JESUS CHRIST AND DIVINENESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Acts of Priest Arius
Arius was a Christian priest of Alexandria, Egypt in 310 A.D.; he shared the religious views of the Nazarenes, the legal heirs of Christ, in terms of religion. He accented the absolute oneness of the divinity as the highest perfection. And Christ was created by this one and sole God. As an evidence of this he pointed to the verses of Matthew: « Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.» (5/9 and 5/44, 45) An ascetical and moral leader of a Christian community in the area of Alexandria, he attracted a large following. This made Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, restless. Alexander, had, like the Roman Church, acknowledged, as Paul's doctrine, the fact that Christ was of the same divine nature as God. Arius upheld his belief. The Arianism spread far and wide. The community was divided; the dispute had become a national issue. Emperor Constantine had to intervene to solve the problem.
Emperor Constantine's Intervention
Constantine I mounted the throne in 306 A.D. Constantinopolis was a small Byzantian town before he enlarged and expanded it. He had been an idolater, adoring Sol Inviatus, the Sun God, before he was converted for political reasons into Christianity. This delivered the Christian subjects of the Roman Empire who had been suffering from the tortures of the Romans. Constantine whose main objective was the unity of his country, continued to adore his former God, while he tried to reconcile it with the new religion; and he succeeded in this. In the meantime, he had extended his sovereignty and taken the Roman Church under his protection. The religious restlessness caused by Arianism might harm the nation. This led him to create a council called the Nicaean Council.
The Council of Nicaea
This ecumenical Council was the most important meeting in the History of Christianity.
Constantine used all his means to form this Council. The entire expenses of the bishops and ecclesiastical personages invited, estimated to exceed 300, were met by the Empire. The Council met at İznik, Turkey in a church no longer existent. The sittings that began on May 20 and lasted until 25 July was attended by Constantine himself. He was revered the country over. He felt a great affinity for polytheism as he had been brought up in the Greco-Roman tradition. He was partial to the Roman Church and opposed Arianism. It was evident that the Council's decision would be in favor of the party that he backed up.
Controversy of Arius and Athanasius
According to the opponents of Arius, especially the bishop Athanasius (d.373), the teaching of Arius (d.336) reduced the Son to a demigod, reintroduced polytheism (since worship of the Son was not abandoned), and undermined the Christian concept of redemption since only he who was truly God could be deemed to have reconciled man with the Godhead. The controversy seemed to have been brought to an end by the Council of Nicaea (AD 325), which condemned Arius and his teaching, according to which Christ was not the word incarnated but a mere human being, and issued a creed to safeguard orthodox Christian belief. This creed states that the Son is of one substance with the Father, thus declaring him to be all that the Father is. The controversy was to last for a long time to come.
Priests corroborate the divinity of Jesus Christ
In the end, the doctrine preached by Athanasius and endorsed by Constantine was approved. Arianism was declared a heresy. Thus, the divinity of Jesus Christ had formally been acknowledged by the majority of votes cast by human hands. The actual truth was that Jesus as commented by Arius and indicated by the gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, with the exception of the Gospel according to John, Christ was not God but a prophet. This was emphasized by many verses of the Synoptic gospels. « And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: »(Mark 12/29) « And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. »(Luke 4/8) « And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.» (Matthew 13/57) « And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.» (Luke 7/16)
« But at the beginning of the fourth century, Arius, an Alexandrian priest, proposed a more consistent and more philosophical interpretation of the Trinity. Arius does not reject the Trinity, but he denies the consubstantialityof the three divine persons. For him God is alone and uncreated; the Son and the Holy Spirit were created later by the father and so are inferior to him. Arius'interpreation had sone success, even among the bishops, but at the Council of Nicaea in 325 the creed rejecting Arianism was adopted. However, Arius' theology still had comparatively powerful defenders, and the controversy continuedfor more than half a century. »(Eliade, ibid. p 409).
After the Council of Nicaea, Arianism which was a continuation of the Nazarenes'movement was embraced by a great multitude. The controversy went on not only among the scholars but was spread among the people. If Jesus Christ was not God how could one bring himself to believe that he had the power of saving the world? The hot debates continued up until the end of the seventh century when Arianism disappeared.
Today, among the Christians, the former Arianists who had shared the conviction in the unity of God formed a sect entitled the Unitarians. Constantine had put the Bishop of Rome on the payroll following the Council's closure of the sitting. Thus he had given him a status differing form those of the Church clergy. Not long after, the Roman Church had established sovereignty over the rest of the churches which led to the creation of papistry.
Determination of the date of birth of Jesus Christ (Christmas)
The Council did not cease to operate after having deified Jesus Christ. Constantine, who had been a polytheist, still adored the Sun God, Solo Invictus. The greatest of their religious holiday was celebrated on Sunday, December 25, and the belief was that the said date was the birth date of the Sun God. These men, deeply attached to their tradition wanted that the date of birth of Christ coincided with the date of the birth of the Sun God. So, 'Sunday', the day of the Sun, had to be observed as the adoration day. Emperor Constantine, who had tried to reconcile the two creeds, was successful in his attempt. Eventually, the Roman Catholic Church adopted, as from 325 A.D., the date 'December 25' as Christmas Day. It should be noted, however, the eastern churches (of Istanbul, Antioch and Alexandria) to be henceforth referred to as 'Orthodox Churches' celebrate Christmas on January 6.
« The Nicene Creed»
« We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirithe was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of theFather. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead ,and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.» (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.)
Yet, those who claim that there was a time when Lord Jesus Christ did not exist; that he did not exist before he was given birth to; and that he was created from an essence and substance other than divine and liable to undergo change or transfiguration, are subject to be anetghamized by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Nicene Creed elaborated on with slight changes is still recited by many churches like the Syriac, Greek and Armenian churches.
The Doctrine of Trinity formally accepted
The Council of Nicaea, in 325, stated the crucial formula for that doctrine in its confession is that the Son is of the same substance [homoousios] as the Father, even though it said very little about the Holy Spirit. The divinity of the Holy Spirit also became debatable. The scholars are of the opinion that the passage in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 28/19) was a later addition; the Council of Nicaea, had, in 325, stated that the crucial formula for that doctrine in its confession was that the Son is of the same substance [homoousios] as the Father. In the other Gospels there is no explicit mention of Trinity. However, St. Paul, in his letters, had used ambiguous expressions. All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (2 Chorinthians 13/13,14) The Gospel according to St. Luke mentioned Gabriel, but the identity of the Holy Spirit with Gabriel was not indicated: And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, (Luke 1/19, 26).
« We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you an apostle with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride?- Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay! »(Qur'an 2/87)
« She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: "I seek refuge from thee to ((Allah)) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah." He said: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.» (Qur'an Mary 19/17, 19)
Actually, there was not any explicit account about the Trinity in all the four gospels. The Clerical authorities tried to formulate the Trinity which was not based on any divine revelation. To formalize this doctrine, the First Council of Constantinople met in 381 with the participation of 186 bishops. The conclusion adopted was declared as follows: The definition that the Holy Spirit was a distinct divine Person equal in substance to the Father and the Son and not subordinate to them came at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381, following challenges to its divinity. The Eastern and Western churches have since viewed the Holy Spirit as the bond, the fellowship, or the mutual charity between Father and Son; they are absolutely united in the Spirit. The relationship of the Holy Spirit to the other Persons of the Trinity has been described in the West as proceeding from both the Father and the Son, whereas in the East it has been held that the procession is from the Father through the Son. Thus, the doctirne of Trinity had been established and the Holy Spirit had been elevated to the rank of divinity which was to constitute the basis of the Christian belief. Just like in the case in the Nicene Council, the Holy Spirit also was deified along with Jesus Christ. In this way, Christianity had been divested from its original, Unitarian concept, to be transformed into a doctrine according to which the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were three persons in One Godhead. Eventually, the New Testament consisting of 27 books which today we have in hand was re-edited.
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CHRISTIANITY FROM THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA UNTIL PRESENT