Pt. 8 Ch. 1. Is Christ Truly God: The Doctrines That Divide By Erwin Lutzer (NKJV)
November 7, 2018
What About Sectarianism?
Here are two working definitions of the word Sectarianism: 1. a narrow-minded adherence to a particular sect or party or denomination 2. bigot, dogmatist, dogmatizer, partisan (also partizan) Both definitions are nouns. Synonyms: illiberal, insular, Lilliputian, little, narrow, narrow-minded, parochial, petty, picayune, provincial, small, small-minded.
Sectarianism is not new. It has been around since Cain slew his brother Abel. Adam and Eve’s third son came along, and the bloodline of Cain and Seth went their separate ways. The term “bury your head in the sand” has been used to describe a non-confrontational attitude. They say ostriches will do this in order to hide from predators. Even though this is a misnomer, the meaning of this figure of speech is acceptable by most people. Burying one’s head in the sand is when we hide from certain truths. The Apostle Paul suggested that in The Body of Christ, we all have particular gifts (Rom. 12:6; 1st Cor. 12:27,28). The Holy Spirit has given some of us a charge to address the divisions in Christ Body. There are preachers who specialize in evangelism. One such man was Billy Graham, who was accepted worldwide for his calling. There are men and women who teach on the subject of spiritual gifts. God the Father has anointed each member of the Body of Christ with different abilities. Dealing with sectarianism is one of this issues that has fallen upon me. Therefore, I will gladly fulfill the commission He has placed upon me, as I pray that you will do the same. Do not bury your head in the sand when Father calls upon you. Do not wait until He has to kick you and make you do what you already know you should be doing.
The Council at Nicaea
It was 325 B.C. when Constantine had 318 bishops gather together to settle the doctrine of the deity of Christ. There were three opposing views at the time. Firstly, there was a Christian presbyter, priest, and ascetic by the name of Arius from Ptolemais, Cyrenaica, Libya. His thoughts on Christ deity were as follows; Christ was a created being, that He was the first and greatest of created beings, but created nonetheless. “The Son had a beginning, but God is without beginning.” The council shot this idea down immediately and branded it as heresy.
Next, there was Eusebius of Caesarea. His presentation was somewhat more difficult, because he was a personal friend of Constantine, and an admirer of Arius. He believed that Christ was God, just not of the same essence of God the Father. I don’t claim to know exactly what the substance of God is other than the fact that a God is Spirit (John 4:24). However, I do know that God is Light (1st John 5:5), and Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12). The Apostle Paul also wrote using the same Greek word ‘phos‘, in saying that God dwells in unapproachable Light. The Bible also tells us that God is Love (1st John 4:8), and the Son is the embodiment of that Love. God the Father, and God the Son are the sole possessors of the same life and Glory (John 17).
So when Eusebius said they are not of the same substance, this tells me something about these men. They never really approached The Word by interpreting scripture with scripture. These ideas were not born out of a relationship with God the Holy Spirit. They replaced spirituality with theories and philosophy. Unfortunately, many of our modern-day churches are built upon the foundation of some of these heresies. Even though these men have been dead and buried for almost 1,700 years, people are still falling into their ditches.
In my next post, I will continue with the third and most commonly held view by a man by the name of Athanasius. To be continue…