Council of Nicaea, Holy Trinity or Polytheism?

Reposted from www.skepticmoney.com

The Nicene Screed, I mean Creed, Is the god affirming rant, that god is one and three, coeternal, and damn it, uhhh, you, if you don’t know the difference. It is also other canon law that mostly supports the whole jealous god thing that your only chance for salvation is through him and his minions. It firmly places deism as heretical and worthy of anathema. Now you know when a deist is claimed to be Christian it is total BS, damnation.

I most recently experienced the screed at the funeral of an in-law though the screed, creed, is also done on Sundays which I choose not to attend except under duress. Which is as it should be as I find nothing pleasant about it and worry that my children will catch a bad meme.

I really don’t understand why any family would expect a person of different faith to attend an event that requires a swearing of opposing fidelity. I understand that weddings, funerals, and occasional church are appropriate places for belief but in a community of varying faiths it would be gracious and right to not insist of someone to commit perjury merely to make the ceremony inclusive.

Shortly after this funeral, where I was banned from accompanying my partner in future church attendance because I commented, there was a family wedding where I foolishly thought I could mediate the disgust and participate because there was so much good will present already. It is important to attend these things even if one is retching their way through in some sort of Sartrean nausea. It’s not the bastards on the walls in the patriarchal paintings that objectivize you here but your fellow worshippers, happy sheep, and closet seculars feigning comfort, and demanding desired demeanor.

At the end, in an outside ceremony, the members weave their way through each other, hug, or shake, and say “peace be with you.” Oy my goodness, no one told me this was going to be part of it. Such sweet nonsense and yet I knew not what to do. I clumsily made my way and attempted to be sincere during at least this somewhat generous part of their spiritual retinue.

It really was very sincere, I loved the couple, and I marveled at the contradiction of exclaiming peace, yea, only to those of the group, after swearing fidelity to a three-part godhead, and achieving ascendance to heaven by vowing fidelity to Jesus, god, logos, whomever.

I had an awkward moment with the bride and groom who know I am secular and though I thought we’d hug, any excuse to hug, transcend the event, wink at the lie, finger to the nose, we sort of shuffled by in awkwardness. Boy, this religion thing sure is a comfort!

I wondered why they drink and smoke so much. Oh, we still do though health or lack of it caught up to me. That’s why they call themselves Whiskeypaliens. And indeed, afterwards, some retreated to Bloody Mary’s and some retreated to the back for something more vivid.

I  muse at screed. The Nicene Creed is like a screed used to level fresh poured concrete, or as a leveling guide when plastering. How many church members have openly praised their screed as the moral leveling of fresh young minds?

The Nicene Creed as most commonly recited by Episcopalians, as set forth in the 1975Book of Common Prayer, goes like this:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Amen

It’s not too long but long enough to be interminably long for those enduring it terminally. My apologist bro-in-law thinks believers are righteous for their dislike of secularists because we wish to stop foolish faith but acquiesces to my eternal exclusion from absolute bliss by not saying a word or even a wink during these dreadful, enforced, solipsistic silences.

Which brings up an interesting point. This polemical and didactic screed in the Eastern Orthodox churches is made personal by the replacement of “we” with “I”.

It is difficult to talk about this time without using a lot of of names for the ideas. The isolation and then travel between communities allowed a plethora of religious minutia, cast as essential differences, to emerge and then merge in manifold and syncretic beliefs. The plundering priests had a lot of time on their hands to put a really fine point on it and then exclude the next church. I thought Mennonites rebuking others for using a lectern and not standing alone to recite were a little touchy when they splintered off.

Let’s go back to 325 AD (At Darkness) when the vicious fascist Christian Roman Emperor Constantine tired of the conflict between those who considered Jesus to be the son of God and those who considered Jesus to be God called some 1800 bishops to council in now Iznik Turkey; to come together in some sort of ecumenical agreement or consensus for the first time. 300, mostly Eastern bishops, showed up; Constantine paid travel and lodging expenses for their entourages of half a dozen people each.

It was a grand old time as the 313 Edict of Milan enforced by Constantine and Licinius had not only stated benevolence for Christians but insisted on payment back for land purchased for assembly and granted them free assembly. It was Easter time, and Passover, and celebrations abounded.

Resplendent in purple and gold, Constantine made a ceremonial entrance at the opening of the council, probably in early June, but respectfully seated the bishops ahead of himself.”

However, Constantine a practical (power hungry) political (murdering) man who had literally dreamed of war victory under the sign of Christianity and then painted it on every shield and beat the crap of all opposers tired of the debate among bishops arguing over the literal versus figurative nature of Christ. Hitler wasn’t the first to demand soldiers swear fidelity and wear “Gogt mit uns” on their belt.

The Church of Alexandria founded by Mark the Evangelist in 43 AD determined that Jesus was the literal son of god or “homoiousian” meaning same essence. God and Christ are of the same being or essence.

This is also called consubstantial and anyone paying attention to Catholic news knows that in 2011 the mass liturgy was changed from “of the same” to “consubstantial” creating some distaste in those disliking big words or adherence to traditional terms.

Christ is the physical manifestation of logos, divine word, and has all of the perfections attributed to god. Christ, god, and the holy spirit are all different but the same.

Robert Price the famous biblical geek secularist notes defining a “person” grows strong with the question of trinity.  Persona originally meant the mask greek actors wore on stage–yup, they all stood on stage with masks that amplified and resonated their voice a bit. By the way, a 1961 movie Antigone replicates these masks and is a classic.

So this idea of person used today in abortion discussions has its root in the idea of personhood in the trinity. What is a person and when is something a person, whether a fetus, a god, or some animal? A dilemma discussed long before Christians by Egyptians and before and elsewhere. The trinity issue was 3,000 years old by the time of the Council of Nicaea.

The popular presbyter (less than bishop) Arius of Alexandria, of Libyan origins, emphasized the divinity of God over Jesus. Although, thanks to the benevolent opposition of charitable, turn-the-other-cheek Christians, virtually all of his writings have been destroyed, negative writings describe Arius as espousing there was a time before the son of god where only the god father existed. Further, that Christ had free will and thus

“were He in the truest sense a son, He must have come after the Father, therefore the time obviously was when He was not, and hence He was a finite being.”

Holy polytheism!

Constantine liked Arius and really just wanted everyone to get along as he was busy warring and marrying his enemies’ family.

Constantine is very sympathetic to Arius, as are many others, in spite of a huge following against him at the Council of Nicaea. Constantine desired unification and didn’t give a damn which side won but he did still like Arius but no one else did. The other guy, Athanasius, was a prick who will be exiled in 335 after refusing to readmit Arius to the church, having returned from exile, and for some other minor things like stealing taxes from the Egyptians, plotting the overthrow of the throne, and murdering a bishop and using his hand for magic rituals.

There were other issues to be considered in the council such as prohibitions against self castration, clergy usury, virgins as clerics, kneeling on Sunday, time of baptism, not accepting baptisms determined to be made heretics, when to hold Easter, etc. None of them are really as exciting as the trinity.

The only reason this is such an issue is that Christianity had to usurp paganism and Judaism. In common terms Christ has to be as great as god or there is no good reason to not be a Jewish sect. Christ must reign supreme, be divine, and the only way to do that is to make him part of, the same as, proceeding from god. All the rest is hand waving and mental masturbation.

The irony is that while no one understood what the hell the trinity meant they were sure it should be upheld. It didn’t help that Arius came and basically rewrote biblical interpretation which really pissed them off.

After one month, on July  25, 325, the Council celebrated Constantine’s birthday,  and some 300 voted against Arius with only 2 nays, and Arius was banished. Constantine spoke how averse he was to dogma and how he wished for unification. Anything to get these idiots to stop arguing with each other!

A few months later, in 326, within a few days, his wife Faustus, and Licinius II, his son Crispus were all killed. Crispus was the child of Constantine’s first wife. Fausta’s father Maximian had rebelled against Constantine in 310. Nearby was Licinius II who was the son of Licinius who had married Flavia Jutia Constantia who was the half sister of Constantine. At any rate Crispus and Fuasta and Licinius II all die without record and no one knows why.

The histories were rewritten to exclude them, damnatio memoriae; all references everywhere erased. Some think Crispus was too close to the throne. Some think Fausta was with child from Crispus as Fausta was killed in a hot bath, an atypical kind of murder, and historians conjecture she was killed in an attempted abortion. You can’t make this shit up.

Today Jehovah’s witness and the Mormons are considered somewhat Arianistic though they attribute the three differently.

Muslims are quite clearly against the trinity and they promote themselves as true monotheists.

“Those people who say that God is the third of three are defying [the truth]: there is only One God. If they persist in what they are saying, a painful punishment will afflict those of them who persist.

When you endure a Nicene Creed witnessing take the time to consider what the trinity means. Consider it a mental exercise. It’s better than counting the tiles on the ceiling or the pipes on the organ.

Jim Newman, bright and well

© Jim Newman 2012