Da Vinci Code Truth Home Council of Nicaea FAQ

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Council of Nicaea

Gathering of church leaders in Nicaea, a town at the site of modern Iznik (northwest Turkey), in 325. According to Dan Brown, "Until [the Council of Nicaea], Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet . . . a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal" (233). The Da Vinci Code's Leigh Teabing claims that "Jesus' establishment as *the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea... [and] a relatively close vote at that" (233); this vote, allegedly, turned Jesus into an "unchallengeable" deity and made salvation available only through "the Roman Catholic Church" (233). Constantine supposedly convened the Council because Christians and pagans were fighting, and he wanted "to unify Rome under a single religion, Christianity" (DVC, 232). These claims are riddled with historical errors.

  • First, Constantine called the Council because two different groups of Christians, the Arians and the orthodox, were disputing.

  • Second, the Council's purpose was neither to unify the empire under a single religion nor to declare Jesus divine; it was, rather, to seek a consensus among Christians regarding what the Scriptures teach about Jesus Christ. A North African elder named Arius had claimed that Jesus was a created being, not God in human flesh; the bishops in Nicaea summarized their shared commitment that from the beginning believers had rightly held that Jesus was uniquely God. According to a letter written by an eyewitness: "Although some declared and confessed that they believed things that were contrary to the divinely-inspired Scriptures... more than three hundred bishops unanimously confirmed one and the same faith, which according to the truth and the legitimate interpretation of God's law is the faith."

  • Third, the Roman Catholic Church as we know it today—with a hierarchy of bishops, archbishops, and a bishop of bishops (the pope)— emerged gradually over hundreds of years, not all at once (at Nicaea or anywhere else). The truly Roman Catholic Church did not exist in its present form until well after this Council.

  • Finally, the Council's vote wasn't close: Out of over three hundred church leaders, only two refused to sign the Nicene Creed, which described Jesus as "true God from true God." See also Arius of Alexandria; Athanasius of Alexandria; Christology; Constantine the Great; Jesus as Son of God; Roman Catholic Church.


Printed with permission from Bethany House Publishers, South Bloomington, Minnesota from the book "The Da Vinci Codebreaker : an easy-to-use fact checker for truth seekers" by James L. Garlow.
 

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