Christianity Day  

Today is "Christianity Day" in my screwy calendar. 
It was on June 19, 325 CE that the Christians of that day
decided for once and for all
what they were going to believe. 

Click Here--------> [  Why we observe it on July 2.  ]  <---------Click Here

I don't know anyone else who celebrates "Christianity Day." It's very possible that I'm the only one on earth who observes this day.  That bothers me because I think it was a very important day in the history of Western Civilization.

This is the exact location
in iznik, Turkey,
of the birthplace of Christianity.

Try to imagine what the Mediterranean world was like before June 19, 325 CE !   There was confusion everywhere!  Hundreds of congregations of Christians [ or, pre-Christians ]  had sprung up on every shore of the Mediterranean Sea.  They were in Southern Europe, in Western Asia, and in Northern Africa.  Some had roots in the Roman world of the time,  some in the Greek tradition,  some in the Hebrew tradition,  and some in the Egyptian tradition.  With roots in so many different and alien worlds,  it shouldn't surprise us that the branches took so many different shapes. 
It also shouldn't surprise us that,  with so many approaches to the nature and content of this emerging "faith,"  tensions and violence developed.  For most of this turbulent 300 year period there wasn't just the strife between the congregations, there was the persecution from the Romans.  However, just twelve years before this landmark council,  [in February, 313 CE],  Constantine I, emperor of the western part of the Roman Empire and Licinius,  who controlled  the Balkans,  met in Milan and agreed to treat the Christians benevolently.  Try to imagine what it was like to be out from under this violent treatment!

Unfortunately,  peace with the Romans didn't mean peace among themselves. 

In fact, the strife got worse.  The disputes among the congregations began to cause problems for the government of Rome.  Constantine himself "invited all 1800 bishops of the Christian church (about 1000 in the east and 800 in the west),  but a smaller and unknown number attended.  [Eusebius of Caesarea counted 220,  Athanasius of Alexandria counted 318, and Eustathius of Antioch counted 270. Delegates came from every region of the Roman Empire except Britain. The participating bishops were given free travel to and from their episcopal sees to the council, as well as lodging. ]"  --Wikipedia 

I have no idea why so few came.  After all, it was an all-expense paid trip. 
 All my life I've jumped at every chance to get an expense paid trip.
To anywhere!  For anything!

["The council was formally opened May 20, 325 CE  in the central structure of the imperial palace at Nicaea, with preliminary discussions of the Arian question.  After being in session for an entire month, the council promulgated on June 19 the original Nicene Creed. "  --Wikipedia  ]  
Volumes have been written about this council.  Many things were discussed.  The biggest problem  was how to settle the dispute between the followers of Arius and the followers of Athanasius.  The quarrel is extremely difficult for us to understand because it all centered around the Greek word "ousia."

 have come to believe that "ousia" is
the most important word
 in the history of Western Civilization!

I can't tell you what it means because it doesn't mean anything !!  That is, it doesn't mean anything to us. It doesn't mean anything to us because it's a word out of a completely different world view.  In the ancient Greek world they had a completely different understanding of what was real and what wasn't real.  When we look at a table, we think we see a table.  Plato says: "No, what we think is a table is really only an illusion." The Greeks believed that behind these illusions was the real thing. This "reality" behind the illusion they called the "ousia."  I hope you don't understand this, because if you think you do you're in big trouble. The word "ousia"  only works in the world view of ancient Greece.  In our world view it doesn't mean any more than "gjtyn."
In 325 CE the prevailing view of what did and what did not exist was a version of this Greek "weltanschauung"  [world view].  Athanasius, who had succeeded Alexander as Bishop of Alexandria, insisted that Jesus was of the same  "ousia"  as God the Father.  "Homo" in Greek means "same."  Therefore they were called "Homoousians. "  Arias insisted that Jesus was not the same  "ousia"  as God the Father,  but that he was a similar "ousia"  to God the Father.  The Greek word for "similar" is "Homoi."  Therefore they were called "Homoiousians. "  Arius had added only one "i" [iota].  Have you ever heard the phrase "adding one iota?" What seems like a very simple change turned out to be the theological issue of the fourth century.
[ For about two months, the two sides argued and debated, with each appealing to Scripture to justify their respective positions. According to many accounts, debate became so heated that at one point, Arius was struck in the face by Nicholas of Myra, who would later be canonized.   --Wikipedia  ]  [ In other words, Arius was struck in the face by "Saint Nicholas!" ]
The Council decided in favor of the "Homoousians. " Under Constantine's influence, this belief was expressed by the bishops in the Nicene Statement, which would form the basis of what has since been known as the Nicene Creed.  The Emperor carried out his earlier statement: everybody who refused to endorse the Creed would be exiled.  Arius, Theonas, and Secundus refused to adhere to the creed, and were thus exiled to Illyria, in addition to being excommunicated.  The works of Arius were ordered to be confiscated and consigned to the flames while all persons found possessing them were to be executed. Wow!!  As part of the final compromise, The Holy Spirit was officially defined and the doctrine of The Trinity was established.

The Christian God had finally been made official.
Nevertheless, the controversy continued in various parts of the empire.

The council did not completely solve the problems it was convened to discuss and a period of conflict and upheaval continued for some time.  Constantine himself was succeeded by two Arian Emperors  in the Eastern Empire.  Arians and Meletians soon regained nearly all of the rights they had lost, and consequently, Arianism continued to spread and to cause division in the Church during the remainder of the fourth century.  
Almost immediately, Eusebius of Nicomedia, an Arian bishop and cousin to Constantine I, used his influence at court to sway Constantine's favor from the orthodox Nicene bishops to the Arians.  Athanasius, who had succeeded Alexander as Bishop of Alexandria, was deposed by the First Synod of Tyre in 335 and Marcellus of Ancyra followed him in 336. Arius himself returned to Constantinople to be readmitted into the Church, but died shortly before he could be received. Constantine died the next year, after finally receiving baptism from Arian Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, and "with his passing the first round in the battle after the Council of Nicaea was ended".

And you thought theology was boring!!

The Nicene Creed