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


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


§ 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


§ 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.