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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Aerians

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a sect which arose about the middle of the fourth century, being the followers of Aerius, (who must be distinguished from Arius and Aetius,) a monk and a presbyter of Sebastia, in Pontus. He is charged with being an Arian, or Semi-Arian; but the heaviest accusation against him is an attempt to reform the church; and, by rejecting prayers for the dead, with certain fasts and festivals then superstitiously observed, to reduce Christianity as nearly as possible "to its primitive simplicity; a purpose, indeed, laudable and noble," says Dr. Mosheim, "when considered in itself; though the principles from whence it springs, and the means by which it is executed, are sometimes, in many respects, worthy of censure, and may have been so in the case of this reformer." This gentle rebuke probably refers to a report that the zeal of Aerius originated in his being disappointed of the bishopric of Sebastia, (conferred on Eustathius,) which led him to affirm that the Scriptures make no distinction between a presbyter and a bishop, which he founded chiefly on 1 Timothy 4:14 . Hence he is considered by many, as the father of the modern Presbyterians.—"For this opinion, chiefly, says Dr. Turner, he is ranked among the heretics, by Epiphanius, his contemporary, who calls it a notion full of folly and madness. His followers were driven from the churches, and out of all the towns and villages, and were obliged to assemble in the woods, caverns, and open defiles."


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Aerians'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/a/aerians.html. 1831-2.

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