Glenn Beck Spouts Council-of-Nicaea Nonsense

June 5th, 2010

Ah, the Council of Nicaea.

The main issue at the Council was related to the Trinity & the exact nature of Christ’s divinity.  The issue was that a bishop, Arius, was teaching that Jesus was a created divinity (coming into existence at some point), instead of always existing.  It had nothing to do with the Bible’s canon (i.e. table-of-contents).  The opponents were not Gnostics, nor did it have anything to do with the Dan Brown’s picture of people teaching that Jesus was just a man.  (See What Really Happened At Nicea?)

But in the tradition of the Da Vinci Code, the Council is the subject of rampant speculation, and the target of every accusation of nastiness that anyone might think of concerning the early history of Christianity.  If you can imagine something bad being done by the early church, just say it happened at the Council of Nicaea, throw in Constantine’s name, and you’ll have an instant air of believability.

Perhaps we could call this condition “Nicene Tourettes”?

This week, Glenn Beck contracted the contagious condition.  I knew he had a reputation for populist rhetoric, but this is this first time I know of that he’s gone with left-wing myth & conspiracy theory. (I’d wonder if he’s been reading Dan Brown novels lately, but it has a more obvious source–his Mormon background.) On his radio show, Beck started talking about Council.  He brought up the Dead Sea Scrolls (which were actually buried in a cave before Christ), and the Apostles’ Creed (which preceded the Council by up to one or two hundred years), and said that Constantine used the Council to help him “cobble together an army” (which, you know, being the emperor, he already had.)

RazorsKiss has provided a transcript & response.  You can also hear it with a response by Dr. James White in this mp3, starting at timestamp 1:24.  I would add two things to the written response:

  1. Beck was probably confusing the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are pre-Christian Jewish documents, with the library found at Nag Hammadi, where we found early copies of Gnostic writings.   Dr. White said that some people have speculated that the Nag Hammadi library was a cache created in Constantine’s reign, hiding Gnostic writings to prevent them from being burned.  Beck probably heard that speculation, confused it, and is now repeating it as fact.
  2. Though Beck seems to be making up the executions, some Arians were banished after the Council.  However, see Dr. White’s discussion of the aftermath of Nicaea in the What Really Happened article.  the Council did not manage to suppress Arian teaching, and the power of government was not responsible for its defeat.  Nicene Christianity didn’t win by the power of the sword, as people often think today. After the Council, Arian teaching spread and dominated the empire.  The Nicene Creed won not by the sword, but by the Biblical arguments of the bishop Athanasius–who himself was suppressed by political power & assaulted by 5000 soldiers!

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18 Responses to “Glenn Beck Spouts Council-of-Nicaea Nonsense”

  1. RazorsKiss says:

    Just one point – at Nicea, Alexander, the predecessor of Athanasius, did the arguing. Athanasius was there, but was an “understudy” of Alexander’s at the time. He shone in the debate that followed Nicea – where, as you pointed out, he was hunted and persecuted. So much for Constantine 😉

  2. Louise Rohlf says:

    My only comment – I would a THOUSAND times rather listen to Glenn Beck than to even *one* minute of Nancy Pilosi – however she spells her name – it really doesn’t matter – but her politically motivated comments on “the Word” which she absolutely knows NOTHING about is enough to “gag a – you finish the sentence”

  3. Tim says:

    To clarify the comment about Mormonism: Mormons hold to the “Christianity was grossly corrupted early on” idea, leaving them more susceptible to Council-of-Nicaea silliness–it fits their expectations. (Muslims have the same susceptibility, as does anyone who rejects Christianity but wants to hold Jesus in high regard.) I don’t know how common it actually is among Mormons, especially outside material from Mormon apologists.

    So, my guess is that Beck heard these ideas during his conversion or early training in Mormonism.

  4. DJ says:

    Glenn Beck & His Mormon Doctrine.

    1)God has a physical body and so does his wife.

    2) No Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate gods. People can become gods.

    3) Jesus was created by sexual union between God and Mary.

    4) Jesus was married.

    5) Jesus’ death does not atone for all sin.

    6) Baptism for the dead.

    7) Dark skinned people were not granted Mormon privileges until 1978.

    8) Jesus and Satan were spirit brothers.

    For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light
    2nd Corinthian 11:13-14

    If Glenn Beck’s Christian fan-base are allowing him to call himself a Christian when Mormons by definition of the tenets of the Christian bible are not, then they are Judas sell-outs! By questioning Pres. Obama’s faith they also qualify as hypocrites and Beck their modern day False Prophet!
    Mormon Founder Joseph Smith was a flaming racist who taught that blacks like animals had no spirits and could not enter into Heaven. An angel named Moroni gave him a different bible and denounced the Christian bible of 2,000 yrs ago. So why are they calling Obama a Muslim and not Beck a fake Christian! Ignoramuses take note: Obama was elected and hired as President. He is Pres. of people of all faiths and colors. Obama was not hired as your Pastor!

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  12. talk to me, and said that Constantine used the Council to help him “cobble together an army” (which, you know, being the emperor, he already had.)

  13. talk to me throw in Constantine’s name, and you’ll have an instant air of believability.

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  15. Thanks your reviws throw in Constantine’s name, and you’ll have an instant air of believability.

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  17. Mercedes HCM says:

    Question why … Perhaps we could call this condition “Nicene Tourettes”?