"If the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence: and from this it is evident, that there was a time when the Son was not. It therefore necessarily follows, that he had his substance from nothing".
Arius continued to propagate this teaching for two generations under the Bishop of Alexandria, Alexander. This was criticized by some bishops and presbyters of the "Homoousian" school of thought which had come to dominate the church in Alexandria and the papacy, that the Son and Father were of the same substance and being thus co-eternal (As long as the Father has existed, so has the Son, as two persons of the same being) Arius countered this by asserting that only the Father was eternal, saying the Father was so ineffable and transcendent that no being, not even the Son could share in the substance of his eternal being. Eventually, though Alexander was originally lenient with Arius, as his teachings spread, disunity in the church of Egypt between his supporters and detractors led Alexander to excommunicate and banish Arius. Arius eventually made his way with his supporters to Palestine where he found theological support among a number of local bishops and their congregations. From here, the "Heteroousian" teachings of various began to spread throughout the Eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Arius and his supporters began to appeal to the Pope Alexander to revoke his decision to not allow them into communion on grounds that historians of the controversy as exampled in these few surviving letters penned by Arius and/or his supporters:
A Letter to Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, from Arius:
To that most beloved man of God, the faithful and orthodox Eusebius, from Arius, unjustly persecuted by father Alexander because of the all-conquering truth which you, Eusebius, also are defending!
Since my father Ammonius is going to Nicomedia, it seemed reasonable and proper to greet you through him, remembering at the same time the innate love and affection which you have for the brothers on account of God and his Christ, because the bishop [Alexander] is severely ravaging and persecuting us and moving against us with every evil. Thus he drives us out of every city like godless men, since we will not agree with his public statements: that there was “always a God, always a Son;” “as soon as the Father, so soon the Son [existed];” “with the Father co-exists the Son unbegotten, ever-begotten, begotten without begetting;” “God neither precedes the Son in aspect or in a moment of time;” “always a God, always a Son, the Son being from God himself.”
Since Eusebius, your brother in Caesarea, and Theodotus, and Paulinus, and Athanasius, and Gregory, and Aetius and all those in the East say that God pre-exists the Son without a beginning, they have been condemned, except for Philogonius and Hellenicus and Macarius, unlearned heretics some of whom say that the Son was “spewed out”, others that he was an “emanation”, still others that he was “jointly unbegotten.”
We are not able to listen to these kinds of impieties, even if the heretics threaten us with ten thousand deaths. But what do we say and think and what have we previously taught and do we presently teach? — that the Son is not unbegotten, nor a part of an unbegotten entity in any way, nor from anything in existence, but that he is subsisting in will and intention before time and before the ages, full <of grace and truth,> God, the only-begotten, unchangeable.
Before he was begotten, or created, or defined, or established, he did not exist. For he was not unbegotten. But we are persecuted because we have said the Son has a beginning but God has no beginning. We are persecuted because of that and for saying he came from non-being. But we said this since he is not a portion of God nor of anything in existence. That is why we are persecuted; you know the rest.
I pray that you fare well in the Lord, remembering our tribulations, fellow-Lucianist, truly-called Eusebius [i.e. the pious one].
Arius and other clergy's letter to the Bishop of Alexander explaining their cause and appealing to him:
The Priests and Deacons to Our Blessed Father and Bishop, Alexander; greetings in the Lord.
Our faith from our forefathers, which also we learned from you, Blessed Father, is this: We acknowledge One God, alone unbegotten, alone everlasting, alone without beginning, alone true, alone having immortality, alone wise, alone good, alone sovereign, judge, governor, and provider of all, unalterable and unchangeable, just and good, God of the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament; who begat an only-begotten Son before time and the ages, through whom he made both the ages [Heb 1:2] and all that was made; who begot Him not in appearance, but in reality; and that he made him subsist at his own will, unalterable and unchangeable, the perfect creature (ktisma) of God, but not as one of the creatures; offspring, but not as one of the other things begotten;
Nor as Valentinus pronounced that the offspring of the Father was an emanation (probolē); nor as the Manicheans taught that the offspring was a one-in-essence-portion (meros homoousion) of the Father; nor as Sabellius, dividing the Monad, speaks of a Son-Father; nor as Hieracas speaks of one torch [lit] from another, or as a lamp divided into two; nor that he who existed before was later generated or created anew into a Son, as you yourself, O blessed father, have often condemned both in church services and in council meetings; but, as we say, he was created at the will of God, before time and before the ages, and came to life and being from the Father, and the glories which coexist in him are from the Father.
For when giving to him [the Son] the inheritance of all things [Heb 1:2], the Father did not deprive himself of what he has without beginning in himself; for he is the source of all things. Thus there are three subsisting realities (hypostaseis). And God, being the cause of all that happens, is absolutely alone without beginning; but the Son, begotten apart from time by the Father, and created (ktistheis) and founded before the ages, was not in existence before his generation, but was begotten apart from time before all things, and he alone came into existence (hypestē) from the Father. For he is neither eternal nor co-eternal nor co-unbegotten with the Father, nor does he have his being together with the Father, as some speak of relations, introducing two unbegotten beginnings. But God is before all things as monad and beginning of all. Therefore he is also before the Son, as we have learned also from your public preaching in the church.
Therefore he thus has his being from God; and glories, and life, and all things have been given over to him; in this way God is his beginning. For he is over him, as his God and being before him. But if the expressions from him [Rom. 11:36] and from the womb [Ps. 109:3 (LXX), 110:3 English] and I came from the Father, and I have come [John 16:28], are understood by some to mean that he is part of him [the Father], one in essence or as an emanation, then the Father is, according to them, compounded and divisible and alterable and material, and, as far as their belief goes, the incorporeal God endures a body.
I pray that you fare well in the Lord, blessed father.
-- Arius; the priests of Arius — Aethales, Achilles, Carpones, and Sarmatas; the deacons Euzoios, Lucius, Julius, Menas, Helladius, and Gaius; the bishops Secundas of the Pentapolis, Theonas of Libya, and Pistus whom the Arians [later] set up [as bishop] at Alexandria.
Letter from Arius and his supporter Euzoius to Emperor Constantine after the First Council of Nicaea (which took place in AD 325), in which a number of Bishops were originally in support of Arius or had sympathized with him on many issues while not accepting all his ideas, concluding that the canon of the church of Christ was that the Father and Son were consubstantial, co-eternal, one being, two distinct persons. Arius left this council with his now smaller number of supporters (a handful of bishops and priests) to be exiled for not agreeing to the Creed. Other supporters and merely sympathizers with his plight who didn't exactly agree with him in all respects, however, signed the Nicene Creed but more so due to fear of reproach from Roman Emperor Constantine and others but would be responsible themselves for the spread of his ideas in the future and push to revoke his excommunication and condemnation. The letter to Constantine from Arius is as follows:
Arius and Euzoïus, to our most reverent and pious lord, Emperor Constantine.
In accord with the command of your devout piety, sovereign lord, we declare our faith, and in writing profess before God that we and our adherents believe as follows:
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, and in the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, who was begotten of him before all ages, God the Word through whom all things were made, both things in heaven and on earth; who descended, and became human, and suffered, and rose again, ascended into heaven, and will again come to judge the living and the dead.
We believe also in the Holy Spirit, and in the resurrection of the flesh, and in the life of the coming age, and in the kingdom of the heavens, and in one catholic church of God, extending from one end of the earth to the other.
This faith we have received from the holy gospels, in which the Lord says to his disciples: “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” If we do not so believe and do not truly receive the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as the whole catholic church and the holy Scriptures teach (in which we believe in every respect), may God judge us both now, and in the coming judgment.
Wherefore we (who have been consecrated to the ministry, and hold the faith and opinions of the church and of the holy Scriptures) encourage your piety, most devout emperor, that we may be reunited to our mother, the church, by your peace-loving and devoted piety, avoiding all superfluous questions and disputes. Then both we and the whole church will be at peace and will offer in common our accustomed prayers for your tranquil reign, and also for your whole family.
In the subsequent years following the Nicene Creed, which layed the groundwork for modern Trinitarianism in its decree that the Father and Son were two personas of one being, Emperor Constantine, to combat the growing heresy associated with Arius, put forth this Imperial decree:
The great and victorious Constantine Augustus to the bishops and laity:
Since Arius is an imitator of the wicked and the ungodly, it is only right that he should suffer the same dishonor as they. Porphyry, who was hostile to anyone who feared God, composed a book which transgressed against our religion, and has found a suitable reward: namely that he has been disgraced from that time onward, his reputation is completely terrible, and his ungodly writings have been destroyed. In the same way it seems appropriate that Arius and those of like mind with Arius should from now on be called Porphyrians, so that their name is taken from those whose ways they have imitated.
In addition, if any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offense, he shall be submitted for capital punishment.
And in another hand:
God will watch over you, beloved brothers.
Constantine ordered the burning of Arius' writings, such as his extensive poetic ode to his ideas known as the "Thalia" which only exists in fragments recorded by his opponent's today as well as, somewhat less explictly, any writings that might be of like mind with Arius'. However, over time, Constantine lightened his stance as the Eastern provinces had been leaning more towards Arius' ideas. To avoid a split in his Empire, Constantine allowed the return of some of Arius' supporters . He even went so far as to allow Arius to return to communion from his exile under his jurisdiction thanks to the influence of the returned Bishop and friend of Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia. However, Arius died on his way to the communion ceremony in Constantinople that would allow him back into the Imperial Roman church officially, a coincidence that Trinitarian historians on saints attributes to divine petition by the Bishop Alexander of Constantinople to God, while Arian supporters and modern historians generally have attributed it to assassination.
Despite Arius' mysterious and untimely death, his influenced lived on as Emperor Constantine was himself baptised on his death bed by Arius' friend Eusebius of Nicomedia. Eusebius being a relative of the Imperial family, used his influence to try to create compromise between the followers of Arius' ideas and those who followed the Nicene Creed. This resulted, during the reign of Constantine's successor Constantius the 2nd, in a Roman Empire that allowed the supporters of Arius to return to their former clerical positions. Constantius II adopted what would later be seen as a "Semi-Arian" stance in which the Son and the Father were considered to be not of the "same substance" but of "like substance," which according to historians, was the compromising position that Arius and his friend Eusebius of Nicomedia had taken in order to be readmitted back into the church of Rome and bridge the gap created between themselves and the Nicaean Christians who promoted the consubstantiality of the Father and Son. In response to this arose a group of Christians in the Church of the Roman Empire who promoted the original views expressed by Arius but rejected his later confessions to compromise his ideas with the Nicene Creed that gave birth to "Semi-Arianism". They continued to promote that the Father and Son were respectively of two separate and distinct substances of each other, while also denying that Jesus was co-eternal with the Father and this continued until Trinitarianism regained its prominence after the Constantinian dynasty
Eusebius of Nicomedia also baptised and initiated into the priesthood of his school of thought the Gothic bishop, Ulfilas, who would spread the teachings of Arius to the Gothic Germanic tribes, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths, who would later establish it as their official religion and for next few centuries. Ulfilas' words have been recorded as thus:
I, Ulfila, bishop and confessor, have always so believed, and in this, the one true faith, I make the journey to my Lord; I believe in one God the Father, the only unbegotten and invisible, and in his only-begotten son, our Lord and God, the designer and maker of all creation, having none other like him (so that one alone among all beings is God the Father, who is also the God of our God); and in one Holy Spirit, the illuminating and sanctifying power, as Christ said after his resurrection to his apostles: "And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49) and again "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8); being neither God (the Father) nor our God (Christ), but the minister of Christ ... subject and obedient in all things to the Son; and the Son, subject and obedient in all things to God who is his Father ... (whom) he ordained in the Holy Spirit through his Christ.
As the turn of the millennium came closer, the schools of Christian thought that have now been dubbed, by their opponents if I might be so clear on the matter, as "Arian" Christianity (they didn't necessarily call themselves that, Arius himself called himself 'Lucianist' due to him feeling that what he believed was what was taught to him as the true apostolic tradition by St.Lucian of Antioch, a bishop known to have suspicious theological tendencies though still canonized to this day) the schools of these persuasions eventually disappeared with the coming centuries of the Rise of Islam and the re-establishment of the (Catholic) Western Roman Empire.
Edited by Saintly_Jinn23, 23 January 2012 - 06:30 PM.