Jolly Old Saint Punchy Face

Jolly Old Saint Punchy Face

Saint Nicholas—or Santa Claus as you may better know him—took the Gospel seriously. So seriously that aside from giving presents to poor children (which actually was around December 6…but whatever), Bishop Nicholas was best known for punching a dude in the face.

Stick that bit of knowledge in your chimney.

It all took place during the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325. Emperor Constantine gathered together what was to be the first ecumenical council of the early Christian church. More than 300 bishops showed up all in an effort to come to a unified, orthodox conclusion on the doctrine of the Trinity. There were two prevailing viewpoints expressed during the council: that the Trinity is either of the homoousios, or homoiousios.

Yeah, I know you have no clue what either of those words mean—heathen.

Homoousios is a Greek word meaning “same substance,” while homoiousios is Greek for “similar substance.” So, the arguments put forth were that the Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) were either of the same substance, or they were of similar substance.

Still confused? Let me break it down.

Saint Nicholas and Homoousios

Jolly Old Bishop Nick was a staunch defender of the “same substance” viewpoint. The idea of the members of the Godhead being of the same substance essentially means that each member is fully God. While each member is unique in their functions and personalities, each is not merely some separate divine being.

Jesus is both fully God and fully man—a truth which we cannot fully comprehend. The Holy Spirit is both fully God and fully spirit. God the Father is fully God as well. This is a great mystery, one which we won’t fully comprehend until Heaven—if we even get to understand it fully then.

Arius and the Iota

During the First Council of Nicaea, the debate over the Trinity raged on. It was an Egyptian bishop named Arius who caught the ire—and right hook—of Bishop Nicholas.

As the council continued, Arius began to defend the idea that Jesus was not equal to God the Father. He believed that the members of the Trinity were not of the same substance—that being of God—but were wholly separate beings. And as Arius forcibly argued for his position, Nick got ticked.

After some time of listening to Arius carry on in heretic fashion about something Nicholas considered to be essential to the faith, Nick got up from his chair, walked across the room, and gave Arius a hard slap to the face. He was so outraged over a truth of God being denied, that he struck another bishop.

Same or Similar?

So, which is it, same or similar? In Genesis 1:26, we see an early biblical defense for the doctrine of the Trinity, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Here God is using a plural identification for Himself. So unless God is schizophrenic, there is definitely more than just the Father being referenced in “us” and “our.”

Thus, it would be the correct, orthodox and biblical understanding of the Godhead as being of the same substance. And when it came down to it, the Council of Nicaea agreed with Bishop Nicholas. The fruit of the debate was the development of the Nicene Creed, which states:

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

So, there you have it, not only will Saint Nicholas bring you some presents, but if you reject core doctrines of the Bible, the dude is going to sock you in the mouth for being a heretical weasel.

To learn more about the doctrine of the Trinity, click here.

Until next Monday, ardievas.

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