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The Council Of Nicaea: Response To Arianism

5665 words - 23 pages

Liberty UniversityThe Council of Nicaea: Response to ArianismToward partial completion of course requirements for CHHI 520 B04ByDavid E. RobertsOctober 6, 2013Table of ContentsIntroduction 2Theology of Early Church Fathers 3Early Church Heresies 5Historical Developments Leading to the Arian Controversy 8Arius's Theology 10The Council of Nicaea 12Athanasius and His Theology 15Conclusion 17Bibliography 19Introduction"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So begins the Gospel of John. It would seem that there would be a clear interpretation and understanding of these words; however their meaning was the subject of the Arian controversy during the fourth century AD. The purpose of this paper is to explore the Arian controversy, and the response of the Council of Nicaea and Athanasius concerning the nature of Christ. Athanasius succeeded in defending the faith against Arius's heresy, and influenced the Council's response. [1: John 1:1 (English Standard Version).][2: Bryan M. Litfin, Getting to Know the Church Fathers: an Evangelical Introduction (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2007), 174-178.]In order to understand the theological setting of the Council of Nicaea and the Arian controversy, this discourse will begin by reviewing the historical developments that lead to the council, including early heresies and writings of the early church fathers. Next, an examination of the Council of Nicaea will be conducted including a discussion of the factors that required the council to be convened. Finally, the paper will explore the position of Athanasius and his response to Arius and his followers.Theology of Early Church FathersIt is difficult to understand the theological environment during the Council of Nicaea without first discussing early church thought as it relates to the controversy. In this section, the writer will discuss the some of the early church fathers and their writings as they relate to the central issues effecting early church theology. The early church councils did not concern themselves with determinations about scriptural meaning, or the mind of God. They were more concerned with their mission as witnesses and protectors of the faith, and what had been handed down to them from the fathers. "The first requirement was not learning, but honesty. The question they were called upon to answer was not, What do I think probable, or even certain, from Holy Scripture? but, What have I been taught, what has been [e]ntrusted to me to hand down to others?" It seems the early fathers were more concerned with ensuring the accuracy of the faith, and that it remained untainted by the influences of man. It was not a question of proof, but one of faith in the correct doctrine. In his work titled The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Philip Schaff gives an example supporting this statement. He explains that during the Fourth Council the Tome of Pope St. Leo was not examined to determine if it could be proved from Holy...


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