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Early Christianity


Doctrines Arianism is the doctrine put forward by the Alexandrian priest Arius (c. 250-336) who emphasised the uniqueness of God the Father and denied the divinity of the Son. The Son was a creature created out of nothing rather than begotten from the Father.

History Arius was deposed and excommunicated by a synod of bishops in Alexandria in 321. His views were condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325 and Arius was banished to Illyricum. The condemnation of Arianism did not lead to its immediate demise. It was only due to the efforts of the emperors Theodosius in the East (379-95) and Valentinian II in the West that Arianism was suppressed in the Roman empire. Missionary work continued outside the empire, particularly among the Germanic nations. Arianist tendencies would re-emerge during the Protestant reformation of the 16th century, leading to the formation of the Unitarian church.

Symbols The Arians shared the symbolism used by the rest of the church. However, in the context of Arian theology such symbolism acquired a different meaning. The cross, for example, symbolised Jesus' obedience and therefore subordination to God.

Adherents Arianism in the form espoused by Arius and his followers has no contemporary adherents. However, Arian tendencies can be found in certain post-Reformation groups. (Especially Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses.)

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