To remember the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea today, we read a brief historical devotion from Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions.
Today we remember the ardent defenders of the faith who were present at the Council of Nicaea. The Holy Spirit’s working through these faithful believers resulted in the Nicene Creed, a confession of the Christian faith that has been used by God’s people throughout the centuries to teach the faith and declare God’s saving truth to those who have not yet heard it.
In the year 325 Emperor Constantine the Great convened the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea, in Bithynia, for the purpose of settling the controversy precipitated by the teaching of Arius, who denied the true divinity of Christ. The council was attended by 318 bishops and their assistants, among whom the young deacon Athanasius of Alexandria gained special prominence as a theologian of great eloquence, acumen, and learning. “The most valiant champion against the Arians,” as he was called, Athanasius turned the tide of victory in favor of the Homoousians, who believed that the essence of the Father and of the Son is identical. The discussions were based upon the symbol of Eusebius of Caesarea, which by changes and the insertion of Homoousian phrases . . . was amended into an unequivocal clean-cut, anti-Arian confession. Two Egyptian bishops who refused to sign the symbol were banished, together with Arius, to Illyria. . . .
In order to suppress Arianism, which still continued to flourish, Emperor Theodosius convened the Second Ecumenical Council, in 381 at Constantinople. The bishops here assembled, 150 in number, resolved that the faith of the Nicene Fathers must ever remain firm and unchanged, and that its opponents, the Eunomians, Anomoeans, Arians, Eudoxians Semi-Arians, Sabellians, Marcellians, Photinians, and Apollinarians, must be rejected. At this council also Macedonius was condemned, who taught that the Holy Spirit is not God. . . . By omissions, alterations, and additions (in particular concerning the Holy Spirit) this council gave to the Nicene Creed its present form. Hence it is also known as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
Devotional reading is from Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions, pages 25–26. Second edition printed in 2005. Originally published in Concordia Triglotta in 1921 by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Dear Father in heaven, we can never thank You enough for sending Your Son Jesus to this earth to save us from all sin. Grant that I may know Him, not just as a great man and a good teacher but as Your very Son, my Savior and Redeemer, who suffered and died and rose again for me. Ever lead me to see that through Him I have forgiveness and an open heaven. Amen.
Prayer is from Dear Father in Heaven: Prayers for Boys and Girls, page 44 © 1963 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.