Arianism

William Kelly

The blasphemous doctrine of Arius was an offshoot of Gnosticism, perhaps the least offensive in appearance,but directly and inevitably destructive of the personal glory of the Son as God, and hence overthrowing the basis of redemption.

Modern Unitarianism denies the Lord Jesus to be more than man, and thus even His supernatural birth of the Virgin Mary, though Socinus asserted the singular modification of such an exaltation after His resurrection as constituted Him an adequate Object of divine worship. Arius seemed to approach the truth on the side of His pre-existence before He came into the world, owned that He, the Son of God, made the universe, but maintained that He was Himself created, though the very first and highest of creatures.

It was not the Sabellian denial of distinct personality, but the refusal to the Son, and of course to the Spirit, of true, proper, essential, and eternal Deity.

Not only is Arianism fundamentally inconsistent with the place given to the Son from first to last throughout scripture, as well as with the infinite work of reconciliation and new creation, for which the old creation furnished but the occasion, but it is distinctly refuted beforehand by many passages of holy writ.

A few of these it may be well here to cite. Him who, when born of woman, was named Jesus, the Spirit of God declares to be in the beginning the Word who was with God and was God (John 1:1-3).

All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. Impossible to conceive a stronger testimony to His uncreated subsistence, to His distinct personality when He was with God before creation, and to His divine nature. He is here spoken of as the Word, the correlate of which is not the Father but God (and thus leaving room for the Holy Spirit); but, lest His own consubstantiality should be overlooked, He is carefully and at once declared to be God[1].

Go back beyond time and the creature, as far as one may in thought, "in the beginning was the Word."

The language is most precise; He was in the beginning with God, not egeneto (‘became’ eds.), […] in the sense of coming into being or caused to be, but hn’, He “was" in His own absolute being. All things ‘egeneto’, "came into being" through Him. He was the Creator so completely that St. John adds, "and without him not one thing came into being which is come into being." On the other hand, when the incarnation is stated in verse 14, the language is, The Word was made flesh, not En’ but ‘egeneto

Further, when come among men,  He is described as "the only-begotten Son 'who is' [‘o wn’], not merely who was, in the bosom of the Father"—language unintelligible and misleading unless to shew that His manhood in no way detracted from His Deity, and that the infinite nearness of the Son with the Father ever subsists.

Again, Romans 9:5 is a rich and precise expression of Christ's undeirivative and supreme Godhead, equally with the Father and the Spirit. "Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." The efforts of heterodox critics bear witness to the all-importance of the truth, which they vainly essay to shake by unnatural efforts which betray the dissatisfaction of their authors.

There is no such emphatic predication of supreme Deity in the Bible: not of course that the Father and the Holy Spirit are not co-equal, but because the humiliation of the Son in incarnation and the death of the cross made it fitting that the fullest assertion of divine supremacy should be used of Him. Next, the apostle says of Christ, "who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature ; for by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers : all things were created by him and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things subsist." Col. 1:15—17.

The reveries of the Gnostics are here anticipatively cut off; for Christ is shewn to have been chief of all creation, because He was Creator, and this of the highest invisible beings as well as of the visible: all things are said to have been created for Him as well as by Him; and as He is before all, so all subsist together in virtue of Him.

The only other passage I need now refer to is Hebrews 1, where the apostle illustrates the fulness of Christ's person among other Old Testament scriptures by Psalms 45 and 102. In the former He is addressed as God and anointed as man; in the latter He is owned as Jehovah, the Creator, after He is heard pouring out His affliction as the rejected Messiah to Jehovah.

It is impossible then to accept the Bible without rejecting Arianism as a heinous libel against Christ and the truth; for it is not more certain that He became a man than that He was God before creation, Himself the Creator, the Son, and Jehovah.

 

From unpublished MSS of W.K.

 

 

[1] The absence of the article here is necessarily due to the fact that Theos is the predicate of Logos, in no way to an inferior sense of His Godhead, which would contradict the context itself. Indeed, if the article had been inserted, it would be the grossest heterodoxy, because its effect would be to deny that the Father and the Spirit are God by excluding all but the Word from Godhead.