Arianism was a 4th century heresy named after Arius (c.250-336), a presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt, who taught that the Son of God was not co-eternal and consubstantial with His Father, but rather a created being with a definite origin in time. In Arius’s words, “there was [a time] when he (the Son) was not.” This led to the calling of the First Ecumenical Council, which condemned it and its author and established the Orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity as taught by Arius’s chief opponent, St. Athanasius the Great. Though it managed to hang on among some of the Goths and other Germanic tribes in the West, Arianism had vanished by the seventh century.

Arianism should be clearly distinguished from “Aryanism”, which formed the core of Nazi racial ideology during the twentieth century, and which had nothing whatsoever to do with Arius or his teachings.

Arianism today

Today, a so-called “Holy Arian Catholic and Apostolic Church” in England claims to proclaim Arius’s teachings, even “canonizing” him in 2006. However, this body differs with its namesake on several crucial points, including its rejection of the Virgin Birth and Resurrection of Christ, which Arius himself never questioned. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon sects are often accused (especially the former) of being Arian; while both certainly exhibit doctrines which tend toward Arianism—which are rejected by the Orthodox Church as being heretical, along with many other teachings—each sect’s Christology differs somewhat from classic Arian doctrine.

No remnant of any of the Arian sects established in Western Europe or elsewhere is known to exist today.

Some forms of modern Protestantism appear to espouse a form of Arianism, referring to Jesus Christ as essentially distinct from God in terms which suggest that, as the Son, He is ontologically distinct from, and inferior to, the Father.


Arianism. (2012, November 11). OrthodoxWiki, . Retrieved 00:09, January 15, 2013 from http://orthodoxwiki.org/index.php?title=Arianism&oldid=112741