Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chapter 9: The Closed Door Council

            “WHY am I not informed of this matter, that among you, there are those who do not believe in the divinity of your Christ?”  Demanded Constantine when the close door council was held.  His eyes were on Hosius and Eustathius.  Also present in the meeting were Alexander, his cohort Athanasius, Marcellus of Ancrya, Eustathius of Antioch, and Macarius of Jerusalem.  Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Eusebius of Caesarea were notably absent in this close door meeting, which in a way was expected, for they belonged to the Arian camp.  They couldn’t be expected to be in the central committee which was designed by Hosius and Alexander.  Constantine agreed to join the central committee because it was a practical thing to do.  He wanted this controversy to cease as much, if not more, than this orthodox party led by Hosius and Alexander.
“Jacob is ebionite my Lord.  He and his cohorts are more like a Jewish sect.  Nothing to do with Christianity.”
“Then why were he and his cohorts invited to this gathering?”  Asked Constantine, apparently not quite satisfied with Hosius answer.
“They claim themselves to be the follower of Christ, but they have been deemed heretical by our Church Fathers,” added Eustathius.
“If they are not really one of you, then why were they invited?”  Demanded Constantine again, apparently also dissatisfied with Eustathius answer.
“It is more complicated than that my Lord,” said Hosius, “they are not Christians in the sense that they are not orthodox.  They follow the Law of Moses, but they are not Jewish either.  We often call them Christian Jewish, so they are not totally outsiders either, which is why they were invited.”
“Interesting group of people you are,” quipped Constantine sarcastically.
 “Not only interesting, but as your Lord can see, we are also chaotic.  That’s because since from the beginning, we have no central authority to bind us together.  It is apparent that the Kingdom of Heaven cannot work without a king.  That’s why we need an emperor’s intervention.  In short, we need a king among ourselves.”  Said Hosius.
“And you need a pagan emperor to be your king?” Quipped Constantine in all seriousness.
“The Lord Jesus Christ works in a mysterious way,” spoke Alexander, a much respected Patriarch of Alexandria, and continued, “He anointed the chosen one and revealed His way to him. When there was confusion in the beginning of this faith, He had chosen St. Paul to show the way.  Now that the believers have become numerous, and the Kingdom of Heaven becomes nearer, He needs a king to rule His Kingdom.  And we believe that you are the anointed King to unite all of us in the Kingdom of Heaven.” 
“How ironic that your god chooses a pagan king to do the job.”
“Not so ironic because He had done the same before.  He had chosen St. Paul who was the persecutors of Lord’s followers before the Lord Christ revealed himself to Paul.”  Said Alexander.
“If he has chosen me, why doesn’t he reveal himself to me?” 
 “The Lord Christ works in many ways.  Or perhaps he has revealed himself to my Lord in the way my Lord is not aware.”  Said Alexander.
“What do you suggest we do now?”  The emperor asked.
“Get Jacob and his cohort out of the august hall,” suggested Marcellus.
“That may not be prudent,” said Alexander, “for we have promised them a fair hearing.”
“With all due respect Alexander, you have seen how Jacob was behaving.  There is no way we can reach reconciliation with a man like that around.”  Insisted Marcellus.
“The more reason we need a man like that around,” said Athanasius who had been quiet so far.
“What do you mean?”  Asked Eustathius.
“His behavior defeats his own argument.  His antics would reveal himself to his colleagues as unreasonable man.  His behavior would do great disservice to his idea.  He would soon fall, mark my word.  It is not him I am worried.  It is Arius.  See how quiet he has been.  We are talking about his heretical idea, yet he has not said a word, not even a word to defend his idea.  That, to me, is a dangerous opponent.  That’s precisely why Arius has been very influential.  That guy is slick.  We need to figure out ways to make him talk.  Of course it would be easier to make Arius talk without Jacob around, but if we chase Jacob away, chances are Arius and his supporters might also walk out.  That would defeat the purpose of this universal gathering.”
The members of the council felt that Athanasius had a point.  Jacob was not really the issue, but his way was not really welcome either.  They finally decided to give stern warning to Jacob to behave, or else he would be asked to get out of the august hall. 
What Athanasius said about Arius was only half correct.  That Arius is a brilliant priest was not wrong, but that did not explain why he had been quiet.  Unbeknown to the members of this close door council, Arius had been forewarned about the real purpose of this ecumenical gathering.  He had been visited by a special visitor.
That visitor was no other than Constantia, the step sister of Constantine, and the widow of the late emperor Licinius.

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