College Notes
Church History
Lecture 10

Council of Laodecia/Arianism/Easter

A.  6O canons signed into law and later accepted.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says that the Synod of Laodicea was:

"...held at Laodicea and Lycum in Phrygia, some time between 343 and 381...adapted sixty canons, chiefly disciplinary, which were declared ecumenical by the council of Chalcedon, 451. The most significant canons are those directly affecting the clergy, wherein the clergy appear as a privileged class, far above the laity, but with sharply differentiated and carefully graded orders within itself. For example, the priests are not to be chosen by the people; penitents are not to be present at ordinations (lest they should hear the failings of   candidates discussed)... Other canons treat intercourse with heretics, admission of penitent heretics, baptism, fasts, Lent, angel-worship (forbidden as idolatry) and the canonical books, from which the Apocrypha and Revelation are wanting." p. 189 

B.  Ecumenical Councils.
1.  Major doctrines and canonization laws set into effect.
2.  There have been over 2O such councils.
3.  Last council was in the late 1960s at the Vatican.
     a. Last decision of the councils: infallibility of the pope when he speaks "ex-cathedra" 

C.  Council of Chalcedon - 451 A.D.
1.  Accepted the canons of the Synod of Laodicea.
2.  Solidification of clergy emerges as privileged class in the church

 Of the council of Chalcedon, the Encyclopedia Britannica says:

"The Council of Chalcedon, the fourth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, was held in 451, its occasion being the Eutychian heresy.... In response to the imperial summons, five to six hundred bishops, all Eastern, except the Roman legates and two Africans, assembled in Chalcedon on the 8th of October 451.   The bishop of Rome claimed for his legates the right to preside, and insisted that any act that failed to receive their approval would be invalid. The first session was tumultuous; party feeling ran high, and scurrilous and vulgar epithets were bandied to and fro.... The emperor requested a declaration of the true faith; but the sentiment of the council was opposed to a new symbol.   It contented itself with reaffirming the Nicene and Constantinopolitan creeds and the Ephesine formula of 431....  The council rejected both Nestorianism and Eutychianism, and stood upon the doctrine that Christ had two natures, each stood upon the doctrine that Christ had two natures, each perfect in itself and each distinct from the other, yet perfectly united in one person, who was at once both God and man.

"The most important enactments of the council of Chalcedon were the following:   (1) the approval of the canons of the first three ecumenical councils and of the synods of Ancyra, Neo-Caesarea, Changra, Antioch and Laodicea; (2) forbidding trade, secular pursuits and war to the clergy, bishops not even being allowed to administer   the   property of their   dioceses;   (3) forbidding monks and nuns to marry or to return to the world; likewise forbidding the establishment of a monastery in any diocese without the  consent  of  the bishop,  or  the  disestablishment of a  monastery  once consecrated; (4) punishing with deposition an ordination or clerical appointment made for money;...

"The emperor Marcian approved the doctrinal decrees of the council and enjoined silence in regard to theological questions.  Eutyches and Dioscurus and their followers were deposed and banished.   But harmony was not thus to be restore; hardly had the council dissolved when   the church was plunged into the Monophysite controversy."

D.  Canons of Chalcedon to be familiar with:
1.  7th - "Persons converted from heresies, that is, of the Novatians, Photinians, and Quartodecimans, whether they were catechumens or communicants among them, shall not be received until they shall have anathematized every heresy, and particularly that in which they were held; and afterwards those who among them were called communicants, having thoroughly learned the symbols of the faith, and having been anointed with the holy chrism, shall so communicate in the holy Mysteries.
2.  16th - Gospels to be read on the Sabbath along with other scriptures (OT).
3.   29th   - dealt with Sabbath  - equated it with "Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians.  But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ."
4.   37th   "It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, not to feast together with them."
5.   38th   "It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety."
6.   39th  "It is not lawful to feast together with the heathen, and to be partakers of their godlessness."
7.   51st   "The nativities of Martyrs are not to be celebrated in Lent, but commemorations of the holy Martyrs are to be made on the Sabbaths and Lord's days."

E.  Judaising - main issue of the council.

F.  Discussed which scriptures were holy - did not include Apocrypha or book of Revelation at that time.

A.  Founder - Dr. Arius, Bishop of Alexandria.
B.  Aryanism - the movement:
1.  Began in early 300s - was a very popular movement.
2.  Developed doctrine that Christ could not have been equal to God or co-existed with him.
     a. Believed Christ was a created entity and through him God created everything
3.  Doctrine in and out of popularity for 4OO years.

A.  General Information:
1.  Carries controversy in church.
2.  Major reason causing split.
3.  Shows where Catholicism and true church had beginnings.
     a.  Duchesne showed how at first the Passover was kept at Rome:

"There were many Christians of Asia in Rome at the time (remember that the Church of God at Rome was founded by those who came from Asia Minor where Paul preached) and the very early Popes, Xystus and Telesphorus, saw them every year keep their Pasch (the true Passover) the same day as did the Jews. They maintained that was correct.  It was allowed to pass...though the rest of Rome observed a different use (THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, Vol. I, p. 210)."

        b.  Irenaeus showed that the West did not keep Passover:

"Irenaeus, who lived toward the close of the second century, wrote to Bishop Victor of Rome, ‘we mean Anicetus, and Pius, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Xystus. They neither observed it [the true Passover on the 14th of Nisan] nor did they permit those after them to do so....'"

        c.  He shows How Sixtus 1st to oppose the Passover:

"It was Bishop Xystus (his name is also spelled Sixtus) who was the first recorded individual to prevent the proper observance of the Passover, and to celebrate the sacred mysteries annually on a Sunday. Irenaeus speaks further have him, declaring that his doctrine was in direct 'opposition' to the practice of the remainder of the churches.   Bishop Sixtus was living at the beginning of the second century, just after the Apostle John died (NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS, Vol.  I, p. 243).

d.  Irenaeus documents Polycarp’s approach to Easter:

"But Polycarp also was not only instructed by the apostles, and acquainted with many that had seen Christ, but was also appointed by apostles in Asia, bishop of the Church of Smyrna....   He also was in Rome in the time of Anicetus (bishop of Rome, A.D.  155-166) and caused many to turn away from the...heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received from the apostles this one and sole truth.' While at Rome, Polycarp discussed the matter of Easter with the Roman bishop.

"Irenaeus continued: ‘For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe it  (the Passover) because he had always observed it with John the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he associated; and neither did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it, who said that he was bound to follow the customs of the presbyters before him' (Eusebius' ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, book V, chapter 24, quoted in NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS, Vol. 1, p. 244)."

        e.  A Forged Letter Helped Bring About the Change to Sunday:

"Shortly after Polycarp left, there appeared an amazing letter -- said by many scholars to have been a deliberate forgery.  This letter states: 'Pope Pius, who lived about 147, had made a decree, That the annual solemnity of the PASCH (PASCH is the Greek word for PASSOVER) should be kept on the Lord's day (Sunday) and in confirmation of this he pretended, that Hermes  (Hermas), his brother, who was then an eminent teacher among them, had received instruction from an angel, who commanded that all men should keep the PASCH on the Lord's day' (Joseph Bingham, ANTIQUITIES OF   THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, pp. 1148-1149).

f.  The Forgery Said and Angel Commanded the Change:

"Of this same hoax, we read in APOSTOLICAL FATHERS, by James Donaldson, page 324:  'One of the letters forged in the name of Pius, where one Hermas is mentioned as the author; and it is stated that in his book a commandment was given through an angel to observe the Passover on a Sunday.'"

        g.  Gal. 1:7-8  "If I or an angel teach an other gospel let him be accursed."

B.  Origin:
1.  Began in time of Nimrod.
2.  Name derived from goddess Ishtarte.
3.  Nimrod killed.  Tradition says buried on Friday and rose on Sunday.

C.  Mentioned in Bible - Ezekiel 8:14-16.
    1.  As a great abomination.
     a.  People mourning death of Tammuz
     b.  This worship can be related to Easter celebrations
2.  Reference: Two Babylons and Golden Bough
3.  Pagan festival worshiped - very sexual.
4.  Priests worshiping the sun - their back was towards God.

D.  After 3OO years these customs became habit and were accepted into the church.  It took this long to accomplish.

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