“The council did not create the doctrine of the deity of Christ (as is sometimes claimed) but it did settle, to some degree, the debate within the Early Christian communities regarding the divinity of Christ. This idea of the divinity of Christ, along with the idea of Christ as a messenger from God (The Father), had long existed in various parts of the Roman empire. The divinity of Christ had also been widely endorsed by the Christian community in the otherwise pagan city of Rome.” 6
Recall what the Lord communicated to Joseph Smith during the First Vision (emphasis added):
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong… all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”” 7
St. Augustine and the End of the
Ancient Church of Christ
One of the greatest resources available that gives a thorough and concise historical synopsis of the erosion of the ancient Church which Christ and the original apostles founded is contained in the works of Hugh Nibley * — specifically his book The World and the Prophets and his collection of radio lectures given in the early 1950’s, titled Time Vindicates the Prophets.
In one particular chapter of The World and the Prophets, Nibley focuses on St. Augustine and his significant role in creating a formal dogma that melds together the teachings of Christ with the pagan beliefs and exoteric spiritual arguments of the Greek schools. The following are segments of this chapter (emphasis added):
“Catholic and Protestant authorities vie in proclaiming their incalculable debt to St. Augustine, the man “who laid the foundation of Western culture” (Seeberg), “who stands between the ancient world and the Middle Ages as the first great constructive thinker of the Western Church, and the father of medieval Catholicism” (Raby), “dominating like a pyramid antiquity and succeeding ages—among theologians he is undeniably the first, and such has been his influence that none of the Fathers, Scholastics or Reformers has surpassed it” (Schaff), “the greatest doctor of the Church” (Lot), “the true creator of Western theology” (Grabmann), “in whom, in a very real sense… medieval thought begins and ends” (Coulton). “His philosophic-historical work remains one of the most imposing creations of all time; it posits a capacity and originality of mind which none other possessed either in his own day or for a thousand years after,” wrote Eduard Norden.