The Council of Nicaea (Nicea)
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Background to Nicene Council
After Jesus, the followers of Jesus were persecuted and killed for hundreds of years. This started to change a quarter millennium after Jesus' birth (261AD), when the Roman government legally recognized a new religion, known now as "Christianity". A major turning point occurred when the Roman Emperor Constantine became a follower of Jesus and made Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire.

In 325AD Constantine assembled in Nicaea (modern day Turkey) some 318 leaders of this young religion from around the world to crystallize various aspects.

Nicene Creed
A primary outcome of this two month Nicene Council included the Nicene Creed:

"We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible:—
And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, Only-begotten, that is, from the Substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, was made man, suffered, and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, and cometh to judge quick and dead.
And in the Holy Ghost.
But those who say, 'Once He was not,' and 'Before His generation He was not,' and 'He came into being from nothing,' or those who pretend that the Son of God is 'Of other subsistence or substance,' or 'created,' or 'alterable,' or 'mutable,' the Catholic Church anathematises."

Primary Debate

Of the 318 assembled, only two did not vote to accept the creed. What was the debated issue? There was no debate about whether Jesus was the Creator of heaven and earth, working in conjunction with God the Father. There was no debate about whether Jesus was the “only begotten Son”, meaning uniquely and singularly the Son of God - the only one of his kind. The debate was on a technical issue of whether “begotten” meant “conceived” by God the Father, or “created” by God the Father.

The two dissenters (Arius and Eusebius) argued that the Father created the Son. Does a father create a child? Or, does a father conceive a child? We understand today that a father’s cell replicates and divides to beget (birth) a child. The child is of the same substance (nature, design and DNA) as a father, not of different substance. Even during the Council, it was commonly understood that a father doesn’t actually create the child, like a craftsman putting together wooden puppet pieces.

It may be of interest to note that "Only begotten" is from the Greek monogenes. The word is a compound word, mono, meaning only, and gennesis, meaning birth. "Only begotten" (monogenes) is used five times by John, three by Luke, and once by the writer of Hebrews. Luke used the word to describe the widow's son, "only son of his mother" (Lk. 7: 12, see 8: 42, 9: 38). The writer of Hebrews said Abraham "offered up his only begotten son" (Heb. 11: 17), referring to Isaac.

For historical source material on this debate, see “St. Athanasius - Four Discourses Against the Arians”:


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