Council of Nicaea 325 AD  

At the Council Of Nicaea (325 AD), the Christian doctrine was democratically 'voted' on and Jesus' status was decided.

The Council of Nicaea was called by Emperor Constantine to bring together the main warring Christian factions led by Arius and Bishop Athanasius to finalize Orthodox Christan doctrine.

Arian Athanasian
Bishop Arius
250-336 AD

Bishop Arius was an proficient orator, writer, Christian presbyter of Libyan birth.
Bishop Athanasius
296-373 AD

Bishop Athanasius a reknowned Christian thologian, a Church Father and defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism. Egyptian of 4th century.
Agenda 1: Jesus' Nature (major)

The focus of the Council of Nicaea was the nature of the Son of God and his precise relationship to God the Father.

Arius said: A creation is less than its creator. The Son is less than the Father that 'begot' him. In the Beginning was the Creator God and the Son did not exist.
Arius, 4th CE, Alexandria
In a letter, Arius said: We are persecuted, because we say that the Son has a beginning, but that God is without beginning. This is the cause of our persecution, and likewise, because we say that he is of the non-existent. And this we say, because he is neither part of God, nor of any essential being.
Theodoret, Church History 1:4 (NPNF 3:41); NE 293/283

Jesus was divine because he had been created by God the Father before the world existed and Jesus was subordinate to God the Father.

  • Arius claimed, the Son (Jesus) was not to be identified with God himself but is the first and greatest of God's creatures.
  • Arius also affirmed that all of the rest of God's creation was made through the Son.
  • Since time is an aspect of the created universe, which was made through the Son, the latter existed before all time. But he is not eternal and 'before his generation he was not.'
  • Jesus was co-eternal (had always existed) and had absolute equality with God the Father.

  • Jesus and God the Father are of the same "substance" and "essence"
  • The terms "Jesus" and "God" were to be used in a synonymous and interchangeable way.
  • The full deity of Jesus to be maintained. The deity was one component of the Trinity which was resolved after 500-years of further controversy.
  • Agenda 2: 20 Canons (minor)
    Canon 1    PASSED
    On the admission, or support, or expulsion of clerics mutilated by choice or by violence.
    Canon 2    PASSED
    Rules to be observed for ordination, the avoidance of undue haste, the deposition of those guilty of a grave fault.
    Canon 3    PASSED
    All members of the clergy are forbidden to dwell with any woman, except a mother, sister, or aunt.
    Canon 4    PASSED
    Concerning episcopal elections.
    Canon 5    PASSED
    Concerning the excommunicate.
    Canon 6    PASSED
    Concerning patriarchs and their jurisdiction.
    Canon 7    PASSED
    Confirms the right of the bishops of Jerusalem to enjoy certain honours.
    Canon 8    PASSED
    Concerns the Novatians.
    Canon 9    PASSED
    Certain sins known after ordination involve invalidation.
    Canon 10    PASSED
    Lapsi who have been ordained knowingly or surreptitiously must be excluded as soon as their irregularity is known.
    Canon 11    PASSED
    Penance to be imposed on apostates of the persecution of Licinius.
    Canon 12    PASSED
    Penance to be imposed on those who upheld Licinius in his war on the Christians.
    Canon 13    PASSED
    Indulgence to be granted to excommunicated persons in danger of death.
    Canon 14    PASSED
    Penance to be imposed on catechumens who had weakened under persecution.
    Canon 15    PASSED
    Bishops, priests, and deacons are not to pass from one church to another.
    Canon 16    PASSED
    All clerics are forbidden to leave their church. Formal prohibition for bishops to ordain for their diocese a cleric belonging to another diocese.
    Canon 17:    PASSED
    Clerics are forbidden to lend at interest.
    Canon 18:    PASSED
    Recalls to deacons their subordinate position with regard to priests.
    Canon 19:    PASSED
    Rules to be observed with regard to adherents of Paul of Samosata who wished to return to the Church.
    Canon 20:    PASSED
    On Sundays and during the Paschal season prayers should be said standing.
    Who Voted?

    Emperor Constantine invited 2048 Bishops of the Christian church, but only 318 attended.

    Out of the 2048 Bishops invited, Constantine disqualified 1730 Bishops from voting due to their political views.

    Council of Nicaea critics argue the election was un-democratic, controlled and 'rigged'. It is not possible to verify the critics claim, as Emperor Constantine ordered the immediate destruction of the council minutes, records and texts.
    Voting Result
    Arius - LOST
    Received 2 votes

    Having lost the theological battle at Nicaea, Arius is exiled to Illyria (north of Greece on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea). 

    Today, the Arian position continues to be influential within the Eastern Mediterranean churches. 

    At the feet of Emperor Constantine: "Arian heretics condemned" and their books are burnt.
    MS CLXV, Biblioteca Capitolare, Vercelli, 9th century)
    Bishop Athanasius - WON
    Received 316 votes

    The Christian doctrine that Jesus and the Father were of the same substance, was adopted. Athanasius become Bishop of Alexandria, a very influential post.

    Today, the Western branches of the church lean toward Athanasius' position.
    Nicene Creed
    After a long and bitter debate at the Council of Nicaea, Bishop Athanasius prevailed and was adopted by the council with a written Nicene Creed.

    The Nicene Creed
    "We believe in one God the Father All-Sovereign, maker of all things visible and invisible;

    "And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made, things in heaven and on earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, and became man, suffered, and rose on the third day, ascended into the heavens, is coming to judge living and dead.

    "And (we believe) in the Holy Spirit.

    "But those who say, 'There was (a time) when he (Jesus) was not (in existence),' and 'Before he (Jesus) was begotten he was not (in existence),' or that 'He (Jesus) came into being from what-is-not,' or those that allege, that the Son of God is 'Of a different substance or essence' or 'created' or 'changeable' or 'alterable,' these the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes (condemns)."

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