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The Council of Nicaea

The Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical debate held by the early church, concluded on August 25, 325 with the establishment of the doctrine of the “Holy Trinity,” which is a term to represent the godhead (cp. Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). About the year 318, a controversy arose in Alexandria concerning the person of Christ — was He eternal and divine just as God the Father, or was He a creature, created by God? The council was convened by Roman Emperor Constantine I in May, the council also deemed the Arian belief of Christ as inferior to God as heretical, thus resolving an early church crisis.

Meeting at Nicaea in present-day Turkey, a great number attended and the council established the equality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity and asserted that only the Son became incarnate as Jesus Christ. The Arian leaders were subsequently banished from their churches for heresy. Emperor Constantine presided over the opening of the council and contributed to the discussion. He urged the adoption of a new creed (from the Latin meaning “I believe”) that would resolve the ambiguities between Christ and God.

This decision was written and carried back to the churches and they were expected to accept it. The power to decide the truth, then, was removed from Christ and His word and placed in the hands of delegates from churches. This is why Christians make such a strong appeal to scripture: they know it is what furnishes for all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and what reveals life and godliness (2 Peter 1:4). Christians do not need “official” pronouncements from men declaring what the Bible says — they just need people following the Bible! One final point: It is, unfortunately, easy to see that the step from this to placing the determination of truth in the hands of one man (the Pope) is not too great.

Kyle Campbell

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