Wednesday, December 14, 2011

First Council of Nicaea

The Secret Vatican Archives

The First Council of Nicaea was a month-long meeting called to order by Constantine I in the hopes of achieving a uniformed Christian doctrine. It is a common misconception that it was an assembly to compile or edit the Christian Bible. It was, in fact, convened in order to answer specific questions of faith including: the resolution of regional schisms, a formalized Passover date, the baptism of heretics, and, most importantly, a decree concerning the Arian debate.

Arian belief originated from the competing beliefs that either Christ Jesus was the same as God, or that He was merely composed of the same material -- a product of His father's divinity.

The resulting support of the first position was the point of origin for the guidelines of a unified Christendom -- The clear delineation of what was Orthodox belief and what was heretical. A distinction that had to be manipulated.
- Pax Romana
by Jonathan Hickman

I find it interesting that many of the major tenets of orthodox theology are reactive in origin. A misleading view or outright heresy would crop up and the Church would figure out a suitable response to it that would explain why it was wrong and the orthodox position was correct. The finer points of Christian theology were not really laid out for us at the beginning. Issues such as the Trinity and Godhead took some time and discussion to hammer out. And that's what makes theology so much fun!

In my view, theology, our study and understanding of God, isn't all that rigid. It's much more fluid than we usually think and than most people are probably comfortable with. Jesus didn't lay out all the answers in nice and neat categories. Much of the New Testament consists of Paul and others trying to correct wrong beliefs. "So I hear you guys in Corinth have been saying this and acting this way. No! This is what it is and this is how you should act and this is why."

Orthodox is a response to heresy. Therefore, theology is continuously developing. It encounters a competing viewpoint and adapts. It may not synthesize or compromise with the alternate belief, but refuting it will help better define the orthodox. Theology is dialectic. It's a constant give and take between ideas. And it is fun. And rather necessary. Sometimes the best way to understand an orthodox view is to learn just what the orthodox isn't.

Of course, that would mean actually having to teach people about heresies, and we dare not do that. Because if they don't know, then they can never fall into that heresy. Except, if they don't know it's a heresy, then they won't know something they've been pondering for awhile is wrong until it's too late.

And so much of what I've just said might get me labeled a heretic myself.

Oh well, you guys in the AFB should be used to that by now.

And just look at that picture. Look at how awesome Hickman's art in Pax Romana is. And there's theology in it, too! You should seriously consider checking it out. Get it from Amazon or TFAW.

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