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