Arian Christianity is also known as Early German Christianity, because it went over best with ancient German tribes (Gregory of Tours) . Arianism was based on the notion that Jesus and God had not been eternally co-existent for all time. That is, according to the First Council of Nicea in 325, the Church held that when God created the world, Jesus was already there with him, alongside him, “uncreated”. Arianism was officially declared a heresy at this council.
The Arians, rationally in my opinion, held that Jesus was actually created by God at some later point. In other words, there was some period, probably a long time, when God alone existed and there was no Jesus. At some point, God created Jesus and probably soon sent him down to Earth. It’s hard to believe that this was one of the worst religious fights in the Catholic Church around the 300’s and that to this day, Arianism is considered a heresy in the Church.
However, there is a small Arian Catholic Church in England, with some home churches here and there around the world (website here).
Arians also reject the virgin birth, holding that it is a misunderstanding of prophecy. The prophets had merely held that Jesus would be born to a “virgin”, but that word really meant just “young girl.” Due to a misunderstanding of prophecy, “young girl” was mistranslated to “virgin”, hence the Cult of the Virgin and other nonsense. The Arians hold that indeed God can sometimes commit miracles, but he cannot violate the very physical laws that He Himself has laid down.
Seems like a reasonable split in Catholicism. Too bad there isn’t an Arian Catholic Church near me. I might want to attend services.
- Gregory of Tours. 539-564. Decem Libri Historiarum (Ten Books of Histories), or Historia Francorum (The History of the Franks). Translated by Earnest Brehaut. 1916. New York: Colombia University Press.