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When Constantine Coerced The Bishops ...


LeSellers

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Constantine called the 325 ad council at Nicaea (now in Turkey) when the Arians (now considered heretics, then, just another denomination of Christianity) and the Nicenes (who eventually won the war-cum-debate, now counted as orthodox – "history is written by the winners") appealed to the emperor for a final determination as to which would be the "acceptable" version of what had already become the apostate Church of Jesus Christ. No one denies, at least not I, that all the participants were sincere in their beliefs, and that each side was genuinely concerned for the other's welfare. (This concern had already resulted in horrific atrocities on both sides: the burning of buildings, resort to arms, massacres of women and children. Each felt so strongly that his interpretation of the scriptures — not the Bible as we know it, since it had not yet been compiled — was correct, that killing dissenters was preferable to letting the "false doctrines" they espoused promulgate.)

In his well researched and heavily footnoted book, Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance, H.A. Drake (Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara), Chapter Seven, "Consensus Politics" (p. 256~7), tells us:

From the letter [Constantine] wrote to the principals [the bishops he convoked to the council under the implied, and eventually realized, threat of imperial power] only months earlier, it is safe to say that the theological implications, one way or the other, would not have bothered him. But the whole purpose of the council, to his mind, was unity, and homoousios was chosen specifically to drive a wedge into the assembly.
Two considerations bring the dynamics of the debate into focus. First, it is necessary to discard the assumption of a clear divide between orthodox and Arian position, such as came to be perceived in retrospect, when positions had hardened and a more sophisticated theological vocabulary developed. At the time, not only were there compelling arguments on both sides, but also the technical language did not exist to bring into sharp relief the cause of the division. Both sides, for instance, were accused of "Judaizing"—in fourth-century Christian vocabulary the equivalent of of seeking regnum in the Roman republic or being a Communist or Fascist in twentieth-century American politics. The Arians were like the Jews because they minimized the divinity of Christ, the Nicenes because they emphasized the Oneness of the Divine Being. The reaction of any Jewish listeners can only be imagined, but a century later, Christians looking back on the charges and countercharges leveled during this likened the two sides to armies groping their way in the dark, neither side exactly clear what it was fighting about.[1] The majority of bishops at the council, it is generally conceded, were as confused by the theological intricacies of the question as a modern layperson is likely to be, and they were ready to support anything that was not patently heretical. Eusebius ... described the reaction of the bishops to the emperor's summons: "As soon then as the imperial injunction was generally made known, all with the utmost willingness hastened thither, as though they would outstrip one another in a race; for they were impelled by the anticipation of a happy result to the conference, by the hope of enjoying present peace, and the desire of beholding something new and strange in the person of so admirable an emperor."

Note [1] Socrates Scholasticus,
Historia Ecclesiastica
1.23

... Constantine's motive is a bit harder to tease forth, only because it must be deduced from the scanty evidence that survives. His preparations for the council, and the outcome he desired, involved concessions to both sides. The outline of of his concessions to "the party of Eusebius" is fairly clear: he gave them the choice of venue and undertook to restrain the more virulent voices of the opposition. What had he given to bring the "the party of Alexander" to the table? Only one conclusion accords with the outcome. At the end of the day, they would have a creed that clearly branded Arius a heretic. Like all catchwords, homoousios was defensible only in the entire context of debate and study that led to its choice. But it had the one advantage of being a word that exposed and isolated Arius. When all the arguing and cajoling was [sic] done, only two bishops, both of them among Arius's original supporters, refused to sign. By imperial decree, they were sent into exile, along with Arius (who, as a presbyter, did not participate in his own condemnation) and a miscellaneous group of priests and students loyal to his cause.

Notice the recurring theme of imperial coercion, of a predetermined, political outcome. Notice, too, how, by their notorious absence, inspiration and divine guidance are screaming for our attention because the participants in 325 paid them no heed whatsoever. In all Eusebius's account (nor any other, for that matter) there is no mention of such guidance, and none at all that gives any indication that the council had any Celestial authority to dictate a creed, none to consign Arius to exile, none to define God. Yet all creedal Christianity (from the eastern, Coptic, English, and Roman catholics to the Holy Assembly of the Sacred Name and other Pentecostals, including all, or nearly so, protestant sects) accepts this travesty of a council as binding as to the nature of God, the relationship between the Father and the Son, and theirs with the Holy Ghost.

Finally, notice that "Christian theology" was non-existent in the IV, and that, even at that late date, the Gospel of Jesus Christ (however much altered by the traditions and philosophy of the Greek intellectual world it inhabited*) had not needed scholars and a "technical vocabulary" to interpret or understand it. This confusion and complexity came later as men added to, modified, and deleted the simple, plain words of scripture and denied contemporary revelation.

* See also
Augustine of Hippo, A Biography
by Peter Brown, Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University, for supporting data.

The Council of Nicaea (and all of the others before and since) is simply antithetical to the plain and biblical method God had used for 4,000 years when He had something to tell His children, or when they had strayed and needed setting right: In every case prior to this, He had called a prophet, sometimes more than one. There was never a case of a "council" of this sort, called by the political ruler to regulate (not "correct", just "normalize") His kingdom.

Let's recall that, in the ancient world, all political power and all ecclesiastical power were combined in one person: the god-king. To a certain extent, we have the same structure today: our Head is Christ Whom we recognize as "King of kings" and "Lord of lords" on the one hand, and as "Savior", "High Priest", and "God" on the other. Indeed, we frequently say, "O, Lord, my God" referring to Him. The tradition goes back at least as far as Shem/Melchizedek in the Salem of Abraham's day: he was the "Prince of Peace" and the "King of Righteousness", as well as the High Priest to whom Abraham paid his tithes. It goes back further in recorded time, too, since Pharaoh was a god, and so were most other kings. But I use Shem/Melchizedek to make the point that its origin is divine, however distorted it became over time.

Constantine saw himself as a sort of re-incarnation of Christ. Drake plucks this string on his harp in dozens of places. Eusebius, while never actually saying so, paints the emperor as both a regal and a celestial personage. Paintings and mosaics from the period show him with halo-like radiances emanating from his head. Constantine's world was one where political power was almost always cloaked in religious garb, and he used this tradition to its fullest extent to cement his own secular hold on the fracturing empire of decadent Rome.

People who claim the Bible is their only source of theology sadly neglect the fact that no scripture really says what it says: all scripture must be interpreted to have any meaning at all. And the filter or bias through which creedal Christianity reads scripture is that of Constantine's coerced council 1682 years ago.

Lehi

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Very interesting. One hears far too often from the EV side that the council was only held in order to formalize what everyone, except for a few dissenters, already believed and agreed on. History appears to paint a rather different picture.

Good thing we don't mix religion and politics today, with phrases like "The Christian Candidate" being used. The imperial process is still alive and well, with history repeating itself in the same general patterns. :P

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I have read a little about this. If I remember right, there was the threat of eclesiastical impotence for those that disagreed. Was this a concept you came across?

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I have read a little about this. If I remember right, there was the threat of eclesiastical impotence for those that disagreed. Was this a concept you came across?

I beleive the entire issue and everybody involved was allready ecclesiasticaly impotent ? :P

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I beleive the entire issue and everybody involved was allready ecclesiasticaly impotent ? :P

I reference within the Church at that time. If they disagreed with Constantine's position they were placed in a position that did not allow them to act or impact the Church at that time. Arius was not stripped of his position as Bishop, but was not allowed to ordain or preach, eccleiastically impotent.

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I have read a little about this. If I remember right, there was the threat of eclesiastical impotence for those that disagreed. Was this a concept you came across?
I don't recall any place that noted a deposition of a bishop or presbyter, but there were many mentions of exile and prohibitions against preaching specific doctrines.

A half century later, Augustine of Hippo was fighting essentially the same theological wars (again to the point of bloodshed), and the emperor did capture and imprison (iIRC) some renegade clerics. I'd have to check with Brown on that (I haven't finished his biography yet — lost in Hugo's Les Mis

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I reference within the Church at that time. If they disagreed with Constantine's position they were placed in a position that did not allow them to act or impact the Church at that time. Arius was not stripped of his position as Bishop, but was not allowed to ordain or preach.
Well, Arius was a "presbyter" (elder), not a bishop, so it was unlikely that he'd have been doing much ordaining anyway. But he was sent to Lyon in present-day France.

Eventually he wrote a letter to (interestingly enough) Constantine, not Eusebius or another Bishop asking for forgiveness. One of his supported was still in exile, and wrote for clemency as well, arguing that if the proponent of the heresy was forgiven, he, who didn't actually preach the infamous doctrine, ought to be allowed to go back home, too.

It's all very complicated, and, as we have noted, political in the extreme. And Constantine was extremely consistent with his own motivation: he wanted peace through religion, and forgave whom he would, condemned others, and spread his favors as best he thought to attain that goal.

Lehi

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It's all very complicated, and, as we have noted, political in the extreme. And Constantine was extremely consistent with his own motivation: he wanted peace through religion, and forgave whom he would, condemned others, and spread his favors as best he thought to attain that goal.

Lehi

Lehi,

How many stood with Arius, in the council?

How many stood against?

Do you have any tally of the final tally in your book?

It seems to me if Constantine's ultimate goal was peace in the religion, he would most likely make any decisions of his own based upon the majority?

What do you think?

Mudcat

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Lehi,

How many stood with Arius, in the council?

How many stood against?

Do you have any tally of the final tally in your book?

Final tally: "When all the arguing and cajoling [ended], only two bishops, both of them among Arius's original supporters, refused to sign."

There were more that were Arian-ish supporters at the beginning, I presume.

Excellent post, Lehi! As we can see, the state distorts and ultimately destroys every field of endeavor to the extent it sticks its nose into it, whether religion, radio, restaurants, or road construction.

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Do you have any tally of the final tally in your book?
The real question is not how many finished as "heretics", but how many started out on his side, and caved under imperial pressure. Twenty-two began in his support, but the pressure of another 250~300 bishops (not to mention other clerics) and the Emperor, not least, "persuaded" twenty of them to go along to get along.

Just asking the question acknowledges that there were politics and coercion in the process and definitely in the outcome.

It seems to me if Constantine's ultimate goal was peace in the religion, he would most likely make any decisions of his own based upon the majority?

What do you think?

Of course, the majority did, more or less, dictate the imperial position.

However, let's remember that the creed they concocted there was a compromise, not a revelation. The word homoousio was a fabrication designed to forward that compromise. It does not appear in the scriptures, and it is a single-word oxymoron, and its design was precisely to be vague enough so almost everyone could agree without disavowing his position. Only Arius (and his supporters) were left on the outside.

You all seem to condemn the Gnostics, but homoousio was originally their term. That's why they were condemned as heretics 35 years earlier. It is interesting to note that the very word that congealed support for the Trinitarians had been condemned at the 264-268 Synods of Antioch, which had no more Celestial legitimacy than did Nicaea. It seems that they just kept taking another bite of the apple until a "correct" outcome popped up. And, then, to keep the controversy from destroying the Empire, Constantine just exiled those who disagreed. Sorta like Algore and his Anthropogenic Global Warming: "The discussion is over, I'm right, doncha know."

And let's not forget the whole point of the passage I cited: Nicaea was not a God-ordained council, it was not conducted under inspiration; there was no divine imprimatur — the only stamp of approval was Constantine's. The Nicene creed (and by extension, all the creeds, since they were manufactured by the same process), whatever it is, it is not the word of God.

BTW, Drake's purpose in Constantine and the Bishops was to investigate the origins of the intolerance of Christians toward others who don't agree with them, not to study the origins of the creeds and orthodoxy. This chapter (seven) was just historical background to illuminate his point.

Lehi

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As we can see, the state distorts and ultimately destroys every field of endeavor to the extent it sticks its nose into it, whether religion, radio, restaurants, or road construction.
The libertarian in me wants to scream "YES, you have it!" I'd add "schools, science, safety, or savings banks." We're certainly both right about that, and much, much more.

However, that's not my point. The point is, no matter what Arius, Alexander, or Constantine said or did in Nicaea those 1683 years ago, it was not under the influence or authority of the Holy Ghost nor of Jesus Christ nor of God the Father. Few of those who believe the man-made religion whose doctrines were consolidated at that council recognize the infighting, the arm twisting, the threats and menacings that went into that creed. And fewer still know that it was not for the glory of God, but for the political power of an emperor who was barely a believer in the first place.

Lehi

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Good thing we don't mix religion and politics today, with phrases like "The Christian Candidate" being used. The imperial process is still alive and well, with history repeating itself in the same general patterns.
Indeed. That is the reason I would have a very difficult time voting for a Huckabee. He (for instance, he's hardly alone) has already shown he's willing to dictate theology from the capitol steps.

I fear we LDSs would be very saddened were someone with this sort of bent become the chief magistrate of the land, and could appoint judges who might support a theocracy after their own views. We already ran that gauntlet in the late XIX.

Lehi

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1) I dispute your characterization with this word [concocted].
You are free to dispute anything you like. Refuting it is another matter.

Is there any evidence that the Nicene (or any) Creed was not a fabrication of men? (And see below.)

2) How do you know [the Nicene Creed was a compromise, not a revelation]?
There is no evidence at all that there was any revelation to the Bishops at Nicaea, and much supporting the idea that Constantine forced them to come to an agreement. As Drake said, his goal was unity, they desired a peaceful outcome. Eusebius' account, among many others, does not mention revelation, does not mention inspiration. Constantine himself eventually resurrected a word earlier condemned by these same men (not the individuals, but those holding the same offices) 60 years earlier, a word, homoousio, invented by the Gnostics (heretics by the standards of the age, and by yours, as well, if I understand it correctly).

Revelation does not come at the bidding of emperors, not at the behest of powers. Did Paul not say:

Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Yet it seems it was "principalities" that won this battle. "Powers" overcame the spirit; and there was a great deal of "spiritual wickedness in high places" that used men's needs to eat, sleep defecate, and urinate to force them to accept a word and a creed built thereon so he could rule his empire in peace. He ended up exiling those who refused, on principle, to sign the accursed document.

If you have evidence that Constantine did not force the bishops to accede to his mandate for a unity of belief, please post it. If you have proof that the council of Nicaea was a religious synod rather than a political one, show us. If you can verify that the bishops were (or even claimed to be) inspired, bring it to us.

And, BTW, if they were inspired, why is that revelation not in the Bible, not recorded, not part of the canon?

Lehi

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1) You are free to dispute anything you like. Refuting it is another matter.

Is there any evidence that the Nicene (or any) Creed was not a fabrication of men? (And see below.)

2) There is no evidence at all that there was any revelation to the Bishops at Nicaea, and much supporting the idea that Constantine forced them to come to an agreement. As Drake said, his goal was unity, they desired a peaceful outcome. Eusebius' account, among many others, does not mention revelation, does not mention inspiration. Constantine himself eventually resurrected a word earlier condemned by these same men (not the individuals, but those holding the same offices) 60 years earlier, a word, homoousio, invented by the Gnostics (heretics by the standards of the age, and by yours, as well, if I understand it correctly).

3) Revelation does not come at the bidding of emperors, not at the behest of powers.

4) Did Paul not say:

5) Yet it seems it was "principalities" that won this battle. "Powers" overcame the spirit;

6) and there was a great deal of "spiritual wickedness in high places" that used men's needs to eat, sleep defecate, and urinate to force them to accept a word and a creed built thereon so he could rule his empire in peace. He ended up exiling those who refused, on principle, to sign the

7)accursed document.

If you have evidence that Constantine did not force the bishops to accede to his mandate for a unity of belief, please post it. If you have proof that the council of Nicaea was a religious synod rather than a political one, show us.

8)If you can verify that the bishops were (or even claimed to be) inspired, bring it to us.

9) And, BTW, if they were inspired, why is that revelation not in the Bible, not recorded, not part of the canon?

Lehi

1) As you are free to make any outlandish statement without any evidence.

2) What would you like as supportive evidence? Mentioning revelation is supportive? That's more conjecture isn't it?

3) Says who? Why not?

4) No, I think Jesus did.

5) The power of men overcame the Spirit? Is that really what you mean?

6) If it were not true. But what if it is true? Is it still "spiritual wickedness"?

7) "Accursed" by whom?

:P I would think just being a bishop is a claim in itself. One with which you may disagree, but still... wait, you have bishops to don't you?

9) And, BTW, if they - the bom, D&C, etc. - were inspired, why is that revelation not in the Bible, not recorded, not part of the canon?

9A) It is. Read John's Gospel.

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...ebat

And, BTW, if they were inspired, why is that revelation not in the Bible, not recorded, not part of the canon?

Lehi

Where is the revelation from Nicea that says: "Thus saith the Lord ...."

Oh, wait: There isn't one.

It seemed that for thousands of years the Lord was quite willing to talk to prophets saying "Thus saith the Lord..."

Conventions, and voting, and debates and the like are all hallmarks of Bishops with no spiritual central Authority. If the 12 Apostles had still continued (by filling in vacancies upon the death of an Apostle), by 325 AD there would have been no need of a council to determine basic doctrine. All controversy would have been settled by one simple Appeal to the chief Apostle to Pray to the Lord to get a Revelation.

I see absolutely no precedent in the Bible for debates whatsoever to clarify doctrine.

The council of Nicea put together an abominable creed. That wasn't so bad IMHO as how they enforced it: By the sword.

No wonder GOD cursed Rome and Europe for over a thousand years with the dark ages. Proof of an Apostacy indeed!!

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9) And, BTW, if they - the bom, D&C, etc. - were inspired, why is that revelation not in the Bible, not recorded, not part of the canon?

9A) It is. Read John's Gospel.

Hoops, Hoops.... that answer won't work here.

The Gospel of John Predates Nicea by a long long long time.

also

If that Gospel was so sufficient, then why the need to argue over this matter in the Nicean Council in the first place. By your logic the matter was already settled in the first place when John wrote his Gospel. So if you hold to your logic, the conclusion one must reach is that either: The Gospel of John was not sufficient to guide the church into the truth about the Godhead / Trinity, or that the Bishops may have been wofully ignorant of the Gospel of John? Else again: Why the need for a councel in the first place?

Obviously the BIble has NOT been sufficient to bring unity into the christian realm. Man made churches have sprung up like wildfire since the days of the reformation. And with no end in sight. The ironic thing is the church was a relatively green tree back in 325 AD, and still even being a green tree, look at the division that existed.

Let me give you a hint Hoops:

The Bible clearly shows that yesterday's revelation is never sufficient for today's needs.

Adams revelations were clearly not sufficient for Enoch. --- Enoch got his own revelations.

Enoch's revelations were clearly not sufficient for Noah --- Noah got his own revelations.

Noah's revelations were clearly not sufficient for Abraham --- Abraham got his own revelations.

Abraham --- Moses

Moses --- Nathan

Nathan --- Isaiah

Isaiah --- Malachai

Malachai --- John the Baptist

John the Baptist --- Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ --- Peter the Apostle

Peter the Apostle --- Paul the Apostle

etc...

I totally rejoice that Joseph Smith was called of God to prepare the world before the coming of Jesus Christ.

It is a light shining in darkness, and has confounded the wisdom of the world and confounded the false traditions of the creedal churches. Their god has gone and left them high and dry because they first left their God centuries before. And as a result, I think some churches today are jealous that we have had prophets who said "Thus saith the Lord..." and all they have is creeds that say "Thus authorized Constantine..."

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1) Hoops, Hoops.... that answer won't work here.

2) The Gospel of John Predates Nicea by a long long long time.

also

3) If that Gospel was so sufficient,

4) then why the need to argue over this matter in the Nicean Council in the first place.

5) By your logic the matter was already settled in the first place when John wrote his Gospel.

6) So if you hold to your logic, the conclusion one must reach is that either: The Gospel of John was not sufficient to guide the church into the truth about the Godhead / Trinity, or that the Bishops may have been wofully ignorant of the Gospel of John? Else again: Why the need for a councel in the first place?

7) Obviously the BIble has NOT been sufficient to bring unity into the christian realm.

;) Man made churches have sprung up like wildfire since the days of the reformation. And with no end in sight.

9) The ironic thing is the church was a relatively green tree back in 325 AD, and still even being a green tree, look at the division that existed.

10) Let me give you a hint Hoops:

11) The Bible clearly shows that yesterday's revelation is never sufficient for today's needs.

12) I totally rejoice that Joseph Smith was called of God to prepare the world before the coming of Jesus Christ.

13) It is a light shining in darkness, and has confounded the wisdom of the world and confounded the false traditions of the creedal churches.

14 Their god has gone and left them high and dry because they first left their God centuries before. And as a result,

15) I think some churches today are jealous that we have had

16) prophets who said "Thus saith the Lord..." and all they have is creeds that say

17) "Thus authorized Constantine..."

1) I appreciage your patience with me. If all of you would be this patient I would be a lot nicer to you. :P

2) Agreed

3) It is

4) I don't get your point. People are still "arguing" over the bom, et al., does that mean they are not sufficient? And sufficient for what?

5) Well, yeah. In this sense, The Trinity already existed - and always has - and It already existed in the Scriptures. And John is perhaps the most clear in expressing it.

7) What is? Is that how you determine truth? Unity? And unity means what, exactly?

:crazy: And even before that. So?

9) Which means what about the church?

10) I need all I can get.

11) It shows no such thing. It does show that God clearly reveals himself at His choosing. But your list is no reason to expect that He must choose now - or 1832 - to reveal something different. Particularly since your revelation is at odds with so much that has been gleaned from previous revelation. The role of temples in the believers life is a good example. You (LDS) are expecting us to cast aside a great deal of what scripture plainly reveals - and what has been exhumed - in favor of something entirely different. And you have yet to provide adequate reason why we should do so.

12) YOu allege

13) You conclude they are false based on what?

14) Interesting view of God. So we are to assume that God is revealing himself to the 20 mil past and present LDS? And the rest of us are outta luck?

15) I don't know any that are. That's not the verb I would use.

16) Alleged prophets can say whatever they want. But until they have the goods to back it up - proof that the LDS scriptures can be believed - then there's no reason for anyone to believe they are, indeed, prophets.

17) As many here have already pointed out, this was a political event. He was not interested in authorizing much at all.

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Regarding the word homoousios in the council of Nicea, it was used in orthodox Christian teaching before then, in Origen for instance. It was not the sole intellectual property of the Gnostics. Gnostics also used the term "eternal progression", but I wouldn't say they use it in the same way as LDS do.

And as far as claiming revelation during the council, it's kind of a moot point. Even if someone stood up and shouted "Thus sayeth the Lord, I am a Trinity!", LDS wouldn't accept it, because their doctrines are not based in early Christian history. In the end, they are based on a literalistic interpretation of Joseph Smith's visions in the 19th century.

Also, I haven't seen evidence that Constantine coerced the conclusion of the council; he did, however, take it upon himself to enforce it. The large majority of the council rejected Arian thinking on their own, and any penalties Constantine placed on the Arian contingent were levied after the council had concluded. In short, they were not under duress to accept one position or another.

The Arian controversy, at this point, was largely an Eastern concern, and most of the Western bishops at the council knew little or nothing about it. When Arius' representative made their case, however, the majority of the bishops immediately rose up and condemned it as heresy.

This is a short article I found which addresses many of your concerns: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/sbrandt/nicea.htm

Enjoy!

Take care, everyone :P

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Another camps of thought on Constantine

I think that article goes too far in the other direction. Definitely rose-colored glasses, in my opinion. For instance, it makes no mention of the fact that Constantine was baptized by an Arian on his deathbed. Whether or not Constantine was a "born-again Christian" is rather immaterial to the issue at hand, and is impossible to prove either way.

Thanks for the link, Tanyan! Good to see you around! :P

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I think that article goes too far in the other direction. Definitely rose-colored glasses, in my opinion. For instance, it makes no mention of the fact that Constantine was baptized by an Arian on his deathbed. Whether or not Constantine was a "born-again Christian" is rather immaterial to the issue at hand, and is impossible to prove either way.

Thanks for the link, Tanyan! Good to see you around! :P

Thanks for your thoughts rhino. The above site has several other articles as well as the one I posted see - http://www.bible.ca. You are welcome rhino, May Grace rain on you this day and in the days ahead.

In His Debt/Grace, Tanyan.

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This is a short article I found which addresses many of your concerns: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/sbrandt/nicea.htm

Methinks, rhino, that this article paints a little bit of a rosy picture itself.

One of the things that I've noted in my conversations with EVs is that they generally want to paint Nicaea as a gathering that just formalized what everyone already believed. Sure, there was Arius, but that was just a very small minority. The more I read about what actually occurred, the more it is apparent that there was some significant conflict going on.

In addition, at this point in time, the primacy of the bishop of Rome had not been finalized and was not universally acknowledged. We do know that there was political infighting among the bishops concerning their own turf at that time; hence, I do not sense the kind of unity at the council that this article wants to infer, even among the bishops who allegedly "agreed" about the doctrine.

One of the aspects of Nicaea that continues to be strange is the question of why a secular authority (Constantine) had any business calling such a religions council to determine doctrine. It would be akin to George Bush calling various religious groups in the U.S. together and telling them to iron out doctrinal differences between each other - because the republican party must present a united front to the nation.

Other references, including the early Church fathers, paint a picture of wide doctrinal disagreement from the second century on. Doctrinal disagreement has continued within Christianity since that point, as evidenced by the reformation, among other things. It is also obvious that the NT Christians also were not in total unity about doctrine, as evidenced by disagreements on continued adherence to the law of Moses, for instance.

Why, then, would we suddenly have a high level of doctrinal unity occur in the councils? It is not consistent with the general trend towards disagreement that doctrinal matters have taken since the apostles died. It appears far more likely that Nicaea was a compromise hammered out by those who attended - and since when do compromises make accurate doctrine?

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All these issues are extremely difficult to address in any kind of short post. These are good questions, and the answers are complex (as history usually is). The different regions of the church had different cultural and philosophical approaches, using different vocabulary, even different languages (Greek in the East, Latin in the West). There were many different factors leading up to Nicea, during the council, and in its aftermath.

There was significant disagreement over the Arian question, but not in all areas of the church. It was largely an Eastern concern; the western church had taken a different approach to the nature of God, and was largely focused on distinguishing their belief from modalism. The Eastern church tended to start from the three persons, and work from the three to the unity that they shared. Hence, Arianism was an answer more suited to the questions asked in the East. In the West, they worked from the core belief in one God, and then worked on exploring how the three Persons played into the unity. They were, in a large sense, defending the same hill from two different directions.

Arianism wasn't a church-wide issue at the time of Nicea, in other words. Most of the bishops at Nicea were exposed to it for the first time at the council.

Take care, everyone :P

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However, that's not my point. The point is, no matter what Arius, Alexander, or Constantine said or did in Nicaea those 1683 years ago, it was not under the influence or authority of the Holy Ghost nor of Jesus Christ nor of God the Father.
By that logic, because Joseph Smith erroneously claimed Rev 1:6
And [Jesus Christ] hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (AV)
teaches us that God the Father has a Father (which we know for a fact is false thanks to modern scholarship) nothing else in the 178 years of Mormonism could have been give by the Holy Ghost. Let's hold an entire world religion in contempt because it had been hijacked by the state, once upon a time.
This is a non sequitor; it simply has nothing to do with my assertion.

I could ask what this "modern scholarship" has shown. Most modern scholarship viz-

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