Early Christian Doctrines

by J. N. D. Kelly
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Summarize part 3 (Nicaea to Chalcedon) of Early Christian Doctrines by J. N. D Kelly.

Part 3 of Early Christian Doctrines by J. N. D. Kelly discusses the Nicene crisis, the emergence of Christology, and debates about the human soul.

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Part 3 of Early Christian Doctrines is quite dense and covers a lot of information. I will summarize the general points made in this section to help get you started.

In this section, Kelly starts out by talking about the Nicene crisis. One of the main issues in this crisis was the Arian controversy: the question of God’s relationship to Jesus Christ. There was much debate as to whether Jesus was fully God, fully human, or both. Kelly describes how the First Council of Nicaea attempted to resolve this conflict for Christianity by establishing Christian thoughts on the Trinity. The council also drafted a creed of Christian doctrine called the Nicene creed. Kelly then explains how the development of a concrete universal belief about Jesus’s essence played a critical role in the theology of the trinity.

In this part of the text, Kelly also examines the development and spread of Christology. He highlights how the Eastern Church’s debates about Christological theories contributed to the development of Christine doctrine about Christ’s nature as Christians know it today. He explains schools of thought like Nestorianism, which argued that Jesus’s human and divine natures were separate, and how these ideals conflicted with the beliefs that these natures were unified. Eventually, Kelly explains that the Council of Chalcedon fully settled major Christological conflicts by upholding the belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully human.

Kelly ends this section with a discussion of another debate in Christianity’s history, the issue of the human soul. There was much debate in Christianity's history as to the natures of original sin, human beings’ plight on Earth, and the concept of redemption. Kelly describes the development of Christian belief in the human soul and explains that there was conflict between the idea of humans’ need for divine guidance and the existence of human free will.

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