Through Much Prayer and Pain…
Every Sunday we acknowledge in unison by Creed that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one in Trinity. Each equal, each is Divinity. But, did you know that it took the church almost 400 years to declare that Jesus was of the same substance (as opposed to a similar substance) as the Father? Did you know that the church in Rome (the Roman Catholic Church) disagreed with the Greek Orthodox Church in the East (Modern day Istanbul) about the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son? The disagreement is famously known in church history as the great “Schism.”
The main theological “debate” has always been about Christ.
The Council of Nicea took place in AD 325 by order of the Roman Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine. Nicea was located in Asia Minor just east of Constantinople. A priest named Arius presented his argument that Jesus Christ was not an eternal being but that He was created at a certain point in time by the Father. Bishops such as Alexander and the deacon Athanasius argued the opposite position: Jesus Christ is eternal, just like the Father is.
Emperor Constantine prodded the 300 bishops at the council to make a decision by majority vote defining who Jesus Christ is. The statement of doctrine they produced was one that all of Christianity would follow and obey, called the “Nicene Creed.” This creed was upheld by the church and enforced by the Emperor. The bishops at Nicea voted to make the full deity of Christ the accepted position of the church. The Council of Nicea upheld the doctrine of Christ’s true divinity, rejecting Arius’s heresy. The council did not invent this doctrine. Rather, it merely recognized what scripture already taught.
The New Testament teaches that Jesus the Messiah should be worshiped, which is to say He is co-equal with God. The New Testament forbids the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 22:8, 9) but commands worship of Jesus. The apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9; 1:19). Paul declares Jesus as Lord and the One to whom a person must pray for salvation (Romans 10:9-13; cf. Joel 2:32). “Jesus is God overall” (Romans 9:5) and our God and Savior (Titus 2:13). Faith in Jesus’ deity is basic to Paul’s theology.
John’s Gospel declares Jesus to be the divine, eternal Logos, the agent of creation and source of life and light (John 1:1-5,9); “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6); our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1-2); the Sovereign (Revelation 1:5); and the Son of God from the beginning to the end (Revelation 22:13). The author of Hebrews reveals the deity of Jesus through His perfection as the most high priest (Hebrews 1; Hebrews 7:1-3). The divine-human Savior is the Christian’s object of faith, hope, and love. (http://www.gotquestions.org/council-of-Nicea.html)
The Great Schism of 1054
The theological belief of the East was different from that of the West. The Eastern theology had its roots in Greek philosophy, whereas a great deal of Western theology was based on Roman law. This gave rise to misunderstandings and led to two very different ways of regarding and defining one important doctrine—the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father or from the Father and the Son.
Since the ninth century, the theological controversy had focused on the procession of the Holy Spirit. In the life of the Trinity, does the Spirit proceed from the Father only or from the Father and from the Son (Filioque in Latin)? (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1990/issue28/2820.html?start=2)
How we came to accept the New Testament of today
Justin Martyr, in the mid-second century, mentions “memoirs of the apostles” as being read on “the day called that of the sun” (Sunday) alongside the “writings of the prophets.” A four gospel canon (the Tetramorph) was asserted by Irenaeus, c. 180, who refers to it directly.
By the early 3rd century, Origen may have been using the same twenty-seven books as in the Catholic New Testament canon. The Muratorian fragment is evidence that perhaps as early as 200 AD, there existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to the twenty-seven-book NT canon. Thus, while there was a good measure of debate in the Early Church over the New Testament canon, the major writings are claimed to have been accepted by almost all Christians by the middle of the 3rd century.
In his Easter letter of 367, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, gave a list of the books that would become the twenty-seven-book NT canon, and he used the word “canonized” (Greek: κανονιζόμενα kanonizomena) in regards to them.
Thus, some claim that, from the 4th century, there existed unanimity in the West concerning the New Testament canon, and that, by the 5th century, the Eastern Church, with a few exceptions, had come to accept the Book of Revelation and thus had come into harmony on the matter of the canon. Nonetheless, full dogmatic articulations of the canon were not made until the Canon of Trent of 1546 for Roman Catholicism, the Gallic Confession of Faith of 1559 for Calvinism, the Thirty-Nine Articles of 1563 for the Church of England, and the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672 for the Greek Orthodox. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon)
In light of this historic information, never, ever, take for granted what we have been given through much debate, labor, persecution, prayer, sacrifice, death and even torture. The Bible you hold in your hands has been tested through the centuries and you can be assured that it is here to stay—“hammer away ye hostile hands, the hammer breaks, but the anvil stands.” (Author unknown) (Unless otherwise cited, Wikipedia is the primary resource used in this document)