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How the Council of Nicea Reveals the Nonviolent God

How the Council of Nicea Reveals the Nonviolent God

What happened at the Council of Nicea?

It affirmed the nonviolent God of love that Jesus revealed.

There are many misunderstandings about the Council of Nicea. Dan Brown’s fictional thriller The Da Vinci Code claims that the primary goal of the Council was to decide which books belong in the Bible.

But the Council of Nicea actually had nothing to do with the canonization of the Bible. That myth started in the 9th century, some six hundred years after the Council of Nicea, with an anonymous document. The document stated that the bishops at the council piled on a communion table all of the possible books for inclusion. Then the bishops prayed. As they prayed, the false books fell to the floor, and the true books stayed on the table. Thus the Biblical canon was chosen.

That never happened. No documents from the year 325 until the 9th century state anything about this miracle or anything about the Council and the canonization of the Bible.

So what actually did happen at the Council of Nicea? It reveals the absolute nonviolent love of God.

The main question at the council centered around the Son’s relationship to the Father.

A bishop named Arius believed that the Son was not one with the Father, but that the Son was the first creation of the Father. So the Son was very important for Arius, but the Son was not one with God. In the Greek language of the time, Arius claimed that the Son was homoiousios with the Father. That meant that the Son was like the Father, but not the same substance as the Father.

Another bishop named Athanasius claimed that the Son was homoousios, or the same substance, with the Father. This is literally the difference of one iota, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. But that one iota makes a big difference.

If Arius was correct, then the Son would be like the Father, but that opens the door to there being differences between the Father and the Son.

The problem is that the New Testament claims that the Father and the Son are one. As Jesus states in John 10:30, “The Father and I are one.” Jesus explains this oneness in that chapter by saying that he does the “works of his Father.” In other words, the works of the Son are the same as the works of the Father.

The Letter to the Hebrews addresses this by stating that the Son is the “exact imprint of the Father.”

Why does this matter? And why does it matter that the Nicene Creed, the most important creed in Christian history, states that the Son is one substance with the Father?

Because it means that the Father is nonviolent love.

Here is the problem: I’ve heard many people say that they love Jesus, but they don’t know about the Father. Jesus loves everyone, including his enemies. But you never know what your are going to get with the Father. Is the Father going to love you, or is the Father full of wrath and hatred for you? You know where you stand with the Son, but you never know where you stand with the Father.

But the Council of Nicea answered this problem. The Son is homoousios with the Father.

That means that what you get with the Son is what you get with the Father. The Son is one with the Father and is the exact imprint of the Father.

The key for the Council of Nicea is that the Son is the all-loving and nonviolent entity of God, which means that the Father is the same all-loving and nonviolent entity as the Son.

I know many will point to passages in scripture where scripture claims that God has acted violently. But scripture is not one with the Father. Scripture is not the “exact imprint of the Father.”

Scripture is important, but it is not the full revelation of God. As the Nicene Creed affirms, the Son, revealed through Jesus, is the full revelation of God. And that means that God is always and forever nonviolent love.

For a deeper dive into this topic, check out my podcast episode “Is the Nicene Creed Progressive? Part 1 and Part 2.

Adam Ericksen

Adam Ericksen

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