Athanasius was not a Trinitarian. He was a Unitarian.

PURPOSE: The Trinity doctrine was adopted by the church at the conclusion of the fourth-century ‘Arian’ Controversy. However, over the last 100 years, scholars have uncovered that the traditional account of how it came that the church accepted this doctrine is grossly inaccurate. Different articles in this series discuss different critical errors in the traditional narrative. The present article addresses the misconception that Athanasius was a proponent of scriptural orthodoxy. It shows that he was a Sabellian and not a Trinitarian, meaning that he believed that the Father and Son are one and the same Person; a theology that had already been denounced as heretical in the preceding century.

INTRODUCTION

Purpose

During the Arian Controversy, Athanasius was the main defender of the Nicene Creed and the term homoousios. He presented himself as the preserver of scriptural orthodoxy.1“Athanasius presents himself as the preserver of the one theological tradition that is equivalent with scriptural orthodoxy.” (Ayres, p. 107)

But this article shows that Athanasius was a one-hypostasis theologian, meaning that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are a single Person with a single Mind. This is similar to Sabellianism; a theology already rejected as heretical during the preceding century.

The Arian Controversy began with a dispute between Arius and his bishop Alexander of Alexandria. Much less of Alexander’s writings survived but this article concludes that he was also a one-hypostasis theologian.

The green blocks summarize the various sections.

Authors

This article quotes from the world-class specialists in the fourth-century Arian Controversy.

Hanson Lecture – An informative 1981 lecture by R.P.C. Hanson on the Arian Controversy.

Hanson, Bishop RPC
The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God –

The Arian Controversy 318-381, 1988

Williams, Archbishop Rowan
Arius: Heresy and Tradition, 2002/1987

Ayres, Lewis
Nicaea and its legacy, 2004

Ayres is a Professor of Catholic and Historical Theology

What is a Sabellian?

The Trinity is one Person.

Sabellians believed that, before the world existed, the Word was IN the Father and an aspect of the Father. Consequently, Father and Son are only one Person (hypostasis).

As discussed in the article – The Sabellians of the Fourth Century, concerning the eternal Godhead:

Sabellians believed that “before the world existed the Word was IN the Father.” (Ayres, p. 63) In their view, the Logos is the Father’s only rational capacity.

Hanson refers to “a Sabellian, believing in only one Person (hypostasis) in the Godhead.” (Hanson, p. 801)

The preexistent Logos is merely “a power or aspect” of the Father and “not in any serious sense distinct from him.” (Hanson, p. 237)

The Son is a mere man.

Since the Logos has no real distinct existence, the incarnated Jesus is a mere man. He may be maximally inspired, but he remains a mere man.

Consequently:

      1. Christ did not exist before He was born from Mary.
      2. The Logos dwells in the man Jesus merely as an energy, an activity, or as inspiration from God.
      3. Christ is a complete human being with a human soul and mind. That soul or mind absorbed all human suffering so that God did not suffer at all. It was a human being that suffered, died, was resurrected, and now sits at God’s right hand.

The purpose of this article is to show that this is also what Alexander and Athanasius believed.

The Eusebians taught three Minds.

In opposition to this view, the Eusebians (the so-called Arians) believed that the Father, Son, and Spirit are three distinct ousiai (substances), meaning three hypostases (Persons), with three distinct Minds that are united in agreement.

For example:

The Eusebians were followers of Origen, who “speaks of Father and Son as two ‘things (πργματα) in hypostasis, but one in like-mindedness, harmony, and identity of will’.” (Ayres, p. 25) “Like-mindedness” speaks of two distinct minds united in agreement.

Arius, one of the Eusebians, spoke about a second Wisdom and Word; that the Son is not the Father’s only Wisdom and Word. He said: “There are … two Wisdoms, one God’s own who has existed eternally with God, the other the Son who was brought into existence. … There is another Word in God besides the Son” (Hanson, p. 13). 2“Arius also talks of two wisdoms and powers, speaking of a Logos that was not distinct from the Father’s hypostasis, after whom the Son is designated Word.” (Ayres, p. 55) In other words, Arius believed that each Person has a distinct mind. See – Arius’ Theology.

“Asterius (a leading Eusebian) insists also that Father, Son, and Spirit are three hypostases.” (Ayres, p. 54) He made a distinction between God’s wisdom and Christ, implying distinct minds. For example: “God’s own power and wisdom is the source of Christ.” (Ayres, p. 53-54)

The Dedication Creed, which was a statement of the Eusebian Eastern Church, says: “They are three in hypostasis but one in agreement.” The phrase “one in agreement” implies three minds.

Challenges with Terminology

Terminology is a major barrier to understanding. Firstly, in the fourth century, the terms ousia and hypostasis were synonyms but the Trinity doctrine uses them for contrasting concepts.

Another article shows that, during the Arian Controversy, most people used hypostasis (Person) and ousia (substance) as synonyms. However, the traditional Trinity doctrine uses these terms as contrasting concepts, saying that God exists as one substance but three hypostases.

Secondly, while, in the fourth century, each hypostasis had a distinct Mind, in the Trinity doctrine, the three hypostases (Persons) share a single Mind.

If the Trinity doctrine taught three distinct and equal minds, that would have been Tritheism. Karl Rahner, a leading Catholic scholar, confirms that, in the traditional Trinity doctrine, the three Persons share a single Mind:

“Each Person shares the Divine will … that come from a mind. … Each Person’s self-awareness and consciousness is not inherent to that Person (by nature of that Person being that Person) but comes from the shared essence.”

“There is only one real consciousness in God, which is shared by the Father, Son, and Spirit, by each in his own proper way.”

For that reason, R.P.C. Hanson says that the term “Person” in the traditional Trinity doctrine is misleading. He describes the three ‘Persons’ as “three ways of being or modes of existing as God.” (Hanson) Since, in normal English, each Person has a unique mind, it is false to explain the Trinity doctrine as teaching one Being but three Persons.

The term ousia (substance) is fairly clear. We understand it today more or less in the same way as the ancients did. Two substances are two beings with two distinct minds. In the Trinity doctrine, the Father, Son, and Spirit are one substance and, therefore, one mind.

The term hypostasis was fairly clear during the Arian Controversy. As shown above, each hypostasis or Person is a distinct substance with a distinct mind. However, since the Trinity shares a single substance and a single mind in the traditional Trinity doctrine, modern readers find it difficult to understand the writings of fourth-century theologians.

The core issue is the Number of Minds.

We can avoid the confusion by asking how many Minds a particular theology taught. That approach goes directly to the core of the Controversy.

To sidestep the difficulties with terminology, this article asks how many Minds (rational capacities, wills, or consciousness) a specific theologian taught:

      • The Sabellians taught one.
      • The Eusebians taught three.
      • The Trinity doctrine also teaches one.

ATHANASIUS’ THEOLOGY

The quotes in this article sometimes refer to ‘the Son’ and sometimes to ‘the Logos’. Alexander and Athanasius used these terms as synonyms.3For example: “The original Logos and Wisdom … is the Son.” (Hanson, p. 427). “The Word and Son is idios to the Father’s essence.” (Ayres, p. 114)

The Son is part of the Father.

Athanasius regarded the Son (the Logos), similar to the Sabellians, as part of the Father. Firstly, he described the Son as IN the Father.

Athanasius described the Son, not as in God generally, but specifically as IN the Father. For example:

“In the Father we have the Son: this is a summary of Athanasius’ theology.” (Hanson, p. 426)

“The Son is in the Father ontologically.” (Hanson, p. 428)

“Athanasius’ increasing clarity in treating the Son as intrinsic to the Father’s being” (Ayres, p. 113) 4Other relevant quotes include: (1) “Athanasius’ argument speaks not of two realities engaged in a common activity, but develops his most basic sense that the Son is intrinsic to the Father’s being.” (Ayres, p. 114) [Note that this quote uses ‘reality’ as a synonym for ‘Person’.] (2) “The Son’s existence is intrinsic to the Father’s nature.” (Ayres, p. 116) (3) “Although Athanasius’ theology was by no means identical with Marcellus’, the overlaps were significant enough for them to be at one on some of the vital issues—especially their common insistence that the Son was intrinsic to the Father’s external existence.” (Ayres, p. 106)

The Son is one of the Father’s faculties.

Secondly, Athanasius often described the Son as idios to the Father, meaning He is one of the Father’s faculties, confirming that He is part of the Father.

Athanasius used the Greek term idios to describe how the Son relates to the Father. For example:

“The Word and Son is idios to the Father’s essence.” (Ayres, p. 114)

“For the Son is in the Father … because the whole being of the Son is idios to the Father’s essence, as radiance from light and stream from fountain.” (Ayres, p. 115)

He “insisted continually that the Son was the Father’s own (idios).” (Hanson, p. 425)

Idios means “pertaining to one’s self, one’s own, belonging to one’s self” (Bible Study Tools). Ayres comments:

“Initially used to indicate that certain qualities and activities are intrinsic to being human, the use of the term to indicate that the Son is idios to the Father’s ousia serves to reinforce his tendency to present the Father/Son relationship as most like that of a person and their faculties.” (Ayres, p. 115)

The Son is the Father’s only Wisdom.

Thirdly, while the Eusebians taught two Logoi (two Wisdoms or minds or ‘Words’), namely, the Father and the Son, Athanasius said there is only one Logos, namely, that the Son is also God’s one and only Logos and Wisdom (rational capacity).

The Eusebians were the anti-Nicenes, usually but inappropriately called ‘Arians’. As already quoted above, Arius, as an example of the Eusebians, said:

“There are … two Wisdoms, one God’s own who has existed eternally with God, the other the Son who was brought into existence. … There is another Word in God besides the Son” (Hanson, p. 13).

In this view, the one Word or Wisdom is the Son and the other is the Father. In contrast, Athanasius said that the Son is the Father’s one and only Logos:

“In Alexander, and in Athanasius … Christ is the one power and wisdom of the Father.” (Ayres, p. 54)

Athanasius wrote: “There is no need to postulate two Logoi.” (Hanson, p. 431)

He argued that the pre-existent Son is “present with Him (the Father) as his Wisdom and his Word.” (Ayres, p. 46)

He criticized “the [Arian] idea that Christ is a derivative Wisdom and not God’s own wisdom.” (Ayres, p. 116)

This again means that the Son is part of the Father.

The Holy Spirit is also a part of the Father.

Fourthly, the Holy Spirit is also part of the Father. Just as the Son is part of the Father, the Holy Spirit is part of the Son and, therefore, not a distinct Person.

“Just as his (Athanasius’) account of the Son can rely heavily on the picture of the Father as one person with his intrinsic word, so too he emphasizes the closeness of Spirit to Son by presenting the Spirit as the Son’s ‘energy’.” (Ayres, p. 214)

Consequently, the Cappadocians concluded that Athanasius did not afford the Holy Spirit a distinct existence (a separate Person or hypostasis). For example:

“The language also shows Athanasius trying out formulations that will soon be problematic. … ‘The Cappadocians’ will find the language of νργεια [superhuman activity] used of the Spirit … to be highly problematic, seeming to indicate a lack of real existence.” (Ayres, p. 214)\

Father, Son, and Spirit are a single hypostasis.

Following Origen, the Eusebians taught that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct hypostases (Persons). In contrast, consistent with the idea that the Son is part of the Father, Athanasius believed that Father and Son are a single hypostasis (a single Person).

For example:

The “clear inference from his (Athanasius’) usage” is that “there is only one hypostasis in God.” (Ayres, p. 48)

“Athanasius’ most basic language and analogies for describing the relationship between Father and Son primarily present the two as intrinsic aspects of one reality or person.” (Ayres, p. 46)

“The fragments of Eustathius that survive present a doctrine that is close to Marcellus, and to Alexander and Athanasius. Eustathius insists there is only one hypostasis.“ (Ayres, p. 69)

“He [Athanasius] had attended the Council of Serdica among the Western bishops in 343, and a formal letter of that Council had emphatically opted for the belief in one, and only one, hypostasis as orthodoxy. Athanasius certainly accepted this doctrine at least up to 359, even though he tried later to suppress this fact.” (Hanson, p. 444)

Therefore, Athanasius opposed the concept of “three hypostases.” He regarded the phrase as “unscriptural and therefore suspicious.” (Ayres, p. 174; Hanson, p. 440)

For example:

“He clearly approves of the sentence of … that it is wrong to divide the divine monarchy into ‘three powers and separate hypostases and three Godheads’, thereby postulating ‘three diverse hypostases wholly separated from each other’.” (Hanson, p. 445)

Another article argues that the real and fundamental issue in the entire Arian Controversy was whether God is one or three hypostases. For Athanasius, the enemy was those who taught more than one hypostasis (Person) in God:

“Athanasius and Marcellus now seem to have made common cause against those who insisted on distinct hypostases in God.” (Ayres, p. 106)

Father, Son, and Spirit are a single Person.

Athanasius defended the view that Father and Son are one Being. This sounds like the Trinity doctrine but he did not distinguish between Person and Being. For him, one Being is one Person. So, he said that Father and Son are one Person.

Athanasius “defends constantly … the ontological unity of the Father and the Son.” (Hanson, p. 422, cf. 428) This sounds like the Trinity doctrine, believing that Father and Son are a single ousia (substance or Being). However, “clearly for him hypostasis and ousia were still synonymous.” (Hanson, p. 440) In other words, when he argues for “ontological unity,” meaning that Father and Son are one ousia (substance), he is also saying that they are a single hypostasis (Person).

The Logos is not a Mediator.

Athanasius’ opposition to the idea of the Logos as Mediator between God and creation further illustrates his insistence on a single hypostasis in God.

The Logos-theology of the church in the second and third centuries, which was based mostly on principles from Greek philosophy, said that God cannot interact directly with matter. Therefore, it proposed a two-stage existence of the Logos: God’s Logos always existed inside Him but, when God decided to create, the Logos became a separate hypostasis with a lower divinity enabling Him to create and interact with matter. God created all things through the Logos and reveals Himself to the creation through the Logos. (See – the Apologists.)

Since this was largely based on Greek philosophy, Hanson refers to this Logos as “a convenient philosophical device.” But Athanasius rejected the idea of the pre-existent Logos as Mediator between God and creation:

“He never accepted the Origenistic concept of the Logos as a mediating agent within the Godhead.” (Hanson, p. 425)

“He refused to use the pre-existent Christ as a convenient philosophical device.” (Hanson, p. 423)

He said: “He (the Father) was no remote God who required a lesser god (the Logos) to reveal Him.” (Hanson, p. 423)

The Mediator is the man Jesus.

The Bible describes Christ as the Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). In the Eusebian view, the Son always was the Mediator between God and creation. But Athanasius, since he did not recognize the Logos as a distinct hypostasis, limited Christ’s role as Mediator to the incarnation.

For example:

Athanasius said: “God needed no mediator to create the world. … The Logos/Son is a redemptive, not a cosmic principle.” (Hanson, p. 423)

“When he comes to interpret the crucial text, Proverbs 8:22 ff, [The Lord made me at the beginning of His ways] he insists that its terms apply to the incarnate, not the pre-existent Christ … it shows that Athanasius placed the mediating activity of the Son, not in his position within the Godhead, but in his becoming incarnate.” (Hanson, p. 424; cf. ) OR

“Athanasius firmly places the mediating activity of the Logos, not within the Godhead, but in the Incarnation.” (Hanson, p. 447)

Athanasius was a Unitarian, not a Trinitarian.

Therefore, Athanasius had a ‘unitarian’ theology, similar to the Sabellians.

Ayres describes both Athanasius’ and Marcellus’ Sabellian theologies as “unitarian:”

Ayres refers to “Athanasius’ own strongly unitarian account.” (Ayres, p. 435)

But he also describes Marcellus’ theology as ‘Unitarian’. He refers to “supporters of Nicaea whose theology had strongly unitarian tendencies. Chief among these was Marcellus of Ancyra.” (Ayres, p. 431)

“Studer’s account [1998] here follows the increasingly prominent scholarly position that Athanasius’ theology offers a strongly unitarian Trinitarian theology whose account of personal differentiation is underdeveloped.” (Ayres, p. 238)

Athanasius and Marcellus

Thus far, this article has shown that Athanasius believed that the Son is intrinsic to the Father ontologically and that the Father and Son are a single hypostasis. Both are clear indications of Sabellianism. This section provides additional support for this conclusion:

Athanasius’ theology was similar to Marcellus’.

The theologies of Marcellus, the main Sabellian of the fourth century, and Athanasius were similar.

For example:

“The perception that these two trajectories (Athanasius and Marcellus) held to very similar beliefs would help to shape widespread eastern antipathy to both in the years after Nicaea.” (Ayres, p. 69)

“The fragments of Eustathius that survive present a doctrine that is close to Marcellus, and to Alexander and Athanasius. Eustathius insists there is only one hypostasis.“ (Ayres, p. 69) (Eustatius was the other important Sabellian in the fourth century. See – The Sabellians of the Fourth Century).

Athanasius and Marcellus were allies.

The similarity of their theologies allowed Athanasius to form an alliance with Marcellus and Athanasius never repudiated Marcellus.

For example:

“They considered themselves allies.” (Ayres, p. 106)

“Athanasius and Marcellus now seem to have made common cause against those who insisted on distinct hypostases in God.” (Ayres, p. 106)

They supported and defended each other:

“At the Council of Jerusalem and the Council of Tyre in the same year he (Marcellus) had supported Athanasius.” (Hanson, p. 217)

“Athanasius … continued to defend the orthodoxy of Marcellus.” (Hanson, p. 220)

It is often claimed that Athanasius at a point repudiated Marcellus. However:

“it is … no longer clear that Athanasius ever directly repudiated Marcellus, and he certainly seems to have been sympathetic to Marcellus’ followers through into the 360s.” (Ayres, p. 106)

“Though he (Athanasius) may temporarily at this period, when he was preparing to return from his second exile, have wished to place a distance between himself and Marcellus, he had no intention of making a final break with him. It is doubtful if he ever did this.” (Hanson, p. 220)

The Meletian Schism

The Meletian Schism was a dispute in Antioch between two factions within the pro-Nicene camp. The one faction was Sabellian, and Athanasius sided with them.

The faction which Athanasius supported was the Eustathians. They followed the theology of Eustathius,5He derived “his tradition in continuity from Eustathius who had been bishop about forty years before” (Hanson, p. 800-1). who was deposed some decades earlier for Sabellianism.6“It seems most likely that Eustathius was primarily deposed for the heresy of Sabellianism.” (Hanson, p. 211) Their rallying call was ‘one hypostasis’,7“’One hypostasis’ of the Godhead was to become the slogan and rallying-cry of the continuing Eustathians.” (Hanson, p. 213) which means that Father, Son, and Spirit are one Person, which is a Sabellian statement. In the 360s, the Eustathians elected a rival bishop for Antioch named Paulinus. He was also a Sabellian:

Hanson says Paulinus was “Marcellan/Sabellian.” (Hanson, p. 799)

“Basil suspected that Paulinus was at heart a Sabellian, believing in only one Person (hypostasis) in the Godhead.” (Hanson, p. 801)

Athanasius supported Paulinus:

Paulinus “was recognized as legitimate bishop of Antioch by Athanasius.” (Hanson, p. 801)

This illustrates again the Sabellian tendency of Athanasius’ theology.

“Basil was never sure in his own mind that Athanasius had abandoned Marcellus of Ancyra and his followers.” (Hanson, p. 797)

“About the year 371 adherents of Marcellus approached Athanasius, presenting to him a statement of faith. … He accepted it and gave them a document expressing his agreement with their doctrine.” (Hanson, p. 801)

See here for a detailed discussion of the Meletian Schism.

ALEXANDER’S THEOLOGY

Alexander believed similar to Athanasius.

Athanasius learned his theology from Alexander. Similar to the Sabellians, both believed that the Son is a property or quality of the Father, namely, God’s only Wisdom or Word, and explained Father and Son as a single hypostasis; a single Person.

“Alexander’s theology found its most famous advocate in his successor Athanasius.” (Ayres, p. 45) Similar to Athanasius and the Sabellians, Alexander:

      • Maintained that the Son is a property or quality of the Father and, therefore, part of the Father.

“[Rowan] Williams’ work is most illuminating. Alexander of Alexandria, Williams thinks, had maintained that the Son … is a property or quality of the Father, impersonal and belonging to his substance. Properties or qualities cannot be substances …; they are not quantities.” (Hanson, p. 92)

      • Described the Son as idios to the Father.

“The (Alexander’s) statement then that the Son is idios to (a property or quality of) the Father is a Sabellian statement.” (Hanson, p. 92)

      • Taught that the Logos in Christ is the Father’s intrinsic Word and Wisdom, God’s only Wisdom or Word and, therefore, part of the Father.

“Alexander taught that … as the Father’s Word and Wisdom the Son must always have been with the Father.” (Ayres, p. 16)

“Alexander argues that as Word or Wisdom the Son must be eternal or the Father would, nonsensically, have been at one time bereft of both.” (Ayres, p. 44)

“In Alexander, and in Athanasius … Christ is the one power and wisdom of the Father.” (Ayres, p. 54)

      • Explained Father and Son as a single hypostasis, similar to the Sabellians.

“The fragments of Eustathius that survive present a doctrine that is close to Marcellus, and to Alexander and Athanasius. Eustathius insists there is only one hypostasis.“ (Ayres, p. 69)

With respect to Alexander and Athanasius, Ayres concludes, “This trajectory … is also resistant to speaking of three hypostases.” (Ayres, p. 43)

In conclusion, there is no substantial difference between the theology of Alexander and Athanasius and that of the main Sabellians of their day; Eustathius and Marcellus. Since Athanasius learned his theology from Alexander, this is further evidence that Athanasius was a Sabellian.

THE INCARNATION

Athanasius described Jesus as God the Father walking around on earth in a human body but without a human mind. This is different from the Sabellian explanation of Jesus as a mere human being but is also a very unconvincing explanation.

If Athanasius was a Sabellian, we should also see this in his theory of the incarnation. If he was a Sabellian, he should describe the incarnated Christ as a maximally inspired man, but still a mere man with a human soul (mind).

However, Athanasius refused to admit that Jesus had a human mind. He describes Jesus as the Logos dwelling in a human body. Since, in his view, the Logos is part of the Father, it is really the Father who dwells in the human body.

He completely ignored the human side of Jesus Christ, so much so that scholars “conclude that whatever else the Logos incarnate is in Athanasius’ account of him, he is not a human being.” (Hanson, p. 451) In other words, he described Jesus as God in a human body. For example, when he discusses Jesus’ ignorance and fears, Athanasius says that God only pretended to be ignorant and to fear. For such reasons, scholars say:

“The chief reason for Athanasius’ picture of Jesus being so completely unconvincing is of course that, at least till the year 362, it never crossed his mind that there was any point in maintaining that Jesus had a human soul or mind.” (Hanson, p. 451)

“Athanasius involves himself in the most far-fetched explanations to explain away some of the texts which obviously represents Jesus as having faith.” (Hanson, p. 450)

See – The Incarnation for a discussion of Athanasius’ view on the subject.

CONCLUSION

As ‘one hypostasis’ theologians, Alexander and Athanasius were part of a minority in this church. And since both Sabellius’ theology and the term homoousios were already formally condemned as heretical during the preceding century, they followed an already discredited theology.

The Western Council of Serdica in 343, where Athanasius played a dominant part, is devastating evidence. It explicitly describes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one hypostasis and Athanasius approved and supported this creed.

“The Westerners had at Serdica in 343 produced a theological statement which appeared to have the most alarmingly Sabellian complexion, and ‘Athanasius had certainly supported this statement, though he later denied its existence.” (Hanson, p. xix)

People struggle with this conclusion is that it shows that Athanasius, who is regarded as the hero of the Arian Controversy, was a Sabellian; not a Trinitarian. But, as Hanson stated, the traditional account of the Arian Controversy is a Complete Travesty.


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FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    “Athanasius presents himself as the preserver of the one theological tradition that is equivalent with scriptural orthodoxy.” (Ayres, p. 107)
  • 2
    “Arius also talks of two wisdoms and powers, speaking of a Logos that was not distinct from the Father’s hypostasis, after whom the Son is designated Word.” (Ayres, p. 55)
  • 3
    For example: “The original Logos and Wisdom … is the Son.” (Hanson, p. 427). “The Word and Son is idios to the Father’s essence.” (Ayres, p. 114)
  • 4
    Other relevant quotes include: (1) “Athanasius’ argument speaks not of two realities engaged in a common activity, but develops his most basic sense that the Son is intrinsic to the Father’s being.” (Ayres, p. 114) [Note that this quote uses ‘reality’ as a synonym for ‘Person’.] (2) “The Son’s existence is intrinsic to the Father’s nature.” (Ayres, p. 116) (3) “Although Athanasius’ theology was by no means identical with Marcellus’, the overlaps were significant enough for them to be at one on some of the vital issues—especially their common insistence that the Son was intrinsic to the Father’s external existence.” (Ayres, p. 106)
  • 5
    He derived “his tradition in continuity from Eustathius who had been bishop about forty years before” (Hanson, p. 800-1).
  • 6
    “It seems most likely that Eustathius was primarily deposed for the heresy of Sabellianism.” (Hanson, p. 211)
  • 7
    “’One hypostasis’ of the Godhead was to become the slogan and rallying-cry of the continuing Eustathians.” (Hanson, p. 213)

The Meletian Schism – Athanasius vs. Basil of Caesarea

This article is presented here in the form of an accordion. Click on any heading to see more detail. To read this in a more standard format, see here. This is a test of the Accordion format and feedback on which format is easier to read will be appreciated:


OTHER ARTICLES

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    "In 361 the majority of the Antiochian church elected as bishop Meletius, who had formerly been an Arian, and was ordained by this party, but after his election professed the Nicene orthodoxy." (Philip Schaff)
  • 2
    “The Catholics … split among themselves; the majority adhered to the exiled Meletius, while the old and more strictly orthodox party, who had hitherto been known as the Eustathians, and with whom Athanasius communicated … elected Paulinus … who was ordained counter-bishop by Lucifer of Calaris.” (Philip Schaff)
  • 3
    “Basil (of Caesarea) had originally exhibited some discomfort with the Nicene homoousios as vulnerable to modalistic interpretations. His acceptance of this term was conditioned by his construction of an accompanying set of terminology to designate the threeness of God: Father, Son, and Spirit are each a distinct hypostasis, with a unique manner of subsistence (tropos hyparxeōs). Basil, a supporter of Melitius, pressed the followers of Paulinus to adopt the language of three hypostaseis in order to safeguard Nicene theology from a Sabellian interpretation.” (Anatolios, p. 27)