Part B: (Answer ONE of the following two questions).
Arius and Athanasius were archrivals of the Arian controversy. Arius was the leading father in Arianism whilst Athanasius was the defender of the Nicene Theology for orthodox Christianity against Arianism. As Arianism rejects the divinity of Christ, salvation to mankind was at stake. Athanasius advocates the consubstantiality of the three persons of the trinity which was crucial argument to defend the divinity of Christ. Consequently Athanasius had built the ground of the Trinitarian and Christological doctrine which together with the humanity of Christ represents the complete Trinitarian theology. I. INTRODUCTION The fourth century church experienced a major crisis in understanding God’s divine nature, characteristics and relationship with members of the Godhead. This Arian controversy centred upon two archrival theologians, Arius and Athanasius.1 The controversy represented a new phase of doctrinal development of the Godhead and led to the Council of Nicaea in 325 and the Church’s first ecumenical statement of the Trinity. 2 Athanasius was the champion of Nicene Theology, who greatly defended the traditional Christianity against the Arian heresy.3 Section II of this essay will briefly discuss the background of Arius, and summarize his basic theology. Section III will provide an overview about Athanasius’s life, Athanasius’ theology in conjunction with his defence against the Arians’ heretic claims. Finally, the conclusion will be drawn in Section IV. II. THE ARIAN CONTROVERSY The ‘Arian controversy’ ignited in 318, when Arius openly taught his heretic teachings that denied the full divinity of the Son. Consequently, Arius challenged his bishop (Alexander of Alexandria) and teachers of Alexandria to an Christological conflict.4 The controversy lasted for nearly half a century and became the confrontation between the two archrivals, the ‘Nicene party’ and Origenists.5 Athanasius coined the names ‘Arian’ and ‘Arians’ as pejorative political and theological slurs against Arius and his opponents, who disagreed with him on the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and those meant the Son as a creature or held fast to Arius’ basic position. Cf. Thomas G. Weinandy, Athanasius: a Theological Introduction (Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2007), 51-52. Donald K. McKim, Theological Turning Points: Major Issues in Christian Thought (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988), 14. Justo L. González, The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of The Reformation (3 vols., New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984, Vol. 1), 173. Johannes Quasten, Pathology: The Golden Age of Greek Patristic Literature. From the Council of Nicaea to the council of Chalcedon (Utrecht, Netherlands: Spectrum Publishers, 1963, Vol. III), 66. Bruce L. Shelly, Church History in Plain Language (2nd Ed., Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1995), 100. Everett Ferguson (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Early Christianity (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1990), 8485, 92. The controversy roots lay deep in “the differences of the ante-Nicene doctrine of the Logos,” especially in the two contradictory half truths of Origen’s Christology, which was claimed by both archrivals ― the full divinity of Christ and his eternal distinctness from the Father.6 Conclusively, the Arians were the catalysts, rather than the main participants.7 II.1. ARIUS AND HIS DOCTRINE Trained in the Lucian School, Arius was called one of the heretical fathers of Arianism.8 Arianism was a heretical doctrine of theological rationalism, based on the teachings of Lucian of Antioch, Paul of Samosata, and Neoplatonic theory of subordinationism.9 Arius wrote very little and only a few fragments survived. Thalia was his only own writing which Athanasius recited.10 Most information about Arius’ life and his doctrine came from Athanasius’ writings.11 Influenced by Origen, Arius rejected the term όμοούσιος (consubstantial) and insisted the concrete and distinct three persons (πστασις) of the Godhead, a separate essence and the subordination of the Son to Father.12 Nicene split the church into two major groups: 1) The ‘Nicene party’― consisted of the West, the school of Antioch and other in the East like Athanasius. They affirmed the full deity of Jesus Christ, but were less clear on the eternal threeness of the Godhead. They did not deny the distinction between Father, Son and Holy Spirit (i.e. they were not Monarchians), but they did not state it as forcefully as the Origenists wanted and so appeared to them to be Monarchian. (2) The Origenists ― were strong on the threeness of the Godhead, but less clear on the deity of Jesus Christ. They were not Arians (i.e. they did not see Jesus Christ as a creature made out of nothing), but they held him to be inferior to the Father and so appeared Arian to the Nicene party. Cf. Tony Lane, A Concise History of Christian Thought (Rev. ed., London: T&T Clark, 2006), 30. Philip Schaff, ‘Arianism’ in A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology (3rd ed.; Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894, Vol. 1) 134137. Cf. http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/arianism-schaff.html (29 April 2010). Tony Lane, A Concise History of Christian Thought, 30-31. Philip Schaff, ‘Arianism’ in A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 134-137. Cf. http://www.earlychurch.org.uk/arianism-schaff.html (29 April 2010). Johannes Quasten, Pathology, 7. Ephiphanius, Panarion 69,4. Theodoret, Historia ecclesiastica, 1,4. Cf. Johannes Quasten, Pathology, 15. Note: Scholars still debate over the ideological forerunner of Arius’ doctrine, whether it was derived from the theories of Origen, or of Paul of Samosata, or of Lucian of Antioch. Cf. Johannes Quasten, Pathology, 2, 6-8. Athanasius, Orationes contra Arianos, I.5,6; Athanasius, De Synodis, 15. R. P. C. Hanson, The Search for Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy 318-381 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark Ltd., 1988), 11. And a few sources from the church historians of the fourth and fifth centuries, and from the letters of St. Basil and of Epiphanius of Salamis. Cf. Johannes Quasten, Pathology, 10-13. Philip Schaff, ‘Arianism’ in A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 134-137. John Behr, The Way to Nicaea: The Formation of Christian Theology (3 vols.; Crestwood, New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001, Vol. 1), 200-201. Arius denied all internal divine relations existing between the Father and the Son ― the eternal deity of Christ and his equality with the Father (όμοούσια).13 II.2. A SUMMARY OF ARIUS’ THEOLOGY Arius’ basic doctrine:14 (1) Godhead is uncreated, unbegotten (γννητος), without beginning;15 (2) The Son of God cannot be truly God. The Son is the first of God’s creatures, a secondary God, “god by participation.” Like the other creations, “the Son is not unbegotten (γννητος),” “he is one of the things fashioned and made,” 16 brought out ex nihilo (ξ οκ ντων). “There was a time when the Son of God was not (ν τε οκ ν).”17 “Neither does the Son indeed know his own substance as it is,” “he was created for our sake, rather than we for his.” “He is the Son of God not in the metaphysical, but in the moral sense of the word.”18 By the will of God, the Son has “his statute and character (ἥλικος καἰ σος).” “The Son is by his nature; changeable, mutable, equally with other rational beings.” The Father is ‘ineffable to the Son; for neither does the Word (Logos) perfectly and accurately know the Father, neither can he perfectly see Him (the Father).”19 (3) “The title of God is improper for the Son of God, since the only true God adopted him as Son in prevision of his merits.” This sonship by adoption insists “no real participation in the divinity and no true likeness to it;” Thus, the absolute and eternal divinity of Christ 13 Epiphanius, Panarion 69.6.1ff. Theodoret of Cyrus, Haereticarum fabularum compendium (History of Heresies) I.5. Cf. Philip Schaff, ‘Arius’ in A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology,139. Johannes Quasten, Pathology, 7-8. 14 Epiphanius, Panarion 69,6. Theodoret, Historia ecclesiastica, 1,5,1-4. Athanasius, De Synodis 15. Socrates, Historia ecclesiastica, 1,6. Gelasius of Cyzicus, Historia conc. Nic. 2,3. Cf. Johannes Quasten, Pathology, 8, 14, 15-16.Cf. Athanasius, Epistula encyclical ad episcopos Aegypti et Libyae, 12. Athanasius, NPNG2-04. Athanasius: Select Work and Letters (Philip Schaff ed.; Grand Rapids, Mi: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1892), 229. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204/Page_229.html (25 April 2011). 15 Theodoret, Historia ecclesiastica, 1.4.1. See also the conclusion in Arius’ first Letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia. Cf. Johannes Quasten, Pathology, 10.>