Nicene Council

Nicaea was the first ecumenical (worldwide) council of the church, the first gathering of all the church leaders; from Africa and Syria; from Mesopotamia, Persia, Pontus, Galatia, Pamphylia, Cilicia, Phrygia, Thrace, Macedonia, Achaia, Spain. This council in 325 that was the first that could be claimed ecumenical must have been contemplated as something new and great. Here we have a collective church speaking by its authentic voice with a presumption of divine guidance, part of the new world that the church had become.

In debate were Monoyphysites, Nestorius, Pelagianism, Manicheism, all in battle against the orthodox position of the divinity of Christ. Constantine knew that the dissension could not be bridged by means of reason for there were logical arguments on both sides. The Nicene creed still remains in the orthodox position. The Son is one being in essence with the Father. It hurls the anathema on those who say there was a time when He was not. Constantine banned those including Arius who would not sign the creed. In effect the power of the state, formerly employed on the Christians was now used to support orthodoxy against heresy. From each persecution and heresy the Church emerged stronger and wiser than before.

Constantine's call for the council established a significant precedent for ecumenical thinking. About three hundred Bishops attended, most from the east. Eusibius' faction set to displace Athenasius, the powerful and gifted leader from Alexandria. Nowhere in the east was one who defended Nicaea or Athenasius. Constans was Catholic and the church free. Murdered in 350, Constantius II became emperor and bid to subdue the west. The same Christians who were persecuted shortly before under Diocletian and Galerius ruled, now that imperial favor was extended for suppression, banishment, or ejection from the church by the power of the state. Since the question is of a metaphysical state, the argument may seem senseless. Christians fought each other over a diphthong.

Arianism was finally killed in the Empire but lingered for centuries among the barbarians. Unless He was truly the Son of God in human life, he would be made something like a demi-god of pagan mythology. The Bishops when drawing up definitions did not try to explain the mystery but sought to exclude false ways of thinking about it. I (Jesus) in them and them in Me. The position of Constantinople as capital cannot be ignored, she shared honors as second to Rome and ahead of Alexandria. Constantine hoped to settle the problem by the council, a wave of the imperial hand by getting them together to discuss a problem which did not seem to him to be serious.

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the virgin Mary, And was made man, And was crucified also for us by Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, And the third day He rose again according to the scriptures, And ascended into Heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.

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