Arius and his friends spent much of their lives trying to undo the Council of Nicaea. Arius had subordinated the divinity of christ to the Father which made Jesus not fully divine and therefore less than the author of Hebrews had described Him. Therefore, less than a genuine saviour of the human race. The word subordinated is key here. As we shall see there is more than one way of subordinating the divinity of Christ and making Him less than He is, with the result that Believers are made less than they are.
Should we subordinate Jesus we make Him less than our Saviour and promote a gospel that is not the gospel of Jesus and the apostles. By postulating a false Christ we construct a different gospel. Should our gospel be shown not to be the gospel of the Kingdom, it is debateable whether we can be considered part of the Body of Christ. Not part of the whole, since the nature of Jesus Christ is synonymous with the nature of His Gospel. Different gospel different Body – a body of the kind Paul describes as ‘this body of death.’
Stephen Morrison observes, “Following the first council of Nicaea in 325, the doctrine of the homoousion was formally agreed upon as an essential confession for the Christian faith. The ecumenical council met primarily regarding the Arian controversy.
“Arius had subordinated the divinity of the Son to the Father, thereby arguing that the Son was merely the firstborn of creation, instead of eternal with the Father…
“The Patristic fathers adamantly rejected this notion, since it SUBORDINATES, and ultimately undermines, Christ’s divinity [ and His ability to join us to God]. Instead, they agreed upon the homoousion, the oneness in being/substance of the Father and the Son. This decision established the homoousion as a quintessential confession for Trinitarian theology and Christian orthodoxy.
VERY GOD OF VERY GOD
“The Nicene Creed, repeated still today, confesses: “[We believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God […] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father [homoousion to Patri].” (1)
If Arianism had succeeded as a belief, Christianity would have developed as a religion that is separate from God, because if Jesus Christ was not all God and one with God – then we have never been made one with God with the result that we would be left to roam in Adamic separation. As Baxter Kruger has ably pointed out union/separation is the difference between our inheritance in Christ and going solo with a Christian gloss.
A BODY OF DEATH
If Jesus is not fully God, we are not one with God and not saved. But we are safe and saved because Jesus as the Christ is the son of God and God in fullness. Consequently the vicarious humanity of Christ is real and we are one with God in every way, thanks to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man and as such joins us to the heavenly family forever.
The big deal of the post cross age is the incarnation and with it the vicarious humanity of Christ.
Legalism is a fellow traveller with Arianism and its separatist culture. Legalism assumes places a layer of religion/law between ourselves and Christ. When legalism is practised it separates us from Christ. It has us earning union with God by earning union with Christ, leaving is in a subtle form of Adamic separation. The scandal is that we are not separated since the cross so that living this way neutralises the cross of Christ and suffocates what would have been the new creation in us.
There are convoluted modes of separated Christianity. Any hybrid gospel that retains itself in the law, contains itself both in Moses and in Adam while seeking to utilise Christ as the One who enables Believers to keep the law. Some of these ‘gospels’ claim that Jesus Christ lived out of the law and was subservient to the law. But in actual fact Jesus lived from oneness with His Father. He lived out of His Father, for His Father and was the Son of His Father. Paul warns that there is a curse on such gospels, the reason being that they disconnect us from God and from ourselves.
‘ARE YOU THE SON OF GOD?
Jesus did not live from the law and was never subservient to it. Had He done so He would not be God. The law would be God since it was higher than He. If Christ had lived from the law He would have participated in the knowledge of good and evil set in motion by Satan and perpetuated the bisected reality that was set in motion by Satan’s lie. Jesus would have allied Himself with the regime of separation that Paul called ‘the law of sin and death.’ Of course Christ did not do this. To believe and teach this is to promote a false gospel and a false christ.
He would not have been able to live as the son of God, as Satan was urging. The ‘who’ of Christ is identical to the ‘who’ of the Father. They are of one substance. Since Jesus is all God and all human we are joined to God in oneness in Jesus Christ. There is no separation in the Christ who is not a false christ.
TINCTURE OF ARIANISM
Some communities have a Jesus who is subordinate to the law. This comes about from reliance on extra-biblical sources. Many of their church pioneers were wedded intellectually to Arianism. It may be seen that the tentacles of this heresy renders a different gospel that it robs Believers of their inheritance of spirit and life. It leaves them embedded in moralism earning worthiness with Jesus’ help.
Our Gospel is not yes and no. It is yes and yes. ‘Realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20.
(1) Morrison, Stephen D.. T. F. Torrance in Plain English (Plain English Series Book 2) (p. 69). Beloved Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.