Homoousian


Homoousian

Homoousian (from the Greek "όμοιοs" meaning same and "ουσία" meaning essence or being) is a technical theological term used in discussion of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity. The Nicene Creed describes Jesus as being homoousian with God the Father — that is, they are of the "same substance" and are equally God. The term, officially adopted by the First Council of Nicaea, was intended to add clarity to the relationship between Christ and God the Father within the Godhead (though "Godhead" was not a term used at Nicaea).

The Nicaean Creed is the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican Church, and most mainline protestant churches with regard to the ontological status of the three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Some theologians preferred the use of the term homoiousios (Greek for "of like substance") in order to emphasize distinctions among the three persons in the Godhead, but the term homoousios became a consistent mark of Nicene orthodoxy in both East and West. According to this doctrine, Jesus Christ is the physical manifestation of Logos (or the "divine word") and consequently possesses all of the inherent, ineffable perfections which religion and philosophy attribute to the Supreme Being. Three distinct and infinite minds, three co-equal and eternal realities, compose a single Divine Essence (ousia).

This doctrine was formulated in the 4th century CE during the extraordinary Trinitarian or Arian controversy. The several distinct branches of Arianism which sometimes conflicted with each other as well as with the pro-Nicene homoousian creed can be roughly broken down into the following classification:

*Homoiousianism which maintained that the Son was "like in substance" but not necessarily to be identified with the essence of the Father.

*Homoianism which declared that the Son was similar to God the father, without reference to substance or essence. Some supporters of Homoian formulae also supported one of the other descriptions. Other Homoians declared that God the father was so incomparable and ineffably transcendent that even the ideas of "likeness", "similarity" or "identity" in substance or essence with the subordinate Son and the Holy Spirit were heretical and not justified by the Gospels. They held that the Father was "like" the Son in some sense but that even to speak of "ousia" was "impertinent speculation".

*Heterousianism (including anomoeanism) which held that God the father and the son were unlike in substance and/or attributes.

All of these positions and the almost innumerable variations on them which developed in the 4th century AD were strongly and tenaciously opposed by Athanasius and other pro-Nicenes who insisted on the doctrine of the homoousian (or as it is called in modern terms "consubstantiality"), eventually prevailing in the struggle to define the dogma of the Orthodox Church for the next two millennia when its use was confirmed by the First Council of Constantinople in 381 or 383.

References

*Gibbon, Edward. "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire". Harcourt,Brace and Co. 1960.
*Steenburg, M.C.. "A World Full of Arians: A Study of the Arian Debate and the Trinitarian Controversy from ACE 360-380".
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07449a.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: Homoousian]


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  • Homoousian — Ho mo*ou si*an, a. Of or pertaining to the Homoousians, or to the doctrines they held. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Homoousian — Ho mo*ou si*an, n. [Gr. ?; ? the same + ? being, essence, substance.] (Eccl. Hist.) One of those, in the 4th century, who accepted the Nicene creed, and maintained that the Son had the same essence or substance with the Father; opposed to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • homoousian — [hō΄mō o͞o′sē ənhō΄mō o͞o′sē ən] adj. [LL(Ec) homoousianus < LGr(Ec) homoousios, consubstantial < homos, SAME + ousia, essence: see HOMOIOUSIAN] [also H ] Theol. of or holding the teaching that God the Father and God the Son are of the same …   English World dictionary

  • homoousian — noun Etymology: Late Greek homoousios of the same substance, from Greek hom + ousia substance more at homoiousian Date: 1565 an adherent of an ecclesiastical party of the fourth century holding to the doctrine of the Nicene Creed that the Son is… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Homoousian — Homoousianism, n. /hoh moh ooh see euhn, ow , hom oh /, n. 1. a member of a 4th century A.D. church party that maintained that the essence or substance of the Father and the Son is the same (opposed to Heteroousian). adj. 2. of or pertaining to… …   Universalium

  • homoousian — adjective /hɒməʊˈuːzɪən/ Having the same essence or substance, especially with reference to the first and second persons of the Trinity …   Wiktionary

  • homoousian — [ˌhɒməʊ u:sɪən, aʊ , z , ˌhəʊməʊ ] (also homousian) noun historical a person who held that God the Father and God the Son are of the same substance. Compare with homoiousian. Origin C16: via eccles. L. homousianus, from Gk homoousios, from homos… …   English new terms dictionary

  • homoousian — I. a. Of the same nature, of identical essence or substance. II. n. Believer in the identity of the substance of the Father and the Son …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • homoousian — homo·ou·sian …   English syllables

  • Homoousian — Ho•mo•ou•si•an [[t]ˌhoʊ moʊˈu si ən, ˈaʊ , ˌhɒm oʊ [/t]] n. 1) rel a member of a 4th century a.d. church party that maintained that the essence or substance of the Father and the Son is the same 2) rel of or pertaining to the Homoousians or their …   From formal English to slang


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