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Emperor constantine, heresies and councils






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Emperor constantine, heresies and councils Emperor constantine, heresies and councils Presentation Transcript

  • The peace of the Church in 313 CE marked a turning point in history.
    The State intervened in the life of the Church.
    Convocations of councils
    The Church obtained certain financial, material and legal advantages from the State.
    Emperor Constantine made a great contribution to the development of the Church in Christian religion.
  • Emperor Constantine
    Constantine was born in Naissus or Nish in modern Serbia probably from 274 to 288 CE.
    His parents were Constantius, an emperor, and Elena, a Christian.
    When Constantius died in 306 CE, his troops proclaimed him Augustus.
    In a dream, he saw a cross in the sky and the words “conquer in this sign.” When he won over the troops of Maxentius, Constantine looked upon his success as proof of the power of Christ and the superiority of the Christian religion.
  • What did Constantine do for the Christians?
    In 312 CE onwards, he favored Christianity openly and supported it in every way .
    In 313 CE, he and Licinius drafted the program of toleration and sent it to governors of the eastern provinces, granting to Christianity full equality with the religions in the empire.
    In 315 CE, he decreed the abolition of death on the cross.
    In 321 CE, he gave the church permission to accept bequests and donations and decreed Sunday as a public holiday.
    In 325 CE, he summoned the bishops of the whole empire to the general Council of Nicea known as the first Roman ecumenical council to settle an issue on the Arian heresy.
    In this council, Constantine was known as the PontifexMaximuswhich means “the greatest bridge-maker.”
  • Emperor Constantine made Christianity a part of the public life and because of this the Church faced a truly new world situation.
    Constantine was wary of alienating his pagan subjects by seizing their sites and temples.
    a prophet of Apollo was tortured at Antioch, another at Didyma was forced to confess to fraud, and a shrine of Aphrodite was razed at the site of the crucifixion at Jerusalem.
    In 356 CE, Constantine’s son Constantius decreed that all pagan temples should close and he prohibited sacrifices to the gods on pain of death.
    Christians turned from persecuted to persecutors.
  • Christians turned from persecuted to persecutors.
    The reverse of the situation was also administered by Theodosius, a pious and intolerant Christian and heretic-hunter who became emperor in 379 CE. He definitively banned all pagan cults in 391. Like the Church before them, they were denied the legal right to own property.
    Understanding heresy
    In its original sense, the word “heresy” did not mean blasphemy. It came from the Greek for “choice,” and it meant no more than a sect or faction whose membership involved a choice of belief, whether good or bad.
  • By the early 2nd century, however, the word already implied falsehood and evil, and was beginning the journey that made it perhaps the most ominous expression in the Christian vocabulary.
    The Church found herself having the responsibility to safeguard the true faith inherited from the bible.
    The Church is aware of its mission to carry the treasure of divine truth in an earthen vessel. Its task, however, of keeping that truth unadulterated remains for all ages. It has, therefore, the task of refuting false doctrines.
  • The Church alone could declare truths which must be believed with divine and catholic faith; to deny or doubt such a truth was to commit a grave sin for which the punishment was excommunication.
  • Heretic Movements
    The various Gnostic systems are products of syncretism and go back to the pre-Christian times. Syncretism, in general, is the mixing of elements from different schools (philosophy) or religious traditions without any suitable synthesis.
    For the Gnostics, “true knowledge” is open only to the select few.
    Marcion came from a well-to-do native of Asia Minor and was born on 85 CE.
    According to Marcion, the Old Testament God was not the true God, the Father of Jesus Christ, but only the strict and just God who in the Mosaic Law laid upon the Jewish people an unbearable yoke.
  • Montanism
    Only in the 4th century was the term “Montanism” invented to emphasize the person of Montanus as the main representative. The name “New Prophecy” aptly describes the basic idea of this movement.
    Montanus proclaimed to his fellow Christians with ecstatic behavior and in strange, obscure language, that he was the mouthpiece and prophet of the Holy Spirit.
    Heretic Movements
  • Manicheism
    It took its name from its founder, the Persian Mani or Manes, who is called in Latin sources Manichaeus.
    There are two highest beings or principles of equal rank, the one light and the other of darkness.
    Both possess equal power but stand in irreconcilable opposition to one another, each in a realm of its own; the region of light or the good and the reign of evil.
    Heretic Movements
  • Dogmatic Controversies
    The controversy on Christ and the Trinity
    The adoptionists looked on Christ as a mere man who at some time, probably on the occasion of his baptism, was filled with divine power and transformed into a God. Thus, he was adopted by God. The real and original Gad was only the Father; and Christ was an adopted God.
    The modalists saw in Christ only one form or mode of the one and only God. This one God manifests himself at one time as the Father, as another as the Son, and at third as Holy Spirit.
  • The controversy on the Trinity came out in understanding the unity of the three person in the Trinity. The controversy on Trinity was raised on the questions: (1) How could God be unique (one) and at the same time Father and Son? (2) How could a manwas born, lived and died (Jesus), be God, if God is by definition one who is beyond all change?
    Both adoptionism and modalism were rejected by the authorities Church.
    The Arian Controversy
    Arius came up with his own theological views on the Trinity. Arius was a priest and pastor of a certain church in Alexandria since 313 CE during the time of Constantine.
    For Arius, the Logos was the first created being, and far superior to human beings, but it was not in itself divine. Thus, Arius denied the divinity of Christ as claimed by the opposition.
    Alexander, the bishop of Rome, did not accept Arius’ theology. The Logos (Christ) had existed from all eternity as equal of the Father. Truly, the dispute was between Arius and alexander. Arius was placed outside Christianity; a synod of Alexandria condemned his teaching and excommunicated him.
  • The Roman Councils of the Church:
    1. Council of Nicea in 325 CE
    • This was conducted from 20th May to 25th July 325 CE to settle the controversy on Christ’s nature (human and divine). In the convocation of the council, Emperor Constantine provided the transportation for all the attending bishops.
    • After the long debate, the side of Alexander won. Hence, the Council of Nicea formulated the Nicene Creed as the doctrine on Christ’s nature: “Christ was the only begotten son from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance (homousios) with the Father.”
  • Constantine informed the whole empire that Arius and his followers, as the worst enemies of true faith, had been excluded from the Church. Yet after some years, Constantine permitted the return of Arius to his office in 328 CE.
  • “Christ was the only begotten son from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance (homousios) with the Father.”
  • 2. Council of Constantinople in 381 CE
    In the meantime, the struggle for the Nicene formula of “one substance” (homousios) continued steadily. A moderate group, Semi-Arians, broke away from the strict Arians. They rejected “one substance” (homousios) and wanted arguably to replace it with “similar” (homoios).
  • This debate was called for synods by the emperor but brought no agreement. Finally, in 381 CE, Emperor Theodosius summoned the second general ecumenical council – the Council of Constantinople – to complete the clarification of the Arian disputes. This time they clearly defined the terms “persons” and “nature.” The Cappadocian Fathers contributed a lot to settle this dispute. They were: (1) Basil the Great (330 – 379 CE); (2) Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – 390 CE); and (3) Gregory of Nyssa (334 – 394 CE). They saw the distinction between the three divine persons as existing solely in their inner divine relations. According to them, there is only one nature, but three carriers: one Godhead in three persons. The creed adopted at Nicea in 325 CE received the addition: “…and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the son is together worshipped and together golrified, who spoke through the prophets…”
  • 3. Council of Ephesus in 431 CE
    The two schools, Alexandria and Antioch, differed in the interpretation of the relevant passages of the Scriptures about these two aspects in Christ. The Alexandrians emphasized the divine nature of Christ; the Antiochian emphasized the human nature of Christ.
    The debate was between Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius of Antioch. They condemned each other. Thus, Emperor Theodosius II called for this council.
  • 4. Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE
    It became clear that when Eutyches, abbot of a monastery near Constantinople, continued Cyril’s doctrine of one nature in Christ (monophysitism). Eutyches taught that the human nature of Christ is absorbed by his divinity.
    Because of this, Patriarch Flavian of Constantinople called Eutyches before a synod and condemned him as heretic. Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria and follower of Cyril’s teaching, supported Eutyches. Consequently, the issue had been aggravated again, making Emperor Marcian (450 – 457 CE) called the 4th ecumenical council – the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE.
  • 5. Council of Ephesus in 431 CE
    In spite of its condemnation, monophysitism maintained its position in Palestine, Egypt and Syria. Under Emperor Justinian I (527 – 565 CE), the heresy of monophysites was permitted. Emperor Justinian I condemned in 543 CE three heads of the Antiochian school from which Nestorianism had sprung. They were: Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus and Ibas of Edessa. Pope Vigilius was convinced to give his consent; yet, the pope refused. Such refusal of the pope resulted to his maltreatment by the imperial soldiers. Emperor Justinian I called the fifth general council in 553 CE which the pope refused to take part.
  • 6. Council at Constantinople
    Still the Christological question remained unresolved, Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople proposed the union of wills: the human and divine wills were so intimately attuned that in reality only one natural human-divine energy and one will (monothelism) has been active in Christ. Sergius succeeded in convincing Pope Honorius whose knowledge in Greek theology was limited. The sixth general council held at Constantinople under the chairmanship of papal legates condemned monothelism together with its exponents and supporters including Pope Honorius. Pope Leo II approved the decisions of the council and the condemnation of Honorius because of his ignominious treason to stain the pure faith. Afterwards, Pope Leo II defended him because Honorius happened to be negligent in guarding the true faith.
  • Conclusion:
    In these councils, we primarily see the interventions of the emperors to settle the controversies on Christ and the Trinity. With their interventions, we can see how the State and the Church interrelate in the society.
    Despite of such intervention, the heresies (of the heretics) continued to spread throughout the empire. Debates and excommunications were the common ways to resolve the controversy.
  • Conclusion:
    As they try to resolve the issue, it took more long years for them to settle by formulating dogmas or doctrines recited in the creed. This creed is faithfully confessed by the members of the Church even until today.
    Because of this creed formulated thousand years ago, there were “Christians” (we may call them heretic Christians) sheeding their blood as they stood up on what they believed to be true.
    Thus, to be heretic is to really stand up on what you believe to be true – that is the choice of the heretic. In the early period of Christianity, heresy is the most unforgivable and condemnable choice of one’s belief.