99 Truth Tracts

Was the Injil Changed at Nicea?

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Text Surah 3:78
There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from Allah," but it is not from Allah. It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it!

*Was the Injil Changed at Nicea?
*The Nicene Creed
*Who was Arius?
*What was Nicea?
*The Canons of Nicea
*An Impossible Situation

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*Was the Injil Changed at Nicea?

Today Muslims accuse Christians of changing their Scriptures. Instead of looking into the historical record to find out if this is the case or not, Muslims have simply said that it happened, not bothering to investigate. Christians respond, When did Christians change their Scriptures? Who changed them? How did they change them? It is appropriate to ask for dates, names and evidence if Muslims make such a serious charge.

Their easiest target has been the Council of Nicea. Ahmed Deedat, Muhammad 'ata ur-Rahim and other Muslim apologists have proposed that at this council the Pauline Church of the north not only destroyed other gospels, but subdued the rest of Christendom, eradicating the true teachings of Jesus, which were Islamic. By their reckoning Arius (a fourth century clergyman) was a proto-Muslim of sorts, holding to the oral teaching of Jesus against the "evil Pauline churches." Below is an example of the Islamic interpretation of Nicea.

In 325 A.D., the famous Council of Nicea was held. The doctrine of the Trinity was declared to be the official doctrine of the Pauline Church, and one of the consequences of this decision was that out of the three hundred or so Gospels extant at that time, four were chosen as the official Gospels of the Church. The remaining Gospels written in Hebrew should be destroyed. An edict was issued stating that anyone found in possession of an unauthorised Gospel would be put to death. This was the first well-organised attempt to remove all the records of Jesus' original teaching, whether in human beings or books, which contradicted the doctrine of the Trinity. (Muhammad 'ata ur-Rahim, Jesus, A Prophet of Islam, p. 40).

Although the Muslims hold this romantic view, the historical record will simply not support it. In order to properly understand Nicea we need to begin with Arius.

*The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of His Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth.

Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead.

And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost.

And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic church anathematizes them.

*Who was Arius?

Arius (AD 256-336) was a clergyman of Alexandria. He insisted that Jesus Christ, the Son, was created by God before anything else to be an instrument of the creation of the world. For him and his followers, Jesus was a demi-God, neither fully divine nor fully human, the highest of God's finite creatures.

"God was not always a Father....The Word of God was not always, but originated from things that were not....for the Son is a creature and a work." (Deposition of Arius 2)

Some Muslim apologists would infer that Arius held to the original teachings of Jesus and, hence, was a Muslim, just as Adam, Noah, David and other holy men before had been Muslims. Arius, however, was in no way a forerunner to Islam, which he would have condemned as heretical. He believed Jesus Christ (this "demi-god") was the Son of God who died for our sins on the cross and was resurrected on the third day. He did not teach the unity of God as Muslims teach it.

His teachings concerned many Church leaders. From the New Testament until then, Christians understood that Jesus was both fully man and fully God and it was important for them to declare what they had always believed. With the arrival of the emperor Constantine, a Christian, to the imperial throne, Church leaders from around the known world had the opportunity for the first time to meet and decide questions such as this one.

*What was Nicea?

The arguments between Arius and other leaders of the church became so stormy that Constantine called for a council, which he moderated. Over 250 bishops from both within and outside the Roman empire congregated to discuss the person of Jesus Christ. Although he presided, Constantine was not a central participant. He simply allowed the Church to carry out its business.

The bishops of the Church, when examining the issue of who Christ is, were very conservative. They did not intend to develop new ideas or doctrines. Their central question was, What did Jesus and the Apostles teach? After studying and discussing the Scriptures, the leaders of the Church virtually unanimously agreed that Arius was in error and drew up a statement of faith known as the Nicene Creed.

While assembled, Church leaders agreed on a number of canons (rules) by which to regulate the discipline of their churches. This was all that happened at the Council of Nicea. Neither the canon of Scripture nor the doctrine of the Trinity was an issue at the Council.

For as long as they could remember the church had only used the four Gospels, not because they voted upon them, but because the Apostles wrote and gave them to the Church in the first century. These same Gospels they read and cherished. Nicea had nothing to do with selecting or destroying Scriptures or other gospels.

*The Canons of Nicea


  1. ...eunuchs in the clergy.
  2. ...recent converts and sexual sin in the clergy
  3. ...living companions for clergy.
  4. ...the ordination of bishops.
  5. ...excommunication and synods to hear cases.
  6. ...jurisdictions for Alexandria, Rome and Antioch.
  7. ...honour to the province of Jerusalem.
  8. ...the assimilation of the Cathari into the Church.
  9. ...the removal of clergy.
  10. ...the removal of clergy.
  11. ...those who denied their faith in Christ.
  12. ...those returning to military service.
  13. ...communion for the dying.
  14. ...sins of new believers.
  15. ...clergy assignments.
  16. ...clergy assignments.
  17. ...clergy and usury.
  18. ...restrictions on the diaconate.
  19. ...the assimilation of Paulianists into the Church.
  20. ...prayer on Sunday and Pentecost.

*An Impossible Situation

The way Muslim apologists present the Council of Nicea is impossible. There is no evidence for the burning of Gospels at Nicea or any other time in the history of Christianity. Even if someone had the desire, the task would have been impossible. A conspiracy to change the Injil would require several steps:

  1. Gather every possible copy of the original Injil and burn them. By the fourth century the Injil was in the Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Latin, Gothic and Ethiopic languages. Christendom itself extended beyond these tongues into places as far removed as Britain, Armenia and India. There was no circle of people powerful enough to seize every single copy of the Scriptures in every church in the world to falsify the Injil. Unlike the early history of Islam, which had a caliphate, the Christian churches in the world were independent and under the jurisdiction of no human being. Many of these churches were outside the realm of the Roman empire. We have manuscripts and fragments from the Injil which are older than AD 325. Did the conspirators also forge these?

  2. Forcibly change the practices and beliefs of Christians from around the world. To make the new Injil accepted, the conspirators would have had to force believers to adopt new customs and ceremonies such as communion (symbolic of the crucifixion of Jesus), baptism (symbolic of the forgiveness of sins in Christ), Sunday worship (in honour of Christs resurrection) and religious belief in the Cross. What were the older ceremonies? Why do we have no record of them? How could anyone bring about such a dramatic change without any evidence of controversy?

  3. Remove all traces of the original Injil. Not only were there the copies of the Injil, but many writers had already quoted extensively from it in the first, second and third centuries. We know of over 32,000 of these quotations! If the conspirators were going to make their job perfect, they needed to find and destroy any writings that quoted from the original Injil, replacing them with quotations from the new and corrupt one.

This is all impossible. In the way Muslims would have us believe, a conspiracy against the original teachings of Jesus had to completely reconstruct a fraudulent history and convince the rest of the world it was true. The job was obviously so good and perfect that the only ones to discover it were a handful of Muslim scholars of the ninth and tenth centuries. Where is the evidence?


Muslims may not like the Council of Nicea. They may reject a creed which reflects the original Apostolic teaching. But let Muslims not say that it was here at Nicea the Scriptures were changed. The questions Christians pose to Muslims are still relevant. When were the Scriptures changed? Who changed them? How did they change them? Not one Muslim has been able to present evidence and they never will, as long as accuracy in history remains a value.

The Scriptures were not changed at Nicea. They were, as they always have been in Christendom, upheld and preserved.

[99 Truth Tracts]

This pamphlet was compiled by an interdenominational group of evangelical Christians concerned with Muslim-Christian dialogue.

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