Council of Nicaea By: Patrick Hogan, Donovan Powell, Julija Garnyte, Sophia Mora-Fitzergald

The Council

Context

  • The Council of Nicaea was the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church
  • Called by Roman Emperor Constantine I
  • Occurred in 325
  • Constantine's empire was shaken by religious controversy
  • An Alexandrian priest named Arius began teaching that Christ was not divine, but a created being
  • Alexander of Alexandria was the bishop of the province and publicly rebuked Arius' statements
  • Arius' teaching became known as Arianism
  • Arianism is defined as the belief that Jesus is less than God, and Jesus is a created being
Arius, on left, and Alexander of Alexandria, on right.
  • Arius attracted many followers, but was excommunicated front the Christian Church
  • Arius was expelled from Alexandria, but continued his teachings elsewhere
  • Constantine recognized this controversy occurring in his empire, so he decided to call a council of the most important bishops to solve it and stabilize his empire
  • The bishops and important figures met at Constantine's Palace in Nicaea
Emperor Constantine's Palace in Nicaea (Meeting Place for the Council of Nicaea)

Important Figures

  • Emperor Constantine I
  • Bishop Alexander of Alexandria
  • Arius
  • About 300 important bishops
Constantine I

Major Issues

  • Resolve the controversy involving Arianism
  • The identity of Christ's divinity and humanity
  • Separating early Christianity's dogma and heresy
  • Deciding on a uniform date for Easter
  • Establishing Church canons to set rules and practices

Outcome

  • The Council formally opposed Arius' teachings and created the doctrine of homoousios
  • Homoousios is the doctrine that God the Father and the Son are one in the same
  • The Nicene Creed was created to state important Church beliefs and signify the equality between the Father and the Son
  • The Council failed to decide on a uniform date for Easter, but decided to continue celebrating it on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox
  • The process for ordination of bishops was established in Canon 1
  • Canon 5 states that provinces must hold provincial synods (meetings) twice a year
  • Canon 20 states that people must stand during the liturgy at mass

Aftermath

  • Constantine confirmed the decrees of Nicaea and proclaimed them laws in the Roman Empire
  • Constantine declared that harmony in faith had been achieved
  • Nicaea's judgements were very clear, but they caused a very big division for the Church in the East for years

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