Can anyone tell me what was being done at the council of Nicea. I’ve seen some controversies on the internet that say Constantine changed church teachings? I know these are probably just rumors but I would like to know what this council was doing for the early church.
The real story of Nicaea is this man:
Hosius was a bishop from Spain who spent most of his time in Rome with the Pope in the years before the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Together with Pope Sylvester I, Hosius taught Emperor Constantine the truth of the Christian faith: Jesus Christ is true God, consubstantial with the Father.
At the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325, Hosius represented Pope Sylvester I together with the Papal Legates Vitus and Vicentius and presided over the Council. Hosius successfully defended the Council from Arian heretics who taught that Jesus Christ was not God but a mere created being. Athanasius credits Hosius with drafting the text of the Nicene Creed of AD 325, which affirms that Jesus Christ is true God and consubstantial with the Father.
Thus, the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 is a case where the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Saint Peter, fulfilled his mission as the rock on which the Christian Church is built, for it was the Pope’s representative, Hosius, who conveyed the orthodox creed that the entire Church received at the council.
The primary controversy was the Arian heresy, which was splitting Christendom. It is named after Arius’ teachings that Christ was the first created being, coming into being in time, not being “one in being” with the Father, though Arius wasn’t the originator of the idea. This conception of Christ spread throughout much of the Christian world. Saint Athanasius is best known as the most vocal opponent of Arianism. The Council ended with a strong affirmation of Christ’s divinity, with the Nicene creed declaring that Christ was homooúsios (one in being) with the Father. That is Greek. From Latin, we pronounce Christ “consubstantial with the Father” in the creed we recite in English at mass, meaning “of the same substance” as the Father.
Anyway, Constantine actually had Arian leanings prior to the Council, so if he was so invested in controlling and changing and molding Christianity, you wouldn’t expect Arianism to have been condemned and Trinitairianism made dogma.
In terms of structure, the Bishop, priest, deacon structure long pre-existed Constantine, as did teachings on the Eucharist being a real change, and other major Church doctrines.
Constantine only made Christianity (along with many other religions) legal. He did not make it the state religion of Rome, despite what some erroneously say.
And speaking of the legalization, is it any surprise that the Church could more comfortably promulgate its writings and naturally develop it’s structure after it is legalized instead of being underground? People seem to falsely attribute the development to Constantine when reality was just a natural result of being able to legally exist (which Constantine allowed, true, but he didn’t dictate or mold or change). You’d expect the Church to enter a “golden age” once it was legal to exist and preach and worship and write.