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Author Topic: Catholic Unity vs. Orthodox Unity  (Read 7339 times) Average Rating: 0
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The Caffeinator
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« on: September 05, 2003, 04:38:05 PM »

It was mentioned in the Faith forum that there is a difference in Catholic unity and Orthodox unity.

As a Catholic, I feel that unity of belief is a great sign of the efficacy of our Church's historic claim. Nevertheless, I agree with Mor Ephrem that the Catholic Church is suffering from a great deal of theological confusion, and on most important issues, for example, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Vigin Birth, the reality of Jesus' resurrection, and the reality of Heaven and Hell, one would probably find a more unified Christianity in Orthodoxy.

I would contend, however, that the great number of Catholics who have denied or perverted the above teachings, are Catholic in name only, or honestly don't know because they have not been taught or have not taken the time to reasearch this.

The leadership of the RCC has consistently taught the above doctrines, and so I'd contend that there is greater unity of belief among EOx hierarchs and the Holy Father, than among Catholics themselves.

I ask that you not judge Catholicism by nominal Catholics. I'm guessing that in EOxy these wolves in sheeps clothing would have apostacized. With the massive failure of leadership in the american hierarchy, they still get to play
Catholic.

Among Catholics who are converted in heart, there is great unity of belief.
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2003, 05:05:15 PM »

"I would contend, however, that the great number of Catholics who have denied or perverted the above teachings, are Catholic in name only, or honestly don't know because they have not been taught or have not taken the time to reasearch this."


I'm not sure that this isn't how things have always been to one degree or another in the Church.

The big difference is we do have an official authoratative teaching Church.
Catholics can find what the Church teaches in official Church documents.
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2003, 06:28:11 PM »

As can Orthodox. There are official collections of Orthodox canon law and offical pronouncements, they are just generally not always in English or available at a reasonable cost.

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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2003, 06:30:37 PM »

As can Orthodox. There are official collections of Orthodox canon law and offical pronouncements, they are just generally not always in English or available at a reasonable cost.

anastasios

But didn't you guys say there are different teachings on some issues from different Churches in Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2003, 06:54:48 PM »

I would say that not all issues that come up have been dealt with by the Church in an authoritative and definitive way . . . yet.

That is not the same thing as saying that the Orthodox Church does not have authoritative teaching.

New issues come up. It takes time before the Church deals with them and gives a final answer.
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2003, 08:08:31 PM »


I'm not sure that this isn't how things have always been to one degree or another in the Church.


It would be very tempting to bash the Church right now, but I'm biting my tongue.  Wink I think catechesis was better when the mass was in Latin, and when priests en masse taught the faith. External forms of worship and unequivocal homilies are more easily understood than the ambiguous newspeak and degesturized mass that characterize so much worship in the RCC today. If it wasn't this way, I might be a little less understanding of the attraction of Eastern Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2003, 09:44:19 PM »


I'm not sure that this isn't how things have always been to one degree or another in the Church.


It would be very tempting to bash the Church right now, but I'm biting my tongue.  Wink I think catechesis was better when the mass was in Latin, and when priests en masse taught the faith. External forms of worship and unequivocal homilies are more easily understood than the ambiguous newspeak and degesturized mass that characterize so much worship in the RCC today. If it wasn't this way, I might be a little less understanding of the attraction of Eastern Orthodoxy.


The catechesis was better before Vatican II. There was and still is alot of confusion regarding what Vatican II sought to improve in the Church. In the past two or three years I have heard some of the best homilies of my life.  From different priests in different parts of the country. This seems to be a trend which is getting better. Reading some books dealing with what Vatican II was trying to accomplish has helped me to see the wisdom in some of the changes and appreciate what the changes are meant to accomplish. Unfortunately many of the clergy have taken liberties and have added to the confusion. Personally I miss the Tridentine Mass and the old ways but I understand why the changes if implemented correctly would be good for the Church.
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2003, 09:04:35 AM »

I accept the teachings of Vatican II, but I see (in the words of another forumite in another forum) a great deal of cognitive dissonance between V-II and the current status quo.
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2003, 01:00:31 PM »

Slava Isusu Christu!

The criterion for unity in the Eastern Church is Orthodoxy and the Eparchial Church united to it's Hierarch which connects the parish Church through its presbyter, in the administration of the Mysteries, to the Apostolic Faith of Jesus Christ.  The Eastern Church obviously has not tightened the rope from the adminstrative side, but nevertheless has preserved the Orthodox Faith; the other Churches even though they may have a strong administrative unity (sic) are heretical and/schismatic and are outside the pleroma of life which is the Orthodox Church; although God may work however He wills and according to His love for Mankind.

This was the simple Apostolic Model.  This is the Model of the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2003, 07:42:43 AM »

If you mean to suggest that your Church is more authentically Christian than my own, I would for the most part disagree. I certainly do not agree that my Church is "heretical," and I can not imagine any other Church you may be implying, as far as administrative unity goes.

Schisms are usually two sided things. I will present you with two other examples of schisms and demonstrate how difficult it is for the average sheep in the pews (or on the floor, if your EO Wink ) to see with charity and without relativism that both sides are as often at fault, and that differences often come from both sides, not just one.

First, during the Protestant Reformation, Luther cut the deuterocanonical books out of the Bible. During the Council of Trent, the Canon for the Old Testament was finally promulgated, and the question was finally settled for Catholics on the canonicity of these books. So, while it is somewhat inaccurate for protestants to speak, as they often do, of the books Catholics added to the Bible, it is also inaccurate for Catholics to speak of the books Luther cut out of the Bible, because (historians, help me out here) the official canon had not yet been promulgated.

Now, I say this, because I often hear Catholics talk about the books protestants cut out of the Bible, and I often hear protestants say that Catholics added books to the Bible. But the history of it is much more complex, and as human nature on both sides of the fence is fallen and given to corruption, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Another example of my "equal blame" theory would be the Chalcedonian/Non-Chalcedonian schism which the kind administrator anastasios explained to me.

It is easy to call Catholics heretics. But I suspect the history is more complex. And I know we have legitimate differences.
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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2003, 08:33:12 AM »

Quote
First, during the Protestant Reformation, Luther cut the deuterocanonical books out of the Bible. During the Council of Trent, the Canon for the Old Testament was finally promulgated, and the question was finally settled for Catholics on the canonicity of these books. So, while it is somewhat inaccurate for protestants to speak, as they often do, of the books Catholics added to the Bible, it is also inaccurate for Catholics to speak of the books Luther cut out of the Bible, because (historians, help me out here) the official canon had not yet been promulgated.

This position is only tenable if there is a confusion between the Papacy and "the Church" as such - which as far as Orthodox Christianity is concerned, has occured in the RCC, and is one of the reasons why there can be no communion with it (at least until this changes.)

The idea that Luther's innovation in this regard is excusable because there was no "official, Papally promulgated, ex-cathedra/extraordinary magisterium" decree on the subject, ignores the fact that the Latin church had universally accepted these books for over a millenia prior to Luther's revolt.  Though the RCC pays lip service to a respect for Holy Tradition, the truth is as the powers of the Papacy have multiplied, the defining role of Tradition itself has been undermined (in part, because many acts of that Papacy have violated said Tradition.)

In the Orthodox Church, while there are councils that have given lists of sacred books, there has been no definition on the subject equivelent to what Trent offered the RCC.  Yet, if a Martin Luther were to appear in the midst of Orthodoxy and try to excise books from the accepted body of texts, he'd be recognized quite quickly as an innovator and heretic.

Quote
Another example of my "equal blame" theory would be the Chalcedonian/Non-Chalcedonian schism which the kind administrator anastasios explained to me.

With all due respect to the admin., he's gravely mistaken on this subject.  There is a very real, dogmatic issue at stake in the Orthodox/Monophysite question.  It pertains not only to Christology itself (a matter of truth), but to soteriology (which cannot help but be profoundly affected by Christological questions.)

By denying Christ is of two, unconfused Natures joined in one Hypostasis (existance), there is an implicit denial of His being either "fully God" or "fully Man", or both.  The Monophysite heresy (and it is "Monophysite", despite protests to the contrary - if one is confessing "one Nature", then they are confessing "Monphysitism") has taken three primary forms throughout time, but all are problematic for the reasons I've mentioned.

For example, one form of the Monophysite error is that Christ's humanity is as a "drop" lost/diffused in the ocean of His Divinity.  This comes dangerously close to a return to the docetic/gnostic heresy, which outright taught that Christ's humanity was a phantasm.

The form which probably is "most Orthodox" looking, and which seems to hold sway now amongst the non-Chalcedonians the "Orthodox ecumenists" are dialoguing with, is the idea that Christ is somehow "one Nature" composed of the Divine/Human Natures.  This is poisonous, however, since it implicitly requires a change in the Divine Nature, and makes Christ Himself something "between" God and Man, rather than both, truly, and fully.

The practical consequence of all forms of this error (in the matter of salvation), is the undermining of our salvation.  For if Christ was not a perfect, sinless Man as the Orthodox Church teaches (but rather, a composite being Who is really something blended and in between the two) then His sinlessness is of no new import to the history of mankind and his salvation - for it means simply that He has not sinned as men do, but can this not be said of God prior to the Incarnation, or of the Holy Angels for that matter?  If Christ is not also "fully", unconfusedly Human like you and I, He does not have a human will, and as such His sinlessness is not an accomplishment taking place as a Man.  Thus, our salvation is annuled, for there has been no Human overcoming of the world, sin, and the reign of satan.

It could also be argued this has disturbing ramifications as regards sin itself - for if Christ is not sinless as a true Man, then it could be inferred that we really cannot possibly be sinless - and if that's true, then this argues against many of our acts as being sins at all (for it would be impossible for us not to sin, yes?  And if something is impossible for us, then it's hardly just to regard it as sin.)  The truth is, while fallen man has an incredible propensity towards sin, this does not mean he HAS to sin - otherwise, it would not be sin.  Rather, with God's grace, sin is not inevitable.  With the Monophysite doctrine, however, what we get is that really there is not a Human Who has overcome sin at all, and been pure and free from any blemish - simply a being who had all sorts of human qualities (but without being truly human) who has not erred after the manner that we do.

Like I said, it's fashionable in ecumenistic circles to ignore these, and other problems with the Monophysite teaching - but such a humanistic/political take on matters of faith does not change a thing, as far as the Church's anathema against the non-Chalcedonians is concerned.

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« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2003, 12:06:37 PM »

Slava Isusu Christu!

The "We are all schismatics" approach isn't tenable in Orthodoxy;  In Orthodox Teaching when a group has fallen away from the fullness of the Orthodox Faith, even in a small manner, you are outside of the Church, period.
Only the Mystery of Repentance can reconcile you to the Church. The reality is Orthodoxy has and continues to preserve the Faith inviolate; an inviolate Faith Roman development has bipassed through an unpatristic manner of theologizing and liturgizing.  Byzantine Catholics are at least trying to recover the ancient Faith, which they will - by being received into bosom of the Orthodox Church.  For them the Grace of God has to fill in less when being reconciled to the Church.  The Orthodox Church is THE Church and has preserved and kept a dynamic Faith alive.  May the horn of Orthodox Christians be exalted!

In Christ,



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« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2003, 12:10:51 PM »

 Wink I was trying to be Super Orthodox for a second.....Back to normal now....I'm OCA, an ecumenist, and a synergist of the Paris School... Shocked Just joking....God Bless all who long for Him and the Truth...

In Christ


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« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2003, 06:13:19 PM »

Quote
The Orthodox Church is THE Church and has preserved and kept a dynamic Faith alive.

I've been resisting the temptation to put a Catholic spin on EOxy, because I have friends who are EO, and because I believe respect for conscience is an integral component of Christian charity.

But I can if you would like. Just give me a few days...
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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2003, 06:31:06 PM »

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The Orthodox Church is THE Church and has preserved and kept a dynamic Faith alive.

I've been resisting the temptation to put a Catholic spin on EOxy, because I have friends who are EO, and because I believe respect for conscience is an integral component of Christian charity.

I assume you wish to put a Roman Catholic 'spin' on the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of the East (canonical name of the "Eastern Orthodox Church") Wink
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« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2003, 09:44:58 AM »

Quote
With all due respect to the admin., he's gravely mistaken on this subject.  There is a very real, dogmatic issue at stake in the Orthodox/Monophysite question.  It pertains not only to Christology itself (a matter of truth), but to soteriology (which cannot help but be profoundly affected by Christological questions.)

I'd just like to point out that:

Although I believe that Oriental Orthodox are Orthodox in the fullest sense of the word, I am always quick to point out that I recognize that not all Eastern Orthodox agree with this proposition.  Even though I believe Seraphim to be the gravely mistaken one, I welcome his position since he is able to clearly articulate his point of view in a reasonable way.

Quote
By denying Christ is of two, unconfused Natures joined in one Hypostasis (existance), there is an implicit denial of His being either "fully God" or "fully Man", or both.

So St. Cyril was mistaken? For St. Cyril was the one who invented the term "one incarnate nature of the logos."

Quote
For example, one form of the Monophysite error is that Christ's humanity is as a "drop" lost/diffused in the ocean of His Divinity.  This comes dangerously close to a return to the docetic/gnostic heresy, which outright taught that Christ's humanity was a phantasm.

That error is a real heresy, and it was condemned by the Oriental Orthodox.

Quote
The form which probably is "most Orthodox" looking, and which seems to hold sway now amongst the non-Chalcedonians the "Orthodox ecumenists" are dialoguing with, is the idea that Christ is somehow "one Nature" composed of the Divine/Human Natures.  This is poisonous, however, since it implicitly requires a change in the Divine Nature, and makes Christ Himself something "between" God and Man, rather than both, truly, and fully.

But there you go, imposing your terms on them, when they mean to say no such thing.  I find it strange how quick some are to take terminology and force it on people who do not express themselves the same way.  It is a dogma that Christ is both human and divine, and Both Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox believe that, so how is that a different teaching?

Quote
The practical consequence of all forms of this error (in the matter of salvation), is the undermining of our salvation.  For if Christ was not a perfect, sinless Man as the Orthodox Church teaches (but rather, a composite being Who is really something blended and in between the two)

which of course no Oriental Orthodox believe...

Quote
then His sinlessness is of no new import to the history of mankind and his salvation - for it means simply that He has not sinned as men do, but can this not be said of God prior to the Incarnation, or of the Holy Angels for that matter?  If Christ is not also "fully", unconfusedly Human like you and I, He does not have a human will, and as such His sinlessness is not an accomplishment taking place as a Man.  Thus, our salvation is annuled, for there has been no Human overcoming of the world, sin, and the reign of satan.

Which would be true if Non Chalcedonians believed that Christ was not perfectly man, which of course they profess in their liturgies (I know this since I frequently attend Non-Chal. liturgies).

My whole point is that Seraphim, you are philosophizing, not dealing with what these churches actually believe.  The work of the joint dialouge is to look at what everyone believes, not what we think they believe.  There has been no offical concelebration yet--after 30 years of discussion--which shows me that both sides are moving forward in deep consideration and prayer.  If the two sides really beleive different things, there will be no union.

Quote
Like I said, it's fashionable in ecumenistic circles to ignore these, and other problems with the Monophysite teaching - but such a humanistic/political take on matters of faith does not change a thing, as far as the Church's anathema against the non-Chalcedonians is concerned.

And it's also fashionable in certain circles (I won't label them traditionalist since the two categories don't perfectly overlap) to deal with philosophies *about* and writings *about* Non-Chalcedonians without actually reading their works themselves, speaking to theologians in the Non-Chal churches, speaking with "ecumenists" who deal with this issue on a day to day basis to see what they are doing, etc etc etc.  As far as I am concerned, if one immerses himself in a study of the issue by doing all of the above, and still does not come to the conclusions I have reached (I am not making the claim that I have completed an in-depth study, which is why I never took thisissue up much on the e cafe), then I can respect greatly that person for making an effort.  But it really saddens me when people take as their departing point the modern work of some Orthodox anti-ecumenist and never go beyond that (not saying Seraphim has done this but I know plenty who have).

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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2003, 03:14:12 PM »

In another thread, someone asked me to explain one of my remarks; namely, that the unity in Catholicism is no real unity at all.  CW, having seen that probably, started this thread.  I am sorry I didn't get to address the original question when it was asked, but I'd like to get into it a little here now that I have some time.

Catholics, and particularly (in my experience, anyway) Roman Catholics, in order to prove they are the true Church, like to contrast themselves to other Christian groups by making a big deal out of their unity and others' disunity.  For instance, Catholics will often cite the varying creeds and beliefs in Protestantism, and their administrative divisions, as evidence of their disunity and thus establish that they are not the true Church.  This is fair enough, I think.  Protestantism is sufficiently varied to make this appear to be the truth.  

But, using this same approach (the world of Catholic apologetics seems concerned almost entirely with Protestantism, Orthodoxy being very much an afterthought, and in my opinion this is reflected in how some Catholic apologists deal with Orthodoxy), they will attack Orthodoxy for what they perceive is her lack of unity.  For, if there is a Russian Orthodox Church, and a Greek Orthodox Church, and a Serbian Orthodox Church, or a Coptic Orthodox Church, and an Armenian Orthodox Church, etc., then what we have are multiple Churches under their own leaders, and not one Church under one leader.  Sure, they believe the same things and are in communion with each other, but they are still many Churches, and not one Church.  

This kind of approach makes the value of doctrinal unity and the value of administrative unity equal.  Even though the Orthodox have doctrinal unity, because there is not administrative unity, the Orthodox are not considered by these RC's as one Church but several.  However, the Catholic Church, because it has doctrinal unity AND administrative unity, is truly one, and so is the true Church which Christ established.      

It seems like a pretty good argument if you accept the equality of both types of unity.  But the Catholic Church isn't the best example of that, either.  At least not the Catholic Church that most of the people I know are used to (the post-conciliar Church).  Before the Second Vatican Council, you might be able to say that the RCC was unified in this way.  Everyone believed the same things, everyone prayed the same way, everyone was under the same Pope.  But the post-conciliar Church reveals a different picture.  Theologians teach false theology or new spins to "old" theology that are heretodox.  Catholic moral norms are not respected or taught by many who are charged with the spiritual formation of children in parishes.  New Age philosophies are increasingly popular.  Priestly formation is suffering from these and other issues.    

I could go on, but most people here know about somet of the things I'm talking about, I presume.  Many of these issues deal with matters of faith, and many of the people responsible are in high positions, and yet very few are the instances where such is denounced or disciplined.  Instead, what we see is the peaceful co-existence of many different and contradictory perspectives under the Pope's authority, with (so it seems) only the most outrageous ever denounced by the CDF.  Many of these people have contradictory opinions, and not everyone can be right, but they are still one, because they recognise the authority of the Pope.  One bishop can stick to orthodox Roman Catholicism in his diocese (I know one bishop like this), and another can say that, were it not for fear of disciplinary action, he would ordain women to the priesthood right now, and believes that ordination would be valid (I know one bishop like this too), and both are in full communion, both can concelebrate with each other, and with the Pope, because they recognise the authority of the Bishop of Rome over the Church.  An Eastern Catholic priest can refuse to use the Filioque in the Creed, while a priest of the FSSP, who only celebrates the Latin Mass, can insist not only on its correctness, but insist that others can and should adopt it (I'm not saying I've definitely heard this, but it strikes me as a possibility).  All of this can be tolerated, even accepted, in today's RCC, as long as you are obedient to the Pope, and recognise his authority.  

What is this, other than the elevation of one type of unity (administrative) over another (doctrinal)?  I'm sure that in an ideal world, Rome would have it both ways.  Everyone would believe the same things, and would be under one shepherd.  But the current situation is not ideal, and so it seems that Catholics have opted to make administrative unity the most important, perhaps thinking that other issues will work themselves out once this is achieved.  The Orthodox are criticised for preferring doctrinal unity to administrative unity, but the Catholic attitude seems to be the Orthodox attitude in reverse.

I would contend, however, that the great number of Catholics who have denied or perverted the above teachings, are Catholic in name only, or honestly don't know because they have not been taught or have not taken the time to reasearch this.

If they were not taught, then I sympathise with them.  I have friends who went through years of religious education, and don't have all that much to show for it.  But I'm not talking so much about them as I am about their teachers, who do know better.  

The leadership of the RCC has consistently taught the above doctrines, and so I'd contend that there is greater unity of belief among EOx hierarchs and the Holy Father, than among Catholics themselves.

If the Pope and the Curia are the leadership of the RCC, then yes, they have consistently taught the doctrines you mention.  But then what about the bishops?  There are bishops all over the world who hold and teach really out-of-this-world ideas with no one going after them to make sure they are teaching orthodox Roman Catholicism.  So all this stuff about there being greater unity of belief between EO hierarchs and the Pope is one thing, but what about the unity of faith between the Pope and the bishops in union with him?  Certainly that should be the priority in the RCC.

I ask that you not judge Catholicism by nominal Catholics. I'm guessing that in EOxy these wolves in sheeps clothing would have apostacized. With the massive failure of leadership in the american hierarchy, they still get to play
Catholic.


But that's the thing.  They still get to play Catholic.  And not just the hierarchs, but those lay men and women who know better, and do what they do anyway.  Because they recognise the Pope's authority, it isn't as bad as, say, the followers of Abp. Lefebvre (granted, he ordained bishops without the consent of Rome, which was wrong, but I find it interesting that he is excommunicated shortly after the ordinations, but bishops who err in other ways remain in good standing).  Are they playing Catholic?  Or are they actually Catholic regardless?  

I feel this post is a lot of rambling, and did not come out as good as I hoped.  But I hope this sheds a little more light on what I was thinking when I originally said what I did about unity in Catholicism.  I'd be happy, if I've got the time and if anyone is interested, to discuss this further in this thread.
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« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2003, 04:25:15 PM »

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I assume you wish to put a Roman Catholic 'spin' on the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of the East (canonical name of the "Eastern Orthodox Church")
Demetri

It would take more than a few days to educate oneself in the LEGITIMATE difference between Catholic/Orthodox patristics. But I'll come back once I get my masters in theology (which will not be soon). This is a great board!

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« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2003, 05:15:39 PM »

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By denying Christ is of two, unconfused Natures joined in one Hypostasis (existance), there is an implicit denial of His being either "fully God" or "fully Man", or both.  The Monophysite heresy (and it is "Monophysite", despite protests to the contrary - if one is confessing "one Nature", then they are confessing "Monphysitism") has taken three primary forms throughout time, but all are problematic for the reasons I've mentioned.

For example, one form of the Monophysite error is that Christ's humanity is as a "drop" lost/diffused in the ocean of His Divinity.  This comes dangerously close to a return to the docetic/gnostic heresy, which outright taught that Christ's humanity was a phantasm.

The form which probably is "most Orthodox" looking, and which seems to hold sway now amongst the non-Chalcedonians the "Orthodox ecumenists" are dialoguing with, is the idea that Christ is somehow "one Nature" composed of the Divine/Human Natures.  This is poisonous, however, since it implicitly requires a change in the Divine Nature, and makes Christ Himself something "between" God and Man, rather than both, truly, and fully.

With respect, this is all falsehood. None of these errors are taught by the Oriental Orthodox churches.

The idea that Christ's humanity is dissolved in His divinity was an accusation that Nestorius invented and laid at the door of St Cyril the Great. neither St Cyril, nor the Oriental Orthodox accept it.

Nor do you seem to have read any of the actual writings of the Oriental Orthodox fathers or you would understand that when any of our Fathers, including St Cyril, speak of 'one incarnate nature of the Word' - not 'one nature' as you suggest - nature is to be taken as meaning hypostasis.

As an example among hundreds and thousands of references, St Severus says:

"When we say, 'one incarnate nature of God the Word'...we use nature in place of 'individual designation', denoting the one hypostasis of the Word Himself."

Since I could provide thousands of quotations from the Oriental Orthodox which show that the natures of which Christ is are neither confused, nor mixed, nor divided, nor separated the suggestion that we teach a confusion of the natures is offensive, especially since we have rejected this position as a heresy from the very beginning.

Another quotation from one of our Fathers:

"For since God was ineffably united with manhood, he has preserved it as what we say it is, and He Himself also remained what He was."

and again from another Father:

"But the power of the unconfused and initial union preserved those that were united beyond the reach of disturbance, and caused the two of them to exist in one hypostasis and one person, and one incarnate nature of the Word."

or speaking of the humanity and Divinity of Christ:

"For the one is without beginning and uncreated, and bodiless, and intangible, while the other is created, and subject to beginning, and temporary and tangible, as being flesh and solid. This difference we in no wise assert to have been removed by the union."

The Oriental Orthodox confess that Christ, the Word of God, has truly and perfectly become man, and that the manhood which He united to His Divine hypostasis is complete and consubstantial with us in all things save sin. And that the humanity remains what it was, being glorified in the union with the Divine Word but not changing from its own nature. Neither does the Divine nature of the Word suffer any change or confusion in the union with His humanity. But Divinity and humanity are united in the one incarnate hypostasis of the Word.

I have spent the 10 years since I became Orthodox in the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate studying these things and I am absolutely convinced by the clear teaching of our Fathers that the heresy of Eutychius and every other heresy has been rejected among us since the beginning. Indeed those who did dare to teach a confusion of humanity and Divinity in Christ were anathematised and excommunicated if they remained obdurate in their heresy.

I do not recognise in my own faith, or in that of any Oriental Orthodox christian I know, or in any of our Fathers, these blasphemous errors which are being proposed as my faith. They are not. They are an offense.

I am concerned that it is thought that these blasphemies are my faith. i am quite willing to produce materials and reading lists which will help an honest enquirer discover that this is not so. One starting point may be my essay on the Christology of Severus of Antioch at:

http://www.quodlibet.net/farrington-severus.shtml

or another essay, on the Humanity of Christ at:

http://www.uk-christian.net/boc/108e.shtml

I am not angry, and I hope I am not coming over aggressively, but it is frustrating to constantly be accused of things that I consider heresies. It shows how much more work is required by Oriental Orthodox to explain our faith.

Seeking your prayers

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« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2003, 05:56:02 PM »

 Somewhat ironically the Catholic Church agrees with what you are saying Peter and has publically said that the belief that your Churches were heretical was based on misunderstandings which have been resolved.
Interestingly enough in my lifetime I have never been told that the Orthodox are heretical. Only that we are in schism and that we hope to be reunited. That goes back to when I was a child before Vatican II.
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« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2003, 06:09:36 PM »

The kind admin anastasios recently explained to me the difference between the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox (aka the proper name given above.) Did the Church say that the OO's were not heretical, and does this predate Vatican II? Can somebody provide sources on the relation between the RCC and OOC?

Quote
Somewhat ironically the Catholic Church agrees with what you are saying Peter and has publically said that the belief that your Churches were heretical was based on misunderstandings which have been resolved.
Interestingly enough in my lifetime I have never been told that the Orthodox are heretical. Only that we are in schism and that we hope to be reunited. That goes back to when I was a child before Vatican II.
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« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2003, 07:16:29 PM »

Quote
Nor do you seem to have read any of the actual writings of the Oriental Orthodox fathers or you would understand that when any of our Fathers, including St Cyril, speak of 'one incarnate nature of the Word' - not 'one nature' as you suggest - nature is to be taken as meaning hypostasis.

In which case, there are no grounds to reject Chalcedon, yes?

Btw., the above is still strictly speaking, monophysitic, even with the qualification of "one incarnate nature" - how much clearer can that be; "one, nature".

Hypothetically, in defense of the non-Chalcedonians, I've actually publically entertained (in other forums) the idea that hypostasis (existance) and "nature" were being confused by the non-Chalcedonians.  However, if the matter were historically as simple as this, then the rejection of Chalcedon makes no sense whatsoever (as does the continued rejection of the Council.)  Unless this is all a matter or pride (the heart of all schisms) - in which case, there is still a schism to be repented of.

Quote
The Oriental Orthodox confess that Christ, the Word of God, has truly and perfectly become man, and that the manhood which He united to His Divine hypostasis is complete and consubstantial with us in all things save sin. And that the humanity remains what it was, being glorified in the union with the Divine Word but not changing from its own nature. Neither does the Divine nature of the Word suffer any change or confusion in the union with His humanity. But Divinity and humanity are united in the one incarnate hypostasis of the Word.

I do not doubt that you, and many contemporary Copts believe in this manner.  Since what you're describing (if it's willing to confess two wills) is materially Chalcedon's teaching, what justifies your schism?  If this is in fact the classical "non-Chalcedonian" teaching, then a serious sin was committed by the fathers of your schism, in slandering Orthodox Fathers as being "quasi-Nestorians" for affirming the very things you are, just in non-confused language (since there is a confusion between "nature" and "hypostasis" in the way you're speaking.)

If your faith is really the same as ours (two natures in one hypostasis/existance, unconfused, each full and true, Christ having both a human and Divine will), then there is absolutely no reason to reject Chalcedon.  As of this time, for all of the ink spilled in ecumenical congresses, your communion still does not accept Chalcedon, nor the latter Ecumenical Councils for that matter.  If we REALLY believe the same, why not?

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« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2003, 07:27:39 PM »

Did the Church say that the OO's were not heretical, and does this predate Vatican II? Can somebody provide sources on the relation between the RCC and OOC?

Dear CW,

As far as I know (and I could be wrong) any time pre-Vatican II documents refer to the "Orthodox Churches", they are referring exclusively to the Eastern Orthodox Churches (those that use the Byzantine rite).  The Oriental Orthodox Churches are usually referred to as "Lesser Eastern Churches", "Ancient Churches of the East", or something like that.  I haven't read too many of them, but I have no reason to believe that they would say anything other than that we are heretics (although with valid sacraments and valid apostolic succession).  

In the post-conciliar period, renewed ecumenical contacts between Rome and the OO Churches determined that the OO belief is the same substantially as the Chalcedonian belief of the RCC and the EO Church, although different terminology is used to explain this belief.  This has led to joint statements between the RCC and the Coptic Orthodox Chuch (I think) which affirm this unity of belief, and specifically with the Armenian and Syrian Orthodox, the joint statements not only profess unity of belief, but allow for intercommunion, in certain "emergency" circumstances, at an official level (ratified by the Pope of Rome and the Patriarchs involved).  

I don't know where you could obtain official copies of these statements, but the relevant portions can be read in the Catholic Almanac that comes out of Our Sunday Visitor.  That's where I read them.  They could probably direct you to the originals, too.
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« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2003, 07:36:37 PM »

Btw., the above is still strictly speaking, monophysitic, even with the qualification of "one incarnate nature" - how much clearer can that be; "one, nature".

Dear Seraphim,

Subdeacon Peter is very much qualified to address your points, and I hope he will.  What I wanted to zero-in on was the above.  

It is my understanding that Saint Cyril's phrase, in Greek, does not speak of "mono physis" but "mia physis".  I don't know Greek, but what I've heard is that while "mono" means one in the sense of singularity, "mia" means one in the sense of a joining together into one of more than one.  I don't know that I've expressed that right; I leave it to someone who knows Greek to correct me for any discrepancies in this explanation.  But if I've got the meanings right, then it is not proper to refer to us as "Monophysites", but "Miaphysites", since the latter better expresses what we believe.  Indeed, while Oriental Orthodox reject the former term, we are fine with the latter.    

I hope someone with some familiarity with Greek will chime in on the distinction, if any, between "mono" and "mia".
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« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2003, 06:57:01 AM »

Dear Seraphim

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post.  Smiley

Mono-physite/mia-physite. I’m not so concerned with labels. What matters is an understanding of what is confessed.

St Cyril taught “mia physis (or hypostasis) tou Theou Logou sesarxomene”. The Oriental Orthodox continue to use the same phrase. Constantinople II uses the same phrase in Capitula VIII.

You do not seem aware that the term physis has had a variable usage throughout the patristic period within the corpus of individual Fathers as well as across the range of writings left to us.

Physis has the meaning of ousia in some places, and hypostasis in others. There is no confusion. I am certainly not confused.

Severus says:

“But now also we will come to what is required, and, we will again say, that 'essence' signifies a generality, and 'hypostasis' a particularity, but 'being' and 'nature' introduce sometimes a general signification, sometimes a partial or particular one.”

I am not convinced that it is helpful to go into the difficulties that the Oriental Orthodox have with Chalcedon. The fact that you are unaware of any possible difficulties suggests, with respect, that you have not read very much on the subject, certainly by any writer who understands the Oriental Orthodox position.

It is better to concentrate on discovering if we have a shared faith, not if we have the same interpretation of every historical event.

Nevertheless I recommend the book - The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined - by Father V.C. Samuel of blessed memory. I had the privilege of re-publishing this to make it available to a wider audience. It’s easy to get from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

You suggest that there may have been a confusion over the use of physis. This is perhaps so. But the fact that you cannot reconcile a confession of the unconfused union of humanity and Divinity in Christ with a rejection of Chalcedon shows that you have not yet understood what the issues were.

Here are a few of the reasons why Chacedon was rejected, and of course the rejection of Chalcedon does not mean that those who reject it fail to confess the double consubstantiality of Christ. The context in which the council took place is very important for an understanding of why it was rejected. You seem to be rather unaware of the situation at that time. There were many real and semi-Nestorians about.

i.Even while St Cyril was still alive there were those in the See of Antioch who said that the teaching of St Cyril was the same as that of the heretic Theodore, whom they admired. St Cyril wrote against such an idea, regarding it with horror. But in the end St Cyril thought it would be imprudent to condemn Theodore by name since there were many who cried out in the Antiochean churches - ‘We believe as Theodore did’.

ii.Theodoret, that heretic condemned for confessing the heresies of Theodore and Diodore, was in constant contact by letter with Leo of Rome, all the while he refused to anathematise Nestorius. In fact he was a close correspondent of Leo for 20 years without anathematising Nestorius or accepting Ephesus I.

iii.At Chalcedon the heretic Theodoret was placed on the committee for drafting a statement of faith. He had gone 20 years without accepting Ephesus I or anathematising Nestorius, he was infamous as a supporter of the teachings of Theodore and Diodore, and yet he was given authority to draft a statement of faith.

iv.Nestorius was convinced that the Tome of Leo proposed his defective Christology.

v.After Chalcedon there were Chalcedonian monks who celebrated the Feast of Nestorius each year.

vi.After Chalcedon Theodoret wrote to Leo of Rome saying that his Christology, which was much later condemned as heretical by the Chalcedonians, had triumphed.

vii.Most of the Chalcedonians in the West, with whom the Eastern Chalcedonians were in communion, confessed that Chalcedon had exonerated the teachings of Ibas and Theodoret. In fact after Constantinople II the Roman Pope elect, when he managed to get back to Rome, could only find two bishops and a priest to consecrate him. All of North Africa separated from him, as did much of Western Europe, because they were convinced that Chalcedon had confirmed the teaching of Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas, not condemned it.

viii.The priests of the Church of the East with whom I have discussed these matters are in agreement that at the time of Chalcedon physis stood for hypostasis. This is why it was so attractive to the Nestorians and semi-Nestorians. It seemed to teach that Christ was ‘in two hypostases’ which is the Christology of the Church of the East.

Indeed Severus of Antioch asks in which way ‘in two natures’ should be understood:

“But the very men who call the One Christ two natures use the name ‘physis’ in place of ‘individual designation’ or ‘hypostasis’, saying that the Word of God is one physis or hypostasis and the man as they say from Mary another. For they do not reach such a height of fatuity as to say that they are using the name ‘physis’ in place of ‘general designation’, I mean in the same sense as ‘ousia’. For if the Holy Trinity is one ousia, and all mankind one ousia, the Holy Trinity will be found (to say a very absurd thing) to have become incarnate in all mankind, that is the human race.”

Certainly those Chalcedonians who took a Nestorian point of view - and there were many since the teachings of Theodore and Diodore were very popular - understood ‘in two natures’ to mean exactly ‘in two hypostases’.

ix.The Three Chapters were anathematised, and indeed their authors, by those who later became the non-Chalcedonians, in 449 A.D. Yet for over 100 years the Chalcedonians failed to anathematise these writings. Yet at Constantinople II the bishops there present said:

“For anyone can take in his hands the writings of the impious Theodore or the impious chapters which from his impious writings were inserted by us in our acts, and find the incredible foolishness and the detestable things which he said.”

Now if the impiety were so clear, and since there were so many who defended Theodore before and after Chalcedon, who were staunch supporters of Chalcedon, why did it take so long to condemn these writings?

x.In the draft of the Definitio of Chalcedon the phrase ‘of two natures’ was present. Under pressure from Theodoret and the Latins it was removed and the Nestorian term ‘in two natures’ was inserted.

Indeed even the watchword of St Cyril, ‘mia physis (or hypostasis) tou Theou Logou sesarxomene’ was absent. It was not until Constantinople II that some Christological balance was re-introduced into Chalcedonianism, and this is why the Statement and Capitula of Constantinople II may be more formally accepted as Orthodox statements by the Oriental Orthodox.

Do I think that modern Eastern Orthodox are even semi-Nestorians? No. I have only met a handful of folk in the so-called ‘Traditionalist’ or ‘True Church’ movement who have confessed what struck me as a basically Theodorian Christology. They seemed so determined not to have anything in common with me.   Sad

But I am convinced that there were legitimate reasons for considering Chalcedon defective. For one thing it split the Church rather than united it.

Now the Oriental Orthodox have officially accepted that Chalcedon CAN be accepted in an Orthodox manner, since we confess that the canonical Eastern Orthodox have always shared an Orthodox Christology with us. But this does not mean that Chalcedon should be considered authoritative, or that it cannot be considered ambiguous. Indeed if monks in Constantinople can confess the council of Chalcedon, which happened just a few miles up the road, and also keep a Feast of Nestorius then it is clear that there was a measure of ambiguity at the time.

You will note that I haven’t mentioned the deposition of Dioscorus. Of course this also had an impact. He clearly confessed the double consubstantiality of the humanity and Divinity in Christ, he clearly confessed the continuing and perfect reality of the humanity of Christ. But these were difficult times. I am sure that he does not bear a grudge, and neither should we make his deposition a stumbling block, it happened to too many people who got in the way of Imperial policy over several centuries. Nevertheless it appeared to be one more sign that Chalcedon was soft on Nestorianism. It must have seemed as though at the Nuremberg Trials Goering (as an analogue of Theodoret) was given a place of honour, while Churchill (for so he seemed to the Alexandrians) suddenly found himself in the dock.

As for the continuing rejection of Chalcedon. Well of course the history hasn’t suddenly changed. There are still reasons for considering it defective. None of these reasons mean that I need to cease ever confessing that Christ is truly God and truly man, without confusion. Mixture, separation or division.

Neither am I convinced that I am a schismatic. I’ve written an article on the state of Orthodoxy in the 5th and 6th centuries, and it is clear that a separate episcopate did not develop until about 535 AD, and then only as a result of crushing persecution that attempted to destroy the non-Chalcedonian position by force of arms. Already there had been thousands of martyrs but at that time it seemed that there was no option but separation. What prospect of reconciliation was there with an Imperium that sent soldiers against unarmed monks, women and children?

How could we be said to have gone into schism when armies were marching across Palestine, Syria and Egypt? We walled ourselves off from error. And preserving our Orthodox faith for 1500 years we have emerged, by the Grace of God, to discover a different Chalcedonian Orthodoxy, with new possibilities that were unavailable in a world dominated by Imperial power.

Is ROCOR schismatic? Or has it sought to preserve itself, when all else failed, waiting for a more opportune time to seek reconciliation with other Orthodox?

You mention the ink spilled in ecumenical congresses. I wonder if you have read ANY of the papers presented at any of the meetings of the Joint Commission? I do not mean in any sense to be less than brotherly, but heresy is an important matter, and the accusation of it is grevious. I wonder though, if you have only read a few of the bits and pieces on orthodoxinfo. The writers of those articles seem not to have actually read anything by any Oriental Orthodox fathers either. It is truly a shame, since I would not dream of writing anything about Methodists, or Mormons without trying to understand what THEY teach, rather than what a polemicist insists they must teach.

As for the later councils. Well I am hopeful that sometime soon we will be able to pull together the doctrinal content of those councils and affirm it synodically. But that will not satisfy the ‘True Church’ type of Orthodox. I am working on a lengthy article about Constantinople II to investigate how it might be affirmed as a set of theological documents rather than as an historical event.

Constantinople III and Nicaea II are more problematical. Not so much from a theological point of view, since we understand that these latter councils are also received by the Eastern Orthodox in an Orthodox manner, but because suddenly, 230 years after Chalcedon we find that Dioscorus is described as Hated of God, and Severus is described as promoting a ‘mad and wicked doctrine’ and ‘impious’. And then 340 years after Chalcedon Dioscorus and Severus are  described as a ‘blasphemers’.

Why should I accept this when it is not true, and when Constantinople III failed to mention them in such terms, yet was much closer to them in date. By the time of Constantinople II all of the writings in Greek of Severus had been destroyed for 150 years. They have been preserved only in the Syriac versions. His writings within the Empire were destroyed in the early 6th century.

I have his letters at my side now. And volumes of his hymns, his polemical works, his life, and some of his homilies. Am I an expert on Severus? Not yet.  Smiley But God willing I am studying his writings very intensively. He is not a blasphemer, nor is his teaching mad or wicked. Only people who had never read anything he had written, or had only read the orthodoxinfo website, could consider such a thing.  Sad

Now if I must accept such a false description of Severus to be considered as taking these latter councils seriously then I guess I’ll not be accepting them. But if accepting them means taking their theological content seriously, then that is a different matter.

As far as the substantial content of the latter councils goes:

The Oriental Orthodox have always rejected the Three Chapters. We anathematised them over 100 years before the Chalcedonians.

We confess the perfect and complete humanity of Christ, united in an hypostatic union without confusion, mixture, division or separation. The humanity of Christ is complete with a human will. But it is one Christ who wills, in a human and a Divine manner.

We have icons all over our Churches. In my own church we had two new large icons delivered on Sunday, including the world’s first and only icon of St Alban in the Coptic style.

In detail there is more work that needs doing, and is being done, but as I have intimated, I am sure that the documents of Constantinople II could most easily be accepted with very little modification.

So I am not a heretic, nor even a schismatic. And I have plenty of reasons for not accepting Chalcedon, and you haven’t explained what ‘accepting Chalcedon’ means to you.

Best wishes

Peter Theodore

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« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2003, 08:07:52 AM »


This kind of approach makes the value of doctrinal unity and the value of administrative unity equal.  Even though the Orthodox have doctrinal unity, because there is not administrative unity, the Orthodox are not considered by these RC's as one Church but several.  However, the Catholic Church, because it has doctrinal unity AND administrative unity, is truly one, and so is the true Church which Christ established.      

It seems like a pretty good argument if you accept the equality of both types of unity.  But the Catholic Church isn't the best example of that, either.  At least not the Catholic Church that most of the people I know are used to (the post-conciliar Church).  Before the Second Vatican Council, you might be able to say that the RCC was unified in this way.  Everyone believed the same things, everyone prayed the same way, everyone was under the same Pope.  But the post-conciliar Church reveals a different picture.  Theologians teach false theology or new spins to "old" theology that are heretodox.  Catholic moral norms are not respected or taught by many who are charged with the spiritual formation of children in parishes.  New Age philosophies are increasingly popular.  Priestly formation is suffering from these and other issues.    

Um, I don't think this is a fair approach to the issue at all.

If any church is to be saddled with this kind of criticism, then it is a mere moment's work to condemn them all-- and certainly Orthodoxy along with them. Indeed, if one accepts the Vatican's vision of unity, one cannot appeal to J. O'Random Theologian SJ as a point of disunity, because there is a single point of theological authority.  The official statements of the magisterium, as mediated through the office of the papacy, are all that count.

Indeed, Orthodoxy is saddled with the same kind of dissent. In Orthodoxy, however, dissent tends to get institutionalized because there is no central administrative authority (now that the empire is gone). And the points of dissent tend to run the other way, with a host of SSPXs, as it were. So the problem of doctrinal unity in Orthodoxy is in practice solved either by applying adminstrative unity, or by ignoring certain disputes. The first means, at the limit, leads to tiny single church Orthodoxies (e.g., ROAC); the second leads to a lot of "internal" squabbles (e.g., is there really a monophysite in the house).
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« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2003, 09:51:50 AM »

It is my understanding that Saint Cyril's phrase, in Greek, does not speak of "mono physis" but "mia physis".  I don't know Greek, but what I've heard is that while "mono" means one in the sense of singularity, "mia" means one in the sense of a joining together into one of more than one.  
I hope someone with some familiarity with Greek will chime in on the distinction, if any, between "mono" and "mia".  

Actually, Mor Ephrem, you are reading the Greek fairly accurately. "Mia" is both "one" and our article "a". Hence "mia physis" would be read as 'a nature' in the singular sense without specific reference to what that 'nature' is. "Mono" would be read as 'one'  as applied to the nature's composition itself.
Did I word this in an understandable manner? If not, I'll try again.

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« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2003, 09:57:41 AM »

Quote
Actually, Mor Ephrem, you are reading the Greek fairly accurately. "Mia" is both "one" and our article "a". Hence "mia physis" would be read as 'a nature' in the singular sense without specific reference to what that 'nature' is. "Mono" would be read as 'one'  as applied to the nature's composition itself.
Did I word this in an understandable manner? If not, I'll try again.

Hi Demetri

That makes sense. St Cyril teaches that Christ is one hypostasis or physis, but not one simple hypostasis. He is not only human, or only Divine, or only some tertium quid. This is why 'incarnate' is added. He is now an hypostasis who is incarnate. He is human and Divine. But still he is mia physis or hypostasis, not two.

Peter Theodore
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« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2003, 10:18:15 AM »

If any church is to be saddled with this kind of criticism, then it is a mere moment's work to condemn them all-- and certainly Orthodoxy along with them. Indeed, if one accepts the Vatican's vision of unity, one cannot appeal to J. O'Random Theologian SJ as a point of disunity, because there is a single point of theological authority.  The official statements of the magisterium, as mediated through the office of the papacy, are all that count.

Of course the official statements of the magisterium as mediated through the office of the Papacy are all that count.  But the fact is that there are theologians and clerics who openly teach things that run contrary to that, and only the most outrageous are ever dealt with.  The rest, in spite of it all, remain Catholics in good standing (they recognise the Pope, they are admitted to the sacraments, etc.) even if not Catholics at heart.  And that's where I have a problem.  Certainly, you cannot excommunicate everyone, nor can you know what is in the heart of an individual.  But, if someone believes a heretodox teaching knowingly and teaches it and the Church knows about it, I don't think such people should be admitted to the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, reception of Which indicates, among other things, unity in faith.  I think in a good number of cases it can be established that the Vatican knows what's going on, but nothing really happens.  And part of that, in my opinion, has to do with the fact that those same people are not causing a problem as far as papal authority goes.  But if Lefebvre (for example) comes along, and he doesn't teach anything that wasn't held before the Council, but simply ordains bishops without approval from Rome, he is promptly excommunicated.  I don't have a problem with his excommunication; I do have a problem with the selective use of that penalty to punish those who transgress against the authority of Rome but not those who are at variance with the faith of the Church.      

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Indeed, Orthodoxy is saddled with the same kind of dissent. In Orthodoxy, however, dissent tends to get institutionalized because there is no central administrative authority (now that the empire is gone). And the points of dissent tend to run the other way, with a host of SSPXs, as it were. So the problem of doctrinal unity in Orthodoxy is in practice solved either by applying adminstrative unity, or by ignoring certain disputes. The first means, at the limit, leads to tiny single church Orthodoxies (e.g., ROAC); the second leads to a lot of "internal" squabbles (e.g., is there really a monophysite in the house).

But your first example of the "tiny single church Orthodoxies" seems (at least to me) to be consistent.  ROAC, for example, believes everyone not in communion with it has fallen away, and they are the Church.  "World Orthodoxy" would probably say that ROAC fell away and they themselves are the Church.  In either event, no one is claiming that there are two Churches or two faiths.  There is one Church, and she has one faith.  Those who believe otherwise have left.  What I see when I look at the RCC is a Church where the faith is officially defined as x, but there are people knowingly holding and teaching y, z, a, b, and so on, and the Church knows about it, but doesn't do anything about that.  They may be outside of the Church at heart, or by definition, but they continue to receive the sacraments and are not denied them.  They remain in one sense Catholics in good standing when in another and more important sense they are not Catholics at all.  

As for the internal squabbles, I don't know how to address this.  The ones I can think of now are not matters of faith, but of administration and policy.  But even the one you cite (is there really a monophysite in the house?)...they believe the same faith, the debate is whether or not the monophysite in question holds that same faith.  No one is debating what they themselves actually believe, the debate is whether or not that can be applied in this case.  Since an ecumenical council has not ruled on that (some would say it has, but that's a different conversation Wink ), it is still an open question.  I think the situations are different.  

In the end, I can only speak about my Church, because that is all I have experienced directly.  To my knowledge, the Church has never knowingly allowed the types of things to go on that I think Rome allows to go on.  In our Church, there are jurisdictional disputes, but they do not encroach on matters of faith, which we are all united on (even the one issue that could be considered a doctrinal dispute is debated).
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« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2003, 10:23:43 AM »

He is now an hypostasis who is incarnate.

Dear Subdeacon Peter,

But doesn't saying something like this sound like "change" is involved?  And yet, we profess that this happened without change if I'm not mistaken.  Have I misunderstood what you are trying to say?  Would you please go into this for me?

I think it's still too early in the morning... Wink
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« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2003, 11:26:54 AM »

Hi Mor Ephrem

Well change is involved surely? The eternal Word of God has become incarnate, but this is not a change in the Divinity. It is a change in the relationship of God the Word with His Creation. He has become part of the world that he creates and sustains.

None of this changes His humanity or His Divinity. They remain what they always are, completely different. But He Himself has "become man" without ceasing to be what He is from eternity.

Does this help?

St Cyril says:

"Let him know therefore that the body which was born at Bethlehem, even if it is not the same as the Word from God and the Father (I mean in natural characteristics) yet nevertheless it became his, not anyone else's separate from the Son: and there is recognised to be one Son and Christ and Lord and Word who took flesh."

or again from St Cyril:

"When the mystery in Chrst is introduced among us, the principle of union is not oblivious of difference, but rejects division, not by mixing or commingling the natures with one another, but that after the Word has partaken of flesh and blood he is even so understood and named as one Son".

or again from St Cyril:

"As therefore it came to the humanity to be the Only one, because it had been united to the Word in a dispensatory union, so it came to belong to the Word to be 'the first born among many brethren' because of the union with flesh."

Also the 5th Eastern Orthodox council says:

"If anyone using the expression, "in two natures," does not confess that our one Lord Jesus Christ has been revealed in the divinity and in the humanity, so as to designate by that expression a difference of the natures of which an ineffable union is unconfusedly made, [a union] in which neither the nature of the Word was changed into that of the flesh, nor that of the flesh into that of the Word, for each remained that it was by nature, the union being hypostatic; but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, or recognising the two natures in the only Lord Jesus, God the Word made man, does not content himself with taking in a theoretical manner the difference of the natures which compose him, which difference is not destroyed by the union between them, for one is composed of the two and the two are in one, but shall make use of the number [two] to divide the natures or to make of them Persons properly so called: let him be anathema."

This speaks of Christ as a composite hypostasis - that is a real individual who is composed (without confusion) of real humanity and Divinity. Now before the incarnation the Word was a simple hypostasis - that is a real individual composed only of one nature, that of Divinity. Now he is a real hypostasis composed of two natures, through an hypostatic union in which neither humanity nor Divinity are confused or mixture.

and that council also says:

"Meanwhile the Holy Church of God, condemning equally the impiety of both sorts of heresies, recognises the union of God the Word with the flesh synthetically, that is to say, hypostatically. For in the mystery of Christ the synthetical union not only preserves unconfusedly the natures which are united, but also allows no separation."

Which speaks of an hypostatic synthesis and a synthetical union. This is the same as the hypostatic union of which St Cyril speaks - the hypostasis of the Word has united to itself the flesh in a union that is unconfused but which allows no separation.

If we fail to confess that the hypostasis has united himself to a human nature, which came into existence at the union and has no existence apart from the union with the hypostasis of the Word, then we are back to Nestorianism, which also wanted to preserve the hypostasis of the Word from any change caused by the Word really 'becoming man'. This is why "two natures" or "two hypostases" were confessed by the Nestorians because they wanted to preserve a Divine individual - the Word, and a human individual - Jesus, who was united externally from the hypostases in a personal, not hypostatic, union. That is in a union of appearance and name and honour, not a union of reality.

Now what we must preserve is the reality and integrity of the humanity and Divinity, and this is what we do confess. But we should not be afraid to say that the Word of God 'has become man and dwelt among us'".

This involves no change in the Divinity of the Word, or in the humanity.

Do you see what is meant?

Peter Theodore
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« Reply #31 on: October 18, 2003, 03:11:55 AM »

An Orthodox Reply to the Opinion of Cardinal Walter Kasper:
'The Orthodox Church does not really exist'.

http://www.orthodoxengland.btinternet.co.uk/cardinal.htm

"Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has recently spoken of the difficulties of the Vatican in ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox Church, stating: 'We are increasingly conscious of the fact that an Orthodox Church does not really exist'."


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« Reply #32 on: October 18, 2003, 10:21:33 AM »

I remember that 'an Orthodox Church does not really exist' remark - from a man who in another statement has appeared to waffle on the apostolic succession. Ow. That is one nasty jab - one would think a professional theologian in ecumenical work would know better.

Maybe he really does look down on the Orthodox as he is not conservative. (Then why on earth did a 'conservative' pope make him a cardinal and a Vatican official?)

Maybe he is confused by the jurisdictional infighting - schisms in Bulgaria (two patriarchs, and the calendar row) and Romania (again, the calendar thingy) among groups that amazingly are somehow all parts of the Orthodox communion. Let alone the gaggle of groups outside that communion - calendar schisms, Ukrainian and Macedonian separatism, and suchlike - that claim to be Orthodox (in some cases, the Orthodox, end of story), have the same basic beliefs and rite as the Orthodox and in the view of the Catholic Church are in about the same situation as the Orthodox - basic orthodoxy, real bishops and the real Eucharist.

It's holy, it's apostolic, but is it one and is it catholic?

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He went on to explain his words, saying that the Vatican had expected that the Patriarchate of Constantinople played a similar role in the Orthodox world to that played by the Papacy in the Roman Catholic world. He had realised that it does not. Hence his personal revelation.

I can understand a rank-and-file RC and the Western press making that mistake, but that's pretty amazingly stupid coming from a professor-theologian. One expects such people to do their homework!

Although there is no byline, I guess this article whose link was posted by Irish Hermit is from Fr Andrew Phillips, a priest of the Russian Church Abroad, as it is on his site.

Most impressive.

Even if one doesn't go as far as he on the 'we're completely different religions re: the Trinity and the Holy Spirit' kick, it is an authentically Eastern Orthodox answer, dogmatically and opinionwise. In short, he is a real Orthodox priest who 'gets' Churchness from the Orthodox POV:

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Cardinal Kasper does not understand that the Orthodox Church is a family whose members freely associate together through the matrix of the Common Orthodox Faith, Whose model is the Holy Trinity, a pattern of unity in diversity. There is no such thing as authority being imposed from outside, even by some politically powerful or wealthy, secular-style organisation. Authority in the Orthodox Church is not conferred in some secular, legalistic manner, as a result of financial wealth or political power, or even numbers of faithful. Authority in the Orthodox Church is granted by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love. The voice of that authority is heard through Church Councils, whether Pan-Orthodox or merely local, or through inspired individuals.

The italicized part is pretty much what I understand Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology is.

Interesting that this is from a priest in good standing of the Russian Church Abroad - which is in the Orthodox communion and it appears soon will be even more closely connected to it through the Church of Russia.

A far cry from the vituperation against 'world Orthodoxy' from some online loudmouths, some of whom aren't even Eastern Orthodox (yet), while others perhaps are on their second or third chosen one-true-church, sometimes in as many years.
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« Reply #33 on: October 18, 2003, 02:59:05 PM »

I think we're wrong when we try to introduce the Orthodox way of Unity" and the Catholic Unity as two opposite forces, incompatible with each other and in direct struggle.

For 1000 years the Church was able to hold a jurisdictional unity represented by the primacial role of the Roman Pontif, mediator between the different Bishops, respecting the collegial autonomy of the bishops, their jurisdiction and of course, their particular rites and canon law. But also holding the unity in the faith, the same faith of the seven ecumenical councils, the Orthodox faith. Of course, if the Popes want their authority as Vicars of Christ to be recognized at a certain point, they would have to be Orthodox in their faith.
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« Reply #34 on: October 18, 2003, 04:41:40 PM »

Mexican, *ALL* Orthodox bishops are Vicars of Christ in their own dioceses.  Originally, the Bishop of Rome didn't even dare to claim such a title as solely his own.  Through the process of evolution, however, the Bishop of Rome first claimed to be only the "Vicar of St. Peter."  It was only later that he clamed to be the sole "Vicar of Christ on earth" (as if Christ was absent from His Church).

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« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2003, 08:59:33 AM »

Actually to many Roman Catholics, particularly in the US, the Orthodox Church does not exist, it is merely some foreign form of the Roman Catholic Church......when i converted to Orthodoxy, most of my Roman friends thought I had become Orthodox....Jew!
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« Reply #36 on: October 21, 2003, 02:34:25 PM »


I remember reading the comments made by Cardinal Kasper awhile back.  And  I have printed the Orthodox reply  mentioned here on the 'other' site as well as  the Orthodox Newsgroup.  

I am being asked to provide the entire statement by Papal Catholics in both sites.  Does anyone have the article where Cardinal Kasper made this statement or can they provide me with a website where it is printed?

I searched and can't find it even though I know its got to be some where.

Thanks,
Orthodoc
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« Reply #37 on: October 21, 2003, 05:13:17 PM »

Orthodoc, try

http://www.cathnews.com/news/302/117.php

james

link from other forum:

http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=24524
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