Summary Against Modern Thought: Arius’s Opinion On The Divinity Of Christ

Summary Against Modern Thought: Arius’s Opinion On The Divinity Of Christ

Previous post.

It would be well, if you recall, how this particular story ended. The errors spoken of here won’t be refuted until next week.


1 Now, sacred doctrine does not agree that the Son of God took His beginning from Mary, as Photinus used to say, nor that He who was God from eternity and is the Father began to be the Son by taking flesh, as Sabellius had said. And so, there were others who developed this opinion about the divine generation of which Scripture treats: that the Son of God existed before the mystery of the Incarnation and even before the foundation of the world; and, because that Son of God is other than God the Father, they judged He was not of the same nature with God the Father, for they could not understand and did not wish to believe that any two who are distinct as persons have one essence and nature.

And because in the faith’s teaching only the nature of God the Father is believed to be eternal, they believed that the nature of the Son did not exist from eternity, although the Son was before other creatures. And since whatever is not eternal is made from nothing and created by God, they used to preach that the Son of God was made from nothing and was a creature. But, since the authority of Scripture forced them to name the Son also, as was brought out in the foregoing they used to say that He was one with God the Father—not to be sure, by nature, but by a kind of union of consent, and by a participation in the divine likeness above all other creatures.

Now, the highest creatures whom we call angels are named “gods” and “sons of God” in Scripture, as in Job (58:4, 7): “Where were you when the morning stars praised Me together, and all the sons of God made a joyful melody?” and in a Psalm (81:1): “God has stood in the congregation of gods: Accordingly, this one should be called Son of God and God more than the others, to show that He is more noble than any other creature in that through Him God the Father established all the rest of creation.

2 They used to try to strengthen this position by the testimonies of sacred Scripture.

3 For the Son says, speaking to the Father in John (17:3): “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God.” The Father alone, therefore, is true God. Since, therefore, the Son is not the Father, the Son cannot be true God.

4 The Apostle also says: “Keep the commandment without spot, blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in His times He shall show who is the Blessed and only Mighty, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only has immortality, and inhabits light inaccessible” (1 Tim. 6:14-16). These words make a distinction between the Father who shows and Christ who is shown. Therefore, only the Father who shows is the King of kings and Lord of lords; He alone is immortal and dwells in inaccessible light. Therefore, the Father alone is true God. Therefore, the Son is not.

5 Furthermore, our Lord says: “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28); and the Apostle says: “When all things shall be subdued unto Him, then the Son also Himself shall be subject unto Him,” namely, to the Father, “that put all things under Him” (1 Cor. 15:28). But if the nature of the Father and Son were one, their greatness and majesty would also be one. For then the Son would not be less than the Father, or subject to the Father. It follows, then, from Scripture that the Son is not of the same nature as the Father, so they believed.

6 The nature of the Father, furthermore, suffers no need. But one finds need in the Son, for it is shown from Scripture that He receives from the Father—and he who receives is in need. For Matthew (13:27) says: “All things are delivered to Me by My Father”; and John (3:35): “The Father loves the Son: and He has given all things into His hand.” The Son, therefore, seems not to be of the same nature with the Father.

7 He is in need, moreover, who is taught and is helped. But the Son is taught and is helped by the Father. For John (5:19-20; 14:15) says: “The Son cannot do any thing of Himself, but what He sees the Father doing”; and later: “The Father loves the Son, and shows Him all that he is doing”; and the Son says to the disciples: “What I have heard of My Father, I have made known to you.” Therefore, the Son appears not to be of the same nature as the Father.

8 There is more. To receive a command, to obey, to be sent seem proper to an inferior. But these we read about the Son. For the Son says in John (14:31): “As the Father has given Me commandment, so do I”; and the Apostle: “Becoming obedient unto death” (Phil. 2:8). And John (1436): “I shall ask the Father, and He will give you another paraclete!” And the Apostle also says: “When the fulness of the time was come God sent His Son” (Gal. 4:4). Therefore, the Son is less than the Father and is subject to Him.

9 Furthermore, the Son is glorified by the Father, as He Himself says in John (13:28): “Father, glorify your name”; and thereafter: “A voice, therefore, came from heaven: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The Apostle also says that God “raised up Jesus Christ from the dead” (Rom. 8:11). And Peter says that He “was exalted by the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33). And from these it seems that the Son is inferior to the Father.

10 In the Father’s nature, furthermore, there can be no failure. But one finds a failure in power in the Son, for He says in Matthew (20:23): “To sit on My right or left hand is not Mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by My Father.” There is a failure also in knowledge; for He Himself says: “That day or hour no man knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:22). There is also a failure in stability of love, since Scripture asserts that there was sadness in the Son and anger and other changes of this sort. Therefore, the Son does not appear to be of the same nature as the Father.

11 It is, furthermore, found expressly in Scripture that the Son of God is a creature. For Sirach (24:12, 14) says: “The creator of all things said to Me: and He that made Me rested in My tabernacle”; and again: “From the beginning, and before the world, was I created.” Therefore, the Son is a creature.

12 What is more, the Son is numbered among creatures. For it says in the person of Wisdom: “I came out of the mouth of the most High, the firstborn before all creatures” (Sirach 24:5). And the Apostle says of the Son that He is “the firstborn of every creature” (Col. 1:15). The Son, then, seems to belong to the order of creatures as one who holds the first rank therein.

13 The Son, moreover, says in John (17:22), praying for the disciples to the Father: “The glory which You hast given Me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as We also are one.” Therefore, the Father and Son are one as He wished the disciples to be one. But He did not wish the disciples to be essentially one. Therefore, the Father and Son are not essentially one. Thus it follows that He is a creature and subject to the Father.

14 Now, this is the position of Arius and Eunomius. And it seems to have arisen from the sayings of the Platonists, who used to hold that there was a supreme God, the Father and Creator of all things, and from Him there emanated a certain “Mind” in which were the forms of all things, and it was superior to all things; and they named this the “paternal intellect”; after this they put the soul of the world, and then the other creatures.

Therefore, what is said in sacred Scripture of the Son of God they used to understand of the mind just mentioned; and the more so because sacred Scripture names the Son of God “the Wisdom of God” and “the Word of God.” And with this opinion the position of Avicenna agrees; he holds that above the soul of the first heaven there is a first intelligence moving the first heaven, and further beyond this he placed God at the summit.

15 In this way, then, the Arians were inclined to think that the Son of God was a kind of creature, pre-eminent over all other creatures, the medium by which God had created all things; they were all the more so inclined by the fact that certain philosophers also held that things proceeded from their first source in an order, resulting in the creation of all things through one first creature.


  1. Dean Ericson

    ”The errors spoken of here won’t be refuted until next week.”

    Well that’s a cliff-hanger. The “errors” inventoried here by the Good Doctor appear substantial. Can he demolish them and save the damsel before she plummets from the cliff? Stay tuned!

  2. C-Marie

    How about “I and the Father are one.” John 10: 30. Will wait for next week!! Thank you!!
    God bless, C-Marie

  3. Ann K.

    Wait a week or just read about what happened in 321 . . . Why give new life to an ancient heresy?

  4. C-Marie

    The ancient heresy is alive and well among millions of adherents to Islam. The article brings to light in concrete terms, the fallacies believed by those millions and more in other religions which deny Christ is God as God the Father is God, as the Holy Spirit is God … one God ….. Triune … Trinity … One God …. Blessed Trinity …

    God bless, C-Marie

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