What is Arianism?

 

For one thing, as we’ll read, Arianism is a heresy which denies that Jesus Christ, who came in the flesh, is very God, God the Son, eternally existent with God the Father as taught by the apostle John in the first chapter of his Gospel.

 

Let us look closely at a few sources and definitions of Arianism and where it came from.  From the Encyclopedia Britannica we get “Arianism, a Christian heresy first proposed in the early 4th century by the Alexandrian presbyter Arius.  It affirmed Christ is not truly divine but a created being.  Arius’ basic premise was the uniqueness of God, who is alone self-existent and immutable; the Son, who is not self-existent, cannot be God.  Because the Godhead is immutable, the Son, who is mutable, being represented in the Gospels as subject to growth and change, cannot be God.  The Son must, therefore be deemed a creature…”  Encyclopedia Britannica, online edition.  From The Development of the Canon of the New Testament  we get, “Arianism was a Christian heresy first proposed early in the 4th century by the Alexandrian presbyter Arius.  It affirmed that Christ is not truly divine but a created being.  The fundamental premise of Arius was the uniqueness of God, who is alone self-existent and immutable.  The Son, who is not self-existent, cannot be God.  An ascetical, moral leader of a Christian community in the area of Alexandria, Arius attracted a large following through a message integrating Neoplatonism [i.e. neo, new, Platonism, i.e. of Plato’s philosophies], which accented the absolute oneness of the divinity as the highest perfection, with a literal, rationalist approach to New Testament texts.  Christ was viewed as the most perfect creature in the material world, whose moral integrity led him to be “adopted” by God as a son…According to opponents, especially Athanasius, Arius’ teachings reduced the Son to a demigod, reintroduced polytheism (since worship of the Son was not abandoned), and undermined the Christian concept of redemption since only Christ who was truly God could redeem the world…Arianism continued among some of the Germanic tribes [after the Council of Nicea] to the end of the 7th century.  In modern times some Unitarians are virtually Arians in that they are unwilling either to reduce Christ to a mere human being or to attribute to him a divine nature identical with that of the Father.  The Christology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is also a form of Arianism; they regard Arius as a forerunner of Charles Taze Russell, the founder of their movement.” [http://www.ntcanon.org/Arianism.shtml]  Got Questions?org has this to say about Arianism:  Question: ‘What is Arianism?’  Answer:  Arianism is named for Arius, a teacher in the early 4th century A.D.  One of the earliest and probably the most important item of debate among early Christians was the subject of Christ’s deity.  Was Jesus truly God?  Arius held that Jesus was created by God as the first act of creation [and as some teach, before the physical universe and matter were created], that Jesus was the crowning glory of all creation.  Arianism, then, is the view that Jesus was a created being with divine attributes, but was not divine in and of Himself.  Arianism misunderstands references to Jesus’ being tired (John 4:6) and not knowing the date of His return (Matthew 24:36).  Yes, it is difficult to understand how God could be tired and/or not know something, but relegating Jesus to a created being is not the answer.  Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully human.  Jesus did not become a human being until the incarnation.  Therefore Jesus’ limitations as a human being have no impact on His divine nature or eternality.”  I will continue with this quote, but I will type out the Scriptural passages they make reference to in bolded non-italicized text to help bring the point home of Jesus’ divinity both as God-man in his human form, and as the eternally existent Yahweh of the Old Testament, who existed along with God the Father as part of Elohim. Genesis 1:1,26, “In the beginning God [Strongs # 430 elohiym…gods in the ordinary sense; but spec. used (in the plural…) of the supreme God…] created the heavens and the earth…Then God [Strongs #430, elohiym] said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness...’”  “A second major misconception in Arianism is the meaning of “firstborn” (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15-20).  Arians understand “firstborn” in these verses to mean that Jesus was “born” or “created” as the first act of creation [i.e. before the creation of the physical universe, which we know the Bible teaches us Jesus in his pre-incarnate state created, so obviously Arians have to have the pre-incarnate Christ as having been created by God the Father sometime before the creation of physical matter, the universe].  This is not the case.  Jesus Himself proclaimed His self-existence and eternality (John 8:58; 10:30).  John 8:57-58, “Then the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’  Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”  Just to refresh your memories, who was I AM?  Exodus 3:13-15, “Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is his name?  what shall I say to them?’  And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’  And he said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM sent me to you.’  Moreover God said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel:  ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you…”; John 10:30, “I and my Father are one.”  We already saw, God-plural, Elohiym, created the heavens and the earth, and made man in ‘Our image.’  God the Son, Yahweh, the pre-incarnate Son of God, is part of Elohiym---God the Father and Jesus Christ, God the Son.  The apostle John explains who Jesus was before his human birth.  John 1:1-14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God [Strong’s #2316, Theosthe supreme Divinity], and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own [people] did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe on His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:1-2 tells us that Jesus was “in the beginning with God…Jesus is the Anointed One, the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..”  Isaiah 9:6-7, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it…”  After nearly a century of debate at various church councils, the Christian church officially denounced Arianism as a false doctrine.  Since that time, Arianism has never been accepted as a viable doctrine of the Christian faith.  Arianism has not died, however.  Arianism has continued throughout the centuries in varying forms.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons of today hold a very Arian-like position on Christ’s nature.  Just like the early church did, we must denounce any and all attacks on the deity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  [ http://www.gotquestions.org/arianism.html]

 

So Was Jesus a Created Being?

 

Yahweh, YHWH, means “the Eternal One”, “the One Who Always Exists” or “the One Who Was, Is, and Always Will Be.”  Isaiah 44:6, “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:  ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.’”  Now turn to Revelation 1:17, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid his right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last…’”  In John’s Gospel John teaches us “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”  Next turn to Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.”  All things, it says, were created by him, Christ.  Since Jesus Christ, in his pre-incarnate form, as Yahweh, the Great I AM, created all things, visible and invisible, that would include all spirit beings, the angelic host.  Dr. Normal Geisler in his book Christian Apologetics says this about this verse:  “The context of this passage makes it clear that there are no exceptions; Christ is the Creator of all things including angels and everything visible and invisible.  Nowhere is this made more clear that Christ is not a creature---angelic or otherwise---than in the relation of angels to Him.  Since Christ could not be both the Creator of everything and at the same time a creature Himself., it is necessary to conclude that He is Himself the uncreated Creator of all creation” (Christian Apologetics, 1988, p. 338).  Mr. Geisler adds a footnote:  “In view of the clear teaching that Christ is Creator and not a creature, the Arian misinterpretations of phrases like Christ is ‘firstborn’ (Colossians 1:15) or ‘beginning of creation’ (Revelation 3:14) are wrong.  Christ is ‘firstborn’ in the sense of being the unique (not created) Son of God.  Christ is first over creation, not first in it” (ibid.).  Now to nail this thing shut, making it ironclad, turn to Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to me the One to be Ruler of Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”  The word everlasting in Hebrew meansthe days of eternity.”

 

 

The Major Danger of Arianism

 

One of the major dangers the doctrinal heresy of Arianism has is that it goes way beyond heresy into apostasy, because it morphs from a mere church problem into a mission problem.  One of the key and essential parts of the Gospel of Salvation is who and what Jesus Christ was and is.  A mere man dying on the cross could never atone for the sins of mankind.  Thus Arianism attacks the very Gospel Jesus told us to be preaching to the whole world (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Matthew 24:14).  Who Jesus Christ was and is, is the very first key component of the Gospel of Salvation (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm). 

 

Now Why is this article in the Worldwide Church of God section?

 

Now, many of you readers are more than likely ex-Worldwide Church of God members, attending one or more of the various Sabbatarian Churches of God which split off of Worldwide around 1995.  You’re wondering why this article is included in the upper nav bar section above The Worldwide Church of God main article.  Well, one of our (Worldwide’s) writers, back in the 1960’s, has over a period of time, veered, strayed from the straight Gospel truth that was taught to us all.  How so?  I remember right after I was baptized in 1970 and was attending in the Boston congregation, hearing my first pastor, Mr. Fred Kellers, teaching about the divinity and ever-existence of Christ, and quoting right from John 1:1-14 and Isaiah 9:6-7.  We in WCG never denied the divinity of Jesus Christ via the teaching of such a damnable heresy as Arianism, or anything like it.  People would at times try to lump us in with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but we were orthodox in our beliefs and teachings about Jesus Christ, unlike the JW’s or Mormons, who are not.  But this person I make reference to is William Dankenbring, who over the years has slipped into strong Arianism in his teachings.  I will present the evidence, as I found it on his website.  When this article goes up, though, be prepared for him to move the articles I reference from around, placing them under different url links.  He’s sly like that, it’s happened several times already.  But here is what I discovered on his website:

 

Teachings of William Dankenbring:

 

Jesus Christ, in the beginning, before the physical universe was created, was created by God the Father

(see page 5, par. 2-3 “What Do You Mean, Jesus Is the ‘FIRSTBORN of Every Creature’?”  Log onto: http://triumphpro.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/was-jesus-christ-created.htm)

 

Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael

(see page 11, “Who Is Michael, the Archangel?” Log onto:

http://triumphpro.info and type into the search box of his site, ‘Who is the Archangel Michael?’, and a pdf file will come up by that name.)

 

Jesus Christ is a created being, created by God the Father before physical matter was created 

(see pp. 3-4, “Who Is the ONLY True God?”  Log onto http://www.triumphpro.info  and type in “Who Is the Only True God?” in the search box,  and click on the article link by that name at the top of the page that comes up.)

 

Jesus Christ is the brother of Satan (Lucifer)”

(see p. 3, “What is the Origin of Lucifer and the Logos?”

Log onto: http://www.triumphpro.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/lucifer-logos-origin.htm )

 

Jesus Christ was not in the tomb for 72 hours, three days and three nights  Now this, exWCG folks, is a big one for us, the very accuracy of  Jesus Christ’s Passover sacrifice hangs on the veracity of Jesus remaining in the tomb for 72 hours, three days and three nights.  (see pp. 5-6, “How Long Was Jesus Really in the Grave?”  Log onto: http://www.triumphpro.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/jesus-in-grave-new-truth.htm )

 

Now here’s a really weird one:  “spirit-in-man of the wicked “recycled” when they’re burned up”

(see p. 12 “Is there LIFE After DEATH?”  Log onto:

http://www.triumphpro.info/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/soul-and-hell.htm )

 

What is Dankenbring’s (and other’s like him) Intent?

 

Now that we’ve established what William Dankenbring is, what is his overall intent?  Obviously, he is attempting to create a following for himself from exWorldwide Church of God members.  His writing talents are very good, and his articles are very cleverly written.  But as I have demonstrated, he is promoting the Arian heresy, plain and simple. His ministry is aimed at the Sabbatarian Churches of God, mainly composed of ex-Worldwide Church of God members.  And whether by design or not, the overall effect of his ministry seems to be to divide them doctrinally, whereas before, they were all more or less united in doctrine.  So his ministry is divisive, just as his disciples are and have proven to be.  One such disciple, at least as far as having similar beliefs, is a man named Jim Rudd, whether there is a direct connection or not.  But regardless, be armed in knowledge about what the Arian heresy is, and you won’t be fooled into reading “interesting” articles on their websites. The core of Dankenbring’s material is straight heretical, because it denies Christ as God through a literary slight of hand, calls Christ the brother of Lucifer/Satan, denies the one prophetic proof of Jesus’ Messiahship (three days and three nights in the tomb), and says Jesus Christ was a created being like Gabriel and Lucifer, actually saying Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael.  Also Dankenbring’s articles on prophecy attempt to bring division into the major Sabbatarian Churches of God by teaching interpretations that radically differ from what we have been taught.  If a cake is baked with all the right and proper ingredients, and then a deadly amount of arsenic is mixed into it, regardless of the good ingredients, the cake is still deadly.  That is why one must not nibble at Dankenbring’s cake, or anyone like him.  It’s poison, stay away.

 

Jesus wants unity, not division, within the Body of Christ

 

Jesus Christ does not want the Body of Christ constantly dividing up into smaller and smaller pieces, squabbling and bickering over doctrine.  Be sure to log onto my recent addition to the prophets section, the Minor Prophets (seehttp://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zephaniah/Zephaniah1.htm). Then log onto the link for Zephaniah 2:1-3.  It is a specific instruction from the LORD I just discovered buried in Zephaniah, directly from the one who became Jesus Christ, telling the Body of Christ “Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation…seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld his justice.  Seek righteousness, seek humility.”  By the very context of those verses, “O undesirable nation” is none other than the Body of Christ, the Church.  “Gather together” is mentioned twice in verse 1, which is extra emphasis.  Be sure to log onto that nav button for Zephaniah 2:1-3 and read it.  And stay away from those who would divide us.  That is Jesus Christ’s message for the Body of Christ right now.

 

For a study on other heresies, log onto:
http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/whyorthodoxy.html