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If you have read the foregoing chapters, you know that it is a record of history relating to the Nicene-Arian controversy, and that after a short struggle the creed adopted at the council took precedence. It is now the dominant belief of almost all professedly Christian churches.
Historian Dean A.P. Stanley stated, “Christendom, with but few exceptions received the confession of the first Council of Nicaea as the earliest and the most solemn, and the most universal expression of Christian theology.” 1
This did not make it truth, but neither did it make it error.
History cannot reveal truth; it simply shows what happened down through time. Spiritual truth must come from God’s Word.
The Council of Nicaea has been called by some ‘the Great and Holy Synod’ in which the ‘Holy Fathers’ formed a creed that revealed a mature formula of the ‘blessed Trinity’.
Not all agree.
William A. Curtis wrote, “It was the first symbol of Faith formed by a council, enforced by a secular power, purely controversial in origin, theologically distinct from Scripture in its peculiar terms, and furnished with a concluding anathema, a lash on the whip of discipline.” 2
John Wand’s words were, “It has been frequently alleged that by introducing this term ousia, substance or essence, into the creed, the bishops entirely altered the character of Christian doctrine.
They attached to it, so it is alleged, metaphysical conceptions which had no place in the original teaching of Christianity and ought to have no place in it still.” 3
Certainly there are differences of opinion about the council and the creed.
Some years later, another creed was written that expanded the details of the Trinitarian understanding. It is called the Creed of Athanasius. It is traditionally believed to have been written by Athanasius, but this is challenged by some historians and scholars. Below is a portion of the creed. 4
“Whosoever will be saved, before all things, it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith… And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate…
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternal, but one eternal… So the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet there are not three Gods, but one God. The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone: neither created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding… So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved must think of the Trinity…” 5
Is this the truth?
Samuel Clarke, an Anglican clergyman could not accept it. He stated of the Father, Son and Spirit, “What the proper metaphysical nature, essence, or substance of any of these divine Persons is, the Scripture has nowhere at all declared; but describes and distinguishes them always, by their personal characters, offices, powers and attributes.” 6
In his position as a cleric, he was required to subscribe to the Nicene and Athanasian creeds.
He found it impossible, and in 1712, against the advice of his friends, published ‘The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity’, hoping to return the Anglican Church to “a pre-Athanasian understanding of the Trinity.” 7
Thomas Jefferson of early American history stated, “The Athanasian paradox that one is three, and three but one, is so incomprehensible to the human mind, that no candid man can say he has any idea of it, and how can he believe what presents no idea? He who thinks he does, only deceives himself.” 8
In the early 1670s, Sir Isaac Newton was absorbed with the doctrine of the Trinity. He studied it extensively, not only from the Bible, but also the Church Fathers. Newton traced the doctrine of the Trinity back to Athanasius and became convinced that before Athanasius the Church had no Trinitarian doctrine. Newton believed the ‘little horn’ was the Church of Rome, but he came to the conclusion that the “great apostasy was not Romanism, but Trinitarianism, the false infernal religion.” 9
Obviously, there are strong views on both sides.
Was the Nicaean Council right in banishing Arius and the two other Arians who stood firm against the adopted creed? A very recent Catholic article (2016) stated that the two Arians “had the nerve to dissent.” 10
Many years ago, I learnt from the prophecy of Daniel 7 that the ‘little horn’ represented the Roman Catholic Church and that it would uproot three of the ten ‘horns’. 11 Sometime later, I heard that the three ‘horns’ were barbarians who had a ‘wrong understanding of God’s Son’. In more recent years, I found out they were Arians, although I knew nothing about Arius.
Snippets of information pass by our minds that only become clear when we learn more about the subject. I once heard that Arius was not a Christian, and therefore all who became Arians were not Christians.
Years later, after reading of the beliefs of Arius, I mentioned the subject to a family member. She said, ‘If you believe that, you are not a Christian.’ In that same conversation, this lady told me Jesus had sinned, which certainly made me wonder how she knew Arius was not a Christian.
The late Walter Martin, a well-known writer on cults, was interviewing Seventh-day Adventist leaders about their status in Christendom. He asked Leroy Froom, ‘Was Arius a Christian?’ The answer came immediately, ‘Of course he wasn’t a Christian. He denied the deity of Christ.’ 12
These little snippets gradually began to come together, and I wondered about those Arian barbarians – Were they Christians?
If you have read the previous chapters, you will know that Arius believed the Son was begotten of His Father at some point in eternity. This was his major premise. Did that mean he was not a Christian?
And was this belief -- also taught by Ulfila to the Goths -- was it sufficient ground for the Church of Rome to have the three barbarian tribes eradicated from the earth?
The uprooting of the barbarians was critical to Rome in preparation for its 1260-year-long dominion in eradicating tens of millions of Christians of all persuasions.
It was not a matter of whether the barbarians believed God’s Son was begotten of His Father or whether they were Christians, it was simply that Rome would not tolerate anyone who opposed its teachings. They must be destroyed.
Now that the subject is ‘out in the open’ and Christian men and women are studying it in more detail, some are beginning to believe Rome was right in destroying these nations.
‘Arianism is such a serious error, that if left without restraint, it would destroy the Trinity’.
What about those who have a similar view today? They are not called Arians and certainly do not agree with everything Arius wrote, but they believe God the Father begat a divineSon in His own “image” at some point in eternity. Hebrews 1:3. 13
Would you censure and condemn these brethren and sisters if they were in your church?
In the first century, Saul of Tarsus believed he was doing the will of God in hunting down Christians. “He made havoc of the church, entering into every house; and haling men and women, committed them to prison.” Acts 8:3. Galatians 1:13.
Saul was wrong.
Some Roman Emperors believed the Empire needed cleansing of Christians who would not worship the gods of the state religion. “Many pagans held that the neglect of the old gods who had made Rome strong was responsible for the disasters which were overtaking the Mediterranean world.” 14
The Emperors were wrong.
The bishops of Rome joined the Emperors to persecute and torture Christians who differed in belief. Anglican clergyman Dr. H. Grattan Guinness wrote in the late 19thcentury, “I see the murdered innocents; I hear the lying absolutions, the dying groans; I hear the cries of the victims; I hear the anathemas, the curses, the thunders of the interdicts; I see the racks, the dungeons, the stakes... I denounce it as the masterpiece of Satan, as the body and soul and essence of antichrist.” 15
Pope Paul IV admitted, “…were even my father a heretic, I would gather the wood to burn him.” 16
The bishops and popes were wrong.
Are you looking for ways to remove brethren and sisters who have an ‘Arian-type’ view from your fellowship? Does love for your church and your truth stand above your love for those who have a contrary view.
You could be wrong too.
When the disciples James and John saw the attitude of the Samaritans towards Jesus, they asked Him, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them…” Luke 9:52-54.
Jesus replied with a rebuke, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” Luke 9:55.56.
This is the key.
With what spirit do you look upon your brethren who differ in belief? Is it a spirit of self-sacrificing love for their souls? If you feel you have a long way to go, ask yourself in which direction you are heading – towards love or away from it?
Two chapters in this book show that both sides had no love for God, for the truth, or for their brethren. While trying to uplift what they believed to be truth, they cut down those who disagreed. We cringe at this historic record.
The counsel given by Constantine to his son Constantius not to use violence to convert men and women to his beliefs fell upon deaf ears. There was no love in his son’s heart for the truth he espoused, not even enough to honour his father’s godly advice.
It is easy to have the wrong spirit.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” and again, “Whom say ye that I am?” Matthew 16:13.14. Peter replied with conviction, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16. Peter had been blessed with truth from God. He was surrendered and willing to listen.
Six verses on, Peter rebuked Jesus for speaking of His death. The Saviour turned to him and said, ‘Get thee behind me Satan…” Matthew 16:22.23. Without realising it, Peter had changed masters.
You and I need to be very careful because the ‘natural man’ is easily roused when faced with confrontation. According to James, “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” James 1:20.
If we become angry with our brother for believing something we think is unscriptural, the fault then becomes ours. Jesus warned, “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…” Matthew 5:22. James 3:15.
Let us not think a different doctrinal belief is reason to be angry with a brother or sister. It is reason to pray.
It is also possible to deceive ourselves into believing we are angry because we love the person, when we think they are trampling on truth or what they believe is dishonouring God’s name. There is a time for righteous indignation, but at times it is simply an anger prompted by self-love and not zeal for God’s glory.
When another person believes differently, we have no reason to be angry if their behaviour is circumspect and their attitude loving. If we lived in the days of Constantius and watched him forcing others to comply with his beliefs, we would have every reason to be angry, but even then, our spirit would need to remain like that of Jesus, and our response according to the Word.
What about the doctrine itself?
You and I may have different views, such as: God’s Son is eternally begotten; He was begotten at a certain point in eternity; He was not begotten until the conception of Mary, or at His resurrection.
Obviously, not all are correct.
Does it matter?
Paul wrote under inspiration of those who will perish, saying they “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.
There are three important points in these verses.
1. It is not a lack of truth that is the problem.
2. It is not havinga love for the truth.
3. It is loving unrighteousness.
If we love the truth and long to know the truth, we have the promise that the Spirit of God will “guide (us) into all truth.” John 16:13. John 14:6.
Of course the prerequisite is that we are surrendered and studying the Scriptures, for the “Word is truth”, both in Jesus and the Bible. John 17:17. John 14:6. If we are not willing to take up a Bible and prayerfully search for truth, we will not be led to the truth. The end result is to believe a lie and be condemned.
Sadly, the spirit of those who lived in the past centuries is still with us today. Soon it will be fanned into a tremendous fire that will cause many to suffer and die.
The doctrine of the Trinity is the central pillar of the Roman Church, and it is demonstrated every day by its members each time they make the sign of the cross. “The shape of the sign is a reminder of the cross of Christ. Historically, the sign has also been viewed as representing the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” 17
Sunday worship also promotes the Trinity. The Douay Catechism of Dr Henry Tuberville stated, “It (Sunday) is a day dedicated by the apostles to the honour of the Most Holy Trinity…” 18
If we do not understand the nature of the Papal Church, we will be deceived by what is taking place. The apostle Paul spoke about “the man of sin” as one who would oppose and exalt himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshipped so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 19 2 Thessalonians 2:3.4.
Pope Pius V stated, “The Pope and God are the same, so he (the pope) has all power in Heaven and earth.” 20
Pope Gregory IX claimed that “the Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, he is Jesus Christ himself, hidden under the veil of flesh.” 21
Clearly these words fulfil the prophecy.
Cardinal Newman, an Anglican who turned Roman Catholic stated,
“A sacerdotal (priestly) order is historically the essence of the Church of Rome; if not divinely appointed, it is doctrinally the essence of antichrist.” 22
Martin Luther, after receiving the Pope’s condemnation in the form of a Bull, cried out, “whoever wrote this bull, he is Antichrist.” 23 All the Reformers believed Papal Rome was the Antichrist, the man of sin, the little horn and the spiritual whore of Babylon. Revelation 17:3-6.
The Catholic Church will never change; in the Latin: semper eadem -- always the same.
Cardinal Newman wrote of the Catholic Church: “On the whole then, we have reason to say, that if there be a form of Christianity at this day distinguished for its careful organization, and its consequent power; if it is spread over the world; if it is conspicuous for zealous maintenance of its own creed; if it is intolerant towards what it considers error; if it is engaged in ceaseless war with all other bodies called Christian; if it, and it alone, is called ‘Catholic’ by the world, nay, by those very bodies, and if it makes much of the title; if it names them heretics, and warns them of coming woe, and calls on them one by one, to come over to itself, overlooking every other tie; and if they, on the other hand, call it seducer, harlot, apostate, Antichrist, devil; if, however much they differ one with another, they consider it their common enemy; if they strive to unite together against it, and cannot; if they are but local; if they continually subdivide, and it remains one; if they fall one after another, and make way for new sects, and it remains the same; such a religious communion is not unlike historical Christianity, as it comes before us at the Nicene Era.” 24
The apostle John calls the Antichrist a liar. This is a serious charge.
This is not referring to a person who does not believe in Christ, such as a pagan of John’s day, or an atheist, agnostic, or any non-Christian religion in our day. Instead it is someone who usurps the authority and position of the Son. This is the spirit of Antichrist.
The apostle states, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” 1 John 2:22.
It is clear from these verses that it does not need to be a denial of both Father and Son. The main denial is of the Son being the Christ.
Another statement adds, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 1 John 4:3.
Both assertions relate to the same point John is bringing out.
1. Antichrist is a liar who denies that Jesus is the Christ.
2. Antichrist has a spirit that denies Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.
These two points are interchangeable. To deny that Jesus is the Christ is to deny He came in the flesh. And whoever denies the Son, denies the Father. 1 John 2:23.
Let us ask a question:
How did (or does) the Papal Church deny that Jesus came in the flesh and that He is the Christ
· Is it the Papal claim to be God on earth and Christ under the veil of the flesh that denies the Son?
· Is it the Catholic claim that Jesus was born of an immaculate virgin that denies the humanity of the Son?
· Is it the veneration of statues and icons that denies the glory of the Son?
· Is it the making of Mary and the saints into intercessors that denies the intercession and mediation of the Son?
·Is it the belief that the Son is eternally begotten that denies the Son was actually begotten and sent by the Father, and thus not a Son at all?
· Is it a denial that Jesus fills our human flesh with His Spirit?
When Jesus faced Caiaphas at His trial, the high priest asked the question, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Matthew 26:63.
Jesus replied. “Thou hast said…” Matthew 26:64.
Mark records, “I am…” Mark 14:62.
“And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” Mark 14:62.
These gospel verses parallel John’s accusation of the Antichrist because the Sanhedrin denied exactly the same things – that Jesus is the Christ and that Christ came in the flesh.
The Pharisees believed God would send His Son, but they did not believe Jesus was that Son.
He had not come in a manner they expected; He did not destroy the Romans and elevate Israel to its expected glory.
But Jesus was God’s Son.
Two thousand years ago, the Jewish Sanhedrin condemned Jesus and put Him on the cross, making Him out to be a liar for claiming falsely to be God’s Son, when He was in fact the Son of God.
The apostle John designated men and women ‘antichrists’ who have the lying spirit of the Antichrist. So it was for the men of the Sanhedrin who condemned Jesus to death, and so it was for the popes and bishops of the Catholic Church who committed the same sin.
This does not mean the Catholic people are liars. The condemnation is against the system. There are many beautiful Catholics, devout and genuine men and women who love God at all levels of the Church.
We have a choice as to who we believe is telling the lie.
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him (God) a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” 1 John 5:10.
To make God a liar is unthinkable, and yet it is being done every day by millions of men and women, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It is therefore imperative we believe God and His Word rather than popes, bishops, priests, pastors, teachers and all who would contradict Scripture.
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9.10.
At the end of this world, there will only be two sides – the Papacy and the remnant. Every person upon the earth will be on one side or the other. Revelation 12:17.
All who believe Jesus is God’s begotten divine Son will be maligned and persecuted. No doubt they will be labelled ‘Arians’, especially after the Catholic movie called ‘Nicaea’ is released.
Charles Parlato, the Executive Producer of the film, speaking of the production, said preparations began approximately six and a half years ago (2010). “Its content is extremely important -- the divinity of Christ. It has been a long and interesting and difficult road. I am very pleased with it and the team. I believe it will be an enormous success, artistically, intellectually and financially…” 25
There is no question the underlying message will be a warning to all who refuse to stand on the Nicene premise and the doctrine of the Trinity. Athanasius will shine forth, and Arius will be seen as utterly wrong and rebellious.
Decisions will be made that are based upon the emotion of the movie and not on Scripture. Beware!
History reveals that both parties, in fighting for their belief, threw away the precious Pearl and held on to the clam. They promoted, argued, fought for the ‘truth’, but it was an empty shell.
The doctrine was made more important than anything else: loyalty, friendship, morality, compassion, tolerance and life itself.
Dear Reader, my prayer is that you will weigh up the historical acts of this book and make a decision -- first and foremost -- to uplift Jesus. Then to study the Word prayerfully and make certain your own belief is thoroughly Bible-based.
When you make your final decision, be absolutely certain the doctrine does not become just an issue for debate. If it is, you will use the hard clam as a weapon, and in the end will carry out the same fearful acts as those revealed in the history of this book.
As much as you might believe you have the truth, it will be no better than an empty oyster shell.
Always remember, the purpose of the truth is to reveal the amazing love of God in sending His Son, who is the precious Pearl of great price.