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Wednesday
Oct292008

Theological Term of the Week

Arianism
The heretical teaching that the Son and the Holy Spirit are not full deity in the same sense that the Father is and are not co-eternal with the Father, but are, rather, created beings.

  • From Jesus:
    I and the Father are one. (John 10:30 ESV)
  • From the Nicene Creed:
    We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made,
    of one being with the Father.
  • From T. C. Hammond in In Understanding Be Men, pages 55-56:
    Although holding that God was one, [Arius] placed so much emphasis on his teaching concerning the Persons of the Trinity that in effect he divided the Substance of the Godhead. This resulted chiefly from his definition of the Son and the Holy Spirit as being lesser, subordinate Beings whom the Father willed into existence for the Purpose of acting as His Agents in His dealings with the world and man. In effect, Arius reduced our Lord (and the Spirit) below the level of strict deity. He would admit his deity in a secondary sense, but denied His eternal Sonship, allowing that His being preceded the foundation of the world, but was not co-eternal with the Father. The disciples of Arius, by teaching that the Spirit was brought into existence by the Son, reduced Him to a relative form of deity (in a tertiary sense).

    In recent centuries there have been movements such as Unitarianism…and certain modern cults which, although varying in other respects, possess one opinion which is common to them all, that the Godhead consists in one single person, which necessitates assigning to our Lord and the Holy Spirit some nature and position less than that of true deity. This is one of the most important battle-grounds in the history of the church, and no true Christian should for one moment tolerate any description of our Master other than that which assigns to Hm the fullest deity, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. While, at first sight, it may not seem so obvious, the Christian must equally contend for the full deity of the Holy Spirit.

Learn more:

  1. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: Arianism
  2. GotQuestions.org: What is Arianism?
  3. Justin Holcomb: Arius: Know Your Heretics
  4. Don Stewart: Is Jesus Lesser in Nature than God the Father?
  5. Rev. Ronald Hanko: The Arian Controversy: Part 1, Part 2.
  6. Phil Johnson: The History of Heresy: Five Errors that Refuse to Die (pdf), plus The Arians, part 1 and The Arians part 2 (mp3s)

Related terms:

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Reader Comments (2)

The Hammond quote is a great find; it does a good job of putting the problem in a clear and simple form.

October 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon

In Understanding Be Men is a great little handbook of doctrine. I wish it was more commonly read. It suffers, I think, from it's title, which to today's ear sounds sexist, but is not.

October 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

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