Giles notes that Arius marshaled a significant number
of Bible texts to prove that the Son is a creature.
Athanasius, however, thought Arius had egregiously
erred in his interpretation of Holy Writ. He thus
accused Arius of selectively choosing and interpreting
certain Bible texts to support beliefs Arius already
held dear, a phenomenon that psychologists commonly
call "confirmation bias." As Giles writes:
"Arius' methodology simply showed that given enough
time, a clever theologian could find texts and
interpretations to prove almost anything" (p. 3).
Atahansius, on the other hand, thought that the proper
way to "do" theology was to first acquire a "profound
grasp" of the pattern of Scripture. That is, one must
comprehend the overall drift of the Bible or come to
understand its "theological center" (its focus) before
proceeding with earnest biblical exegesis (ibid).
One who grasped the said pattern, avers Athanasius,
would know that the Son is eternally one in both
being and action with the Father. However, the Son
temporally subordinated himself to the Father when he
became a man for salvific reasons, that is, PRO NOBIS.
Nevertheless, vis-a-vis His eternal relations to the
Father and Holy Spirit, Athanasius contended that the
Son is by no means subordinate to the Father: He is
equal in all respects to the Father and the
Holy Spirit. At least, this is what Athanasius gleaned
from Scripture, as he understood it.
While Athanasius contended that those with eyes of
faith could discern the clear focus of Scripture and
what it teaches about the Son, he added that the
teaching of Scripture is "made plain" by what he
called "the teaching of the apostles and tradition of
the fathers" (p. 4). Tradition, in this context,
simply denotes teaching that was handed down from the
apostles through the fathers of the church. Tradition
(Athanasius maintained) proclaims that the Son of God is
eternally equal with regard to the "immanent Trinity"
but it teaches that the Son became subordinate, for a time,
per God's OIKONOMIA. It was this theological premise that
informed Athanasius' reading of Scripture since he
believed that Scripture ought to be read through the
lens of church tradition. Without the aid of
traditio, one could not truly understand, interpret
or do theology aright.