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Addition after Comment : The title header does not provide sufficient space to word the question without ambiguity. Thus :

If the one born in Bethlehem was ‘a creature’ (as says Arius) and yet did not sin, then why was the first humanity (Adam) not so created (according to the words and doctrine of Arius ?) ...

... is the full and unambiguous title.


In an open letter to the Alexandrians, the signatories to the Council of Nicaea state the following of the doctrine of Arius :

In the first place, then, the impiety and guilt of Arius and his adherents were examined in the presence of our most religious emperor Constantine, and it was unanimously decided that his impious opinion should be anathematized, with all the blasphemous expressions he has uttered, in affirming that "the Son of God sprang from nothing" and that "there was a time when he was not." He said moreover that "the Son of God, because possessed of free will, was capable either of vice or virtue," and he called him a creature and a work. All these sentiments the holy synod has anathematized, having scarcely patience to endure the hearing of such an impious opinion—or rather madness—and such blasphemous words.

(Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus I:9.)

Quoted from Christian-history.org

[As has been noted, and as is well known, it is difficult to source documents from Arius himself, but easier to cite from his opponents, who quote him extensively.]

Elsewhere, Trinitarian doctrine is quite clear in stating that He who is called ‘word’ was ‘with God’ ‘in the beginning ‘ (John 1:1), and ‘God was the word’ (John 1:1, literal) ; that ‘the life the eternal which was with the Father’ (1 John 1:2, literal) is ‘manifested’ (1 John 1:2) which ‘manifestation‘ is also named ‘the Son of God‘ (1 John 3:8); and that ‘God was manifest in the flesh’ (1 Timothy 3:16, TR/KJV).

Trinitarian doctrine clearly states that Jesus of Nazareth is not merely a human person, whose existence began in Bethlehem, on earth, in flesh, but that this humanity is a ‘manifestation’ of Him who is divine, eternal and co-equal in deity with the Father.

Trinitarian doctrine makes it clear that the first man was of earth, earthy, only ; mere flesh and blood, with breath breathed into him, no more. But Jesus of Nazareth is a new creation, humanity manifesting God himself ; humanity and deity in one unique Person.

Thus Trinitarian doctrine is clear that Jesus is not another created Adam, a second creation of mankind.

But Arius did so state. Thus Arius seems to me to be finding fault with the Creator. For if Adam is a man of sin and death (as scripture unarguably conveys, and as every penitent soul admits) then the one born in a manger in Bethlehem was a ‘second attempt’ ; surely.

[Note after comment : I am speaking of the manifested humanity, not of any 'prior' (presumably angel-like) spirit sort of existence. The question is about manifested humanity and its propensities within the created sphere.]

For if it be the case that the babe in the manger is ‘capable of virtue or vice’ and is a ‘created creature’ and yet did not do any vice, but only ever did good ; then why did the Creator not make this creature to begin with ? Why the failure of Adam ?

For Trinitarian doctrine clearly states that the liability inherent in any creation (and therefore in the best of all possible creations) is, firstly, the creature itself (that it is just that - creature) and, secondly, the inevitable presence in the creation of a certain knowledge (the knowledge of good and evil) which knowledge is at once both so irresistibly tempting to the creature yet so utterly and fatally catastrophic to the creature.

But does Arius’ doctrine convey that truth ? For if the one come of woman in Bethlehem is merely another creature, and that creation was such that he did not fail or fall, yet he could do either, it is said, then why - O why ? - did not the one whom Arius calls ‘Creator’ create that perfection in the first place ?

What do we know of the doctrine of Arius that would demonstrate he had a solution to this doctrinal problem ?


Scripture quotations are from the KJV (1769) or from the literal translation provided by the Englishman's Greek New Testament (1877).

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 18:38

3 Answers 3

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In order to answer "What do we know of the doctrine of Arius that would demonstrate he had a solution to this doctrinal problem [i.e. why the one born of Mary in Bethlehem was not another attempt by God to get human creation correct second time around]? - we would have to find a doctrine of Arius about that.

A problem here is that virtually all the writings about Arius focus on his explanations as to the created status of Christ, 'the last Adam'; not the first human Adam. Finding anything Arius said about the creation of Adam, with his sinless state swiftly becoming sinful, is a near-impossible task. For a start, hardly anything from the pen of Arius survives. Then all that is ever said about Arius and his teachings deals with his teachings about the nature and being of Christ. If Arius never faced up to the dilemma you show, then he will not have written about it. The question here posed does not require discovering anything Arius might have taught about free will. It requires him considering the distinct liability the created first Adam suffered in light of the advantage Christ had in being of a similar essence to God.

If he did teach anything about it, then his followers might be expected to have said something. The nearest we seem to get is from the Semi-Arians. They "proposed a middle way between Arianism and orthodoxy: although the Son is not of the same essence (hommoousios), he is of similar essence (homoiousios)" as that of God. (1) Yet that says nothing about the created Adam. Arius (or his later followers) never speak of the created Adam as neither having or not having a similar essence to God. But given the massive emphasis they place on the Son of God created with a similar essence as that of God, if they though the first man, Adam, was on a par with the second man, the last Adam, they would have said so. The silence is resounding.

Arius does not have a good record of correctly understanding the theology of his day, facing up to it and responding to it accurately. For instance, he "claimed Origen as the source of his [Arius's] subordinationism of the Son in which he declared that 'there was when the Son was not'. Anyone who reads Origen carefully cannot miss his strong declaration of the eternity of the Logos, the Son, with the Father." (2)

Whatever the theological failings of Origen, he could never be accused of providing Arius with grounds for saying the Son, at one point, did not exist! For Arius to claim support from Origen here demonstrates a lack of facing up to theological arguments that exposed his own. This, I suggest, might mean we search in vain for what you seek - Arius offering any solution to the problem of Christ being a second, successful humanity that got round the problem of the created Adam being a first, failed humanity.

Conclusion: There seems to be no reason to think that Arius had a solution to the problem of why the created Adam was inferior to (as per his teaching of a created Christ) the last Adam who did not fail.

Quotes: (1) Pilgrim Theology, p 178, Michael Horton, Zondervan, 2011

(2) The Story of Christian Theology, pp 109-110, Roger E. Olson, Apollos 1999

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    @User14 It would be of interest if you could research the 'solid rebuttal' of Arius and give us the benefit of your research.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 9:46
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Answers here must necessarily be speculative because so little survives from Arius' own pen, and what we have is filtered through the minds of his opponents. That said, the answer is probably simple: Adam misused his free will and failed to keep God's commandment; Jesus did not.

Fault with the creator?

It is not fair to say that Arius "found fault with the creator." It is true to say that the Arian view implies that God's first attempt (with Adam and Eve) to create a true humanity did not come to fruition. Either way, an Arian could counter the idea that Arius found fault with God by referring to examples from providential history in which God's plan seems at first to have failed but later succeeds. For example, in 1 Kings 11:36 God promised "David my servant will always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem." But when the kings of Judah failed, God promised to send the messiah to restore David's kingdom. As a result, Jews expected the messiah to re-establish the throne of David, but this did not occur. Christians of nearly all types explain that this was not God's fault, because the throne of David would be established at Christ's second coming. Similarly, and Arian could argue that it was not God's fault that Adam sinned, necessitating a new Adam to arrive to restore Adam's fall.

Predestination

Underlying this problem are the issues of Original Sin and predestination. We do not know Arius' view on this. But we can speculate that Arius' view was more Pelagian (although neither Augustine nor Pelagius was on the scene yet), believing that God had not predestined Jesus' obedience any more than he had predestined Adam's. If so, then Jesus could have sinned as Adam did, but he aligned his will with that of the Father, thus maintaining his status as God's Son. To the objection that his is a form of works-righteousness, an Arian might respond that we are not saved by works, but Jesus did save us by his works, if we have faith in his atoning sacrifice. This does imply, however, that if Jesus had sinned in a way that compromised his providential status, he would be disqualified from Sonship. However, we do not have enough information on the Arian doctrine to know this for certain.

Merely another creature?

Finally, it is also inaccurate to say that Arius thought of Christ as "merely another creature." He affirmed the Son to have pre-existed with the Father as the first of God's creations after God created the Word. Jesus was an incarnation of the pre-existing Son, not a mere human being. A letter of Arius summarized [whether accurately or not] by Eusebius of Nicomedia states:

The Son... was made on our account, in order that God might create us by him, as by an instrument; nor would he ever have existed, unless God had wished to create us.

Did this apply also to Adam, in Arius' though? Not enough of Arius' actual teachings have survived for us to know. The same may be said of some of the other issues raised in the OP. But as far as the main question goes, a simple answer is possible: Arius might answer that both Adam and Jesus were created with free will, either to sin or not. Adam and Eve did sin. Jesus did not, at least not in a way that disqualified him from Sonship.

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    He affirmed the Son to have pre-existed with the Father as the first of God's creations : then why create a (supposedly) 'further' creation - which then, promptly, failed ? ? I do not see that that answers the question. Also, if that which Deity created had 'free will' and one had distinct advantages and one did not ; and the second (who lacked the advantages) failed, then that does not seem to me like logical and sound and godly doctrine. I have to agree with the Council of Nicea and their chosen epithets, in that case.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 17:52
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    @Dan Fefferman I see contradictions in your answer. You said, "Jesus did not, at least not in a way that disqualified him from Sonship." The Bible is extremely clear that "ALL" men are sinners, period. Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and other verses including Jerremiah 17:9, "The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately wicked, who can know it." Reconcile these verses with 1 Peter 2:22, "Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth." Or Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:5 and 2 Corinthians 2:22? Explain in which way Jesus did sin that did not disqualify Him
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 18:59
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    @Mr.Bond - My comment that an Arian would say Jesus did not sin in any disqualifying way was probably unnecessary. I do not know whether Arius believed that Jesus sinned in any way. An example of a non-disqualifying sin could be anything from breaking kosher dietary laws to adultery or murder (neither of which disqualified David and thus might not disqualify the person who restores David's throne. That judgment, of course, belongs to God, not me.) Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 22:46
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    @DanFefferman If David's sin had not been taken away, ultimately by the sacrifice to come, he certainly was disqualified. Who would have atoned for Jesus' sin (had he sinned) when he had to be spotless to be the sacrifice? Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 1:57
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    @MikeBorden please understand that I tried to respond to the OP's "according to Arius." It would be good if we knew something of Arius' soteriology and more about his views on predestination. Who would atone for Jesus if he sinned? That might be a good topic for another question. Commented Nov 22, 2022 at 21:42
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Did Arius state that Jesus was a mere human being? No person that knows anything about Arius would say such a thing. Arius wrote that the Son was “begotten timelessly by the Father … before aeons … begotten timelessly before everything” (RPC Hanson - The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God - The Arian Controversy 318-381, page 8). “He who has begotten the only-begotten Son … through whom also he made the aeons and everything” (page 7).

Why did God not create Adam without the ability to sin? Because God created mankind with the freedom to choose between good and evil. To create people without the ability to do evil is to create pre-programmed robots. But God created something much, much better.

Was Jesus able to sin? I say He was, otherwise His whole mission and Satan's efforts to get Him to sin were a farce.

But then, why did Jesus not Sin? The purpose of His mission to earth was to show that the Son of God would not sin, even when tempted to the utmost. It was a test. Satan said He would sin. The Son was willing to become a human being, to be tested and to suffer all possible loss. His purpose was to validate the credibility of the Saviour, without which no sinner can be saved. Jesus did not sin because the Son of God is able to disobey God but He never will. That was shown at the Cross.

See: In the book of Revelation, why did Jesus have to die?

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    RPC Hanson misrepresents the arguments of Arius in his attempt to nullify the Arian controversy. Trevor Hart makes this clear in his summary of Hanson's book : Likewise, his refusal to think or speak of any duality or generation or begetting in God, leading him to refer to the Son as originating in the Father's 'will' (hence a creature), rather than his 'being,' indicates not so much a pure concern for biblical monotheism as a tacit endorsement of the dichotomy reflected in the contemporary philosophical manuals between the unbegotten 'One' and all else that exists. The link is below.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 10:28
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    Trevor Hart's Summary of RPC Hanson's misrepresentation of Arius. The concept that a 'son' should arise out of only the 'will' of a father and not the very being of the father is a false concept. A Father begets a Son out of his own living being. Otherwise a 'father' 'makes' a 'son' - which is not a begetting but a grotesque act of manufacture.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 10:28
  • @NigelJ If you interpret begotten as that the Father begets the Son out of His own substance, you (1) assume to understand things that humans cannot understand, (2) present God as corporeal, mutable, and composite, and divisible, (3) interpret a metaphor (beget) literally, (4) present the incarnated God as a passible Being, and (5) confound the persons of the Trinity.
    – Andries
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 13:27
  • Hart accepts that “Arius was hardly the great heresiarch into which popular tradition has turned him” and “not in any real sense the founder of a radical new school of thought” and “we must admit that (homoousios) says something new and goes beyond earlier dogmatic statements.” But then Hart desperately claims that Arius’ views are based on philosophy - not on the Bible and that the Nicene view was “one strand of the ancient interpretative tradition.” Unfortunately for Hart, Rowan Williams, in his book published after Hart’s article, has confirmed Hanson’s views. We have to trust the experts.
    – Andries
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 13:31
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    I did not say that the Father 'begets out of his own substance'. I said that the Father begets the Son out of his own living being, that is to say out of his own Divine and Eternal Life, in Divine Spirit. You misquote me to say 'substance' which I did not say.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 14:30

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