The Legend of the Death of Arius – Imagination and Propaganda in the Development of Early Christianity.
As a JW, I, of course, soon learnt the standard JW belief that there was no such thing as a triune god. Whereas most other christians believe in a triune god.
So in one of my classes, a couple of years ago, when we examined the Arian/Athanasian controversy, I could joke with the lecturer, that I was almost certainly the only ‘follower’ of Arius in his class.
As part of the discussion we had a look at the christian circulated story, detailing the death of Arius. Here’s the story:
The death occurred (it is related) when Arius was ex-communicated, then went to Constantinople and appealed to the Emperor Constantine to cancel his ex-communication. Constantine issued an instruction that the church should re-admit Arius to the church. Arius and his followers then decidedto press the local bishop, Alexander, for admission to the church and renewed communion with local Christians. But Alexander was a follower of Athanasius, and in the story locked himself in the church and prayed to God to use his power and stop Arius from polluting the church with his presence. We can now read in a letter written by Athanasius (his Letter to Serapion) the drama that followed :
“Praying about these things, the bishop withdrew, very concerned; but a wondrous and unexpected thing took place. As those with Eusebius threatened, the bishop prayed, and Arius, overconfident in those who were with Eusebius, foolishly went in to the ‘throne’ (toilet) because of the necessity of his gut. Immediately, according to what is written, ‘falling face first, he burst in the middle’. Upon falling, he immediately expired, deprived of both communion and his life at the same time.”
Note. How closely this resembles the death of an earlier perceived enemy of christianity, Judas, who also it is said, ‘split open’ and died.