The successor of Alexander of Alexandria was the fiery Athanasius of Alexandria who claimed the followers of Arius’s teachings were “Arian-maniacs.” Even today the term “Arianism” can cause hairs to stand up on end in certain circles. Can this lofty theological concern really effect the common man or woman in the pew? Has not the modern inundation of “least common denominator” Christianity and extreme ecumenism relegated Trinitarian discussions to this detail as non-issue? As of 2018 78% of Evangelicals interviewed by Ligonier Ministries strongly agreed with the Arian belief that “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.” Is this at all dangerous? This paper will overview the teaching of Arius and his contemporary Alexander of Alexandria by surveying the original sources translated and reproduced in William G. Rusch’s The Trinitarian Controversy. Charting through their teachings will elucidate that if someone adheres to Arius’s teaching, then he has a hopeless, faithless, and worthless Christianity more worthy of the title of Arius than the title of Christ.
Arius’s View of the Son
A popular illustration for the Trinity is the use of the sun. The sun exists in its gaseous substance, and also contained therein is light and heat. These three exist together in unity; however, heat and light are actually productions of the star. This would serve as a good analogy to Arius’s view of God. He believed in three hypostases having God the Father as the originator of the other two.
His creedal statement is recounted in his letter to Emperor Constantine. He affirms God’s sovereignty, Christ as only-begotten, creator of all things, his incarnation, his resurrection, and his second coming. In Arius’s letter to his “blessed Pope”, he secures his denials of other ancient heresies. He denies that Christ is merely an emanation from the Father, that Christ is just a part of the Father’s substance, and that Christ is mutable.
. He says of Christ, “who came into existence from [the Father] before all the ages.” This idea is the center of this Trinitarian controversy, “Before he was begotten or created or defined or established, he was not.” Arius argues from words such as “begotten” in John 3:16 He believes affirming the eternality of Christ would make him “unbegotten.” He was careful in his use of the preposition ἐκ (ek “from”) and its relation between the Father and Son. He employed it to show the Son began to subsist ἐκ (“from”) the Father; rather than to say the Son was a different part or emanation ἐκ (“from”) the Father. In this way, he also argued against patripassianism.
Alexander of Alexandria’s View of the Son
Alexander believes in the eternality of the Son. He argues that it is ridiculous to believe there was a time “the Son was not” by the inseparable nature of the Father and the Son and the creative act of the Son. In regard to the latter Alexander argues, “If all things came into existence through him, how is it that he who gave being to the ones who came into existence once was not?” In other words, the statement “the creator of all beings was created” is self-defeating.
Alexander explains the Father begetting the Son was not temporal, but eternal. He argues this by comparison to wisdom, who when personified in Proverbs is said to be united with God. Alexander explains no one would say that there once was a time when God’s wisdom was not; how then should someone say there once was a time when his Son was not?
Alexander argues that Jesus’s sonship is essential to his nature and differentiates that from believer’s sonship which had an original adoption. So, the believer’s sonship is mutable and has temporal origin; whereas, the Christ’s sonship is eternal and immutable, part of his very nature. In response to Arius, Alexander shows Christ’s being from the Father always does not mean that he is unbegotten citing Hebrews 1:3. He argues that just as there’s an honor due to the unbegotten Father for having no cause, “…The befitting honor must be assigned to the Son by ascribing to him generation without beginning from the Father.”
Alexander’s View of Arius’s Teaching
Ultimately, Alexander of Alexandria believed Arius’s teaching to be another gospel worthy of being anathematized. Alexander saw the danger clearly as taking away the deity that rightly belonged to Christ, denying the uniqueness of Christ’s nature as Son, and exalting people as having the right to join in his mutable sonship quality. He claims that Arius by his teaching is, “impugning his highest and essential divinity.” Denying the immutability and eternality of Christ in effect denies those attributes of the Father out of necessity because Jesus teaches, “the one who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). These claims to divinity of the Father and Son form the very foundation of the church and the hope in the future resurrection. Certainly, no immutable faith could exist in a mutable god who is liable to lose even his own divinity. No anchoring hope could be placed in a Christ who might change his nature. No sonship would be worthy of worship that is really no different from our own quality of sonship. Thus, the teaching of Arius renders one’s faith futile, his hope hollow, and his worship worthless.
 William G. Rusch, ed., The Trinitarian Controversy (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), 57.
 William G. Rusch, ed., The Trinitarian Controversy (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980), 25.
 Ibid., 53.
 Ibid., 25.
 Ibid., 53.
 Ibid., 23.
 Ibid., 25.
 Ibid., 26 He cites Romans 11:36, Psalm 110:3, and John 16:28.
 Ibid., 29.
 Ibid., 30; citing Proverbs 8:30.
 Ibid., 31. Alexander cites Rom. 8:32, Matt 3:17, Psalm 2:7 to prove a special and unique sonship of Christ. Then uses Psalm 110:10 (LXX) to argue for the essentiality of Christ’s sonship. Then proves Christ’s sonship different from other mutable distinctions quoting from Isaiah 1:2 and Genesis 6:2
 Ibid., 34.
 Ibid., 35.
 Ibid., 28.
 Ibid., 32.