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Arius: Ancient Apostate

False Teachers in the Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The dangers of denying the Trinitarian nature of God

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Background on Arius

Arius is said to have been Libyan by descent, and he was probably born around 256 AD. We know little about his early days except that he studied under Lucian, the presbyter of Antioch. He later returned to Alexandria and became a presbyter there where he quickly became both prestigious and popular.Arius’ difficulties began in 318 when he clashed with Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria. Alexander believed in the co-eternality of the Word of God while Arius taught that the Word was created by God. (Tim Challies blog, 2/16/2014, accessed on 8/1/2018)
According to church historians, “the main issue at stake was whether the Word of God was co-eternal with God. The phrase that eventually became the Arian motto, ‘there was when he was not,’ aptly focuses on the point at issue. (The Story of Christianity, Vol 1, Justo Gonzalez, p. 161)
“Arius, on the one hand, argued that what Alexander proposed was a denial of Christian monotheism - for, according to the Bishop of Alexandria, there were two who were divine, and thus there were two gods. Alexander retorted that Arius’ position denied the divinity of the Word, and therefore, also the Divinity of Jesus. (ibid, 161)

Council of Nicea (325)

To settle the matter, Emperor Constantine called the first Ecumenical Council. Over 300 church leaders met in the city of Nicea in the year 325. They debated many issues while gathered, but the greatest issue they dealt with, and ruled on was the issue of Arianism. The Issue: Was Christ fully God, or was he a created and subordinate being?

Summary of Arius teachings

Summary of Arius teachings
Only God the Father is Eternal
Only God the Father is Eternal
The Son had a beginning as the first and highest created being
The Son had a beginning as the first and highest created being
The Son is not one in essence with the Father
The Son is not one in essence with the Father
Christ is subordinate to the Father
Christ is subordinate to the Father
He is called God as an honorific title
Summary taken from Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine, Wayne House, chart #21
He is called God as an honorific title

The Nicene Creed

Those gathered at Nicea condemned the teachings of Arius and also developed a creed to further define the orthodox teaching. “The dispute concerned two words … homoousios (of the same nature) and homoiousios (of a similar nature). … Arius was happy to say that Christ was a supernatural heavenly being and that he was created by God before the creation of the rest of the universe, and that he was ‘similar’ to God in nature.” (Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, p. 244
“The difference between the words was only one letter, the Greek letter iota, and some have criticized the church for allowing a doctrinal dispute over a single letter to consume so much attention for most of the fourth century … but the difference between the two words was profound, and … really did mark the difference between biblical Christianity … and a heresy that did not accept the full deity of Christ.” (Grudem, 244-45)

Modern followers of the Arian heresy

Athanasius
The most well-known followers would be the Jehovah Witness cult group. They have adopted the Arian heresy and have established a world-wild following and have confused many genuine Christians over the years.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Trinity is unbiblical because the word is not in the Bible and because the Bible emphasizes that there is one God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was created by Jehovah as the archangel Michael before the physical world existed, and is a lesser, though mighty, god.
Two well-known pastors who have taught heresy in regards to the Doctrine of the Trinity are Benny Hinn and TD Jakes.

Modern followers of the Arian heresy

While Hinn is best known as the world’s foremost charlatan in the area of faith healing, and promoting other Word of Faith nonsense (prosperity teaching, little god theology, etc.) he has taught outright fabrication regarding the nature of God. As documented in the book Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hanegraff, Hinn laid out some “revelation knowledge” in one of his sermons. [read excerpt from book, page 123]
Only God the Father is Eternal
TD Jakes is closer to Arius than Hinn in how he treats the Doctrine of the Trinity. Jakes will not articulate a precise, orthodox teaching on the Trinity. Having come out of a Oneness Pentecostal background, Jakes leans towards what is known as Modalism. Modalism is the belief in Only One God, and that One God has manifested Himself in different “modes” at different times. In the OT, God manifested as the Father, in the Gospels He manifested as the Son, and in the remainder of the NT, God manifested as the Holy Spirit
Christ is co-eternal with the Father
The Son had a beginning as the first and highest created being
Christ had no beginning
The Son is not one in essence with the Father
The Son and the Father are of the same essence
Christ is subordinate to the Father
Christ is not subordinate to the Father
He is called God as an honorific title
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