Little Bits of History

We Believe

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 20, 2013
Council of Nicea

Council of Nicea

May 20, 325: The first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church is held at Nicæa, Bithynia. Roman Emperor Constantine I called for the council. He was Emperor of Rome from 306 although with some dispute. He solidified his rule by 324. He was born a pagan and converted to Christianity about age 40. Christians had been persecuted in Rome from at least 64 AD. When Constantine took the throne, the early church was free to grow.

There were several different “brands” of Christianity as practiced in various regions. The council was called to help the young church establish and set doctrines. There were between 250 and 318 in attendance (1,800 were invited) with Alexander of Alexandria presiding. One of the tenets to be decided upon was the nature of Jesus Christ. Arius, a priest from Alexandria, had been teaching Jesus was not one with God the Father, but invoked and brought to life only at conception. Since 318, Alexander and Arius had been in dispute over this issue. The council took a vote and only 2 members supported Arius.

The next issue was when to celebrate the Resurrection. The Bishops wanted to separate the feast of Easter from the Hebrew calendar’s celebration of Passover. The council did not set a concrete date or methodology to arrive at a date, but left the decision up to local dioceses. Eventually, another council would decide the matter.

What the council is most noted for is the codification of the Christian doctrine. They clarified and condensed the underpinnings of Christianity into the Nicene Creed. They established the eternal divinity of Jesus. They professed Jesus’ dual nature stating he became man and was killed on Earth only to rise from the dead and then ascend into heaven. There were 20 new Church laws or Canons established. The first of these banned self-castration. There were also administrative issues dealing with the hierarchy and funding of the church. The issues of heretical teachings were also addressed. The council ended on July 25, 325.

“We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father, through whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead.” – beginning of the Nicene Creed

“The emperor himself, in very respectful letters, begged the bishops of every country to come promptly to Nicaea.” – Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913

“But if anyone in good health has castrated himself, if he is enrolled among the clergy he should be suspended, and in future no such man should be promoted.” – Canon 1

“This great synod absolutely forbids a bishop, presbyter, deacon or any of the clergy to keep a woman who has been brought in to live with him, with the exception of course of his mother or sister or aunt, or of any person who is above suspicion.” – Canon 3

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Constantine the Great or Constantine I or even Saint Constantine was born in 272 in what is present day Serbia. The amount of writing extant concerning this pivotal ruler is quite extensive. However, there is much politicization and propaganda including in the writings. Writings reflect more of the attitude of the author with some political Christian pamphlets and ecclesiastical histories giving a less than fair and balanced review of the leader’s life. There are also secular political tracts surviving which suffer the same fate with the authors’ biases in evidence. His place in history is quite prominent partly because of his geopolitical gains and partly because of his religious beliefs.  

Also on this day Where’s … Waldo? – In 1570 the first modern atlas is published.
I Feel the Need for Speed – In 1899, a NYC cabbie was jailed for speeding.
Sonnets – In 1609, Shakespeare’s sonnets were published.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on May 20, 2013 at 9:59 am

    There still are many different types of Christianity-even in the Roman Catholic Church. Many, especially in the United States, try to project that they are the only ones to be a democracy without a dictator/leader but others do operate as a democracy with many differences between them. The recent Boston Marathon bombings are an example of that one east european country trying to run themselves and then when the better-than-you United States interferred with that country political speech the two brothers responded in a defensive manner to show the better-than-you United States to leave that country alone. Barack Obama says he is for free speech but he lies about that- he acts like a dictator like he learned as a child watching his father whipping his slaves to make them behave in a manner he wanted them to. The Boston Marathon victims are a good example of others suffering for what Dictator Obama did.

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