Skip to main content



A 4th-century Christian sect that denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit; its devotees were known as Macedonians from the time of Pope damasus I and had their center at the Hellespont. Relying solely on the Scriptures and repudiating metaphysical speculation, the Pneumatomachians denied that the Holy Spirit was God since the New Testament said nothing about His participation in the work of creation; they claimed He was not of the same essence as the Father and Son. As they denied the divinity of the Spirit, they received the name of opponents of the Spirit (Pneumatomachoi ). The earliest information on this group was supplied by athanasius of alexandria in his Ad. Serapion (Patrologia Graeca 26:530). Ecclesiastical action against this group was taken in a synod at Alexandria (362) that declared a heretic whoever spoke of the Holy Spirit as a creature (kstima : Patrologia Graeca 26:800). The Cappadocian fathers opposed the theology of the Pneumatomachians and in a synod at Iconium (377) the heresy was condemned (Patrologia Graeca 39:93). In 379 Pope Damasus I, at a Roman synod, and the bishops of the Orient, in a synod at Antioch, likewise opposed this teaching. It was definitively anathematized at the Council of constantinople i and condemned by a law of theodosius i (Cod. 16.5, 1113). Despite the assertion of didymus the blind (c. 380), Macedonius, the semi-Arian bishop of Constantinople (342360), was not a founder of this sect.

Bibliography: j. quasten, Patrology (Westminster, Md. 1950) v. 3, index s.v. Pneumatomachoi. h. dÖrries, De Spiritu Sancto (Göttingen 1956). j. gribomont, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller, et al. (Paris 1932) 4:125772. g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 190350) 9.2:146474. t. schermann, Die Gottheit des Heiligen Geistes nach den griechischen Vätern des 4, Jahrhunderts (Freiburg 1901).

[f. hauser]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Pneumatomachians." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 20 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Pneumatomachians." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (February 20, 2019).

"Pneumatomachians." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.