Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Jesus
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AsSalamu Alaikum and welcome to Islam focus.
Today we continue with our series on Jesus to beloved messenger of Allah. This is our sixth program on the deification of Jesus, his evolution. Our topic tonight will be the Council of Nicea.
I'm your host Shawnee Mission here with me once again from St. Mary's University is dr Jamal Badawi as I conduct the demonic
repletion a quick summary of last week's program. Okay, last time, we tried to talk about the period preceding the Nicene Council, we discuss the continuing conflict and struggle between the trinitarians you might say, or the Pauline church on one hand, and then absolute monotheists, especially those who can work on stretches in North Africa.
We talk particularly about the revolution or the rebellion by dynatrace. And how that rebellion finally was settled with the interference of the Roman soldiers, resulting in mass slaughter of those monotheists. But we said that said many of them remain sincere to the true teachings of Christ until Islam came. And they accepted Islam readily because it was in line with their belief about the true teachings of Jesus. We examined also another movement, which was contemporary to the geneticists, by dawn that was led by Malachi is an Upper Egypt. And both of them gave us some background about the most important personality in this argument areas.
We indicated that areas had very hot debates with Alexander the Bishop of Alexandria and challenged him to explain the Trinity and the bishop could not give any questions, explanation. We also indicated that our use was quite
strong and his evidence not only by way of reason, but also but also by reference to the scripture itself, in which Jesus many times was quoted as saying that his father is greater than him are expressing in some way, his subordination to God.
We said that the Bishop of Alexandria, feeling that he has no evidence really to counteract areas
had him excommunicated. But you said that this did not end with the argument between these two
religious leaders, the argument was already spreading all over the place between various levels of the public in every city. And because of the fear of commotion that might threaten the reign of Constantine, he started to move and act in an attempt to bring some kind of unity in the church.
His understanding was quite superficial, and he thought that it's only semantical personal difference, he didn't really understand the nature of the serious issue of monotheism involved.
But his main purpose as he stated just to restore the peace, so he invited
for the number of people, for the Council of Nicea, in order to try and settle those disputes once and for all. Are they interested to know
who was invited to this council, and in particular May the setting of the council itself when the number of people invited has been subject to some difference between historian perhaps you can refer in that respect for detailed to Encyclopedia Britannica the 73 additions, in volume six especially pages 630 301 estimate was given as 220 bishops.
Other estimates put 318
but perhaps in terms of who attended among the most important personalities attending, of course, were the two men opponents. On one hand we have arius believed in absolute monotheism. On the other we had a naseous SMS which actually came as representative of Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria
and naseous believed in the in the Trinity
The people who were advisors or counselors to the Emperor was two important persons one is called the CPS of Syria, and Hosea from quadriga.
Now, as far as the setting, the historian described it as a long oblong hole in the Imperial Palace. And they say in the middle of the room, there was a big pile of gospels,
the smallest estimate, the most conservative estimate of the number of gospels was 270. Some historians give much bigger figure, but the smallest estimate I have run through was 270, different gospels, different, different gospels, each one of course, has its own. And each one of course, claiming to represent the teaching of Jesus. So this will all piled in the middle of the room.
Now on the day,
no determined for the beginning of the proceedings, everybody sat around the tables in this long hall, with their eyes fixed, on the adorn fancy, thrown at the head of the table, the place where the Emperor
the deep silence, an anticipation of those present was broken by the faint sound of distant procession.
Shortly, when the procession became close, the officers of the court entered as a sign that the Emperor was attend. Everybody stood up in respects to greet the Emperor, the Emperor began to walk in his own clothing, which was quite striking for many bishops watching, you know, majesty of the Emperor walking
around him were the advisors or the consultants until he sat on his throne. After some preliminary remarks, I don't want us to go in all details, description of interesting description, what goes on. But after all, these preliminary remarks, the representative of the Pauline church began began to prove, as he sought the divinity of the three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,
he could not give any conclusive or definite evidence from the Bible, all the evidence that he of course, was subject to discussion.
And we discussed that in previous programs anyway, so we understood why it cannot really be a conclusive evidence, at least, and insofar as the sun and the Holocaust for that matter.
But even those weak evidence that he gave, to support his view from the Bible, could support at least weekly, or, you know, in a very
marginal way, the divinity of the Father and the Son, but he could not offer any evidence about the divinity of the Holy Spirit, but still insisted that the Holy Spirit also is divine. So all three are equal in divinity.
Now came the, the the turn of the monotheist, who were very confident of their position. So they started to discuss and argue with the trinitarians, the 14 church representative, and they were able to
force them to shift 13 that's the first that trinitarians to keep shifting from one impossible position to the other without really giving any satisfactory answers, or explanation of their innovation or theories that they presented. Do you have any examples of the debate that went on? Yes, historians mentioned a variety of arguments. Let's choose a few just to give a flavor of what the discussion or debate we're about.
Firstly, trinitarians I just for brevity, I say trinitarians and monotheistic just to make a distinction, for that purpose. The Trinitarian said that the son was of God.
arion The areas or the area and people responded to them by saying in the Bible also, it says that all things are of God. So why in one sense, in one case, you say that Jesus was our God, and as such is divine, but when the Bible says that all things are of God, you don't consider all other things are as divine, everything comes from God.
But the trinitarians responded, say no, but Christ was not only of God, but he was of the essence of God.
But again, the Manas is said that this is your own words, essence. It does not appear in the Bible. The Bible doesn't say that. This is your own words. You're putting your own words and interpretation into it, but the Bible didn't say that.
That is of the essence of
the trinitarians responded again, that the Bible says that Christ is the eternal image of the Father.
The monotheists responded by saying that the Bible also say that all men are the image and glory of God. So why did you consider all other human being the divine as well?
This argument kept going on to the point that it was not only restricted to the people attending the Council of Nicea, but even in the in the cost of the Emperor, the discussion kept, you know,
taking place, the Queen Mother,
Constantine mother, supported the Pauline argument, whereas his sister constantina, who was a very pious lady, supported the monotheistic faith, as taught by arias. And she really believed that the arius was teaching exactly what Jesus taught. And as such, you know, this is the right way that should have been followed by all.
But she hated the politics that was going on in the city didn't want to get involved in that.
The Emperor sitting there, hearing the arguments, let everybody guessing, he didn't totally show his
his tendencies, apparently, to appears as if he were an impartial judge, or objective and open minded to any type of argument or discussion.
But when it became clear that to arrive at a clear cut conclusion, in the floor of the council was impossible. I mean, there's no way really that there's a clear evidence that one can say, you know, here's the agreement.
When this happened,
Constantine intelligently noted that everybody was trying to please Him.
Most, most people, at least we're trying to please Him. After all, he's the powerful person he's the Emperor is the one who for the first time he released or relief the Christians from the persecution. They were afraid also, that if he gets sick and tired of these arguments, that persecution may take place again, and they might lose ground which they have already gained, after he began to give them his his support. So it appears as some historians believe that some bishops did not see much harm, of making some modification in religion or beliefs here and there, to make sure that they avoid this possible disaster that can take place. That was at least maybe their judgment.
Eusebius However, even though he was a supporter of areas, began to exert pressure on areas and his followers. And he said, unless there's some agreement arrived at, there may be some harm that may befall the Christians, it could be even worse than the earlier days of persecution.
So as a result, areas under this pressure, decided, he and his followers decided to disassociate themselves from these changes and adopted more of the mighty passive.
After they have already presented their their argument, does this mean that Trinity was finally officially endorsed? Well, ultimately, it was accepted Trinity as an official dogma.
And it was put in what's called New platonic terms, which is quite different from the terms used by Jesus, to the point that some historian believed that many of those who are present as we indicated in the previous program, they were illiterate, many of the bishops who are illiterate even, but pious, did not even understand the kinds of terminology used to try and justify or explain the Trinity. History has also pointed out that many of those who signed the document in endorsing Trinity as the official duction did not really know on what are they putting their names on, they didn't understand really fully the magnitude of the change that has been introduced. Many of them
signed under duress, with lots of mental reservation on the under the, you know, the pressures of the time. An interesting difference, by the way to that is the volume by tournament very important. Church historian. It's t like Tom or an indie. It's called tetra Dimas.
Many of the historians also believed that the great majority did not
really in their heart agree with this notion.
integration, the Trinity. But they did that somehow to satisfy the Emperor. And one has to understand, of course, their situation and their fears at that time. I'm not saying that this is right to do, but one at least can explain why this might have happened.
In that sense, one can say that the Council of Nicea indeed failed, really to achieve its objective c, the main objective was to achieve unity among various sects of Christians, to open the door for discussion and free dialogue.
But we have seen again that that's exactly abunda spliff and everybody was trying to satisfy the Emperor, who apparently had much leaning towards the Pauline church, and that was one non reading. So it ended up
really having a pagan impression on the top of a Christian Council, which defines the test of Orthodoxy. It's very puzzling, you know, in a Christian Council of Bishops, defining what is true Christianity, or what is orthodoxy or lack of Orthodoxy, and the one who presides over that is a fig and himself, that's, that wasn't really the best. In fact, some historian believed that the kind of results arrived at ultimately, was a bit surprising turn of events that they didn't particularly like those even whether they were monotheists or trinitarians. But the most dangerous thing is that the Council also directly condemned arianism.
Of course, under pressure from athanassios, was the arch enemy of Adios, and very strong advocate of the Trinity. So what happened really was not unity, but in position, really, in possession of one particular understanding, which considered anything different from that as a heresy. As if the belief in God has to be subjected to some democratic voting, you know, process that wasn't really the best way to do it. And, in fact, some references indicate that
even though there is absence of
Proceedings of the meeting,
they say even as early as the end of the fourth century, very few, you know, decades after the conference, they couldn't find or locate detailed Proceedings of the meeting, of course, for the creed they agree to and the candidates. But many of them also, however, say that there is no question that the role of the Emperor Constantine was quite decisive.
Do you have any examples of what historians have said about the role of Constantine in this council, there have been lots of things that has been said about that, just for simplicity, I refer to a reference which is readily available to any viewer that they can check. He or she can check. And that's Encyclopedia Britannica, the 73 edition, volume six, pages 633 through 637. I just take two or three quotations that that illustrate that.
It speaks about Constantine's wrote that he, quote, took an active part in the discussions. So he's not just watching took an active part in the discussions. And again, it says that it seems to have been his personal influence, which decisively swayed the divided council to accept almost unanimously, the proposed creed, supported by his chief advisors, and containing the word amasian. This is a very difficult word I'm not sure at first sight, but it's fenc h, o, m, or us, or n s. This word actually means one in substance that is, Jesus being one in substance with the Father, to apply to the son. No one knows whether Constantine himself
in Constantine understood what was at stake.
Another quotation that perhaps deflect the reluctance that many bishops had, in terms of signing that document,
close quote, many Eastern bishops, were reluctant to accept the word that we mentioned before one in substance. The language of some of the Eastern bishops, indicates that their acceptance of the term was not due to theological conviction.
Some historians In fact, feel that it became no longer even the problem of minority or majority. But how successful is any particular group to gain the backing and support of the Emperor Constantine? Say for example, in page 6634, in Britannica, it says it soon became apparent. bishops of small minority need not disperse if
They could secure the support of the Emperor. So there are lots of indications that the Emperor
really took an active part. I may, perhaps venture to add one possible humble thoughts. I stand corrected. But it is quite conceivable and possibly that the arguments presented by the trinitarians were perhaps closer to the mind and understanding of Constantine. Constantine come from this Greco Roman background. And as we indicated before, those people believed in Gods coming in human form, intermingling with people. They believed in some cases, even that the Emperor more or less would be like Gods representative on Earth, they believed in the sun god su n.
In the Greek philosophy, also you have this notion of Trinity in philosophical terms. So apparently, and this is a distinct possibility, in my humble understanding that
the argument of Trinity seemed to strike a little bit more chord with the background of Constantine than the absolute biblical, I might say, the Old Testament, the standard view also on the absolute and pure manasi, monotheistic faith.
Dr. Gamal, how about the choice of Gospels and the council? Was there any particular procedure that was followed? Well,
among the things that the Constantine tried to, to impress on others, and which led to the choice of the Gospels, is that he didn't want anyone to get the impression that he was forcing or manipulating the Council, which he was
to come up with a particular support of one church, visibly the other, of course, he wanted the support of the Church of Rome.
And in his own heart, he probably knew that many of the bishops who, you know, sign this creed, the Trinity, sign that under under duress, with mental reservation, as we have seen before.
And as such, you wanted to, you know, to have something different to you that might give it authority. So it was suggested that
there must be a miracle that support the decision of the Council.
And as we indicated earlier, that, in the middle of the room, they were this big pile of at least 270 different Gospels.
the problem here is that how could you give an authority to a creed, which is not derived from the doesn't have a, you know, an origin in the Gospels. But in many cases, even it could be contrary or contradictory to the contents of those Gospels. And I wouldn't rule out the possibility or the likelihood that many of these gospels, in fact, might have spoken about Jesus as a human being as a prophet of God has subordinate to God, because there were all those monotheists. And of course, definitely, they had their own version or the understanding of the biography or the teaching of Jesus. But in any case,
some scholars said that the continued existence of some of these gospels would be an embarrassment to the creed, just trying to bring some kind of hasty unity among Christians.
So it was suggested that all the Gospels would be put there under the tables.
And everybody leaves the room, and the room would be locked. And the bishops were taught to pray all night,
that Gods or the Holy Ghost may intervene, so that the two acceptable gospels would come out on the top of the, of the table. While next morning, the four gospels were neatly the four gospels, the canonized one now, was neatly placed on the top of the table. Well, there's no record as to who was keeping the key
who entered the room at night, perhaps.
But obviously, this gospels were the ones very much favored by naseous. Not that it speaks directly about Trinity, but they may be something there, especially in the Gospel of john that somehow may be, you know, interpreted to give some weak at least support to the notion of Trinity. It was suggested then that all other gospels, since they did not make it to the top, you know, must be burnt. So, they burnt all of them.
It is quite possible, I would say that there may have been copies of gospels which are quite different
from the four chosen gospels, but of course, we can also say that
by and large, all other opposing God
As you might say, or different among the 270, what basically burned, they did not survive.
Why is that other gospel gospels did not survive? Well, because after the Council of Nicea, it became a capital offense even to possess, I see a copy of an unauthorized gospel, aside from these four assets on this road, so that's a serious matter, a capital offense, just having a book, different gospels, etc. The teaching of Jesus is here, this is the more true one, that itself was a capital offense. And in fact, some historians say that in the few years following the Nicene, Council, more than 1 million Christian were slaughtered, apparently, because of their, you know, holding a different view, and refusing to accept the dogma that became no the official dogma that
must be enforced on everyone. Like it or not.
This is the way in which orthodoxy was decided upon. And this was the criteria again, of determining what heresy is very timely. We hear this heretical, six heretical person heresy quite frequently. But again, it isn't the entirety of the beholder, really the witch's orthodoxy, and which is heretical was only from the perspective of the Church of Rome in their own understanding, without the evidence actually, that supports it from the from the scriptures. It is amazing to notice that even after the council, and after all that very strict decision, the battle did not see is it continued between those who supported areas and said that the creed
that was presented in the in the Council of Nicea is not the right one, that the absolute monotheism is the true Christianity as taught by Jesus. And between, on the other hand, the followers of
the trinitarians, but even some, they say some of the followers of us nastiest themselves, were actually in doubt.
They were not quite certain of confident that they have the right support or light evidence for their charity approach. But now, he got the church, and behind it was the secular authority. And of course, they started to learn the advantages of power.
And in fact, they say what they were following that shortly, a major bloodbath, against the the areas.
Historians also point that people like the ghost, G, OT HS, and the numbers were converted, quote, unquote, using the same means also letters times.
It became quite clear later on that it was not enough to accept the doctrine of Trinity with conviction or without conviction, it became quite clear that the Church must be obeyed, shake. And as we found a very interesting support of this, what the historians have said in Encyclopedia of religious knowledge, in volume eight, page 157, what it says, and they caught the Emperor, referring to Constantine, the Emperor now actually fulfilled his threat, according to which everybody who refused to sign had to face
as a result, areas and four of his followers were excited. That work were confiscated to be burnt. And the battle continued on and off. Well, thank you very much, Doctor, by the way. Thank you all for joining us once more. Here you stand in focus anymore. Any questions or any comments would be most appreciated. Our phone number address will be occurring on your screen. Hope to see you here next week. From all of us. Assalamu alaikum