Summary: The truth about the deity of Jesus.
“Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned.” (The Da Vinci Code, p. 234).
“Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.” (The Da Vinci Code, p. 233).
“Many scholars claim that the early Church literally stole Jesus from His original followers, hijacking His human message, shrouding it in an impenetrable cloak of divinity, and using it to expand their own power.” (The Da Vinci Code, p. 233)
“Jesus’ establishment as the ‘Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea…A relatively close vote at that.” (The Da Vinci Code, p. 233)
Church historians agree that next to the events in the New Testament, the most important event in the history of Christianity is the conversion of Emperor Constantine in A.D. 312. In brief, here’s the story: Constantine’s troops were positioned at the Milvian Bridge just outside of Rome, where they were preparing to overthrow the Roman emperor Maxentius. A victory would, in effect, make Constantine the sole ruler of the empire. But the night before the battle, Constantine saw a vision that changed his life and the history of the church.
In the words of Eusebius of Caesarea, who was both a historian and a confidant of Constantine, the emperor was praying to a pagan god when “he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross in the light of the heavens, above the sun and an inscription, Conquer By This attached to it…. Then in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of this sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.”
To make a long story short, Constantine crossed over the bridge and won the battle, fighting under the banner of the Christian cross. Later he issued the Edict of Milan, decreeing that Christians were no longer to be persecuted. And now, although a politician, he took leadership in the doctrinal disputes that were disrupting the unity in his empire.
One of those disputes concerned the doctrine of the person of Christ. There was a man named Arius, who was gaining a wide following by teaching that Christ was not fully God but a created god of sorts. He believed that Christ was more than a man but less than God. Arius was a great communicator, and because he put his doctrinal ideas into musical jingles, his ideas became widely accepted. Although many church bishops declared him a heretic, the disputes continued. Constantine called the first ecumenical council at Nicaea, hoping to suppress dissent and unify Christianity. In fact, the emperor even paid the expenses of the bishops who gathered.
Constantine did not care about the finer points of theology, so practically any creed would have satisfied him—a long as it would unify his subjects. As one historian has said, “Christianity became both a way to God and a way to unite the empire.” He gave the opening speech himself, telling the delegates that doctrinal disunity was worse than war.