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Nicene Creed


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Church leaders have long criticized the method in which the Nicene Creed was developed. "Consensus did not come easily. Opinions on such basic subjects as the nature of God were diverse and deeply felt, and debate was spirited. Decisions were not made by inspiration or revelation, but by majority vote, and some disagreeing factions split off and formed new churches...The doctrine became based more on popular opinion than on revelation." (M. Russell Ballard, â??Restored Truth,â? Ensign, Nov 1994, 65)

Quite often on this board, a critic will quote something said by Brigham Young and the TBM's will respond that BY's statement was never "officially" accepted as doctrine.

When Brigham Young's doctrine was left behind, what happened? "Some disagreeing factions split off and formed new churches."

How is this different than what happened at the Council of Nicea?

What's the use of having a prophet if what he teaches over the pulpit (not just once but many times) can be rejected later?

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How is this different than what happened at the Council of Nicea?

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve determine doctrine jointly, and they present it to the membership. It is the membership that chooses if doctrine is binding upon themselves, not a bunch of politically (threats from Constantine) and ideologically motivated Christian bishops coming together to decide what Christians in general are supposed to believe.

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How is this different than what happened at the Council of Nicea?

I have never heard it claimed that the men of this or other such ecumenical councils claimed to be directly inspired and receiving revelations from God. I believe that any such particular and strong pronouncements must have God and not the reasoning of men at its root. And seeing as how they have made no such claim of divine manifestations, I can not ascribe such things. Now obviously it should take more than to say so, but I tend to think that in revelatory pronouncements from LDS leaders the difference is, in two words, divine intervention.

What's the use of having a prophet if what he teaches over the pulpit (not just once but many times) can be rejected later?

The prophet is still a man of his time, not an infallible constant loudspeaker for God. He has the keys and authority to seek and receive revelation for the whole of the Church as well as administer and approve all God's ordinances. Having a prophet is not equivalent to having Christ in the flesh walking about teaching. There is a huge difference and I really cannot understand why outsiders have such difficulty making this distinction.

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It is the membership that chooses if doctrine is binding upon themselves, not a bunch of politically (threats from Constantine) and ideologically motivated Christian bishops coming together to decide what Christians in general are supposed to believe.

Is it the membership completely and unanimously that makes that decision, or does it really depend on the majority? <_<

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but there were no political threats made by Constantine during the council itself. However, once the deliberations were through, and the creed was penned, Constantine took matters into his own hands and exiled the main dissenters (only a few bishops). There was no political pressure over the council while the creed was being formulated. And anyways, all the exiled bishops eventually returned and gained even more political power. If anyone was trying to get their doctrines pushed through politically, over against the will of the church at large, it was the Arians. Again, correct me if I'm wrong (gently, please :unsure: ).

Take care, everyone :P

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I don't see the connection, in that some of the Nicene Creed authors actually LAMENTED that God wouldn't speak to them on what to do. They never portended to have revelation from God.

Conversely, arguments and disagreements DO occur in the high counsels of the church on doctrinal issues. Check Acts 10 for Paul and Peter in disagreement, and how it was settled.

Lastly, I don't believe you understand [or if you do, you don't accept] the interpretation of what BY was saying about Adam. Or who he really believed Adam to be. Seeing through a glass darkly, imo.

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I don't see the connection, in that some of the Nicene Creed authors actually LAMENTED that God wouldn't speak to them on what to do. They never portended to have revelation from God.

Conversely, arguments and disagreements DO occur in the high counsels of the church on doctrinal issues. Check Acts 10 for Paul and Peter in disagreement, and how it was settled.

Lastly, I don't believe you understand [or if you do, you don't accept] the interpretation of what BY was saying about Adam. Or who he really believed Adam to be. Seeing through a glass darkly, imo.

Also, there is no self-appointed emperor and ruler of the church overseeing everything. He does not have favorites whom he backs with his powers of intimidation. There is no threat of banishment or death for those who do not vote in favor of his favorites. There is a leader whom all have sustained as their leader. The decision must be unanimous. There are not factions resting upon the speculation of professional theologians. Most of all, our church attempts to find the will of God, not 1) perpetuate a pet theory, 2) attempt to establish tranquility and equilibrium within the empire, or 3) win a debate. The two are irreconcilably different.

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Is it the membership completely and unanimously that makes that decision, or does it really depend on the majority? :P

See my post above regarding doctrine. All votes are under majority rule.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but there were no political threats made by Constantine during the council itself. However, once the deliberations were through, and the creed was penned,

I think you are politically naive. Those bishops were very much aware that there would be consequences. You don't tug on Superman's cape, and you don't disagree with the emporer.

Constantine took matters into his own hands and exiled the main dissenters (only a few bishops). There was no political pressure over the council while the creed was being formulated. And anyways, all the exiled bishops eventually returned and gained even more political power. If anyone was trying to get their doctrines pushed through politically, over against the will of the church at large, it was the Arians.

You seem to agree that this was all about power, not revelation.

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See my post above regarding doctrine. All votes are under majority rule.

What happens to those in the minority? Just curious.

I think you are politically naive. Those bishops were very much aware that there would be consequences. You don't tug on Superman's cape, and you don't disagree with the emporer.

Politically naive, perhaps. But historically, not so much. Constantine did not call in a council with a predetermined conclusion in mind. He merely backed the majority that finally wrote the creed. If Constantine had gone in planning to back one group over the other, why would he support one group at first, and then go the other way later on, inviting the Arians back into political power (which still didn't result in the church as a whole becoming Arian, by the way, which negates the argument that political power grants the right to set doctrine).

You seem to agree that this was all about power, not revelation.

Regarding Constantine, who my post focused on, it was undoubtedly about power and stability. I was not making a statement regarding the bishops in attendance. I take for granted that these were, almost to a man, faithful men of God. Many of them attended the conference still bearing the wounds and disfigurings from the last round of persecutions, paying a high price for their faith. They were not perfect, but neither were they mere politicians.

Take care, everyone :P

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Is it the membership completely and unanimously that makes that decision, or does it really depend on the majority? :P

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but there were no political threats made by Constantine during the council itself.

The Creed was to be signed or banishment. If you read Eusebius of Nicomedia's letter written to Constantine shortly after the council you will read "We committed an impious act, O prince, by subscribing to a blasphemy out of fear of you." Threats were very much a part of the council.

However, once the deliberations were through, and the creed was penned, Constantine took matters into his own hands and exiled the main dissenters (only a few bishops).

Only those who wouldn't sign. A couple of bishops actually tried to quickly sneak a little iota into the text as they went up to sign it so it would read "of like substance" instead of "same substance." They were quickly banished.

There was no political pressure over the council while the creed was being formulated.

Correct. Constantine didn't care what they decided as long as they decided on something binding. When "consubstantial" was proposed he saw it as as good a reconciliation as was going to be had, so he called the game and told everyone to sign.

And anyways, all the exiled bishops eventually returned and gained even more political power.

That was because Constantine's son was an Arian. The disputes didn't end for hundreds of years.

If anyone was trying to get their doctrines pushed through politically, over against the will of the church at large, it was the Arians. Again, correct me if I'm wrong (gently, please <_< ).

Not entirely correct. Both sides tried to get their position pushed through politically, but the Arians were fewer in number and their opponents were personal friends of Constantine, so they were fighting a losing battle from the beginning. When Arius wrote a summation of his beliefs and how they could all agree it was torn to pieces before the council without even being read.

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What happens to those in the minority? Just curious.

They go home, eat lunch, take a nap, watch TV.

Politically naive, perhaps. But historically, not so much. Constantine did not call in a council with a predetermined conclusion in mind.

This was not a *doctrinal* issue, but a *political*one.

He was not interested in truth, but harmony and stability, as you said.

He merely backed the majority that finally wrote the creed.

Yep. He wanted consensus. Once he discovered which solution brought the greatest consensus, (again he did not care about truth), he decided that was the official doctrine of the church.

Truth by majority vote and the power of the king.

Christianity bought peace and political protection, but at a price it is still paying today. Thus the need for a restoration of the priesthood and modern revelation.

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This was not a *doctrinal* issue, but a *political*one.

He was not interested in truth, but harmony and stability, as you said.

Constantine was, correct, but you seem to be roping all the bishops in the council into that corral, which does not fit the facts. Constantine and the bishops both wanted a solution, but for different reasons and through different means. While I could agree that Constantine did go too far in his authority, I strongly disagree that this automatically means that the conclusion of the council is suspect and/or apostate.

Yep. He wanted consensus. Once he discovered which solution brought the greatest consensus, (again he did not care about truth), he decided that was the official doctrine of the church.

Constantine did not decide anything was the official doctrine of the church. Constantine backed the decision of the bishops, who rightfully could make that determination. And in any case, when the Arians got back in power, they were still unable to change the minds of the church at large, the rank and file of the membership. The buck indeed did not stop with Constantine.

Truth by majority vote and the power of the king.

Still waiting for evidence that the "power of the king" had anything to do with the conclusions of the council, and there widespread acceptance by the members of the church.

Take care, everyone :P

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Church leaders have long criticized the method in which the Nicene Creed was developed. "Consensus did not come easily. Opinions on such basic subjects as the nature of God were diverse and deeply felt, and debate was spirited. Decisions were not made by inspiration or revelation, but by majority vote, and some disagreeing factions split off and formed new churches...The doctrine became based more on popular opinion than on revelation." (M. Russell Ballard, â??Restored Truth,â? Ensign, Nov 1994, 65)

The decisions of our leaders are made by inspiration and/or revelation, and our doctrine is based more on revelation than on popular opinion.

Basically, we do the opposite.

Quite often on this board, a critic will quote something said by Brigham Young and the TBM's will respond that BY's statement was never "officially" accepted as doctrine.

I disagree. I believe I'm a TBM and I state that everything Brigham Young stated while an apostle of our Lord is considered "official" doctrine... even though it's not included in our canon or standard works.

When Brigham Young's doctrine was left behind, what happened? "Some disagreeing factions split off and formed new churches."

Yes. That's what usually happens when people disagree with what their leaders tell them is true.

How is this different than what happened at the Council of Nicea?

See above, but basically, those who accepted and still accept Brigham Young as one of their leaders was and is now a faithful member of our Church.

What's the use of having a prophet if what he teaches over the pulpit (not just once but many times) can be rejected later?

Exactly.

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Still waiting for evidence that the "power of the king" had anything to do with the conclusions of the council, and there widespread acceptance by the members of the church.

Quoting from Nibley - The World and the Prophets, from the chapter about Prophets and creeds:

Constantine writes to the heads of the fighting parties...

"These and such like technical questions . . . are simply a sort of parlour game (ereschalia) for the passing of idle time, and albeit they may be justified as providing a kind of training for the wits, they are best kept locked and confined in your own minds, and not lightly aired in public places nor foolishly permitted to reach the ears of the masses. For just how many people are there who can understand such advanced and extremely puzzling matters, or have any clear idea what they are about, or give a correct explanation of them? And even if someone should suppose that he could understand it easily, how many of the common people will he be able to persuade? Or who would be able to carry on a disputation in the subtleties of such technical questions without running an appalling risk? Therefore a great outpouring of words in such matters should be prohibited, lest the problem presently carry us beyond the depths of our own limited understanding, or we go beyond the limited training of those who listen to our teachings, who can no longer understand what is said, and out of this double defect the whole society necessarily fall into blasphemy or schism. While you wrangle with one another over minor, nay, utterly trivial matters, it is not right that God's numerous people should be led by your minds; in view of your disunity, such a thing is utterly wrong, absolutely improper."

He further says:

In the statement that follows occurs an interesting admission: "We are well aware that the Bishops and writers of ancient times when discussing the theology of the Father and the Son never used the word homoousios." To allay the doubts of his flock Eusebius hastens to assure them that "the faith here promulgated . . . we all agreed upon, not without careful examination and according to opinions presented and agreed upon in carefully stated logismoi, and in the presence of the most devout Emperor." In other words, the committee had worked hard. All the trouble has been caused, according to this document "by the use of certain expressions not found in the Scripture. . . . Since the divinely inspired Scriptures never use such terms as 'out of nothing,' or 'that existed which at one time did not exist,' and such like terms; for it did not seem proper (eulogon) to say and teach such things, . . . never in times before have we thought it proper to use these terms." The letter then proceeds to authorize the use of those very terms which it acknowledges to be unknown to the early Christians. Had God so changed his nature that he needed new terms to describe that nature?

The last bit I quote is:

We turn next to Athanasius' great western contemporary St. Hilary: "It is a thing equally deplorable and dangerous," he writes in a famous passage, "that there are as many creeds as opinions among men, as many doctrines as inclinations, and as many sources of blasphemy as there are faults among us; because we make creeds arbitrarily, and explain them arbitrarily. . . . The homoousion is rejected, and received, and explained away by successive synods. . . . Every year, nay every month, we make new creeds to describe invisible mysteries. We repent of what we have done, we defend those who change their minds, we anathematise those whom we defended. We condemn either the doctrine of others in ourselves, or our own in that of others; and, reciprocally tearing one another to pieces, we have been the cause of each other's ruin."

Clearly whatever was going on wasn't the work of God but the shenanigans of men and how anyone can take those creeds seriously as a result just boggles my mind.

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"These and such like technical questions . . . are simply a sort of parlour game (ereschalia) for the passing of idle time, and albeit they may be justified as providing a kind of training for the wits, they are best kept locked and confined in your own minds, and not lightly aired in public places nor foolishly permitted to reach the ears of the masses. For just how many people are there who can understand such advanced and extremely puzzling matters, or have any clear idea what they are about, or give a correct explanation of them? And even if someone should suppose that he could understand it easily, how many of the common people will he be able to persuade? Or who would be able to carry on a disputation in the subtleties of such technical questions without running an appalling risk? Therefore a great outpouring of words in such matters should be prohibited, lest the problem presently carry us beyond the depths of our own limited understanding, or we go beyond the limited training of those who listen to our teachings, who can no longer understand what is said, and out of this double defect the whole society necessarily fall into blasphemy or schism. While you wrangle with one another over minor, nay, utterly trivial matters, it is not right that God's numerous people should be led by your minds; in view of your disunity, such a thing is utterly wrong, absolutely improper."

Ooooooh. I like that one. <_<

I'm tempted to use it in my signature, but it seems a little too long. :P

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Church leaders have long criticized the method in which the Nicene Creed was developed. "Consensus did not come easily. Opinions on such basic subjects as the nature of God were diverse and deeply felt, and debate was spirited. Decisions were not made by inspiration or revelation, but by majority vote, and some disagreeing factions split off and formed new churches...The doctrine became based more on popular opinion than on revelation." (M. Russell Ballard, â??Restored Truth,â? Ensign, Nov 1994, 65)

Quite often on this board, a critic will quote something said by Brigham Young and the TBM's will respond that BY's statement was never "officially" accepted as doctrine.

When Brigham Young's doctrine was left behind, what happened? "Some disagreeing factions split off and formed new churches."

How is this different than what happened at the Council of Nicea?

What's the use of having a prophet if what he teaches over the pulpit (not just once but many times) can be rejected later?

1. LDS Theology nor Leadership does not come about by "majority vote", like the Catholic Church, it is by full consensus.

2. In most cases of some past LDS leaders words, the person quoting them is assuming a falsehood from the words, rather than what was actually being meant by them, be it the so-called Adam/God or Mary having sex with God issues? 99.9% of LDS especially those who are well familiar with the scriptures and the Temple know very well what Brigham Young et al were teaching.

3. The Church has still been the Church, no matter what "rare" statement from history by some leader that doesn't "sound right" or "isn't right". It is above individual men, it is God's Work and Glory. Frankly, I'll take the LDS "actual human error ratio" (not the misrepresentations by anti's) compared to the rest of the planets so called Prophets/Preachers/Religionists etc.

4. No comparison whatsoever to Nicea. The Twelve Apostles and First Presidency make no decision on behalf of the Church at large which does not have full consensus by Revelation from the Holy Ghost to each member of those quorums. The Church is WAY above the conventions of men.

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1. LDS Theology nor Leadership does not come about by "majority vote", like the Catholic Church, it is by full consensus.

I believe it may be getting confusing so perhaps a bit info on timing needs to be added--

Before putting it to the membership, yea, it must be full consensus among the leadership--the First Presidency and the 12. Once that is accomplished, the congregation would vote to sustain or not sustain it. That would be majority vote, I bellieve...though those who did not sustain would be called aside for their reasoning and might cause some change to be made (this has happened in the case of callings, I have not heard of it happening in the case of canonization).

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I believe it may be getting confusing so perhaps a bit info on timing needs to be added--

Before putting it to the membership, yea, it must be full consensus among the leadership--the First Presidency and the 12. Once that is accomplished, the congregation would vote to sustain or not sustain it. That would be majority vote, I bellieve...though those who did not sustain would be called aside for their reasoning and might cause some change to be made (this has happened in the case of callings, I have not heard of it happening in the case of canonization).

I have never heard of a situation where the membership opposed a motion in a majority and it was striken down.

That said, for the most part, sustaining IS NOT voting.

When a Bishop (or anyone) is called to a duty, they are called by God. They do not need to be voted in by the members. They have received and accepted the calling already before members are asked to sustain them.

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The methods of the Nicene Creed are consistent with the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). At the council of Jerusalem there was "much disputing" about a question. The council at Nicaea arrived at there decisions with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and with authority like the Jerusalem council. The power of the Spirit guides the members of the council into all truth.

God continues to converse with today's Apostolic Church. The Father's self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church. By special Divine assistance the Church of Christ is preserved from liability to error in her definitive dogmatic teachings regarding matters of faith and morals.

Constantine convoked the council of Nicaea. He invited the bishops of the world to assemble to decide the questions raised. Constantine delivered an address to the convocation, urging the restoration of peace in the Church, upset in many places by the preaching of the novel Arian doctrine. Otherwise Constantine took no part in the deliberations of the Council; it was entirely an affair of the Churchâ??s bishops.

The right to summon an ecumenical council belongs properly to the head of the Apostolic Chuch. The conduct of the deliberations, the right of presidency, belongs to the pope or his representative. Papal approbation is required to give ecumenical value and authority to conciliar decrees.

The prophets of the New Testament DID NOT have the authority to seek and receive revelation for the whole of the Church. Prophets like Paul and Barnabus recognized the authority of the council at Jerusalem and went to the Jerusalem church to settle the dispute. AFTER the council resolved the dispute, the prophets Paul and Barnabus exhorted the brethren.

The Nicene Creed represents a classic example of what is called the "development of doctrine". Development of doctrine defines, sharpens, and interprets the deposit of faith. Understanding grows and deepens over time. It takes the authority of Christ's Church and the successors of the apostles to formulate the doctrines of the faith properly.

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