The First General Council of Constantinople, under Pope Damasus and the Emperor Theodosius I, was attended by 150 bishops. It was directed against the followers of Macedonius, who impugned the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. To the above-mentioned Nicene Creed it added the clauses referring to the Holy Ghost (qui simul adoratur) and all that follows to the end.Preview This Lesson
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After the Introduction section, readers would be excused in thinking all was lost. How could this Church, recently released from pagan persecutions survive in a time when the Emperor, several bishops and even the pope were Arian? Could the true faith thrive in the midst of all of these heresies? However, all things are possible with God. In 374, Auxentius, the Arian bishop of Milan died and St. Ambrose, a strong defender of the Nicene Creed, was acclaimed Bishop by the people. In 379, Emperor Theodosius became the Eastern Roman Emperor with Gratian and Valentinian II ruling in the West. Theodosius was a strong Nicene Catholic. The Cappadocian Fathers had not been idle either. Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus debated Arian theologians in the later 360s and wrote defending the Nicene Creed. By 379 Gregory of Nazianzus had gone to Constantinople as Bishop and preached five discourses on the meaning of the Trinity and the Nicene Creed. These sermons had been well received — so much so that Gregory was actually attacked during the Easter vigil services by an Arian mob. On February 27, 380 Theodosius, together with Gratian and Valentinian II, proclaimed that the Catholic Church was now the official religion of the Empire:
It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue to the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the father, Son and Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation and the second the punishment of our authority, in accordance with the will of heaven shall decide to inflict.
from Documents of the Christian Church ed. by Henry Bettenson, London:Oxford University Press, 1943 p. 31
Bishops were recalled from exile and Arian bishops were exiled. The letter to the Bishops in Rome quoted above, d... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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