Emperor Constantine assembled a council of Christian bishops in the city of Ancyra (modern Ankara – but was later relocated in favor of the city of Nicaea [modern Iznik, Turkey]). The council was originally gathered as the first effort to reconcile St. Alexander of Alexandria and the Libyan presbyter, Arius of Alexandria. This started because of the controversial beliefs about the nature and origin of the Son of God which caused ripples in the fourth-century Christian world. Arianism, simply put, is the belief that Jesus was only created by God and as the Son of God, and did not hold an equal status to the Father. According to the Bible Timeline with World History, Arianism was condemned during the time of this meeting at 325 AD.
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The bishops, which numbered anywhere between 200 to more than 300, came from Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece, and Thrace. The president of the synod was Hosius of Cordova, and there were only twenty-two bishops who backed Arius (according to Church historian Philostorgius). Arius probably knew that his cause at the Council was doomed at the beginning because according to Eustathius of Antioch, a credal document written by a Eusebius in support of Arianism was presented early on to the council and was torn up afterward. Another document supposedly written by Arian bishops was also destroyed later.
After the assembly, the council wrote to the churches in Egypt and Libya (particularly to the Alexandrians and those who lived in the Libyan Pentapolis). Arius, along with his followers, were dismissed as impious and lawless for his beliefs. According to The Letter of the Synod in Nicaea to the Egyptians, First Council of Nicaea, Arius believed that Jesus “is from things that are not, and that before he was begotten he was not, and that there was a time when he was not, and that the Son of God is by his free will capable of vice and virtue; saying also that he is a creature.”
Two of those who shared the same condemnation and excommunication were Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais, along with Alexandrian deacon Euzoius. They were exiled to Palestine after they refused to acknowledge and sign the creed and anathemas issued by the council.
Picture By Fresco in Capella Sistina, Vatican – http://ariandjabarimchenry.com/first-council-of-nicaea/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30734368
Williams, Rowan. Arius: Heresy and Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2002
Berndt, Guido M., and Roland Steinacher. Arianism: Roman Heresy and Barbarian Creed
“FIRST COUNCIL OF NICAEA – 325 AD.” Documenta Catholica Omnia. http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/
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