Just what do homoousias and homoiousias mean? Questions for Discussion: Lesson 13A- “Chapter 11 “Athanasius Stubbornly Keeps the Faith” from  The Story of Christian Theology by Roger E. Olson

1. What was the theological distinction between homoousias and homoiousias? Why was this a major controversy in fourth century Christology?

2. The concept of hypostases was introduced into the Christological debates of the fourth century with the support of Athanasius, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Naziansus. How did this concept advance the cause of those who supported traditional Trinitarianism?

3. In his work Four Discourses Against the Arians, Athanasius attacked both Arians and Semi-Arians with a theological message that rejected subordinationism in any form. How should we summarize the main message of this treatise?

4. How would you contrast the theological positions of Emperors Valens and Theodosius, Valens’ successor? How did these men impact Athanasius’ life?

5. Olson argues that Athanasius followed “three lines of theological reasoning” in advancing his Christology and soteriology. How would you summarize these “three lines”?

6. The concept theosis, important to Irenaeus and Origen, is foundational in Athanasius’ soteriology. What did the word mean and how did it contribute to an “exchange theory of salvation”?

7. How did Athanasius connect salvation and the incarnation in his treatise  On the Incarnation of the Word?

8. In a nutshell, how would you explain Athanasius’ stubborness?

9. What does Olson mean when he says that Athanasius was an “Apollinarian before Apollinaris“? How did Athanasius’ incarnational theology put him in this situation?

See Lesson 13B for Correlated Readings:

Paul Tillich’s Lecture 12 The History of Christian Thought

Bible Verses for Reflection


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