Acacians


Acacians

The Acacians, also known as the Homoeans, were an Arian sect which first emerged into distinctness as an ecclesiastical party some time before the convocation of the joint synods of Ariminum (Rimini) and Seleucia Isauria in 359. The sect owed its name and political importance to Acacius, Bishop of Caesarea, "oi peri Akakion", whose theory of adherence to scriptural phraseology it adopted and endeavoured to summarize in its various catch words: "homoios", "homoios kata panta", k.t.l.

Background

In order to understand the theological significance of Acacianism as a critical episode in both the logical and historical progress of Arianism, it is needful to recall that the great definition of the "Homoousion", promulgated at Nicaea in 325, rather than putting an end to further discussion, became the occasion for keener debate and for still more confusion of statement in the formulation of theories on the relationship of Our Lord to His Father. Events had already begun to ripen towards a fresh crisis shortly after the advent of Constantius to sole power, on the death of his brother Constans in the year 350. The new Augustus was a man with a turn for theological debate (Ammianus, XXI, xvi) that soon made him a strong promoter of the Eusebian faction. Roughly speaking, there were at this period only three parties in the Church: the Nicene party, who sympathized for the most part with Athanasius and his supporters; the Eusebian or Court party and their Semi-Arian followers; and, last of all, the Anomoean party which owed its origin to Aetius. In the summer of 357, Ursacius and Valens, the advocates of this latter group of dissidents in the West, through the influence which they were enabled to bring to bear upon the Emperor by means of his second wife, Aurelia Eusebia (Panegyr. Jul. Orat., iii; Ammianus, XXI, vi, 4), succeeded in bringing about a conference of bishops at Sirmium.

irmian Manifesto

In the Latin creed put forth at this meeting there was inserted a statement of views drawn up by Potamius of Lisbon and Hosius of Cordoba, which, under the name of the Sirmian Manifesto, as it afterwards came to be known, threw the Church into disorder. In this statement the assembled prelates, while declaring their confession in "One God, the Father Almighty, and in His only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, generated from Him before the ages," recommended the disuse of the terms ousia (essence or substance), homoousion (identical in essence, or substance), and homoiousion (similar in essence, or substance), "by which the minds of many are perturbed"; and they held that there "ought to be no mention of any of them at all, nor any exposition of them in the Church, and for this reason and for this consideration that there is nothing written about them in divine Scripture and that they are above men's knowledge and above men's understanding" (Athan., De Syn., xxviii; Soz., ii, xxx; Hil., De Syn., xi). The effect of these propositions upon conservative opinion was like that of the proverbial spark in a barrel of gunpowder. In spite of the scriptural disclaimer against the employment of inscrutable terms, nearly all parties perceived that the Manifesto was a subtly Anomoean document.

The situation was assuredly rich in possibilities. Men began to group themselves along new lines. In the East, the Anomoeans turned almost as a matter of course to Acacius of Caesarea, whose influence was growing stronger at court and who was felt to be a shrewd temporizer. In the West, bishops like Ursacius and Valens began to carry on a like policy; and everywhere it was felt that the time called once more for concerted action on the part of the Church. This was precisely what the party in favour with the Emperor Constantius were eager to bring about; but not in the way in which the Nicaeans and Moderates expected. A single council might not be easily controlled; but two separate synods, one sitting in the East and the other in the West, could be kept better in hand.

After a number of preliminary conferences accompanying an inevitable campaign of pamphleteering in which Hilary of Poitiers took part, the bishops of the Western portion of the Empire met at Ariminum towards the end of May, and those of the East at Seleucia Isauria in the month of September, 359. The theological complexion of both Synods was identical, at least in this, that the party of compromise, represented at Seleucia by Acacius and at Ariminum by Ursacius and Valens, was politically, though not numerically, in the ascendant and could exercise a subtle influence which depended almost as much on the argumentative ability of their leaders as on their curial prestige. In both councils, as the result of dishonest intrigue and an unscrupulous use of intimidation, the Homoean formula associated with the name of Acacius ultimately prevailed. The Homo usion, for which so much had been endured by saintly champions of orthodoxy for over half a century, was given up and the Son was declared to be merely similar to -- no longer identical in essence with -- the Father. St. Jerome's characterization of the issue still affords the best commentary, not only on what had come to pass, but on the means employed to obtain it. The whole world groaned in wonderment to find itself Arian -- "ingemuit totus orbis et Arianum se esse miratus est."

Influences and decline

It was Acacius and his followers who had skilfully managed the whole proceeding from the outset. By coming forward as advocates of temporizing methods they had inspired the Eusebian or Semi-Arian party with the idea of throwing over Atius and his Anomoeans. They thus found themselves thrust into a position of importance to which neither their numbers nor their theological acumen entitled them. As they had proved themselves in practice all through the course of the unlooked-for movement that brought them to the front, so were they now, in theory, the exponents of the Via Media of their day. They separated themselves from the orthodox by the rejection of the word homoousios; from the Semi-Arians by their surrender of the homoiousios; and from the Aetians by their insistence upon the term homoios. They retained their influence as a distinct party just so long as their spokesman and leader Acacius enjoyed the favour of Constantius. Under Julian the Apostate, Atius, who had been exiled as the result of the proceedings at Seleucia, was allowed to regain his influence. The Acacians seized the occasion to make common cause with his ideas, but the alliance was only political; they threw him over once more at the Synod of Antioch held under Jovian in 363. In 365 the Semi-Arian Synod of Lampsacus condemned Acacius. He was deposed from his seat, and with that event the history of the party to which he had given his name practically ended.

References

*Athanasius, " [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.xxii.ii.i.html?bcb=0 De Synodis] "
*Socrates Scholasticus, " [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf202.ii.i.html?bcb=0 Historia Ecclesiastica] "
*Sozomen, " [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf202.iii.i.html?bcb=0 Historia Ecclesiastica] "
*Theodoret, " [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf203.iv.viii.i.i.html?bcb=0 Historia Ecclesiastica] "
*John Henry Newman, " [http://www.newmanreader.org/works/arians/index.html Arians of the Fourth Century] ", (1871)


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Acacians, The — • Fourth century Arian sect Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • The Acacians —     The Acacians     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The Acacians     Known also as the HOMOEANS, an Arian ( see Arianism ) sect which first emerged into distinctness as an ecclesiastical party some time before the convocation of the joint Synods of… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Acacia Fraternity — Infobox Fraternity letters = Ακακια name = Acacia Fraternity motto = ΩΦΕΛΟΥΝΤΕΣ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΥΣ ndash; Human Service crest = founded = birth date and age|1904|5|12 type = Social scope = International address = 8777 Purdue Road, Suite 225 city =… …   Wikipedia

  • Characters of Chrono Cross — The following are characters from the PlayStation game Chrono Cross .Table of contents *1 Cast creation and influences *2 Playable characters **2.1 Main characters **2.2 Acacia Dragoons **2.3 Residents of Arni **2.4 Residents of Termina **2.5… …   Wikipedia

  • List of characters in Chrono Cross — Serge (center) with some of the playable characters of Chrono Cross. First row: Mojo, Macha, Doc, Mel, Guile, Sprigg, and Starky. Second row: Razzly, Glenn, Leena, Kid, Nikki, and Sneff. Third row: Van, Harle, Norris, Radius, Irenes, and Pierre.… …   Wikipedia

  • Harold Eugene Edgerton — Born April 6, 1903 (1903 04 06) Fremont, Nebraska Died …   Wikipedia

  • Eudoxius of Antioch — Eudoxius (died 370) was the eighth bishop of Constantinople from January 27, 360 to 370, previously bishop of Germanicia and of Antioch, and was one of the most influential Arians.Saint Eustathius was bishop of Antioch between 324 and 331.… …   Wikipedia

  • Timeline of Christianity — This article is about the timeline of Christianity beginning with Jesus. For the timeline, see Biblical chronology. For the history of Christianity, see History of Christianity. For the timeline of the Roman Catholic Church, see Timeline of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Acacius of Caesarea — in Greek Ἀκάκιος Mονόφθαλμος (died 366) was a Christian bishop, the pupil and successor in the Palestinian see of Caesarea of Eusebius AD 340, whose life he wrote. (Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica , 2.4.) He is remembered chiefly for his bitter… …   Wikipedia

  • Clifton Hillegass — Clifton K. Hillegass (18 April 1918, Rising City, Nebraska – 5 May 2001, Lincoln, Nebraska) was the creator and publisher of CliffsNotes. CliffsNotes are literary study guides in their familiar black and yellow covers that assist college and high …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.