Photinus of Sirmium

Photinus Of Sirmium an Eastern ecclesiastic, noted as the founder of a heretical body, flourished near the middle of the 4th century. Of his origin and earliest history we know nothing. He was a pupil of Marcellus of Ancyra, and was for a time deacon under him. Later Photinus was made bishop of Sirmium, in Pannonia. He was a person of unusual accomplishments, and was generally respected for his learning. Even while vet connected with Marcellus, heretical tendencies were manifest in Photinus. Once advanced to the bishopric, he soon fell away from all restraint gradually abandoned orthodox associations, and suddenly changed, after having taught the people the knowledge of the true God, to those pernicious Sabellian notions for which his teacher had been condemned. According to Vincentius Xirinensis, he went even further than Macarius. and added to the impieties of Sabellius, Paulus Samosatenus, Cerinthus, and Ebion, this distinctive formula, that "Christ was not only mere man, but began to be the Christ when the Holy Ghost descended upon him in Jordan." In other words, "that Jesus Christ was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary; that a certain divine emanation, which he called the Word, descended upon: him; and that, because of the union of the divine Word with his human nature, he was called the Son of God, and even God himself; and that the Holy Ghost was not a person, but merely a celestial virtue proceeding from the Deity." Hence, while the Oriental Church could suffer Marcellus to remain within the fold, it could not tolerate the man who would teach such extreme heresy. At a synod held at Milan in 345, the doctrine was also rejected and condemned; and while thus discarded by both the East and the West, he yet managed to retain his episcopal office until A.D. 351, when a Semi-Arian council at Sirmium removed him. For a time restored under the emperor Julian, he was soon again deposed, and died in exile, probably near the close of the 4th century. His writings are lost. His doctrines we learn from the anathemas of those synods which sat in judgment over them. See, besides the literature quoted in the article MARCELLUS SEE MARCELLUS , Hefele, Conciliengesch. volume 1. (J.H.W.)

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