Homoousios: One Substance of God

At the Council of Nicea it was homoousios that was at issue. Is the Son "one substance" with the Father?

If the Son was the Word inside of the Father before his begetting in eternity past, then he is one substance with the Father. In other words, he's made of the same divine "stuff," "substance," "material," or "essence" as the Father because he came out of the Father.

If he was created from nothing, then God must have used something to create him; probably whatever he created the angels with. Greek Christians simply called that substance "matter." If that's what the Son was made from, the Nicene council reasoned, then he's not really God.

Athenagoras, a 2nd century apologist, addressed the issue of matter and God long before Nicea, claiming to speak for all Christians:

Because the multitude, who cannot distinguish between matter and God … pray to idols made of matter, should we who do distinguish and separate the uncreated and the created … come and worship images? (A Plea for the Christians 15)

He makes it clear that Christians would never worship matter. But he has also already said that they do worship the Logos of God.

We are not atheists … because we acknowledge one God, uncreated, eternal … by whom the universe has been created through his Logos… . We acknowledge a Son of God. Nor let anyone think it ridiculous that God should have a Son… . The Son of God is the Logos of the Father… . The Nous [mind] and Logos of the Father is the Son of God. (ibid. 10)

The doctrine of Arius, that the Son was created from nothing, made him matter and not the substance of God. Arianism denied homoousios.

The Nicene Creed answers Arianism directly. If you already read the page on the Logos of God, then you should be able to understand exactly what's being 

… the Son of God, only-begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten, not made, one in substance [homoousios] with the Father … 

The Son, because he is the Logos of God, and always was the Logos of God, is of the Divine substance. Therefore he is "God from God … true God from true God."

spacer

Search Christian-History.org

Custom Search
Christian Theology Top Site

The Early Church History Newsletter

Delivered monthly.

Back issues available.

Email

Name


Don't worry—your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you the Early Church History Newsletter.