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§ 125. Semi-Arianism.


The Semi-Arians,13701370   Ἡμιάρειοι. or, as they are called, the Homoiousiasts,13711371   Ὁμοιουσιαστοί. The name Eusebians is used of the Arians and Semi-Arians, who both for a time made common cause, as a political party under the lead of Eusebius of Nicomedia (not of Caesarea), against the Athanasians and Nicenes. wavered in theory and conduct between the Nicene orthodoxy and the Arian heresy. Their doctrine makes the impression, not of an internal reconciliation of opposites which in fact were irreconcilable, but of diplomatic evasion, temporizing compromise, flat, half and half juste milieu. They had a strong footing in the subordination of most of the ante-Nicene fathers; but now the time for clear and definite decision had come.

Their doctrine is contained in the confession which was proposed to the council of Nicaea by Eusebius of Caesarea, but rejected, and in the symbols of the councils of Antioch and Sirmium from 340 to 360. Theologically they were best represented first by Eusebius of Caesarea, who adhered more closely to his admired Origen, and later by Cyril of Jerusalem, who approached nearer the orthodoxy of the Nicene party.

The signal term of Semi-Arianism is homoi-ousion, in distinction from homo-ousion and hetero-ousion. The system teaches that Christ if; not a creature, but co-eternal with the Father, though not of the same, but only of like essence, and subordinate to him. It agrees with the Nicene creed in asserting the eternal generation of the Son, and in denying that he was a created being; while, with Arianism, it denies the identity of essence. Hence it satisfied neither of the opposite parties, and was charged by both with logical incoherence. Athanasius and his friends held, against the Semi-Arians, that like attributes and relations might be spoken of, but not like essences or substances; these are either identical or different. It may be said of one man that he is like another, not in respect of substance, but in respect of his exterior and form. If the Son, as the Semi-Arians ad-mit, is of the essence of the Father, he must be also of the same essence. The Arians argued: There is no middle being between created and uncreated being; if God the Father alone is uncreated, everything out of him, including the Son, is created, and consequently of different essence, and unlike him.

Thus pressed from both sides, Semi-Arianism could not long withstand; and even before the council of Constantinople it passed over, in the main, to the camp of orthodoxy.13721372   Bull judges Semi-Arianisn very contemptuously.“Semi-AriAnus,” says he (l. iv. 4, 8, vol. v. pars ii p. 779), “et semi-Deus, et semi-creatura perinde monstra et portenta sunt quae sani et pii omnes merito exhorrent. Filius Dei aut verus omnino Deus, aut mera creatura statuatur necesse est; aeternae veritatis axioma est inter Deum et creaturam, inter non factum et factum, medium esse nihil.” Quite similarly Waterland: A Defence of some Queries relating to Dr. Clarke’s Scheme of the Holy Trinity, Works, vol. i p. 404.



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