Monday, May 7, 2012

Arius - teachings about the nature of the Godhead

There's debate between Christology 's co-equal Trinitarianism vs. Shema Yisrael (the monotheistic essence of Judaism) long before Arius.

Arius (Greek: Ἄρειος, AD 250 or 256–336) was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt, of Libyanorigins. His teachings about the nature of the Godhead, which emphasized the Father's divinity over the Son, and his opposition to the Athanasian or Trinitarian Christology, made him a controversial figure in the First Council of Nicea, 

After Emperor Constantine legalized and formalized the Christianity of the time in the Roman Empire, the newly recognized catholic Church sought to unify and clarify its theology. Trinitarian Christians, including Athanasius, used Arius and Arianism as epithets to describe those who disagreed with their doctrine of co-equal Trinitarianism, a Christology representing God the Father and Son (Jesus of Nazareth) as "of one essence" (consubstantial) and coeternal.

Although virtually all positive writings on Arius' theology have been suppressed or destroyed, negative writings describe Arius' theology as one in which there was a time before the Son of God, when onlyGod the Father existed. Despite concerted opposition, 'Arian', or nontrinitarian Christian churches persisted throughout Europe and North Africa, in various Gothic and Germanic kingdoms, until suppressed by military conquest or voluntary royal conversion between the fifth and seventh centuries.

Arius was accused of being too liberal and loose in his theology, engaging in heresy (as defined by his opponents). However, some historians argue that Arius was actually quite conservative,[8] and that he deplored how, in his view, Christian theology was being too freely mixed with Greek pagan philosophy

In explaining his actions against Arius, Alexander of Alexandria wrote a letter to Alexander of Constantinople and Eusebius of Nicomedia (where the emperor was then residing), detailing the errors into which he believed Arius had fallen. According to Alexander, Arius taught:

That God was not always the Father, but that there was a period when he was not the Father; that the Word of God was not from eternity, but was made out of nothing; for that the ever-existing God (‘the I AM’—the eternal One) made him who did not previously exist, out of nothing; wherefore there was a time when he did not exist, inasmuch as the Son is a creature and a work. That he is neither like the Father as it regards his essence, nor is by nature either the Father’s true Word, or true Wisdom, but indeed one of his works and creatures, being erroneously called Word and Wisdom, since he was himself made of God’s own Word and the Wisdom which is in God, whereby God both made all things and him also. Wherefore he is as to his nature mutable and susceptible of change, as all other rational creatures are: hence the Word is alien to and other than the essence of God; and the Father is inexplicable by the Son, and invisible to him, for neither does the Word perfectly and accurately know the Father, neither can he distinctly see him. The Son knows not the nature of his own essence: for he was made on our account, in order that God might create us by him, as by an instrument; nor would he ever have existed, unless God had wished to create us.
— Socrates Scholasticus


Arius (256-336 A.D.) is the most famous heretic of Christian theology. He was born in Libya and died in Constantinople. Arius held a prominent position as a priest in the Church of Alexandria when he started a theological controversy in 318. Arius denied the eternal deity of Christ and his equality with the Father. He argued that Christ was created by the Father. Since the age of the Apostles, Jesus had always been considered divine by his followers, but his precise relation to the Godhead had not yet been defined. Thanks to Arius, the Trinitarian controversy regarding the status of Jesus Christ erupted.


Arius did not believe that the Father and the Son were of the same substance. Instead, he believed in the eternal functional and ontological subordination of the Son to the Father—that the Son was a lower being than the Father.
According to Arius, the Son was created before time. In other words, he was not co-eternal with the Father. As he put it, “Before he was begotten or created or appointed or established, he did not exist; for he was not unbegotten” (Letter to Eusebius). Furthermore, the Son was not of one divine substance with the Father. He was rather of a similar substance with the Father (homoiousios). On this view, the divine qualities of the Son are given to him by the Father. Arius claimed that when the Scriptures speak of Jesus as the “Son” of God, it is merely a title of honor—a title given to Jesus as the one on whom the Father had lavished a special grace. Thus, Arius says, “He is not God truly, but by participation in grace…He too is called God in name only” (Early Christian Doctrines).


The theology of Arius became so controversial that Constantine intervened in 325, calling the Council of Nicaea. Athanasius, the leading defender of Nicene orthodoxy and the most prolific writer of orthodox Trinitarian doctrine in the fourth century, saw a major flaw in the writings of Arius and called his heresy the “forerunner of the Antichrist” (Athanasius,Or. Ar. 1:1).

According to Athanasius, the Son was eternally begotten from the Father such that he can be said to be of the same essence (homoousios) with the Father: “The Son is other in kind and nature than the creatures, or rather belongs to the Father’s substance and is of the same nature as He.” (Athanasius, Contra Arianos, III).


There are some today who repeat Arius’ views. However, Jesus claimed to be God and the Christian tradition has held that there is an intimate connection between salvation and the deity of Christ. We are saved from God by God. Only a divine Savior can bear the weight of God’s wrath in atonement. Only Jesus as the God-man can satisfy the enormous debt and penalty caused by human sin against God. No mere human could bridge that gap. Only a divine Savior can pay the costly price of redeeming us from our bondage to sin and death. Only the God-man can conquer all his people’s enemies. Our salvation rests on the infinite capacities of our savior, Jesus Christ.

Jews believe that a blood sacrifice is
not required for forgiveness of sins

IN SHORT... If a person believes that a blood sacrifice were necessary in order for Gd to forgive human sin, then that person forgot to study the Five Books of Moses. Even a single example where Gd forgave without a blood sacrifice would prove that this idea is unbiblical. There are many such examples, but the most interesting is found in the Book of Leviticus. The reason this is so interesting is that it appears right in the middle of the discussion of sin sacrifices. In Leviticus 5:11-13, it states, 'If, however, he cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering.' In Jonah 3:10, we also see that one does not need a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. There, the Bible simply states that Gd saw the works of the people of Niniveh. Specifically it says that these works consisted of abandoning their evil ways, and because they did, Gd forgave them. There are many other examples. Therefore, as was stated earlier, the idea that one needs a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is unbiblical. [3]

Watch this short video explaining the Jewish understanding of Isaiah 53.


Chosen People Ministries has focused on Isaiah 53 because it believes this passage is one of its most powerful proof-texts. When read out-of-context and mistranslated, Isaiah 53 gives the impression of a prophecy describing the suffering and death of the messiah, specifically Jesus dying for our sins.
This Christian interpretation is absolutely incorrect for several good reasons. Isaiah commonly uses familiar metaphors and often speaks of the people of Israel as a single individual referred to as the Servant of God. Moreover in nine previous  passages, Isaiah identifies the Servant to be  Israel, as we see in Isaiah 41:8  “Israel is my Servant…” and Isaiah 43:10 “You are My witnesses says the Lord, and My Servant whom I have chosen…”
Chapters 52-53 describe the reaction of the nations of the world when they witness the future and ultimate redemption of the Jewish people.
Initially, the nations viewed the Jewish people scornfully and considered them to be rejected by God and deserving of suffering and His divine punishment. Isaiah states that in the future, the nations will be shocked and dumbfounded when they witness God’s unexpected and glorious redemption of the Jewish people.
The nations will then contrast their new realization of Israel’s grandeur with their previous beliefs. Ultimately, they will conclude that the Jews were not rejected by God, but in fact, they suffered from the unjustified and disproportionate persecution inflicted upon them by the nations of the world.
To validate their biased misinterpretation, missionaries intentionally avoid mention of a critical fact. In Isaiah 53:5, they deliberately mistranslate the word “from” as“for”, andthereby claim that the Servant will suffer for the sins of the Jewish people. In fact, the verse says that the nations of the world will actually admit that Israel – the Servant of God – “was wounded from our transgressions, bruisedfrom our iniquities.” In the original Hebrew, the letter “מ – mem” which serves as the prefix to the words “transgressions” and “iniquities” means “from”, not “for.”Therefore, this verse cannot be read as supporting the Christian view that the Servant, namely Jesus, suffers for the sins of the world.
In fact, many Christian commentaries including the New English Bible: Oxford Study EditionThe New Interpreters Study Bible and The Harper Collins Study Bible agree with the Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53. For example, the Oxford Study Edition states, “Israel, the servant of God, has suffered as a humiliated individual.”

Source: [3] A MORE COMPLETE EXPLANATION...The God-man relationship was never limited to animal sacrifices, nor was it ever the only means by which a human being obtained forgiveness from Gd for wrongdoing.

No comments:

Post a Comment