Pneumatomachi i.e. adversaries of the Holy Spirit, is a name properly applied to all those who entertain heretical opinions as to the Scripture doctrine of the Holy Ghost, e.g. the Sabellians (q.v.). The name originated after the subsidence of the Arian controversy, and was applied to that party, distinguished by the denial of the catholic faith regarding the Third Person of the Holy Trinity; some denying his divinity, others his personality also. The name is, however, more specially used to designate tie Macedonians, so called after Macedonius, who, after the death of Eusebius of Nicomedia, was called by the Arian faction to the see of Constantinople, in opposition to the catholic bishop Paul. This led to bloody strife, inasmuch as a majority of the citizens were for Paul. The Arians got the better of their catholic adversaries with the help of the emperor Constantine, who took the part of Macedonits, and established him in the disputed see by force of arms: three thousand persons perished on that occasion. Macedonius, although called to the bishopric of Constantinople by strict Arians, seems not to have been very much of an Arian himself, but persecuted the Catholics after the fashion of other Semi-Arian bishops, and became, with Basilius of Ancyra, one of the chiefs of the Semi-Arians. As a natural consequence of the rest of their doctrine, the Arians declared the Holy Ghost, who was little spoken of explicitly at the beginning of the Arian difficulties, to be a mere creature, and most of them held him to be an inferior creature to the Son. Not only the strict Arians, but also the Semi-Arians, who called the Son "God" and ὁμοιούσιος, questioned the divinity of the Holy Ghost. Macedonius made himself the leader of this increasing and strengthening pneumatomatical party, teaching emphatically that the Holy Ghost was a creature subservient to the Father and Son, and wholly different in nature from them (comp. Socrats, Hist. Eccles. 2, 46; Sozomen, 4:27; Theodoret. Hist. Eccles. 2, 6; Taret. Fab. 5, 11; Epiphanius, Haer. 73 and 74). Ive then invented the artifice of the "Homoion," and connecting himself closely with the Semi- Arian party, gave them his name (Theodoret, licer. Fab. 4, 5). At first therefore the term Macedonian was simply equivalent to Semi-Arian, and Socrates calls the reply of Liberius to the Serni-Arian legates a letter to the bishops of the Macedonians (Socrates, Hist. Eccles. 4:12). The name of Macedonius appears in this reply. The good faith of this transaction is (to say the least) very doubtful (see the notes on the chapter of Socrates in Variorum Annotationes in Reading's edition of Valesius). and we are in uncertainty as to the opinions which Macedonius really held at the close of his life. But there is no uncertainty as to the course of the heresy. The letters of Liberius were exhibited at the Council of Tyana, and the deputies who presented them were acknowledged as members of the catholic body. This was probably in A.D. 368. But just as among the Arians there never was any unity of views as to the Son, there was none among the Pneumatomachi and Macedonians as to the Holy Ghost. Some contented themselves with holding the divinity of the Holy Ghost dubious, others denied it outright; some called him a creature, but most seem to have fallen in with the ideas of Macedonius. Among the most active partisans of this heresy were Marathonius and Eleusius, whom Macedonius called respectively to the sees of Cyzicum and Nicomedia. The influence of Marathonius is shown by the fact that the Macedonians are sometimes called Marathonians. Macedonius was deposed by the strict Arians at the Synod of Constantinople in 360: he spent the remainder of his life obscurely in the vicinity of Constantinople. The exact (late of Macedonius's death is not known, but it appears to have been soon after the Council of Tarsus (see Tillemont, Hist. vol. 9).
The appearance of the Pneumatomachi, as such, is to be dated from A.D. 360, when Athanasius wrote against them, giving them the name here adopted. Athanasius was then in the deserts of Egypt, and Serapion, bishop of Thmuis, in Lower Egypt, requested his interposition. The heresies themselves were no novelties. It was a part of the Arian creed that the Holy Spirit was a created being, superior it might be in dignity, but nowise different in nature from the angels; and in the Gnostic systems we meet with Christ and the Holy Ghost as eons, SEE VALENTINIANS, the latter being held, in some cases at least, to be not a distinct person, but a divine energy diffused through the universe. But there was a great difference in the mode in which these heresies were held. They then appeared, not as proceeding from a special opposition to the greatness of the Holy Spirit, but as deductions from some other leading heresy to which they were subordinate. Thus in the case of the Arians, with which our present subject is concerned, the denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit follows upon the denial of the divinity of the Son. For as it is impossible to advance the Third Person of the Trinity above the Second Person, the controversy turned therefore on the divinity of the Second. Dealing with this, the Council of Nicea did not touch specifically upon the subordinate heresy, but left it to stand or fall with the leading one. But when the leading heresy was abandoned, and yet the subordinate heresy retained, then the latter not only became prominent, but was seen to be adopted on its own independent grounds, for its own sake. The Arian half converted to catholicity was properly a Pneumatomachist. Such were those whom Athanasius dealt with in his letter to Serapion. They were seceders from the Arians who had embraced the true faith regarding the Son, but retained their error regarding the Holy Spirit. They were consequently opposed both by Catholics and Arians, but their true controversy was with the former: their contest with the latter (Athanasius urges) could only be pretended, inasmuch as both agreed in opposing the doctrine of the Trinity (Ad Serap. 1, 1, 2, 9, 32). This class, then, differed from the later Macedonian class: it held Homoousian doctrine regarding the Son, whereas the Macedonians were Homoiousians. Athanasius calls them also Tropici, from their figurative interpretations of Scripture; but this is rather an epithet than a proper name.
In comparison with the Macedonian party, this earlier party can have been but small. It was, however, reinforced a few years later, as we shall show, upon the return of a large portion of the Semi-Arian body to catholicity. The adoption of the truth concerning the Son leads almost necessarily to the adoption of the truth concerning the Holy Spirit. The arguments of Athanasius (Ad Serap. 1, 29; 4:7) show forcibly how untenable a position is that which maintains a duality instead of a trinity. The original Monarchian tenet from which the Arians started is much more easily admissible.
The Pneumatomachi of the Macedonian school were the Semi-Arians left behind in schism when, in the year 366, the majority of the sect gave in their assent to orthodoxy, and were received into the Church. Before this time Macedonius, as we have seen above, had joined the Semi-Arian party, but proving thereby unacceptable to the Arians, was deposed by the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 360 (Theodoret, Hist. Eccles. 2, 6). A council was appointed to meet in Tarsus to effect a reconciliation, but just before the meeting thirty-four Asiatic bishops assembled in Caria refused the Homoousion; and Valens, at the instigation of the Arian Eudoxius, by whom he had been recently baptized, forbade the council (Sozomen, Hist. Ecclesiastes 6:12). From this time, however, Semi-Arianism disappears from ecclesiastical history. The controversy regarding Christ's divinity ceased, and the denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit became the distinguishing tenet of the Semi-Arian party, the tenet thus becoming associated with the name Macedonian, which the Semi-Arians had recently acquired. Of course there were some, as we have already had occasion to state, who called them Marathonians, saying that Marathonins, bishop of Nicomedia, had introduced the term Homoiousion (Socrates, Hist. Eccles. 2, 45).
It is to be noticed here that several writers, when treating of the present heresy, use the word Semi-Arian in another sense than that now given it. Philaster (Haer. c. 67) defines the Semi-Arians thus: "Hi de Patre et Filio bene sentiunt, unam qualitatis substantiam, unam divinitatem esse credentes, Spiritum autem non de divina substantia, nec deum verum, sed factum atque creatum Spiritum praedicantes." Augustine also (Haer. c. 3): "Macedoniani de Patre et Filio recte sentiunt, quod unius sint ejusdemque substantiae vel essentie, sed de Spiritu Sancto hoc nolunt credere, creaturam eum esse dicentes. Hos potius quidam SemiArianos vocant, quod in hac quaestione ex parte cum illis sint, ex parte nobiscum." his use of the term Semi-Arian is now to be avoided, the distinctive mark of that party being the Homoiousion. But these two authorities show that the original Pneumatomachi, against whom Athanasius wrote, must have been largely reinforced from those who joined the Church under Liberius. This appears also from Epiphanius, who states that the Pneumatomachi proceeded partly from the Semi-Arians and partly from the orthodox. In the preceding article he had defined the Semi-Arians by the Homoiousion; and the "orthodox," it cannot be doubted, were not the old Nicenes, but those who from the Arians had come over to the Homoiousion, and had been accepted by Liberius as orthodox. Thus of the Pneumatomachi some were orthodox regarding the divinity of the Son, and some retained the Homoiousion, and these latter are properly Macedonians, being SemiArians.
All these started with the tenet of the sect from which they sprung, namely, that the Holy Spirit is a created being, of the same order as the created angels (Theodoret and Epiphanius, 1. c.). The authorities of Philaster and Augustine are sufficient to show that this was retained by the majority of the party. But another opinion arose early. It proceeded-Eustathius of Sebastia being an example (Socrates, Hist. Eccles. 2, 45) — from a reluctance to call the Holy Spirit a creature. But as they who felt this reluctance would not consent to call him God, it followed necessarily that they were obliged to deny his personality. Still they assigned to the impersonal Spirit that which is assigned to the personal Spirit by Roman Catholics, as being the Vinculum (see Augustine, De Fide et Symbolo, § 19; Bull, Def. Fid. Nic. 2, 3, 13) of the persons of the Godhead. This is noted by Augustine (Hceres. c. 3): "Quamvis a nonnullis perhibeantur non Deum, sed Deitatem Patris et Filii dicere Spiritum Sanctum, et nullam propriam habere substantiam." What Catholics regard as God the Holy Ghost working in the world they regarded as a divine energy diffused through the world. Mosheim represents this, it appears upon insufficient grounds, to be the tenet of the Macedonians in general (Walch, Gesch. der Ketzereien, 3, 98).
The heresy of the Pneumatomachi was condemned, first, in a synod at Alexandria, A.D. 362, held by Athanasius on his return (Athanasius, Synod. Epist. ad Antioch. The epistle states that Arians, on their reception into the Church, are to anathematize those who say that the Holy Spirit is a created being and divided from the substance of Christ. A true renunciation of Arian doctrine is to abstain from dividing the Holy Trinity, from saying that one of the Persons is a created being). The Pneumatomachi were condemned secondly in a synod in Illyricum, A.D. 367 (Epist. Synod. ad Orient.; Hardouin, Concil. 1, 794; Sozomen, Hist. Eccles. 6:22); thirdly, in a synod at Rome, A.D. 367 (Damasi, Epist. ap. Theodoret. Hist. Eccles. 5, 11, Vales. note); and, lastly, at the great Oriental council held at Constantinople, A.D. 381, where, in opposition to the heresies of Macedonius, Apollinarius, and Eunomius, the Nicene faith was confirmed and more fully stated. The first canon anathematizes the "Semi-Arians, or Pneumatomachi;" the seventh canon uses the name Macedonians, and orders the admission of converts from this heresy to be by unction. To the simple article of the Nicene Creed, "I believe in the Holy Ghost," were added those clauses (excepting the Filioque) which stand at present as the complement of the catholic faith, viz., that to the Holy Ghost, who emanates from the Father, is due the same adoration and glorification as to the Father and to the Son. The Macedonians were invited to the Council of Constantinople in the hope that the reconciliation interrupted at Tarsus might be effected, but the hope was not realized (Socrates, Hist. Eccles. 5, 8; Sozomen, Hist. Eccles. 7, 7). Facunmdus states that Macedonius himself was invited to the council. This is no doubt an error. The council completed the work which was begun at Nicea, and finally declared the catholic faith regarding the Holy Trinity. Against its determination the Semi-Arian, now the Pneumatomachist, party was not able to make any effectual resistance. — Blunt, Dict. of Sects, s.v. See Schaff; Church History, 2, 639, 644; Neander, Hist. of Christian Dogma (see Index); Hefele, Conciliengesch. vols. 1 and 2; Alzog, Kirchengesch. 1, 281; Schröckh, Kirchengesch. vol. 6; Klee, Dogmengesch. pt. 1, ch. 2, p. 215.