Semi-Arians of the Fourth Century

An engraving allegedly of Irenaeus, in Gaul (now Lyons, France)


Although many act like semi-Arianism simply was something that arose in the 4th century, the truth is that all true Christians and many who had associated with them, also had a bintiarian or semi-Arian view of the Godhead.

Since the early Church was “binitarian”, when did trinitarianism really become predominant?

After two emperor-enforced “Church Councils” in the fourth century.

Although most Greco-Romans point to Nicea as a trinitarian council, the vast majority of Greco-Roman bishops who attended were NOT trinitarian.

According to historical accounts, the attendees at this council were split into three factions[i].  They were:

1) Arians – Supporters of the position of Dr. Arius, about 10% of the attendees.

2) In-Betweens – Those who held a position between the Arians and trinitarians, about 75% of the attendees. Eusebius, a Semi-Arian, was the main spokesperson for them.

3) Trinitarians – Those who supported the views of Athanasius, about 15% of the attendees.

The historians Henry Bettenson and/or Chris Mauder admit (which of the two that wrote the following is not clear):

The decisions of Nicaea were really the work of a minority, and they were…disliked by many who were not adherents of Arius.[ii]

Notice that even within the Catholic/Orthodox Council, the majority of attending bishops did not hold to the trinitarian view before the Council.

No matter what one may feel about the truthfulness of the trinity, how can any say that the acceptance of this doctrine is necessary for Christians?  It was not the belief of the majority of even Greco-Roman church leaders in the early fourth century.

There is a tradition that claims that “Saint” Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (near Constantinople, to the south), the man now known as “Santa Claus”, attended the Council of Nicea and assaulted Arius by hitting him in the face.[iii] Not a particularly scriptural way for a church leader to communicate.

Although, Eusebius attended and led the biggest group in Nicea, his side did not win.

After an impassioned speech by Athanasius, Emperor Constantine arose. And since he was the Emperor, apparently dressed as a golden angel, his standing was noticed by the bulk of the attendees who correctly interpreted the Emperor as now supporting Athanasius[iv].   Because of Athanasius’ speech and the Emperor’s approval, the bulk of the attendees decided to come up with a statement on the Godhead that the Arians could not support.  They did not come up with one to totally alienate the Semi-Arians, but many were upset by it.

This, to a degree, solved the Emperor’s immediate concern about unity of his version of Christianity, and pretty much drove the Arians out.

Theological writer Karen Armstrong (who has no association with a COG) similarly wrote about Nicea:

Most who the bishops would have espoused views midway between Athanasius  and Arius…Under pressure from the emperor, however, all the bishops save two brave Arian supporters signed the creed for the sake of peace; but afterward they continued teaching as before.[v]

It should be noted that “the creed” adopted was not clearly and completely trinitarian, which may be why many signed it.

According to Eusebius, the Emperor himself specifically decided what the orthodox belief would be:

On this faith being publicly put forth by us, no room for contradiction appeared; but our most pious Emperor, before any one else, testified that it comprised most orthodox statements. He confessed moreover that such were his own sentiments, and he advised all present to agree to it, and to subscribe its articles and to assent to them, with the insertion of the single word, One-in-essence, which moreover he interpreted as not in the sense of the affections of bodies, nor as if the Son subsisted from the Father in the way of division, or any severance; for that the immaterial, and intellectual, and incorporeal nature could not be the subject of any corporeal affection, but that it became us to conceive of such things in a divine and ineffable manner. And such were the theological remarks of our most wise and most religious Emperor.[vi]

Yet, this did not resolve the matter.  The 19th century A.H. Hore theologian correctly observed:

There is no reason for believing that at any time of his life Constantine’s religious convictions disposed him to embrace orthodoxy. He had favoured Christianity because it was congenial to his reason…

His rude intellect could never really grasp the points at issue between the Orthodox and the Arians; whether the Son was of the same essence (óμοούαιος) or only of like essence (óμοιούαιος) with the Father was to him one and the same thing. But it was the very question which he had summoned the Council of Nice to decide; and having called that Council, and himself having approved the óμοιούαιον

The result was that instead of making peace he added to the divisions of the Church, and the Council of Nice, so far from ending, was only the commencement of a contest which lasted more than half a century, during which Arians and Semi-Arians applied themselves to the rejection of the word oμooύαιον.[vii]

There Were Many Semi-Arians

Despite the fact that trinitarians consider Nicea to have been a trinitarian council, even after Constantine’s declaration about God and homoousios, most who professed Christ in Asia Minor the East and were part of the Greco-Roman alliance into the late 4th century held a binitarian, often called a semi-Arian, view of the Godhead.  And while many writers act like the semi-Arian situation arose in the 4th century, up until the fourth century, the majority of those who professed Christ held some type of semi-Arian/binitarian view of the Godhead

Notice that even The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that most were not trinitarians:

Semiarians and Semiarianism A name frequently given to the conservative majority in the East in the fourth century…[viii]

Towards the middle of the fourth century, Macedonius, Bishop of Constantinople, and, after him a number of Semi-Arians, while apparently admitting the Divinity of the Word, denied that of the Holy Ghost.[ix]

The expression “conservative majority in the East” clearly demonstrates that most of the Greco-Romans in Asia Minor were NOT trinitarians.  The fact that the then Patriarch of Constantinople denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit should be further proof to any of the Orthodox that they have truly changed their faith from his fourth century position.

Perhaps it should also be noted that Socrates Scholasticus reported that Macedonius had long been a deacon before his election as Bishop of Constantinople, that he was aged, and that he was elected by the Arians[x] (sometimes “semi-Arians” are inaccurately referred to as Arians in certain Greco-Roman writings).  Thus, the “semi-Arian” view should not be considered as something that simply happened in the fourth century.  Instead, semiarianism was a teaching that ended up being replaced by the Greco-Roman trinity in the latter part of that century.  Furthermore, even the official website of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople admits that the arians/semi-semiarians ruled that “see” for at least “forty years” in the fourth century.[xi] However, it should be understood that there does not appear to be evidence that Constantinople had any “bishops” prior to the fourth century who were actually trinitarian.  The reality is that most of the Eastern Orthodox (until the latter half of the 4th century), had held some type of semi-Arian/binitarian view of the Godhead.

Although Catholic writers have had many definitions of semi-Arians (many of which disagree with the Church of God position), one edited view that somewhat defines the binitarian view taken in this text would possibly be this one from Epiphanius in the mid-4th Century:

Semi-Arians…hold the truly orthodox view of the Son, that he was forever with the Father…But all of these blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and do not count him in the Godhead with the Father and the Son.[xii]

The above description, which was apparently held in the 4th century by many of the Orthodox in Asia Minor, is consistent with what we in the Living Church of God still teach.  Of course, teaching the truth about the Holy Spirit is not blasphemy.

Although it took two emperor enforced councils to come up with the trinity, between the first (Nicea of 325 A.D.) and the second (Constantinople of 381 A.D.) councils, there were actually other meetings (synods and councils) that took a Semi-Arian position.  Notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

The second Formula of Sirmium (357) stated the doctrine of the Anomoeans, or extreme Arians. Against this the Semi-Arian bishops, assembled at Ancyra, the episcopal city of their leader Basilius, issued a counter formula, asserting that the Son is in all things like the Father, afterwards approved by the Third Synod of Sirmium (358). This formula, though silent on the term “homousios“, consecrated by the Council of Nicaea, was signed by a few orthodox bishops, and probably by Pope Liberius, being, in fact, capable of an orthodox interpretation. The Emperor Constantius cherished at that time the hope of restoring peace between the orthodox and the Semi-Arians by convoking a general council…

The Council of Rimini was opened early in July, 359, with over four hundred bishops. About eighty Semi-Arians, including Ursacius, Germinius, and Auxentius, withdrew from the orthodox bishops, the most eminent of whom was Restitutus of Carthage; Liberius, Eusebius, Dionysius, and others were still in exile. The two parties sent separate deputations to the emperor, the orthodox asserting clearly their firm attachment to the faith of Nicaea, while the Arian minority adhered to the imperial formula. But the inexperienced representatives of the orthodox majority allowed themselves to be deceived, and not only entered into communion with the heretical delegates, but even subscribed, at, Nice in Thrace, a formula to the effect merely that the Son is like the Father according to the Scriptures (the words “in all things” being omitted). On their return to Rimini, they were met with the unanimous protests of their colleagues. But the threats of the consul Taurus, the remonstrances of the Semi-Arians against hindering peace between East and West for a word not contained in Scripture, their privations and their homesickness–all combined to weaken the constancy of the orthodox bishops.[xiii]

So, at a council 359, the majority apparently accepted certain semi-Arian concepts.  That does not mean that they were deceived.  Perhaps it means that most did in fact accept some of the truths that some of the semi-Arians had.

The Council of Rimini was also called the Council of Ariminum.  Notice what Sozomen reported about it:

The partisans of Acacius remained some time at Constantinople, and invited thither several bishops of Bithynia, among whom were Maris, bishop of Chalcedon, and Ulfilas, bishop of the Goths. These prelates having assembled together, in number about fifty, they confirmed the formulary read at the council of Ariminum, adding this provision, that the terms “substance” and “hypostasis” should never again be used in reference to God. They also declared that all other formularies set forth in times past, as likewise those that might be compiled at any future period, should be condemned.[xiv]

Socrates Scholasticus reported the following as part of the declaration of that Council:

We believe in one God the Father Almighty…And in…Christ our Lord and God…

But since the term ούσία, substance or essence which was used by the fathers in a very simple and intelligible sense, but not being understood by the people, has been a cause of offense, we have thought proper to reject it, as it is not contained even in the sacred writings; and that no mention of it should be made in future, inasmuch as the holy Scriptures have nowhere mentioned the substance of the Father and of the Son. Nor ought the “subsistence” of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit to be even named. But we affirm that the Son is like the Father, in such a manner as the sacred Scriptures declare and teach.[xv]

The same Council also taught this about the Holy Spirit:

We believe also in the Holy Spirit…as the Comforter; according to how it is written, the Spirit of truth.[xvi]

So while semi-Arians believe that there is a Holy Spirit, they tend to limit their beliefs to what the Bible says about it.  They do not declare it to be the third co-equal person of a non-biblical Greco-Roman trinity.

In 359, there was also a semi-Arian council of Seleucia (359) attended by Greco-Roman church leaders[xvii]. And “in 335, the semi-Arian bishops, returning from the council of Tyre” consecrated a basilica[xviii].

The Catholic priest Kramer reported:

In the Council of Rimini, 359 A.D…nearly all bishops present, 400 in number… {decided} to sign a semi-Arian creed.”[xix]

So, 400 bishops certainly is many of them.

Here is another important semi-Arian bishop according to The Catholic Encyclopedia:

St. Cyril of Jerusalem Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, born about 315; died probably 18 March, 386… He appeared at the Council of Seleucia in 359, in which the Semi-Arian party was triumphant… He belonged to the Semi-Arian, or Homoean party, and is content to declare that the Son is “in all things like the Father”.[xx]

John (Cardinal) Newman observed:

Cyril of Jerusalem, and Eusebius of Samosata, are both Saints in the Roman Calendar, though connected in history with the Semi-Arian party.[xxi]

If someone could be a Greco-Roman “saint” and “Doctor of the Church” and be semi-Arian in the 4th century, then it should be illogical for any to conclude that trinitarianism was a “foundational belief” of the even the Greco-Roman churches prior to the fourth century.  And while some have disputed Cyril’s semi-Arian credentials, other fourth century bishops of Jerusalem such as Maximus II and Hilarius for some time held semi-Arian views.[xxii] And while the Orthodox do not always count Hilarius, they do count Maximus II and Cyril as successors in Jerusalem.

Most of the bishops of Antioch in the 4th century were either Arian or semi-Arian until the Council of Constantinople.[xxiii] Gregory of Cappadocia was semi-Arian, and although many of the Orthodox no longer count him as legitimate successor, he was appointed, and ruled, as the Bishop of Alexandria.[xxiv]

And those that do not accept Gregory (and even those that do), normally accept that Athanasius was a legitimate successor, even though Athanasius taught his opponents “ought to be held in universal hatred”.[xxv] This is statement should disqualify Athanius as being a real Christian leader as he was clearly being unfaithful to what Jesus taught about opponents (Matthew 5:44).

One group of semi-Arians was known as the Pneumatomachi.  They were  recognized by the pope around that time.  Notice the following:

Pneumatomachi…They denied the divinity of the Holy Ghost…The majority of this sect were clearly orthodox on the Consubstantiality of the Son; they had sent a deputation from the Semi-Arian council of Lampsacus (364 A.D.) to Pope Liberius, who after some hesitation acknowledged the soundness of their faith; but with regard to the Third Person, both pope and bishops were satisfied with the phrase: “We believe in the Holy Ghost.”[xxvi]

Notice that “Pope” Liberius accepted this teaching as sound that the Holy Spirit was not a divine person.

The historian Sozomen reported:

Liberius…Constantius urged him, in the presence of the deputies of the Eastern bishops, and of the other priests who were at the camp, to confess that the Son is not of the same substance as the Father. He was instigated to this measure by Basil, Eustathius, and Eusebius, who possessed great influence over him. They had formed a compilation, in one document, of the decrees against Paul of Samosata, and Photinus, bishop of Sirmium; to which they subjoined a formulary of faith drawn up at Antioch at the consecration of the church, as if certain persons had, under the pretext of the term consubstantial, attempted to establish a heresy of their own. Liberius, Athanasius, Alexander, Severianus, and Crescens, a priest of Africa, were induced to assent to this document, as were likewise Ursacius, Germanius, bishop of Sirmium, Valens, bishop of Mursa, and as many of the Eastern bishops as were present.[xxvii]

So, apparently even Athanasius “compromised” his beliefs for a time.

Although many Catholics indicate that Liberius was not really a semi-Arian (and claim that he later rejected the semi-Arian position), they tend to act like Liberius agreed to semi-Arian positions because of cowardice.   The Catholic Encyclopedia claims:

Liberius, it is alleged, subscribed an Arian or Semi-Arian creed drawn up by the Council of Sirmium and anathematized St. Athanasius, the great champion of Nicaea, as a heretic. But even if this were an accurate statement of historical fact, it is a very inadequate statement. The all-important circumstance should be added that the pope so acted under pressure of a very cruel coercion…[xxviii]

Liberius…signed a creed, in tone Semi-Arian (compiled chiefly from one of Sirmium), renounced Athanasius…[xxix]

The above is important for two reasons.  The first is that Liberius supported some form of semiarianism.  And the second is that by condemning Athanasius, the trinitarian champion, Liberius is giving indirect approval to the legitimacy of non-trinitarian bishops of Alexandria who held that title when Athanasius was still alive.

It is also recorded from the Catholic writer A.Lopes:

Liberius (352-366)…the signing of a document that contained a formulation very close to the Arian thesis…he was criticized by many (Athanasius, Hilary of Poiters, Jerome) who saw this submission as a weakness due to fear of death.[xxx]

The Catholic Saint Jerome, while discussing Arian and anti-Arian writings wrote:

Fortunatianus,  an African by birth, bishop of Aquilia during the reign of Constantius, composed brief Commentaries on the gospels arranged by chapters, written in a rustic style, and is held in detestation because, when Liberius bishop of Rome was driven into exile for the faith, he was induced by the urgency of Fortunatianus to subscribe to heresy.[xxxi]

So, it seems that while later Catholics tended to believe that Liberius was pressured to appear to be semi-Arian from imperial forces, that perhaps he was simply persuaded, or perhaps he was always semi-Arian.

But the fact is that at least one bishop of Rome (Liberius), several bishops of Constantinople (including Macedonius and Eudoxius), two-three bishops of Jerusalem, more than one in Antioch (including Eudoxius[xxxii]), many bishops in Egypt[xxxiii], Gregory of Cappadocia/Alexandria (possibly also Peter II of Alexandria reportedly through an endorsement of Gregory[xxxiv]), and many other 4th century Greco-Roman bishops were still, at least partially, semi-Arian. This represents all of five so-called “apostolic sees”.   If the trinity is so fundamental to Christianity, how could any of these locations have had true “apostolic succession”?

Furthermore, was Liberius infallible when he agreed to a position that is diametrically opposed to current Greco-Roman doctrine?

Was he the “successor” to the Apostle Peter and the “vicar of Christ” when he did that?

If not, then there was no Roman apostolic succession for at least 14 years in the 4th century.

If so, how could Christ’s “vicar” (and many other so-called successors to the apostles) accept such a contrary position to current Greco-Roman dogma?

Holy Spirit Declared a Person in Council of Constantine in 381

Timothy Ware, an Eastern Orthodox bishop, also now called the Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, confirmed the trinity teaching was finally adopted in the late fourth century:

…the councils defined once and for all the Church’s teaching upon the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith — the Trinity and the Incarnation. All Christians agree in regarding these things as ‘mysteries’ which lie beyond human understanding and language…the first two, held in the fourth century…formulated the doctrine of the Trinity…The work of Nicea was taken up by the second Ecumenical Council, held in Constantinople in 381. This council expanded and adapted the Nicene Creed, developing in particular that teaching upon the Holy Spirit, whom it affirmed to be God even as the Father and the Son are God…It was the supreme achievement of St. Athanasius of Alexandria to draw out the full implications of the key word in the Nicene Creed: homoousios, one in essence or substance, consubstantial. Complementary to his work was that of the three Cappadocian Fathers, Saints…(died 394). While Athanasius emphasized the unity of God — Father and Son are one in essence (ousia) – the Cappadocians stressed God’s threeness: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three persons (hypostasis).[xxxv]

The Greco-Romans admit many in the Greco-Roman confederation were not trinitarian after Nicea and that others later had to stress three persons.  And the idea of God being made up of three hypostasis came from the second century heretic named Valentinus. Thus, any who state that the trinity was a central Christian belief prior to the end of the fourth century are in clear historical error.  The fact that it had to be more precisely formulated by three in Cappadocia in the late 4th century clearly helps demonstrate that it was not an originally held doctrine.

A Protestant scholar admitted:

The attempt to develop an understanding of the Holy Spirit consistent with the trinitarian passages…came to fruition at Constantinople in 381…[xxxvi]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church admits:

245 The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was announced by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381).[xxxvii]

The Catholic Encyclopedia also admits that the doctrine of the trinity evolved through tradition:

Holy Ghost The doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning the Holy Ghost forms an integral part of her teaching on the mystery of the Holy Trinity …

In the New Testament the word spirit and, perhaps, even the expression spirit of God signify at times the soul or man himself, inasmuch as he is under the influence of God and aspires to things above; more frequently, especially in St. Paul, they signify God acting in man…

Tradition brings more clearly before us the various stages of the evolution of this doctrine… But we must come down towards the year 360 to find the doctrine on the Holy Ghost explained both fully and clearly. It is St. Athanasius who does so in his “Letters to Serapion” (P.G., XXVI, col. 525 sq.)… A little later, St. Basil, Didymus of Alexandria, St. Epiphanius, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory of Nyssa took up the same thesis ex professo, supporting it for the most part with the same proofs. All these writings had prepared the way for the Council of Constantinople which, in 381, condemned the Pneumatomachians and solemnly proclaimed the true doctrine…[xxxviii]

The Catholic Encyclopedia also admits that the Old Testament did not teach that the Spirit of the Lord was a person:

For nowhere in the Old Testament do we find any clear indication of a Third Person. Mention is often made of the Spirit of the Lord, but there is nothing to show that the Spirit was viewed as distinct from Jahweh Himself. The term is always employed to signify God considered in His working, whether in the universe or in the soul of man. The matter seems to be correctly summed up by Epiphanius, when he says: “The One Godhead is above all declared by Moses, and the twofold personality (of Father and Son) is strenuously asserted by the Prophets…” (“Haer.”, lxxiv).[xxxix]

So how did uniformity and the acceptance of the trinity occur?

It came through an Imperial decree.

Notice the following from one of Emperor Theodosius’ edicts:

…let us believe in the one deity of the father, Son and Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in out judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that the shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation an the second the punishment of out authority, in accordance with the will of heaven shall decide to inflict…[xl]

So according to a Roman Emperor, the title “Catholic Christian” is supposed to be for those who believe in the trinity and other Greco-Roman doctrines.  Thus, this edict made all who would compromise do so for fear of losing their positions and influence with the Greco-Roman church.

[i] Feldmeth N.  Early Christianity.  CD Lecture.  Fuller Theological Seminary.

[ii] Bettenson, Documents of the Church, p. 45

[iii] Butler A, Thurston H, Attwater D. Butler’s lives of the saints, Volume 4. 2nd edition,    Christian Classics. 1956.

Original from the University of Virginia, Digitized Jul 29, 2008, p. 504

[iv] Feldmeth N.  Early Christianity.  CD Lecture.  Fuller Theological Seminary

[v] Armstrong K. Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths. Ballantine, 1997, p. 178

[vi] Eusebius. Letter on the Council of Nicaea. Letter of Eusebius of Cæsarea to the people of his Diocese

[vii] Hore AH.  Eighteen centuries of the Orthodox church.  J. Parker and co., 1899. Original from Harvard University.Digitized, May 16, 2006, pp. 132-133

[viii] Chapman J. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Semiarians and Semiarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York, pp. 693-694

[ix] Forget J. Transcribed by W.S. French, Jr. Holy Ghost. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

[x] Socrates Scholasticus, Book II, Chapter 6

[xi] Gregory I of Nazianzen 379-381. © 2010 The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. viewed 04/17/10

[xii] Epiphanius. Section VI, Verses 1,1 and 1,3. pp.471-472

[xiii] Benigni, Umberto. “Council of Rimini.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 11 Jul. 2008 <>

[xiv] Sozomen, Book IV, Chapter 24

[xv] Socrates Scholasticus, Book II, Chapter 41, pp. 221,222

[xvi] Ibid, p. 221

[xvii] Bagatti, The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, p.56

[xviii] Bagatti, The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine, p.59

[xix] Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny. Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus. Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 165

[xx] Chapman, John. St. Cyril of Jerusalem. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 3 Feb. 2010 <>

[xxi] Newman JH. Arians of the fourth century, 7th ed. p. 302

[xxii] Deriev A. Translation by Denis Deriev.  The History of the Church of Jerusalem from

Its Beginnings until the Eleventh Century. viewed 04/19/10

[xxiii] Patriarchs of Antioch. Chronological List.  Syriac Orthodox Resources. viewed 04/12/10. The preceding identified seven “successors” as Arian, but failed to mention that several others were semi-Arian.

[xxiv] Gibbon, Rise and Fall, p. 496

[xxv] Jones W. The history of the Christian church: from the birth of Christ to the eighteenth century, including the very interesting account of the Waldenses and Albigenses, Volume 1, 3rd edition. R.W. Pomeroy, 1832. Original from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Digitized, Mar 13, 2008, p. 177

[xxvi] Arendzen, John. “Pneumatomachi.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 11 Jul. 2008 <>

[xxvii] Sozomen.  Translated by Chester D. Hartranft.  Ecclesiastical History (Book IV), Chapter 15. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>

[xxviii] Toner, Patrick. “Infallibility.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 11 Jul. 2008 <>

[xxix] Barry, William. “Arianism.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 18 Apr. 2010 <>.)

[xxx] Lopes, The Popes, p. 12

[xxxi] Jerome. De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Chapter 97

[xxxii] Mason J. A history of the Holy Eastern church…Volume 5 of A History of the Holy Eastern Church. J. Masters, 1873. Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized, Sep 21, 2007,  p. 101

[xxxiii] Newman JH. Arians of the fourth century, 7th ed. p. 345

[xxxiv] Ibid, pp. 385-386

[xxxv] Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, pp. 20-23

[xxxvi] Brown, Heresies, p. 140

[xxxvii] Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 72

[xxxviii] Forget, Holy Ghost.  The Catholic Encyclopedia

[xxxix] Joyce, The Blessed Trinity, The Catholic Encyclopedia

[xl] Theodosian Code XVI.1.2.  From Medieval Sourcebook: Banning of Other Religions. viewed 7/28/08

Now the above mainly dealt with the fourth century.

In the 2nd century, Irenaeus of Lyon claimed to have met Polycarp of Smyrna.  And both Polycarp and Irenaeus held a semi-Arian view of the Godhead.  Here is some of what Irenaeus wrote in the 2nd century:

…there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Preface, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Notice that Irenaeus states that only the Father, the Son, and those who possess the adoption (Christians) are God. This is a binitarian, not a trinitarian view.

Irenaeus is considered as a saint by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches as well as by many Protestants.  Yet, he was NOT trinitarian (contrary to the views of some such as GCI, see WCG: Irenaeus on the Trinity).

The reality is that the binitarian/semi-Arian view of the Godhead was held by most who professed Christ, except certain heretics, in the first, second, third, and much of the fourth centuries.  It was the original view of the Godhead and should not have been changed by councils called by Roman Emperors (Constantine and Theodosius).

While we in the Living Church of God do believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that does not mean that we believe in the Greco-Roman trinity that was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D.  This was not the position of the early church, nor of most of the bishops until Imperial decrees caused many to compromise.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus is God, But Was Made Man Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what?
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it?
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a shorter article than the Binitarian View article, but has a little more information on binitarianism.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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