9. The Early Church Almost Unanimously Believed In The Divinity Of Jesus
Leigh Teabing asserted throughout the novel that the early church knew that Jesus was not divine. Claims that He was divine were made by church councils during the first few centuries after the death of Jesus as a means of consolidating their power base. They could kick out people who didn’t agree with them and get rid of the idea of Jesus’ descendants once and for all. The problem is that the early church – including the Gnostics, who were not considered by many Christians to even be followers of Jesus – was almost unanimous in belief about the divinity of Jesus.
Early church councils actually didn’t even deal with the question of whether or not Jesus was divine; instead, they were concerned with the nature of His divinity. Was He of the same substance as the Father, or was He of a similar essence as the Father? The most extreme issue regarding the divinity of Jesus was of Arianism, which proposed that Jesus was the first created being and was like the Father in all things, but was inferior to Him. However, even Arianism, which was an insult to the eternal, uncreatedness of Jesus, did not deny His divinity.
There is little argument that the early church councils did serve to consolidate a political power base of different church leaders. These leaders were effectively politicians and were savvy on ways to make sure that their rivals were somehow isolated so that their beliefs – and by extension, their policies – did not extend beyond their borders. However, the question of the divinity of Jesus was not one of these issues at stake.