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Author Topic: Did Constantine "interfere" at Nicaea?  (Read 1706 times) Average Rating: 0
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Doubting Thomas
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« on: July 12, 2004, 09:12:07 AM »

I was reading the Baptistboard's "Other Religions" Forum this morning, and a Mormon was making the claim that Constantine interfered with the procedings to the point that the outcome was basically a "rubberstamp" of his decsion in favor of Athanasius.  Basically it was politics and not truth that prevailed.  Does anyone know where I can look at the proceedings of this council so I can, in an informed manner, rebut that guy's assertion?
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2004, 09:59:02 AM »

You can go to a bookstore and read pages 8 and 9 of "A Short History of Byzantium" by Norwich. Of course that is just one historians perspective.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2004, 10:15:07 AM »

I don't believe that they kept the Acts for that Council (if memory serves), though you can read about it somewhat in Church historians like Socrates, Sozomen, etc. (which can be read at CCEL). You can also read the Canons and a few other documents, and what modern scholars say about the Council, at CCEL. Of course, the Orthodox position is that Constantine--while perhaps not the best theologian around--did a great service to the Church by suggesting homoousion as the technical term that described the relationship between the Father in the Son (as far as essence). The word, even then, was controversial (it had been, before that, used by some shady characters, and in a completely different sense than how Constantine and the Orthodox would come to use it). Constantine did make some mistakes as far as the Church goes, but his participation at the First Council was not one of them, and he is recognized as a Saint by the Church... Smiley
« Last Edit: July 12, 2004, 10:16:27 AM by Paradosis » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2004, 10:57:40 AM »

While it's good to provide an apology for the truth, I suspect you'd be wasting your time, since you're not going to convince a Mormon on this, not this way - it's too central a part of their thinking (that the "real" Apostolic Church evaporated due to the corruption of the Church, it's early apostacy, and ressurection under Joseph Smith.)

You'd be better saying to the Mormon something like this...

"While it is obvious you have doubts about how reflective the Council of Nicea was of Apostolic Christianity, in all honesty I do not see how you can have such doubts while accepting Mormon doctrine - since it's inherent polytheism, strange teaching on personal deification (the belief that "God" was once a man like us, and being a good Mormon will allow one to become a "God" eventually in the same way), temple cult, etc. have absolutely no documentary evidence in any of the writings (orthodox or heretical) of the pre-Nicean period.  Indeed, I find it odd that you have such a high level of skepticism toward one party, yet almost complete naivity toward the claims of another."

Thus, put them on the defensive - their psyche is such, unfortunately, that arguing FOR Orthodoxy, without undermining their blasphemies, will probably not work.

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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2004, 11:05:06 AM »

Gentlemen,

Thanks for the replies thus far and for the suggestions.

DT
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2004, 11:06:41 AM »

While it's good to provide an apology for the truth, I suspect you'd be wasting your time,

I agree with Augustine on this. You wll not convince them anymore than we were able to convince those people who uprooted their lives and moved to Colorado. Some people don't want to know the truth.

Besides, if you read the history -- both of you are right. Constantine certainly "stacked the deck" to get the outcome he wanted.

But -- that does not mean the the outcome was wrong.
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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2004, 11:32:09 AM »


Besides, if you read the history -- both of you are right. Constantine certainly "stacked the deck" to get the outcome he wanted.

But -- that does not mean the the outcome was wrong.
 
Which leads to the question: what is it about the faith expressed at Nicea that would cause Constantine, a recent convert, to "stack the deck" in favor of that position over that of Arius?  Some could argue that it was a whim considering that Constantine seemed to vacillate somewhat later on.
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2004, 12:18:22 PM »

 
Which leads to the question: what is it about the faith expressed at Nicea that would cause Constantine, a recent convert, to "stack the deck" in favor of that position over that of Arius?  Some could argue that it was a whim considering that Constantine seemed to vacillate somewhat later on.


Because 300+ bishops showed up at Nicea AGAINST Arius, and only a handful showed up to support him.

He was after UNITY. So he picked the side with the most supporters.

Page 9:

"At Nicea, there were few delegates from the West (Alexandria, where the Arian teaching was generally accepted and caused no controversy). From the East, on the other hand, the delegates arrived in force: probably 300 or more, many of them with impressive records of persecution for the faith".....

"The doctrinal point of issue interested Constantine not at all: his military cast of mind had little patience with theological niceties. He was, however, determined to put an end to this controversy."

"For Constantine, The first Ecumenical Council was a triumph..... He has established both a great confederacy of Eastern and Western Churches and his own moral supremacy over it."

---

So who knows? But look at it this way -- maybe the 300+ bishops showed up from the East because God moved them to. It is very hard to PROVE anything based upon the history of the Church. It is not black and white like people would like you to believe.

Why do I say this? -- because futher on in history (Page 15) the Emperor is impressed with Arius because his family supports him and tries to have the Patriarch allow him to return. When he refuses -- the Emperor decides that the Patriarch is now the impediment to Church unity -- "Thus the Emperor gradually conceded that Athanasius, rather than Arius, was now the chief impediment". Constantine then had all these charges trumped up against Athanasius, fearing for his life, Athanasius fled and was deposed.

It finally took the people rioting when Arius was brought back that forced the Emperor to back down.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2004, 12:19:59 PM by Tom+ú » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2004, 12:29:11 PM »

Because 300+ bishops showed up at Nicea AGAINST Arius, and only a handful showed up to support him.

He was after UNITY. So he picked the side with the most supporters.

What happened to Athanasius Contra Mundi?  I thought the majority of Christians at the time were Arian.

Would that be "Majority of Christians; Minority of bishops"?
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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2004, 12:44:52 PM »

What happened to Athanasius Contra Mundi?  I thought the majority of Christians at the time were Arian.

Would that be "Majority of Christians; Minority of bishops"?

Maybe based on the number of bishops that showed up at Nicaea, Constantine determined that the pro-Nicene doctrine better represented the majority sentiment of the empire (irrespective of the fact that the Nicene bishops may or may not have been an accurate "sampling" of total number of bishops in the empire) as a whole and would therefore be the best path towards imperial unity.
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2004, 01:10:22 PM »

Yes, I meant the # of Bishops at Nicea. If he could show a huge majority condemning it, he assumed that this could convince the right people. And it is my understanding, that Arianism was not as prevelant in the East where the empires power lay.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2004, 01:12:30 PM by Tom+ú » Logged
Justin Kissel
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« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2005, 07:51:05 PM »

Quote
And it is my understanding, that Arianism was not as prevelant in the East where the empires power lay.

I think Arianism was prevalent pretty much everywhere--thus St. Jerome's famous saying that (to paraphrase) "the world woke up and found itself Arian". However, if generalizations had to be made, I think it would be the opposite: that the West was more free of Arianism* than the East, where Arius himself found supportive bishops willing to take him in and countless attempts at semi-arian compromises were formulated and semi-arian "unification" councils held.

*At least at that *early* date, though admittedly it lasted longer in the west because lots of northern European barbarians were missionized by Arians.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2005, 07:53:08 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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