Analyse the impact of ONE historical event in the life of the Church throughout history.
Council of Nicea
One major significant event in the life of the Church is the Council of Nicea, the first ever inclusive, international Christian council, consisting of approximately 300 bishops, called by Constantine I. This extremely important council was convoked as the Empire reigning under Constantine was falling quickly as a result of Western and Eastern Churches debating. During this council in 325 A.D., the Arian controversy as well as the requirement for a profession of faith was discussed and many other unsettled issues. As a result of this council, the Church has forever been impacted, as immediate affects as well as long-term effects, are shown throughout the present day Church.
The Council of Nicea has not only been a major impact for future councils, but had a great impact on the ideology of Arianism. Arianism, created by Arius, an Egyptian priest, is an ideology that Jesus in not divine but in fact just a created being. Before the council, Arius wrote letters directed to the Church and cited Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. This quote is regularly used to support the belief that the Bible teaches the trinity about Jesus being a separate entity to God. Arius is also very quick to point out details and over exaggerate quotes to emphasize his point, for example, he liquidates Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians 8:6, “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”, as Arius is thoroughly distinct between God and Jesus. This ideology, being a majority vote against, condemning Arius’ views, was the largest dispute that led to the council and as a result, was the emergence of Christian faiths and a partly accepted society on beliefs of Arianism. In conclusion, to this present day, the Council of Nicea has helped define Arianism, or Orthodoxy, through the writing of a number of creeds.
One long-lasting impact the council has also had to the Early Church up until the present day, was that it provided all Christians a profession of faith to mark and define Jesus’ presence within God and the trinity. This unrelenting statement, the Nicene Creed, was a successful attempt to condemn Arianism. Similar Creeds like the Councils were created by Arius, before and after the council. Five years before the council was convoked, Arius stated in his letter of beliefs, Psalm 2:7, “Alone unbegotten”, which would lead his first argument. Arius defined this scripture passage as if to mean Jesus was in actual fact ‘begotten’ and must have had some sort of human beginnings or past. The Nicene Creed in reply stated and opposed the doctrine of Arius by writing, “Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is of the substance of the Father” (Nicene Creed, Council of Nicea, statement 2). This suppression continues, “That the Son shares the same being as the Father and is therefore fully divine”. This line was the most consequential in the Creed that would totally condemn Arius’ views, being, that “Jesus is not divine, but merely a created being” (Arianism Doctrine, Arius), which subsequently impacted the future of the Church by requiring most Churches to profess their faith in the trinity and declare Arius’ views incorrect, in which many Christians still proclaim till this day.
Unlike other topics discussed during the Council of Nicea, unsettled debates were not the highest valued subjects, yet future decisions on previously unmade ones have slightly impacted the Church, which included clerical celibacy. Clerical celibacy wasn’t settled at the time, but a few centuries after it was, is the priest’s right to be married during priesthood, called clerical celibacy. Throughout the Bible, clerical celibacy was taught by Paul directed at leaders of the Church as a morally incorrect act, shown in 1 Corinthians 7:32-33, “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” This statement also talks about a priest or bishop’s undivided attention and how beneficial it can be to them and his audience. As a result of clerical celibacy being resolved and corrected, priests can now be punished for their actions and has impacted the Church, as it spiritually gives the believers belief in the priest to give them the most inspirational and stimulating celebration of God.
In summary, the Council of Nicea has undoubtedly impacted the life of the Christian Church perpetually, through the excuses to save a falling empire and its adjacent Church. Constantine I and his endeavours were extremely persistent to save his faith and in doing so, solved many of the Early Church’s issues of the Arian controversy and its coinciding profession of faith, the Nicene Creed. Issues that also arose but wasn’t solved until centuries later, was clerical celibacy, the wrongful act of marriage during priesthood. These events have certainly had a positive impact on the life of the Church as we still use ideologies and beliefs from the council in most Christian faiths and societies today.
- Christianity Stack Exchange, Edward, M., Harfield, D. and Doggart, S. (2019). What Scriptures did Arius use to support teaching that Jesus was created, https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/36586/what-scriptures-did-arius-use-to-support-teaching-that-jesus-was-created [Accessed 23 Feb. 2019].
- Christian History Institute. (2019). Council of Nicea | Christian History Institute, https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/nicea/ [Accessed 19 Feb. 2019].
- Council of Nicea- Religion Facts. (2019). Council of Nicea- Religion Facts, http://www.religionfacts.com/council-of-nicea [Accessed 19 Feb. 2019].
- Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019). Council of Nicaea | Definition & Facts, https://www.britannica.com/event/Council-of-Nicaea-Christianity-325 [Accessed 18 Feb. 2019].
- Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019). Easter | Origin, Name, Facts, & Dates, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Easter-holiday#ref231526 [Accessed 23 Feb. 2019].
- GotQuestions.org. (2019). Does the Bible teach the celibacy of priests?, https://www.gotquestions.org/celibacy-priests.html [Accessed 23 Feb. 2019].
- Moellerhaus.com. (2019). Arianism Versus the Council of Nicaea, http://www.moellerhaus.com/arianism.htm [Accessed 23 Feb. 2019].