49: Deliberations at Nicea

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:3

The confusion created by Arius regarding the doctrine of the Trinity and the person of Christ had created such acrimony within the Church that Constantine called the Bishops together at Nicea to resolve and reconcile.

For the Emperor, as Christianity was now the established religion of his Empire, a rift could therefore have serious repercussions where political unity was concerned. His concern was therefore of a secular nature, but nevertheless the God who rules over all would use his authority to lay down truth that we continue to derive comfort from today.

Constantine was quite correct , however, to emphasise the importance of unity within the Church as his opening speech demonstrated:

I must thank God that, in addition to all other blessings, he has shown me this highest one of all: to see you all gathered here in harmony and with one mind…Discord in the church I consider more fearful and painful than any other war…I have summoned you without delay. I shall, however, feel my desire fulfilled only when I see the minds of all united in that peaceful harmony which you, as the anointed of God, must preach to others. Delay not therefore, my friends, delay not, servants of God; put away all causes of strife, and loose all knots of discord by the laws of peace.

Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church

A study of the deliberations will show that the debates and discussions flowed until the august assembly came to a common mind on the teaching of Scripture. Opinions were changed, at one time the Arians appeared to hold the majority, those who were undecided came over to the Trinitarian position until eventually unity around the truth prevailed. It was this common mind of the Church which convinced them of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Similarly today, the blessing of God abounds where God’s people display a spirit of unity; such unity will be satisfying and much blessing will flow therefrom.

Behold, how good a thing it is,
and how becoming well,
Together such as brethren are
in unity to dwell!

Like precious ointment on the head,
that down the beard did flow,
Ev'n Aaron's beard, and to the skirts,
did of his garments go.

As Hermon's dew, the dew that doth
on Zion' hills descend:
For there the blessing God commands,
life that shall never end.

Psalm 133; The Scottish Psalter

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