Because of the new conditions created in the early part of the fourth century, the Christian church experienced a period of intense activity which manifested itself particularly in the field of dogma. In the fourth century problems of dogma preoccupied not only individual men, as was the case in the third century with Tertullian or Origen, but also entire parties, consisting of large, well-organized groups of individuals.
In the fourth century councils became a common occurrence and they were considered the only effective means for settling debatable problems. But in this movement a new element is present in the relations between church and state, highly significant for the subsequent history of relations between the spiritual and the temporal powers. Beginning with Constantine the Great, the state took part in the religious disputes and directed them as it saw fit. In many cases, obviously, the interests of the state did not coincide with those of the church. For many centuries the cultural center of the East was the Egyptian city Alexandria, where intellectual activity rushed forth in a powerful stream. Quite naturally, the new dogmatical movements originated in Alexandria which, according to Professor A. Spassky, became the center of theological development in the East and attained in the Christian world the particular fame of a philosophical church which never tired of studying higher problems of religion and science. Although it was an Alexandrian presbyter, Arius, who gave his name to the most significant heretical teaching of Constantine's period, the doctrine had originated in the second half of the third century in Antioch, Syria, where Lucian, one of the most learned men of the time, had founded an exegetical-theological school. This school, as A. Harnack said, is the nursery of the Arian doctrine, and Lucian, its head, is the Arius before Arius.
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