Still Fighting Over Nicaea
The 38 provincial heads of the Anglican Communion meet next week in Northern Ireland for "careful study of the Windsor Report," the recommendations issued last October on the future of Anglican unity amid deep divisions over theology, ethics, and practice.
Anglicans and religion journalists, however, are getting tired. The resolution of each meeting of Anglican leaders seems to be, "just wait until the next meeting." Though some orthodox and conservative Anglicans are hopeful that leaders from southern provinces, especially in Africa, will stand firmly against North American theological liberalism and sexual libertinism, few are expecting anything decisive. This isn't being billed as the Anglican Council of Nicaea.
Not that the Council of Nicaea was as decisive as it is usually billed, either. It took almost 60 years for Nicaea's influence to solidify. In the meantime, the main heresy condemned at the council, Arianism, became ascendant and almost triumphed over orthodoxy. Even the Nicene Creed recited today wasn't really adopted until 381, 56 years after the council ended.
The Council of Nicaea was not, as Da Vinci Code novelist Dan Brown has convinced scores of readers, the place where the church made up the ideas of Jesus' divinity and the infallibility of Scripture, but it still stands as one of the biggest moments in church history (which is why Christian History & Biography has devoted its next issue to the council; click here if you don't already subscribe).
A fewAnglican leaders have made a habit of systematically denying each line of the Nicene Creed, but most Anglicans revere the council as authoritative. So it was no throwaway comment when the Windsor Report made direct reference to the council's canons (rules or ...