I received the incredible privilege of speaking on Church History to a group of college students at Berkeley. While I was preparing for the lecture, I stumbled upon several great ideas that I had forgotten about and will share them over the coming weeks. One of those ideas came from one of the earliest gatherings of Christians at Nicaea.
In 325, the Council of Nicaea was called to settle a dispute over the nature of Jesus. At that time there was a man named Arius who made the audacious claim that Jesus was of similar substance to God, instead of being the exact same substance as God. In essence, his argument boiled down to Jesus was like God, but Jesus was not completely God.
This view, found in the Jehovah’s Witness group today, asserts that there was a time when Jesus did not exist. And that view, simply cannot stand within the Christian faith.
Athanasius, a young church leader, confronted this head-on in his defense of the divinity of Jesus. His (condensed) argument came down to this: God alone forgives sins. Jesus forgives sins. Therefore, Jesus is God.
What we believe matters. If we view Jesus just as some great teacher, then he has no authority to forgive sins. If he is God though, then that is a different situation all together. If he is God, then we ought to listen up to what he has to say.
Friends, know what you believe, and why you believe it.