Apologeet.nlHeresies all Around us – Arianism
Part 2 – Arianism
➜ ➜ ➜ PS. Who noticed the mistake at the end of the video? No, it wasn’t a slip of the tongue. It was really in my head…. But what?
A Christian believes that salvation cannot come through works or by another created being. We believe that we can only be saved by a perfect sacrifice. Per definition, no created being can be perfect like God the Creator. Why not? Because all creation ‘groaneth and travaileth in pain.’
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
So, how could Jesus be the perfect sacrifice if He was merely a created being? He could not just be created, He had to be God Himself. In our confession of faith, we say that Jesus wasn’t created. Orthodoxy dictates now that Jesus is both man and God, uncreated, perfect.
However, Arianists struggled with this statement. They wonder: Does this mean that we worshipped two gods? They came with a different solution.
Arius of Alexandar
The Arianistic position is that Jesus, as the Son of God, was created by God. This concept was proposed early in the 4th century by the Alexandrian presbyter Arius of Alexandar. In other words, his foundational ideology was that Christ did not always exist. Incidentally, this also applies to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was either an impersonal force or a created spirit. But in this video, I mainly discuss what was and is said about Jesus.
It was one of the biggest heresies within the early church, and it had a huge following. However, you might remember that, in the introduction video, I said that the word heresy wasn’t a bad word pèrse. You could find many so-called heresies n the early church. But that just meant there were many opinions and parties. Because the church fathers didn’t establish orthodoxy yet, these opinions and parties couldn’t be labelled as false teachings yet. Arius’ idea was just one of the many ideas being discussed.
Arius taught that only God the Father was eternal. He said that God was too perfect and infinite to appear on the earth. This was the reason, according to Arius, that God created Jesus out of nothing as the firstborn and greatest creation. Jesus was the first creation of God, and the rest of creation was created by Jesus. Arius continued by saying that, because Jesus wasn’t naturally born out of God, God the Father adopted Him as Son.
Arius didn’t mind worshipping Jesus because Jesus was high above everything else and thus worthy of worship. In that sense, Arius taught that, in a way, we could see Jesus as God—but strictly spoken He wasn’t.
When God sent His Son to be born as a human—what we call the incarnation of Christ—Arius believed that divine quality took up all aspects of the human. In other words, Jesus had no real human spirit.
The fact that Arians teach that Jesus in essence wasn’t fully human (because His spirit wasn’t), is problematic because this would mean that Jesus never was a real complete human. Just like the sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament, which could never took the place of a human, this meant that Jesus could neither take the place of us.
But also, in insisting that Christ the Son, as a created thing, was to be worshipped, the Arians were basically preaching idolatry. The Bible teaches clearly that we are only allowed to worship God.
Council at Nicaea and Constantinople
Arius was exiled to Illyria in 325 after the first big council at Nicaea. His party, or heresy, was too elusive. It opened the door to all sorts of problematic ideas about the person of Christ.
According to Arius’ adversaries, mostly the bishop St. Athanasius, his teaching reduced the Son to a demigod. They also argued that it reintroduced polytheism because the worship of the Son was not abandoned. And finally, the idea undermined the Christian concept of salvation. This was, as I said earlier, because only he who was truly God could be deemed to have reconciled humanity to the Godhead. Salvation can only come from God and through God.
At the council of Nicaea it was agreed upon that the Son is homoousion tō Patri. That means that Christ is of one substance with the Father. Christ is to be all that the Father is: Christ is completely divine.
However, the issues were far from being settled. The Arians didn’t give up and throughout the 4th century there have been many theological (and physical) battles about this issue. It was only in 381AD during the second ecumenical council at Constantinople that Arianism was thrown out of the windows, and a statement of faith, the Nicene Creed, was approved.
It is still Here
All this doesn’t mean that Arianism disappeared. You’ll find this teaching throughout the centuries. More recently, we had the so-called Unitarians in England and America. Especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, these Unitarians were unwilling either to reduce Christ to a mere human being or to assign to him a divine nature exactly alike that of the Father.
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
Probably the most known example of Arianism is the group known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. They, too, believe that Jesus was a created being. They teach that Jesus is the archangel Michael, and was the first created being. Like Arius, they believe that God created Christ, and Christ created everything else. They are hard-working when it comes to evangelising. However, how admirable this may be, their theology has been condemned throughout the ages, and the creeds of Nicaea still apply to their view.
The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints
Mormonism, is another derivative from Arianism. Their view is even more corrupt than that of the Jehovah’s witnesses. They teach that Jesus is the son of God and that he is fully divine, but not always eternal. Their theology says that Jesus was created and Jesus and Satan are brothers. Christ was the ‘the firstborn spirit son of God’. The founder, Joseph Smith, said, ‘Among the spirit children of Elohim, the firstborn was and is Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, to whom all others are juniors’.
Mormonism’ view on Jesus is so extremely off the chart that the Roman Catholic Church decided not to accept their baptism as valid. They say the followingi
As is easily seen, to the similarity of titles there does not correspond in any way a doctrinal content which can lead to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The words Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have for the Mormons a meaning totally different from the Christian meaning. The differences are so great that one cannot even consider that this doctrine is a heresy which emerged out of a false understanding of the Christian doctrine. The teaching of the Mormons has a completely different matrix. We do not find ourselves, therefore, before the case of the validity of Baptism administered by heretics, affirmed already from the first Christian centuries, nor of Baptism conferred in non-Catholic ecclesial communities, as noted in Canon 869 §2.
So, even though the Roman Catholic Church is willing to except baptisms from other groups, they clearly state that Mormonism’s idea of baptising in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit has no similarity at all. With other words, their baptism has nothing to do with the Christian baptism and for that reason completely invalid.
Knowledge Among Christians Today
I looked up the annual State of Theology survey. And guess what? Of the five most commonly mistaken beliefs held by evangelicals, two are directly tied to modern Arianism. In 2022, 78% agreed with the statement that ‘Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.’ Of that 78%, 70% strongly agreed, 5% somewhat agreed and 3% were not sure.ii
In this same survey, 38% strongly affirmed that ‘Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.’ 5% somewhat agreed with this statement and 3% wasn’t sure.iii
You might start wondering why Jesus even bothered saying, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). You see, when unbelievers come up with these ideas, I can understand. But these are the answers of Evangelicals. You know, Evangelicals are the ones who pride themselves in being the real Christians. Something is very wrong here. There is clearly missing in our education. No wonder we are becoming the laughingstock of atheists.
Why it Matters
As I already said, we can only be saved by someone who is perfect in all of his ways. Only God is absolutely perfect. Also, something else cannot take our place. An animal is not able to carry our guilt. That’s why our Saviour had to be 100% God and at the same time 100% human.
If the early Christians had lost their boldness and agreed with the ‘lesser divinity’ of Christ, the act of God in Jesus Christ for our salvation would have been rendered meaningless. It is impossible for a mere man, or a half god, to step in to save humanity, let alone restore all creation. Only the Creator Himself can come into creation to repair its brokenness and restore the honour or worth of its original purpose. Only the Creator can recreate. Only the Maker can remake. Only God can save us from our sins.
It is because God the Father and Jesus the Son are of one substance, we can actually know God. When we look at Jesus, we look at the Father.
who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person […]
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
Because Jesus is God—united in substance with the Father thus fully one—we can be sure that He speaks for God, that He can forgive our sins for God, that He is able to hold us righteous for God, and that He can make us children of God. He can do all this because He is God!
In any case, let me know what you think in the comments. Maybe you disagree on certain things? Just leave a comment. Remember! I am mostly active on my Odysee channel. You’ll find a link to that channel in the description of this video or on my website. Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to receive a notification every time I upload a new video!
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God bless you, thank you for watching, and, Lord willing, we’ll see each other in the next video!
i Fr Luis Ladaria, S.J., THE QUESTION OF THE VALIDITY OF BAPTISM CONFERRED IN THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, [internet] https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20010605_battesimo_mormoni-ladaria_en.html accessed 26-12-2023.
ii The State of Theology, 2022 – Statement 6, Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God, [internet] https://thestateoftheology.com/data-explorer/2022/6 accessed 26-12-2023.
iii The State of Theology, 2022 – Statement 7, Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God, [internet] https://thestateoftheology.com/data-explorer/2022/7 accessed 26-12-2023.