Each week we affirm our faith as we repeat the Nicene creed.
The Nicene creed was formulated at the Council of Nicaea as long ago as 325 AD, and over 150 bishops met in Nicaea a town in what is now North west Turkey. It was called by the Emperor Constantine, anxious to unite his empire and as he had embraced Christianity. One way to do this was to address the various aspects of belief that were beginning to divide the church disastrously. One of the foremost of these was the idea that Jesus only became the Son of God at his birth, he was not eternally part of the Trinity. This belief was propounded by one Arius, and became a very strong heresy, Arianism, both before and after the council.
The Nicene Creed decided
We affirm We believe in one God, ……………..
… And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten from the Father
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
You can see how important it is to affirm that Jesus was there from eternity, with God.
Today is the feast day of Bishop Hilary of Poitiers -a town in central France.
He was brought up a pagan, and was married with a daughter before he became a Christian and was soon after chosen as Bishop of the area. He was too young to have been at the council of Nicaea but Arianism was still rife as he became bishop and he took various steps – some rather brutal, to purge the heresy from his domain.
He also wrote some very learned theological books on the subject and commentaries on parts of the Bible, which were influential in the years to follow.
Two other things about Hilary – the name means happy cheerful (Hilarious!) and the legal system’s spring term is called the “Hilary term”, and so is the second term at Oxford university as they begin about his feast day.