Chapter XVIII.—Concerning the Doctrines held by the Sons of Constantine. Distinction between the Terms “Homoousios” and “Homoiousios.” Whence it came that Constantius quickly abandoned the Correct Faith.
The emperors 1270 had, from the beginning, preserved their fathers view about doctrine; for they both favored the Nicene form of belief. Constans maintained these opinions till his death; Constantius held a similar view for some time; he, however, renounced his former sentiments when the term “consubstantial” was calumniated, yet he did not altogether refrain from confessing that the Son is of like substance with the Father. The followers of Eusebius, and other bishops of the East, who were admired for their speech and life, made a distinction, as we know, between the term “consubstantial” (homoousios) and the expression “of like substance,” which latter they designated by the term, “homoiousios.” They say that the term “consubstantial” (homoousios) properly belongs to corporeal beings, such as men and other animals, trees and plants, whose participation and origin is in like things; but that the term “homoiousios” appertains exclusively to incorporeal beings, such as God and the angels, of each one of whom a conception is formed according to his own peculiar substance. The Emperor Constantius was deceived by this distinction; and although I am certain that he retained the same doctrines as those held by his father and brother, yet he adopted a change of phraseology, and, instead of using the term “homoousios,” made use of the term “homoiousios.” The teachers to whom we have alluded maintained that it was necessary to be thus precise in the use of terms, and that otherwise we should be in danger of conceiving that to be a body which is incorporeal. Many, however, regard this distinction as an absurdity, “for,” say they, “the things which are conceived by the mind can be p. 298 designated only by names derived from things which are seen; and there is no danger in the use of words, provided that there be no error about the idea.
An independent survey of the imperial and clerical views.