The Road To Nicea A Survey Of The Regional Differences Influencing The Development Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity -- By: Christopher J. Black
Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 07:2 (Fall 2010)
Article: The Road To Nicea A Survey Of The Regional Differences Influencing The Development Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity
Author: Christopher J. Black
JBTM 7:2 (Fall 2010) p. 120
The Road To Nicea
A Survey Of The Regional Differences Influencing The Development Of The Doctrine Of The Trinity
Dr. Black is Assistant Researcher to the Provost and Adjunct Instructor in Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary New Orleans, Louisiana
During the opening centuries of Christianity, the early church quickly came to realize that certain ideas had to be settled if it was going to survive. The first of these foundational doctrines addressed how Christ related to the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Early Christian theologians understood that the development of a deeper concept of God was required. The establishment of Christianity as monotheistic, while maintaining the divinity of the Father, Son, and Spirit, was at issue. But how could God be one and three? The answer found a voice in the doctrine of the Trinity.
In AD 325 bishops gathered to draft a document intended to explain definitively Christ’s role in the Godhead. The doctrine of the Trinity, however, did not begin in Nicea. The issue had been burning for centuries.
The question before the church essentially was a Christological one: Who is Jesus in relationship to God? This question leads to the obvious dilemma. If Jesus is God, how can Christianity claim to be monotheistic? And if Jesus is not God, how can Christianity claim to be theistic?1 Furthermore, while the Nicene Creed emphasized the Christological question, and included the Spirit—thus maintaining a trinitarian over a binitarian doctrine—most debate centered on the relationship between the Father and the Son. The works of the Ante-Nicene Fathers bear this out.
As Christianity developed, cities were able to start theological traditions capable of serving as a framework for future thought. By the second century, new ideas began circulating. Theological experimentation was prevalent. Over time a rule of faith was established by the more influential churches, setting the standard for what would and would not be accepted as orthodox. These
JBTM 7:2 (Fall 2010) p. 121
influential churches grew into important Christian centers developing their own theology. Regional traditions became strong. In this way, each Christian center developed its own brand of the Christological trinitarian theology.
One assumption upon which this paper depends is that regional influences stem from centers, which are represented in cities that produce a legacy of learning and teaching. Cities, such as Irenaeus’s Lyons and Eusebius’s Nicomedia, that do not produce a series of influential thinkers do not fall into th...
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