Arius was the leading father in Arianism. Arianism is the idea that Jesus is not equal to the Father by nature, but He is the first creation of God. As Arianism rejects the divinity of Christ, salvation to mankind was at stake according to Athanasius.
Arianism and Modalism
("Unitarians" on their way to becoming Binaterians)
Bishop Athanasius was the defender of the Nicene Theology for orthodox Christianity. Athanasius advocates the essence of the three persons (Trinity) which was a key argument to defend the divinity of Jesus.
("Binaterians" on their way to becoming Trinitarians)
|Arius is described as a tall, lean man, with a downcast brow, austere habits, considerable learning, and a smooth, winning address, but quarrelsome disposition||Athanasius was slightly below the middle height, spare in build, but well-knit, and intensely energetic. He had a finely shaped head, set off with a thin growth of auburn hair, a small but sensitively mobile mouth, an aquiline nose, and eyes of intense but kindly brilliancy.
He had a ready wit, was quick in intuition easy and affable in manner, pleasant in conversation, keen, and, perhaps, somewhat too unsparing in debate
|Trained in the Lucian School, Arius was called one of the heretical fathers of Arianism. Arianism was a heretical doctrine of theological rationalism, based on the teachings of Lucian of Antioch, Paul of Samosata, and Neoplatonic theory of subordinationism.
It is claimed that Arius wrote very little and only a few fragments survived; in addition a number of his works were destroyed following Arius' defeat at the Council of Nicaea.
|Though Athanasius was not a systematic theologian, his greatest dedication in life was the fierce defence of orthodox Christianity against the Arian heresy.
The three discourses of Athanasius, Orationes contra Arianos, were his main writings against Arianism defining the Nicene Council; a unity of divine essence in the Father and Jesus; and the Jesus is eternal, uncreated and unchangeable.
|Arius questioned the divinity of Jesus, the Son, by emphasizing the supremacy of the Father; so only the Father is infinite, eternal and almighty.
Jesus was an evolved soul compared to the rest of humanity, but much less than the Father, as the Son possessed neither the eternity nor the divinity of the Father.
However, according to Arius, Jesus can spiritually evolve or grow over time to come closer and closer to the Father in terms of power and divinity.
|The Athanasian belief believed in the divinity of Jesus as a begotten being of the holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, which are at the same level and not subordinate to each other.
Together the three constituted the Almighty.
This Trinity is an equivalent of the Osiris, Isis and Horus of Egyptian teachings, the Brahma,Vishnu and Shiva of Hinduism, Ahuramazda, Mithira and Ahriman of Zoarastrianism, and Amitabha, Manjushri and Avalokitesvara of Northern Buddhism.
|God is one, his oneness, eternal, good, uncaused
God was primarily a creator, and beyond that, little was known of the incomprehensible being of God, which was unknown even to Jesus. Also, the existence of Jesus, the word of God, was the result of God's will.
|Athanasius argued, although God could indeed, if He so willed, have created the world from all eternity, yet created things themselves, of their own nature, could not have existed eternally, since they are created "out of nothing", and consequently did not exist before they were brought into existence.
He asks, "How can things which did not exist before they originated be co-eternal with God?"
|Arians would say, we are humans by nature, and as such, we breathe. Since breathing is part of our nature as living humans, we have to breath, by constraint, whether we like it or not. We must breathe because it is an essential and necessary part of our humanity. But this also limits our freedom. For instance, we are unable without some sort of artificial apparatus to breathe if we are found twelve miles above the surface of the earth, or in outer space. Nor can we breathe, without outside help, if we are a few miles down within the depths of the sea.
This means that we are not free to go wherever we like. Our freedom is curtailed because of nature's constraints upon us.
Therefore, said the Arians, by saying that the Son is of the essence, of the nature, of the Father, this means that you are thereby limiting God's freedom, because you are saying that God begat the Son by nature, which means He had to beget the Son, whether He wanted to or not. This is not acceptable.
Arius insisted that Jesus was substantially distinct from, though of similar substance with, God the Father.
Arius denied the uniqueness and divinity of Jesus; eternal, begotten of God the Father, in some sense lesser than God himself.
Arians never say that Jesus was homoousios, "of one nature" with the Father. Jesus' existence had to depend upon the deliberation and will of the Father, said the Arians, because otherwise it would appear that God had a Son "by nature", that is, "by necessity" and, as it were "unwillingly".
Here the Arians were thinking in Greek philosophical terms. Like the pagan Greeks, "by nature" meant "by necessity".
|Athanasius held that Jesus and the Father were "of the same substance."
We might call them "binaterians" since the Holy Spirit had not been given the same status yet as a "person" within the divinity; Trinity doctrine was yet to be invented.
Athanasius claimed God does not deliberate within Himself about His own being and existence. Indeed, it would be absurd to contend that God's goodness and mercy are just His voluntary habit, and not a part of His nature.
But does it mean that God is good and merciful unwillingly? Now, continues Athanasius, what is "by nature", or "by essence", is higher than what is only "by deliberation" or "by will".
Since the Son is the offspring of the Father's own substance, the Father does not "deliberate" about Him, since it would mean "deliberation" about His own being. God is the Father of His Son "by nature" and not "by will". Whatever was "created", was indeed created by the good-will and deliberation of God.
But the Son is not a deed of will, like creatures, but by nature He is an offspring of God's own substance. It is an insane and extravagant idea to interject "will" and "counsel" between the Father and the Son.
For the Church Fathers, temporal creatures cannot "co-exist" eternally with the Eternal God. They have two disparate modes of existence. Creatures have their own mode of existence: they are outside of God's inner life, His essence; they are created. The Son alone, as one uncreated, is an offspring of the Father's substance, and has the intrinsic power to "co-exist" eternally with the Father.
We are not saved by a creature, but only by the living God. Jesus is our Saviour; therefore, he is not a creature.
|The Holy Spirit is not a big issue for most of the 4th century and throughout the Arian controversy||The Holy Spirit is not without actual existence, but exists and has true being. The Trinity does not exist at this stage in history|
|Arius beliefs were non-Trinitarian in nature,
Arius rejected the essence of Trinity and insisted the concrete and distinct three persons of the Godhead, a separate essence and subordination of the Son to Father.
|Athanasian beliefs were Trinitarian in nature,
At this stage, Trinity remains a mystery that is difficult to explain, and tempting to oversimplify
|Final Creed Text|
Bishop Arian - LOSTReceived 2 votes
Having lost the theological battle at Nicaea, Arius is exiled to Illyria (north of Greece on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea).
Today, the Arian position continues to be influential within the Eastern Mediterranean churches
Bishop Athanasius - WONReceived 316 votes
The Christian doctrine that Jesus and the Father were of the same substance, was adopted. Athanasius become Bishop of Alexandria, a very influential post.
Today, the Western branches of the church lean toward Athanasius' position
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