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Macedonianism. The opponents of the Holy Spirit's divinity were called "pneumatomachians" (that means, opponents of the Spirit), or "Macedonians" (from the name of their leader, Macedonius). Macedoniansim denied the full personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit.

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The opponents of the Holy Spirit's divinity were called "pneumatomachians" (that means, opponents of the Spirit), or "Macedonians" (from the name of their leader, Macedonius).

  • Macedoniansim denied the full personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit.

  • According to this heresy, the Holy Spirit was created by the Son and was thus subordinate to the Father and the Son

    Thus they denied the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit with the Father in the divine Trinity.


"Whether or not the Macedonians explicitly denied the Divinity of the Holy Ghost is uncertain; but they viewed Him as essentially separate from, and external to, the One Indivisible Godhead.

The Nicene Creed declares that:

  • He is the Lord, or Sovereign Spirit

    • because the heretics considered Him to be a minister of God

  • the Supreme Giver of Life,

    • because they considered Him a mereinstrument by which we receive the gift."


The great Fathers opposed these erroneous opinions with their authority

  • Athanasius especially in his Letter to Serapion (1, 28-30) affirmed the equality of the Holy Spirit with the other two divine persons in the unity of the Trinity.

  • He did so on the basis of "ancient tradition, the doctrine and faith of the Catholic Church, which we understand as having been given us by the Lord and which the Apostles preached and the Fathers safeguarded".

  • By the time of Constantinople I, Athanasius and Basil the Great had died, Epiphanius and Gregory of Nanzianzen retired their positions

    It was left to Gregory of Nyssa, Basil’s brother to champion the cause of the Holy Spirit

Attacks on the holy spirit
Attacks on the Holy Spirit

The Symbol of Epiphanius (374)

Epiphanius bishop of Salamis wrote a personal symbol which became the model of orthodoxy

  • It depended much on the Council of Nicaea, whose condemnation of the Arian error it repeats but to which it adds further precision

  • Historically its influence lies in the influence it will exercise at the Council of Constantinople.

  • One of its characteristics is its doctrinal affirmations regarding the Holy Spirit against the Macedonianism.

  • He writes in the context of an already rising trend which denies the divinity of the Holy Spirit

    He thus prepares in advance the doctrine of Constantinople

Attacks on the holy spirit1
Attacks on the Holy Spirit

The Symbol of Epiphanius (374)

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, generated from the Father before all ages, that is, from the being (ousia) of the Father, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being (homoousios) with the Father, through whom all things were made, those in the heavens and those on earth. For us and for our salvation he came down from the heavens, and became flesh from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake too he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. On the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures. He ascended to the heavens and is seated at the right hand of the father. He shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead; to his Kingdom there will be no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord (to Kurion) andGiver of life, who proceeds (ekporeuomenon) from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.

And in one Holy Catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledgev one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen

Epiphanius of salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis

Born at Besanduk, near Eleutheropolis, in Judea, after 310; died in 403.

  • While very young he followed the monastic life in Egypt .

  • On his return to Judea he founded a monastery at Besanduk and was ordained to the priesthood.

    In 367 his reputation for asceticism and learning brought about his nomination as Bishop of Constantia (Salamis) the metropolis of the Island of Cyprus.

  • For nearly forty years he fulfilled the duties of the episcopate, but his activity extended far beyond his island.

    His zeal for the monastic life, ecclesiastical learning, and orthodoxy gave him extraordinary authority; hence the numerous occasions on which his advice was sought, and his intervention in important ecclesiastical affairs.

Epiphanius of salamis1
Epiphanius of Salamis

He went to Antioch, probably in 376, to investigate Apollinarianism and to intervene in the schism that divided that church.

  • He decided in favor of Bishop Paulinus, who was supported by Rome, against Meletius, who was supported by the episcopate of the East.

    In 382 he assisted at the Council of Rome to uphold the cause of Paulinus of Antioch.

  • About 394, carried away by an apparently excessive zeal, he went to Jerusalem to oppose the supposed Origenism of the bishop, John.

  • In 402 he was at Constantinople to combat the same pretended heresy of St. John Chrysostom. He died on his return journey to Cyprus.

Epiphanius of salamis2
Epiphanius of Salamis

His earliest work (374) is the "Ancoratus", or "The Well-Anchored", i.e. the Christian firmly fixed against the agitations of error.

  • The Trinity and the dogma of the Resurrection are particularly treated by the author, who argues especially against the Arians and the Origenists.

    There are two symbols at the end of the work:

  • The first, which is the shorter, is very important in the history of symbols, or professions of faith, being the baptismal creed of the Church of Constantia.

  • The second is the personal work of Epiphanius, and is intended to fortify the faithful against current heresies.

Epiphanius of salamis3
Epiphanius of Salamis

In the "Ancoratus" Epiphanius confines himself to a list of heresies.

  • Some readers desired to have a detailed work on this question, and Epiphanius composed (374-7) the "Panarion" or "Medicine chest", i.e. a stock of remedies to offset the poisons of heresy.

  • This work is divided into three books comprising in all seven volumes and treating eighty heresies.

  • The first twenty heresies are prior to Jesus Christ; the other sixty deal with Christian doctrine.

  • In reality the number eighty may be reduced to seventy-seven, for among the twenty heresies prior to Christ only seventeen count. Three are generic names, namely Hellenism, Samaritanism, and Judaism.

    In the editions of the "Panarion" each heresy is numbered in order; hence it is customary to quote the "Panarion" as follows: Epiphanius, Haer. N (the number of the heresy).

Epiphanius of salamis4
Epiphanius of Salamis

Much of the information in this great compilation varies in value.

  • The "Panarion" reflects the character of Epiphanius and his method of working.

  • Sometimes his ardour prevents him from inquiring carefully into the doctrines he opposes.

  • Thus, on his own avowal (Haer., lxxi), he speaks of Apollinarianism on hearsay.

  • At Constantinople he had to acknowledge the Origenist monks whom he opposed that he was not acquainted with either their school or their books, and that he only spoke from hearsay (Sozomen, "Hist. eccl.", VIII, xl).

    The "Panarion" furnishes very valuable information concerning the religious history of the fourth century, either because the author confines himself to transcribing documents preserved by him alone or because he writes down his personal observations.

Epiphanius of salamis5
Epiphanius of Salamis

His character is most clearly shown by the Origenist controversies, which demonstrated his disinterested zeal but also his quickness to suspect heresy

  • A good faith which was easily taken advantage of by the intriguing, and an ardor of conviction which caused him to forget the rules of canon law and to commit real abuses of power.

    He saw in Origen the chief cause of the heresies of his time, and especially of Arianism.

  • He was particularly opposed to his allegorical method,

    • his doctrines concerning the Son, in which he saw the subordination of the Son to the Father,

    • his doctrines concerning the pre-existence of souls and the resurrection.

      He did not confine himself to this condemnation of Origen. He reproached the monks and bishops of his time with accepting the Origenist errors.