It was 325 A.D. at Nicea that the doctrine of the Trinity was rammed through by Athanasius (who in the future would use strong-arm tactics that would make a modern day mobster proud) in a Council that was overseen by the Emperor Constantine who, ironically enough, thought of himself as God-incarnate. (Constantine was a Sun Worshipper and only made an official conversion to “christianity” on his deathbed). Roman coins of the period still portrayed the image of the sun God despite the sudden adoption/conversion of Christianity. Many of those present at the Council Of Nicaea were in fact opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity and had sided with Arius, who was quite adept and effective in proving from the scriptures that the Son was separate and subordinate to God. Much less effective was Athanasius’s theory of homoousion which meant “made of the same stuff.” By this reasoning though, you could have 2 copper coins that were homoousion because they were of the same substance…so couldn’t the Word (Logos) also be a second and separate god? Even after the Nicene Creed, the doctrine of the Trinity was hotly debated for decades and centuries.
A Brief History of the Church after Nicaea
325 AD – Constantine convenes the Council of Nicaea in order to develop a statement of faith that can unify the church. The Nicene Creed is written, declaring that “the Father and the Son are of the same substance” (homoousios). Emperor Constantine who was also the high priest of the pagan religion of the Unconquered Sun presided over this council.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions and personally proposed the crucial formula expressing the relationship of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, of one substance with the Father.”
The American Academic Encyclopedia states:
“Although this was not Constantine’s first attempt to reconcile factions in Christianity, it was the first time he had used the imperial office to IMPOSE a settlement.”
At the end of this council, Constantine sided with Athanasius over Arius and exiled Arius to Illyria.
328 AD – Athanasius becomes bishop of Alexandria.
328 AD – Constantine recalls Arius from Illyria.
335 AD – Constantine now sides with Arius and exiles Athanasius to Trier.
337 AD – A new emperor, Contantius, orders the return of Athanasius to Alexandria.
339 AD – Athanasius flees Alexandria in anticipation of being expelled.
341 AD – Two councils are held in Antioch this year. During this council, the First, Second, and Third Arian Confessions are written, thereby beginning the attempt to produce a formal doctrine of faith to oppose the Nicene Creed.
343 AD – At the Council of Sardica, Eastern Bishops demand the removal of Athanasius.
346 AD – Athanasius is restored to Alexandria.
351 AD – A second anti – Nicene council is held in Sirmium.
353 AD – A council is held at Aries during Autumn that is directed against Athanasius.
355 AD – A council is held in Milan. Athanasius is again condemned.
356 AD – Athanasius is deposed on February 8th, beginning his third exile.
357 AD – Third Council of Sirmium is convened. Both homoousios and homoiousios are avoided as unbiblical, and it is agreed that the Father is greater than His subordinate Son.
359 AD – The Synod of Seleucia is held which affirms that Christ is “like the Father,” It does not however, specify how the Son is like the Father.
361 AD – A council is held in Antioch to affirm Arius’ positions.
380 AD – Emperor Theodosius the Great declares Christianity the official state religion of the empire.
381 AD – The First Council of Constantinople is held to review the controversy since Nicaea. Emperor Theodosius the Great establishes the creed of Nicaea as the standard for his realm. The Nicene Creed is re-evaluated and accepted with the addition of clauses on the Holy Spirit and other matters.
If you believe that Nicaea just formalized the prevalent teaching of the church, then there really should not have been any conflicts. Why should there be? If it were the established teaching of the church, then you would expect people to either accept it, or not be Christians. It was not the established teaching, and when some faction of the church tried to make it official, the result was major conflict.
[Used by permission, So what is this “truth” of the Nicene Creed? by Juan Baixeras © 2000. Juan is not affiliated with our ministry, Spirit & Truth Fellowship International.]