The Council Of Nicaea And Christmas- What Child Is This Anyway?

The Council Of Nicaea And Christmas- What Child Is This Anyway? by: Off The Grid News

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
—John 14:6

Peace In Rome Brings Other Problems

The world was finally at peace.  Constantine had defeated his rival and taken the helm of the Empire. As Emperor, he ended the persecution of the Church and professed faith in Christ.  The new “Christian era” could begin now. So far, so good, right? Well, kind of.

It would not be easy.  Once the persecutions were over, it was now safe to profess faith in Christ publicly. In fact, confessing Christ publicly even became “the thing to do” no matter what you believed or how you lived.  The Church now had before it an enormous task of discipling the faithful and disciplining the unrepentant.  In many ways, during this transition period, the Church failed.  But at one crucial point, through some heated discussion and debate… the Church got it right.

The story begins in Egypt, in the city of Alexandria.  An elder there, Arius, began to preach his own revision of who Jesus Christ was.  Arius was a rationalist.  He wanted a God who made sense to human reason.  Earlier, the Christian gospel had denounced the polytheism of the pagan world.  Well and good.  But the Church insisted that the Father was God and that Christ, the Son, was also God.  But that’s two gods. That’s polytheism, Arius argued.  And so Arius soon campaigned vigorously for what he believed to be an unflinching monotheism.

The Arian Jesus

Arius insisted that there is only one God, the Father.  He believed the Father alone is eternal and uncreated.  He also believed the Father is wholly unlike anything in the created world.  But like the God of neo-orthodoxy, he is ineffable in his transcendence. To Arius, God the Father is entirely beyond human categories of description:  “God himself then in his own nature is ineffable by all men.  Equal or like himself he alone has none or one in glory.”  So describes Arius in his Thalia, a mixture of prose and poetry that described his theology.

So who is the Son then?  Arius said that the Son is the greatest of God’s creatures.  He isn’t God, but only the Son of God, and that only by adoption:  “The Unbegun made the Son a beginning of things originated, and advanced him as a Son to himself by adoption.  He has nothing proper to God in proper subsistence.  For he is not equal, no, nor one essence with him.”

The Son, then, for Arius is a temporal and finite creature.  He isn’t all knowing.  He can’t even comprehend the Father, let alone reveal him to us. Arius said it this way:  “To speak in brief, God is ineffable to the Son.  For he is to himself what he is, that is, unspeakable.  So that nothing which is called comprehensible does the Son know to speak about; for it is impossible for him to investigate the Father, who is by himself.”  Arius declared God to be “forever silent.” So much so that not even his Son can describe him. But for Arius, it didn’t stop there.

Arius Opens A Dangerous Door

Arius went further.  Since the Son is a created being, it would be possible for God to create other sons or “godlings” as great as Jesus. According to Arius:  “One equal to the Son, the Superior is able to beget; but one more excellent, or superior, or greater, he is not able.”  Arius believed that God could have many adopted sons, each one less than the perfect revelation of the Father and yet each potentially more relevant culturally or historically than the others.

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