Was Origen the ultimate source of Arius’ heresy?

Summary

Origen

Origen was a third-century theologian and probably the most influential theologian of the first three centuries. “The great majority of the Eastern clergy (at the Council of Nicaea) were ultimately disciples of Origen” (bible.ca).

However, later, and particularly in the sixth century, Origen was condemned as a heretic. One important contributing factor is that Origen described the Son as a creature and as subordinate to the Father. However, all theologians until the end of the fourth century believed that the Son is subordinate to the Father. If that classifies a person as a heretic, then all theologians of the first three and most of the fourth centuries were heretics.

Nevertheless, apart from Judas Iscariot, no person in church history has been so thoroughly demonized as Arius – the person who sparked the Arian Controversy of the fourth century. For this reason, and because of similarities between the theologies of Origen and Arius, many people have claimed that Origen was “the ultimate source of Arius’ heresy.” The purpose of this article is to determine whether Arius was a disciple of Origen. For that purpose, it identifies the similarities and differences between their teachings. 

Similarities

Arius
Arius

Origen and Arius agree that:

The Son is a separate hypostasis (reality). They held this view in opposition to people who seem to make statements that confound the Father and Son and present them as a single hypostasis (reality).

Three divine realities exist, namely, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Father alone exists without cause and has no beginning.

The Son is subordinate to the Father. However, this is not really surprising because all theologians during and before Arius’ time described the Son as subordinate to the Father.

The Son does not know the Father fully, for how could a being that has a beginning “possibly comprehend the nature of Him who is without a beginning?”

The Son is not of the same substance as the Father. This is contrary to the Nicene Creed which interprets “begotten” as that the Son came from the substance of the Father. For that reason, the Creed concludes, He is of the same substance as (homoousios) the Father. Both Origen and Arius rejected these statements. They were “concerned to avoid all suggestion of anthropomorphic or corporeal ideas in connection with the generation of the Son.”

The Son is not an ‘issue’ from the Father. This was to oppose the Gnostics who taught that the Son was one of the beings that issued “from God.”

The Son is God. In fact, all theologians of the first three centuries described the Son as “God.” However, the Greek and Latin words that are translated as “God” may also be translated as “god.” The question is, therefore, in cases such as Origen and Arius, who regarded the Son as subordinate to the Father, should theos be translated as “God” or as “god?” See – How should theos be translated?

The Son is a creature but very different from all other creatures. Both have said that the Son has existed for at least as long as time has existed. In Arian theology, since the Son created all other creatures, He is the Creator and God of all creatures.

The Son has been generated by the Father’s will. This opposes Nicene theology in which God never made a decision to generate the Son; the Son simply always exists. The Arians and all pre-Nicene theologians, in contrast, argued that He came into being by the Father’s will.

Differences

Origen and Arius differed on the following:

Did the Son always exist? – Origen taught that the Son has always existed but Arius argued, ’there was when he was not’. But, at least, both taught that the Son existed for as long as time has existed.

Why did God beget the Son? – While Arius followed church tradition which taught that the Son was begotten so that the Father could create the universe through Him, Origen “has some notion of this relation (between Father and Son) as existing for its own sake.

Worship – Arius saw the Father and Son as two separate realities. Therefore, he could argue that we must worship the Son and that the Son worships the Father. Origen, on the other hand, did not describe the Son as “an ‘object’ to us in isolation from his relation to the Father.” “Origen … comes close to saying that the Father-Son relationship is intrinsic to the divine life as such.” Given the close unity between the Father and the Son that Origen envisaged, he argued that we must not worship the Son but must worship the Father “in” the Son. For the same reason, he argued that the Son does not worship the Father like we worship the Father.

The Son’s soul – While Origen taught that Jesus had a human soul, the Arians “denied that the incarnate Word had any human soul at all.” They argued that if He has a human soul, the eternal Word would not experience the pain of His suffering on the cross because that soul would experience that suffering. Since they argued that God had to suffer in His Son for the salvation of mankind, they concluded that the Word assumed a body without a soul.

Is Arius an Origenist?

As shown above, there were significant differences between Origen and Arius. In most of the points where they agree, they agree because both followed the traditional Logos theology.

Bishop RPC Hanson, in his authoritative book, concluded: “He (Arius) was not without influence from Origen, but cannot seriously be called an Origenist” (RH, 98).

Bishop Rowan Williams, in his equally authoritative book, confirms: “The confident ancient and modern judgment that Arius represents a development within an ‘Origenist’ theological school cannot be sustained in any but a radically qualified sense. (RW, 148)

– END OF SUMMARY –


Introduction

This article is essentially a compilation of quotes from Bishop Rowan Williams’ 2001 book1Arius, Heresy & Tradition and Bishop RPC Hanson’s 1981 book2The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God – The Arian Controversy 318-381. In this article, I refer to Rowan Williams as RW and to Richard Hanson as RH.

Origen was a third-century theologian and probably the most influential theologian of the first three centuries. “The great majority of the Eastern clergy (at the Council of Nicaea) were ultimately disciples of Origen” (bible.ca).

“From very early on, there were those who saw Origen as the ultimate source of Arius’ heresy” (RW, 131). RPC Hanson wrote:

“Marcellus of Ancyra, in attacking Asterius and Narcissus of Neronias, Eusebius of Caesarea and Paulinus of Tyre (certain leading Arians), had accused them of being under the baleful influence of Origen” (RH, 61).

“Epiphanius directly connects Origen with Arianism. He … declares that the Arians and Anhomoians learnt from Origen” (RH, p61).

“Many scholars have regarded Arian ideas in a vague and wholesale way as an inheritance from Origen’s doctrine” (RH, 62).

Agreements

Arius agreed with Origen on the following:

The Son is a separate hypostasis.

“One of the features of Origen’s theology that puts him decisively and pretty consistently over against Clement is that insistence on the fact that the Word or Son is an hupothesis” (RW, 131-132), meaning “‘real individual subsistence’, as opposed to existence as a mental construct only” (RW, 132). He argued that “Father and Son are two … in subsistence (hupostasis), but are one in likemindedness, harmony and … will” (RW, 132). “He deplores those … who confuse the … Father and Son and make them out to be one in hupostasis, as if the distinction between Father and Son (is) … a purely mental distinction which we make” (RW, 132).

The background to this is that “both (Arius and Origen) … see Sabellianism and Valentinianism as the great enemies of orthodoxy” (RW, 143) “The Arians always accuse the pro-Nicenes of confounding the Persons of the Trinity” (RH, 102). In the time of both Origen and Arius, statements were often made that sound as if the Father and Son are a single reality.

The Son is NOT homoousios with the Father.

The Nicene Creed interprets “begotten” as that the Son came from the substance of the Father. For that reason, the Creed concludes, He is of the same substance as (homoousios) the Father. Similar to Arius, Origen would reject the statement that the Son is ‘out of’ the Father’s substance:

“Origen is concerned to avoid all suggestion of anthropomorphic or corporeal ideas in connection with the generation of the Son, as is Arius” (RH, 65).

“Origen never says that the Son comes from the substance of the Father” (RH, 67).

Arius “probably has Origen on his side in repudiating Homoousios, the idea that the Son is ‘out of’ the Father’s substance” (RW, 143).

Therefore, Origen would have rejected the idea that the Son is consubstantial with (homoousios) the Father:

“The likelihood of Origen having described the Son as consubstantial with the Father is very slim” (RH, 68).

“It is almost certainly right to conclude that Origen could not have spoken of the Son as homoousios with the Father” (RW, 132).

The word “consubstantial … would have suggested to him that the Father and the Son were of the same material, an idea which he was anxious to avoid” (RH, 68).

Hanson does state that Origen described the Son’s generation as “an imparting of the nature of the Father” (RH, 65-66) but, for the reasons above, “nature” here should not be interpreted as equivalent to “substance.”

Only one first principle

“Arius stands in the tradition of Origen in so far as he holds to … the impossibility of … two … self-sufficient first principles (RW, 143).

Three divine hupostaseis

“Arius stands in the tradition of Origen in so far as he holds to … the substantive and distinct reality of three divine hupostaseis or ousiai” (RW, 143). (“Hupostasis and ousia are … more or less synonymous here, and mean ‘real individual subsistence’, as opposed to existence as a mental construct only” (RW, 132).)

The Son is subordinate to the Father.

“Origen, with Arius, can be said to have subordinated the Son to the Father” (RH, 64). Arius’ “main debt to Origen is a subordinationist doctrine of the Son, which he greatly intensifies” (RH, 95).

“But he (Arius) is indebted to Origen’s critics … for the doctrine of the Father’s priority … (namely that) God the Father existed before all things and created all things out of nothing by his unprompted act of will” (RH, 96).

Hanson goes on to say that all theologians in the Eastern or the Western Church before the outbreak of the Arian Controversy regarded the Son as subordinate to the Father. For example, Bishop Methodius of Olympia (died c. 311) regards the Son as the first of all created things and wholly dependent on the Father (RH, 83).

Hanson also explains that, for Origen, the Son was less subordinate than for Arius (RH, 64). Nevertheless, “subordinationism might indeed, until the denouement (end) of the controversy, have been described as accepted orthodoxy” (RH, XIX).

The Son is not an issue from the Father.

“The favourite Gnostic concept (was) … the ‘issue’ … of beings, from God” (RH, 60). In other words, that beings came out of the being of God. Adolf von Harnack stated that the Gnostics were the first people to use the term homoousios.3Dogmengeschichte, 1:284–85

Both Origen and Arius rejected the view that the Son is produced by the Father as an ‘issue’” (RH, 63).

The Son has an origin.

Bishop Methodius of Olympia (died c. 311) wrote, “God the Father alone is ingenerate [meaning, to exist without cause]; the ‘unoriginated origin’,” [meaning, to be without beginning] (RH, 83).

Origen, similar to Methodius, described the Son as “the originated God” (RH 62), meaning that He is divine but that He has a beginning, in contrast to the Father who has no beginning. Arius also described the Son as having a beginning:

The Son is “not eternal nor co-eternal nor co-unoriginated with the Father” (RH, 8).

The Son is God.

The previous section shows that Origen described the Son as “the originated God.” Arius also described Him as “God:”

“He is only-begotten God and he is different from any others” (RH, 14).

However, remember that the word translated as “God” in the Bible and in the church fathers (theos, deus) is really equivalent to the modern word “god.” It is translated as “God” only when the translator thinks a particular theos refers to the Ultimate Reality. See – How should theos be translated? Therefore, since Origen and Arius think of the Son as subordinate to the Father, when they refer to Jesus as theos, should it be translated as “God” or as “god?”

The Son is a creature.

Similar to Arius, Origen described the Son as a ‘creature’ (RH, 63):

“Origen did … describe the Son both as ‘having come into existence’ and as a ‘creature’. … But at the same time, he declares his belief in the eternity of the Son as a distinct entity from the Father” (RH, 63-64).

Arius described the Son as a creature but as “a perfect creature of God … not like one of the creatures” (RH, 7). In Arius’ theology, since the Son created all other creatures, He is the Creator and God of all creatures. It was Arius’ enemies who emphasized that he said that the Son is a creature.

Arianism developed over time and later Arians said: “The Son was begotten, that is made, by God. These Arians … are not happy with the use of the term ‘created’, because this suggests that the Son is to be classified with other created things.” (RH, 102)

The Son does not know the Father fully.

Arius taught that the Son does not fully know the Father. For example:

“The Logos does not know the Father fully and exactly, ‘nor can he fully see him” (RH, 16).

“That which has a beginning could not possibly comprehend or grasp the nature of him who is without a beginning” (RH, 15).

Origen said much the same thing:

“’It will appear that the text “the Father who sent me is greater than I” (John 14:28) is true in all respects so that in the matter of knowing the Father is known by himself more fully and more clearly and more perfectly than (he is known) by the Son’” (RH, 69).

The Son has been generated by the Father’s will.

In Nicene theology, God never made a decision to generate the Son; the Son simply always exists. In contrast:

“The Arians … reckoned that unless the Son was produced by the Father’s will then he came either by necessity or against God’s will. Athanasius called this Valentinian emanationism. But, say Gregg and Groh, it is not; it is good Biblical doctrine, reproduced by Ignatius, Justin, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria and Origen.” (RH, 90)

Disagreements

Aspects in which Arius deviated from Origen include the following:

Did the Son always exist?

Hanson refers several times to Origen’s teaching that the Son always existed, for example, “Origen’s doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son by the Father” (RH, 65).

To contrast this with what Arius taught, Hanson states that Arius taught that ’there was a time when he did not exist’ (RH, 65, 86). But I do not think that this adequately explains what Arius taught. That is how Athanasius, Arius’ fierce opponent, paraphrased Arius’ words (RH, 13). As stated in the Nicene Creed, Arius said, ’there was when he was not’, without the word “time.”

The significance is that Arius taught that the Son was begotten before time even existed (“before times and before aeons” (RH, 7)). So, in his view, there was no ‘time’ before the Son was begotten; the Son existed during ‘all time’. It is only in a metaphysical sense, in the incomprehensible infinity beyond our physical universe, that ‘there was when He was not’.

I am not saying that Origen and Arius taught the same in this regard, but I do not support the sharp distinction which Hanson attempts to draw between them.

However, Williams sides with Hanson on this point when he says: “It is just as plain that Arius and Origen are fundamentally at odds over the eternity of the Son and the quasi-necessity of the Son to the Father” (RW, 143).

Was the Son begotten for the purpose of creation?

“Origen … anticipates developed fourth-century orthodoxy in this at least, that he … has some notion of this relation as existing for its own sake, not as a means for connecting the One [God] and the Many [the created beings]” (RW, 143-4).

“Arius … remained firmly within the tradition which saw the distinct subsistence of the Second Hypostasis as connected to God’s purpose as creator – a tradition with reputable ancestry in the Apologists, and probably … in Clement” (RW, 144).

Does the Son worship the Father as God?

“Arius in the Thalia sees the Son as praising the Father in heaven; Origen generally avoids language suggesting that the Son worships the Father as God” (RH, 144).

Should we pray to the Son?

“Yet … while Origen notoriously discouraged prayer to the Son (Christian prayer should be made in the Son to the Father), Arius and his followers apparently allowed it” (RH, 144). Hanson explains:

“Origen, for all his stress on the Son as an independent ousia, does not for a moment allow that the Son might be an ‘object’ to us in isolation from his relation to the Father.  … But this also implies that he (the Son) cannot ‘pray’ to the Father in any sense resembling that in which we pray, as all our praise and worship is in and through him. Arius’ insistence on the Son as an individual existing at God’s will and receiving grace ironically makes it easier for him to treat the Son as both object and subject of worship.” (RH, 144)

“Origen … anticipates developed fourth-century orthodoxy in this at least, that he comes close to saying that the Father-Son relationship is intrinsic to the divine life as such” (RW, 143-4).

Does the Son have a human soul?

A striking difference between Origen and the Arians is that, for Origen, Jesus had a human soul “whereas Arius’ contemporaries and successors … denied that the incarnate Word had any human soul at all” (RH, 65):

“The Son assumed … a body without a human mind or soul. This is one of the salient doctrines of Arianism” (RH, 97-98).

The Lucians were known for this teaching. Epiphanius explained why this was important for the Arians:

“Lucian and all the Lucianists deny that the Son of God took a soul [i.e. a human soul), ‘in order that … they may attach human experiences directly to the Logos.” (RH, 80)

To explain: In Nicene theology, at His incarnation, the Logos took on a human soul. That soul acted as a buffer between the Son of God and His human experiences. In other words, the Son of God did not suffer the pain of His body and He did not die.

In contrast, the Arians argued that, for people to be saved, God had to suffer. However, God cannot suffer. But He produced a reduced God who is able to suffer and even die. Nevertheless, to ensure that He experiences the pain of His suffering and death, He had to assume “a body without a human mind or soul.” For example, the Arians said:

“The Gentiles and the peoples crucified the God of the four comers of the earth” (RH, 109).

“Is the Son the immortal God?No, he is not (i.e. he is the God who can do the dying whereas the Father cannot)” (RH, 109).

Consequently, the Arians criticized the pro-Nicenes for having a Christology which does not comply with the principles of soteriology (how people are saved).

In the few pages that have survived of his writings, Arius wrote nothing about soteriology (RH, 96). However, more recently, “Gregg and Groh maintain emphatically that … that the Arian Christ was specifically designed to be a Saviour” (RH, 96).

Is Arius an Origenist?

Hanson concluded:

“Arius probably inherited some terms and even some ideas from Origen, … he certainly did not adopt any large or significant part of Origen’s theology” (RH, 70).

“He was not without influence from Origen, but cannot seriously be called an Origenist” (RH, 98).

Williams confirms:

“But in other respects, the confident ancient and modern judgment that Arius represents a development within an ‘Origenist’ theological school cannot be sustained in any but a radically qualified sense. (RW, 148)


Other Articles

  • 1
    Arius, Heresy & Tradition
  • 2
    The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God – The Arian Controversy 318-381
  • 3
    Dogmengeschichte, 1:284–85

If Arius was so important, why did his writings not survive?

Introduction

The Arian “crisis of the fourth century was the most dramatic internal struggle the Christian Church had so far experienced” (RW, 1). ‘Arianism’, named after Arius, “has often been regarded as … aimed at the very heart of the Christian confession” (RW, 1). “Arius himself came more and more to be regarded as a kind of Antichrist … a man whose superficial austerity and spirituality cloaked a diabolical malice, a deliberate enmity to revealed faith” (RW, 1).

Arius’ theology was discussed and rejected at Nicaea in 325 but ‘Arianism’ continued to dominate the church after Nicaea for more than 50 years.

Sources

This article quotes from the following authors:

RH = Bishop RPC Hanson – The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God – The Arian Controversy 318-381 (1981)

RW = Archbishop Rowan Williams – Arius, Heresy & Tradition, 2001

Both are highly respected scholars who have made in-depth studies of the Arian Controversy of the fourth century.

Documents that Survived

As far as Arius’ writings go, we only have:

    • The confession of faith he presented to Alexander of Alexandria,
    • His letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, and
    • The confession he submitted to the emperor. (RH, pages 5-6; RW, 95)

“The Thalia is Arius’ only known theological work” (RH, 10) but “we do not possess a single complete and continuous text” (RW, 62). We only have extracts from it in the writings of Arius’ enemies, “mostly from the pen of Athanasius of Alexandria, his bitterest and most prejudiced enemy” (RH, 6). (Arius’ friends never quoted him, as far as we know.)

These extracts in the writings of Arius’ enemies “are … very far from presenting to us the systematic thought of Arius” (RW, 92). “We can never be sure that his statements are transmitted correctly” (RW, 92). “Athanasius, a fierce opponent of Arius, certainly would not have stopped short of misrepresenting what he (Arius) said” (RH, 10). For example, “the quotations from the Thalia in Orationes con. Arianos I.5-6 are full of derogatory and hostile editorial corrections clearly emanating from Athanasius” (RH, 11). “Athanasius is paraphrasing rather than quoting directly, and in places may be suspected of pressing the words maliciously rather further than Arius intended” (RH, 15).

Why so little survived

So, if Arius was such an important person that the whole Fourth Century Controversy be named after him, why did so few of his writings survive?

The usual explanation is that Constantine gave instructions that all of Arius’ writings must be destroyed, but that is not the real reason. The church remained ‘Arian’ for more than 50 years after the Nicene Council. If Arius had that much support, his supporters would have kept copies of his writings despite Constantine’s edict.

The real reason is that Arius was not the hero or leader or founder of an ‘Arian’ sect in the church:

“The bishops at Antioch in 341 declare … that they were not ‘followers of Arius; for how could we as bishops be followers of a presbyter?’ They meant … that they … did not look on him as a factional leader, or ascribe any individual authority to him.” (RW, 82-83)

“Arius’ role in ‘Arianism’ was not that of the founder of a sect. It was not his individual teaching that dominated the mid-century eastern Church.” (RW, 165)

“Arius evidently made converts to his views … but he left no school of disciples.” (RW, 233)

The Two Parts of the Arian Controversy

To understand this, we must realize that the events of the Nicene Council divided the Arian Controversy into two parts:

In the first part of the Nicene Council, Arius’ theology was presented and very soon rejected:

“It became evident very early on that the condemnation of Arius was practically inevitable” (RW, 68).

This made an end to the first part of the Arian Controversy, namely of support for Arius’ theology.

But then the Nicene Council, by stating in the Creed that the Son is homoousios (of the same substance) as the Father, created a new and different problem. The word homoousios is based on the Greek word ousia (substance) which is a concept from philosophy and does not appear anywhere in the Scriptures. It was mentioned in the debate before Nicaea but to bring it into a formal creed of the church was an innovation:

Williams justified the term as follows: “It was … impossible … to pretend that the lost innocence of pre-Nicene trinitarian language could be restored. … to reject all innovation was simply not a real option; and thus the rejection of homoousios purely and simply as unscriptural or untraditional could no longer be sustained.” (RW, 234-5)

Therefore, Williams refers to “the conservative anti-Nicene response.” (RW, 236).

The inclusion of ousia (substance)-words in the Creed caused the second phase of the Arian Controversy:

“The radical words of Nicaea became in turn a new set of formulae to be defended” (RW, 236).

Various alternatives were proposed in the years after Nicaea, such as “like in substance” and “different in substance,” but eventually, the church settled on a Homoean creed that did not refer to substance and put a ban on the use of substance language.

The Homoeans made “attempts in the credal statements of conservative synods in the 350s’ to bracket the whole Nicene discussion by refusing to allow ousia-terms of any kind into professions of faith” (RW, 234).

The point is that, in this second and main phase of the ‘Arian Controversy’, the Arius problem was long forgotten:

“We have no knowledge of later Arian use of the Thalia … which suggests that it was not to the fore in the debates of the mid-century, and represented a theological style no longer acceptable in Arian circles.” (RW, 65)

Consequently:

“The expression ‘the Arian Controversy’ is a serious misnomer.” “The name “Arian” is not appropriate” because “Arius was not accepted as leader of a new movement. He did not write anything worth preserving. … Arius was only the spark that started the explosion. He himself was of no great significance.” (RH, xvii-xviii)

“There is the growing sense that ‘Arianism’ is a very unhelpful term to use in relation to fourth-century controversy. There was no single ‘Arian’ agenda, no tradition of loyalty to a single authoritative teacher. Theologians who criticized the Creed of Nicaea had very diverse attitudes to Arius himself.” (RW, 247).

There was no such thing in the fourth century as a single, coherent ‘Arian’ party. Those who suspected or openly repudiated the decisions of Nicaea had little in common but this hostility … certainly not a loyalty to the teaching of Arius as an individual theologian” (RW, 233).

Why is it called the Arian Controversy’?

Since the word “Arian” is derived from Arius’ name, and if Arius’ theology was a minority view during the second and main phase of the ‘Arian Controversy’, why is it called the ‘Arian Controversy’? The reason is that:

“The textbook picture of an Arian system … inspired by the teachings of the Alexandrian presbyter, is the invention of Athanasius’ polemic.” (RW, 234)

Arianism’ as a coherent system, founded by a single great figure and sustained by his disciples, is a fantasy … based on the polemic of Nicene writers, above all Athanasius” (RW, 82).

Why did Athanasius do this?

Arianism’ is the polemical creation of Athanasius above all, who was determined to show that any proposed alternative to the Nicene formula collapsed back into some version of Arius’ teaching, with all the incoherence and inadequacy that teaching displayed” (RW, 247).

Athanasius quotes Arius because he relies on such texts being a positive embarrassment to most of his opponents” (RW, 234).

‘Arians’ was a derogatory name that Athanasius coined to insult his opponents:

“’The Arians’, (and a variety of abusive names whereby he [Athanasius] distinguishes them” (RH, 19).

Unfortunately, Athanasius’ title “Arians” became generally accepted in the church because the winner wrote the history:

“The accounts of what happened which have come down to us were mostly written by those who belonged to the school of thought which eventually prevailed and have been deeply coloured by that fact.” (RH, xviii-xix).


Conclusions

The Arian crisis of the fourth century was the most dramatic internal struggle the Christian Church had so far experienced.

‘Arianism’ is named after the Alexandrian presbyter Arius. However, very little of his writings are extant.

The reason is that ‘Arianism’ as a coherent system, founded by a single great figure and sustained by his disciples, is a fantasy:

Arius’ ‘movement’ was brought to an end when the church majority rejected his views at the Nicene Council of 325.

The inclusion of ousia (substance)-words in the Creed caused the second and main phase of the ‘Arian Controversy’; from 325 to 380. In this phase, Arius’ teachings were not to the fore and represented a theological style no longer acceptable in Arian circles.

Consequently, the expression ‘the Arian Controversy’ is a serious misnomer. The textbook picture of an Arian system, inspired by the teachings of the Alexandrian presbyter, was invented by Athanasius. He was determined to show that any proposed alternative to the Nicene formula collapsed back into some version of Arius’ teaching, with all the incoherence and inadequacy that teaching displayed.

Athanasius’ word “Arian” became generally accepted in the church because the winner wrote the history.


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