Question #38: Briefly discuss the Arian View regarding Christ’s preexistence and His eternality. What was the opposing view in that 325 A.D. debate? What cult today is Arian?
Answer: The Arians (circa 4th century A.D.) believed that Christ’s divine nature was like God’s nature but not the same as His nature. “Three positions were represented at Nicea [325 A.D.]:
1) Jesus was of a different essence from the Father (Arius);
2) Jesus was of the same essence as the Father (Athanasius);
3) Jesus was of a like essence to the Father (a compromise position).”1
Thus the Arians could say that Christ may have preexisted but not necessarily eternal like God. The Bible, however, teaches that eternality and preexistence go together. Today, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the same way as Arius described the nature of Christ. They believe only in Christ’s preexistence but they deny His eternality. “Similar to modern Jehovah’s Witnesses, Arius contended that ‘there was a time when he was not’ (Kelly, 228). Jesus was, therefore, of a different essence than the Father.”2
1 James P. Eckman, Exploring Church History (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2002), 30.
2 Ibid, 29.
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.
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