Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"

Deification of Jesus : Its Evolution VII - Other Major Councils


In this segment, Dr. Badawi will distort both history and philosophy in order to attempt convince us that Arius was a true monotheist, and that the Bishops and Emperor had ulterior motives at the Council of Nicea and at later Church Councils.

Host: What happened between the Council of Nicea and the Council Constantinople?

Jamal Badawi: After the death of Constantine (347 AD) some of the eastern Bishops put out decrees condemning Arius, the monotheist, many of the controversies of the first century were partly doctrinal and personal. In Encyclopedia Britannica the Pauline controversies of the first century were partly doctrinal and part personal. The personal controversies left many contemporary observers with a bed taste. The Bishops, St. Gregory put their personal squabbles before faith. The most important thing was held in Sophia (342 AD), the eastern Bishops refused to come and the western Church insisted on the attendance of St. Athanasius. The reason that he was deposed, not welcomed, the decisions were largely about the organization of the Church.

Was Arius a monotheist in the Islamic sense of the word? No, in fact, Arius described the Son as a second, or inferior God, standing midway between the First Cause and all creatures. The Son, according to Arius, was made out of nothing, yet He made all things. The Son existed before the "worlds of the ages and as arrayed in all divine perfections except the one which was their stay and foundation". According to Arius, God alone was without beginning, unoriginate; the Son was originated, and once had not existed.

Personal issues did emerge between some Bishops and this is a typical human reaction that is not limited to the Christian community. In the end, God was in charge and His Church continued to teach the Gospels and does so to this very day.

Host: What in fact was the major decision?

Jamal Badawi: In the 379 a new Emperor took power named Theodosius who happened to be a supporter of Nicea so he invited the Bishops to Constantinople in 361, they are no detailed account of what went on but they addressed the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The first council debated the divinity of Christ. There were some ideas that the Holy Spirit was a creature of God and the council was called to affirm the decisions of Nicea of 130 Bishops. They did not represent all Churches. There was a long debate over who should be the chairman. The Holy Spirit is God's spirit and that is equal to God's life and god's life was created and this must be condemned. There was some problems in equal the Holy Spirit to God because they could be angels. The decision confirmed Nicea and said that the Holy Spirit is divine and proceeds from them Father and should be worshiped with the Father and the Son. This doctrine of the Trinity became more crystallized. The Bishops asked for the seal of the Emperor and got it. H.G. Wells said in his Outline of History, said that the Emperor made all Churches Trinitarian. This council did not address how the Trinity and man combine with Jesus.

Dr. Badawi, at this point I must borrow a phrase from former President Ronald Reagan: "there you go again" with your conspiracy theories. There is a record of what went on at the Church Council at Constantinople

Host: Was that issue addressed in a latter council?

Jamal Badawi: The Council of Ephesus held in 431 AD, one of the points was made by the monophysites who tried to reconcile the divine and humanity in their attempt they minimized the humanity of Jesus and saw him as a spirit, the Word was the subject inhabiting the God-man. There was Nestorius the Bishop of Constantinople who focused on the manhood of Jesus was united with God through love. Jesus is not really the son of God but was God's divine gift. Jesus was no more than a human with spiritual unity. Nestorius objected to calling Mary the God bearer (Theotokos). The Bishop of Rome objected and he sent letters to other Bishops which led to the Council on June 7, 431.

Nestorius called for this Council after he had been condemned in a council at Rome on August 11, 430. He asked Emperor Theodosius II to summon this council. Nestorius' ideas were not Unitarian. Nestorius said that there were two persons in Jesus, one human and one divine. Mary, therefore, cannot be called the Mother of God (Theotokos), according to Nestorius, because she was only the mother of the human person, not the divine person.

The monophysites, on the other hand, believed that Jesus was divine, but the His humanity absorbed His divinity.

Host: What went on at his Council?

Jamal Badawi: Like the two others, it was held under Emperor Theodosius II. The main demand was for Nestorius to change his mind. He learned about it ahead of time and said that he would not change his mind and did not come nor did the Bishop of Antioch. The decided to depose Nestorius who did not accept it. After 19 days, the Antioch Bishops came and deposed Cyril and after two weeks, the Pope's people came and sided with Cyril and deposed Nestorius. They decided that the divine Word accepted manhood. They decided to exile Nestorius and not innovated the Nicene Creed. The also condemned Sylvestor for denying original sin and that Peter is still living and ruling the Church through successors. Nestorius' teachings spread.

I do not support the use of violence in any case. However, in terms of governance, the Church cannot afford to accommodate every person with a heretical idea. Certainly Islam has never tolerated any dissension concerning the basic tenants of the faith (does anyone remember what happened to Musailama?) and does not tolerate dissension today. In the end, the Nestorians were a small minority of Christians who were later brutalized by the Muslims.

Host: The Council did not conclude about the nature of Jesus.

Jamal Badawi: True, they did not conclude the nature of Jesus and that continued to be a subject of debate for 20 years. The Council of Ephesus, the dispute between the Bishop of Antioch and Rome and Alexandria, they accepted Theotokos, but the followers of Cyril regretted that he accepted the term. The Bishops considered Cyril as heretical. After the death of Cyril, his followers insisted that Jesus had one nature both before and after incarnation. In 448 ... was excommunicated because he said that Jesus had 2 natures before incarnation but one after. This continued to the 4th Council in Macedon in 550.

What Cyril are you talking about, Cyril of Alexandria who is considered to be one of the great "Doctors" of the Church? What evidence does Dr. Badawi have to make the claim that Cyril regretted anything? I am not aware of anyone who considered Cyril a heretic and he was not excommunicated.

Host: Were the Emperors involved in these Councils?

Jamal Badawi: Yes, ever since the alliance between the Pauline Church and Constantine. Some of the circumstances are interesting. It began with the proclamation that Jesus had one nature where divinity and humanity joined. In order to support that they held a conference in Ephesus which rejected the Constantinople decision, the Bishop of Constantinople withdrew from the meeting so the chairman decided to excommunicate him, which led to a great commotion outside of the chambers, and the Bishop was about to be killed. After the death of Theodosius II in 450, the two natures supporters became powerful. Another meeting was held October 8, 451 AD, they supported the theory of two natures.

The Church Council of Ephesus rejected the decisions of the Council of Constantinople?

Host: What did it mean, two natures?

Jamal Badawi: In the beginning of the Councils, the representatives from Rome demanded that the Bishop of Alexandria should not be there. The chairman asked why and they answered that he held a council (where it was decided that Jesus had one nature and not two) without the consent of Rome. The government representative did not agree. The was a lot of fighting and the government did not like it. They ended with a decision to condemn Nestorius and the Bishop of Alexandria and accepted the two natures of Christ. The important question is who died on the cross according to the Gospel, it is not appropriate to say God died, but then when we say that Jesus' humanness died on the cross this denied the two natures because it is not consistent God does not change and cannot be divided because the two natures are not separate.

These issues and more will be discussed in the section "Trinity, Atonement, and Blood Sacrifice".

Andrew Vargo

Responses to Jamal Badawi's "Radio Al-Islam Channel RA 200"
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