Doctrinal disputes

Historically the Church has always struggled to understand and define the person of Jesus. One key element of this is known as the Christological debate: In what sense was Jesus both God and man? Another debate has focussed on sin and free will: is humankind born sinful and only capable of salvation if God chooses to save him/her (pre-destination), or do we each have free will to choose or reject God’s salvation (sometimes called Arminianism)? A third area of theological controversy concerns the purpose of Jesus’ death (sometimes called Atonement Theory): was His death in order to ‘pay the price’ for sin? (i.e. to satisfy God’s need for justice, having been sinned against), or was it simply the perfect example of the sacrifice we should all be willing to make in giving our life in service to God?

During the early centuries of the Church, these issues were hotly debated, and the issue of the Trinity was only settled when various Church Councils and Synods formulated an agreed doctrine (e.g. the Nicaean Creed) and then rejected all of the other possibilities as heresies.

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