The Origin of the Doctrine of Imputation

The Origin of the Doctrine of Imputation

The faith which is imputative of the merit and righteousness of Christ the Redeemer first arose from the decrees of the council of Nice concerning three Divine persons from eternity; which faith, from that time to the present, has been received by the whole Christian world. As regards the Nicene council itself, it was held by the Emperor Constantine the Great in his palace at Nice, a city of Bithynia, by the advice of Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria; all the bishops in Asia, Africa, and Europe being convoked, in order that the heresy of Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, might be refuted from the Sacred Scriptures and condemned. This was done in the year of our Lord 325. Those who were called together decided that there were from eternity three Divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,—as may be seen especially from the two creeds called the Nicene and Athanasian. In the Nicene Creed it is said, “I believe in, one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the S022, of God, the Only-begotten of the Father, born before all ages, God of God, of the same substance with the Father, who came down from heaven, and became incarnate by the Holy Ghost from the Virgin Mary; and in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who, together with the Father and the Son, is worshipped and glorified.” In the Athanasian Creed are these words: ” The Catholic faith is this:— That we worship one God in trinity, and the trinity in unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance…. But whereas we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there be three Gods or three Lords.” That is, it is lawful to acknowledge but not to say three Gods and three Lords; and the one is not lawful because religion forbids it, but the other is because the truth dictates it. This Athanasian Creed was written soon after the council of Nice was held, by one or more who had been present at the council; and it also was accepted as ecumenical or catholic. From these it is manifest that it was then decreed that three Divine Persons from eternity ought to be acknowledged; and, that although each person singly, by Himself, is God, yet that they are not to be called three Gods and Lords, but One. (TCR  n. 632)