Summary Against Modern Thought: Refuting Arius

Summary Against Modern Thought: Refuting Arius

Previous post.

Read up on last week first to refresh your memory. This is a long one.


1 That this opinion is manifestly repugnant to divine Scripture anyone can see who considers diligently what sacred Scripture says.

2 For, when divine Scripture names Christ the Son of God and angels the sons of God it does so for different reasons. Hence, the Apostle says: “To which of the angels has He said at any time, ‘You are My Son, today have I begotten You” (Heb. 1:5). And it was to Christ that this was said, he asserts. But, according to the aforesaid position, angels are called sons for the same reason as Christ, for the name of sonship is fitting to each according to a kind of sublimity of nature in which they were created by God.

Notes It is well said that only atheists and heretics read the bible literally everywhere. A mistake they never make anywhere else. If they read a passage in a Western where an old coot says to the newly arrived youngster, “Nice hoss there, son”, none would take this as a claim of paternity.

3 Neither is this objection met if Christ is of a nature more excellent than other angels. For, even among the angels diverse orders are discovered, which became clear above, and for all that, to all of them the same notion of sonship is suitable. Therefore, Christ is not called the Son of God in the way the position described maintains.

4 Again, since by reason of creation the name of divine sonship is suitable to many—for it belongs to all the angels and saints—if Christ also were called Son on the same ground, He would not be “only-begotten; although by reason of the excellence of His nature over all others He could be called “firstborn.” However, Scripture asserts that He is only-begotten: “We saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). It is not, therefore, by reason of creation that He is called the Son of God.

5 Moreover, the name of sonship properly and truly follows on the generation of living things in which the begotten proceeds from the substance of the one begetting; otherwise, the name of sonship is taken not in truth but in similitude, as when we call either students or others who are in our charge our sons. If, then, Christ were not called Son except by reason of creation, since that which is created by God is not derived from the substance of God, Christ could not be called Son truly. But He is called the true Son in 1 John (5:20): “that we may be; he says, in His true Son, Jesus Christ.” Therefore, He is not called the Son of God as created by God in an excellence of nature, however great, but as one begotten of God’s substance.

6 What is more, if Christ is called Son by reason of creation, He will not be truly God. For nothing created can be called God unless by some similitude to God. But this same Jesus Christ is true God, for, when John had said: “that we may be in His true Son,” he added: “This is the true God and life eternal.” Therefore, Christ is not called the Son of God by reason of creation.

7 Furthermore, the Apostle says: “Of whom is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all things, God blessed forever. Amen” (Rom. 9:5); and in Titus (2:13): “Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” And Jeremiah (23:5-6) says: “I will raise up to David a just branch”; and adds below: “and this is the name that they shall call Him: The Lord our just one.” There in Hebrew the name is the tetragrammaton, which certainly is said of God alone. From these sayings it is clear that the Son of God is true God.

8 Moreover, if Christ be the true Son, of necessity it follows that He is true God. For, that cannot truly be called son which is begotten of another, even if the thing be born of the substance of the one begetting unless it comes forth in species like the one begetting; the son of a man must be a man. If, therefore, Christ be the true Son of God, He must be true God. Therefore, He is not anything created.

9 Again, no creature receives the complete fullness of divine goodness, because, as was made clear above, perfections proceed from God to creatures in a kind of descent. But Christ has in Himself the complete fullness of the divine goodness, for the Apostle says: “In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9). Therefore, Christ is not a creature.

Notes Never forget we can (mostly) only speak of God metaphorically. The danger is the Deadly Sin of Reification, of thinking the metaphor, and not God, real.

10 Grant, furthermore, that the intellect of an angel has a more perfect knowledge than the intellect of man; it is still in great want from the divine intellect. But the intellect of Christ is not in want of knowledge from the divine intellect, for the Apostle says that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Therefore, Christ the Son of God is not a creature.

11 Furthermore, whatever God has in Himself is His essence, as was shown in Book I. But, all things the Father has are the Son’s. For the Son Himself says: “All things whatsoever the Father has are Mine” (John 16:15); and in John (17:10), speaking to the Father, he says: “All My things are Yours, and Yours are Mine.” The essence and nature, then, of the Father and Son is the very same. Therefore, the Son is not. a creature.

12 What is more, the Apostle says that the Son, before He emptied himself taking the form of a servant, was “in the form of God” (Phil. 2:6-7). By the form of God, however, nothing is understood but the divine nature, just as by the form of the servant human nature is understood. The Son, then, is in the divine nature. Therefore, He is not a creature.

13 Furthermore, nothing created can be equal to God. The Son, however, is equal to the Father. For John (5:18) says: “The Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He did not only break the Sabbath, but also said God was His Father, making Himself equal to God.” And this is the narrative of the Evangelist whose “testimony is true” (John 19:13; 21:74): that Christ said He was the Son of God and the equal of God, and that for these things the Jews were persecuting Him. Nor is there doubt for any Christian that what Christ said of Himself is true, when the Apostle also says that He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6). The Son, therefore, is equal to the Father. He is not, then, a creature.

Notes Explanations of the Trinity come later.

14 Moreover, in the Psalms (88:7; 82:1) we read that there is no likeness of anyone to God even among the angels who are called the sons of God. “Who,” it says, “among the sons of God shall be like God?” And elsewhere: “O God, who shall be like to You?” This should be understood of perfect likeness; which is clear from the things treated in Book I. But Christ showed his perfect likeness to the Father even in living, for John (5:26) says: “As the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son also to have life in Himself.” Therefore, Christ is not to be counted among the created sons of God.

15 Furthermore, no created substance represents God in His substance, for, whatever be the perfection of any creature whatever that appears, it is less than that which God is; hence, there is no creature through whom we can know what He is about God. But the Son does represent the Father, for of Him the Apostle says that He “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). And lest He be judged a deficient image, one not representing the essence of God, one through which what-He-is could not be known of God (thus is man called the “image of God” in 1 Cor. 11:7); He is shown to be the perfect image, representing the very substance of God, when the Apostle says: “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the figure of His substance” (Heb. 1:3). Therefore, the Son is not a creature.

16 There is more. Nothing which is in a genus is the universal cause of those things which are in that genus. So, the universal cause of men is not a man for nothing is the cause of itself, but the Son which is outside the human genus is the universal cause of human generation, and beyond it God is. But, the Son is the universal cause of creatures, for John (1:3) says: “All things were made by Him”; and in Proverbs (8:30) the begotten Wisdom says: “I was with Him forming all things”; and the Apostle says: “In Him were all things created in heaven and on earth” (Col. 1:16). Therefore, He Himself is not in the genus of creatures.

17 Similarly, it is clear from what was shown in Book II that the incorporeal substances that we call angels cannot be made except by creation, and it was also shown that no substance can create but God alone. But the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is the cause of the angels, bringing them into being, for the Apostle says: “whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and in Him” (Col. 1:16), therefore, the Son Himself, is not a creature.

18 Furthermore, since the proper action of anything at all follows its very nature, a thing’s proper action is fitting to nothing to which the nature of that thing is not fitting; thus, what does not have the human species does not have the human action. Now, the proper actions of God belong to the Son: to create (as already shown), to contain and conserve all things in being; and to wipe away sins. That these are proper to God is clear from the foregoing. But of the Son it is said that “by Him all things consist” (Col. 1: 3-7); and that He upholds “all things by the word of His power, making purgation of sins” (Heb. 1:3). The Son of God, then, is of the divine nature, and is not a creature.

19 But because an Arian might say that the Son does these things not as a principal agent, but as an instrument of the principal agent which acts not by its own power but by the power of the principal agent, our Lord excluded this argument, saying in John (5:19): “what things soever the Father doth, these the Son also doth in like manner.” Then, just as the Father operates of Himself and by His proper power, so also does the Son.

20 A still further conclusion from this saying is that virtue and power are identified in the Son and the Father. For He says that the Son works not only like the Father but the same things “in like manner.” But the same operation cannot be performed by two agents unless in dissimilarity: as the same thing done by a principal agent and its instrument; or, if in similarity, it must be that the agents come together in one power.

Now, this power is sometimes collected from diverse powers in diverse agents, as when many men draw up a boat, for they all draw it up in the same way, and because the power of each is imperfect and insufficient for that effect, from the diverse powers is collected one power of them all which is sufficient for drawing up the boat. But, one cannot say this in the case of the Father and the Son, for the power of the Father is not imperfect but infinite, as was shown in Book I. There must, then, be numerical identity in the power of the Father and the Son. And since power follows nature, there must be numerical identity in the nature and essence of the Father and the Son. This also can be concluded from the things that were said earlier. For, if in the Son there is the divine nature (as has been shown in many ways), and if the divine nature cannot be multiplied as was shown in Book I, it follows necessarily that there is numerical identity of nature and essence in the Father and the Son.

21 Again, our beatitude is ultimately in God alone, in whom alone also the hope of man must be placed, to whom alone also the honor of adoration must be given, as was shown in Book III. But our beatitude is in the Son of God. For He says in John (17:3): “This is eternal life: that they may know You,” namely, the Father, “and Jesus Christ whom You hast sent.” And 1 John (5:20) says of the Son that He is “true God and life eternal,”

Now, it is certain that by the name “life eternal” the sacred Scripture signifies ultimate beatitude. Isaiah also says of the Son, as the Apostle brings out: “‘there shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope” (Rom. 15:12; Isa. 11:10). It is said also in a Psalm (71:11): “And all the kings of the earth shall adore Him; all nations shall serve Him.” And John (5:23): “That all men may honour the Son, as they honour the Father.” And again a Psalm (96:7) says: “Adore Him, all you His angels.” That this is said of the Son the Apostle sets forth in Hebrews (1:6). Manifestly, therefore, the Son of God is true God.

22 The arguments are also valid for establishing this point which were previously used against Photinus to show that Christ is not made God but true God.

23 Taught, therefore, by those mentioned and very similar testimonies of sacred Scripture, the Catholic Church maintains that Christ is the true and natural Son of God, eternal, equal to the Father, true God, identical in essence and nature with the Father, begotten, not created, and not made.

24 Wherefore it is clear that only in the Catholic Church does faith truly confess generation in God, when it relates the very generation of the Son to this: the Son has received the divine nature from the Father. But others who are heretics relate this generation to some extraneous nature: Photinus and Sabellius to human nature, indeed; Arius, however, to some created nature more worthy than all other creatures.

Arius also differs from Sabellius and Photinus in this: the former asserts that such generation was before the world was; the latter two deny that it was before the birth from the Virgin.

Sabellius nevertheless differs from Photinus in this: Sabellius confesses that Christ is true and natural God, but Photinus does not; neither does Arius. Photinus holds that He is pure man; Arius, that He is a kind of mixture of a certain very excellent creature both divine and human. The latter two, however, confess that the Person of the Father is other than the Person of the Son; this Sabellius denies.

25 Therefore, the Catholic faith, keeping to the middle road, holds with Arius and Photinus against Sabellius that the Person of the Father is other than the Person of the Son, that the Son is begotten, but the Father entirely unbegotten; but with Sabellius against Photinus and Arius that Christ is true and natural God, the same in nature as the Father, although not the same in person. And from this, also, an indication of the Catholic truth can be gathered. For, as the Philosopher says, [Prior Analytics II, 2] even falsehoods give witness, for falsehoods stand apart not only from the truth but from one another.


  1. Dean Ericson

    The towering castle of the Arians was looking pretty impregnable last week and I wondered how the Angelic Doctor was going to take it. Would he bribe the gatekeeper? Would he land a division into the courtyard by hot air balloon? No. He sent a team of sappers to tunnel under the foundations to show the mighty edifice was resting on popsicle sticks and pipe cleansers, and removing those caused the edifice of cardboard and canvas to come crashing down.

    One aspect, however, I found unsatisfying. That is in #10, where Ang-Doc first describes an Arian battlement:

    “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).”

    …and then sends his sappers against it thus:

    “10 Grant, furthermore, that the intellect of an angel has a more perfect knowledge than the intellect of man; it is still in great want from the divine intellect. But the intellect of Christ is not in want of knowledge from the divine intellect, for the Apostle says that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). Therefore, Christ the Son of God is not a creature.”

    It did not attack head-on the curious case of Jesus not knowing what the Father knew, but rather went around it leaving a significant section of the castle’s wall standing while the rest collapsed. Is that section of wall solid rock or papier-maché?

  2. Joy

    “Notes Never forget we can (mostly) only speak of God metaphorically. The danger is the Deadly Sin of Reification, of thinking the metaphor, and not God, real.”

    That’s as close as you’re going to get to Sir William the Briggerer admitting that nobody actually knows

  3. C-Marie

    So it all boils down to believing the Word of God, or to not believe His Word; for those who believe God’s Word, no doubt remains, where as those who choose to not believe Him or who would rather remain in turmoil in attempts to prove His Word untrue, well, that is their choice, as objections to proofs can be continually made, on and on and on.

    Far better to present the Truth with explanation, and then to leave it for the non-believer to accept or to reject, and to pray for the non-believer to believe the Truth.

    God bless, C-Marie

  4. Joy

    C Marie,
    what do you mean by the “word of God”.
    Jesus never uttered a word on latin, for a start and the bible is a recount of what took place.
    Muslims believe that their holy book is the actual word. Christians do not and never did.

    Only recently have zealots sprung up from the Protestant AND Catholic side claiming otherwise.
    They are factually wrong.

  5. Dean Ericson

    C-Marie, there’s much truth in what you say. Our faith in Jesus is a deep connection of the heart, and while there is also a rational basis for the Christian religion, the essence of that connection cannot be reduced to man’s science. As you say, the objections and doubts may be endlessly multiplied. The simple faith of a peasant in the field has no need of St. Thomas to explain what is known in the heart.

  6. Joy

    “The Word became flesh” is Christianity

    The Word is itself a metaphor.

    Truth is the aspiration. It is the common end of anybody with a clean heart.

    Only God can be the ultimate judge of that.

    You can’t fool God he knows what you really think and he knows what you believe, whatever you SAY you believe. So it must start with truth to self. It will get you in a lot of trouble and it will also protect you from the ravishes of the proxy guilt from dishonest zealots.

  7. C-Marie

    Thank you, Dean. If all people must needs be able to explain Christianity from the “scholarly” viewpoint, then God would have endowed us all with that ability. But loving Him, faith in Him, hope in Him, and loving our neighbor and our enemy (helping to meet basic needs if put in our path) is all that He asks.

    Now, The “WORD” is not a metaphor, but is the WORD of God, actual, real Person, by Whom God spoke and creation was created.

    “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1: 1-4.

    Truth is to be accepted or refused.

    “Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
    John 14: 6.

    Yes, God knows our own heart and He knows all of the graces He has given to us which we have and have not accepted. God wants us to love Him with our whole being, and He watches our progress as He reveals to us our faults of which we may well be and might not be, aware of. He Fathers us continually, for He loves us.

    God bless, C-Marie

  8. Joy

    No, C Marie “the Word” IS a metaphor.

    When the word became flesh and dwelt among us he was then able to make people understand as men understand.

    What Dean says is obvious, as usual.

  9. Joy

    The word is the Truth, ultimate and final.
    The word is information that is perfect.
    Many other offerings or descriptions.

    Sunday school children are the ones to ask.

  10. C-Marie

    Metaphor: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

    The Old Testament and the New Testament record all. Reading Deuteronomy is quite an eye-opener. The people did understand, but many, many, chose to not obey. The Scriptures from the Gospel of John, in the above comment, are not metaphorically using the word, “Word”, but are speaking the actuality.

    God bless, C-Marie

  11. Joy

    C Marie, you don’t need to post the definition. You’re speaking to someone with A-Level in English literature. That would be English English.
    I believe it’s first year juniors when they teach figures of speech to children.

    C Marie, you’re just wrong about the parts of speech. Whether someone says something ab out believing n God’s “word” is another matter. Or ‘The Word of God”. Also a separate example.
    Like so many, you’re so busy thinking I need correcting that you forgot to read properly and comprehend.

    “the Word became flesh”
    “In the beginning was the word’
    Both uses of figures of speech not meant literally.
    In the second example, the word refers to the presence of God before anything.
    The first example takes that concept further to explain metaphorically and figuratively that God incarnate is Jesus Christ.
    All the verbiage doesn’t matter, actually. God doesn’t concern himself with capital letters or parts of speech…t
    That’s what I believe

  12. Joy

    and the “word” word, is appropriate because t implies information, communication, some kind of “comment”.
    Such a thing which is there before everything else must have some degree of say over what comes next. So what God says goes. That’s why I believe, if God is real, that we really ought to listen to what he wants.

  13. Joy

    Sorry, not “we” “I”. To claim otherwise is patronising.

  14. C-Marie

    God bless you dearly, Joy. God is real.
    God bless you ever so much!

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