Monday, 29 December 2014

Reza Aslan on the Council of Nicaea

While engaging in discussions with Christians we must ensure that the Council of Nicaea is not misrepresented. It really is not a centre-piece in picking apart Trinitarian Christianity.

The balding, gray-bearded old men who fixed the faith and practice of Christianity met for the first time in the Byzantine city of Nicaea, on the eastern shore of Lake Izmit in present-day Turkey. It was the summer of  325CE. The men had been brought together by the emperor Constantine and commanded to come to a consensus on the doctrine of the religion he had recently adopted as his own. Bedecked in robes of purple and gold, an aureate laurel resting on his head, Rome's first Christian emperor called the council to order as though it were a Roman Senate, which is understandable, considering that every one of the nearly two thousand bishops he had gathered in Nicaea to permanently define Christianity was Roman.

...After months of heated negotiations, the council handed to Constantine what became known as the Nicene Creed, outlining for the first time the officially sanctioned, orthodox beliefs of the Christian church. Jesus is the literal son of God the creed declared...

As for those who disagreed with the creed, those like the Arians who believed that "there was a time when [Jesus] was not", they were immediately banished from the empire and their teachings suppressed.

It may be tempting to view the Nicene Creed as an overtly politicized attempt to stifle the legitimate voices of dissent in the early church. It is certainly the case that the council's decision resulted in a thousand years of more bloodshed in the name of Christian orthodoxy. But the truth is that the council members were merely codifying a creed that was already the majority opinion, not just of the bishops gathered at Nicaea, but of the entire Christian community. Indeed, belief in Jesus as God had been enshrined in the church centuries before the Council of Nicaea, thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the letters of Paul. Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, Reza Aslan, The Westbourne Press, 2013, p213-214

It's interesting that the Church in the 4th century was not in line with the thinking of liberal Christians today who preach a pacifist and pluralistic Christianity which allows for a spectrum of diversity in belief. The Church back in the 4th century clearly did not share such views.

The Islamophobes amongst such Christian groups today would do well to remember this before they decide to bang on about ISIS and link them with orthodox Islamic practice.

Sharia Law against terrorism

Christians having dreams and converting to Islam

Learn about Islam


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