The Truth War by John MacArthur

The Truth War by John MacArthur

Author:John MacArthur
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: ebook, book
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: 2010-03-29T04:00:00+00:00


But hard on the heels of Sabellianism came an even more significant threat to the very essence of gospel truth. A new heresy known as Arianism was introduced (also by a popular teacher within the church) at the start of the fourth century. Arianism was a frontal assault on the deity of Christ. This deadly false doctrine quickly became one of the most blatant yet most aggressive of all the heresies that have ever threatened the Christian faith. The Arians flatly denied that Jesus is eternal God incarnate. They also fought obstinately for recognition as authentic Christians. So the conflict over Arianism literally became a fierce battle for the identity of the true church—and ultimately a war for the survival of Christianity itself.

Arius, the man most responsible for fabricating this belief system, began his career as a bright young presbyter and assistant to the bishop of Alexandria (a major city on the coast of North Africa). Arius had studied theology in Antioch and was ordained in Alexandria in 311 AD. He quickly gained a reputation as someone who was serious and articulate, with a keen mind and striking good looks. He came on the scene disguised as an angel of light, and he soon gained a loyal following.

Arius was wary of Sabellian influences but lacked the maturity to make wise and careful distinctions. His answer to Sabellianism was if anything worse than the original error. He claimed that the Father and the Son are two separate beings with completely different natures. So when Arius heard his bishop teaching that God the Father and God the Son share the same divine nature and substance (i.e., they are equal in their deity and eternality), Arius accused the bishop of teaching a subtle form of Sabellianism. Arius would not budge from that charge no matter how carefully the bishop explained his position.

In fact, Arius’s response was to run headlong to the opposite extreme from Sabellianism. He simply denied the deity of Christ altogether and declared that Christ is a created being. “Before the Son was begotten, he was not,” was Arius’s way of expressing his view. When it became clear that Arius would not recant or rethink his position, he was excommunicated by his bishop.

But Arius already had a number of influential friends in positions of leadership in various churches scattered all around the empire. Even in Alexandria he had a large number of followers who continued to support him. Far from ending Arius’s campaign, his excommunication only fueled it.

Arius devised crafty ways to popularize and spread his teaching. For example, he reduced his views to short lines of simple doggerel. He published the stanzas in a book known as Thalia (named for the muse of comedy and pastoral poetry in Greek mythology). Each of Arius’s verses hammered the same consistent theme, but always in slightly different expressions: the Son is not eternal; He cannot perfectly comprehend the Father; He did not exist until God began creation; there was a time when the Father was alone; and so on.


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