Religion:Pro-Nicene theology

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The characterization, "pro-Nicene", points to one of the central tenets of the new approach to fourth century Trinitarian theology advocated by Lewis Ayres and Michel René Barnes, among others. The designation, “pro-Nicene,” classifies and describes Trinitarian theological accounts of the mid to late 4th century (ca. 360s to 380s) that supported the propositions in the Creed of Nicaea. [1] Some scholars prefer to utilize a middle category, or stage in theological development, that provides further differentiation between Nicene theologies and pro-Nicene theologies: Barnes labels this middle category “neo-Nicene” theology. [2] Nevertheless, all the scholars who utilize the pro-Nicene category stress the logical compatibility that exists within different theologies of the period, rather than one particular theology. The feature of these like-minded theological accounts that has garnered the most attention is the understanding that in sharing the one power of God, the Father and Son must share the same nature. [3] This new approach contrasts itself with narratives that describe the orthodox Trinitarian theologies of this period as utilizing different arguments of logic. For instance, this new approach would disagree with the contention that some orthodox accounts start from the affirmation of distinction within the Godhead and argue toward unity, while other orthodox accounts start from the affirmation of unity within the Godhead and argue toward distinction.


  1. L. Ayres, Nicaea and its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 6. Later, Ayres provides the standard by which he determines whether a theology “supports” Nicaea, when he states that “pro-Nicene” theologies are primarily “those recognized as orthodox by the Council of Constantinople (381) and by subsequent imperial decrees” (p. 239).
  2. ‘’E.g.’’, M.R. Barnes, The Power of God: Dunamis in Gregory of Nyssa’s Trinitarian Theology (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2001), 169-70.
  3. Barnes, Power of God, 170; Ayres, Nicaea and its Legacy, 344-63 on Gregory of Nyssa.