from the above article:
“But wait,” a Protestant might respond. "What about Canon 6 of the Council of Nicea? Doesn’t that demonstrate there was no papal primacy in the early centuries of the Church?" This claim is always presented in polemical discussions of the Nicene Council.
Canon 6 reads: “Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop. If, however, two or three bishops shall from natural love of contradiction, oppose the common suffrage of the rest, it being reasonable and in accordance with the ecclesiastical law, then let the choice of the majority prevail.”
Are we to understand from this that the bishop of Rome is no greater in authority than the bishop of Alexandria? Indeed, our Baptist apologist writes, “This canon is significant because it demonstrates that at this time there was no concept of a single universal head of the church with jurisdiction over everyone else.” Is this true? Not at all. The first thing one must do is note the context. What is the nature of the “jurisdiction” mentioned here? It is, primarily, the authority to ordain bishops. Notice that after laying out the territory for each of the metropolitans, the canon explains what is to take place within those limits: the selection and ordination of bishops. This point also fits the context of the preceding canons, paraphrased here:
Canon 4: Bishops are to be chosen by bishops of their province, and their choice is then to be ratified by the metropolitan having jurisdiction over that area.
Canon 5: Those excommunicated by one bishop are not to be re-instituted by a bishop of a different territory. Every province should have regular synods to decide these issues.
Canon 6: The metropolitans have jurisdiction over their respective territories. No one is to be made a bishop without their final approval.
Notice the function of canon 6 in context with the preceding two canons: It sets out territorial boundaries for more efficient administration. Recall that the pope is also the bishop of the city of Rome. He has a special administrative jurisdiction over Rome, whereas the bishop of New York has the same jurisdiction over New York, the bishop of Alexandria over Alexandria, etc. But this is not to say the Roman bishop has no authority over the Church; these are two different kinds of jurisdiction. So a plain reading of canon 6 in context shows it is hardly a blow against Roman primacy.
In the end, there is no way to avoid the inescapable fact that the Council of Nicea was Catholic in every sense of the term. Unfortunately for the Protestant author of the Journal article, no amount of cut-and-paste patristic work, no feats of “scholarly” gymnastics, no grotesque historical contortions can change that.
Evangelical Protestants at the Council of Nicea? The idea would be funny, if it weren’t so sad that some people actually believe it."
I recommend that everyone read this whole article. It’s very very good, and answers this allegation very well.