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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed says:

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;

How are the Son and the Father different? In the Nicene Creed it seems that they are separate persons but sharing the same substance.

Do Catholics believe that there is a substance out of which God is made? What is the "substance" being discussed here?

We cannot say that Jesus is God in the sense of identity, because then Jesus is God and the Father is God so Jesus is the Father, which contradicts the doctrine.

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    Are you looking for a specifically Catholic answer? You mention Catholicism. As far as substance, see here and here. Mar 29, 2015 at 4:27
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    The Church believes that the Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit) are the same substance (i.e., God). This is certainly the belief among Catholics and Orthodox; I believe that the vast majority of Protestants would be in agreement as well. Mar 29, 2015 at 17:26
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    Just to clarify, are you asking two questions with some statements mixed in? Are the questions: What is the difference between the Father and Son if they are of the same substance? and What is this substance? Mar 29, 2015 at 17:42
  • You should have a look at the writings of Umberto Eco. He writes from a Catholic perspective and as a Christian and you won't pin him down in a self-contradiction. Mar 29, 2015 at 17:48
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    A minor comment about "there is a substance out of which God is made": I would avoid the word "made" in reference to God. As the creed says, the Son is "not made"; the same is even more clearly the case for the Father. Mar 31, 2015 at 20:03

3 Answers 3

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The term the Nicene Creed uses for substance is homooúsios. This term was intentionally chosen to separate the Creed from various forms of Arianism that denied the divinity of Jesus. The Nicene Creed is arguing that Jesus is fully divine just like the Father. The common forms of nontrinitarianism at the time commonly denied the divinity of Christ by arguing that he was similar to the Father in attributes, similar in substance to the Father, or different in both attributes and substance. The Nicene Creed explicitly states the 'one in substance' to both affirm the divinity of Christ as well as affirm the truine Godhead. When communicating it in contemporary English, homooúsios is sometimes translated as 'of the same being.'

It is the foundational conception of the Trinity of all major forms of Christianity still in existence: Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant. So no, it is not a distinctly Catholic belief. The substance in question is the 'divine being' of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each is of the same substance in that they are all fully divine, inseparable yet distinct. It is through this concept of substance that Christians describe the Trinity as 'one God in three persons.' The three persons of the Trinity all share the same divine 'substance' in the sense that they constitute one God -- but they are each distinct from each other in their persons.

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To say "The Son and the Father are of the same substance" (consubstantialem as the word is in the Latin Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed) is to say that they have the same being (ousia in Greek); that is, that they are the same kind of thing—God.

Traditionally, Catholic theology has said that even though the Son and the Father are of the same substance (consubstantiales in Latin; a semi-reasonable translation of the Greek homoousioi), the Son proceeds from the Father. Thomas Aquinas uses the simile of a word or a thought, which is part of a person (in that thoughts are part of one's mind), but is also in a sense distinct from, and "comes from", one's mind.

Procession, therefore, ... is to be understood by way of an intelligible emanation, for example, of the intelligible word which proceeds from the speaker, yet remains in him. In that sense the Catholic Faith understands procession as existing in God. ... it is clear that the more a thing is understood, the more closely is the intellectual conception joined and united to the intelligent agent; since the intellect by the very act of understanding is made one with the object understood. Thus, as the divine intelligence is the very supreme perfection of God, the divine Word is of necessity perfectly one with the source whence He proceeds, without any kind of diversity.

(Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 27, Article 1)

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  • Does "ousia" mean being? It only appears twice in Scripture in Luke 15:12-13 where the prodigal son received his portion of the father's "goods" and then wasted his "substance" in riotous living. Thayer's defines it simply as "what one has, i.e. property, possessions, estate". Nov 19, 2021 at 13:06
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In the Nicene Creed, homoousios means 'one Person'.

Abstract: The Nicene Creed describes the Son of God as homoousios (of the same substance) as the Father. Homoousios can either mean 'one substance' or two substances of the same type:

  • Before Nicaea, this term was strongly associated with Sabellianism; the theory that Father, Son, and Spirit are one hypostasis (Person) with a single mind. Consequently, the term was understood as 'one substance'.
  • At Nicaea, Sabellians dominated because they allied with Alexander and because the emperor took Alexander's side. Consequently, they were able to cause the inclusion of the term.
  • After Nicaea, based on the word homoousios, Sabellians claimed that the church at Nicaea had formally adopted one-hypostasis (one Person) theology. Due to this conflict, the leading Sabellians were deposed soon after Nicaea.
  • After that, homoousios disappeared from the Controversy for about 20 years. The Controversy now raged around the more basic question of whether Father, Son, and Spirit are one or three hypostases (Persons).
  • In the 350s, Athanasius brought homoousios back into the Controversy. Since Athanasius and the West believed that Father, Son, and Spirit are one hypostasis, meaning one Person, they explained the homoousios as 'one substance'.
  • In the 360s and 370s, Basil of Caesarea opposed Athanasius and explained homoousios as meaning three hypostases (three Persons) with the same type of substance, which may be regarded as tritheism.

INTRODUCTION

The Nicene Creed asserts 'Same Substance'.

The Nicene Creed, as formulated at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, is accepted as official doctrine by most denominations. It states that the Son was begotten from the substance (ousia) of the Father and that He is of the same substance (homoousios; from homós = same; ousia = substance) as the Father. (The Free Dictionary) Via the Latin, homoousios is often translated as 'consubstantial'.

It means either one or two substances.

'Same substance' (homoousios) has two possible meanings because the word “same” has two possible meanings. When I say that John and I drive the same car, it can mean that we drive one and the same car or two different cars of the same type. Similarly, ‘same substance’ can mean:

  • One substance - This is called numerical sameness because there is only one. Father and Son are a single undivided substance (one Being).

  • Two distinct substances of the same type - This is qualitative or generic sameness. Like two human beings are of the 'same substance', Father and Son are two distinct substances (Beings).

Scholars also refer to the two alternative meanings as 'unity' versus 'equality'. (Hanson, p. 170-1) One theological objection to the "equal deity" option is that it presents two Gods; two First Principles (two Beings who exist without cause and caused all else to exist). (See Right Reason.)

Arius did not accept the term homoousios. For him, the Son's substance is different from the Father's. (Hanson, p. 187) Arius is what later in the fourth century became known as a Heter-ousian (different substance).

It relates to the Core Issue in the Controversy.

These two alternative meanings of homoousios relate to the core issue in the Arian Controversy. Contrary to the usual explanation, the core issue was not whether Jesus is God. “It is misleading to assume that these controversies were about ‘the divinity of Christ’” (LA, 14). The core issue was whether the Son is part of the Father or whether He is a distinct Person with a distinct mind. In other words, the core issue was whether Father, Son, and Spirit are one hypostasis (one Person with one mind) or three hypostases:

  • In one-hypostasis theologies, such as Sabellianism and the theology of Alexander and Athanasius, the Son is not a distinct Person. Consequently, homoousios means 'one substance'.

  • In three-hypostases theologies, such as those taught by Origen, the so-called Arians, and Basil of Caesarea, the Son is a distinct hypostasis (Person). The anti-Nicenes rejected the term homoousios but Basil accepted it and interpreted it as two substances of the same type.

The Trinity Doctrine asserts 'One Substance'.

The traditional Trinity doctrine teaches that the three Persons (hypostases) are one Being. Consequently, it interprets homoousios as 'one substance'. For example:

“The champions of the Nicene faith … developed a doctrine of God as a Trinity, as one substance or ousia who existed as three hypostases, three distinct realities or entities (I refrain from using the misleading word' Person'), three ways of being or modes of existing as God.” (Hanson Lecture)

In this quote, Hanson says the word 'Person' is misleading. The reason is that, in normal English, each 'person' has his own mind. In contrast, in the traditional Trinity doctrine, Father, Son, and Spirit share a single mind because they are one Being. As quoted, rather than the word ‘Person’, Hanson prefers to explain the hypostases in the Trinity doctrine as “realities or entities” or even three "modes of existing as God," which steers close to Modalism.

Homoousios did not mean One Substance.

In the traditional account of the Arian Controversy, the Trinity doctrine has existed from the beginning of that controversy. Therefore, homoousios always meant that Father and Son are one substance (Being), which means that the Son is co-equal, co-eternal, and co-immutable with the Father.

However, recent scholarship agrees that homoousios did not mean one substance:

“We can therefore be pretty sure that homoousios was not intended to express the numerical identity of the Father and the Son.” (Hanson, p. 202)

Scholars conclude now that homousios must NOT be interpreted EITHER numerically or qualitatively:

“Recent studies on the word homoousios have tended to show, not that it can be reduced to two meanings, one identifying two ousiai as one, and the other conveying a 'generic' sense of 'God-stuff’ (Loofs), but that it was of a much looser, more flexible, indeed less specific and therefore less controversial significance.” (Hanson, p. 170)

“Studor ... notes that the term homoousios is not used with precision at Nicaea and that later arguments for homoousios always involve constructing accounts of its meaning.” (Ayres, p. 238)

This article analyses what homoousios meant (1) before, (2) during, and (3) after Nicaea.

AUTHORS CITED

This article relies mainly on the following authors:

  • Hanson, Bishop RPC The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God - The Arian Controversy 318-381, 1988

  • Williams, Archbishop Rowan Arius: Heresy and Tradition, 2002/1987

  • Ayres, Lewis Nicaea and its legacy, 2004 Ayres is a Professor of Catholic and Historical Theology

  • Beatrice = An article by Pier Franco Beatrice; Professor of Early Christian Literature at the University of Padua, Italy The word "homoousios" from Hellenism to Christianity.)

The conclusions in this article may seem heterodox but these are leading scholars on the fourth-century Arian Controversy. Over the last hundred years, certain ancient documents have become more readily available.

"In the first few decades of the present (20th) century … seminally important work was … done in the sorting-out of the chronology of the controversy, and in the isolation of a hard core of reliable primary documents." (Williams, p. 11-12)

Consequently, the scholarly view of the Controversy has changed dramatically.

"The four decades since 1960 have produced much revisionary scholarship on the Trinitarian and Christological disputes of the fourth century." (Ayres, p. 11)

Hanson even describes the traditional account of the Arian Controversy as a complete travesty.

BEFORE NICAEA

Pre-Christian

Aristotle was known for using the term οὐσία (ousia) to describe his philosophical concept of Primary Substances. (Beatrice)

“In the theological language of Egyptian paganism the word homoousios meant that the Nous-Father and the Logos-Son, who are two distinct beings, share the same perfection of the divine nature.” (Beatrice) In other words, it did not mean 'one substance.

These pre-Christian uses of the term are not important for deciding how Christians used it. However, Beatrice argues that Emperor Constantine had a connection with Egyptian paganism, and that at least partly explains his insistence on the term at Nicaea. See the discussion below.

The Bible does not mention the term.

The Bible never talks about God's substance and never says that the Son is homoousios with the Father.

Gnostics - a similar kind

The second-century Gnostics used the word homoousios (Beatrice) but they were not real Christians and did not use the term to describe Christ.

They used homoousios to say that lower deities are of ‘a similar kind’ as the highest deity from whom they emanated. It meant, “belonging to the same order of being.” (Hanson, p. 191) They did not use the word to mean “identity, nor even equality.” (Hanson, p. 191) In other words, they did not use the term to say that two beings are one being or that two beings have the exact same type of substance.

Tertullian implied 'one substance'.

Tertullian (155-220), writing in Latin, never used a term equivalent to the Greek homoousios. He never directly said that Father and Son have the same substance. (Hanson, p. 190)

He did use the term “substance.”

“Tertullian ... had already used the Latin word substantia (substance) of God … For him God … had a body … It was possible for Tertullian to think of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit sharing this substance.” (Hanson, p. 184)

Perhaps that implies they are of the 'same' or even 'one substance'. He also used the term “unius substantiate” which means, in his theology, ‘one hypostasis’ (one Person).

He used “the expression unius substantiae.” “This has led some scholars to see Tertullian as an exponent of Nicene orthodoxy before Nicaea … But this is a far from plausible theory.” (Hanson, p. 184) “The word in Greek translation of Tertullian's una substantia would not be the word homoousios but mia hypostasis (one hypostasis).” (Hanson, p. 193)

Although he did not use a term exactly equivalent to homoousios, to say that they are one Person is an even stronger statement. It implies not only 'same substance' but specifically 'one substance'. See also - Tertullian was a Sabellian.

Sabellius used homoousios as 'one hypostasis'.

Sabellianism is named after Sabellius (fl. ca. 215); a theologian from the early 3rd century. He did use the term. He used it to say that Father and Son are a single hypostasis (Person). According to Basil of Caesarea, “Sabellius used it (homoousios) … in rejecting the distinction of hypostases” (Hanson, p. 192); “in the sense of numerical sameness” (Prof Ninan). In other words, he used homousios in the sense of 'one substance.

As discussed, according to Von Mosheim, for Sabellius, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are three parts of God. (Von Mosheim J.L. p220) By the time of the Nicene Council, the church had already formally rejected Sabellianism.

Origen did not use the term.

In opposition to Tertullian and Sabellius, "he taught that there were three hypostases within the Godhead.” (Hanson, p. 184) It is sometimes claimed that Origen (c. 185 – c. 253) described the Son as homoousios. If he did accept homoousios, he would have understood that to mean the same type of substance. However:

“Origen may have rejected the term.” (Ayres, p. 92)

“Origen certainly did not apply the word homoousios to the Son and did not teach that the Son is 'from the ousia' of the Father.” (Hanson, p. 185)

The word “consubstantial … would have suggested to him that the Father and the Son were of the same material, an idea which he was anxious to avoid.” (Hanson, p. 68)

“There is one celebrated fragment … where Origen appears to sanction the use of homoousios. … But in its present form, this seems too closely bound to the specific interests of the post-Nicene period … to come directly from Pamphilus, let alone Origen.” (Williams, p. 132-3) “One famous passage in which he seems to use the term homoousios ... may have been adulterated by later writers.” (Ayres, p. 24) Rowan Williams believes that the translator altered the text to make it appear consistent with Nicene theology.

The Two Dionysii disagreed about homoousios.

Around the year 260, the bishops of Rome and Alexandria; both named Dionysius, argued about the term homoousios:

  • “Some local Sabellians” (Ayres, p. 94) used the term" to describe the Son as homoousios with the Father. For Sabellians, the Father and Son are a single hypostasis (one Person). "Stead … believes … it was the people in Libya criticized by Dionysius of Alexandria who had introduced the term. Simonetti agrees that it was not Dionysius of Rome who first used the word homoousios in the interchange." (Hanson, p. 193)

  • Dionysius of Alexandria, who had authority in Libya, rejected the term due to its association with Sabellianism. “It seems … likely that Dionysius of Alexandria, in a campaign against some local Sabellians, had denied the term.” (Ayres, p. 94) According to Basil of Caesarea, “Dionysius of Alexandria … sometimes rejected homoousios because Sabellius used it … in rejecting the distinction of hypostases.” (Hanson, p. 192)[/mfn]

  • The Libyan Sabellians complained to the bishop of Rome (Hanson, p. 191) who also had accepted the term homoousios and who, similar to the Sabellians, taught that Father and Son are a single hypostasis (Person). “Dionysius of Rome … (also) claimed that Father and Son were homoousios.” (Ayres, p. 94) “Dionysius of Rome … found homoousios acceptable but could not tolerate a division of the Godhead into three hypostases.” (Hanson, p. 192, quoting Loofs) “His doctrine could only with difficulty be distinguished from that of Sabellius!” (Hanson, p. 193)

  • Dionysius of Alexandria was “persuaded by his namesake of Rome to accept (the term)” (Ayres, p. 94) but he “only adopted it with reluctance” (Hanson, p. 193) and only “in a general sense, meaning 'of similar nature, ‘of similar kind'” (Hanson, p. 192). This “did not at all exclude relationships between realities that were hierarchically distinct in other ways.” (Ayres, p. 94-95) In other words, for him, the term did not mean that Father and Son are one and the same or even that they are equal. In his view, Father and Son were two distinct hypostases.

In 268, the church condemned homoousios.

A few years later, “the council that deposed Paul of Samosata in 268 condemned the use of homoousios.” (Ayres, p. 94; cf. Hanson, p. 193-194) Paul used this term to describe Father and Son as a single hypostasis (Person):

“In using the expression ‘of one substance', Paul declared that Father and Son were a solitary unit;" “a primitive undifferentiated unity.” (Williams, p. 159-160)

According to Hilary, “Our fathers (the 268-council) … repudiated homoousion” because “the word to them spelt Sabellianism.” (Hanson, p. 194)

“The condemnation of homoousios by this well-known council” caused “considerable embarrassment to those theologians who wanted to defend its inclusion in an official doctrinal statement in the next century.” (Ayres, p. 94; cf. Hanson, p. 195)

Conclusion: Only Sabellians used homoousios.

Before Nicaea, homoousios was used only by one-hypostasis theologians, including Sabellius himself, the Libyan Sabellians, Dionysius of Rome, and Paul of Samosata. For them, Father and Son are a single Person with a single mind. There are different forms of one-hypostasis theology. [E.g., The Son is part of the Father (Tertullian) OR Son = Father (Monarchianism), OR Son and Father are two parts of the one Person of God (Sabellius).] Technically, Sabellianism is one of the one-Person theologies but the term often refers to all one-Person theologies. Used in that way, we can say that only Sabellians used the term:

“The word homoousios, at its first appearance in the middle of the third century, was therefore clearly connected with the theology of a Sabellian or monarchian tendency.” (P.F. Beatrice) “The word homousios had not had … a very happy history. It was probably rejected by the Council of Antioch, and was suspected of being open to a Sabellian meaning. It was accepted by the heretic Paul of Samosata and this rendered it very offensive to many in the Asiatic Churches.” (Philip Schaff)

The only Christian who believed that Father and Son are two distinct Persons who used the term was Dionysius of Alexandria, but he adopted it reluctantly and as meaning that the substances of Father and Son are similar:

“We can detect no Greek-speaking writer before Nicaea who unreservedly supports homoousion as applied to the Son.” (Hanson, p. 169)

AT NICAEA

Homoousios was a surprising innovation.

It was not part of the standard Christian language of the day, was not Biblical but was borrowed from Greek philosophy, and was associated with the heresy of Sabellianism:

  • Not Biblical - The Bible never says anything about God’s substance.
  • Not Standard Language - It was not part of the standard Christian language of the day. Williams refers to “the radical words of Nicaea” (p. 236) and “conceptual innovation” (p. 234-5) in contrast to “the lost innocence of pre-Nicene trinitarian language” (p. 234-5). The term did not appear in any precious creed; not even in the draft creed prepared only a few months earlier. Consequently, anti-Nicenes objected that these words are “untraditional.” (Williams, p. 234-5)
  • Pagan Origin - R.P.C. Hanson describes the terms ousia, homoousios, and hypostasis as “the new terms borrowed from the pagan philosophy of the day.” (Hanson, p. 846)
  • Sabellian History - The Sabellian history of the term rendered it particularly suspect.

Given these strong objections, powerful forces must have worked to ensure its inclusion in the Creed.

The Emperor enforced the term.

The emperors determined church doctrine.

That powerful force was the emperor. This council was not called by the church but by the emperor. It was his meeting. It was not his goal to find the truth but to prevent this dispute from causing division in his empire:

“The history of the period shows time and time again that ... the general council was the very invention and creation of the Emperor. General councils ... were the children of imperial policy and the Emperor was expected to dominate and control them.” (Hanson, p. 855)

Furthermore, as astounding as it might sound to people who grew up in a culture of separation of church and state, in the fourth century, the emperor was the final judge in Christian doctrinal disputes:

"If we ask the question, what was considered to constitute the ultimate authority in doctrine during the period reviewed in these pages, there can be only one answer. The will of the Emperor was the final authority.” (Hanson, p. 849)

Constantine insisted on the term.

The emperor not only proposed but also insisted on the term.

“The Origenists had considerable reservation about homoousios and the other phrases containing the term ousios (substance), but the emperor exerted considerable influence. Consequently, the statement was approved.” (Erickson) Millard J. Erickson, God in Three Persons, p82-85

Constantine "pressed for its inclusion." (Hanson, p. 211)

"The decisive catchword of the Nicene confession, namely, homoousios, comes from ... the emperor himself." (Bernard Lohse, in 'A Short History of Christian Doctrine', 1966, p51-53)

“’Homoousios’ and ‘from the essence of the Father’ were added to the creed by Constantine himself, bearing witness to the extent of his influence at the council.” (Jörg Ulrich. Nicaea and the West. Vigiliae Christianae 51, no. 1 (1997): 10-24. 15.)

Constantine also explained the term.

Constantine even dared to explain the term to that assembly of the church's leading theologians. One of the major objections was that the Nicene language sounds as if God has a body and as if the Son was begotten like humans are through a material, corporeal process. (Ayres, p. 97) Therefore, at the Council, Emperor Constantine did his best “to placate Eusebians” (Ayres, p. 91) so that they would accept the term:

“It seems … that Constantine interceded on behalf of those unhappy with homoousios, insisting on the importance of understanding the term without material connotation.” (Ayres, p. 96) “Eusebius directly ascribes to Constantine only an emphasis on understanding homoousios without reference to material division or the sorts of change associated with corporeal existence.” (Ayres, p. 96)

The emperor gave a non-literal interpretation of the terms:

"All the theologians ... probably saw homoousios as expanding on and secondary to the phrase ‘from the ousia of the Father’. ... Eusebius tells us that once he had been assured that this phrase (from the ousia of the Father) served only to indicate that the Son was truly from the Father he could agree even to homoousios." (Ayres, p. 96)

With that, all delegates could agree. Following Eusebius’ lead, the Eusebians accepted Constantine’s explanation. See - Eusebius of Caesarea's letter.

Sabellians caused the term to be inserted.

This explains why these unfamiliar phrases were included in the Creed, namely, due to the emperor’s domination of the council. Another article argues that Constantine found the term agreeable because he was familiar with it through his contact with Egyptian paganism. However, he would not have proposed the term without support from at least some delegates.

Alexander allied with the Sabellians.

As discussed in another article, similar to the Sabellians, Alexander was a one-hypostasis theologian, meaning that Father, Son, and Spirit are a single Person with a single mind. For example:

"The fragments of Eustathius that survive present a doctrine that is close to Marcellus, and to Alexander and Athanasius. Eustathius insists there is only one hypostasis.“ (Ayres, p. 69)

Alexander's opponents, the Eusebians (the so-called Arians), following Origen, were three-hypostasis theologians. See - the Dedication Council.

The one-hypostasis view was in the minority. For that reason, Alexander allied with the other one-hypostasis theologians; the Sabellians Eustathius and Marcellus, and their supporters.

“Eustathius and Marcellus … certainly met at Nicaea and no doubt were there able to join forces with Alexander of Alexandria and Ossius.” (Hanson, p. 234)

“Marcellus, Eustathius and Alexander were able to make common cause against the Eusebians.” (Ayres, p. 69)

Constantine took Alexander's part.

The emperor took Alexander’s side in his dispute with Arius:

“Constantine had taken Alexander's part.” (Ayres, p. 89)

“This imperial pressure coupled with the role of his advisers in broadly supporting the agenda of Alexander must have been a powerful force.” (Ayres, p. 89)

Ossius, the chairperson, presided “as the Emperor's representative” (Hanson, p. 154) and Constantine’s “agent.” (Hanson, p. 190) Ossius evidently believed that God is a single hypostasis." (Hanson, p. 870) For example, eighteen years later, in 343, Ossius helped to compose another creed (Serdica) (Hanson, p. 201) which had “the most alarmingly Sabellian complexion” (Hanson, p. xix) That manifesto explicitly confesses a single hypostasis. In all probability, Ossius was the one who advised Constantine to take Alexander's part.

The Sabellians were influential.

Since the emperor had taken Alexander's side, and since the Sabellians joined forces with Alexander, they were influential at the council: 

“Eustathius of Antioch and Marcellus ... Both were influential at the council.” (Ayres, p. 99)

“Marcellus of Ancyra … had been an important figure at the council and may have significantly influenced its wording.” (Ayres, p. 431)

“Eustathius of Antioch, Marcellus of Ancyra, and Alexander must all have been key players in the discussions.” (Ayres, p. 89)

“Once he (Constantine) discovered that the Eustathians [the Sabellians] … were in favour of it (homoousios) … he pressed for its inclusion.” (Hanson, p. 211)

The Sabellians proposed homoousios.

Alexander did not propose the term. Just a few months earlier, the draft statement prepared by the pro-Alexander council at Antioch did not mention ousia or homoousios. :

"Alexander indeed seems to be avoiding homoousios." (Hanson, p. 139)

"Alexander in his extant utterances never uses homoousios, though there are several places where its application to the Son would have been apt." (Hanson, p. 140)

Constantine proposed the term because the Sabellians wanted it.

“Marcellus and Eustathius also seem likely to have endorsed homoousios because of the notion of shared being.” (Ayres, p. 95) “Shared being” can be understood as 'one Person'.

“Once he (Constantine) discovered that the Eustathians [the Sabellians] … were in favour of it (homoousios) … he pressed for its inclusion.” (Hanson, p. 211)

“Simonetti estimates the Nicene Council as a temporary alliance for the defeat of Arianism between the tradition of Alexandria led by Alexander and 'Asiatic' circles (i.e. Eustathius, Marcellus) whose thought was at the opposite pole to that of Arius. … Alexander … accepted virtual Sabellianism in order to ensure the defeat of Arianism.” (Hanson, p. 171)

Due to the emperor's strong influence on the council, and based on the emperor’s non-literal explanation of the term, the Eusebians reluctantly accepted.

This is all I could fit into the limited space allowed by Stackexhange. The headings of the rest of this article are:

  • The Anathema confirms Sabellian domination.
  • The Nicene Creed was the work of a Minority.
  • All understood the term as Sabellian. Sabellians intended ‘One Person’. Eusebians understood it as Sabellian.
  • Nicaea was a Sabellian victory. AFTER NICAEA
  • Sabellianism and homoousios were rejected.
  • After that, nobody mentions Homoousios.
  • Councils in 340s do not mention homoousios.
  • Athanasius revived Homoousios in the 350s.
  • Because he was a Sabellian.
  • Anti-homoousios, anti-‘one hypostasis’ front
  • Basil taught homoousios as three hypostases.
  • The Traditional Trinity Doctrine FINAL CONCLUSIONS
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    "In other words, Tertullian said that Father and Son are one single Person. That identifies Tertullian as a Sabellian." Tertullian, one of the "chief critics of Sabellianism" was actually a Sabellian himself?? Stop anachronistically importing later uses of words! He didn't say that and nothing you presented indicates that's what he meant.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 22, 2023 at 13:26
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    What Tertullian actually said was "Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are one essence, not one Person, as it is said, “I and my Father are One,” in respect of unity of substance not singularity of number." This is an atrocious error for you to have made. I haven't looked into the rest of what you've said, but can you assure me you haven't made any others?
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 22, 2023 at 13:42
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    And you don't need to be expert to fact check statements like that; I'm not. Wikipedia highlights that quote and several others. Searching for the quotes in Google easily brings up CCEL so that you can read them in context. If posts like this can be so misleading/flat out wrong about one person, I'm very worried about the rest of it too. You need to start checking your understanding and analysis. Errors like that are not up to the standards of this site. And it's worse when the way that you write makes it look like it's well researched.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 22, 2023 at 13:48
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    Honestly it's a big shame that you've made this error, because I think your big picture argument that the inclusion of homoousios was surprising, and that different sides could assent to it with different understandings, is likely right. But I can't trust the rest of what you wrote when one small part is so demonstrably false. You took the Latin he wrote, to a hypothesised Greek translation, imported a sense of the Greek from centuries later, to arrive at a conclusion that is flatly contradicted by his own words. Do Hanson and Ayres also say Tertullian taught one person, or is it just you?
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 22, 2023 at 14:14
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    "Ousia" (G3776) only appears twice in Scripture in Luke 15:12-13 where the prodigal son received his portion of the father's "goods" and then wasted his "substance" in riotous living. Thayer's defines it simply as "what one has, i.e. property, possessions, estate". It is "ousa" (G5607) that means substance, as in being, and this word appears 153 times in Scripture. See Matthew 1:19 as an example. Dec 22, 2023 at 15:03

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