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Arius and the Council of Nicaea

In a time when many questions were being asked about the explicit facts of Christianity, challenging the official stand of the church could be asking for trouble. The Church?s ranking leaders wanted to know, “How did Arius understand the unity of the Holy Trinity.” The answer is not simple, nor was it ever accepted by the Church.

In a time where every bit of official Church doctrine was coming under fire, it was not easy to get at the truth. People who questioned established beliefs were catalysts better understandings of the truth, even if what they proposed was incorrect. A wrong proposal needed a rebuttal, which usually ended up proving the previously accepted assumption even more correct.

The time in which Arius lived was characterized by the upheaval of the individual against the established traditions of the Church in order to come the “the truth.” Compared to modern times, where a disbelief in Church doctrine might possible get one excommunicated. This atmosphere coupled with Arius? own interpretation of the Trinity caused one of the biggest controversies in the history of Christianity.

Under one councils it was decided, by majority that the Son is consubstantial and co-eternal with the Father. Under a second no decision could be made. However, Arius stuck to his belief that if the Son was made by the Father then there was a time before he was begotten. At this time he did not exist. Hence then he, the Son is not a part of God, but just another one of his creations.

The result of believing in a God that was made by another God was anathematization by Bishop Alexandria. Arius contrarily believed that God was not always the Father, rather at one point non-existent, hence made of nothing. This is contrary to the Scriptures and thought to be reasonable enough evidence to call him a heretic. Arius did not believe that the Son as well as the Father have always existed. His belief in this is based on pure literalism. If one in begotten common logic would dictate that means made. However in the case of the Trinity, begotten, according to the Scriptures means begotten not made.

Arius stated, that the Father was the one true God. The Son, simply is a human with no divinity what so ever. This meant that the Father simply made the Son just like he created people, and animals. As just another creation, not another God. However, Arius recognized that the Son was sinless and that the reason the Son had any relevance to God is because the Father gave him the gift to reveal himself to mankind. This statement could not allow for the belief that the Son is God?s revelation and savior of mankind. Essentially he was classified as just another profit with a few talents from the Father.

Arius?s idea was backed up by certain scriptures. John 17:3, Colossians 1:15, and Proverbs 8:22. Through interpretation it could be assumed that these passages back up the belief in one all powerful Father.

The growing movement behind Arius prompted the Bishop of Alexander to start a movement that eventually ended in the condemnation of Arius and his beliefs, and also his excommunication. After the controversy traveled through the Church, the Council of Nicaea was called. The Church was becoming divided over the issue and something had to be done about it. Constantine was watching his empire being split over it and something needed to be done.

Two hundred and twenty Bishops were present. Of these, however only a few were from the west, the originating place of the controversy. The result of the council was the Creed of Nicaea. This was necessary to distinguish it from the Nicene Creed and what it, “overlooked.”

The Council of Nicaea also dealt with other factors that were tearing the Church apart. Resulting in many canons. Immediately following the Council the acceptance was slow but over time it was realized that a new understanding of the Trinity was realized. One that would lead the Church into the future.

What Arius brought up was on the minds of many people in the faith, however they were not wanting to bring it up on the reason of prosecution and excommunication. The matter simply needed clarifying and Arius did a good thing by putting it on the hot seat of the Church. Much attention was drawn to the issue and the result was a better understanding by all members of the Church.

In conclusion, Arius believed that the Son was made by the Father, however did not share his divinity, however was given the ability to reveal the Father to the man kind. His assertion of opinion resulted in his excommunication, however strengthened the faith for millions of other people, his effect is felt every Sunday in masses all over the world in the reciting of the Creed of Nicaea.


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