Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/782

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708

ARIANISM


708-


ARIANISM


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 consul> stantial (itwovrtos) with the Fatlier, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity. The Logos which St. John exalts is an attribute. Reason, belonging to the Divine nature, not a person distinct from another, and therefore is a Son merely in figure of speech. These consequences follow upon the prin- ciple which Arius maintains in his letter to Euse- bius of Nicomedia, that the Son "is no part of the Ingenerate." Hence the Arian sectaries who reasoned logically were styled Anomceans; they said that the Son was "unlike" the Father. And they defined God as simply the Unoriginate. They are also termed Exucontians {i^ ovk bmuv), because they held the creation of the Son out of nothing.

But a view so unlike tradition found little favour; it required softening or palliation, even at the cost of logic; and the school which supplanted pure Arianism from an early date affirmed the likeness, either without adjunct, or in all thing.s, or in sub- stance, of the Son to the Father, while denying His co-equal dignity and co-eternal existence. These men of the Via Media were named Semi-Arians. They approached, in strict argument, to the heretical extreme; but many of them lield the orthodox faith, howe\er inconsistently; their difficulties turned upon language or local prejudice, and no small number submitted at length to Catholic teaching. The Semi-Arians attempted for years to invent a com- promise between irreconcilable views, and their shifting creeds, tumultuous councils, and worldly devices tell us how mixed and motley a crowd was collected under their banner. The point to be kept in remembrance is that, while they affirmed the Word of God to be everlasting, they imagined Him as having become the Son to create the worlds and redeem mankind. Among the ante-Nicene writers, a certain ambiguity of expression may be detected, outside the school of Alexandria, touching this last head of doctrine. While Catholic teachers held the Monarchia, viz. that there was only one God; and the Trinity, that this Absolute One existed in three distinct subsistences; and the Circuminses- sion, that Father, Word, and Spirit could not be separated, in fact or in thought, from one another; yet an opening was left for discussion as regarded the term "Son," and the period of His "generation" {•^ivvqais). Five ante-Nicene Fathers are especially quoted: Athenagoras, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Hippolytus, and Novatian, whose language appears to involve a peculiar notion of the Sonship, as though It did not come into being or were not perfect until the dawn of creation. To these may be added TertuUian and Methodius. Cardinal Newman held that their view, which is found clearly in TertuUian, of the Son existing after the Word, is connected as an anto(redent with Arianism. Petavius construed the same expressions in a reprehensible sense; but the Anglican Bishop Bull defended them as orthodox, not without difficulty. Even if metaiihorical, such language might give shelter to unfair disputants; but we are not answerable for the slips of teachers who failed to perceive all the consequences of doc- trinal truths really held by them. From these doubtful theorizings Rome and Alexandria kept aloof. Origcn liimself, who.se unadvised speculations were charged with the guilt of Arianism, and who employed terms like "the second God," concerning the Logos, which were never adopted by the Church — this very Origen taught the eternal Sonship of the Word, and was not a Semi-Arian. To him the Logos, the Son, and Jesus of Nazareth were one ever- subsisting Divine Person, begotten of the Father, and, in this way, "subordinate" to the soiirce of


His being. He comes forth from God as the creative Word, and so is a ministering Agent, or, from a ditfer- ent point of view, is the First-born of creation. Dionysius of Alexandria (260) was even denounced at Rome for calling the Son a work or creature of God; but he explained himself to the jiope on ortho- dox principles, and confessed the Homoousian Creed.

History. — Paul of Samosata, who was contem- porary with Dionysius, and Bishop of Antioch, may be judged the true ancestor of those heresies which relegated Christ beyond the Divine sphere, whatever epithets of deity they allowed Him. The man Jesus, said Paul, was distinct from the Logos, and, in Milton's later language, by merit was made the Son of God. The Supreme is one in Person as in Essence. Three councils held at Antioch (264-268, oi 269) con- demned and excommunicated the Samosatene. But these Fathers would not accept the Homoousian formula, dreading lest it should be taken to signify one material or abstract substance, according to the iLsage of the heathen philosophies. Associated with Paul, and for years cut off from the Catholic communion, we find the well-known Lucian, who edited the Septuagint and became at last a martyr. From this learned man the school of .\ntioch drew its inspiration. Eusebius the historian, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Arius himself, all came under Lucian'a influence. Not, therefore, to Egypt and its mystical teaching, but to Syria, where Aristotle flourished with his logic and its tendency to Rationalism, should we look for the home of an aberration which had it finally triumphed, would have anticipated Islam, reducing the Eternal Son to the rank of a prophet, and thus undoing the Christian revelation.

Arius, a Libyan by descent, brought up at Antioch and a school-fellow of Eusebius, afterwards Bishop of Nicomedia, took part (306) in the obscure Mele- tian schism, was made presbyter of the church called " Baucalis," at Alexandria, and opposed the Sabellians. themselves committed to a view of the Trinity which denied all real distinctions in the Supreme. Epiphanius describes the heresiarch as tall, grave, and winning; no aspersion on his moral character has been sustained; but there is some possibility of personal differences having led to his quarrel with the patriarch Alexander whom, in public synod, he accused of teaching that the Son was identical with the Father (319). The actual circumstances of this dispute are obscure; but Alexander condemned Arius in a great assembly, and the latter fountl a refuge with Eusebius, the Church historian at Caesarea. Political or party motives embittered the strife. Many bishops of Asia Minor and Syria took up the defence of their " fellow- Lucianist, " as Arius did not hesitate to call liimself. Synods in Palestine and Bithynia were opposed to synods in Egypt, During several years the argument ragctl; but when, by his defeat of Licinius (324), Constantine became master of the Roman world, he determined on restoring ecclesiasti- cal ortler in the ICast, as already in the West he had undertaken to put down the Doi'.atists at the Council of Aries. Arius, in a letter to the Nicomedian

g relate, had boldly rejected the Catholic faith. But onstantine. tutored by this worldly-mi ntletl man, sent from Nicomedia to Alexander a famous letter, in which he treated the controversy as an idle dispute about words and enlarged on the blessings of peace. The emperor, we should call to mind, was only a catechumen, imperfectly acquainted with Greek, much more incompetent in theology, and yet am- bitious to exercise over the Catholic Church a domin- ion resembling that which, as Pontifex Maximus, he wielded over the |i:ig:in worship. From this Byzan- tine conccptiim (l:ili('llcd in modern times ICrastian- isni) we must ilcrive the calamities which during


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