Question #8: Briefly discuss the Arian controversy and its resolution (include chief participants and key places and dates).
Answer: The Arian controversy revolved around the eternality or non-eternality of Jesus Christ and the created or non-created status of the Holy Spirit thus undermining the doctrine of the Trinity. “Arius (ca. 250-336), an antitrinitarian presbyter of Alexandria, distinguished the one eternal God from the Son who was generated by the Father and who thus had a beginning. He also taught that the Holy Spirit was the first thing created by the Son, since all things were made by the Son. He found scriptural support for his views in passages which seem to picture the Son as inferior to the Father (Matt 28:18; Mk 13:32; 1 Cor 15:28).” Athanasius opposed him by teaching that the Son’s generation “was an eternal and internal act of God”. The Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) resolved the issue “resulting in the clear and unequivocal statement of the Nicene Creed that Christ was of the same substance with the Father (omoousios).” Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus championed in clarifying “the vocabulary concerning the Trinity by using ousia for the one essence of the Godhead and hypostasis for the Persons.” The Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.) formulated the following statement: “And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Life-giving, who proceeds from the Father, who is to be glorified with the Father and the Son, and who speaks through the prophets.” This recognized that the Holy Spirit was not created. See reference: Ryrie, Basic Theology, 61ff. [Another great reference is an audio lecture on Arianism & Nicea by Brian Borgman.]
One-Minute Theology with Chaplain T features the question and answer portions of the Systematic Theology courses that were part of my seminary work at Piedmont Baptist Graduate School. I will be posting one Q & A everyday until my ordination council meeting set for February 2014.
Please feel free to interact with me by leaving a comment or a question below. I will try my best to respond right away.