The _Virene, or rather the Nieeno-Constantino politan creed, is the next great expression of doc trinal truth that we meet in the history of the Church. It sprang out of the conflict, which had begun even in the second century, as to the dignity and character of Christ. From the begin ning, Ebionitism had looked upon Christ as merely a Jewish teacher of distinction : Theodotns and Artemon openly taught such a doctrine in Rome toward the close of the second century. Others, on the contrary, taught a doctrine which identified Christ with God absolutely in such a manner as to destroy all distinction of persons in the Godhead. Monarchianisin, as it was called, which held rigorously and formally to the unity of God, was the ruling principle of both doctrines, opposite as were the expressions it assumed in the two cases.
The controversy thus begun in the second, per petuated itself in the third century, under various modifications. Paul of Samosata carried out the Unitarian tendency, which reduced Christ to the level of a mere man; Sabellius carried out the same tendency in the opposite direction, which made Christ not merely divine, of the same sub stance with the Father, but looked upon Him as merely a manifestation of the Father, without any distinct personality. Sabellianism recog nized a Trinity of manifestations, but not a Trinity of essences. God was one and all-compre hending, and the Son and the Spirit were merely names or expressions for the ditlerent modes in which He successively reveals Himself. Sabel lius flourished about the middle of the third cen tury, and Paul of Samosata somewhat later. Arius, who was a presbyter of Alexandria, grew up in the midst of these influences, and soon dis tinguished himself in the Alexandrian C'hurch by his advocacy of the doctrine that Christ, although in a true sense divine, or the Son of God, was yet not the very Cod. He denied that He was 'of the substance of God,' or 'without beginning'; He was only the highest created being. 'promoted' to divinity, but not the same in substance with the Father, nor equal with Him in power and glory. Athanasius came forward as the opponent of Arius, and the contest between them raged keen and wide throughout the Church.
The Council of Nic(ea was summoned in 325 by Constantine, with the view of settling this controversy: and the Nicene Creed was the result. There were thus three parties in the council—the Athanasians, or extreme orthodox party: the Eusebians, or middle party; and the Arians, or heretical party. The heretics were few in
number, and possessed but little influence; hut the Eusebians were a strong party, and for some time resisted certain expressions of the orthodox or Athanasians, which seemed to them extreme and unwarranted: but at length the Homo?iusians. as they were called, carried the day: and Christ was declared not merely to be of like substance (hoamiousios), but of the sonic substance (honto ousios) with the Father.
The creed was formed by extending the Apo,, tles' Creed to include the new definitions. The essential parts are: "And [I believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; be gotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very ((cid, begotten not made, consubstantial [of one with the Father." The Council of Constantinople (381) simply reaffirmed this creed. Later the so-called Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed arose by the incorporation of the Nicene Creed in the baptismal confession of the Church at Jerusalem, and was erroneously recognized by the Council of Chaleedon as the creed of Constantinople. It adds definitions as to the Poly Spirit, "Lord and Giver of Life, proceeding from the Father [Latin form adds "and the Son" (see nuoQuE)1, who with the Father and Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets." It also adds the word 'one' to the definitions of the Church and of baptism, putting the latter, "We confess one baptism for remission of sins." The Christo]ogical controversies produced the council and creed of Chalcedon in 451. (See CIIRISTOLOGY. ) This creed pronounced in the most decided, and elaborate way for the full and unchanged divinity and humanity of our Lord, these two natures being comprised in the unity of one person. It thus defined the elements of the doctrine of the person of Christ, and beeame one of the great doctrinal councils of Christian his tory, if not the greatest after Nice.
The next remarkable monument of doctrinal truth in the Church is what is called the .1 thana sian Creed, a product of the fifth century, such later than Athanasins himself, lint representing, with great formal minuteness and fidelity, his doctrine of the Trinity, as apprehended and elabo rated by the Western Church. See ATIIANASIAN CREED.