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The first ecumenical council met in Nicea in AD 325 to respond to Arianism, which taught that Christ was not eternal and therefore not God. The Council declared that Christ is indeed God, of the same essence (being) as God. It expressed this position in the Nicene Creed— that is, in the first version of the Nicene Creed. (The Nicene Creed as we have it today is the version that was revised at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.) Pause a moment: a creed was revised. Creedal revi­sions may not happen lightly or at whim. No mere individual may...

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The first ecumenical council of the Christian church was held in A.D. 325 in Nicea, a city that today is known as Iznik, Turkey. A council is a meeting of church leaders from various congregations in different localities, at which the leaders address problems that are common to the churches. As the early Christian church expanded, the need for councils became obvious: in a council the church would agree on matters of doctrine and practice, and respond with one voice to men who taught error or pro­moted evil. Regional councils, attended by representa­tives of churches in a geographic region, had...

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In the Nicene Creed (the first ecumenical creed), the Council of Nicea asserted that Christ was truly God, having a divine essence. The Council also made other noteworthy decisions, expressed in twenty canons.1 This article summarizes those other decisions. The Melitian clergy During the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305), Christians were sorely persecuted, and many renounced the Christian faith. Some of these desired to rejoin the church when Emperor Constantine ended the persecution. The church had to face questions: Should these be readmitted? If so, should they be rebaptized? Might they be clergy? The bishop of Alexandria, Egypt was ready to...

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The last article stated that Arius had asserted that Christ was not eternal and, therefore, not God. Alexander insisted He was. In 324, Emperor Constantine, not understanding the theological issue, chided these men for discussing such subtle and unprofitable questions, and asked them to forgive each other.1 When this plea did not have its desired effect, Constantine called the Council of Nicea. Perhaps his motivation was political: he desired a unified empire, and thought that a unified church would promote a unified empire. So in 325, from late May to late July, about 300 bish­ops met in Nicea. Most of...

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In His incarnation, the eternal Son of God took to Himself our human nature. The incarnation of Jesus Christ assumes that He is truly God and, therefore, is eternal. Early in the fourth century, Arius, a priest in Alex­andria, Egypt, denied that the Son of God was truly God and eternal. Arius taught that God created Christ as the first creature. God did so in eternity, in order that God might create everything else in time by Christ, the Word. Still, even though Christ was created before time, He was a creature and not God, nor eternal. In Arius’ words,...

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