Monday, 6 January 2014

The Arian Controversy

1)     Introduction

2)     What is Arianism?

3)     First Council of Nicaea and its aftermath.

4)     Theological debates

5)     Theodosius and the Council of Constantinople

6)     Early Medieval Germanic Kingdoms

7)     "Arian “as a polemical epithet

8)     Arianism resurfaces after the Reformation, 16th century

9)     Jehovah’s Witnesses: the Modern Day Arians

10)The True Nature of Jesus

11)Erroneous Translations
i)       John 1:1
ii)    Colossians 1:15-17
iii)  Philippians 2:6
iv)   Titus 2:13
v)      Revelation 3:14

12)Objections to Jesus’ Divinity



The Arian Controversy
            Christianity had been involved theological controversies since Paul's time. In Paul's day, the relationship between Jewish and Gentile converts was on everyone's lips. Then came the Gnostic Speculation. These early controversies are no small matter, open sides drawn in bitter opposition. But in early Christianity solid argument and righteousness was the only means to win a debate. Such controversies were given no real attention by civil authorities and conflict within the church, therefore those in conflict had little desire to involve the authorities. This paper focuses the origin of Arianism and the formation of the creed of faith.
What is Arianism?
            Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Ariues (AD 250-336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria. As with many of the classical heresies, Arianism emerged from the Struggle to reach a consensus on the Trinity. It is named after Arius, whose main concern was that it did not seem fitting that God should have a son. His solution, which became known as Arianism, was to propose that the son (Jesus) was somewhere between God and Man.
            “Such is the genuine doctrine of Arius. Using Greek terms, It denies that the son is of One essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity." [1]
            Modern Arianism Shares the ancient belief that Jerus was not (and thus is not) divine, but goes much further reducing Jerus to "just a guy." Influenced perhaps by Naturalism and Materialism, and thus uncomfortable with any Supernatural elements. Modern Arianism advocates that Jesus was a good and wise man, perhaps even a prophet, but certainly not divine.
            It could be argued that such an extreme view has gone beyond heresy to apostasy (Apostasy), thus changing Arianism from a church problem to a mission problem. The views so widely taught and embraced among liberal churches and seminaries, however, that it is probably unrealistic to dismiss them so easily.
            Arius taught that God the Father and the son did not exist together eternally. Arians taught that the pre-incarnate Jesus was a divine being created by God the Father at Some point, before which the son did not exist. In English-language works. It is sometimes said that Arians believe that Jesus is or was a     “creature" in the sense of “Created being”. Arius and his followers appealed to Bible verses such as Jesus Saying that the father is “greater than I” (2) John 14:28, and " The Lord Created me at the beginning of his work" Proverb 8.22. The latter quote has provided Some Controversy because it is technically speaking of wisdom.[2]
However, many people, notably Jehovah's witnesses, believe that the wisdom in this Proverb Symbolizes Jesus Christ because he is later described in a similar way. On the contrary, the Verse. “I and the Father are one" John 10:30) delivers. The Homoousios doctrine.[3]
            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, priest and monks to bishops, emperors and members of Rome's imperial family. Such a deep Controversy within the Church during this period of its development could not have materialized without significant historical influences providing a basis for the Arian doctrines. Some historians define and minimize the Arian conflict as the exclusive construct of Arius and a handful of rogue bishops engaging in heresy.[4]
But others recognize Arius as a defender of 'Original' Christianity, or as providing a conservative response against the politicization of Christianity seeking union with the Roman Empire of the roughly three hundred bishops is attendance of at the Council of Nicea, Only two bishops did not Sign the Nicene Creed, which condemned Arianism. Two Roman emperors, Constantius II and Valens, became Arians, as did prominent Gothic, vandal and Lombard warloads both before and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
            Because virtually all extant written material on Arianism was written by its opponents, the nature of Arian teachings is difficult to define precisely today. The letter of Auxentius, 4th-century Arian bishops of Milan, regarding the missionary UIfilas, gives the clearest picture of Arian beliefs on the nature of the Trinity. God the Father ("unbegotten"), always existing, was separate from the lesser Jesus Christ ("only-begotten"), born before time began and creator of the world. The nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son Closely resembles the platonic philosophy of the Demiurge, in that the Father is Said to have immediately created the Son and the Son is said to have immediately created the world. Likewise, the Father, working through the son, created the Holy Spirit, Who was subservient to the Son as the Son was to the Father. The Father was seen as “the only true God" 1 corin: 8:5,[5]        Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth-as in fact there are there are many gods and many lords-yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for who we exist, and once Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
First Council of Nicaea and its aftermath.
            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.

 By 325, the Controversy had become significant enough that the Emperor Constantine Called as assembly of bishops, the First Council of NICACA, which condemned Arius' doctrine and formulated the Original Nicene Creed of 325. The Nicene Creeds Central terms, used to described the relationship between the father and the Son, is Homoousios (Ancient), Or Consubstantiality, meaning " of the same substance" or  "of one being". (The Athanasian Creed is less often used but it is more overtly anti-Arian Statement on the Trinity).
             The focus of the Council of Nicaea was the divinity of Christ. Arius taught that Jesus Christ was divine and was sent to earth for the Salvation of mankind but that Jesus Christ was not equal to the father and to the Holy Spirit. Under Arianism Christ was instead not consubstantial with god the father. Since both the father and the son under Arianism were made of "like" essence or being but not of the same essence or being Ousia is essence or being in Eastern Christianity and is the aspect of god that is completely in comprehensible 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 created being that only the Son was directly created and begotten by God the Father before ages, but was of a district, though similar ,essence  or substance from the Creator; his opponents argued that this would make Jesus less then 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 submissions kenosis. This Ecumenical council declared that Jesus Christ was a district being of a dog in existence or reality (Hypostasis) which the Latin fathers translated as persona. Jesus was God in essence being and or nature (Ousia) which the Latin fathers translated as substantial
Theological debates
            The Council of Nicaea did not end the controversy as many bishop of the Eastern provinces disputed the homoousios, the central firm 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, op0en dispute resumed again. Constantine's son Constantius II, who had become Emperor of the eastern part of the 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 Nicene been the head of the Arian party, who also was made bishop of Constantinople.
            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 homoousios (a like in substance) to the Nicea homoousios, While they rejected Arius and his teaching and accepted the equality and co eternality of the person 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 'teaching 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. The debates among these resulted in numerous synods ,among them the Council of sardica in 343,the Council of Sirmium in 358 and the double Council of Rimini and Seleucia in 359,and no fewer than fourteen further creed formula between 340 and 360, leading the pagan observer Ammianus Marcellinus to cement sarcastically: 'The highways were covered with galloping bishops."None of this attempt was acceptable to the defenders of Nicene Orthodoxy: writing about the latter Councils, Saint Jerome remarked that the word "a woke with a groan to find itself Arian."[6]
Theodosius and the Council of Constantinople
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.Theodosius'wife St Flacilla was instrumental in his campaign to end Arianism. Valens died in the Battle of Adrianople in 378 and was succeeded by Theodosius I, who adhered to the Nicene Creed. This allowed for settling the dispute.
Although much of the church hierarchy in the East had opposed the Nicene creed in the decaded leading up to Theodosius, 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. Which was supplemented in regard to the Holy Spirit, as well some other changes. This generally considered the end of the dispute about the Trinity and the end of Arianism among the Roman, Non-Germanic people.
Early Medieval Germanic Kingdoms
            The conflict in the 4th century had seen Arian and Nicene factions struggling for control of the Church. In contrast, in the Arian German kingdoms established on the wreckage of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, there were entirely separate Arian and Nicene Churches with parallel hierarchies, each serving different sets of believers. The Germanic elites were Arians, and the majority population was Nicene.
Remnants in the West, 5th-7th century
            However, much of southeastern Europe ,Including many of the Goths and Vandals respectively, Had embraced Arianism, 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.[7]
"Arian “as a polemical epithet
            The term: Arian” bestowed by Athanasius upon his opponents in the Christological debate was polemical. Even in Athanasius’ Orations against the Arians, Arius hardly emerges consistently as the creative individual originator of the heresy that bears his name, even though it would have greatly strengthened Athanasius 'case to present him in that light .Arius was not really very important to general Arianism after his exile at Nicaea.
Arianism resurfaces after the Reformation, 16th century
            Following the Protestant Reformation from1517,it did not take along for Arian and other non-Trinitarian views to resurface. The first recorded English anti Trinitarian egad 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 Miguel Srevet,and these were promulgated by Giorgio Biandrata and others in to Poland and Transylvania.
Arians due to their rejection of the Trinity, though in fact the Sicilians, as they were later known, went further than Arius to the position of photinus.
            The Christology of Jehovah's witnesses is also generally regarded as Arian, given their views on development of the Trinity. In connection with this Jehovah’s witnesses also believe the Holy Spirit is not an actual Person but rather is God's divine breath; God's power in action, related to another ancient doctrine called Macedonians. The adherents of which were called Pneumatomachi (Greek for "fighters of the Spirit")

Jehovah’s Witnesses: the Modern Day Arians
Despite the best efforts of the Orthodox Church to stamp out Arianism, there are branches of the belief that continue to this present day. One of them is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Founded in the mid to late nineteenth century by Charles Take Russell, this group contains several million adherents in numerous countries. Like the ancient Arians, these modern day Witnesses believe that Jesus is a created being who is therefore not eternal and not God. They specifically argue that Jesus was Michael the Archangel.  However, by examining a number of Scriptures, their contentions do not hold up.
The True Nature of Jesus
Despite the best efforts of the Witnesses, there is no Biblical support for the contention that Jesus is inferior to the Father. In fact, one can make a strong positive case for the deity of Christ. First, in John 20:28, Thomas states to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” Metzger points out that it is strange that Jesus made no effort to correct him, but Jesus accepts and commends Thomas’s statement of faith (v. 29). Second, in Acts 7:59, Stephen prays to Jesus. Metzger makes an insightful comment, “If therefore the opinion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses be correct, namely, that Jesus is only a spirit creature, then Stephen was an idolater in praying to one who was not truly God.”8 Third, in Galatians 1:1, Metzger comments, “Paul clearly distinguishes Jesus Christ from men and ranges him with God the Father.”[8] He uses two prepositions with man and men, but only one preposition with reference to God the Father and Jesus. Paul was Jewish and a strict monotheist something which he does not dispute. In fact, “Even those, whom he combats in this Epistle to the Galatians, the Judaizers, so far as we can see, had no quarrel with Paul’s lofty view of Christ.”  
Fourth, John 10:30 records Jesus as stating, “I and my Father are one.” The Jews attempt to stone him because they understood him to be claiming deity (v. 33), which was something Jesus did not dispute. Metzger points out the Witnesses attempts to get around the obvious implications of this passage, [9]“The marginal note of their translation, suggesting that ‘are one’ means ‘are at unity,’ is an alternative interpretation which is so lacking in justification that the translators did not dare to introduce it into the text itself.” Again, the Jews understood his claim and attempted to kill Him. Metzger comments, “Psychologically, there was no reason for them to become angry at Jesus if all he asserted was his being one in purpose and outlook with the Father.”
Fifth, Metzger points out that the New Testament writers often quote passages in the Old Testament that refer to Jehovah and refer them to Jesus.13 Joel 2:32 states, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” However, Romans 10:13 quotes the exact passage, but refers to Jesus as “the Lord” of the passage in 10:9. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord” and then in verse 13 states, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”[10] There is a clear correlation between Jesus and deity. Metzger does well to conclude the evidence stating, “As has often been pointed out, Jesus’ statement is either true or false. If it is true, then he is God. If it is false, he either knew it to be false or he did not know it to be false. If while claiming to be God he knew this claim to be false, he was a liar. If while claiming to be God he did not know this claim to be false, he was demented. There is no other alternative.”
Erroneous Translations
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are not lacking from purposely mistranslating the Bible to demonstrate that Jesus is inferior to the Father. They perform this with a number of faulty translations of key divinity passages.
John 1:1
According to the New World Translation, The Word was “a god.” The Witnesses do this since there is no definite article present. Metzger responds, “By using here the indefinite article ‘a’ the translators have overlooked the well-known fact that in Greek grammar nouns may be definite for various reasons, whether or not the Greek definite article is present.”[11] Furthermore, if the Witnesses accept this translation, they must be polytheists. Finally, Metzger elaborates on a principle called Colwell’s rule which indicates, “A definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb.” It is indefinite only when the context demands it. In fact, this statement without a definite article is not strange in a Johannine context.
Colossians 1:15-17
Another passage that Witnesses attempt to distort is Col. 1:15-17 where they translate “For by him all other things were created.” The other is not present in the original Greek. Metzger comments, “As a matter of fact, the ancient Colossian heresy which Paul had to combat resembled the opinion of modern Jehovah’s Witnesses, for some of the Colossians advocated the Gnostic notion that Jesus was the first of many other created intermediaries between God and men.” Second, the verb “to create” in reference to Son and Father is not here. Likewise, the reference to the “firstborn of creation” does not indicate inferiority to God, but primacy over creation. Metzger comments, “What God begets is God; just as what mail begets is mail. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not mail.” In fact, in the same book, Col. 2:9 mentions deity of Christ with the present tense of “dwells” indicating that the fullness of God dwells in Jesus bodily.
Philippians 2:6
Another instance of the Jehovah’s Witnesses mistranslating passages is found in Philippians 2:6 which they translate as, “Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God.” However, this flatly contradicts a number of other translations. J.H. Thayer states, “Who, although he bore the form of God, yet did not think that this equality with God was to be eagerly clung to or returned.” Arthur S. Way likewise translates, “He, even when He subsisted in the form of God, did not selfishly cling to His prerogative of equality with God.” Finally, J.B. Phillips translates, [12]“For He, Who had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God’s Equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man.” Therefore, the Jehovah’s Witnesses translation is contrary to modern New Testament Greek scholarship.
Titus 2:13
Witnesses likewise mistranslate Titus 2:13 with “and of our Savior” which separates “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Metzger explains a rule which contradicts this mistranslation by the Jehovah's Witnesses, “This rule, in brief, is that when the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case, if the article precedes the first noun and is not repeated before the second noun, the latter always refers to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun.” Other scholars agree. Therefore, in contrast to the Watchtower, this passage teaches the connection between Jesus as Savior and God.
Revelation 3:14
Another passage that the witnesses distort is found in Revelation 3:14. They make Christ refers to himself as “the beginning of the creation by God.” However, the genitive means “of God” not “by God.” This correlates with the Pauline notion “that Christ is the origin, or primary source, of God’s creation” (cf. Jn. 1:3).

Objections to Jesus’ Divinity

In response to the Trinitarians, Arius (and the Witnesses) points out that the “divinity” passages are really just speaking of Jesus in an honorific way. God is still quite different than the Son. Arius argued that “the language of ‘son ship’ is variegated in character, and metaphorical in nature. To refer to the ‘Son’ is an honorific, rather than theologically precise, way of speaking.” God is still totally different in essence from the Son.
Athanasius provides an excellent response to Arius’ objection. First, he argues that only God can save. He states, “An essential feature of being a creature is that one requires to be redeemed. No creature can save another creature. Only the creator can redeem the creation.” However, according to Christian theology, Jesus is the Savior. Athanasius produced a syllogism: Only God can save; Jesus Christ saves; therefore, Jesus Christ is God (50).28 Second, Athanasius points out that Christians worship and pray to Jesus Christ. However, “Christians . . . are totally forbidden to worship anyone or anything except God himself.”29 Therefore, according to Arius and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christians are practicing idolatry. Arius was not able to significantly refute this, nor can the Jehovah’s Witnesses today.
Witnesses love to point out that the word Trinity is no where found in the Bible. Therefore, it must not be true.
The absence of the word “Trinity” does not disprove the fact that there is one. Metzger comments, “The fallacy of such an argument will be brought home to them by pointing out that their favorite term, ‘theocracy,’ likewise appears nowhere in the Bible. In neither case, however, does the absence of the word for ‘Trinity’ or the word for ‘God’s rule’ (theocracy) imply that the realities expressed by these two words are absent from the Scripture.” Furthermore, there are a number of texts that demonstrate a Trinitarian pattern.
Witnesses point out that the New Testament speaks of the subordination of the Son to the Father such as in John 14:28 where Jesus states, “My Father is greater than I.”[13]
The Witnesses are correct to point out that Jesus is subordinate to the Father, but this applies to His operation as in John 14:28, not His very being or essence. Metzger comments regarding the Athanasian Creed, “Equal to the Father, as touching His Godhead: and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood.” Calvin likewise comments, “Christ does not here compare the divinity of the Father with his own, nor his own human nature with the divine essence of the Father; but rather his present condition with the celestial glory to which he would be presently received.” Second, Jesus is speaking in a context about comforting his disciples in light of his departure. Since he was going to submit to the cross, the explanation of the Father’s greatness would be fitting. However, he is not speaking about his creation or denying his eternality. Third, in like manner, Paul speaks of a number of modes of Jesus operation: 1 Cor. 3:23; 11:3; 15:24, and 28. Paul does not say what subjection means; however, one must recognize the clear teaching elsewhere in Paul.
Witnesses often object to the notion of the Trinity due to the fact that it seems to be polytheistic and illogical and eliminates the majesty of God’s being.[14]
Though one could understand the Trinity in a polytheistic context, the Trinity in fact better explains the operation of God. For example, how can God always love if there was no one for him to love before creation? There would have to be another person for this love to take place. Metzger comments, “But these words, ‘God is love,’ have no real meaning unless God is at least two Persons.” There must be a Lover, a Loved, and a Spirit of love. God must always love if it is part of His essence. Further, there can be no self-consciousness without various persons in the Godhead. This is not to deny that the Trinity is mysterious. Metzger rightly admits, “How in the unity of the Godhead there can be three persons of one substance, power, and eternity is a mystery beyond human comprehension.” However, a god that we could completely understand would not be worthy of our worship. Therefore, the Trinity is perfectly compatible with the majesty and oneness of God.
            Arianism totally denies the divinity of Jesus Christ. The fundamental Premise of Arius was the uniqueness of God, who is alone self existent and immutable. The Son, who is not self existent, can't be God. Nicea Creed is the basic faith Principle formatted from Church Councils. If anyone who is rejecting the divinity or humanity of Jesus is resulted the heretical teaching. Biblical narratives heart fully accepts this two natures of Jesus. Especially Pauline writings gave equal importance of humanity and Divinity of Jesus Christ. In Person, Jesus Christ as the central idea of the salvation of human history.
Arianism did not simply influence several theologians in the early centuries of Christianity; its impact affected the emergence of Orthodoxy. Brown comments that Arianism gave “the church the first standard by which orthodoxy could be reliably measured.”36 The Arian controversy was the first controversy to be decided by an ecumenical council. This impact continues today with groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny the deity of Christ. However, despite their best efforts, their arguments do not square with the Biblical evidence. Instead, their Jesus lacks the power to save. Metzger rightly points out the effects of the Witnesses view, “While he was on earth he was nothing more than a man, and therefore the atoning effect of his death can have no more significance than that of a perfect human being.” Further, if a sect’s basic orientation regarding Jesus Christ be errant, it must be seriously doubted whether the name ‘Christian’ can rightly be applied to such a system.” However, despite the negative evaluation the Christian “has the joyous confidence that his divine Lord’s mediatorial work is sufficient to bring into heaven itself not only 144,000, but a great multitude which no man can number.”

[1] (Http: // c.hrm).

[2] http:// verse finder/bibleversefinder.php? book =% 20 John &verse=14.28&src = !)

[3] ( finder/bible versefinder.php? book = % 20 John& verse= 10.30&src = NIV
[4] File:11/C: Users/Hp/Desk top/ Ariansim-wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] ( finder.php? book=% 20Corinthians&verse= 8:6 & src=!).

[6] Grilmeier Aloys, Christ in Christian tradition, vol.1,219-48

[7]           Grilmeier Aloys, Christ in Christian tradition, vol.1,219-273

[8] Grilmeier Aloys, Christ in Christian tradition, vol.1,520-550
[9] Metzger, Bruce M. "The Jehovah's Witnesses and Jesus Christ: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal." Theology Today. (April, 1953): 65-85

[10] Grilmeier Aloys, Christ in Christian tradition, vol.1,520-550
[11] McGrath, Alister E. Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998.

[12] H. M. Gwatkin, Studies of Arianism (2d ed. 1900); J. H. Newman, The Arians of the Fourth Century (1933, repr. 1968);

[13] J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971)
[14] Brown, Harold O. J. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Grand Rapids: Hendrickson, 1988.

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