Council of Nicaea

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The First Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council recognized by Christian churches (other than the Council of Jerusalem recorded in the New Testament), was summoned by Emperor Constantine in 325 AD in order to address disunity in the Church stemming from Arianism. It was the first time Christians could be called together from across the Roman Empire as it had been illegal before then and incurred persecutions leading to death.

The sessions opened between 20 May and 19 June.[1] According to tradition, 318 bishops attended.[2] They held discussions daily, not being discouraged or intimidated by the emperor's presence. (Constantine himself wished primarily for unity; he did not appreciate the importance of Arius's heresy.)

The church historian Eusebius, an Arian, offered the creed of his church, which did not address the questions in dispute, as a basis for agreement. The bishop of Nicomaeda, also an Arian named Eusebius, put forward a defense of Arianism. Arius himself was also heard and his points discussed; however, the overwhelming majority declared themselves in favor of the orthodox faith. Using Eusebius's creed as a base, they wrote the Nicene Creed which specifically and in detail asserted the divinity of Jesus Christ: he is homousis, "of the same substance" as the Father. As expanded by the First Council of Constantinople, this creed remains the unified statement of faith of the majority of Christians to this day.

The Council of Nicea also issued twenty canons concerning church order and discipline. Modern skeptics such as Dan Brown have asserted that it also declared the official canon of the Bible; however, the main body of the canon (including all four Gospels) was already decided on long before the Council, and a few books only were still being discussed afterwards.[3]

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