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The Dogmatic Parties And Their M





The parties in the Arian controversy became greatly divided in the course
of the conflict. Speaking broadly, there were still two groups, of which
one was composed of all those who regarded the Son as a creature and so
not eternal and not truly God; and the other, of those who regarded Him as
uncreated and in some real sense eternal and truly God, yet without
denying the unity of God. The former were the various Arian parties
tending to constant division. The latter can hardly yet be comprised under
one common name, and might be called the anti-Arian parties, were it not
that there was a positive content to their faith which was in far better
harmony with the prevailing religious sentiment of the East and was
constantly receiving accessions. In the second generation after Nicaea, a
new group of theologians came to the front, of whom the most important
were Eustathius of Sebaste, Cyril of Jerusalem, and the three
Cappadocians, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, most of
whom had at least sympathized with the Homoiousian party. Already at the
synod of Ancyra, in 358, an approach was made toward a reconciliation of
the anti-Arian factions, in that, by a more careful definition, homoousios
was rejected only in the sense of identity of being, and homoiousios was
asserted only in the sense of equality of attributes in the not identical
subjects which, however, shared in the same essence. Homoiousios did not
mean mere similarity of being. (Anathemas in Hahn, 162; Hefele, 80.)
The line of development ultimately taken was by a precise distinction
between hypostasis and ousia, whereby hypostasis, which never meant
person in the modern sense, which later is represented by the Greek
prosopon, was that which subsists and shares with other hypostases in
a common essence or ousia.


Additional source material: Athanasius, De Synodis (PNF); Basil,
Epp. 38, 52, 69, 125 (PNF, ser. II, vol. VIII); Hilary of
Poitiers, De Synodis, cc. 87-91 (PNF, ser. II, vol. IX);
Socrates, Hist. Ec., III, 25.


Council of Alexandria A. D. 362. Tomus ad Antiochenos. (MSG, 26:797.)


The Council of Alexandria, A. D. 362, was held by Athanasius in
the short time he was allowed to be in his see city at the
beginning of the reign of Julian. In the synodal letter or tome
addressed to the Nicene Christians at Antioch we have the
foundation of the ultimate formula of the Church as opposing
Arianism, one substance and three persons, one ousia and three
hypostases. The occasion of the letter was an attempt to win
over the Meletian party in the schism among the anti-Arians of
Antioch. Meletius and his followers appear to have been
Homoiousians who were strongly inclined to accept the Nicene
confession. Their church was in the Old Town, a portion of
Antioch. Opposed to them was Paulinus with his party, which held
firmly to the Nicene confession. The difficulty in the way of a
full recognition of the Nicene statement by Meletius and his
followers was that it savored of Sabellianism. The difficulty of
the party of Paulinus in recognizing the orthodoxy of the
Meletians was their practice of speaking of the three hypostases
or subsistences, which was condemned by the words of the Nicene
definition.(120) The outcome of the Alexandrian Council in the
matter was that a distinction could be made between ousia and
hypostasis, that the difference between the parties was largely
a matter of terminology, that those who could use the Nicene
symbol with the understanding that the Holy Ghost was not a
creature and was not separate from the essence of Christ should be
regarded as orthodox. Out of this understanding came the "New
Nicene" party, of which the first might be said to have been
Meletius, who accepted homoousios in the sense of homoiousios,
and of which the "three great Cappadocians" became the recognized
leaders.


The Council of Alexandria, in addition to condemning the
Macedonian heresy, in advance of Constantinople, also anticipated
that assembly by condemning Apollinarianism without mentioning the
teacher by whom the heresy was taught. It is condemned in the
seventh section of the tome.


3. As many, then, as desire peace with us, and especially those who
assemble in the Old Town, and those again who are seceding from the
Arians, do ye call to yourselves, and receive them as parents their sons,
and as tutors and guardians welcome them; and unite them to our beloved
Paulinus and his people, without requiring more from them than to
anathematize the Arian heresy and confess the faith confessed by the holy
Fathers at Nicaea and to anathematize also those who say that the Holy
Ghost is a creature and separate from the essence of Christ. For this is
in truth a complete renunciation of the abominable heresy of the Arians,
to refuse to divide the Holy Trinity, or to say that any part of it is a
creature.

5. As to those whom some were blaming for speaking of three
subsistences (hypostases), on the ground that the phrase is unscriptural
and therefore suspicious, we thought it right, indeed, to require nothing
beyond the confession of Nicaea, but on account of the contention we made
inquiry of them, whether they meant, like the Arian madmen, subsistences
foreign and strange and alien in essence from one another, and that each
subsistence was divided apart by itself, as is the case with other
creatures in general and those begotten of men, or like substances, such
as gold, silver, or brass; or whether, like other heretics, they meant
three beginnings and three Gods, by speaking of three subsistences.

They assured us in reply that they neither meant this nor had ever held
it. But upon our asking them "what, then, do you mean by it, or why do you
use such expressions?" they replied: Because they believe in a Holy
Trinity, not a trinity in name only, but existing and subsisting in truth,
both Father truly existing and subsisting, and a Son, truly substantial
and subsisting, and a Holy Ghost subsisting and really existing do we
acknowledge, said they, and that neither had they said there were three
Gods or three beginnings, nor would they at all tolerate such as said or
held so, but that they acknowledged a Holy Trinity, but one Godhead and
one beginning, and that the Son is co-essential with the Father, as the
Fathers said; and the Holy Ghost not a creature, nor external, but proper
to, and inseparable from, the essence of the Father and the Son.

6. Having accepted, then, these men's interpretation of their language
and their defence, we made inquiry of those blamed by them for speaking of
one subsistence, whether they use the expression in the sense of
Sabellius, to the negation of the Son and Holy Ghost, or as though the Son
was non-substantial, or the Holy Ghost without subsistence. But they in
their turn assured us that they neither said this nor had ever held it,
but, "we use the word subsistence thinking it the same thing to say
subsistence or essence."(121) But we hold there is One, because the Son is
of the essence of the Father and because of the identity of nature. For we
believe that there is one Godhead, and that the nature of it is one, and
not that there is one nature of the Father, from which that of the Son and
of the Holy Ghost are distinct. Well, thereupon, they who had been blamed
for saying that there were three subsistences agreed with the others,
while those who had spoken of one essence, also confessed the doctrine of
the former as interpreted by them. And by both sides Arius was
anathematized as an adversary of Christ, and Sabellius, and Paul of
Samosata as impious men, and Valentinus and Basilides as aliens from the
truth, and Manichaeus as an inventor of mischief. And all, by God's grace,
and after the above explanations, agreed together that the faith confessed
by the Fathers at Nicaea is better and more accurate than the said phrases,
and that for the future they would prefer to be content to use its
language.

7. But since, also, certain seemed to be contending together concerning
the fleshly economy of the Saviour, we inquired of both parties. And what
the one confessed the others also agreed to: that not as when the word of
the Lord came to the prophets, did it dwell in a holy man at the
consummation of the ages, but that the Word himself was made flesh; and
being in the form of God, He took the form of a servant, and from Mary
after the flesh became man for us, and that thus in Him the human race is
perfectly and wholly delivered from sin and made alive from the dead, and
led into the kingdom of heaven. For they also confess that the Saviour had
not a body without a soul, nor without sense or intelligence;(122) for it
was not possible, when the Lord had become man for us, that His body
should be without intelligence; nor was the salvation, effected in the
Word himself, a salvation of the body only, but of the soul also. And
being Son of God in truth, He became also Son of Man; and being God's only
begotten Son, He became also at the same time "first-born among many
brethren." Wherefore neither was there one Son of God before Abraham,
another after Abraham: nor was there one that raised up Lazarus, another
that asked concerning him; but the same it was that said as man, "Where
does Lazarus lie?" and as God raised him up; the same that as man and in
the body spat, but divinely as Son of God opened the eyes of the man blind
from his birth; and while, as Peter says, in the flesh He suffered, as God
He opened the tomb and raised the dead. For which reasons, thus
understanding all that is said in the Gospel, they assured us that they
held the same truth about the Word's incarnation and becoming man.





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