It matters to me what the difference between a Monothelite and a Monophysite is. Instead, it is a survey of five exemplars of heresies, from earliest Christian times to the modern age, and a two-pronged argument. The two arguments are, first, that that these five encompass all possible basic material variations from true Christian belief. Belloc, of course, was a wholly orthodox Roman Catholic who believed that the entirety of what the Church taught is true.
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Chapter II. The Arian Heresy Arianism was the first of the great heresies. There had been from the foundation of the Church at Pentecost A. They had turned, nearly all of them, upon the nature of Christ. Now the central tradition of the Church here, as in every other case of disputed doctrine, was strong and clear from the beginning. Our Lord was undoubtedly a man. He had been born as men are born, He died as men die. He lived as a man and had been known as a man by a group of close companions and a very large number of men and women who had followed Him, and heard Him and witnessed His actions.
But—said the Church—He was also God. God had come down to earth and become Incarnate as a Man. He was not merely a man influenced by the Divinity, nor was He a manifestation of the Divinity under the appearance of a man. He was at the same time fully God and fully Man. On that the central tradition of the Church never wavered. It is taken for granted from the beginning by those who have authority to speak. But a mystery is necessarily, because it is a mystery, incomprehensible; therefore man, being a reasonable being, is perpetually attempting to rationalize it.
So it was with this mystery. One set would say Christ was only a man, though a man endowed with special powers. Another set, at the opposite extreme, would say He was a manifestation of the Divine. His human nature was a thing of illusion. They played the changes between those two extremes indefinitely.
Well, the Arian heresy was, as it were, the summing up and conclusion of all these movements on the unorthodox side—that is, of all those movements which did not accept the full mystery of two natures.
Since it is very difficult to rationalize the union of the Infinite with the finite, since there is an apparent contradiction between the two terms, this final form into which the confusion of heresies settled down was a declaration that our Lord was as much of the Divine Essence as it was possible for a creature to be, but that He was none the less a creature.
He was not the Infinite and Omnipotent God who must be of His nature one and indivisible, and could not so they said be at the same time a limited human moving and having his being in the temporal sphere. Arianism I will later describe the origin of the name was willing to grant our Lord every kind of honour and majesty short of the full nature of the Godhead. He was created or, if people did not like the word "created," then he "came forth" from the Godhead before all other effects thereof.
Through Him the world was created. He was granted one might say paradoxically all the divine attributes—except divinity. Essentially this movement sprang from exactly the same source as any other rationalistic movement from the beginning to our own time. It sprang from the desire to visualize clearly and simply something which is beyond the grasp of human vision and comprehension. Therefore, although it began by giving to our Lord every possible honour and glory short of the actual Godhead, it would inevitably have led in the long run into mere unitarianism and the treating of our Lord at last as a prophet and, however exalted, no more than a prophet.
As all heresies necessarily breathe the air of the time in which they arise, and are necessarily a reflection of the philosophy of whatever non-Catholic ideas are prevalent at that moment they arise, Arianism spoke in the terms of its day. It did not begin as a similar movement would begin today by making our Lord a mere man and nothing else. Still less did it deny the supernatural as a whole. The time in which it arose the years round about A.
But it spoke of our Lord as a Supreme Agent of God—a Demiurge—and regarded him as the first and greatest of those emanations of the Central Godhead through which emanations the fashionable philosophy of the day got over the difficulty of reconciling the Infinite and simple Creator with a complex and finite universe.
So much for the doctrine and for what its rationalistic tendencies would have ended in had it conquered. It would have rendered the new religion something like Mohammedanism or perhaps, seeing the nature of Greek and Roman society, something like an Oriental Calvinism. Now when we are talking of the older dead heresies we have to consider the spiritual and therefore social effects of them much more than their mere doctrinal error, although that doctrinal error was the ultimate cause of all their spiritual and social effects.
We have to do this because, when a heresy has been long dead, its savour is forgotten. The particular tone and unmistakable impress which it stamped upon society being no longer experienced is non-existent for us, and it had to be resurrected, as it were, by anyone who wants to talk true history. But we must try to realize this now forgotten Arian atmosphere, because, until we understand its spiritual and therefore social savour, we cannot be said to know it really at all.
Further, one must understand this savour or intimate personal character of the movement, and its individual effect on society, in order to understand its importance.
There is no greater error in the whole range of bad history than imagining that doctrinal differences, because they are abstract and apparently remote from the practical things of life, are not therefore of intense social effect. Describe to a Chinaman today the doctrinal quarrel of the Reformation, tell him that it was above all a denial of the doctrine of the one visible church, and a denial of the special authority of its officers. That would be true. He would so far understand what happened at this Reformation as he might understand a mathematical statement.
But would that make him understand the French Huguenots of today, the Prussian manner in war and politics, the nature of England and her past since Puritanism arose in this country? Would it make him understand the Orange Lodges or the moral and political systems of, say, Mr.
Wells or Mr. Bernard Shaw? Of course it would not! To give a man the history of tobacco, to give him the chemical formula if there be such a thing for nicotine, is not to make him understand what is meant by the smell of tobacco and the effects of smoking it. So it is with Arianism. Merely to say that Arianism was what it was doctrinally is to enunciate a formula, but not to give the thing itself. When Arianism arose it came upon a society which was already, and had long been, the one Universal Polity of which all civilized men were citizens.
There were no separate nations. It was ruled in monarchic fashion by the Commander-in-Chief, or Commanders-in-Chief, of the armies. The title for the Commander-in-Chief was "Imperator"—whence we get our word Emperor—and therefore we talk of that State as the "Roman Empire.
What the emperor or associated emperors there had been two of them according to the latest scheme, each with a coadjutor, making four, but these soon coalesced into one supreme head and unique emperor declared themselves to be, that was the attitude of the empire officially as a whole. The emperors and therefore the whole official scheme dependent on them had been anti-Christian during the growth of the Catholic Church in the midst of Roman and Greek pagan society.
For nearly years they and the official scheme of that society had regarded the increasingly powerful Catholic Church as an alien and very dangerous menace to the traditions and therefore to the strength of the old Greek and Roman pagan world. The Church was, as it were, a state within a state, possessing her own supreme officials, the bishops, and her own organization, which was of a highly developed and powerful kind.
She was ubiquitous. She stood in strong contrast with the old world into which she had thrust herself. What would be the life of the one would be the death of the other. The old world defended itself through the action of the last pagan emperors. They launched many persecutions against the Church, ending in one final and very drastic persecution which failed. The Catholic cause was at first supported by, and at last openly joined by, a man who conquered all other rivals and established himself as supreme monarch over the whole State: the Emperor Constantine the Great ruling from Constantinople, the city which he had founded and called "New Rome.
By the critical date A. They certainly were not of that religion by anything like a majority in the Latin speaking West. As in all great changes throughout history the parties at issue were minorities inspired with different degrees of enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm. These minorities had various motives and were struggling each to impose its mental attitude upon the wavering and undecided mass.
Of these minorities the Christians were the largest and what was more important the most eager, the most convinced, and the only fully and strictly organized.
The conversion of the Emperor brought over to them large and increasing numbers of the undecided majority. These, perhaps, for the greater part hardly understood the new thing to which they were rallying, and certainly for the most part were not attached to it. But it had finally won politically and that was enough for them.
Many regretted the old gods, but thought it not worth while to risk anything in their defence. Very many more cared nothing for what was left of the old gods and not much more for the new Christian fashions. Meanwhile there was a strong minority remaining of highly intelligent and determined pagans. They had on their side not only the traditions of a wealthy governing class but they had also the great bulk of the best writers and, of course, they also had to strengthen them the recent memories of their long dominance over society.
There was yet another element of that world, separate from all the rest, and one which it is extremely important for us to understand: the Army. Why it is so important for us to understand the position of the Army will be described in a moment. When the power of Arianism was manifested in those first years of the official Christian Empire and its universal government throughout the Graeco-Roman world, Arianism became the nucleus or centre of many forces which would be, of themselves, indifferent to its doctrine.
It became the rallying point for many strongly surviving traditions from the older world: traditions not religious, but intellectual, social, moral, literary and all the rest of it.
We might put it vividly enough in modern slang by saying that Arianism, thus vigorously present in the new great discussions within the body of the Christian Church when first that Church achieved official support and became the official religion of the Empire, attracted all the "high-brows," at least half the snobs and nearly all the sincere idealistic tories—the "die-hards"—whether nominally Christian or not.
It attracted, as we know, great numbers of those who were definitely Christian. But it was also the rallying point of these non-Christian forces which were of such great importance in the society of the day. A great number of the old noble families were reluctant to accept the social revolution implied by the triumph of the Christian Church. They naturally sided with a movement which they instinctively felt to be spiritually opposed to the life and survival of that Church and which carried with it an atmosphere of social superiority over the populace.
The Church relied upon and was supported at the end by the masses. Men of old family tradition and wealth found the Arian more sympathetic than the ordinary Catholic and a better ally for gentlemen. Many intellectuals were in the same position. These had not pride of family and old social traditions from the past, but they had pride of culture.
They remembered with regret the former prestige of the pagan philosophers. They thought that this great revolution from paganism to Catholicism would destroy the old cultural traditions and their own cultural position.
The mere snobs, who are always a vast body in any society—that is, the people who have no opinions of their own but who follow what they believe to be the honorific thing of the moment—would be divided.
Perhaps the majority of them would follow the official court movement and attach themselves openly to the new religion. But there would always be a certain number who would think it more "chic," more "the thing" to profess sympathy with the old pagan traditions, the great old pagan families, the long inherited and venerable pagan culture and literature and all the rest of it.
All these reinforced the Arian movement because it was destructive of Catholicism.
The Great Heresies
Shelves: religion I wanted to like this book, but sadly Belloch climbs his high horse in the introduction, and never quite makes up for it throughout the book. It is also a weird book, Im not exactly sure who its for. It reads like apologetics, with simplified arguments, relying heavily on cheap rhetoric like repeating the same point over and over again in different forms to emphasize an idea, but the method of apologetic writing is presenting a religious worldview, using secular arguments, thereby approaching I wanted to like this book, but sadly Belloch climbs his high horse in the introduction, and never quite makes up for it throughout the book. It reads like apologetics, with simplified arguments, relying heavily on cheap rhetoric like repeating the same point over and over again in different forms to emphasize an idea, but the method of apologetic writing is presenting a religious worldview, using secular arguments, thereby approaching and solving any objections the reader might have.
Family and career[ edit ] Hilaire Belloc portrait, c. His sister Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes also grew up to be a writer. In , five years after they wed, Louis died, but not before being wiped out financially in a stock market crash. The young widow then brought her children back to England. Hilaire Belloc grew up in England, and would spend most of his life there.