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The Church in Ancient SocietyFrom Galilee to Gregory the Great$
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Henry Chadwick

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246955.001.0001

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Constantine: Lactantius, Eusebius of Caesarea, Arius, and the Council of Nicaea

Constantine: Lactantius, Eusebius of Caesarea, Arius, and the Council of Nicaea

(p.190) 28 Constantine: Lactantius, Eusebius of Caesarea, Arius, and the Council of Nicaea
The Church in Ancient Society

Henry Chadwick

Oxford University Press

The new situation created by the rise to sole power of a Christian emperor was seen by many Christians as fulfilment of the prophecy that God's word would spread throughout the civilized world but raised new questions about the unity of the Church. The Divine Institutes by Lactantius was directed against pagan philosophers and stressed the need for education about Christianity to put an end to persecution, while Eusebius of Caesarea wrote a panegyric of Constantine and about the superiority of biblical religion over paganism. However, the ‘subordinationist’ theology of Arius raised the fundamental problem of the Christian doctrine of God and was viewed by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, as a heresy for which toleration was not possible. The Council of Nicaea in 325, the largest assembly of bishops yet gathered, produced the Nicene Creed, the effects of which divided the eastern Church. It would now be taken as axiomatic that dissenters were to be excluded from the Church, without any minority rights.

Keywords:   Arianism, Arius, Constantine, Council of Nicaea, Eusebius of Caesarea, Lactantius, Nicene Creed

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