Arianism
Overview
 
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius
Arius
Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. 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...

 (ca.
Circa
Circa , usually abbreviated c. or ca. , means "approximately" in the English language, usually referring to a date...

 AD 250–336), a Christian presbyter
Presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

 from Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 ('God the Father', 'God the Son' and 'God the Holy Spirit') and the precise nature of the Son of God
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

 as being a subordinate entity to God the Father. Deemed a heretic
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 by the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 of 325, Arius was later exonerated in 335 at the First Synod of Tyre
First Synod of Tyre
The First Synod of Tyre or the Council of Tyre was a gathering of bishops called together by Emperor Constantine I for the primary purpose of evaluating charges brought against Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria.-Background:...

, and then, after his death, pronounced a heretic again at the First Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 of 381.
Encyclopedia
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius
Arius
Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. 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...

 (ca.
Circa
Circa , usually abbreviated c. or ca. , means "approximately" in the English language, usually referring to a date...

 AD 250–336), a Christian presbyter
Presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

 from Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 ('God the Father', 'God the Son' and 'God the Holy Spirit') and the precise nature of the Son of God
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

 as being a subordinate entity to God the Father. Deemed a heretic
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 by the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 of 325, Arius was later exonerated in 335 at the First Synod of Tyre
First Synod of Tyre
The First Synod of Tyre or the Council of Tyre was a gathering of bishops called together by Emperor Constantine I for the primary purpose of evaluating charges brought against Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria.-Background:...

, and then, after his death, pronounced a heretic again at the First Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 of 381. The Roman Emperors Constantius II (337–361) and Valens (364–378) were Arians or Semi-Arians
Semi-Arianism
Semi-Arianism is a name frequently given to the Trinitarian position of the conservative majority of the Eastern Christian Church in the 4th century, to distinguish it from strict Arianism....

.

The Arian concept of Christ
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

 is that the Son of God did not always exist, but was created by—and is therefore distinct from—God the Father. This belief is grounded in the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 passage “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." (verse )

Arianism is defined as those teachings attributed to Arius which are in opposition to mainstream Trinitarian Christological doctrine, as determined by the first two Ecumenical Council
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

s and currently maintained by the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and most Reformation
Reformation
- Movements :* Protestant Reformation, an attempt by Martin Luther to reform the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in a schism, and grew into a wider movement...

 Protestant Churches. "Arianism" is also often used to refer to other nontrinitarian theological systems of the 4th century, which regarded Jesus Christ—the Son of God, the Logos—as either a created being (as in Arianism proper and Anomoeanism), or as neither uncreated nor created in the sense other beings are created (as in Semi-Arianism
Semi-Arianism
Semi-Arianism is a name frequently given to the Trinitarian position of the conservative majority of the Eastern Christian Church in the 4th century, to distinguish it from strict Arianism....

).

Origin

Arius taught that God the Father and the Son
Christian views of Jesus
Christian views of Jesus are based on the teachings and beliefs outlined in the Canonical gospels, New Testament letters, and the Christian creeds. These outline the key beliefs held by Christian about Jesus, including his divinity, humanity, and earthly life. Generally speaking, adhering to the...

 did not exist together eternally. He taught that the pre-incarnate
Incarnation (Christianity)
The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos , "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos .The Incarnation is a fundamental theological...

 Jesus was a divine being created by (and therefore inferior to) 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 Jesus saying that the father is "greater than I" (John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 ), and "The Lord created me at the beginning of his work" (Proverbs
Book of Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs , commonly referred to simply as Proverbs, is a book of the Hebrew Bible.The original Hebrew title of the book of Proverbs is "Míshlê Shlomoh" . When translated into Greek and Latin, the title took on different forms. In the Greek Septuagint the title became "paroimai paroimiae"...

 ). The latter quote has provided some controversy because it is technically speaking of wisdom 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.

Of all the various disagreements within the Christian Church, the Arian controversy has held the greatest force and power of theological and political conflict, with the possible exception of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. The conflict between Arianism and Trinitarian beliefs was the first major doctrinal confrontation in the Church after the legalization of Christianity by the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Licinius
Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

.

The controversy over Arianism began to rise in the late 3rd century and extended over the greater part of the 4th century and involved most church members, simple believers, priests and monks as well as bishops, emperors and members of Rome's imperial family. Yet, such a deep controversy within the Church could not have materialized in the 3rd and 4th centuries without some significant historical influences providing the basis for the Arian doctrines. While some historians define and minimize the Arian conflict as the exclusive construct of Arius and a handful of rogue bishops engaging in heresy
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

, other historians recognize Arius
Arius
Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. 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...

 as providing a conservative response against the politicization of Christianity, or a defender of original Christianity. Of the roughly three hundred bishops in attendance at the Council of Nicea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

, only three bishops did not sign the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. However, to minimize the extent of Arianism ignores the fact that extremely prominent Emperors such as Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

  and Valens
Valens
Valens was the Eastern Roman Emperor from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I after the latter's accession to the throne...

 were Arians, as well as prominent Gothic
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

, Vandal and Lombard
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 warlords both before and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

After the dispute over Arius politicized and a general solution to the debate was sought – with a great majority holding to the Trinitarian position – the Arian position was officially declared to be heterodox. Lucian of Antioch
Lucian of Antioch
Saint Lucian of Antioch , known as Lucian the Martyr, was a Christian presbyter, theologian and martyr. He was noted for both his scholarship and ascetic piety.-History:...

 had contended for a christology very similar to what would later be known as Arianism and is thought to have contributed much to its development. Arius was a student of Lucian's private academy in Antioch
School of Antioch
The School of Antioch was one of the two major centers of the study of biblical exegesis and theology during Late Antiquity; the other was the catechetical school of Alexandria...

.

While Arianism continued to dominate for several decades even within the family of the Emperor, the Imperial nobility, and higher-ranking clergy, in the end it was Trinitarianism which prevailed in the Roman Empire at the end of the 4th century. Arianism, which had been taught by the Arian missionary Ulfilas
Ulfilas
Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila , bishop, missionary, and Bible translator, was a Goth or half-Goth and half-Greek from Cappadocia who had spent time inside the Roman Empire at the peak of the Arian controversy. Ulfilas was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work...

 to the Germanic tribes, was dominant for some centuries among several Germanic tribes in western Europe, especially Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 and Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 (and significantly for the late Empire, the Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

), but ceased to be the mainstream belief by the 8th century, as it was successfully crushed through a series of military and political conquests, culminating in the political-religious domination of Europe over the next 1,000 years by Trinitarian forces in the Catholic Church. Trinitarianism remained the dominant doctrine in all major branches of the Eastern and Western Church and later within Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 until modern times.

Beliefs

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, a 4th-century Arian bishop of Milan
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milan
The Archdiocese of Milan is a metropolitan see of the Catholic Church in Italy. It has long maintained its own rite: the Ambrosian rite. It is led by the Archbishop of Milan who serves as metropolitan to the dioceses of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Crema, Cremona, Lodi, Mantova, Pavia, and Vigevano.The...

, regarding the missionary Ulfilas
Ulfilas
Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila , bishop, missionary, and Bible translator, was a Goth or half-Goth and half-Greek from Cappadocia who had spent time inside the Roman Empire at the peak of the Arian controversy. Ulfilas was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work...

, gives the clearest picture of Arian beliefs on the nature of the Trinity: God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 the Father ("unbegotten"), always existing, was separate from the lesser Jesus Christ ("only-begotten"), born before time began and creator of the world. 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". First Corinthians
First Epistle to the Corinthians
The first epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, often referred to as First Corinthians , is the seventh book of the New Testament of the Bible...

 - was cited as proof text:
A letter from Arius to the Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia
Eusebius of Nicomedia
Eusebius of Nicomedia was the man who baptised Constantine. He was a bishop of Berytus in Phoenicia, then of Nicomedia where the imperial court resided in Bithynia, and finally of Constantinople from 338 up to his death....

 succinctly states the core beliefs of the Arians:

First Council of Nicaea and its aftermath

In 321, Arius was denounced by a synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 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 an assembly of bishops, the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

, which condemned Arius' doctrine and formulated the original Nicene Creed of 325. The Nicene Creed's central term, used to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son, is Homoousios, or Consubstantiality
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

, meaning "of the same substance" or "of one being". (The Athanasian Creed
Athanasian Creed
The Athanasian Creed is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicumque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whosoever wishes." The Athanasian Creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century...

 is less often used but is a more overtly anti-Arian statement on the Trinity.)

The focus of the Council of Nicaea was the divinity of Christ (see Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata was Bishop of Antioch from 260 to 268. He was a believer in monarchianism, and his teachings anticipate adoptionism.-Life:...

 and the Synods of Antioch
Synods of Antioch
Beginning with three synods convened between 264 and 269 in the matter of Paul of Samosata, more than thirty councils were held in Antioch in ancient times. Most of these dealt with phases of the Arian and of the Christological controversies...

). 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 (infinite, primordial origin) and to the Holy Spirit (giver of life). Under Arianism, Christ was instead not consubstantial
Consubstantiality
Consubstantial is an adjective used in Latin Christian christology, coined by Tertullian in Against Hermogenes 44, used to translate the Greek term homoousios...

 with God the Father since both the Father and the Son under Arius were made of "like" essence or being (see homoiousia
Homoiousia
Homoiousia is the theological doctrine that Jesus the Son of God and God the Father are of similar but not the same substance, a position held by the Semi-Arians in the 4th century. It contrasts with homoousia and heteroousia ....

) but not of the same essence or being (see homoousia). Ousia
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

 is essence or being, in Eastern Christianity, and is the aspect of God that is completely incomprehensible 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 distinct, though similar, essence or substance from the Creator; his opponents argued that this would make Jesus less than 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 submission is kenosis
Kenosis
In Christian theology, Kenosis In Christian theology, Kenosis In Christian theology, Kenosis (from the Greek word for emptiness (kénōsis) is the 'self-emptying' of one's own will and becoming entirely receptive to God's divine will....

. This Ecumenical council declared that Jesus Christ was a distinct being of God in existence or reality (hypostasis), which the Latin fathers translated as persona. Jesus was God in essence, being and or nature (ousia
Ousia
Ousia is the Ancient Greek noun formed on the feminine present participle of ; it is analogous to the English participle being, and the modern philosophy adjectival ontic...

), which the Latin fathers translated as substantia.
Constantine is believed to have exiled those who refused to accept the Nicean creed—Arius himself, the deacon Euzoios, and the Libyan bishops Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais
Secundus of Ptolemais
Secundus of Ptolemais was a 4th century bishop of Ptolemais, excommunicated after the First Council of Nicaea for his nontrinitarianism.-See also:* Arianism* Arian controversy* Timeline of Christianity: Era of the Seven Ecumenical Councils-References:...

—and also the bishops who signed the creed but refused to join in condemnation of Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicaea
Theognis of Nicaea
Theognis of Nicaea was a 4th century bishop, excommunicated after the First Council of Nicaea for not denouncing Arius and his nontrinitarianism strongly enough....

. The Emperor also ordered all copies of the Thalia, the book in which Arius had expressed his teachings, to be burned
Book burning
Book burning, biblioclasm or libricide is the practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material and media. In modern times, other forms of media, such as phonograph records, video tapes, and CDs have also been ceremoniously burned, torched, or shredded...

. However, there is no evidence that his son and ultimate successor, Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

, who was an Arian Christian, was exiled.

Although he was committed to maintaining what the church had defined at Nicaea, Constantine was also bent on pacifying the situation and eventually became more lenient toward those condemned and exiled at the council. First he allowed Eusebius of Nicomedia, who was a protégé of his sister, and Theognis to return once they had signed an ambiguous statement of faith. The two, and other friends of Arius, worked for Arius' rehabilitation. At the First Synod of Tyre
First Synod of Tyre
The First Synod of Tyre or the Council of Tyre was a gathering of bishops called together by Emperor Constantine I for the primary purpose of evaluating charges brought against Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria.-Background:...

 in AD 335, they brought accusations against Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, the primary opponent of Arius; after this, Constantine had Athanasius banished, since he considered him an impediment to reconciliation. In the same year, the Synod of Jerusalem under Constantine's direction readmitted Arius
Arius
Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. 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...

 to communion in AD 336. Arius
Arius
Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. 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...

, however, died on the way to this event in Constantinople. Some scholars suggest that Arius may have been poisoned by his opponents. Eusebius and Theognis remained in the Emperor's favour, and when Constantine, who had been a catechumen
Catechumen
In ecclesiology, a catechumen , “‘down’” + ἠχή , “‘sound’”) is one receiving instruction from a catechist in the principles of the Christian religion with a view to baptism...

 much of his adult life, accepted baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 on his deathbed, it was from Eusebius of Nicomedia.

Theological debates

The Council of Nicaea did not end the controversy, as many bishops of the Eastern provinces disputed the homoousios, the central term of the Nicene creed, as it had been used by Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata
Paul of Samosata was Bishop of Antioch from 260 to 268. He was a believer in monarchianism, and his teachings anticipate adoptionism.-Life:...

, who had advocated a monarchianist
Monarchianism
Monarchianism is a set of beliefs that emphasize God as being one person. The term was given to Christians who upheld the "monarchy" of God against the Logos theology of Justin Martyr and apologists who had spoken of Jesus as a second divine person begotten by God the Father before the creation of...

 Christology
Christology
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

. Both the man and his teaching, including the term homoousios, had been condemned by the Synods of Antioch
Synods of Antioch
Beginning with three synods convened between 264 and 269 in the matter of Paul of Samosata, more than thirty councils were held in Antioch in ancient times. Most of these dealt with phases of the Arian and of the Christological controversies...

 in 269.

Hence, after Constantine's death in 337, open dispute resumed again. Constantine's son Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

, 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 Nicea been the head of the Arian party, who also was made bishop of Constantinople.

Constantius used his power to exile bishops adhering to the Nicene creed, especially Athanasius of Alexandria, who fled to Rome. In 355 Constantius became the sole Emperor and extended his pro-Arian policy toward the western provinces, frequently using force to push through his creed, even exiling Pope Liberius
Pope Liberius
Pope Liberius, pope from May 17, 352, to September 24, 366, was consecrated according to the Catalogus Liberianus on May 22, as the successor of Pope Julius I. He was regarded as a saint in the early Church, but his name was later removed from the Roman Martyrology, however, he is once again...

 and installing Antipope Felix II
Antipope Felix II
Antipope Felix II was installed as Pope in 355 after the Emperor Constantius II banished the reigning Pope, Liberius, for refusing to subscribe the sentence of condemnation against Saint Athanasius. In May 357 the Roman laity, which had remained faithful to Liberius, demanded that Constantius, who...

.

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 homoiousios (alike in substance) to the Nicene homoousios, while they rejected Arius and his teaching and accepted the equality and coeternality of the persons 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' teachings and, in another attempted compromise wording, described the Son as being like (homoios
Acacians
The Acacians, also known as the Homoeans, were an Arian sect which first emerged into distinctness as an ecclesiastical party some time before the convocation of the joint synods of Ariminum and Seleucia Isauria in 359...

) 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 groups resulted in numerous synods, among them the Council of Sardica
Council of Sardica
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sofia and Plovdiv is a Roman Catholic diocese of the Latin Rite, which includes the whole southern part of Bulgaria. The remainder of Bulgaria is comprised in the Diocese of Nicopoli. The seat of the episcopal see is in Plovdiv. The diocese is immediately subject of...

 in 343, the Council of Sirmium
Council of Sirmium
The Council of Sirmium generally refers to the third of the four episcopal councils held in Sirmium between 357 AD and 359 AD. Specifically one was held in 357, one in 358 and one in 359. The third council marked a temporary compromise between Arianism and the Western bishops of the Christian...

 in 358 and the double Council of Rimini
Council of Rimini
The Council of Rimini was an early Christian church synod held in Ariminum ....

 and Seleucia in 359, and no fewer than fourteen further creed formulas between 340 and 360, leading the pagan observer Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

 to comment sarcastically: "The highways were covered with galloping bishops." None of these attempts were acceptable to the defenders of Nicene orthodoxy: writing about the latter councils, Saint Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

 remarked that the world "awoke with a groan to find itself Arian."

After Constantius' death in 361, his successor Julian
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

, a devotee of Rome's pagan gods
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

, declared that he would no longer attempt to favor one church faction over another, and allowed all exiled bishops to return; this had the objective of further increasing dissension among Christians. The Emperor Valens
Valens
Valens was the Eastern Roman Emperor from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I after the latter's accession to the throne...

, however, revived Constantius' policy and supported the "Homoian" party, exiling bishops and often using force. During this persecution many bishops were exiled to the other ends of the Empire, (e.g., Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers
Hilary of Poitiers was Bishop of Poitiers and is a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West." His name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful. His optional memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is 13...

 to the Eastern provinces). These contacts and the common plight subsequently led to a rapprochement between the Western supporters of the Nicene creed and the homoousios and the Eastern semi-Arians.

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
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

, who adhered to the Nicene creed. This allowed for settling the dispute.

Two days after Theodosius arrived in Constantinople, November 24, 380, he expelled the Homoian bishop, Demophilus of Constantinople
Demophilus of Constantinople
Demophilus was bishop of Berea and bishop of Constantinople from 370 until expelled in 380.-Biography:Born of good family in Thessalonica, he was elected by the Arians to the bishopric of Constantinople. The opinion of the populace, however, were much divided...

, and surrendered the churches of that city to Gregory Nazianzus, the leader of the rather small Nicene community there, an act which provoked rioting. Theodosius had just been baptized, by bishop Acholius of Thessalonica, during a severe illness, as was common in the early Christian world. In February he and Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers...

 had published an edict that all their subjects should profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria (i.e., the Nicene faith), or be handed over for punishment for not doing so.

Although much of the church hierarchy in the East had opposed the Nicene creed in the decades leading up to Theodosius' accession, he managed to achieve unity on the basis of the Nicene creed. In 381, at the Second Ecumenical Council
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 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
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

, as well as some other changes: see Comparison between Creed of 325 and Creed of 381. This is generally considered the end of the dispute about the Trinity and the end of Arianism among the Roman, non-Germanic peoples.

Later debates

Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

 labelled the party of Basil of Ancyra
Basil of Ancyra
Basil of Ancyra, was a Christian priest in Ancyra, Galatia during the fourth century. Very meager information about his life is preserved in a metaphrastic work: “Life and Deeds of the Martyred Priest Basil.” He fought against the pagans and the Arians...

 in 358 "Semi-Arianism
Semi-Arianism
Semi-Arianism is a name frequently given to the Trinitarian position of the conservative majority of the Eastern Christian Church in the 4th century, to distinguish it from strict Arianism....

".

Early medieval Germanic kingdoms

However, during the time of Arianism's flowering in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, the Gothic convert Ulfilas
Ulfilas
Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila , bishop, missionary, and Bible translator, was a Goth or half-Goth and half-Greek from Cappadocia who had spent time inside the Roman Empire at the peak of the Arian controversy. Ulfilas was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work...

 (later the subject of the letter of Auxentius cited above) was sent as a missionary to the Gothic barbarians across the Danube, a mission favored for political reasons by emperor Constantius II. Ulfilas' initial success in converting this Germanic people to an Arian form of Christianity was strengthened by later events. When the Germanic peoples entered the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and founded successor-kingdoms in the western part, most had been Arian Christians for more than a century.

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. Many scholars see the persistence of Germanic Arianism as a strategy that was followed in order to differentiate the Germanic elite from the local inhabitants and their culture and also to maintain the Germanic elite's separate group identity.

Most Germanic tribes were generally tolerant of the Nicene beliefs of their subjects. However, the Vandals tried for several decades to force their Arian beliefs on their North African Nicene subjects, exiling Nicene clergy, dissolving monasteries, and exercising heavy pressure on non-conforming Christians.

By the beginning of the 8th century, these kingdoms had either been conquered by Nicene neighbors (Ostrogoths, Vandals, Burgundians) or their rulers had accepted Nicene Christianity (Visigoths, Lombards).

The Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 were unique among the Germanic peoples in that they entered the empire as pagans and converted to Nicene (Catholic) Christianity directly, guided by their king Clovis
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

.

Remnants in the West, 5th-7th century

However, much of southeastern Europe and central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

, including many of the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 and Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

 respectively, had embraced Arianism (the Visigoths converted to Arian Christianity in 376), which led to Arianism being a religious factor in various wars in the Roman Empire. In the west, organized Arianism survived in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, in Hispania, and parts of Italy until it was finally suppressed in the 6th and 7th centuries. Grimwald
Grimoald I of Benevento
Grimoald I was duke of Benevento and king of the Lombards .Born probably before 610 to Duke Gisulf II of Friuli and the Bavarian princess Ramhilde, daughter of Duke Garibald I of Bavaria, he succeeded his brother Radoald as duke of Benevento...

, King of the Lombards (662–671), and his young son and successor Garibald
Garibald
Garibald was the young son of Grimoald I of Benevento, king of the Lombards, and Theodota, daughter of Aripert I. After his father's death in 671, he reigned briefly for three months until the numerous adherents of Perctarit, his uncle, who had been exiled by Grimoald nine years earlier, beseeched...

 (671), were the last Arian kings in Europe.

"Arian" as a polemical epithet

In many ways, the conflict around Arian beliefs in the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries helped firmly define the centrality of the Trinity in Nicene Christian theology. As the first major intra-Christian conflict after Christianity's legalization, the struggle between Nicenes and Arians left a deep impression on the institutional memory of Nicene churches.

Thus, over the past 1,500 years, some Christians have used the term Arian to refer to those groups that see themselves as worshiping Jesus Christ or respecting his teachings, but do not hold to the Nicene creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. Despite the frequency with which this name is used as a polemical label, there has been no historically continuous survival of Arianism into the modern era.

Arianism resurfaces after the Reformation, 16th century

Following the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 from 1517, it did not take long for Arian and other non-trinitarian views to resurface. The first recorded English antitrinitarian was John Assheton
John Assheton
John Assheton was an Anglican priest at "Shiltelington" who is the first recorded English anti-Trinitarian.Almost nothing is known about Assheton except the record of recantation to Thomas Cranmer in 1548...

 who was forced to recant before Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build a favourable case for Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon which resulted in the separation of the English Church from...

 in 1548. At the Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 Council of Venice
Council of Venice
The concilio di Veneto or sinodo a Venezia 1550 was a meeting in Venice of the anabaptist radicals of Northern Italy.It had been preceded by the antitrinitarian Collegia Vicentina The concilio di Veneto or sinodo a Venezia 1550 was a meeting in Venice of the anabaptist radicals of Northern Italy.It...

 1550, the early Italian instigators of the Radical Reformation
Radical Reformation
The Radical Reformation was a 16th century response to what was believed to be both the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Germany and Switzerland, the Radical Reformation birthed many radical...

 committed to the views of Servetus (d.1553), and these were promulgated by Giorgio Biandrata
Giorgio Biandrata
Giorgio Biandrata or Blandrata , was an Italian physician and polemicist, who came of the De Biandrate family, powerful from the early part of the 13th century, was born at Saluzzo, the youngest son of Bernardino Biandrata.He graduated in arts and medicine at Montpellier in 1533, and specialized in...

 and others into Poland and Transylvania. The antitrinitarian wing of the Polish Reformation separated from the Calvinist ecclesia maior to form the ecclesia minor or Polish Brethren
Polish Brethren
The Polish Brethren were members of the Minor Reformed Church of Poland, a Nontrinitarian Protestant church that existed in Poland from 1565 to 1658...

. These were commonly referred to as "Arians" due to their rejection of the Trinity, though in fact the Socinians, as they were later known, went further than Arius to the position of Photinus
Photinus
Photinus was a Christian heresiarch and bishop of Sirmium in Pannonia, best known for denying the incarnation of Christ. His name became synonymous in later literature for someone asserting that Christ was not God.- Life :...

. The epithet "Arian" was also applied to the early Unitarians
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 such as John Biddle
John Biddle (Unitarian)
John Biddle or Bidle was an influential English nontrinitarian, and Unitarian. He is often called "the Father of English Unitarianism".- Life :...

 though in denial of the pre-existence of Christ
Pre-existence of Christ
The pre-existence of Christ refers to the doctrine of the ontological or personal existence of Christ before his conception. One of the relevant Bible passages is where, in the Trinitarian view, Christ is identified with a pre-existent divine hypostasis called the Logos or Word...

 they were again largely Socinians not Arians.

In the 18th Century the "dominant trend" in Britain, particularly in Latitudinarianism, was towards Arianism, with which the names of Samuel Clarke
Samuel Clarke
thumb|right|200px|Samuel ClarkeSamuel Clarke was an English philosopher and Anglican clergyman.-Early life and studies:...

, Benjamin Hoadly
Benjamin Hoadly
Benjamin Hoadly was an English clergyman, who was successively Bishop of Bangor, Hereford, Salisbury, and Winchester. He is best known as the initiator of the Bangorian Controversy.-Life:...

, William Whiston
William Whiston
William Whiston was an English theologian, historian, and mathematician. He is probably best known for his translation of the Antiquities of the Jews and other works by Josephus, his A New Theory of the Earth, and his Arianism...

 and Isaac Newton are associated. To quote the Encyclopædia Britannicas article on Arianism: "In modern times some Unitarians
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 are virtually Arians in that they are unwilling either to reduce Christ to a mere human being or to attribute to him a divine nature identical with that of the Father." However, their doctrines cannot be considered representative of traditional Arian doctrines or vice-versa.

The Christology of Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 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
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 is not an actual person but rather is God’s divine breath, God's power in action.

Another group that may be considered Arian is the Church of God (7th day) - Salem Conference
Church of God (7th day) - Salem Conference
The Church of God – Salem Conference is a seventh-day Sabbath-keeping Christian denomination. The Church of God observes the seventh-day Sabbath, which is ) the Biblical Sabbath for the Judeo-Christian tradition.-History:...

.
Other groups denying the Trinity are not necessarily Arian.
  • Oneness Pentecostalism
    Oneness Pentecostalism
    Oneness Pentecostalism refers to a grouping of denominations and believers within Pentecostal Christianity, all of whom subscribe to the nontrinitarian theological doctrine of Oneness...

     is a grouping of denominations and believers within the Pentecostal movement with various non-trinitarian views.
  • Christadelphians
    Christadelphians
    Christadelphians is a Christian group that developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century...

    , Church of God General Conference and other "Biblical Unitarians" are typically Socinian
    Socinianism
    Socinianism is a system of Christian doctrine named for Fausto Sozzini , which was developed among the Polish Brethren in the Minor Reformed Church of Poland during the 15th and 16th centuries and embraced also by the Unitarian Church of Transylvania during the same period...

     in their Christology, not Arian.

See also

  • Arian controversy
    Arian controversy
    The Arian controversy describes several controversies between the Christian Church fathers Arius and Athanasius related to Christology which divided the Christian church from before the Council of Nicaea in 325 to after the Council of Constantinople in 381...

  • Arius
    Arius
    Arius was a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan origins. 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...

  • First Council of Nicea
  • Christology
    Christology
    Christology is the field of study within Christian theology which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature...

  • Germanic Christianity
    Germanic Christianity
    The Germanic people underwent gradual Christianization in the course of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. By the 8th century, England and the Frankish Empire were Christian, and by AD 1100 Germanic paganism had also ceased to have political influence in Scandinavia.-History:In the 4th...


  • Non-Trinitarian churches
  • Nontrinitarianism
    Nontrinitarianism
    Nontrinitarianism includes all Christian belief systems that disagree with the doctrine of the Trinity, namely, the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases and yet co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one essence or ousia...

  • Subordinationist
  • Unitarianism
    Unitarianism
    Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....



External links


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