What important belief did the Arians have?



As Arianism denotes a Christian theological doctrine that, according to one of its early proponents, Arius, is named. In late antiquity, the term "Arians" was often used by supporters of the Council of Nicaea as a fighting term, without the so named persons necessarily representing the teaching of Arius. Many ancient historians therefore restrict the term "Arians" to the immediate followers of Arius and otherwise use the more neutral term Homeer. [1]


Arius argued that Jesus Christ was created by the Father before all creatures, and consequently his creature, though first, was noblest and most like God. Thus he denied the son the unity of being. From the essence of God (as one had previously taught) he could not be created, otherwise one would have to think of God as divisible. He therefore called him a being created by God before all time and out of nothing, but which was not created by God like one of the other creatures, but before all others. Now, since the Son was begotten of God, there must have been a time when he was not yet; so he could not be eternal like God.


The Arians, together with the Athanasians, formed the two main currents into which the Christian Church divided in the 4th century over the dispute over the doctrine of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both named themselves after their heads: the Arians after Arius, the Athanasians after Bishop Athanasius.

  • Arius argued that Jesus Christ was created by the Father before all creatures, and consequently his creature, though first, was noblest and most like God.
  • Athanasius taught that the son, generated from the essence of the father, is with this same essence.

The whole Church soon took part in their disputes, and even bloody and murderous acts occurred, so that in 325 the Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea to arbitrate. This is where the Athanasians prevailed and wrote down a creed (called the Nicean or Athanasian) and condemned those who refused to accept it. Arius opposed this with his own creed, which the emperor so pleased that the Athanasians were now expelled from their offices. After one group and then the other prevailed until the 7th century, depending on whom the emperors were favored with, the name Arians was lost and only their views were preserved in the Christian church.


In 318 the Alexandrian presbyter cameArius († 336), an educated Greek doctor of the church, got into an argument with his bishop Alexander. The bishop defended the view that there is also unity in the Holy Trinity. Arius, on the other hand, denied the complete equality of Jesus with God. He believed that Christ was less than God and could only be called the noblest of all those created by God.

This opinion soon met with approval and a group quickly formed around him. who called themselves Arians. Other names were "Eusebians", after Bishop Eusebios of Nicomedia, the chief defender of this group, and "Exukontians", allegedly because of the view that Jesus was created out of nothing. They were given the name by Emperor Constantine Porphyry (after Porphyrios). But their opponents called themselves because of the view that the son was essentially the same as the father, Homousiasts.

Council of Alexandria (321)

Since Arius' thesis was against the doctrines of the church, the council of Alexandria deposed him in the year 321 and banished him and his followers. Arius fled to Palestine and later to Illyria. His friends, Eusebios of Nicomedia and Eusebios of Caesarea, who adhered to the Arian teachings, publicly disapproved of Alexander's actions. The whole Church began to move, and in order to settle the dispute, Emperor Constantine sent Bishop Hosius of Corduba to Alexandria as a mediator; but without success.

Council of Nicaea (325)

Then in 325 Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, which he himself attended. Over 300 bishops were present, including about 20 Arian ones. The most ardent opponents of the Arians were Bishop Markellos of Ankyra and Deacon Athanasios of Alexandria. A new one, the Nicaean Creed, was drawn up and signed by all the bishops except Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicaea. Both were then removed from their offices and solemnly condemned and exiled with Arius, his doctrine and followers.

The new law of faith determined that the Son was begotten by the Father and not made, begotten from the being of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from the true God, of the same substance as the Father. The violent, extreme claims of Athanasios, who became Bishop of Alexandria, now gave rise to new disputes. Many bishops in Nicaea had been forced to sign and wished to renounce the confession.

Synod of Jerusalem (335)

Thus, Emperor Constantine let go of the former severity, called Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis of Nicea back from exile in 328 and allowed Arius to defend his opinion again in 329. The emperor promised to recognize him as orthodox if he did not contradict the Nicaean Confession directly. He was released from the ban at the Synod of Jerusalem in 335 and was about to be accepted back into the fellowship of the Church. However, Arius died suddenly in Constantinople in 336. As a result, the most orthodox opponents of the Arians, namely Athanasios and Markellos, were banished and their teaching condemned.

Free exercise of religion

Eusebius of Nicomedia received free religious practice from Emperor Constantius in 337 for the Arians in the eastern part of the empire under their own bishops. Athanasios, however, returned to Alexandria in 338, but was again forcibly driven out in 341. He found protection and support for his group in the eastern provinces ruled by Constans. There he strove to achieve absolute victory for himself and the Nicaean thesis.

Synods of Sardica (344) and Philippopolis

Athanasios caused Emperor Constans to reject the softened 4 comparative theses of the Eusebians (given in 341 in Antioch). At the Synod in Sardica (344 or 347), called by both emperors to mediate peace, he achieved the full triumph of his cause and the excommunication of his opponents. The Arians, for their part, constituted their own synod in Philippopolis and confirmed their 4 articles of Antioch. Bloodbaths now marked the steps taken by the homousiastic bishops to force their reinstatement. The victory remained imperfect and even, after Constantius had come to rule the whole empire in 353, turned completely to the side of the Arians, to whom Rome and its then bishop Felix had to pay homage.

Splitting up

But the party more than the opinion of the Arians gained this advantage, in that most of the Western communities were indifferent or only yielded to violence. The Ariabians, however, weakened themselves through internal divisions. The bishops, known as Eusebians, had already modified the Arian ones around the time of the Synod of Sardica (344) out of consideration for the emperors who were concerned for peace in the church and to accommodate the homousiasts Convenient basic formula, which, next to the increasingly noticeable divergence of the dogmatic conclusions from the same, separated the strict or pure Arians from them.

These were named after their leaders Actios and Eunomios, Aetians or Eunomians, because of their teachings that the Son of God is not of the same (but of a different) nature with the Father, and even dissimilar to him, Heterousians and Anomoe, because of their attachment to Arius too Ariomanites and to one of their meeting places near Constantinople Exokionites called. Soon after that, the Semi-Ariansthat more or less approached the teaching of Arius. They were originally the mediating party, which started out from the Eusebians and claimed that the son was subordinate to the father, but was similar in character to him. Therefore they were called Homoiusiasts, but mostly Semi-Arians, also after Bishop Basilius of Ankyra, Basilians and Antiochenes, after Macedonius of Constantinople Macedonians.

It was not until the 4th Synod of Sirmium in 357 that Arianism was precisely formulated.

Synod of Ankyra (358)

In 589, when the Visigoths converted to Catholicism, the Arian bishops had to swear off the Ariminense. The own exegetical-dogmatic production had become less and less. The Macedonians At a synod at Ankyra in 358, they formally separated themselves from all church fellowship with the pure Arians and mutual spells strengthened the separation.

In order to overthrow the Semi-Arians and at the same time win over the semi-Arian-minded emperors, the bishops Akakios of Caesarea in Palestine and Eudoxios of Constantinople themselves sacrificed their party leader Aetios and in 359 formed the new one, between the formulas of the Semi-Arians and Pure Arian party of the Akacians or Eudoxianswho held the opinion that the son was like the father in will.

Synods of Ariminum (359/60)

Arianism at the Synods at Ariminum - Constantinople in the years 359/60 was forcibly pushed through by Emperor Constantius and thus raised to an ecumenical decision. Therefore the Germanic conquerors, who accepted this belief, were able to regard themselves as the actually "orthodox", but the Athanasian Romans as heretics and thus initiate a Germanic-Arian "Catholicism", which was on the one hand as a weapon against the Romans and on the other hand as a The binding agent of the Germanic peoples served the political purposes of conquest and union.

Pure Arians at heart, they were Akacians or. Eudoxiansjust about to fully commit to these again when Emperor Constantius died in 361, and the adherents of the Nicaean formula who were held down under him rose again, favored by the tolerance of his successor Julian.

Victory of the Orthodox

Under Jovian, their protector, the Orthodox even brought about restrictions on the Arians in 363 and 364, but in the eastern lands of the empire, after the Semi-Arians had completely united with them in 366, they had to be replaced by those under Valens (265-379). again ruling pure Arians suffer new persecutions. Only the protection of Gratian offered them security.

From 380 the penal laws of the emperor Theodosius against all heretics decided the victory of the Nicaean formula in the Roman Empire. So the Arians lost the freedom of religious practice they had enjoyed up to now. The Eunomians allows to change the baptismal formula according to its teaching and restriction of baptism to a single immersion. Their churches were given to the Orthodox, their meetings frowned upon, their bishops and priests driven out.

The victory of the Athanasians by Theodosius in 381 and the suppression of every, including homeic Arianism, in the empire isolated Germanic Arianism, which nevertheless, or perhaps precisely because of this, spread rapidly from the Visigoths to the relatives.

Eunomians and Eudoxians

Just because these laws were not observed with equal rigor did they persist here and there in villages and in Constantinople itself, where the crowd hid them, but their own zeal caused new divisions among them. The Eunomians separated from the Eudoxians, and both of them split up Psathyrians (so named after a cake dealer) from; these believed that God was Father even before the Son was born. Of the Eunomians again they parted Eunomiotheophronians, the followers of a disciple of Theophronios who deviated from Eunomius. As a result of this fragmentation, the subgroups of the Arians soon lost all importance, and increasingly strict measures by the emperors against them were extinguished in the Byzantine Empire, where they had been the ruling church for almost 50 years, as early as the first half of the 5th century. Century their last remains.

Migration period

The doctrine of the pure Arians survived longer outside the Roman Empire. The Goths had adopted them with Christianity themselves and remained zealous Arians as enemies of the Orthodox emperors, the Ostrogoths until the fall of their empire in Italy, the Visigoths in Spain except for King Reccared, who converted them (586 to 589) to the Nicaean formula. From them Arianism had passed to other Germanic peoples: Belisarius suppressed it among the Vandals in Africa in 533. The Suebi in Spain, who had adopted it in 469, became Orthodox again in 560. The Burgundians were only Arians from 450 to 534.

Germanic Arianism

The Germanic Arianism is therefore, according to its expansion, also treated as the first, essentially East Germanic-Gothic stage of Germanic Christianity (see "Conversion History"). The dogmatic, especially Christological creed, like that of Ulfilas, is a subspecies of Arianism proper, which was particularly at home in the clergy of the Danube countries. State-wise emperors found it particularly recommendable because it did not replace the Athanasian equality of the son with the father with an even more complicated definition, but with the neutral, ambiguous formula, and its opposition to the "Nicaenians" or "Athanasians" with the Decline based on the Scriptures.

On the move to the western empire, in which another, Roman Arianism was missing, it completely became a specifically Germanic denomination, took on more and more national character and served as a means to keep one's own people pure as the ruling warrior caste. The Ulfilas Bible provided the basis for a divine service in which not only the sermon but also the lesson and liturgy were Germanic. Remnants of its own calendar with its own saints' festivals have been preserved. The belief in miracles, which was attached to the service of saints and relics, remained moderate, according to several testimonies. And morality, too, showed a harsher and simpler character. The basic military-national trait already forbade the implementation of a higher, ascetic morality, the flight from national associations to monasticism; celibacy did not apply to the bishops either.

In return, Geiserich, the vandal, attests to strict procedures against all kinds of fornication, while the Visigoths testify to harsh punishment for fornication, including abortion, by the way. Just as this strict sexual ethic found the approval of Roman monks (Salvian), so the inherited legal sense of the Arian Germanic princes pacified the Roman provincials, who felt more comfortable under their more just rule than before. The only severe persecution of the Roman Catholics by the Arians under Hunerich the Vandal (477-84) is essentially due to the propaganda of the Catholic bishops.

The more the Catholic Church united to form an imperial church in the 4th century, the more the stamping of Arianism as heresy and its exclusion from the general church body meant the delivery of the ecclesiastical constitution to the existing forms of Germanic nationality that was now characterized by the tribal kingship arising from the military needs of the time of migration and conquest. The determination of the Arian churches as tribal churches is indubitable, the division of the Arian clergy into bishops, presbyters and deacons and, with the lack of urban centers, the connection of the hierarchical constitution to the lower people's associations, and undoubtedly also with the Vandals the existence of a tribal patriarchate at the Head of a numerous Arian episcopate, with seat at court and important authority.

Provided that in the case of Eastern and Visigoths, Burgundians and Vandals, etc., at the latest from the end of the 4th century, a kingship at the head of the people can be proven, which is now gaining the tendency on the soil of the Roman Empire to increase its power and Everywhere the royal count's office overrides the old republican offices that arise from popular elections, the assumption is irrefutable that the state-ecclesiastical character of the Arian tribal church is becoming more and more dependent on kingship. It had to appear all the more necessary as this Christian clergy, in contrast to the earlier priesthood, appeared as a closed class, which as such could still easily endanger itself and the state as a whole. That the king reserved permission for himself or his count to enter this estate as well as a somehow certain share in the occupation of the most important ecclesiastical office, the episcopate, which, alongside the count's office, was certainly not allowed to form any antagonism to this, as finally that synods of these bishops required at least his approval seems the most natural assumption.

If later, after their conversion to Catholicism, Burgundians and Visigoths, who used to be Arian, found themselves in Clovis I, their neighbor, who had the Arian model in mind and who should have been brought to Arianism, and his successors, a dependency of the clergy and especially of the episcopate of kingship takes place in the designated forms, which were not found in Roman law, one must admittedly have to say that in it, as in the individual church system, old conceptions, here of the relationship of religion to public life, came through again, but also those May hypothesize that in these Catholic regional churches, especially also with the Franks, which were decisive for the whole later development, an Arian model had an effect.

Early middle ages

The Lombards were converted by the Franks since the time of their invasion of Italy, and these in 670 by the Roman clergy. Many Arians also fled to Arabia, because the Christianity widespread there was mostly Arianism. Later doubters of the divinity of Christ were often called Arians. These parties survived until the end of the 7th century. And if the teaching was further spread and received, the name of this group ceased.


All in all, the Arian Church remains a link between the old Catholic imperial church in the West, which was more and more centralized around Rome, and the decentralized early medieval regional churches.


Individual evidence