Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Council of Nicaea

For those that aren't into early church history, today is the 1679th anniversary of the conclusion of the first ecumenical conference of the Christian church, the First Council of Nicaea. While the Davinci Code calls ths council the origin of the belief in Christ's divinity, this is not the case.

The council was called by Roman Emperor Constantine to address the developing division in the church between the followers of Arius (Arians) and main body of believers. Arius taught that Jesus was not truly God, but instead a lesser form of Diety. For this he was cast out of the church as were the small number (2-5 out of the 325 in the council) of bishops who sided with him. The Divinity of Christ was firmly established and the norm in the church in Nicaea unlike what Dan Brown would have you believe.

The major work to come out of the First Council of Nicaea is the Nicene Creed or Symbol:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
Later the following was added when similar concerns over the Divinity of the Holy Spirit were raised in the Ecumenical Council in Constantinople:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The underlined "and the son" is called the filioque clause and is only used in Catholic and Western Christian churches. Orthodox and Eastern churches don't use it. It is one of the causes of the Great Schism between East and West.

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