Last week we were introduced to the Council of Nicaea and the initial battle over the Divinity of Christ

The council of Nicaea was 1 of 4 major universally accepted Councils of the Christian faith. (each council sought to bring clarity to the truths found in Scripture.

-4 Councils:

Nicaea (325)-Last week

Constantinople (381)- This week

Ephesus (431)-Next week

Chalcedon (451) -Next week


-Became Bishop of Alexandria at the age of 30 (after Alexander’s death in 328) was at Nicaea as Alexanders Secretary

-Arius’ excommunication is rescinded by Constantine this same year (as well as his death)

– Charges were brought against him by Eusebius of Nicomedia that he had turned to magics and was abusing the flock in Alexandria. Ordered by Constantine to appear before a synod in Tyre to answer questions about his use of “magic,” specifically that he killed a rival bishop in the city and used him as a sacrifice. 

-Athanasius appeared in Tyre and surprised the courts by sneaking in Bishop whom he supposedly killed. In being found innocent, the process made the followers of Arius seem petty and  vindictive

-Her went to Constantinople to speak to the emperor himself. behind denied entrance, he waited for the Emperor and while ridding proceeded to grab the emperor horse and demand an audience.  Eusebius of Nicomedia used this event to prove to Constantine that Athanasius was an unpredictable bishop, and Constantine had him exiled

-But would find himself in and out of exile for the next 50 years of his life at least 5 times.

-Returns to Alexandria as Bishop after a decree from now Emperor in the East, Constantius II (A pro-Arian in need of Support from His Brother the Western Emperor, Constans)

-Would remove Arian Control over the City for 10 years with the additional support of  the people

-In 353 Constantius (after his brother’s defeat) would force Bishops into accepting Arianism

-Athanasius would be forced to flee to the desert for 5 years

-Primary work: On the Incarnation of the Word written during this period

-His Staunchest defense of the truth against Arianism

-After Constantius death His Cousin Julian now emperor rescinded all orders against the church and all edicts issued under his cousin’s reign in an attempt to let the church eat itself from within.

-Instead Athanasius began to use theological diplomacy

(oou vs oiou) Athanasius bartered that both were acceptable if understood  correctly. (In the midst of all the turmoil he now saw how the Arians twisted the  orthodox teaching of the use of Homoousia into Sabellianism/Modalism)

-He convened a synod of Bishops in Alexandria in 362 to propose these new guidelines:

-God is one in substance without distinction amongst the three, and yet he is three in this substance without distinction from the whole.

-Died in 373AD Laid the foundation for the defense of Christ’s Deity that would be carried by others to Constantinople a decade later.

The Cappadocians:

Macrina: “The Teacher” 

-Basil & Gregory of Nyssa’s Older Sister

-Called her brother (Basil) back to the faith and away from the evils of the World (following the death of their older brother and their father he did just that)

-Some will call the Mother of Monasticism (As she trained her Brother Basil Wrote the rules and laws binding Eastern Monastic teaching)

-Founded a community of Women dedicated to the Lord’s service and to  the contemplation of scripture, would die peaceful with her youngest brother Gregory by her side, encouraging him in the truth of here future resurrection in Christ.

Basil the Great (330-377)

-Studied in Athens with Gregory of Nazianzus  and Prince Julian

-Elected a Presbyter in Caesarea by Eusebius  (pulling him away from his monastic endeavors)

-Upon the Bishop’s death He would be elected to succeed

-Would write extensively on the truth of the Trinity and the cause of Nicaea

Against Eunomius (5 vol. text) (who claimed that Christ was merely a creation of God)

-Jesus can not be the true revelation of God if he himself is not God for that which is created can not fully revel the uncreated.

On the Holy Spirit

-First text ever written exclusively on the person and work of the  Holy Spirit. Defended the divinity of the Spirit through use of  Scripture.

-Fought against the Macedonians (a theological sect that rejected the divinity of the Spirit)

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2.8: St. Basil: Letters and Select Works Chapter XV

Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fulness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise whereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. If such is the earnest, what the perfection? If such the first fruits, what the complete fulfilment

The Holy Spirt cannot do the things of God if not he himself is not God

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2.8: St. Basil: Letters and Select Works Chapter X

But we will not slacken in our defense of the truth. We will not cowardly abandon the cause. The Lord has delivered to us as a necessary and saving doctrine that the Holy Spirit is to be ranked with the Father. Our opponents think differently, and see fit to divide and rend asunder, and relegate Him to the nature of a ministering spirit.

Arian supports accused him of becoming a Tritheist because of his views on the Trinity:

-Developed the theological wording to describe the Trinity as such:

God is One in ousia (essence) and three in hypostases (Persons)

-This is articulated in a series of letters between him and his brother

-They were very aware of the possible misunderstandings of their words (since in Greek these two terms were interchangeable) that is why they wrote constantly on the meaning of their terms.

-His view of personhood is radically different than our modern thoughts (They were not to be seen individualistically. They are completely interdependent, to be without one would be to be without the whole. 

-He did not see the great victory of his work dying in 377, 4 years before the Council would be called in Constantinople to put this issue to rest.

-Gregory of Nyssa (340ish-393ish)

-Taught by His brother & Sister, though unlike his Brother and sister, he was a milder teacher preferring solitude writing, and peace over conflict, rhetoric and personal confrontations for the truth. 

-Chose the Monastic Life of Solitude and writing, which for him provided a way to avoid the troubles and suffering of life entanglements . (On Virginity– in this text some see the possibility of a possible previous marriage along with a letter from Gregory of Nazianzus about the death of his sister)

-Would become Bishop in Nyssa after the urging of his brother Basil, a position he did not want nor enjoyed. He was continually attacked by Arians for his teachings and challenged at every turn

-In 381 he would champion then Nicene Cause at the Council of Constantinople

-After Constantinople he joined emperor Theodosius as his personal theological adviser and defended the truth throughout the  empire, before retiring to solitude and monasticism once again.

-His writings would be key to the eventual defeat of Arianism

On the Holy Trinity, On Not Three Gods, &  Against Eunomius

Each put forward the truth that the Son is eternal with the Father, and along with the Father and the Son the Spirit

His main contribution was focusing on the reality that the Godhead worked in tandem

-Gregory of Nazianzus (330-391) “The Theologian”

-Son of the Bishop of Nazianzus (He was a PK)

-Close friend to Basil while at school in Athens along with Julian

-Elected against his will to the Presbytery in Nazianzus when he is 30, fled to join Basil Monastic movement

-Later appointed bishop of Nazianzus by Basil (Ultimately ending their friendship)

-He would leave the pastorate again for a monastic life

-News of Basil death in 377 spurs Him to take up the cause of truth

-Moves to Constantinople to start an orthodox church in  home of a relative defending the truth against the Arians who ruled the empire and as such the whole city. He wrote Hymns as a means to encourage his flock, while experiencing sever persecution from those outside his church.

-Writes Theological Orations

-Also used similar argumentation as Basil, but for Basil he would describe the Trinity not as 3 persons, but 3 relations (these relations are neither being or actions)

-the trinity should be understood then as three persons of God existing in a “real interdependent  relationship within one community of being and substance”

-Upon the installation of the New Orthodox Emperor Theodosius; Gregory would  be named Bishop of Constantinople (Again against this wishes), thus becoming a Patriarch almost overnight.

-Theodosius Calls for a Council to meet in Constantinople to put the matter to  rest in 381, placing Gregory in charge as the presiding Bishop. , During the council he was charge with usurping authority by serving as Bishop of two cities. He gladly resigned his post handing the reigns over to Nectarius who would serve the church well until the election  of John Chyrsostom whom we will discuss next week.

-He would retire to a private life of Hymn writing and to  the pastoral duties in his native Nazianzus, leaving behind the stress and pain of Constantinople 

The Council of Constantinople (381)

-Theodosius declares true Orthodox Christianity the only true and official religion of the Empire.

Called to finally settle the Trinitarian arguments (Full agreement was based on the Cappadocian arguments)

-Rejected Arianism completely (Christ is not created in any way shape or form)

-Rejected Sabellianism (The Father Son and Holy Spirit, being one in essence are distinct in personhood)

-Rejected Apollinarianism ( we will cover more explicitly in April, but in short Christ is Fully God and Fully Man)

-Accepted that God is one ousia and three hypostases.

-Finalized the Nicene Creed, which stands today as the foundational document, next to scripture, on which the church’s understanding of orthodoxy is contained.

-This time the council would stand the test of time.

The Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed (The Nicene Creed)

We believe in one God,
 the Father almighty,
 maker of heaven and earth,
 of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
 the only Son of God,
 begotten from the Father before all ages,
 God from God,
 Light from Light,
 true God from true God,
 begotten, not made;
 of the same essence as the Father.
 Through him all things were made.
 For us and for our salvation
 he came down from heaven;
 he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
 and was made human.
 He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
 he suffered and was buried.
 The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
 He ascended to heaven
 and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
 He will come again with glory
  to judge the living and the dead.
  His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life.

He proceeds from the Father
 and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
 He spoke through the prophets.
 We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
 We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
  and to life in the world to come. Amen.

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