Origen of Alexandria (184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an early Christian scholar, ascetic and theologian. He was a prolific writer who wrote roughly 2,000 treatises in multiple branches of theology. He was one of the most influential figures in early Christian theology, apologetics, and asceticism. He has been described as "the greatest genius the early church ever produced".
Origen came into conflict with Demetrius, the bishop of Alexandria, in 231with his revolutionary view on the Holy Trinity. Origen taught that, before the creation of the material universe, God had created the souls of all the intelligent beings. These souls, at first fully devoted to God, fell away from him and were given physical bodies. The Christological debate could no longer be contained within the Alexandrian diocese. It had become a topic of discussion—and disturbance—for the entire Church. The Church was now a powerful force in the Roman world,
This debate continued even after Origen. It was a priest Arius - 256–336 - believed that Jesus was divine but somewhat less so than God. This was in Alexandria in Egypt and Arius was tremendously popular, in part because he was also a poet and a singer. Arius’s basic premise was the uniqueness of God, who is alone self-existent (not dependent for its existence on anything else) and immutable; the Son, who is not self-existent, cannot therefore be the self-existent and immutable God. This was considered to be a form of Unitarian theology.
There were endless religious debates, often leading to violence between partisans and riots in the street, were a source of significant annoyance to Constantine, the Roman Emperor. These disagreements divided the Church into two opposing theological factions for many years. The Emperor Constantine viewed uniting the Christian Church as a way to strengthen and unify the Roman Empire and to bring order to the outlying areas. In 325 he convened a council at his summer residence at Nicaea, in what is now Turkey, insisting that the bishops agree on a creed that would bring unity to the church. Arius himself attended the council, as did his bishop, Alexander. The debate at the council became so heated that at one point, Nicholas struck Arius across the face. Arius appealed to Scripture, quoting verses such as John 14:28: "the Father is greater than I". And also Colossians 1:15: "the firstborn of all creation." Thus, Arius insisted that the Father's Divinity was greater than the Son's, and that the Son was under God the Father, and not co-equal or co-eternal with Him.
One purpose of the Council was to resolve disagreements arising from within the Church of Alexandria over the nature of the Son in his relationship to the Father: in particular, whether the Son had been 'begotten' by the Father from his own being, and therefore having no beginning, or else created out of nothing, and therefore having a beginning. St. Alexander of Alexandria and Athanasius took the first position; the popular presbyter Arius, from whom the term Arianism comes, took the second. The Council decided against the Arians overwhelmingly (of the estimated 250–318 attendees. Some 22 of the bishops at the Council, led by Eusebius of Nicomedia, came as supporters of Arius. But when some of the more shocking passages from his writings were read, they were almost universally seen as blasphemous. Of course, there was some language problem - the exact meaning of many of the words used in the debates at Nicaea were still unclear to speakers of other languages. Nevertheless, at the end, all but two agreed to sign the creed and these two -Theonas and Secundus - along with Arius, were banished to Illyria.
The edict by Emperor Constantine against the Arians:
If any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offense, he shall be submitted for capital punishment....."
In Nicaea, questions regarding the Holy Spirit were left largely unaddressed until after the relationship between the Father and the Son was settled around the year 362. Constantine gradually became more lenient toward those whom the Council of Nicaea had exiled.
There are several contemporary Christian and Post-Christian denominations today that echo Arian thinking. Jehovah's Witnesses are often referred to as "modern-day Arians" or sometimes "Semi-Arians", usually by their opponents.