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Poll
Question: What would need to happen for the two branches of Orthodoxy to fully reunite?
Nothing - 7 (7.8%)
The EOs would need to become OOs in all doctrinal points - 2 (2.2%)
The OOs would need to become EOs in all doctrinal points - 12 (13.3%)
Only issues regarding doctrine would need to be reconciled - 9 (10%)
Issues regarding saints recognition & condemnation as well as doctrinal problems would need to be reconciled - 16 (17.8%)
Several other issues not listed above need to be resolved - 2 (2.2%)
A council of all Orthodox bishops would need to be called to resolve all issues due to their complex nature & how many there are - 37 (41.1%)
They should not unite - 5 (5.6%)
Total Voters: 90

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Didymus
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« on: June 01, 2007, 06:08:59 AM »

You can change your vote if you change your mind.

Please give a reason for your vote even if it is only brief. Thank you.
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2007, 05:50:24 PM »

With the unanimous results that we need a council, my only question is, why isn't it happening?  All the patriarchs and most bishops live in luxury and have the means to organize and attend a council in any number of peaceful orthodox countries.  Im losing my respect for this generation of orthodox bishops as a whole because of this.

Blessings of the Holy Trinity
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2007, 01:28:36 AM »

With the unanimous results that we need a council, my only question is, why isn't it happening?  All the patriarchs and most bishops live in luxury and have the means to organize and attend a council in any number of peaceful orthodox countries.  Im losing my respect for this generation of orthodox bishops as a whole because of this.

Blessings of the Holy Trinity

I share in your concerns, but have great hope.  I do feel that either nothing is being done, we're slowly doing something, or we are waiting for a next generation of more anti-polemical people and clerics to do something.

A good friend of mine very harshly said "We're literally waiting for the monks of Mt. Athos to die so that we can achieve this unity."  It is indeed something insulting, but at the same time, what else can you do when, like HE Metropolitan Seraphim says, your arguments end on deaf ears, and nothing new from the polemical side is ever achieved except the same stubbornness and polemics they deceive themselves with?

I have great hope because people with some sense actually exist out there.

God bless.
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2007, 01:29:54 AM »

The ideal consummation of unity is that there is a council that should hold ecumenical status concluding with a liturgy sharing in the Eucharist by the two families of Orthodoxy.

God bless.
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2007, 06:06:33 AM »

As I ponder this recurring question, I must admit my response varies like the weather. At this point in time, today, even given my well-known reactionary views, I am of the opinion that this schism is a continuing great sin. I refuse to believe that Saints Flavian and Dioscoros right NOW approve of this shameful separation.
The liberal application of soap is in order:
Bishops (and the rest of us) need to wash our mouths with it.
Bishops (and the rest of us) need to wash out our ears with it.
Bishops (and the rest of us) need to wash each others feet.
"What would Jesus do?"

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Didymus
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2007, 08:46:40 AM »

Generally I tend to think the same. That is, that the most logical way to solve the schism is to simply call a council. However there are parts of the world where Orthodoxy is being persecuted even now. (Eritrea is the most obvious example where the Patriarch has been falsely replaced by the government.) This could cause some problems but nonetheless, I would very much like to see unity. How else can I pray, Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity...?
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2007, 01:15:54 PM »

I share in your concerns, but have great hope.  I do feel that either nothing is being done, we're slowly doing something, or we are waiting for a next generation of more anti-polemical people and clerics to do something.

A good friend of mine very harshly said "We're literally waiting for the monks of Mt. Athos to die so that we can achieve this unity."  It is indeed something insulting, but at the same time, what else can you do when, like HE Metropolitan Seraphim says, your arguments end on deaf ears, and nothing new from the polemical side is ever achieved except the same stubbornness and polemics they deceive themselves with?

I have great hope because people with some sense actually exist out there.

God bless.

Thank you.  I am EO and strongly support union but as frustrated as I get about the subject, there is a good argument for taking things slowly.  Mainly, if we move too fast, we'd probably end up with more complex schism since there would likely be large groups on both sides of the issue that would break off to maintain status quo in their respective historical positions.  So we'd have a strict chalcedonian church, a strict non-chalcedonian and then a large body of orthodox who are in communion.  It would not effectively heal the schism, just shift it around a bit.  This is just speculation on my part.

On the other hand, I do think the union is quietly moving forward step by step.  For example, there was a Coptic woman who was received into full communion in my AOC parish just through confession.

Bless
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2007, 10:44:34 PM »

That is true.  It's a fear I have that if "union" occurs, instead of one Orthodox body, we end up with three Orthodox bodies, adding one to the two we already have.

I see this happening with what I feel was a hasty and unclear union between ROCOR and MP, although I think the split goes along with ROCOR.  Are there any dissenters in the MP?  I wonder...

Sometimes it makes me wonder about the whole emperical system.  Is it that hard to convene a council without an emperor or a leading bishopric figure?

As for looking into the rationality behind the oneness of the Orthodox Church, if anything, I figured many splits happened in the early church with pastoral concessions made at the end for peace, different from the hurling of excommunications thrown against one another.  One can say that among a 10 year period, men caused unnecessary schism.  While understandably this has been a 1500-year split, and councils were produced, I contemplated whether time was a factor to God, that would it make a difference if we were split for one second vs. 1500 years?  To God, who is above time, obviously it shouldn't make a difference.  It may make a difference to time-limited beings like us, but with God, we should be able to transcend things of creation.  Therefore, I think it's an unfortunate schism, but it surely does not make us "two Orthodox churches," but one, whether the split was long or short.

The miracle indeed as I see it is that preservation of the same Orthodox faith by two isolated bodies of Christianity.  Can you really say this is not a work of the Holy Spirit preserving our one Church?

God bless.
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2007, 11:03:37 PM »

Sometimes it makes me wonder about the whole emperical system.  Is it that hard to convene a council without an emperor or a leading bishopric figure?

As for looking into the rationality behind the oneness of the Orthodox Church, if anything, I figured many splits happened in the early church with pastoral concessions made at the end for peace, different from the hurling of excommunications thrown against one another.  One can say that among a 10 year period, men caused unnecessary schism.  While understandably this has been a 1500-year split, and councils were produced, I contemplated whether time was a factor to God, that would it make a difference if we were split for one second vs. 1500 years?  To God, who is above time, obviously it shouldn't make a difference.  It may make a difference to time-limited beings like us, but with God, we should be able to transcend things of creation.  Therefore, I think it's an unfortunate schism, but it surely does not make us "two Orthodox churches," but one, whether the split was long or short.

The miracle indeed as I see it is that preservation of the same Orthodox faith by two isolated bodies of Christianity.  Can you really say this is not a work of the Holy Spirit preserving our one Church?

God bless.
Thanks again Minasoliman

I personally don't believe there is an external system that is a reliable material, intellectual and formal authority in the church.  Not conciliarism, not bibleism, not papalism.  The ultimate authority on the church is the Holy Spirit.  One of my favorite modern Romanian Orthodox writers, Dimitru Staniloae defines "Tradition" as "The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the people".   So that being said, I strongly agree that both churches reflect the preservation of the Holy Spirit and are therefore already One.  One in Creed, one in organic koinonia and one in Spirit.  Mind, body, Spirit.  This is clear to me.  I respect anyone who doesnt agree since they have a right to their own private theologoumena.

Im curious, would an EO ever be received into an OO parish by mere confession honoring their prior baptism/chrismation?
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2007, 11:21:28 PM »

To my knowledge some OO's do (at least the Indian Orthodox Church and maybe the Armenians, not sure).  In the Coptic Church we chrismate the EOs, but we don't baptize.  HOWEVER, this can be misunderstood as the Copts seeing the EO's as heterodox.  In fact, to the Coptic Church, baptism is rejected if they are of Protestant or Roman Catholic origin, and there is no theology of "correcting it" with Chrismation.

So, when the Coptic Church says we accept the baptism of the Eastern Orthodox, it means much more than going right to Chrismation.  She actually accepts this most vital sacrament as a valid and Orthodox one, as if it was a Coptic baptism that was done.  I guess you can say it's equivalent to when someone doesn't chrismate you if you go from OO to EO.

So, if anything understand that the Coptic Church (and many if not most Coptic bishops) believe we are one Orthodox Church.

God bless.
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2007, 11:42:09 PM »

That's very unfortunate that the Coptic church chrismates EOs even these days.  On the other hand, didnt Coptics rebaptize EOs as policy up until fairly recently?  If so then it reflects positive movement.
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2007, 10:47:54 AM »

I believe you will find that Roman Catholics are now not rebaptised by Coptics in some parts of the world.

Eastern Orthodox Christians used to be rebaptised but are no longer.

Protestants must be baptised as they have never been even if they were Anglicans.
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2007, 03:17:12 PM »

I wasn't sure how to vote.  Do the Oriental Orthodox accept the authority of all seven Ecumenical Councils?
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2007, 08:04:06 PM »

We only accept the authority of the three Ecumenical Councils.  We don't accept Chalcedon as being ecumenical.
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2007, 10:00:15 PM »

Where's the choice that states, "I'm not sure how it's to be done, but I'm quite convinced that they should reunite!"  Huh
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2007, 12:16:41 PM »

I voted that only issues regarding doctrine would need to be reconciled. I think all of our effort toward unity should be directed toward unity with the OO. We have so much more in common with them. And our ecclesiology is very similiar.
Together, eastern Christianity would be a powerful witness to the whole world since most know very little about the eastern Christian viewpoint. Many western Christians have left their faith because they are looking for what we have only they look for it in all the wrong places (hinduism, buddism, etc).

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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2007, 06:07:48 PM »

I do not give man enough power to divide the Holy Church; not even Idealistically.

We have NO power over division or unity of the True Church of Christ. Christs chuch is united and filled with the peace He gave it. NOT as the world gives. He filled it with the Holy Spirit so that it may not stumble on earth but have full power to exist in spirit and in truth for the community of true believers ( the Christians) until he returns.

Christ gave it to us for our protection not for our abuses over things we are not going to (nor or we able) to understand.
For which we only divide ourselves NOT HIS CHURCH.

If WE understood the most basic tenents of God we would'nt be divided at all.

The evidence of mans spiritual ignorants is present in his pride.

We have divisions over divisions beyond the the space of the Holy Church among the estranged; not to mention in The Holy Church among the orthodox. Each revisionist boasts having the "proper" clarity...correctness....Blessing.
 
Ingnorant...

RC boast absolute authority and  so on.

Ignorant....

One nature vs two nature and whatever else we have created among us in the Holy CHurch to divide us.

Ignorant....

I am just as as ignorant because....

I beileve that WE are required to first love each other ABOVE all else.
I beleive we are required to secondly bear our cross and follow the commandments of Christ.
I beleive that we are to preach and teach the Holy Gosple to all the world.
I believe that we are to repent (truely and earnestly repent) for our many sins (like creating and yet even worse maintaining divisions among each other) and only after such repentance and achieving absolution we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ.
I believe that if we do all these things with true fasting and fervent prayer God will lift us up over that which causes us to trip and fall.

Pride is a stumbling block of great size.

We each love "our" seperate traditions more than we love each other.

We already have all that we need until His second coming (thanks to Christ alone). We hsve no need for anything else.

We all know this is true. So than what are we looking for?

Who has our holy fathers arguing over doctrine and tradition instead of leaping out to extend love and charity to each other and the needy of the world?

And how is it that they contniue with this un-Christ-like isolation for all these many centuries?

Is it Christs love that has caused this? or mans pride?


Its just like I read some place: "the Church was not waiting for martin luther to arrive before it could know its destiny"

Just the same; the Church does not need you or me...WE need it.

Without it WE ALL  suffer EO and OO , RC and all others who are estranged.

Christ said he is coming back and retrieve His Church. I can not imagine that He will be concerned about EO or OO or whatever else "we" have invented in His Holy name.

He already knows where His church is and who's in it without need for the prefixes and titles we all gravitate to (IE: Ethiopian Church, Greek Church, Coptic Church, Bulgarian Church or EO , OO etc)

We msut get back on that "straight" "narrow" path.

Love is the only way thier; and where pride is love will not enter without taking the place of the pride all together.

I Love you all.

Pray for me.
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2007, 12:59:15 AM »

Eugenio, I think you would probably come under this one: 'Several other issues not listed above need to be resolved'.

St. Christopher, we Oriental Orthodox never accepted Chalcedon and do not consider it ecumenical. We were not invited to any others thereafter (except Florence if you want to count it). That being said, we agree with the use of icons. For more on this please see the links on this site: http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Agreed_Official_Statements_on_Christology_with_the_Catholic_and_Eastern_Orthodox_Churches
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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2007, 08:23:38 PM »

"Many western Christians have left their faith because they are looking for what we have only they look for it in all the wrong places (hinduism, buddism, etc)."
Tamara
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I was raised a Protestant.  I spent MANY years looking into eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.

Thank God that He finally showed me:
Christianity is an EASTERN religion!

The moment I encountered Orthodox Christianity was the day I lost all interest in non-Christian eastern religions.

Ironically, when I tell Hindus and Buddhists about Orthodoxy they are usually more interested than most Protestants.
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« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2007, 09:07:04 PM »

Ever since I became aware of the situation between OO and EO, especially after learning about all the recent moves towards reunification... I have often thought:

A classic "battle" strategy is to only reveal half your forces/power at once.
You send half your troops into battle, while the other half are hiding behind the nearest hill.

Then, just when things are looking bad, you send in your "reinforcements."

You allow the enemy to assume you are only half as strong as you really are... so that the enemy will plan their evil strategy around this assumption.  But in the heat of battle you release your "hidden power" and take the enemy by surprise.

This metaphor seems to fit perfectly with the OO and EO situation.  We've always been truly one Body, but the world has always seen us (on the surface) to be two separate "powers."  However, just when modern technology opens up global communication... the two seemingly "separate" forces of the Original Church/Tradition come to the surface as one united power... ready to do battle with the anti-christ.

May God be praised!
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« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2007, 09:24:36 PM »

"Many western Christians have left their faith because they are looking for what we have only they look for it in all the wrong places (hinduism, buddism, etc)."
Tamara
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There's me!  Grin

I was raised a Protestant.  I spent MANY years looking into eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.

Thank God that He finally showed me:
Christianity is an EASTERN religion!

The moment I encountered Orthodox Christianity was the day I lost all interest in non-Christian eastern religions.

Ironically, when I tell Hindus and Buddhists about Orthodoxy they are usually more interested than most Protestants.

Seraphim,

It is so interesting you confirmed my belief because a Russian hieromonk also shared with me the story of another former Protestant who was studying Buddism over 20 years ago. His Orthodox friends at college slowly began sharing Orthodoxy with him by giving him an icon, a book on Orthodoxy, a tape of Orthodox chants etc. He became intrigued so they took him to church at the Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco (St. John Maximovitch's resting place). They introduced him to one of the hieromonks who had been made aware of this young man's intentions to become a buddist. The hieromonk also knew the young man's friends had given him "the treatment" (Orthodox gifts mentioned above.) So the hieromonk said to him,"I hear you are studying to become a Buddist young man." The young man replied,"Yes. I am searching for enlightenment."
The hieromonk responded,"Young man, you have experienced enlightenment by attending the Divine Liturgy today and if you continue to visit you will find the enlightenment you search for in our Savior, Jesus Christ." With those few sentences the hieromonk had forever changed the young man's vision of enlightenment because whenever he thought of this word he saw the face of Christ. Years later this young man, who is now a hieromonk in the Russian Orthodox Church, shared this story at the funeral of the wise hieromonk who knew what to say to him at turning point in his life.

God bless you Seraphim and welcome home to your mother the Church who has been patiently waiting for you!
in Christ, Tamara
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« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2007, 03:23:58 AM »

Some questions I've been asking myself today:

  • Do the EO and OO really express the same faith using different language, or do the linguistic differences betray an underlying disunity in faith?
  • Is it possible to reject the dogmatic language of Chalcedon without rejecting the faith of Chalcedon?
  • What makes an Ecumenical Council authoritative?  The backing of the now defunct Byzantine Empire?  The presence of bishops from the entire Orthodox Christian world, something that was clearly NOT the case even for Ephesus I?  Embrace (sometimes years later) by the catholic consciousness of the Church?
  • If we recognize an Ecumenical Council as authoritative and binding, is it not a serious breach of Church discipline to embrace as Orthodox those who reject one or more of these councils as the OO reject the last four?

I made a sacred vow at my Chrismation to uphold the faith of all Seven Ecumenical Councils, and I intend to keep this vow by the grace of God.  Yet at the same time I long for and will work ardently for visible unity between the EO and OO that we all may be one in Christ Jesus.  If I can see reunion possible without compromising any of my faith in Chalcedon and the later Ecumenical Councils, then I will wholeheartedly support such reunion.  Maybe that's possible now, maybe not.  I just don't know, but I would certainly like to find out.
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« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2007, 03:59:56 AM »

Quote
Is it possible to reject the dogmatic language of Chalcedon without rejecting the faith of Chalcedon?

This question arises from a flawed teleogical approach to history, whereby you automatically identify and source a particular type of faith, with and in, respectively, that Council, in turn conceiving of such a faith as being contingent upon that Council. I can thus understand why the situation appears paradoxical to you, but I insist that in order for you to understand why, from our perspective, the way you've constructed that question is quite loaded, you are going to have to question your entire historical methodology.

To better address this issue, you will need to define in unequivocal terms what the "faith of Chalcedon" is. Ofcourse, this would involve an explanation of the Chalcedonian Creed of Faith as opposed to a reiteration of its terms (i.e. responding by stating that the faith of Chalcedon is that Christ is "in two natures" is obviously not going to help--you need to explain what that means).

Quote
What makes an Ecumenical Council authoritative?  The backing of the now defunct Byzantine Empire?  The presence of bishops from the entire Orthodox Christian world, something that was clearly NOT the case even for Ephesus I?  Embrace (sometimes years later) by the catholic consciousness of the Church?

I think the latter is the defining element. An Ecumenical Council is one that unites and strengthens the Church in the True Faith. From our perspective, Chalcedon did not do that; in fact, it did the exact converse, hence today's situation.

However, given that we receive the widely held interpretation of Chalcedon post-Constantinople 553 as Orthodox and reflective of the Faith held by the Fathers, we are willing to accept it as a local Council of the Byzantine tradition. I have yet to hear, however, any reasonable and objective justification as to why we should regard it as anything more. We have our own authorities which provide the basis for our Christological Faith which the EO Church has today received as being reflective of her own.
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« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2007, 11:54:55 AM »

I would really like to see this discussion moved to the Private Forums section. This not because i wish to wax polemical, but so that the posters may be less constrained in their respective explanations.

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« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2007, 12:56:49 PM »

The problem with moving this to the private forum is that a lot of people who don't belong to that forum will not be able to read this interesting thread.  Also, of course, we don't really move threads there until they get a bit rough and so far everyone here has been really polite.

What I would like to do is invite those who are currently posting on this thread to start a new thread in the private forum on this topic if they are feeling constrained here and would like to express themselves more freely there.
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« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2007, 01:28:51 PM »

2Tim 2:3-15

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying:
   If we died with him,
       we will also live with him;
    if we endure,
       we will also reign with him.
   If we disown him,
       he will also disown us;
    if we are faithless,
       he will remain faithful,
       for he cannot disown himself. Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.


It seems clear from the above epistle that if we simply obey God then we would avoid conflicts with each other.
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« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2007, 03:29:43 PM »

Tamara,

Thank you.  I've longed for the True Church ever since I was a young child.  My parents went through many denominations.  Each time we went somewhere new, there was always a glimmer of hope that maybe we would find the REAL DEAL.  Eventually my parents were willing to "just settle for something comfortable and up-beat."

I have vague memories from as early as 3 years old being in church... wanting to connect with God so much.  But each passing year, as my intellect developed, I could understand more and more that there was something fundamentally missing... the entire "system" seemed to be flawed.

It is interesting... ever since my Baptism so many very early childhood memories have come back.  When I look at icons, they seem so familiar to my childhood mind.  Often times when I'm in an Orthodox church at night, when I look at the icons softly lit by the lampadas, it seems I can remember lying in my crib as an infant.

Anyway, yes I am very thankful for finding the True Church of Christ.

That was a beautiful story about the Buddhist (or almost-Buddhist)... it seems there are a lot of Orthodox who converted from Buddhism (my priest's wife being one).

It doesn't matter where you come from... if you are looking for the Truth, you know it when you see it!

God bless all
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« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2007, 04:38:55 PM »

Seraphim

Beautiful story.

I am very happy that you found your way home.

Always remember your blessing. So many people, the mass multitude will never find what you have found. Most will not even find the road that leads them their. Even sadder is that some people do not care to find what you have. Even worse than that is the huge multitude that are in the myriad faiths which believe that they have what you have found.

Even more than that we must pray for those of us who are in the orthodox faith and feel set apart from the rest of the world who are lost. To behave or feel 'puffed up' as the scripture describes is a serious sin. We orthodox must begin to resist the sense of 'pedigree and holiness'. We must remian humble servants, willing to give to anyone what we have that will help them in any way to see the truth of faith in the church. We must remember that we are first useless and sinful in all our ways; undeserving of Gods grace and hope. We are and abject people.

Our crooked walk in our daily lives are fillled with our contrary actions and lack of real faith.

The Holiness and pedigree which is in the Holy Church is revealed by the liturgy, and the holy scriptures and the holy rightious acts as taught to us by the Saints and our holy fathers. These are where the power (virtue) of the true faith is revealed.

Since we know that we are crooked in our walk we must than rely heavily on fervant prayers and fasting, reading of the scriptures and obstaining from foolish gatherings, activities and customs (especially the customs that are masquerading as "Christian") that create confusion and or hostility and or deny the glory of Jesus Christ and His Holy Church undivided, we must mind our business, obey the commandments of God in everything and obove all this love each other without any condition (Chalcedon is not a breach of the love we are to have for each other which we are commanded by Christ our Lord and savior to observe amongst each other above ALL THINGS. In that love...Christs love we are ONE HOLY CHURCH and have always been. if thats not true than we are all doomed and always have been...no survivers).

If we although crooked in our walk keep true to these things we might win souls to Christ by the virtue others see in our actions....our lives.

Yes!... performing holy rites (fastings, structured prayers, obstainance, devotions, alms, Holy communion etc..) as prescribed by the Holy Church imperils our sin (This is the key benefit of the orthodox faith). Our sin is not annulled but has no power to condem us.

What is meant by 'virtue' is "power" so that although our obomidible sins remain the virtue we gain from performing the holy rites as prescribed by the Holy orthodox church LIFTS us UP OVER them (liken to little, mini resurrections of our persons many times a day everyday) so that we do not trip and fall while in this world. But stand firmly like Christs Church on earth. Thus our sins can not convict us in this life with ferventness of faith experienced through observing the holy rites of the church. And if we do not fall in this life due to sin but are LIFTED UP do to virtue we may recieve the eternal, ultimate reward, the LIFTING of body and spirit or RESURRECTION into Gods heavenly kingdom when we are finished our time in this lost world. The virtue I speak of can not be found in us if we are simply walking crooked and have no desire to be holy. Going to church, being an orthodox, taking communion, observing holy days is not enough if these wonderful and blessed rites are not grounded in complete humility. We must see ourselves as abject sinners in need of penance.

We cannot obtain virtue standing in our sins willingly without regard for our unjust acts.

Some people are claiming to be with Christ and are among His faithful but are living in lives where they freely observe fornication, lying, stealing, cheating, hating, you name it. They say that "god is merciful; he will fiorgive all sins". This is the rantings of the sorriful and the lost; who observe the ways of the world with more energy and lust then the rites of the true faith.

They praise college education and economic success before Godliness. These people observe every act that quenches the appitite for life in this world. They leave little time for God. The excuses they use are sad and unfortunate words indeed ie: "i can not fast because", "I cannot marry in the church because", "Its OK to live with my girl/boy friend because", I am getting a divorce because", I do not pray that much because". These are all sad words. They are real situations that anyone of us could find oursleves in (God forbid) but the point is that these people are stable in these situations. They comfortably accept the sinful and destructive condition they are in without virtue. Thus they keep falling and do not know why. I pray that they....we all get it before we take that last fall into hades.

The world denies our obvious strenghts but there are certain others who wil see our ableness and know that we are not capable of  our gain and that it is a holy act of the Spirit of truth that is keeping us up. Among these certain others (although they may not utter a word) will be some who will want to share in what is "special" about us (so they think) something that they "can not put their finger on". And if we can win souls to Christ we can annul a multitude of sins from our own abject selves. Yes annul! Christ said "by this (saving souls) you will heal a multitude of sins". Annul in my usage is to mean 'heal' which means that such sins wil not be counted at judgement.

We must pray for those who are lost and those who are estranged from the ancient church of Christ. Althought many worship in their own inventive ways; we know that 'how' we are to worship is already established by God. The scripture says "worship God in spirit and in truth". And with that we know that where there is spirit therein is the essence of virtue or power and where their is truth thier is steadfastness, firmness, soulfulness. Where their is "truth" every wonder abounds. the mind soars, the spirit climbs, the heart races, the mind is at awe. We thus stretch out our hands in submission, bow down to the floor, kiss the ground, kiss the walls, kiss the hand, stand straight, remian silent, shed tears of over joy, anything to get us closer to that which we can not make ourselves or know it is "truth" and we are subject to it. ONLY  'truth' can cause this. Truth is boundless. These are the character of the Holy orthodox church.

I know this was very long winded and off the subject of this thread largely. But I was compelled to express this perspective.

Welcome home Seraphim!!!

God Bless you

Your servant
Deacon Amde

PS:
Hello Tamara!
Hope all is well with you.
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« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2007, 05:50:05 PM »

Seraphim

Beautiful story.

I am very happy that you found your way home.

Always remember your blessing. So many people, the mass multitude will never find what you have found. Most will not even find the road that leads them their. Even sadder is that some people do not care find what you have. Even worse than that is the huge multitude that are in the myriad faiths which believe that they have what you have found.

We must pray for those who are lost and those who are estranged from the ancient church of Christ.

Welcome home!!!

God Bless you

Your servant
Deacon Amde

PS:
Hello Tamara!
Hope all is well with you.


Dear Deacon Amde,

I am doing very well this week. Monday I was anointed with holy oil that was mixture of oil from St. John's tomb and an oil taken from a miraculous weeping icon of the Theotokos. The scent of that oil was the most fragrant scent I have ever whiffed in my whole life. The hieromonk said the scent comes from the weeping icon. I felt light as a feather the whole day!

 Smiley Tamara

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« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2007, 05:52:18 PM »

Tamara,

Thank you.  I've longed for the True Church ever since I was a young child.  My parents went through many denominations.  Each time we went somewhere new, there was always a glimmer of hope that maybe we would find the REAL DEAL.  Eventually my parents were willing to "just settle for something comfortable and up-beat."

I have vague memories from as early as 3 years old being in church... wanting to connect with God so much.  But each passing year, as my intellect developed, I could understand more and more that there was something fundamentally missing... the entire "system" seemed to be flawed.

It is interesting... ever since my Baptism so many very early childhood memories have come back.  When I look at icons, they seem so familiar to my childhood mind.  Often times when I'm in an Orthodox church at night, when I look at the icons softly lit by the lampadas, it seems I can remember lying in my crib as an infant.

Anyway, yes I am very thankful for finding the True Church of Christ.

That was a beautiful story about the Buddhist (or almost-Buddhist)... it seems there are a lot of Orthodox who converted from Buddhism (my priest's wife being one).

It doesn't matter where you come from... if you are looking for the Truth, you know it when you see it!

God bless all

Dear Seraphim, I concur with the deacon. Your story is a beautiful one. Thank you for sharing it. Tamara
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« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2007, 07:01:17 PM »

Dear Deacon Amde,

I am doing very well this week. Monday I was anointed with holy oil that was mixture of oil from St. John's tomb and an oil taken from a miraculous weeping icon of the Theotokos. The scent of that oil was the most fragrant scent I have ever whiffed in my whole life. The hieromonk said the scent comes from the weeping icon. I felt light as a feather the whole day!

 Smiley Tamara




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I edited my last post that you quoted. Please read it.

I am happy that you received the blessing of the Holy oil.

I recommnde that you do daily prayers to the Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God top intercede for seven days or more (from the date of your receiving) or until you can no longer smell it on you (real or imagined).

When I recieved the Holy oil during the veneration of a most holy icon of the Theotokis in a Russian Orthodox Church in NYC it took  a few months before I could not smell it.

The reality of my experience scares me to this day.

I was in a spiritual state that I still can not fully describe.

God bless you

Your servant
Deacon Amde
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« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2007, 10:08:54 PM »

Quote
Is it possible to reject the dogmatic language of Chalcedon without rejecting the faith of Chalcedon?

This question arises from a flawed teleogical approach to history, whereby you automatically identify and source a particular type of faith, with and in, respectively, that Council, in turn conceiving of such a faith as being contingent upon that Council. I can thus understand why the situation appears paradoxical to you, but I insist that in order for you to understand why, from our perspective, the way you've constructed that question is quite loaded, you are going to have to question your entire historical methodology.

You're probably right.

Quote
To better address this issue, you will need to define in unequivocal terms what the "faith of Chalcedon" is. Ofcourse, this would involve an explanation of the Chalcedonian Creed of Faith as opposed to a reiteration of its terms (i.e. responding by stating that the faith of Chalcedon is that Christ is "in two natures" is obviously not going to help--you need to
explain what that means).

I try not to grow too attached to the language we use to communicate truths of Divine Revelation, for our language can only express the Sacred Mystery of our salvation in an imprecise way.  I see the possibility that we can use different terminology yet mean exactly the same things.  In light of this, I understand the "faith of Chalcedon" to be the faith underlying the council's dogmatic proclamation, not the proclamation itself.  I believe the "faith of Chalcedon" to be that Christian faith that existed before Chalcedon and merely draws an authoritative articulation, though not necessarily the only one, in the dogmatic language of Chalcedon.  I don't believe language different from that used in Chalcedon and beyond is necessarily to be rejected as heretical; I would just condemn any language contradictory to the language of Chalcedon.  Such contradiction I do not presently see in traditional OO language.


Quote
Quote
What makes an Ecumenical Council authoritative?  The backing of the now defunct Byzantine Empire?  The presence of bishops from the entire Orthodox Christian world, something that was clearly NOT the case even for Ephesus I?  Embrace (sometimes years later) by the catholic consciousness of the Church?

I think the latter is the defining element.

As do I.

Quote
An Ecumenical Council is one that unites and strengthens the Church in the True Faith. From our perspective, Chalcedon did not do that; in fact, it did the exact converse, hence today's situation.

I can see this as a valid complaint.

Quote
However, given that we receive the widely held interpretation of Chalcedon post-Constantinople 553 as Orthodox and reflective of the Faith held by the Fathers, we are willing to accept it as a local Council of the Byzantine tradition. I have yet to hear, however, any reasonable and objective justification as to why we should regard it as anything more. We have our own authorities which provide the basis for our Christological Faith which the EO Church has today received as being reflective of her own.

To me, the Council of Chalcedon draws its ecumenical authority solely from the truth of the faith it articulates--the dogmatic proclamation of the Great Council is totally consistent with the faith of the Apostles, the earliest Fathers, and the first three Great Councils.  The truth of the Creed of Chalcedon is not dependent on any infallible authority one may see intrinsic within the Council.  I do recognize that as a mere synod of bishops, Chalcedon represented almost exclusively the Church in the Byzantine Empire and was thus influenced by Byzantine politics that those on the geographical fringes of the Empire just wouldn't consider all that important.  For instance, Pope St. Leo, he whose Tome provided much of the foundation for the Chalcedonian Creed, actually vetoed Constantinople's claims to equality with Rome and the resulting Canon 28.  In response to this veto, I understand that the Byzantine Church removed this canon from the records of the council only to re-add it to the record many years later.  One should also note that the Latin Church really participated very little in the proceedings of the latter four Ecumenical Councils, that the Roman Church even today considers them ecumenical almost solely because they were ratified by the papacy (maybe this is an oversimplification).
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« Reply #32 on: June 13, 2007, 10:15:50 PM »

I found very interesting and germane to this discussion the following articles written by Fr. John Romanides in 1994:

http://www.orthodoxunity.org/article05.html

http://www.orthodoxunity.org/article06.html

I don't have the space nor the time to type out these whole articles, so I'll just summarize them as well as I can.  In the first article, Fr. John examines the mutual excommunications of Pope Leo I of Rome and Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria.  The basic thesis Fr. John defends is that Pope Leo excommunicated Pope Dioscorus for the latter's support of the Monophysite heretic Eutyches, and Pope Dioscorus excommunicated Pope Leo for Leo's support of the Nestorian heretic Theodoret.  Dioscorus eventually grew fully aware of Eutyches's heresy and condemned the heretic himself, whereas Leo was most likely unaware of Theodoret's heresy and saw no reason for Theodoret's exclusion from the Council of Chalcedon.  Considering that Pope Leo had already condemned Nestorius for his heresy, he most likely would not have supported Theodoret as he did if he had known that Theodoret was a follower of Nestorius.  Fr. John also points out in his article that the Council of Chalcedon excommunicated Pope Dioscorus not for heresy but for his role in leading (dominating, many would say) the "Robber Synod" of 449 and for his refusal to stand before the Chalcedonian Council to explain his excommunication of the Pope of Rome.


In the second article, as also in the first, Fr. John points out some interesting facts about Chalcedon that I think bear repeating.

  • The Council had a select committee compare the Tome of Leo against the Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril of Alexandria to verify that the former did indeed agree with the latter.  Contrary to what many claim, Chalcedon did not repudiate the Twelve Chapters.
  • St. Cyril agreed that the language of Chalcedon was consistent with the language of his own Christology.
  • Tying the language of the Christological debates to the langauge of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, Chalcedon connected the use of the word physis to the Nicene use of the word ousia, while Alexandria tied physis to the word hypostasis; therefore, just as EO don't speak in terms of two hypostases in Christ (Nestorianism), so OO don't speak of one ousia of the Word incarnate (Eutychianism).  I think if we were to limit our discussion solely to the words ousia and hypostasis as these were used in the Trinitarian debates, EO and OO would probably both agree that the ousia of God and the ousia of Man are perfectly united in the one hypostasis of Christ the Word incarnate.
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« Reply #33 on: June 13, 2007, 10:22:43 PM »

The problem with moving this to the private forum is that a lot of people who don't belong to that forum will not be able to read this interesting thread.  Also, of course, we don't really move threads there until they get a bit rough and so far everyone here has been really polite.
Thank you.

Quote
What I would like to do is invite those who are currently posting on this thread to start a new thread in the private forum on this topic if they are feeling constrained here and would like to express themselves more freely there.
I am quite impressed by how polite the responses to my probing inquiries have been.  Since I harbor no intent whatsoever of persuading anyone here to accept my Chalcedonian point of view, I feel not the least bit constrained on this thread and am totally comfortable continuing to express my thoughts as I have.
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« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2007, 12:55:05 AM »

Thank you.
I am quite impressed by how polite the responses to my probing inquiries have been. 

Peter,

All of my experiences with OO friends over the years have taught me they are very polite, serious, devout Christians.
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« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2007, 01:29:11 AM »

Peter,

All of my experiences with OO friends over the years have taught me they are very polite, serious, devout Christians.
Much like the Eritrean family that used to worship regularly with my OCA parish until an Eritrean church opened its doors here in town.  They still come to visit us once in a while.  Very devout family.  I miss seeing them.  Cry
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« Reply #36 on: June 14, 2007, 01:55:36 AM »

Much like the Eritrean family that used to worship regularly with my OCA parish until an Eritrean church opened its doors here in town.  They still come to visit us once in a while.  Very devout family.  I miss seeing them.  Cry

We have an elderly Eritrean lady who comes often to our parish full of American newbies. After Divine Liturgy, she slowly (she appears to have arthritis) makes her way around the whole church, kneeling down in front of each icon, saying a prayer to each saint in her bare feet. She is quite an example for all of us.
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« Reply #37 on: June 14, 2007, 09:16:43 AM »

I try not to grow too attached to the language we use to communicate truths of Divine Revelation, for our language can only express the Sacred Mystery of our salvation in an imprecise way.  I see the possibility that we can use different terminology yet mean exactly the same things.  In light of this, I understand the "faith of Chalcedon" to be the faith underlying the council's dogmatic proclamation, not the proclamation itself.  I believe the "faith of Chalcedon" to be that Christian faith that existed before Chalcedon and merely draws an authoritative articulation, though not necessarily the only one, in the dogmatic language of Chalcedon.  I don't believe language different from that used in Chalcedon and beyond is necessarily to be rejected as heretical; I would just condemn any language contradictory to the language of Chalcedon.  Such contradiction I do not presently see in traditional OO language.

I agree with your general take on the role and significance of language. There is one point that I would like to emphasise if I may:

1) It must be borne in mind that, from the OO perspective, the "faith of Chalcedon", as communicated by EO heirarchs and theologians, and hence as received and accepted by OO heirarchs and theologians, according to the terms of the Mutual Agreements of the Joint Commission, is indeed the true Apostolic and Orthodox Faith, but it is one we have always held in spite of, nay, in opposition to Chalcedon (from our perspective that is!). It thus follows that, as far as we are concerned, that very true Apostolic and Orthodox Faith is only the "faith of Chalcedon" insofar as we deem the recently understood and accepted EO interpretation of the decrees of Chalcedon to be in conformity with that faith, and not in the sense that you, as an EO, would regard it the "faith of Chalcedon" i.e. in the sense that Chalcedon is the sole and authoritative source and reason for that faith.

Quote
To me, the Council of Chalcedon draws its ecumenical authority solely from the truth of the faith it articulates

But are not local Synods also capable of articulating the true Faith?

As I mentioned earlier, the consensus of our heirarchs respect the findings of the Joint Commission, and concede that one can maintain Orthodox Christology whilst upholding Chalcedon. This is why, rather than insisting that Chalcedonians discard Chalcedon all together, we are willing to accept it as a local Synod pertinent to the Byzantine tradition.

Another point to consider is the fact that, hand in hand with the OO concession that one can maintain Orthodox Christology whilst upholding Chalcedon, is a similar concession from the EO's that one can maintain Orthodox Christology whilst upholding Ephesus 449, given the understanding that that Synod's insistence on one nature was not heretical (but rather a Cyrillian safeguard of the unity of Christ) and that Eutyches was exonerated on account of an Orthodox confession of Faith. In this sense, that Synod also articulates the true faith, yet we are not demanding that it be accepted as an Ecumenical Council. We believe there are other factors unique to determining an Ecumenical Council, but from our perspective those factors, whilst common to the three Councils that we do in fact uphold as Ecumenical, are not evident in any of the latter Councils that the EO regard as Ecumenical.

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I found very interesting and germane to this discussion the following articles written by Fr. John Romanides in 1994:

http://www.orthodoxunity.org/article05.html

http://www.orthodoxunity.org/article06.html

These articles are indeed very balanced and well thought out.

I believe your summary of its essential points to be quite fair. I personally would've highlighted Fr. Romanides' observation that Ephesus 449's dogmatic insistence on the one nature formula was neither the product of heresy, arrogance, political intrigue, or narrow theological vision, but rather it was the product of a legitimate and warranted pastoral concern for the way in which the two nature formula and the Formulary were being abused by Theodoret's "crypto-Nestorian" movement.

Furthermore, there are a few points of his that you have summarised which we OO's would deem in need of necessary qualification:

Quote
Dioscorus eventually grew fully aware of Eutyches's heresy and condemned the heretic himself, whereas Leo was most likely unaware of Theodoret's heresy and saw no reason for Theodoret's exclusion from the Council of Chalcedon.

However, Pope Leo of Rome was fully aware that Theodoret had not yet anathematised Nestorius, and such was clearly implied in a letter written to Theodoret subsequent to Chalcedon. The OO's--being fully aware of Theodoret's refusal to anathematise Nestorius, his militant opposition to St. Cyril and Ephesus 431, and his abuse of two nature terminology--were scandalised by the fact Leo of Rome encroached his canonical authority by allowing Theodoret to return from where he had been exiled by Ephesus 449 (on account of the above facts pertaining to his Nestorian activities), in order to attend Chalcedon. When Abba Dioscoros attended Chalcedon and saw Theodoret, he proclaimed: "Why should Cyril be ejected?" In not recognising Ephesus 449's ex-communication of Theodoret (at least until properly investigating that ex-communication), and allowing him to attend Chalcedon nevertheless, the Council was, in the eyes of the OO's, in turn rejecting St. Cyril.

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Fr. John also points out in his article that the Council of Chalcedon excommunicated Pope Dioscorus not for heresy but for his role in leading (dominating, many would say) the "Robber Synod" of 449


That is true, though we OO's are yet to find anything in his canonical presidency of Ephesus 449 that would deem him worthy of ex-communication. As for claims of Abba Dioscoros "dominating" Ephesus 449, this is also an unfounded charge in our opinion.

One of the great issues we OO's have with Chalcedon, apart from matters pertaining to faith and terminology, is its treatment of our Patriarch. From our perspective he was the persecuted victim of an agenda to devalue his See and authority, and no wrongdoing on his behalf was ever proven.

On a sidenote, we find the appellation "Robber Synod" to be quite offensive. It was a rhetorical device coined by Leo of Rome, probably inspired by his disdain for the Council which probably arose from his sense that it undermined (or "robbed", hence the title "Robber Synod") him of his supreme authority in its non-consideration of his Tome in the course of its judgments.

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St. Cyril agreed that the language of Chalcedon was consistent with the language of his own Christology.

We would contend that such an interpretation is not viable in the immediate fifth century context.

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I am quite impressed by how polite the responses to my probing inquiries have been.  Since I harbor no intent whatsoever of persuading anyone here to accept my Chalcedonian point of view, I feel not the least bit constrained on this thread and am totally comfortable continuing to express my thoughts as I have.

I likewise have no intent of promoting a converse persuasion. This is neither a debate nor a competition; I only aim to foster a sense of appreciation of the OO perspective on OO terms, and ultimately ease any unwarranted tension that such matters may potentially initiate between EO and OO brethren, in order that we can each be better witnesses to the Orthodox faith without ever being a stumbling block to one another.

I appreciate your humility and genuineness throughout this discussion.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 09:27:12 AM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #38 on: June 14, 2007, 10:57:53 AM »

  • St. Cyril agreed that the language of Chalcedon was consistent with the language of his own Christology.


I'm confused.  Was St. Cyril even alive at the time of Chalcedon?
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« Reply #39 on: June 14, 2007, 12:04:04 PM »


I'm confused.  Was St. Cyril even alive at the time of Chalcedon?

If I'm not mistaken, I think Peter like any Chalcedonian considers the Formulary of Union between St. Cyril and John of Antioch the language of Chalcedon.

In any case, this letter is highly disputed since OO's have interpreted it differently from the Chalcedonians, since it did not include "in" two natures.

God bless.
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« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2007, 12:38:10 AM »


I'm confused.  Was St. Cyril even alive at the time of Chalcedon?
Mea culpa. Embarrassed St. Cyril died in 444, seven years before Chalcedon.  I was ignorant of this fact until after my last post on this thread.
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« Reply #41 on: June 15, 2007, 12:43:39 AM »

If I'm not mistaken, I think Peter like any Chalcedonian considers the Formulary of Union between St. Cyril and John of Antioch the language of Chalcedon.

In any case, this letter is highly disputed since OO's have interpreted it differently from the Chalcedonians, since it did not include "in" two natures.

God bless.
I've been spending some time at monachos.net studying some of the documents of the Christological Controversy; I intend to get acquainted with the Tome of Leo tomorrow.  Hopefully, I'll then be able to offer a more enlightened view of Chalcedon and the resulting EO/OO schism.
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« Reply #42 on: June 15, 2007, 02:53:07 PM »

Does anyone know where the Three Chapters can be found on line?  People always talk about them, but I have never actually seen them.
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« Reply #43 on: June 15, 2007, 10:50:38 PM »

Review of the Tome of Pope Leo I

  • The Tome appears to focus primarily on refuting the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches.
  • In this light, the language seeks to explain in detail how the two component natures of Christ are preserved in the hypostatic union of the Incarnation--Chalcedon found the Tome to be totally consistent with Cyril's anathemas against Nestorianism (at least as the Chalcedonian bishops understood these Twelve Anathemas), thus upholding the Council of Ephesus (431).
  • Examined from the perspective of the Alexandrian desire to preserve the perfect unity of Christ's incarnate hypostasis against Nestorianism, Pope Leo's language of how Christ is known "in two natures" can be seen as tending to divide Christ's incarnate nature too much.  Leo's unabashed support of the crypto-Nestorian Theodoret before the Council of Chalcedon only strengthened the Alexandrian suspicion of Nestorianism in Pope Leo, his Tome, and his influence on the final Chalcedonian definition of faith.

The above are only my own conclusions based on my reading of the text (read at http://www.monachos.net/library/Leo_the_Great_of_Rome,_The_Tome_to_Flavian), so please don't read this as any endorsement of either the EO or the OO position.
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« Reply #44 on: June 16, 2007, 01:44:56 AM »

Review of the Tome of Pope Leo I

  • The Tome appears to focus primarily on refuting the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches.
  • In this light, the language seeks to explain in detail how the two component natures of Christ are preserved in the hypostatic union of the Incarnation--Chalcedon found the Tome to be totally consistent with Cyril's anathemas against Nestorianism (at least as the Chalcedonian bishops understood these Twelve Anathemas), thus upholding the Council of Ephesus (431).
  • Examined from the perspective of the Alexandrian desire to preserve the perfect unity of Christ's incarnate hypostasis against Nestorianism, Pope Leo's language of how Christ is known "in two natures" can be seen as tending to divide Christ's incarnate nature too much.  Leo's unabashed support of the crypto-Nestorian Theodoret before the Council of Chalcedon only strengthened the Alexandrian suspicion of Nestorianism in Pope Leo, his Tome, and his influence on the final Chalcedonian definition of faith.

The above are only my own conclusions based on my reading of the text (read at http://www.monachos.net/library/Leo_the_Great_of_Rome,_The_Tome_to_Flavian), so please don't read this as any endorsement of either the EO or the OO position.

Dear Peter,

The center of discussion of the Tome is weighed heavily upon one sentence that makes it really difficult for an Alexandrian thinker to accept:

Quote
The activity of each form is what is proper to it in communion with the other: that is, the Word performs what belongs to the Word, and the flesh accomplishes what belongs to the flesh. One of these performs brilliant miracles; the other sustains acts of violence.

The issue is, in a very simplified manner, is that this sentence can be easily taken as two persons, the Word performing something and the flesh, the man, performing another in mutual agreement.  So, in addition to the "in two natures," a lot people feel that this can also be bad/unfortunate wording because it contradicts, at least in view of confusing "faculty" with the language of "volition," which we agree should be one.  In other words, it's not that the Word performs and flesh performs, but that the Word performs through divinity or flesh, where the performer is one, not two.  Fr. John Romanides even recognizes this himself and notes it in one of his papers.

God bless.
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