Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Adventing: St. Nick and Nicea

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my uncle, a pastor, about the church history class I took at Summit, specifically about the Nicene Creed. He mentioned two things that I found fascinating, and they relate to Advent, so I'll share them.

The second (but oft skipped) verse of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" is inspired by the Nicene Creed. (It always annoys me when we skip verses of good hymns, especially the parts that are theological!)

True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

He then related a story about St. Nicholas, who would later inspire Santa Claus, with the disclaimer that it may be more legend than fact. St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, was a delegate at the Council of Nicea, in which Arius was eventually condemned as a heretic for teaching that Jesus was not fully God. It has been said that at one point Nicholas was so fed up with listening to the heresy that he got up and slapped Arius. For this he was almost removed from the bishopric, but it turns out the council agreed with him and he was reinstated after asking forgiveness.

Gene Edward Veith wrote a column for WORLD based off this story a couple of years ago, suggesting perhaps the Church needs to be more like St. Nicholas when it comes to defending Christ against heresies, instead of resembling a tolerant, non-religious Santa Claus.

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