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A Marriage Made in Byzantium

Bradley Nassif

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The Council of Nicaea is often misrepresented. Jehovah's Witnesses and modern critics of the divinity of Christ allege that the council was merely a tool of imperial manipulation. They point to Nicaea, not the Bible, as the source of the doctrine of the Trinity, and interpret the Council as the triumph of heresy over orthodoxy, rather than the reverse. They argue that Emperor Constantine "forced" the Council to adopt the crucial word consubstantial (homoousios) to describe the equal divinity of the Father and the Son.

But did Constantine really run the show at Nicaea?

The relationship between the church and the emperors starting with Constantine to the end of the Roman Empire in the East (also known as the Byzantine Empire, a.d. 330-1453) worked much like a marriage. Much of it was improvised, and the lovers quarreled at times and manipulated each other to get what they wanted. When it came to matters of faith, however, the boundaries of their relationship left no uncertainty about where the power of one left off and the other began.

Read this article on the Christianity Today website (new window will open).

Posted: 28 Jun, 05



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