The Brokenness Behind Nicea
God works despite our weak human frailty.

by Scot McKnight

Whether we heard it first in Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, in a Church history class, or in a book, most of us were probably surprised by the political machinations behind The Nicene Creed. I first heard about it from theologian Harold O.J. ("Joe") Brown. More than once I've told my audiences that Constantine should have kept his nose out of the Church's business, that there was too much political unity in mind, and that some of those theologians were anything but noble. It seems most everyone agrees with me. But there it is - the faith we all confess - debated and drafted up in extraordinary lines by ordinary human beings who were embroiled in more than exegesis and theology.

Most explanations I've heard try to hide the obvious: "Constantine's impact was actually minimal," or "that's the way they did things back then." Perhaps we need to ask what folks would like to have happened. If we had our wishes, The Nicene Creed would have been drafted by theologians without spot or wrinkle, men (and women) in whom their was no guile, church leaders who resisted every attempt to grasp power, and political leaders who know the difference between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of the world to come. In other words, we'd prefer The Nicene Creed to have been drafted by God Incarnate.

Wishful thinking.

To read the rest of this article you'll need to sign up for the free Out of Ur Newsletter which delivers exclusive editorial, news, and commentary to your inbox each week.

December 05, 2008