51: Nicea’s Dangerous Flaw

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

Psalm 146:3

While the great Nicene Council was not flawed with regard to doctrine, which has been a bulwark for the Church ever since, she sadly was in error with regard to her administration. This flaw represented the beginnings of mischief that would in time develop into the mighty Papacy.

The great council met at the behest and with the authority of the dominant character of this age, the Emperor Constantine the Great. Ultimately he approved the conclusions and delivered punishments for Arius and his supporters.

This involved not only excommunication from the Church but physical banishment also. While the fact that no blood was shed is welcomed, a sign of grace dominating in this new age, there was a definite temporal element to the proceedings and the sentences. This domination of the Church by the state is opposed to the independent nature of Christ’s Kingdom on earth.

At the close of the proceedings the Emperor entertained the bishops with a lavish banquet and remunerated them generously; judging by the reports some of the Lord’s servants were too overawed by their temporal master; “quite too susceptible to worldly splendour” was Schaff’s verdict on the Christian historian Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea in Syria.

Therefore in the desire to do good, a template was laid down, which would become a pattern until the Church eventually became a temporal power and her spiritual father became a Prince.

How often have we not fallen into this trap; laying too much store in politicians and governments instead of relying upon the humble man of Galilee who is now King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

The prophets of Pride and the priests of Desire
Are calling and cutting in vain;
The halting are waiting for witness of fire,
And sound of abundance of rain.

William Leslie

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