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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Arius and the Deity of Christ

Arius and the Deity of Christ

It is often stated that Arius denied the deity of Christ. One such statement appears at:

http://mmcelhaney.blogspot.com/2008/08/biblical-basics-deity-of-christ.html

According to this blogsite:
Arianism denies the deity of Christ in particular and the Trinity in general. It seems to have started with Arius.
What did Arius actually say? It is difficult to know all the details of the teachings of Arius, since practically all that was written by him was systematically destroyed by the trinitarians. Most of what we have is what trinitarians writers and some writings of his later followers assert that Arius taught. Of Arius' actual writings, what we have is only that which the trinitarian, Athanasius, preserved. Only two letters of Arius were preserved, evidently because these two letters provided the trinitarians with an alledged basis of damning Arius for what he believed. These two letters can be found online (translated into English -- the translation may be biased) at:

http://ecole.evansville.edu/arians/arius1.htm
http://ecole.evansville.edu/arians/arius1.htm

There is nothing in the letters that indicate whether Arius actually claimed to deny the deity of Christ. As far as the limited meaning of "deity" as given by trinitarians, he did deny that Jesus was the Supreme Being. This does not mean that he was denying the attribute "deity" to Jesus in the Hebraic sense, that is, in the sense of might, power, or, of a divine being, similar to the angels. (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7) Thus, based on what we actually have of Arius' writings, whether Arius was denying the deity of Jesus would depend on defining the English word "deity" apart from Biblical usage.
See my study:
The Hebraic Usage of the Titles for "God"

The might, power, and authority of Jesus was that given to him by the only true Might of the universe, that is, his God and Father. (Psalm 2:6-8; 45:7; 110:1,2; Isaiah 9:6,7; 11:2; 42:1; 61:1-3; Jeremiah 23:5; Daniel 7:13,14; Matthew 12:28; 28:28; Luke 1:32; 4:14,18; 5:17; John 3:34; 5:19,27,30; 10:18,36-38; 17:1,3,5; Acts 2:22; 10:38; Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Colossians 1:15,16; 2:10; Ephesians 1:3,17-22; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:2,4,6,9; 1 Peter 3:22) Jesus is never depicted as the source of his deity, but rather he is always depicted as receiving his deity -- his power, authority, etc., -- from his God and Father.

The letters of Arius, however, do show that there was and had been for some time a lot of different views of who Jesus was and is. Was Arius presenting a new view? Or was he defending what the Bible says? We should note that Arius describes the view of certain men (that were teaching that Jesus had no beginning) to be that of "heretical opinions." Therefore, he certainly believed that what he was saying was not a new view, but that the other views were the "new" views.

See also my studies related to:
The Deity of Jesus

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