Is the “Middle Ground” Always Best?

Dr. Bruce Ware:

Council of Nicea. This resulted, then, in the Council of Nicea that met in A.D. 325, meeting for the sole purpose of settling this dispute between Arius and Athanasius and to try to bring together the church in a consensus view on how we should understand the nature of Christ in relation to the Father. There were actually three main groups of people who were present at Nicea. Athanasius was there and those who supported his view of the one God whose one undivided essence or nature is shared by both the Father and the Son equally and fully. You had also the Arian party was there, who argued that Jesus was, in fact, a created being and was subordinate in nature to the Father. But then there was another group that was there who were followers of Origen. Origen had passed away long before, 75 years, roughly, before the Council at Nicea. Origen in some of his writings had proposed a view of Christ in which Christ was like the Father, very similar to the Father, so the followers of Origen at the Council of Nicea played a role of trying to provide a mediating position between Arius and Athanasius. They thought that perhaps their view could prevail because it was the balanced view between the two extremes of the Arians and the Athanasians.”

Notice that:

  • There were people who showed up, probably using language to the effect that we shouldn’t be extreme about our views on the deity of Christ. Sound familiar? Can’t we find a middle ground? It’s ideal, but in many cases it’s awful!
  • All three parties had exponents–people with names–who popularized each view and represented the various christologies. Did that make it a Paul vs. Apollos type of situation? No, absolutely not. The issue wasn’t merely the theological supremacy of the major proponents, but the actual theology. Again, sound familiar?