those known by one of the various expansions of his name (eg, semi-Arians and neo-Arians). And to Athanasius he was not so much a person to be refuted, as a discredited name with which to undermine others … Arius was dead before Athanasius embarked on any large scale theological debate of the issues that Arius had raised. And then his real quarrel was with the living. The dead Arius was not even a whipping boy, but a whip".

Athanasius repeatedly presents Asterius as the advocate of Arianism.

"Asterius of Cappadocia 'Asterius the Sophist' (died c.341). Said to have been a pupil of Lucian of Antioch (as was Arius), but it is unclear to what extent this was the case. He is commonly believed to be a defender of Arianism and of Eusebius of Caesarea's theology, emphasising the derivative nature of the Son as a spontaneous manifestation and generation of the Father's will."
-- wiki --

Athanasius is usually read to mean Asterius was a Eusebian who supported Arius before and after Nicaea. It is assumed Asterius defended Arius even as he developed his thought. Athanasius accuses both of teaching the same things without mentioning an influence either way, although in De decretis Athanasius claims that Arius copied from Asterius. Markus Vinzent (Professor, Dept of Theology & Religious Studies, King's College, London) has suggested that Asterius might have had a formative influence on Arius. He concludes that what came to be known as 'Arianism' is really the theology of Asterius. Mark DelCogliano (Associate Professor of Theology, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota), argues that Asterius’ influence on Arius only happened once the controversy had spread throughout the East.

He suggests that Arius' Thalia drew upon the Syntagmation of Asterius, and that Arius’ essay was an articulation of Eusebian theology in response to Asterius’ tract.

--- what then follows is an extended explanation about the translation of Koine Greek in Athanasius, and how it has been traditionally misinterpreted ---

This (DelCogliano's) interpretation is that Arius is both an impetus for and influenced by the Syntagmation. This makes it even harder to disentangle the thought of Arius and Asterius in the works of Athanasius. But it is clear that Asterius can by no means be considered a formative influence on Arius. His influence on Arius came late in the controversy; it is more a question of intellectual refinement than fundamental formation.

In the wake of Arius’ winning the support of Eusebius of Nicomedia around 321, it (Syntagmation) was mostly likely written at the urging of Eusebius to promote the cause of the mistreated Arius among eastern churchmen.

Arius, then, was a cog, a nevertheless important cog, in stiffening up the emerging Eusebian alliance. He sparked the emergence of the alliance by securing the support of Eusebius of Nicomedia, who then promoted his cause throughout the eastern provinces. A key element of his endorsement was commissioning Asterius to write the Syntagmation, which Arius then drew to bolster support for himself when writing the Thalia.

The Eusebians continued, although Arius himself soon became marginalised.
"... the Thalia is but one document among many that survive (at least in fragments) from before the Council of Nicaea whose precise dates and circumstances of composition are contested, it is one of only a handful authored by Arius himself and a crucial text for understanding the course of controversy over Arius and the development of his theology"

"The verbatim fragments of the Thalia are one of the most reliable sources for retrieving the theology of Arius, in addition to his three extant letters. The Thalia fragments are preserved mainly in Athanasius, De synodis 15.3, but also at the beginning of Contra Arianos 1.5, and there are also two otherwise unattested lines in Contra Arianos."

Mark Delcogliano, "How Did Arius Learn from Asterius?" Vol 69, Issue 3. Cambridge University Press.

"Arius' Thalia ... God's first thought was the creation of the Son, before all ages ... explains how the Son could still be God, even if he did not exist eternally"

"This second passage (De Synodis, pg. 15) seems to be a direct quotation or a compilation of quotations; it may have been written by someone other than Athanasius, perhaps even a person sympathetic to Arius... But although these quotations seem reasonably accurate, their proper context is lost, thus their place in Arius' larger system of thought is impossible to reconstruct."
-- wiki (emphasis mine) --

We might perhaps never have a grasp of his complete theological picture, but there are elements, from his letters, from the Thalia, from reference to him in the letters of others such as Eusebius of Nicomedia and Eusebius of Caesarea.

Even though a Trinitarian, I am not against Arius, I have a lot of sympathy for him. He was doing his best, and stood by what he believed. By all accounts he was a decent bloke, although tending to think himself superior to his opponents. On the other hand, I stand firmly with Athanasius, and hold that he was doing proper philosophy as was practiced: stating his own position, his opponent's position, then demonstrating his opponent's error. Interspersed with all that is a significant degree of ad hominems, but that seems par for the course in those days. Unlike Arius, however, I'm not so sure Athanasius was a thoroughly likeable bloke, in fact, if rumour is true, he could be a right b•st•rd.
clip_image001.png
Arius himself was not Unitarian, in that he believed Christ was created before all times and all ages, and that Christ was the instrument through whom the Father created the world:

"God is wise, for he himself is the teacher of Wisdom –

Sufficient proof that God is invisible to all:
He is is invisible both to things which were made through the Son, and also to the Son himself."
Thalia paragraph 10.

and

"Understand that the Monad [eternally] was; but the Dyad was not before it came into existence.
It immediately follows that, although the Son did not exist, the Father was still God.
Hence the Son, not being [eternal] came into existence by the Father’s will,
He is the Only-begotten God, and this one is alien from [all] others "
Thalia paragraph 20.
In the letter of Arius to Eusebius of Nicomedia (c318), we have his complaint that his bishop is teaching error, namely that:

"... there was 'always a God, always a Son;' 'as soon as the Father, so soon the Son (existed);' 'with the Father co-exists the Son unbegotten, ever-begotten, begotten without begetting;' 'God neither precedes the Son in aspect or in a moment of time;' 'always a God, always a Son, the Son being from God himself.' "

Whereas:

"... what do we say and think and what have we previously taught and do we presently teach? That the Son is not unbegotten, nor a part of an unbegotten entity in any way, nor from anything in existence, but that he (the Son) is subsisting in will and intention before time and before the ages, fully God, the only-begotten, unchangeable." (emphasis mine)

"... Before he was begotten, or created, or defined, or established, he did not exist. For he was not unbegotten. But we are persecuted because we have said the Son has a beginning but God has no beginning. We are persecuted because of that and for saying he came from non-being. But we said this since he is not a portion of God nor of anything in existence. That is why we are persecuted; you know the rest."

What was contended then, was that "there was a time when He was not" and this became something of a mantra for the Arians.


Eusebius replied, and we possess this fragment:

"Since you think properly, pray that everyone will think that way. For it is clear to all that the thing which is made did not exist before it came into being; but rather what came into being has a beginning to its existence."

Meanwhile we have a fragment of a letter from another Eusebius, this time of Caesarea to Euphration of Balanea:

"For we do not say that the Son is coexisting with the Father, but instead that the Father existed before the Son. For if they coexisted, how could the Father be a father, and the Son be a son? Or how could one indeed be the first, and the other second? And how could one be unbegotten and the other begotten? For the two, if they are equal, likewise exist mutually and are honoured equally, one must conclude that either they are both unbegotten or both begotten, as I have said, but it is clear that neither of these is true. For they are neither both unbegotten nor both begotten. For one is indeed the first and best and leads to/precedes the second, both in order and in honour, so that he is the occasion for the second’s existing and for his existing in this particular way."


The contrary view, which in retrospect we know see as Trinitarian, held by a number of Fathers:

"Jesus Christ ... was with the Father before the beginning of time, and in the end was revealed" (Ignatius of Antioch Letter to the Magnesians 6 110AD).

"God begot before all creatures a beginning, who was a certain rational power from himself and whom the Holy Spirit calls ... sometimes the Son ... sometimes Lord and Word." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 61, c.155AD.)

"(The Gnostics) transfer the generation of the uttered word of men to the eternal Word of God, attributing to him a beginning of utterance and a coming into being ... In what manner, then, would the word of God – indeed, the great God himself, since he is the Word – differ from the word of men?” (Irenaeus Against Heresies 2:13:8 c.185AD).

"God says, 'Let there be light' (Gen. 1:3), this is the perfect nativity of the Word, while he is proceeding from God... Thus, the Father makes him equal to himself, and the Son, by proceeding from him, was made the first-begotten, since he was begotten before all things, and the only-begotten, because he alone was begotten of God, in a manner peculiar to himself, from the womb of his own heart, to which even the Father himself gives witness: 'My heart has poured forth my finest Word' [Ps. 45:1-2]” (Tertullian Against Praxeas 7:1 c.220AD).

"Therefore, this sole and universal God, by reflecting, first brought forth the Word – not a word as in speech, but as a mental word, the reason for everything... The Word was the cause of those things which came into existence, carrying out in himself the will of him by whom he was begotten... Only (God’s) Word is from himself and is therefore also God, becoming the substance of God" (Hippolytus Philosophoumena or Refutation of All Heresies 10:33 c.225AD).

"So also Wisdom, since he proceeds from God, is generated from the very substance of God" (Origen Commentaries on Hebrews c.240).

"There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is his subsistent wisdom and power and eternal image: perfect begetter of the perfect begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son. There is one Lord, only of the only, God of God, image and likeness of deity, efficient Word, wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father" (Gregory the Wonderworker Declaration of Faith 265AD).

"When we speak of God the Father and God the Son, we do not speak of them as different, nor do we separate them, because the Father cannot exist without the Son, nor can the Son be separated from the Father, since the name of ‘Father’ cannot be given without the Son, nor can the Son be begotten without the Father... They both have one mind, one spirit, one substance" (Lactantius Divine Institutes 4:28–29 307AD).


In the above, we can see the general idea of the Son as eternal, co-existing and consubstantial with the Father, although not yet expressed in firm definitions. These definitions, which become dogmas, are necessary in the face of error. On the whole the Church is loathe to 'define' more than it need.

That God transcends the temporal order is a given. When asked what God was doing before he created the world, Origen argues that 'time' and 'the world' are coeval (On First Principles 3.5.3).

This is a key to Origen's thinking. The Son, the Logos, is the wisdom and power of the Father (1 Corinthians 1.24) and that the world was created through him (Hebrews 1.2). The Logos/Son is He whom "the Lord possessed me at the beginning of his ways" (Proverbs 8:22) and in Wisdom 7.26 is "the brightness of eternal light and the mirror of God's unspotted majesty and the image of His goodness."

To Origen, these texts clearly cannot imply that the Son has a temporal beginning. It is inconceivable that the Father could ever have lacked wisdom, and equally inconceivable to Origen that this wisdom could ever have taken a different form from the one that it now possesses as the second person or hypostasis of the Trinity (Princ. 1.2.2). He is the first theologian to state unequivocally that the “three hypostases” which constitute the Trinity are eternal not only in nature, but in their hypostatic character; there was never a time when wisdom was the latent thought of the Father and had not yet come forth as speech.

If the Father begets not in time – as Arius asserts – it is a mistake to think of a time-before-time, as it is clear that time is dependent first of all on movement, and God is the Motionless Mover, He does not move, in the sense that He is not determined, defined, described or delineated in time. If God begets before time, then God begets in eternity, and God begets eternally.

Origen rejects Arius's "There was a time when He was not" because there is no such time.

Origen’s proposal was simple: If God is the Father, then He is always, eternally, unchangingly, Father. It cannot be that there was a time when the Father was not Father, any more than there could be a time when God was not God. Rather He is the Father and He begets the Son, eternally. God's Son is God's own self-knowledge. The begetting is not a one-time event, it’s a dynamic, a continuum. If God is Creator then it is in His nature to be so.

Arius cannot escape ascribing contingency and finitude to the Father.
That point is not in dispute. It's fundamental that Arius believed the Father is greater than the Son.

What @muhammad_isa rejects is that the Father can be God, and the Son be God, even though the Son is not equal to the Father (Arius actually says the Son is 'fully God', but begotten, not Unbegotten), without Arius claiming polytheism.

Emanationism allows for gradation or hierarchy within the Divinity.
It's more subtle than that – it talks about a distinction within the Godhead.

In Arius' Letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, we find this:

"But what we say and think we both have taught and continue to teach; that the Son is not unbegotten, nor part of the unbegotten in any way, nor is he derived from any substance; but that by his own will and counsel he existed before times and ages fully God, only-begotten, unchangeable" (emphasis mine).

The letter is recorded by Epiphanius in the Panarion, (69.6. c. 377AD) The Greek title can be 'Breadbasket' or 'Medicine Chest'. It was a list of heresies, and the Latin was titled 'Against Heresies'. It was also recorded by Theodoret in his Historia Ecclesiastica, (Book I, Chapter 5, c. 450AD).

In both cases the Greek reads πλήρης θεός – pleres theos, 'fully God' (pleres can mean 'complete' as well as 'full'). What's interesting is although we are pretty sure both were critics of the now-heresiarch Arius, had they been falsifying or 'selectively editing' their sources, they would not have included 'fully God', as the argument with Arius was that he taught that Jesus was not fully God, as this phrase could be used in his defence and rehabilitation.
Arius was not arguing for or against a trinity; he believed in a trinity of divine beings, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Arius' was arguing about the precise relation of the Father to the Son, that the Logos of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, was begotten of God before time began, but that there was a time when he was not. The Father was fully divine, the Son was semi-divine, the Holy Spirit was an angelic presence.

Arius believed in, and prayed to, Jesus. As a presbyter, Arius must have baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Arian Trinity would differ in that it would be a trinity of like substance (Homoiousios), as opposed to a trinity of the same substance (Homoousios).

It's there in the Thalia, ('Festivity', 'Banquet') composed by himself:

"So there is a Triad, not in equal glories. Their beings (hypostaseis) are not mixed together among themselves." (line 16)
while a dogmatic definition of the Holy Trinity was a cause for much controversy in the early Christian centuries, a simple belief in Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one in God was there from the get-go.

The Arian dispute came about because the congregation of Arius' diocese, in the docks at Alexandria, complained to their bishop that Arius was teaching a version of Christ which was not the one they had been baptised into, namely that Arius was teaching that 'there was a time when He (Christ) was not', when they had always been told that the Son was co-eternal with the Father.
I found this on the Bart Ehrman blog. He's not even a Christian, let alone a Trinitarian, but his comments are worth considering:

The Trinity is much more than just having these three beings named at once. It’s a distinct way of understanding the three in themselves and in relation to one another. The doctrine states that the Godhead is made up of three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These are not all the same person. They are three persons. Moreover, each of these three persons is fully God. In fact, they are all equal to each other (no one is “superior” to the others) and they are made up of the "same substance." And together, the three of them are the one God. That’s the doctrine. These three are one.

It is easy for non-Christians to laugh and call it nonsense. But the people who came up with the doctrine were not idiots. Most of the serious theologians who developed the full logic in the fourth and fifth centuries were deep thinkers and highly trained in philosophy. Many of them were smarter, frankly, than you and me. Or at least me. They understood that the doctrine did not pass the normal standards of logic. And that applying those standards to it could not yield sense. If one of them were alive today and you suggested they were an idiot for believing an obviously contradictory view, they may well ask you how well versed you were in quantum physics.

I don’t believe in a God at all, let alone a Triune one. But it’s not nonsense. It’s far deeper than I’m going to be able to explain, partly because I don’t go that deep philosophically. But I will say that on the other hand, if anyone thinks they fully understand the doctrine, they almost certainly do not understand it... The best theologians would consider the doctrine a mystery, not a logical equation. You don’t believe in mystery? Well, on one level neither do I. But I don’t think you have to be an idiot to believe in it.

I happen to believe, and I happen to believe my belief can be argued cogently, logically and rationally.
Contrary to popular propaganda, Constantine adopted a policy of toleration towards non-Christians. "He did not punish pagans for being pagans, or Jews for being Jews, and did not adopt a policy of forced conversion." Pagans remained in important positions at his court. He used forceful rhetoric against non-Christians, but never engaged in a persecution as his predecessor had against the Christians. Maxentius' supporters were not slaughtered when Constantine took the capital, Licinius' family and court were not killed, there were no pagan martyrs.

The Edict of Milan (313AD) granted religious toleration to all faiths, securing them from state persecution, not just Christians. It allowed anyone to worship whichever deity they chose. Constantine never directly outlawed paganism. He decreed that polytheists could "celebrate the rites of an outmoded illusion," so long as they did not force Christians to join them, and indeed, he seemed as lax and tolerant towards pagans as he was towards his own religion of conversion. The Edict of Milan reaffirmed the Edict of the Provincials, calling for peace and tolerance: "Let no one disturb another, let each man hold fast to that which his soil wishes…" Constantine never reversed this earlier edict. Constantine calls pagan temples as 'temples of falsehood', and denounces paganism as idolatry and superstition in the same document. Paganism was defined as a superstitio – an 'outmoded illusion.

Constantine would sporadically prohibit public sacrifice and close pagan temples. He certainly stripped pagan temples of their art to decorate his new capital, but very little pressure was put on individual pagans.

Lives were lost around the imperial court for various reasons and intrigues, but there is no evidence of judicial killings for illegal sacrifices before Tiberius Constantine (574-582AD). Constantine was generally not in favour of suppression of paganism by force, instead he took steps to legally limit the public practice of pagan worship. Constantine's main approach was to use enticement by making the adoption of Christianity beneficial.
- wikipedia -
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Both Niceans and Arians believed Jesus was God.
 
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muhammad_isa

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for quick reference to help prevent repetition:
...
Thomas said:
Both Niceans and Arians believed Jesus was God.

Repetition? Why have you have you repeated them, then? ;)

What does "Jesus was God" mean?
Do you think that the Arians believed that Jesus is YHWH?
I don't. They make a distinction between Father and Son.

Arius maintained that the Son possessed neither the eternity nor the true divinity of the Father, but was rather made "God" only by the Father's permission and power, and that the Logos was rather the very first and the most perfect of God's productions, before ages
Early Christian Doctrines by J. N. D. Kelly p 229
 

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Repetition? Why have you have you repeated them, then? ;)
Sorry. I have removed that phrase. No offence was intended
"Arius maintained that the Son possessed neither the eternity nor the true divinity of the Father, but was rather made "God" only by the Father's permission and power, and that the Logos was rather the very first and the most perfect of God's productions, before ages"
Early Christian Doctrines by J. N. D. Kelly p 229
And Arius's letters letters indicate he believed the Son was 'fully God' -- so it is not as simple as the quote above implies?
What does "Jesus was God" mean?
Do you think that the Arians believed that Jesus is YHWH?
I don't. They make a distinction between Father and Son.
Muhammad I don't care. I'm not a Christian dogmatist. Why does it upset you much what Christians believe? It really upsets you very much? It's an honest question. I honestly mean no personal offence.

All the relevant evidence of the Arian controversy from 1700 years ago is contained in the collection of @Thomas posts on the subject, above:
https://www.interfaith.org/community/threads/19662/page-8#post-343356 #120

Unless new historical writings are provided to add to it, that's all there'll ever be. All speculation must be drawn from that evidence?

(edited ...)
 

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Why does it upset you much what Christians believe?

It doesn't personally upset me what ANYBODY believes..
However, isn't it good to know how our religions evolved?
@Thomas seems to think so .. and so do I.

Isn't it a major problem in the world today .. how everybody perceives that "God is on their side"?

I highly respect Doctors of Divinity, regardless of their religious persuasion.
I would say that bishops/imams who hold high office in a nation are bound to be affected by political concerns.

It applies to the simple, poorly-educated imam, who is dependent on his congregation for his bread .. up to Emperors and Kings.
Welcome to the real world!
 

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It doesn't personally upset me what ANYBODY believes..
However, isn't it good to know how our religions evolved?
... Isn't it a major problem in the world today .. how everybody perceives that "God is on their side"?
An academic discussion about how Christianity evolved that is one thing: to argue from a pre-position that (Trinitarian) Christianity is polydeist (and therefore evil) and that unless Christians change their belief to what Muslims want them to believe they're bound for hell -- that is not quite the same thing?
 
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..unless Christians change their belief to what Muslims want them to believe they're bound for hell --

Mmm .. strange isn't it?
If the Qur'an had been saying that anybody who didn't believe in the trinity/godhead was bound for hell, maybe you wouldn't object..

You personally might not care about doctrine, but there have always been people suffering due to lies.
Lying about God is the worst lie of all.
I'm not directly accusing anybody here, such as Paul of Tarsus .. or Arius .. or Alexander .. or any of us..
..but it happens .. that is for SURE.
 

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.. but do we all want to go deeper into this argument?
I don't mind, but I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.
What had you in mind?

We have established that the Arians believed "the divinity of Jesus was not as great as that of the Father".
Not to my satisfaction ...

..so is it really just about historical documents? ..do we really need those to construct a coherent argument ...
Can you explain what kind of coherent argument one can construct without them?
 

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Mmm .. strange isn't it?
If the Qur'an had been saying that anybody who didn't believe in the trinity/godhead was bound for hell, maybe you wouldn't object..
Of course I would. Don't be silly. I don't accept religion A condemning religion B to hell -- and the problem being when religion people A start thinking they have not just the right but obligation to change the belief of religion people B until it's agreeable to them?
 
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Of course I would. Don't be silly. I don't accept religion A condemning religion B to hell --

Yes, well .. I'm afraid we can't change the Qur'an .. that's what it says.
In the 5th century, there were no protestants claiming hell doesn't exist.

I can't keep up with what Catholics are supposed to believe regards people going to hell .. it keeps changing.

Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. ...whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

— Matthew 25:41–43 (NIV)

What do you think happens to those Christians who are killing each other?

I would have thought that if there is a God [ and there is, imo ], either both groups will go to hell,
or maybe only one will go to hell. I wonder who had started the aggression..
 
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..or is that "just my speculation"?
I think that those responsible for the holocaust will go to hell, regardless of their religion.

That is a sweeping statement, of course. There are always exceptions.
As you say, God knows what is in our hearts.
 
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