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At the Nicene Club

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How heretical is your Trinitarian theology on a scale of Augustine to Arius?

The early church had a lot of ideas floating around about how Jesus saved us from our sins.  Some of their arguments may seem really philosophical and foreign to anything most of us care about today, but here are three views of Jesus’ relationship to God that were deemed untrue at the Council of Nicaea (325 AD):

Adopted – Adoptionists claim Jesus was born a regular old human being, but lived such a perfect life that he was adopted as God’s Son (at his baptism or maybe at the resurrection).  Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch, was a lover of women and himself (had people stop singing Psalms to God and start singing to him instead).  Paul was Monarchian – emphasizing the ONE-ness of God (as opposed to the Trinitarian’s Three-ness of God).  For Paul, Jesus was a perfect person who became One with God.  Super Enlightenment.

Modes – Modalists believe that The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are just masks that the One God has used to be revealed to humanity at different times.  In other words, the Father of the Old Testament became the Son of the Gospels who then became the Holy Spirit in the church.  I was most discouraged to find that using water to explain the Trinity in children’s sermons and Confirmation was just perpetuating a Sabellian heresy.

Arianism – Here, Jesus is not a human (like the adoptionists) or a different version of the Father (like the modalists), but a sort of lesser god created by God before the world was made.  Arius, a priest in Egypt, filibustered this view at the Council of Nicaea, arguing his bumper-sticker worthy quote: “There was a time when the Son was not.”  This tick-off the real St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) so badly that he walked over and B-slapped Arius in the face.  You can’t make this stuff up.

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