Myths of the Council of Nicaea, part three

This is the third and final video in my series on the modern myths surrounding the Council of Nicaea, as propagated by such groups as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, books like the Da Vinci Code, and various pseudo-scholars and conspiracy theorists.

In this video, I cover only one myth:
Myth # 6 – After Nicaea, the Church was used as a tool for the political power of Rome, including justifying wars and atrocities

I conclude with a few ending notes; to summarize: don’t be fooled by a bunch of modern charlatans like Acharya S and Peter Joseph who are only out to make a buck at the expense of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ — research every claim, including mine!

Here’s the promised list of all the primary documents from the Council of Nicaea; these are the documents written by people who were actually there or who knew people who attended — these are the sources that historians and scholars have to work with when writing on the Council — very important stuff here:

The script:

Myth #6: After Nicaea, the Church was used as a tool for the political power of Rome, including justifying wars and atrocities.
Truth: Nicaea neither established Christianity as Rome’s official religion nor did it mark the end of Rome’s persecution of Christians. In fact, two of St. Constantine’s sons, who took control of the Empire after his death, were ardent supporters of Arianism, which the Nicene Council had declared a heresy, and attempted to force the Orthodox to reconcile with the Arians and even to adopt Arianism. They, in turn, were succeeded by their cousin Julian, who is known as “the Apostate” for having renounced Christianity and revived official state Paganism. Why would Julian do this if Christianity had indeed been invented as a means of power for the Roman state? Because, in fact, Roman Paganism, which Christianity was in the process of supplanting, was the means of power for the state and Julian recognized this. Constantine, if he had indeed needed a common religious cult to control the Empire, already had one, and it was the official religion of the Empire until the Edict of Milan in 313. The Imperial Cult of Rome not only gave religious sanction to the actions of the Empire, but included the divinity of the Emperor himself as an article of faith! In fact, the Christians’ failure to reverence the Emperor as a semi-divine being was one of the reasons they were so often persecuted by Rome during their first 300 years. If Constantine was attempting to reinforce his authority with religious sanction, he chose the wrong religion with which to do so by far; he already had one better suited for the purpose handy. In fact, even after the establishment of Christianity as Rome’s official religion by Theodosius I, the relationship between Church and State in Rome was hardly as cozy as the above myth implies. The Church was often an outspoken critic of the government, no small thing in an empire which had no ideas like “freedom of speech.” St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, for instance, was exiled from the Empire by Emperor Arcadius in 403 for having criticized the extravagance of Arcadius’ wife, Eudoxia, and of the royal court in general. St. Ambrose of Milan threatened to excommunicate Emperor Theodosius I, the very Emperor who made Christianity the official religion, after the Emperor ordered a massacre at Thessalonica in 390. Ambrose publicly exhorted the Emperor to imitate David in repentance even as he had imitated him in guilt. When Theodosius did repent, Ambrose imposed several months of penance on him and refused to admit him to the Eucharist during this time. In addition to all of this, there is a further issue with this myth. It is often accompanied by laundry lists of atrocities attributed to the Pope of Rome. Here an example of such a list from Zeitgeist, the Movie:

By 325 a.d. in Rome, emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicea. It was during this meeting that the politically motivated Christian Doctrines were established and thus began a long history of Christian bloodshed and spiritual fraud. And for the next 1600 years, the Vatican maintained a political stranglehold on all of Europe, leading to such joyous periods as the Dark Ages, along with enlightening events such as the Crusades, and the Inquisition.

There is a flaw in logic to be found here. The statement moves from the Roman State to the Vatican and seems to equate the two, but they are very different entities. The first question that comes to mind is: Why would Constantine, the Emperor of Rome, if seeking to advance his own power, empower the Pope of Rome, who had formerly been one of the leaders of a persecuted minority group? It doesn’t make sense. What also doesn’t make sense is why Constantine would, in 330, only five years after Nicaea, move the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome (meaning, away from the Vatican) to far away Constantinople. If Constantine were seeking (for some odd reason) to empower the Vatican, why would he move the seat of Roman Imperial authority away from the Vatican? Also worth noting in this regard is that the Western Roman Empire, where the Vatican is located, had been conquered by barbarians and ceased to exist by 476, which means the Pope of Rome was no longer part of the Roman Empire. All three of the events listed above (the Dark Ages, the Crusades, and the Inquisition) happened after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and outside of what remained of the Roman Empire. In fact, the Pope of Rome had officially broken with the Eastern Patriarchs in the Great Schism of 1054, meaning that by the time of the Crusades and the Inquisitions he no longer even shared a common religion with the people of the Roman Empire! The Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire, which stood until 1453, never experienced the “Dark Ages” (in fact, the period commonly referred to as the “Dark Ages,” approximately the years 500-1000, were times of great prosperity in the East); was, in fact, a victim of the Crusades, not a belligerent; and had absolutely nothing to do with any of the Inquisitions. In fact, in the end, the fall of the Byzantine Empire, and the accompanying disappearance of the last vestiges of the Roman Empire, is, in part, a consequence of Christianity. First, the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders (who had been sent by the Pope of Rome) in 1204 significantly weakened the Byzantine Empire, a weakening from which they never recovered. In addition, the obstinacy of Eastern Christians and their leaders in preserving the Orthodox Christian Faith prevented the Byzantine Empire from acquiring European assistance. The last several Emperors appealed constantly for help from the much stronger Western European powers in repelling the Ottoman onslaught. The Pope of Rome refused to sanction this help by the Roman Catholic leaders of Western Europe unless the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs submitted to him and accepted reunion on his terms; they refused to compromise the Faith to facilitate the life of the Empire. As a result, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453 and the Roman Empire was no more.

Now, before I end this video, I just want to add a quick little note here. As you can see, putting these silly myths to rest wasn’t a very difficult exercise. I don’t know how it is that so many people are fooled by such badly-constructed falsehoods. I encourage everyone to do the research for yourself. On my blog, which I have a link to in the sidebar at the right, I’ve included a list of all of the primary sources for the Council — that’s the writings of those who witnessed these events for themselves — both Orthodox and Arian. If you don’t believe me — or, for that matter, even if you do! — check them out for yourself. Really, don’t let yourself be fooled by people out to make a buck, like Acharya S., Dan Brown, and Lynn Picknet. That’s the real conspiracy here — and it’s sick, to manipulate people’s trust and turn them against our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ — all to make money. Research every claim made; otherwise somebody is going to take advantage of you. If you know of any more of these conspiracy theories and myths, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to address them in some videos here. Eventually, I plan to get into the Gnostics and all the garbage that gets kicked around about them by the History Channel (which, honestly, is less informative than MTV) and Elaine Pagels. Until then…

Thanks for watching! I’ve got a couple more videos coming your way soon about the Council of Nicaea. Please rate, please comment, please subscribe, and please share this video with anyone you think might be interested in this topic. I hope you’ve enjoyed these videos on the myths surrounding the Council of Nicaea, and most of all, I hope you learned something.

3 thoughts on “Myths of the Council of Nicaea, part three”

  1. Thanks for making corrections in your video description on Youtube!

    However you still refer to Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman as “pseudo scholars.”

    These folks are real scholars. Sure everything they say is not agreed upon by their peers, and they are not traditional Christians (Pagels is a liberal and Ehrman an agnostic). But let's not lump them in to the same category with nincompoops like Dan Brown, Peter Joseph or “Acharya S” (Dorothy Murdock) who have NO relevant credentials to speak of.

    Ehrman himself has done a lot to debunk many of the conspiracy theorists, so please give credit where credit is due!

  2. Thanks very much to both of you for your comments.

    Anon:
    Absolutely agreed here — and I appreciate the correction in that direction. I have my issues with both of them but they're nowhere on the level of the “nincompoops” (I love that word — I think I'll use it for those folks from now on). And I actually use Ehrman as a source quite a bit when talking about the early history of Christianity — the fact that he's an atheist (meaning his agenda is clearly different from mine even when we both claim lack of bias) makes my argument a lot stronger when I've got him supporting it.

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