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The questions of the essence and nature(s) of Christ was not, in fact, settled at Nicea. Many local synods, and another ecumenical council; Constantinople in 381 C.E., were needed to settle the theological questions raised by Arius. In the ensuing decades, following the Council of Nicea, the Roman Empire was attacked and settled by a host of Germanic tribes, some of whom adopted Christianity, but who (perhaps just to spite the Emperors) chose to become Arian Christians. The last remaining Arian, Germanic tribe was defeated by a Roman Army, now under the auspices of the bishop of Rome, in 538, and it is not until then that Arians fall from the history books.
However, other factors kept the Arian question alive, including the meddling of the Emperors; including the three sons of Constantine.
II) Defenders and Opponents of the Nicene Creed:
Best essay writing website shows imperial involvement is both long and convoluted, and perhaps it is best just to list the emperors, and who they supported. Reasons for the shifting support have been suggested, but here we will only be doing a “box score.”
1) Constantine: Constantine, seeing that the majority of bishops supported a position opposite of Arius, supported the anti-Arian Bishops. However, this soon changed, and he decided to remove Athanasius (now Bishop of Alexandria) from his see, and condemn him in 335 C.E. There were still a number of important supporters of Arius in Constantinople, and given the growing rivalry between the bishops of Constantinople and Alexandria, Constantine decided to assure the support of those in Constantinople.
2) Constantine II: Constantine made provision in his will that his three sons share the Empire. Constantine II, who governed Gaul and N. Africa (an odd geographical pairing) restored Athanasius, by now the point man for the anti-Arian crowd, in 337.
3) Constantius: Another son of Constantine, Constantius who governed the provinces in the East, in opposition to his brother, supported the Arian position, and their leader Eusebius of Nicomedia. In 339 he condemned Athanasius, based on trumped up charges brought against him by the Arians.
4) Constans: The third son Constantine, Constans, in 346 C.E., returned Athanasius to his position in Alexandria.
5) Julian the Apostate: Julian, the last pagan emperor, probably to cause trouble for the Christian community, sent Athanasius into exile yet again in 362 C.E.
6) Valens: At some point between 362 and 365 C.E. Athanasius must have returned to Alexandria, for the Emperor Valens, in 365 C.E., sends Athanasius into exile again. This may be an opportune time to point out that each time Athanasius was sent into exile, he took up residence with the monks living in the Upper Egyptian deserts.
7) Theodosius I (the Great): In 381 C.E., Theodosius, wishing to put this ongoing controversy to rest, called another ecumenical council, and made sure Arias, and Arianism was finally condemned.
1) Athanasius: Athanasius, who became Bishop of Alexandria shortly after the Council of Nicea, came to be the most vocal supporter of the Nicene Creed. Two reasons may be suggested. Alexandrian Christianity had a history, when questions about the divinity vs. the humanity of Christ came up, of lifting up the divinity of Christ. the Nicene Creed was a response to a Christology which seemed to diminish Christ’s divinity, so it is no surprise that Athanasius, as well as the rest of the Alexandrian church would support a high Christology such as the Nicene Creed. Further, Arius’ position may have seemed even more egregious, for he was a deacon in Alexandria when he began to put forth his theories about the essence of Christ.
Best essay writing website shows a number of catholic writers responded to this crisis, but most, instead of simply defending the Nicene position, spent more time attacking Arius. Among the surviving works of Athanasius we have: Discourses Against the Arians; On the Incarnation Against the Arians; Apology Against the Arians; and History of the Arians.
2) The Great Cappadocians: Basil of Caesarea (ca.330 – 379); Gregory of Nyssa (ca.335 – ca.395); Gregory of Nazianzus (ca.330 – 389): After Athanasius, these three men rank as the most notable defenders of the faith of Nicea in the 4th c., not only battling Arianism, but other heretical beliefs as well. Their combined work against heterodox beliefs, and their births in the region of Cappadocia (modern central Turkey) have earned them the combined title “The Great Cappadocians. We will consider each of their contributions individually.
a) Basil of Caesarea: Considered a Doctor of the Church, and known primarily for his defense of the catholic faith, was also instrumental in other theological and ecclesiastical developments of the 4th c.
Part of his training was in Athens, where, among other classmates, was Gregory of Nazianzus who he befriended, and Julian (later to become the last pagan emperor).
Following his studies in Athens Basil founded a monastery in Pontus. Eustathius of Sebaste had already introduced the eremitical monastic life into Asia Minor); Basil added the coenobitic form. And because this form of monasticism was later imitated by other companies of men and women, Basil came to be known as the Father of Oriental Monasticism.
It was also here that he, along with his good friend Gregory edited some of the exegetical works of Origen; the same Origen whose writings were later condemned as un-catholic.
However, Basil was not allowed to spend his days in quite study in the mountains of Pontus. In 370 he was appointed to the See of Caesarea, which because it embraced more than half of Asia Minor, was, along with Ephesus, one of the major Sees in the East. His work here, though, proved to be very difficult, for although he had the support of the great Athanasius, he drew upon himself the hostility of the Arian Emperor Valens. Nevertheless, his work proceeded along two major tracts. First he is credited with working tirelessly to exclude unfit candidates from the ministry, and delivering the bishops from the temptation of simony (the buying or selling of church offices). But just as important, he threw himself into the theological disputes, and drew up a summary of orthodox beliefs, including works against the Arianism of Eunomius which defends the divinity of the three persons of the trinity. He was also wrote a separate treatise supporting divinity of the Holy Spirit, while avoiding the phrase “God, the Holy Ghost.”
Near the end of his ministry Basil must have thought all of his work had been for naught. The Bishop of Tyana became an open enemy, Apollinarius “a cause of sorrow to the churches,” and Eustathius of Sebaste a traitor to the faith. Antioch was in schism, Rome doubted his sincerity, the bishops refused to be brought together, he was suspected of heresy by Damasus, and accused by Jerome of pride. Not only that, but his friend Eusebius of Samasota was banished, and Gregory of Nyssa was condemned and deposed. Basil died on January 1, 379.
b) Gregory of Nyssa: The younger brother of Basil, and friend of Gregory of Nazianzus, his advocacy of the Nicene faith earned him praises from Jerome, Socrates Scholasticus (a 5th c. Christian historian), Theodoret and others. Some even called him “the Father of Fathers.” Gregory tells us that he owes his training to his mother, his grandmother, who taught him a creed drown up by Gregory Thaumaturgus, his older sister, Macrina, but most of all to his older brother, Basil, who he often calls “Master.”
Being uninterested in the politics of the church, he retired to his brother’s monastery in Pontus, and devoted himself to the study of Scripture and the works of Origen. But like his brother, he also was not be afforded the luxury of the quiet life.
In 365 he was summoned to act as coadjutor to Eusebius, the Metropolitan of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and aid him in repelling the Arian faction. Without surprise, his writings on the trinity and the incarnation brought the hostility of the still significant Arian clergy, who now were joined by the Sabellians in their opposition to the Nicene Creed.
Gregory’s last major contribution was at the Council of Constantinople in 381 where he reads a treatise against the Eunomian heresy, and before the close of the council, Gregory is named as one of the bishops who were to be regarded as the central authorities of the catholic communion.
c) Gregory of Nazianzus: Gregory, like his two friends came to be revered as a Doctor of the Church. Also like his two friends he spent time studying the works of Origen, especially his biblical commentaries. Not only is Gregory remembered as a staunch defender of the Nicene Christological formula, he had to rescue his own father twice. Early in Gregory’s life his father was a member of the heretical sect known as the “Hypsistarii”, and later he had to be dissuaded from the heretical creed of Rimini. He worked with his father as coadjutor, but soon after his father’s death, Gregory withdrew to a monastery, living in solitude for three years.
But again, like his two friends, he was not destined to spend his years secluded in a monastery. A number of circumstances brought him to Constantinople in 379, who for the previous three years had been in the hands of the Arians. Gregory was called to lead the catholics, which he began in a private house, which he describes as “the new Shiloh where the Ark was fixed.” It was here that he preached five discourses on the faith of Nicea; preaching on the doctrine of the trinity while safeguarding the unity of the Godhead. these were later published and gained for him, alone of all Christian teachers except the Apostle John, the title of Theologus (the Divine).
Best essay writing website shows he came to the attention of the Emperor Theodosius who banished the Arian bishop, appointed Gregory as bishop, and even escorted him to his See at St. Sophia. However, he held the post for only a few months, retired to Nazianzus, where he was forced to deal with the errors of Apollinarius the Younger. He soon retired from this fight, and died in either 389 or 390.