I gave a presentation on Athanasius of Alexandria today. Afterward my professor followed with a lecture which he ended by asking whether or not the class thought (1) Athanasius thought Eusebius and his fellow Arians were lost and (2) whether or not we thought Eusebius and his followers were lost. While it seems very evident that Athanasius doubted the salvation of the Arians, especially since he understood their concept of Christ as created being as necessitating idolatry, it was not as evident among my peers and I.
To make matters a bit more complex the question was asked if there was a differance between Eusebius and other Arian teachers and, for example, newly converted Arian Christians among the Goths who did not know about the controversies taking place amongst the Nicene and Arian parties. Did their ignorance excuse heresy?
Equally, if heresy prevents salvation how does this fit into the concept of salvation by grace through faith in Christ? How much “knowledge” does someone have to obtain for their faith to be in the real Christ and therefore legitimate.
For those who may think this is a battle of later, institionalized Christianity do remember that the Apostle Paul, Jude, and the author of 1 John all spend time addressing the seemingly salvific connotations of orthodoxy. With that being said I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts since we will be resuming this discussion in two weeks when our class regathers.