Arius (2)

Arius (usually pronounced Arius, but strictly Arius, ῎Αρειος, meaning martial), the famous heresiarch, was born about A.D. 256 in North Africa (Cyrenaica, Lybia, or Egypt), but nothing is known of his early life or circumstances. He is said to have been educated by Lucian, a presbyter in Antioch, and ordained deacon by Peter of Alexandria and elder by Achillas, Peter's successor, who placed him (A.D. 313) in charge of Baucalis, one of the great churches of Alexandria. On the death of this bishop he came near being elected to the see, such was his popularity, but was defeated by Alexander, through envy of whom (as Theodoret asserts, Hist. Eccles. 1:2) he began, about A.D. 318, a controversy respecting the nature of Christ, which ultimately involved the whole of Christendom. SEE ARIANISM. Arius had previously fallen under censure for connection with the schism of Meletius, but in some way had been restored to favor. He was now excommunicated for heresy by a council held at Alexandria in 321, and his views formally condemned by the Council of Niceea in 325. Constantine banished him to Illyria, but in 331 he recalled him through the intercession of his sister, Constantia, and Eusebius of Nicomedia. Athanasius, however, refused to recognise the heretic. In 336 Athanasius himself was banished to Treves, and Arius, after a personal interview with the emperor, was about to be received in full honor at Alexandria, when he suddenly died of a disease of the bowels, apparently a violent attack of dysentery, which his enemies attributed to the visitation of God and his friends to the effect of poison. His views are but the outcropping of the earlier errors of Cerinthus and the Gnostics, now put into a definite shape by the virtual denial of the divinity of our Lord.. Arius was evidently a man of much acuteness, but little depth of intellect, and of a controversial turn. No charge of immorality was ever alleged against him. He is said to have been tall in person, easy and eloquent in manner, but austere in habits. The representation of him in the recent romance, entitled Arius the Lybian (New York, 1883), is lively but somewhat too favorable.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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