Sunday, July 19, 2009

Theodoret on The Death of Arius

Theodoret relates the words of Athanasius:

"The followers of Eusebius were covered with shame, and buried him whose belief they shared. The blessed Alexander completed the celebration, rejoicing with the Church in piety and orthodoxy, praying with all the brethren and greatly glorifying God. This was not because he rejoiced at the death of Arius—God forbid; for 'it is appointed unto all men once to die'; but because the event plainly transcended any human condemnation. For the Lord Himself passing judgment upon the menaces of the followers of Eusebius, and the prayer of Alexander, condemned the Arian heresy, and shewed that it was unworthy of being received into the communion of the Church; thus manifesting to all that, even if it received the countenance and support of the emperor, and of all men, yet by truth itself it stood condemned."

See The Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret (Book 1, Extract from the Letter of Athanasius on the Death of Arius)


Jehovah's Servant said...

Interesting. I have often heard it said that Jehovah's Witnesses are Arians, but of course that simply means we do not believe Jesus to be God, as Arius did.

If I read this correctly, did Eusebius also believe as Arius did? I'm currently reading the history of the early "church fathers", but I haven't read any about Eusebius yet.

From my reading, it seems clear that Justin Martyr, Origen and many others weren't trinitarians.

Βασίλειος said...

In general terms, Arius supported the "Logos Christology" view for the Son of God. This Christology was a philosophical explanation, with platonic and stoic elements, for the role of the Son of God as a mediator between the transcendent Almighty God and the created cosmos, introduced in the Christian community by Justin the Martyr, the first Christian philosopher, possibly in imitation of the Logos theory of Philo of Alexandria. The Logos Christology became very popular during the second and third centuries.

According to the Logos Christology, God the Father brought into existence Logos as a personal being in order to use him as an instrument for the creation of cosmos. After 200 C.E. some Church Fathers began to teach that the personal Logos was co-eternal with the Almighty God, but they still considered him an instrument in God’s hands, a being of a lesser position comparing to the Father.

On the other hand, Athanasius of Alexandria supported a theological innovation, that Logos has the same transcendent nature with his Father, is as timeless and immutable as his Father is. Instead of God's having an instrument to communicate with the cosmos, Athanasius supported the distinction between the divine essence and divine energies.

For a brief but clear review of the subject, see the article Trinity of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, where the five stages of the development of the Trinity doctrine are clearly explained (
and Justo Gonzàlez, The Story of Christianity, 1984, Vol. 1, pp. 159-161, where the theological settings of the Arian controversy are explained.

Jaroslav Pelikan has plenty of information about the early Church Fathers’ views on the person of Jesus. See The Christian Tradition, Vol. 1, 172-266.

Edgar Foster said...

I have written a paper on Jehovah's Witnesses and Arians and I update it from time to time. My basic claim in the paper is that the Witnesses are not (strictly speaking) Arians as respects their/our Christology. Strictly speaking, Witnesses deny that we even have a Christology (a doctrine of Christ). At least, that was the case in 1984 (according to the WT). I would classify Eusebius as a "semi-Arian"; moreover, I agree that Justin and some of the other early church fathers were not Trinitarians in at least a proper sense.

Edgar Foster said...

In addition to the resources mentioned by Basileios, there is also the monster study by R.P.C. Hanson entitled The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God. A shorter but helpful study is Robert M. Grant's Gods and the One God.

Keefa Ben Yahchanan said...

I am keenly interested in the Christology of Arius. I know Hanson has done great work in his 900-page book. I hope to be able to read it this winter. It is one of Dr. Tuggy's favorite books. The book you suggested "Gods and the One God" (Library of Early Christianity)is only 216 pages. Thank you for the reference. I had not heard about this before.

Edgar Foster said...

Robert M. Grant was such an impressive scholar (IMO) who tried to be objective. His works are genrally lauded by the guild, and I would agree that he did first-quality work. See

You're welcome, brother.