I have a Christian friend who I learned turned agnostic recently. He claims that the Council of Nicea held in 325 A.D. was called by pagan Emperor Constantine to “make Jesus as God” to lure the Christians to his side.
What really happened at Nicea?. In a nutshell, during the early 4th century, the church is being plagued by heretics like Arius who claims that Jesus is of a different substance than God the Father, therefore, making him a “creature”. Constantine convened that council to preserve the unity of his empire. By that time the national religion was already Christianity.
A creed was passed by the participants of the council to protect the body of Christ, which reads:
We believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance (homoousios) with the Father, through Whom all things were made….
It is also worth noticing that the division was from two camps: those who believe that Jesus’ deity is lesser than the Father those who believe that Jesus’ deity is the same as the Father. It was on the how and what of Christ’s divinity not whether he is God or not.
Why is this very important to me? Because Jesus himself made some radical claims. In the book of John, he always claims he is the Son of God, which in Jewish terminologies at that time translates him as God. In John 14:1-3, he said “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life…” Not only did he claim that he is THE way and not A way, he continued by saying “… NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT through me.” How can he be redundant as that if not he is saying a very important claim.
It was C.S. Lewis who said that Jesus, in claiming these, can either be a lunatic — he’s just out of his mind — , a deceiver — he’s just playing around — or a Saviour — he must be really telling the truth. We can only choose one how we want to see him.
I’ll say that I am convinced that he’s telling the truth. And why is this important to me? Because a mere relationship with a higher being cannot save as doing good things cannot save. And if Jesus is to be believed, we can only receive the offer of salvaiton through a relationship with Jesus, no other way. It was apostle Paul who said, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.“. It was making Jesus as your Lord and Savior that counts.