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Author Topic: Current status on EO and OO relations?  (Read 6607 times) Average Rating: 0
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simplygermain
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« on: June 24, 2009, 08:17:37 PM »

I'm wondering about our current status as a whole on how things are moving between the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. I was a Rasta that converted to Orthodoxy through - 1st -an American priest from the French Orthodox Church (set up by St. John Maximovitch) 2nd- Chrismated and Baptised by an OCA priest. 3rd - currently in the western American Diocese of Serbian Orthodox. Long strange Trip for me...what disheartens me is that I can not recieve Eucharist from an Oriental Orthodox Church. While I have many priest friends now who would gladly (if they could) serve the Ethiopian laity, they can't and I have been instructed by my OCA priest friend (who baptised me) not to recieve communion from them. What will it take to unite these two churches?

(p.s. I am aware of Chalcedon and have done my homework regarding the view of some OO having a different point of view.)
 
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2009, 09:35:34 PM »

Welcome to the site!

I know there have been meetings between our leaders and there is a joint commission that has studied the issues.  Agreements have been made between our two Churches, but I do not have the details in front of me.  Others who post here know more than I do about this.  I think limited intercommunion exists on an official level in Syria and Egypt.  Again, others know more than I about this.

Unfortunately, I don't see complete union between our two Churches very soon.  However, it is something for which I and others pray.  Let's hope and pray that God makes this a reality within our lifetimes!   Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2009, 09:39:18 PM »

This website may be of interest to you:

http://www.orthodoxunity.org/
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2009, 11:45:02 PM »

wow! that says it all right there.
and it seems the Antiochians are in full communion. does this include the American Antiochians?
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2009, 11:46:33 PM »

I see my Serbian Church is making headway too!  Cool
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2009, 11:55:23 PM »

wow! that says it all right there.
and it seems the Antiochians are in full communion. does this include the American Antiochians?

I'm not sure if the agreement between the Syriac and Antiochian Churches applies here in the US.  For some reason, I don't think it does, but I could be wrong.
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2009, 12:06:51 AM »

I think that would be rather sad if true. What would that say about the relations between Antioch and it's American Offspring?
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2009, 12:10:08 AM »

I am also surprised that SCOBA with such a huge American Laity between them, would drag their heels at all regarding this. Unless the ties to the ROC are stronger than those with Jerusalem and Antioch and Constantinople.
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2009, 01:01:12 AM »

I've been told by someone of prominence in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, who supports full unity with the so called Oriental Orthodox Church's, that the dialogue facilitated by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in conjunction with all the Holy Orthodox Churches, begun in the 1960's, concluded its work.  This work has been published long ago.  I had received a gratuitous copy from the Holy Cross (School of Theology) Press, Brookline, MA, some years ago.  I think it is now out of print.

This source told me, with the conclusion of the dialogue, all that remains is for the Church (EO) to acknowledge that unification has been achieved.  He indicated Patriarch Bartholomew supports this unification, but that too many, throughout the Holy Orthodox Churches, remain opposed to it.  Not-with-standing the reasons for it, many deemed legitimate by those on the EO side, I think the problem that remains is that the Oriental Orthodox Church's have not accepted, en to-to, the doctrines defined by all of the Ecumenical Synods (Councils).

SCOBA cannot act on this matter because it has been handled by representatives of the Holy Orthodox Churches; a pan-Orthodox Commission.
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2009, 01:21:25 AM »

Who is your "Someone of Prominence"? Snoopy from the Peanuts Gang, maybe St. Linus the BlanketBearer?  Huh Just kidding...but really, sources of the mysterious type are quite shady. I wish ou could divulge atleast their status.
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2009, 02:01:25 AM »

REPLY TO REPLY #9

I guess you don't know me so you don't know that you can trust me, but you can check my prior posts on this forum.  As an Orthodox Christian, who's been granted an "official title" (Ecclesiarch) by my diocesan bishop, I "let my yes be yes and my no, no." I typically will say, "I've heard;" it's my recollection, but I can't be sure;" I'm not a priest, but I think," etc.  I do not know if this person would want to be quoted and I had the conversation, probably 5 years ago.  He would know; and I don't think the info. I posted is considered confidential.
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2009, 02:49:05 AM »

Just for reference, what it would take for the two Churches to reunite has been discussed previously:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12549.0.html

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,11782.0.html
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2009, 12:41:17 PM »

Thanks for all the insight. - I guess we've got a lot of talking left to do. I didn't realize we condemned eachother's saints. I was aware of Nestorious' works being cast out (lack of the proper terminology) but I know the OO did the same thing later anyway.
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2009, 01:36:24 PM »

This source told me, with the conclusion of the dialogue, all that remains is for the Church (EO) to acknowledge that unification has been achieved.  He indicated Patriarch Bartholomew supports this unification, but that too many, throughout the Holy Orthodox Churches, remain opposed to it. 

His All Holiness has said quite clearly that the OO must accept all 7 Ecumenical Councils before any reunion (something that won't happen any time soon, if ever). There's an audio recording of it somewhere.
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« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2009, 02:11:22 PM »

Couldn't the OO accept the Canons made by the councils without accepting the Anathemas placed on certain saints? Would that be acceptable and still maintain the infallibility of the Council Decisions?
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« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2009, 02:53:58 PM »

I was aware of Nestorious' works being cast out (lack of the proper terminology) but I know the OO did the same thing later anyway.

The Church Fathers at the Third Ecumenical Council condemned Nestorius, and that is common to both the EO and OO tradition.  The OO's, in addition, have rejected other language used by Nestorius ("two natures,") which the EO's have held onto, while giving it a different interpretation than he did.  That actually is partly what caused the rift between our two Churches.
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« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2009, 03:14:29 PM »

Couldn't the OO accept the Canons made by the councils without accepting the Anathemas placed on certain saints? Would that be acceptable and still maintain the infallibility of the Council Decisions?

I think it was mentioned in one of the threads to which I linked above that the EO Church pretty strongly identifies itself as the Church of the Seven Councils.  If I am wrong about this, someone correct me.  Since the EO's view the seven councils as foundational to their Church, they have a hard time with the idea of accepting the OO's without the OO's first fully accepting all seven councils as ecumenical.  I don't think that their leadership will be OK with the OO's just accepting some of the canons, much less just a demonstration that we essentially have the same faith.  The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.
   
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« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2009, 03:24:11 PM »

Ah...I forgot which council had ol' uncle Nestor expelled... the 3rd, right. Man, Salpy, you know your stuff.
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« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2009, 03:27:30 PM »

I've never heard us referred to as "the church of the seven councils" but that is the insinuation 'round the teachings...my chatecumen books are OCA and they make mention of our church upholding all 7.
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« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2009, 03:40:11 PM »

I think it was mentioned in one of the threads to which I linked above that the EO Church pretty strongly identifies itself as the Church of the Seven Councils.  If I am wrong about this, someone correct me.  Since the EO's view the seven councils as foundational to their Church, they have a hard time with the idea of accepting the OO's without the OO's first fully accepting all seven councils as ecumenical.  I don't think that their leadership will be OK with the OO's just accepting some of the canons, much less just a demonstration that we essentially have the same faith.  The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation. 

There are some who strongly identify us EO as "the Church of the Seven Councils," but this is usually in the context of EO-OO or EO-RC polemics.  In reality, there would be more to accept than "just" the 7 Ecumenical Councils; I don't see reunion without acceptance of also at least the 8th (Photian) and 9th (Palamite) Ecumenical Councils.
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« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2009, 04:25:51 PM »

There are some who strongly identify us EO as "the Church of the Seven Councils," but this is usually in the context of EO-OO or EO-RC polemics.  In reality, there would be more to accept than "just" the 7 Ecumenical Councils; I don't see reunion without acceptance of also at least the 8th (Photian) and 9th (Palamite) Ecumenical Councils.

That is the problem.  Because so many of these conversations take place in a polemical context, the impression we get of you is that you view your seven (or eight, or nine) councils much the way the Protestants view the Bible.  The impression that I have received during my time here is that what we actually believe is not so important to the EO's, as whether we adopt seven, (or eight, or nine) councils.  I have to remind myself that what I encounter on line is not necessarily representative of real life.

I'm going to copy here something written by Father Peter on another thread which I felt pretty well described the difference between the OO's and EO's with regard to how we view our councils.  It's a bit harsh, but I kept in in the public forum because I felt he did such a good job of describing the difference in our psychologies, and that is something that people need to understand when dealing with us.  That being said, I wonder how much of what he describes about his personal experience with EO's is really just representative of who is debating this stuff on the internet, vs. the church leaders who are out there in real life.  Maybe you can comment on that here in this thread, if you want:



I think the whole issue of ecumenicity is different in the OO, and indeed that the EO view is one which developed later during the controversial period as a response to criticisms.

It does not seem to me that the OO tend to say simply 'accept only three councils', in the way that many EO just state 'accept the seven or eight or nine councils'. This is because it seems to me that the OO Fathers have been more concerned to deal with the substance of faith rather than using the councils as either a polemical tool, without reference to their substance. Chalcedon is rejected because it is not considered Orthodox, the issue of ecumenicity is not the main one. Indeed all Imperial councils were called as being ecumenical, this did not mean what it has later come to mean within EOxy.

...

I do consider Ephesus II important within the OO tradition, but ecumenicity is not understood in the same way. Indeed I believe that it is in modern times that the EO has come to consider the councils an infallible authority over and above the Church, in the same way that the Roman Catholic Church have defined the Pope as the infallible authority over and above the Church, and Protestants have defined the Bible as the infallible authority over and above the Church. I believe that OOxy preserves the teaching that it is the Holy Spirit alone who is over and above the Church and who is the only infallible foundation of the life of the Church.

This allows OOxy to recognise both the human and divine aspect in all conciliar activity, while EOxy seems to me to be truly monophysite or docetic in its view of some councils by eliminating the human aspect and making the council little different to the means by which the Koran was apparently produced. I do not say this polemically, but because it does seem to me that this is the case.

...

Within OOxy I believe that councils are accepted as authoritative in so far as they expound the truth, in so far as they are Orthodox, and that which is not Orthodox is passed over and that which is Orthodox is simply a re-iteration of that which has always been true. It is quite possible for me to find some things to criticise in the Acts of the Second Council while also considering it essentially Orthodox and authoritative. It is even possible for me to find those things with which I agree in Chalcedon and pass over the rest, or understand it within a context. This is because the Holy Spirit does not overwhelm human activity but works through human agency.

Yet it seems to me, from over 15 years discussion with many EO, that it is much harder for the EO to be reflective in regard to the councils since they must either be entirely true (though no-one can tell me authoritatively what that includes) or are false. This seems to me to be a wrong attitude towards the councils, indeed any conciliar activity and stands in the way of unity and agreement. It is even necessary to show that if Chalcedon must be accepted entirely as a divine work in all of its statements, and if to reject any part of it is to fail to be Orthodox (and many EO have said this to me) then Pope Leo is not Orthodox because he always rejected Canon 28 of Chalcedon.

This does not seem to me to be absolutely problematic in an OO context, since the OO Fathers, it seems to me, would want to ask what a person did believe about the issue in view, not what they thought about something that a council had said. It was not so important to St Cyril, that John of Antioch accept that Ephesus I was 'ecumenical', it was more important that he thought in an acceptably Orthodox manner about the issue that Ephesus I tried to deal with. This seems to me to be different to the modern EO view which I have often met with, which says 'accept the seven councils' even while the person insisting on this does not actually have a clue what the seven councils stand for.

...

it seems to me that the OO would see that the Holy Spirit can work in such situations, but it does not seem to me that such events should be set up as infallible and above the Church. What does infallible mean? Surely we should be asking only how far the councils represented that which is true, that is all that matters. If the label of infallible is added in modern times simply to mean that no questions can be asked, then it seems that there is something wrong and that there is a difference in view between the EO and OO...



http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21726.msg330316.html#msg330316
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« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2009, 07:50:37 PM »

Wow! I had never put my own thoughts so reflectively. I will consider all this. Thank you for your help brothers. laugh
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« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2009, 08:03:59 PM »

The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.

No, they will have to accept the Three Ecumenical Councils.
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« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2009, 09:00:38 PM »

and it seems the Antiochians are in full communion.

Don't let that excite you too much.  I have also been told that the Antiochians are also in open communion with the Melkites (Arab Greek Catholics) of Antioch due to the difficulties of receiving the Eucharist in the region.  But it does show you that real hardship and persecution tend to put a stop to all the extraneous B.S.
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« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2009, 09:11:33 PM »

The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.

No, they will have to accept the Three Ecumenical Councils.

You mean they would have to reject the latter four?  You don't think our Church leaders would be willing to see them keep the four other councils, with the understanding that we and they disagree as to their status, but still have a common faith?
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« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2009, 11:18:20 PM »

The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.

No, they will have to accept the Three Ecumenical Councils.

You mean they would have to reject the latter four?  You don't think our Church leaders would be willing to see them keep the four other councils, with the understanding that we and they disagree as to their status, but still have a common faith?

Hmmm.  I'm wondering if OO leadership would want us to reject Ecumenical councils 5-9, since those are not disputed; now, the debate (ongoing) about Chalcedon, the various Anathemas and definitions included, would likely be lengthy and of critical importance to the discussion, in addition to addressing the situation post-Chalcedon (i.e. persecution of the OOs in the name of the Empire).
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« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2009, 11:42:33 PM »

it was my understanding that it is after the 3rd, that the OO's and us stopped communing. right or wrong?
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« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2009, 11:51:41 PM »

Let me re-phrase that ( if I've got it wrong tell me)...In a nutshell, there is no dispute between the first three, there is some dispute over the fourth, and at the fifth the Copts and EO's had some disagreement on who's way of expressing the divinity of Christ ( in their own tongue ) was better ( each saying the same thing ). Anathemas were wildly flung at eachother in offense over misunderstanding and everyone stopped talking. Then the sixth and seventh were pretty much a Byzantine issue that didn't concern the Copts and Ethiopians.
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« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2009, 11:54:24 PM »

We may have a while before it happens but, man 'o man, what a day that will be!  There will be so much rejoicing throughout the whole world!  
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« Reply #29 on: June 26, 2009, 12:09:40 AM »

We may have a while before it happens but, man 'o man, what a day that will be!  There will be so much rejoicing throughout the whole world!  

I agree.  Imagine how much stronger the Orthodox would be if we communed from the same cup.

If we were united, it would be harder for the Muslims and others to persecute us, and for the West to ignore us.
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« Reply #30 on: June 26, 2009, 12:20:04 AM »

Funny thought: Would we not also be the largest Church in the world?
This would give us great popularity and respect and then World Leaders would listen to our Patriarchs instead of thinking of them as the Crazy Bearded Man in the funny black robe that they have to put up with. Then all the faithful would have to leave and go to the wildernesses and desert (which would be packed with more devout people than expected from other regions ) and there would be not a cave in sight that did not have a hermit. Then bats would micro-evolve into a species that sleeps during the day in trees due to being forced from their homes! This would cause such a stir among atheistic animal rights activists.  Tongue
Pardon my humor - I know I have no sense of it.

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« Reply #31 on: June 26, 2009, 12:22:15 AM »

Funny thought: Would we not also be the largest Church in the world?

Nope.  There are over a billion Catholics, Roman and Eastern.
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« Reply #32 on: June 26, 2009, 12:32:22 AM »

Let me re-phrase that ( if I've got it wrong tell me)...In a nutshell, there is no dispute between the first three, there is some dispute over the fourth, and at the fifth the Copts and EO's had some disagreement on who's way of expressing the divinity of Christ ( in their own tongue ) was better ( each saying the same thing ). Anathemas were wildly flung at eachother in offense over misunderstanding and everyone stopped talking. Then the sixth and seventh were pretty much a Byzantine issue that didn't concern the Copts and Ethiopians.

You may want to click on the Chalcedon tag below and do a little reading.

This is a gross oversimplification, but here I go:

We agree on the first three councils.  It was with the EO's (and Catholics') fourth council (Chalcedon) that the schism started.  The issues are very complicated, but the bottom line is that Chalcedon embraced some language that the OO's felt was too close to the language of the Nestorians.

One century later, at your fifth council (Constantinople II) the EO's adopted additional language that excluded a Nestorian interpretation of the language used at Chalcedon.  They also condemned some Nestorian writings and a Nestorian theologian named Theodore of Mopsuestia.  This secured an Orthodox interpretation of Chalcedon and brought the EO's back closer to the position of the OO's.  

Councils 6 and 7 had to do with issues which were internal to the EO's.

I have no idea what councils 8 and 9 were about, but I suspect they had something to do with the Catholics.  

It would make my life easier if someone could tell me how many ecumenical councils the EO's really have.  Is it 7, 8, or 9?  I hear different numbers from different people.  Is there a consensus on this among the EO's, or is it something which is disputed?
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« Reply #33 on: June 26, 2009, 12:48:11 AM »

This depends on the jurisdiction in the EO's...Byzantine Catholics, Eastern Catholics from Bosnia, Old Believers & from which Country (not totally sure)...etc. OCA admits to seven in the Orthodox Faith handbook viii Bible and Church History
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« Reply #34 on: June 26, 2009, 03:23:23 AM »

The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.

No, they will have to accept the Three Ecumenical Councils.

You mean they would have to reject the latter four?  You don't think our Church leaders would be willing to see them keep the four other councils, with the understanding that we and they disagree as to their status, but still have a common faith?

Hmmm.  I'm wondering if OO leadership would want us to reject Ecumenical councils 5-9, since those are not disputed; now, the debate (ongoing) about Chalcedon, the various Anathemas and definitions included, would likely be lengthy and of critical importance to the discussion, in addition to addressing the situation post-Chalcedon (i.e. persecution of the OOs in the name of the Empire).

Actually, the Sixth One is the one that would cause problems: it calls Disocoros "hated of God" in passing.  IIRC, Diosocros is not even mentioned in the Definition of Chalcedon, let alone anathematized.  He was deposed, though, technically because of refusing three fold summons, but really for the misdeeds of Ephesus II, especially as regards Flavian.
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« Reply #35 on: June 26, 2009, 03:27:02 AM »

Let me re-phrase that ( if I've got it wrong tell me)...In a nutshell, there is no dispute between the first three, there is some dispute over the fourth, and at the fifth the Copts and EO's had some disagreement on who's way of expressing the divinity of Christ ( in their own tongue ) was better ( each saying the same thing ). Anathemas were wildly flung at eachother in offense over misunderstanding and everyone stopped talking. Then the sixth and seventh were pretty much a Byzantine issue that didn't concern the Copts and Ethiopians.

You may want to click on the Chalcedon tag below and do a little reading.

This is a gross oversimplification, but here I go:

We agree on the first three councils.  It was with the EO's (and Catholics') fourth council (Chalcedon) that the schism started.  The issues are very complicated, but the bottom line is that Chalcedon embraced some language that the OO's felt was too close to the language of the Nestorians.

One century later, at your fifth council (Constantinople II) the EO's adopted additional language that excluded a Nestorian interpretation of the language used at Chalcedon.  They also condemned some Nestorian writings and a Nestorian theologian named Theodore of Mopsuestia.  This secured an Orthodox interpretation of Chalcedon and brought the EO's back closer to the position of the OO's.  

Councils 6 and 7 had to do with issues which were internal to the EO's.

I have no idea what councils 8 and 9 were about, but I suspect they had something to do with the Catholics.  

8 was about the deposition of St. Photios, but had issues on the filioque.  9 was about the essence and energies of God, and hesychasm practice.


Quote
It would make my life easier if someone could tell me how many ecumenical councils the EO's really have.  Is it 7, 8, or 9?  I hear different numbers from different people.  Is there a consensus on this among the EO's, or is it something which is disputed?

7 are not disputed.  8 and 9 some consider Ecumenical or some consider like you consider Ephesus II.
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« Reply #36 on: June 26, 2009, 03:44:21 AM »

Just a friendly reminder that if this becomes a contentious debate about Chalcedon, I will be putting it in the private section.  Our new member's questions here have to do with the current state of negotiations between our Churches and what it would take for reunion to happen.  Let's keep on that topic.  Contentiously speculating about why OO saints may really have been condemned by the EO's, or otherwise speculating on the minute details of councils that are not really even the subject of this thread will result in posts being split off and thrown into private.  Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
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« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2009, 04:05:42 AM »

A tangent speculating about the OO's and the Second Council was split off and put into the private forum.
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« Reply #38 on: June 26, 2009, 04:28:21 AM »

In my own experience I would say that there are two or three attitudes found within EOxy which are relevant to the present status of relations.

There are those educated and less educated who consider that the OO are EO enough and look forward to reunion and practice a degree of inter-communion and liturgical fellowship as appropriate. Others in this category consider that the OO are EO enough and wait with frustration for the various hierarchies to do something more practical about the situation. Yet other Holy Synods have already made positive steps - both Antioch and Romania have synodically accepted the results of the dialogue. I have been in contact with many EO who have such views, and have spoken with EO bishops who also hold to them.

There are those who have no interest in the situation, and make no effort to educate themselves, and these are found among laity, clergy and bishops. Indeed a EO bishop told me that the main problem was laziness, fear and overwork among EO bishops. This large group of people often have a false and stereotypical apprehension of the OO which allows them to persist in their views with a certain intellectual and spiritual inertia.

Finally there are a smaller and vocal group of critics who believe firmly that the OO are heretics, and who are unable to consider anything but a static binary situation where EO is good and everything else is bad in some sense. In my experience, and in conversation with EOs from my group 1, these people seem almost cultlike, driven by fear, and are most often converts, either from a Protestant background or from a less rigourous practice of their own Orthodoxy. Most of the materials produced by this group are scandalously libellous, based on poor research, and repeat the same attacks over and over again.
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« Reply #39 on: June 26, 2009, 04:40:04 AM »

Thank you Father.  I know you have been involved in a great deal of dialogue, and your input here is much appreciated.

As I indicated above, my own much more limited experience tells me that the third group you describe is a minority, but they are over-represented on the internet.  This can easily give one a skewed and unrealistic view of the EO's.  I think in real life the first group you describe is much larger.  I hope that is the case, as I really do desire unity between our two Churches.
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« Reply #40 on: June 26, 2009, 04:41:54 AM »

I have read several pamphlets by such groups which are riddled with untruths, misunderstandings and polemics which could have been easily cleared up by proper study of OO primary sources and through conversation with educated OO. Many quote a few fragments which are available in the PG while ignoring completely the massive corpus of works in Syriac, and in Western languages.

It is very encouraging that in the last decade a great many excellent Western scholars have turned their attention to the OO tradition and write substantial, balanced accounts. Perhaps the fruit of their labours will feed into the conversation betwen the EO and OO at some point.

Nevertheless it is my personal opinion that while group 1 will continue to be encouraging, and group 2 will be liable to education about our tradition, and some will move into group 1, in fact group 3 will continue to be vocal and will seek to destablise the dialogue, as has been seen to occur in Georgia for instance, where the hierarchy was essentially blackmailed by a group of monastics. At some point the EO will need to decide whether it senses a spiritual imperative to work for unity with those who have substantially the same faith - as I believe is the motivation for the OO efforts (we certainly do not NEED to be accepted by the EO since we know that we are Orthodox Church) - and must deal with those elements within its communion which are working towards an insular, narrow and fearful response to those outside their formal communion.

Please edit whatever is considered inappropriate. I think it is known that I have been constantly committed to the dialogue with the EO and so I am not speaking out of a polemical viewpoint but merely describing my own experiences. The worst abuse I have ever received on the internet has come from EO, mostly converts, and the only time I have felt hostlity in a church was in an EO monastery. It is this attitude which frustrates union, not any genuine theoloigical issues.

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« Reply #41 on: June 26, 2009, 09:24:13 AM »

I have read several pamphlets by such groups which are riddled with untruths, misunderstandings and polemics which could have been easily cleared up by proper study of OO primary sources and through conversation with educated OO. Many quote a few fragments which are available in the PG while ignoring completely the massive corpus of works in Syriac, and in Western languages.

It is very encouraging that in the last decade a great many excellent Western scholars have turned their attention to the OO tradition and write substantial, balanced accounts. Perhaps the fruit of their labours will feed into the conversation betwen the EO and OO at some point.

Nevertheless it is my personal opinion that while group 1 will continue to be encouraging, and group 2 will be liable to education about our tradition, and some will move into group 1, in fact group 3 will continue to be vocal and will seek to destablise the dialogue, as has been seen to occur in Georgia for instance, where the hierarchy was essentially blackmailed by a group of monastics. At some point the EO will need to decide whether it senses a spiritual imperative to work for unity with those who have substantially the same faith - as I believe is the motivation for the OO efforts (we certainly do not NEED to be accepted by the EO since we know that we are Orthodox Church) - and must deal with those elements within its communion which are working towards an insular, narrow and fearful response to those outside their formal communion.

Please edit whatever is considered inappropriate. I think it is known that I have been constantly committed to the dialogue with the EO and so I am not speaking out of a polemical viewpoint but merely describing my own experiences. The worst abuse I have ever received on the internet has come from EO, mostly converts, and the only time I have felt hostlity in a church was in an EO monastery. It is this attitude which frustrates union, not any genuine theoloigical issues.

Father Peter


Fr. Peter (after kissing your hand,) what do you make of it from the OO side? There seems to be a lot of dispute now over topics like theosis, with sides forming with some following EO spirituality and some rejecting it. I don't know much about what's going on though.
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« Reply #42 on: June 26, 2009, 09:44:13 AM »

Couldn't the OO accept the Canons made by the councils without accepting the Anathemas placed on certain saints? Would that be acceptable and still maintain the infallibility of the Council Decisions?

Rome didn't accept alot of canons at first either.......according to Dr. Leo Donald Davis, it took her 900 years to embrace some of them.



Quote
"Quote:
“the work of the Council of Constantinople was completed. Theologically, it had carried on the logic of the Council of Nicaea and cautiously applied that Council’s reasoning about the Son’s relation to the Father to the Holy Spirit, though confining its statement to biblical terminology. Administratively, the Council continued the eastern practice of accommodating the ecclesiastical organization of the Empire, sowing the seeds of discord among the four great sees of East and West by raising the ecclesiastical status of Constantinople to correspond to its civil position as New Rome. All in all, it proved to be a remarkable Council. It was never intended to be an ecumenical Council: the Bishop of Rome was not invited; only 150 Eastern bishops were present; only one by accident from the West. Only at the Council of Chalcedon of 451 did it begin to rank in the East with the Council of Nicaea as more than a local council. Because of the schism at Antioch, its first president, Meletius, was not in communion with Rome and Alexandria. Its second president, Gregory of Nazianzus, was not in western eyes the legitmate bishop of Constantinople. Strong doubts were later expressed about the authenticity of its creed. Its canons were rejected in the West for nine hundred years." [1] page 129
 


and

Quote
Quote:
“Most controversial of all, canon twenty-eight read that the Fathers of the Council of Constantinople “properly gave the primacy to the Throne of elder Rome, because that was the imperial city.” And being moved by the same intention they now “gave equal privileges to the most holy Throne of New Rome, judging with reason, that the city which was honored with the sovereignty and senate, and which enjoyed equal privileges with the elder royal Rome, should also be magnified like her in ecclesiastical matters, being second after her.” The canon also granted to the patriarch of Constantinople the right to ordain the duly elected metropolitans of the civil diocese of Thrace, Asia and Pontus as well as the bishops in lands outside the Empire, though metropolitans continued to ordain the bishops subject to them. Thus, Constantinople was assigned a patriarchate comprising today’s Turkey, eastern Bulgaria and romania, giving it territory equal to Antioch and Alexandria. Besides it was declared, as the see of the capital of the Eastern Empire, to have equal privileges in ecclesiastical matters with the see of Rome but occupying second place to Rome in honor. Further, the patriarch of Constantinople could hear appeals over the heads of all the bishops, metropolitans and exarchs of the East. The intent of the Council Fathers in all of this was not to attack the bishop of Rome but to provide an ecclesiastical structure for the East to keep the Church in peace. In another declaration, the see of Jerusalem was proclaimed a fifth patriarchate along with Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch. The twenty-eighth canon was voted on October 21 with neither the papal legates nor the imperial commissioners present. Anatolius of Constantinople, Maximus of Antioch, Juvenal of Jerusalem and 182 bishops approved it. The next day the legate Paschasinus demanded the reading of the acts of the session. The bishops pointed out that he had refused to attend, but the notary read out the account of the proceedings. The papal legate Lucentius suggested that the vigorously denied. The legates then expressed amazement that the bishops had not followed the sixth canon of Nicaea which had said nothing of the authority of Constantinople. They insisted that their instructions were to resist any usurpation of the rights of the bishop of Rome. They refused to accept the third canon of the Council of Constantinople which decreed of Rome because Constantinople was new Rome. In vain the bishops of Pontus and Asiaa pointed out that the twenty-eighth canon merely sanctioned practice, for the patriarch of Constantinople had long ordained metropolitans in their civil dioceses. Eusebius of Dorylaeum said that he had personally read the third canon of Constantinople to Pope Leo and claimed that he had accepted it. The imperial commissioners approved the canon; the bishops acclaimed their decision over the protests of the papal legates. On this sour note, the Council ended. In February, 452, Emperor Marcian promulgated the decrees: “All therefore shall be bound to hold the decisions of the sacred council of Chalcedon and indulge no further doubts. Take heed therefore to this edict of our Serenity: abstain from profane words and cease all further discussion of religion.” [2] pages 190-191
 









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[1].[2] from the book (The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology) by Leo Donald Davis.
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« Reply #43 on: June 26, 2009, 09:50:40 AM »

Couldn't the OO accept the Canons made by the councils without accepting the Anathemas placed on certain saints? Would that be acceptable and still maintain the infallibility of the Council Decisions?

I think it was mentioned in one of the threads to which I linked above that the EO Church pretty strongly identifies itself as the Church of the Seven Councils.  If I am wrong about this, someone correct me.  Since the EO's view the seven councils as foundational to their Church, they have a hard time with the idea of accepting the OO's without the OO's first fully accepting all seven councils as ecumenical.  I don't think that their leadership will be OK with the OO's just accepting some of the canons, much less just a demonstration that we essentially have the same faith.  The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.
   





It took Rome a long long time to embrace all the canons.









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« Reply #44 on: June 26, 2009, 10:42:17 AM »

I know communion between the two Churches will take time, but is it likely to happen? I know from the EO side people pray for communion with the CC but (not to be pessimistic) I don't see this ever happening. How likely is communion between the EO and OO? I realize that it has to take time to prepare but will it at some time happen?
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« Reply #45 on: June 26, 2009, 11:04:32 AM »

I think that the EO's are closer to the OO's than to the Catholics when it comes to actual beliefs.  There are therefore those who think reunion between EO's and OO's is more likely than reunion between the EO's and Catholics.  That being said, there are still significant hurdles to be overcome, such as some very bad history, as well as anathemas of each other's saints, the issue of acceptance or rejection of councils, etc.  There are times when I look at the situation and think it is impossible.  However, we know that what is impossible for man is still possible for God.  That is why I and others are still able to hope and pray for this.   Smiley
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« Reply #46 on: June 26, 2009, 01:07:39 PM »

Actually I have been wondering if there is not more scope for reunion between the OO and RC in the future. The RC would need to reflect on their present doctrine and practice, but the things which would be asked of them are in fact in their own past, and they would only be asked to return to their own tradition rather than adopt someone else's.

I have been to quite a few RC/OO events where the RC could not be more friendly and interested in the OO, and many of the RC scholars seem quite well informed on the OO positions.

It seems to me that the vocal minority in the EO against any dialogue with anyone will always be a problem in the EO/OO conversation. I am not sure how they are to be reconciled, as I have found that in conversation, even as issues are resolved, they simply find more and more obscure issues to retreat behind. The fact is that they do not want reunion on any terms, and will resist the ecumenical activity of anyone else using bogeymen like the WCC.

Last year I was invited to participate in a theological workshop in Geneva at the WCC which was examining the use made of the Bible by different Christian groups in the face of chaos and disasters. I went with some concern that I would be immersed in a liberal environment which had no respect for the scripture of tradition, but to be honest I had to repent of a lot of bad attitudes. When I arrived I was a little early for the first session and went into the chapel. The staff were there for their regular morning devotions. I was bristling ready for heresy, but the staff were all praying for the people of Azerbaijan, I think. I wondered how many other Christians around the world were praying for Azerbaijan that day? Not so many I guess. Then there were some prayers. I criticised one in my mind, and then shamefully realised it was a traditional Ethiopian Orthodox prayer.

Later on I spent several days studying the bible with some serious and committed Christians from around the world. Certainly many of them seemed to be activists and it would not be wrong to criticise their respective traditions as failing to provide them with the spiritual resources found in Orthodoxy, but I left with a great deal of respect for them all. Yet even yesterday on an EO forum I read the usual stereotypical blanket condemnations of the WCC as the fount of all ecumenical evil. I have to say that I have not found it so.

But how many of the vocal EO minority ever speak with OO, ever study OO primary and secondary sources. Not many.

I had to leave a major EO forum last year because it was made plain that I was not welcome because I was OO. I was told that I could not refer to the OO as the Church or even a Church, and I had to recategorise myself as a guest, after I had contributed many hundreds of messages over several years and had become one of the top ten posters.

So I am not overly positive about the prospects for union between the EO and OO in the short term and as far as human actions go. With God all things are possible. I wonder if the OO needs to spend more time working hard to bring about a greater sense of union among our own Churches. I would like to see in the UK many more activities which naturally include all Oriental Orthodox, and I would like to see Copts and Syrians considering Armenians and Ethiopians as members of the same Church, not a sister Church. Of course we know this but I hope we can live it more and more in the next decades.

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« Reply #47 on: June 26, 2009, 01:46:11 PM »

I know communion between the two Churches will take time, but is it likely to happen? I know from the EO side people pray for communion with the CC but (not to be pessimistic) I don't see this ever happening. How likely is communion between the EO and OO? I realize that it has to take time to prepare but will it at some time happen?

Please do not deny the Holy Spirit working as He deems needed, despite all our expectations.
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« Reply #48 on: June 26, 2009, 09:56:12 PM »

I wonder if the OO needs to spend more time working hard to bring about a greater sense of union among our own Churches. I would like to see in the UK many more activities which naturally include all Oriental Orthodox, and I would like to see Copts and Syrians considering Armenians and Ethiopians as members of the same Church, not a sister Church. Of course we know this but I hope we can live it more and more in the next decades.

YES!

I have already found that my very humble and weak efforts in this respect have been much more edifying and fruitful, particularly for myself, than any of the time and efforts spent looking into and discussing Chalcedon. Though I am glad I had the opportunity to have done such study in the first place because it was essentially, inter alia, the springboard for my greater general interest in my OOxy in the first place.

I think especially in the Diaspora where one's personal sense and attachment to their ethnic/culutral identity is, particularly for generations so born and raised in the Diaspora, already heavily absorbed/diluted in the cultural identity of the relevant society, it is more efficient and expedient for a particular OO Church to be open to the idiosyncrasies of another. Most western societies, being largely multicultural, already drill into us the sentiment that we should be open to other cultures and ways of thinking, and I think it's in the Church's best interest to replicate some sort of unified sense of multiculturalism within herself--the difference being, not that we are open to anything and everything the world offers, but that we are being open to everything divine the world offers--Orthodox cultures being the earthly crucible for a divine life.

I am actually amazed by how receptive people of my own church have been to the practices and ways of other OO churches. As much as many of the things brought to their awareness are foreign to them, there is a sense in which they are all too familiar to them as well.  I've shared the same experience myself. I can only best describe the experience with a fiction-type hypothetical: almost like meeting your best friend whose mind and soul have been realised by a completely different body. You don't recognise them at all at first; their appearance is completely new to you, but once you begin receiving them and exploring their inner depths, you slowly get a sense of "hey, I feel like i've known this person my whole life."

I'll stop there before I get carried away.  Cheesy
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« Reply #49 on: June 27, 2009, 11:27:42 AM »

I agree we need to do something to encourage a greater sense of unity and awareness among the OO's.  I think being geographically separated from each other for so many centuries has lead to a feeling that it is OK to be isolated.

Here in the Los Angeles area, we will have get-togethers for the youth of the Syriac, Coptic and Armenian Churches, maybe a few times a year.  It's not enough, but I guess it's a start.

Then there's SCOOCH.  It would be nice if they could get their own website, though.   Smiley

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21627.0.html

 
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« Reply #50 on: June 27, 2009, 12:47:59 PM »

I think we should ask all the bishops of both churches to pile into the Relient Center (Houston) to meet for a "friendly" conference.  Then, when they are all inside, bar the doors and turn off the AC, and leave them there with half a loaf of bread and a glass of water, and a copy of all the councils with a sticky note pinned to it saying "SOLVE THIS!"

Seriously, methinks it's stubourness that perpetuates the rift.  I've asked OO's what they believe and it sounds exactly like my own beliefs as an EO.  Either side has points, but in the essentials the faith are the same. 

It seems in this time, where Christianity is becomeing irrelevant in the concious of the world due to perversions, the people of the faith should be more willing to work together. 

This needs prayer, I think.  "God, Thy will be done".  And we listen.     
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« Reply #51 on: June 27, 2009, 01:07:33 PM »

Here in the UK we have the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches, to which I have rather surprisingly just been elected to the office of Secretary. I am hoping and praying that as the number of OO bishops, priests and lay people has grown rapidly over the last decade the COOC can be a facilitator for encouraging a genuine experience of unity.

A comprehensive directory website of all the parishes, priests and bishops of all the OO Churches in the UK seems to me to be an early requirement, with news being published from all the Churches, and events being advertised to all faithful as a matter of course.

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« Reply #52 on: June 27, 2009, 01:19:37 PM »

Seriously, methinks it's stubourness that perpetuates the rift.  I've asked OO's what they believe and it sounds exactly like my own beliefs as an EO.  Either side has points, but in the essentials the faith are the same.      

Indeed, but this is not only a question of differences in faith. We both confess there to be but one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Unless we adhere to some kind of branch theory (in which case restoration of communion would be little more than a nicety) a reunion essentially requires one side to acknowledge that it has been in schism for 1500 years, thereby undermining 1500 of its Christian life and witness, her saints and her martyrs. It is a tragic situation, and certainly contrary to the mind of God. But to dismiss it as simple stubbornness seems unfair. Our Christological differences might have been overcome, but if a reunion necessitates a heterodox ecclesiology, we would just be accepting one heresy in place of another.

Ecclesiology seems to be what hinders reunion, not Christology. Perhaps those engaged in the honourable endeavour to end the schism between our two churches should shift their focus to the ecclesiological implications of union, which is a subject I rarely see discussed.
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« Reply #53 on: June 27, 2009, 01:33:00 PM »

I think we should ask all the bishops of both churches to pile into the Relient Center (Houston) to meet for a "friendly" conference.  Then, when they are all inside, bar the doors and turn off the AC, and leave them there with half a loaf of bread and a glass of water, and a copy of all the councils with a sticky note pinned to it saying "SOLVE THIS!"   
LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!Grin
But seriously, it may take more than this, or we might end up worse off.
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« Reply #54 on: June 27, 2009, 02:26:02 PM »

Orthodox History is full of periods lasting even over centuries in which groups were not talking to each other and then came in to communion relatively straightforwardly.

I do not see that it is necessary for any one side to submit itself to another. We believe in ONE Church but clearly through history the ONE Church has been fragmented for various reasons and without lasting harm to the possibility of later reconciliation.

The Photian Schism, the Acacian Schism, the decision of the Georgian Church to reunite with the Byzantines, the schisms associated with the Three Chapters. These were all resolved within an Orthodox ecclesiology because schism does not necessitate any loss of grace, it just shows that the Church is a divine-human organism. Orthodox ecclesiogy is essentially rooted in the congregation gathered around its bishop, relations between bishops are secondary.

No-one as far as I am aware, is asking the EO to submit to the OO, indeed the OO has offered her own reflection on the state of the EO and considers that it is already the ONE Church, not that it must become part of the one Church. The nature of the Church is found in the inner quality of spiritual life not in outward organisation.  There will be schisms and arguments that interrupt communion between different communities but this does not mean that one group should claim to be the only Church, it may well be that both are the one Church - this has nothing to do with the branch theory at all. It merely faces the fact of human weakness. It is quite possible for the one Church to be in schism with itself.

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« Reply #55 on: June 27, 2009, 02:44:14 PM »

My experience with priests and many laity within the Serbian American and OCA churches is quite the same as Father Peter's. There seems to be an unwritten understanding that they have, which implies a unity between them (EO/OO) yet a division of the Bishops. Why would the Bishops keep apart what the body of Christ (the Church) would rather mend? What precaution is left? What tincture is left to clean the wounds?
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« Reply #56 on: June 27, 2009, 03:07:36 PM »

Bless Father,

Thank you for your input. Would you be able to direct me to any studies that discuss these issues in more detail? When the Georgian Church reunited with the Byzantines they did so by accepting Chalcedon. I'd be interested in seeing how these various schisms were resolved and what, if anything, was required by either side to facilitate such a resolution. Also, are there examples of anathemas issued by Ecumenical Councils being reversed by anything other than a subsequent Ecumenical Council? If yes, by whom, and by what means did such a decision become universally accepted throughout the Church?

Thank you.

P.S. Is your paper on Eutyches available anywhere online, or is it yet to be published?
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« Reply #57 on: June 27, 2009, 03:42:45 PM »

My paper on Eutyches will be published soon in the BOC Glastonbury Review and will be on line.

I am not sure that there are clear precedents to deal with the OO/EO situation beyond a generous openness to the work of the Holy Spirit, and to discerning the fulness of the Body of Christ in each other. There are always reasons which can be produced to prevent reconciliation between people and communities, but we are called to go beyond our human weakness, which has prolonged this mutual schism, and seek the wisdom of God. It can be shown that the anathema against St Dioscorus of the 6th council is based on no evidence, and is merely a stereotypical condemnation. St Dioscorus clearly confessed the integrity and reality of the humanity of Christ in the incarnation.

The OO have shown that they are willing to rescind the anathemas upon Leo of Rome, and I make it a point not to refer to him as an heretic, even though I believe it is possible and reasonable to criticise much that he taught. The issues as far as I can see are EO ones. St Severus was never a heretic, St Dioscorus was not a God hater nor was he hated by God. The EO need to deal with these misrepresentations. If they are unable or unwilling to then there will not be reconciliation. The OO are willing to deal with the anathemas against Leo not least because removing anathemas does not mean making any figure a saint. But it seems the EO are unable to move forward. That is not said polemically but it seems to be the facts of where we are.

There are certainly things the OO need to do to facilitate the process, not least to deal properly with the later councils of the EO, but in my opinion the EO also need to refect on the context of these later councils much more than I have yet seen. What does it mean that Vigilius of Rome was kidnapped by the Emperor and held in prison for years until he signed up to the 5th council? In what way does that reflect on the council? What does it mean that the Emperors viewed the Church as a department of State and treated it likewise? What value should be given to
anathemas against figures whose documented teaching is actually far removed from the representation provided at various councils? How can Chalcedon be considered ecumenical when half the Church rejected it? Indeed what does ecumenical mean in context since many councils were convened as being ecumenical?

Even I, as a completely amateur student of these things, can easily and comfortably criticise the history of my own anti-Chalcedonian community as part of a process of reflection, but I have found that Father John Romanides of blessed memory seems almost alone in being able to reflect critically on the pro-Chalcedonian history. If one side is unable to accept that it also has matters to deal with which require some degree of repentance then reconciliation will not be possible.

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« Reply #58 on: June 27, 2009, 03:54:55 PM »

A tangent dealing with the OO's and Catholics was split off and put here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,22049.0.html
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« Reply #59 on: June 27, 2009, 04:19:53 PM »

Bless Father,

Certainly the various misrepresentations of teachings needs to be dealt with. However, from my own experience, while Fr. Romanides might have been one of only a few EO authorities who offered a critical analysis of EO history, the vast majority of EO clergy I have come into contact with have been quite open to the idea that Dioscoros and Severus were essentially Cyrilline, and therefore Orthodox. Reading the works of people like McGuckin and Mayendorff, the OO are generally criticised for not being open to Chalcedonian language, not for any actual heresy. Thus, to a large extent, I think a lot of ground has been made on this issue.

What you say about the nature of an Ecumenical Council seems like the more difficult issue. The anathemas of the OO churches were made on a local basis, and can therefore be overturned on a local basis. But those of the EO church were made by an Ecumenical Council, which puts the EO in quite a difficult position. Also, for the EO to unite with the OO without their acceptance of Chalcedon would mean accepting that, however valid its defence of orthodoxy, it was not an Ecumenical Council. That is the implication of such a union. And if the OO have indeed been part of the Church of Christ all along, how could the 3 subsequent Synods be deemed Ecumenical?

So one would have to ask, what makes a council Ecumenical? You mention that Chalcedon was rejected by half the Church, but wasn't Nicea followed by a period in which the Church was dominated by Arians and the orthodox party were in the minorty?

Is an Ecumenical Council infallible?

Is the acceptance of an Ecumenical Council necessary for being part of the Church? If, for example, the Assyrian Church of the East clearly and unambiguously affirmed an orthodox christology, repudiating anything perceivably Nestorian, but refused to accept the Council of Ephesus, could they be admitted into communion with the Church?
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« Reply #60 on: June 27, 2009, 04:23:21 PM »

Criticising my own community..

I think we must go through all the latter EO councils including Chalcedon and line by line say what we have a problem with and why, and what we accept and why. Constantinople 553 is more or less entirely acceptable, for instance. We need to consider any issues with Ephesus II, as well, although I do think it is important.

It is not enough just to pass over the councils which mean so much to the EO, but we do need to express why there are issues and invite a response - not polemically but self-critically and with reflection.

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« Reply #61 on: June 27, 2009, 04:51:53 PM »

That's a good post, but just as it is hard to see how the EO can accept a communion based on the non-consideration of Chalcedon as ecumenical, so the OO can hardly imagine a communion based on the consideration of Chalcedon as ecumenical. I can imagine the Definitio being possibly accepted as liable to an Orthodox interpretation, but not ecumenical. Is it more important for something to be Orthodox than Ecumenical? To me Orthodox means True and Truth is Truth. The concept of ecumenicity adds little IMHO and especially if it is taken to mean an a priori impossibility of human weakness and error. All of the imperial councils were called ecumenical since they were all councils of the empire. Some councils became authoritative but that seems to me to be different to what is claimed for them.

BUT... it is entirely possible to imagine that both sides could agree that the other side held to the substance of the faith (apart from that group of EO who insist that the EO account of history must also be accepted without reservation).

I am not sure that we need to go further. Let us just do that work and see where God takes us. Even if we reach the place where we see that each other holds to the Faith and we don't know how to resolve the situation is better than allowing members of our churches, priests and bishops, to simply stereotype others.

I think the whole issue of ecumencity is very important, and I am not convinced that what I read from some modern EO polemicists is the same as the historic and patristic view. It seems to me that in the past people were asked to profess a faith and not councils. It would be useful to see how people were reconciled in past times, after Ephesus I for instance.

Personally I would not push the issue of Ephesus I if there was the prospect of reconciliation with the ACE, as long as there was a definite exclusion of all heresy and heretics, and a confession of the substance of the Orthodox Christology. It does seem to me that there are questions about the confused progress of Ephesus I which might justify some inhibition in terms of accepting a single historical perspective. Of course what would be good (ISTM) would be a unified historical narrative which comprehends the various positions and seeks to understand more fully the context in which the councils took place.

There is a difference with the ACE compared to the EO/OO. I do believe that Nestorius, Theodore, Diodore and Theodoret were heretics. I do believe that Leo can be shown to have been ambiguous rather than heretical (and I believe if he was an heretic it was because of his ecclesiology in any case), and of course Severus and the other Fathers were not heretics at all. The OO do not venerate Eutyches, or Apollinarius. But the ACE do venerate Nestorius, Theodore and Diodore.

I do think that we need to continue to work with the substance of what we believe, and see how far we get. There are those among the EO who think that not even this is acceptable. This is what cause me so lack of confidence about future developments. I have personally been told that there can be no discussion of the faith, I must just accept the Seven Councils, that seems to me to be cultlike. But we must engage with the questions that the more positive elements/majority of the EO have.

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« Reply #62 on: June 27, 2009, 06:58:30 PM »

I think the whole issue of ecumencity is very important, and I am not convinced that what I read from some modern EO polemicists is the same as the historic and patristic view. It seems to me that in the past people were asked to profess a faith and not councils. It would be useful to see how people were reconciled in past times, after Ephesus I for instance.

I would be very interested in seeing how the Coptic or Armenian views of the first three Ecumenical Synods (their nature, their importance, etc.) differed from that of "modern EO polemicists", not to mention that of the Fathers actually present at Chalcedon.
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« Reply #63 on: June 28, 2009, 04:07:12 AM »

I think that there is a difference, but I need to research it.

I do not have a sense that St Cyril ever said to John of Antioch, 'Accept X number of councils'. I sense rather that he was much more concerned about finding a unity in the substance of faith and himself said that he was willing to be as tolerant as he felt able to allow the Easterners to come back into communion.

Certainly I can find no evidence that Theodoret ever 'accepted' the Cyrilline council of Ephesus. He did not change his Christology throughout his life and after Chalcedon his letters show that he had the same essentially Theodorean objections to Cyril, and simply interpreted Chalcedon to suit his own Christology. I am getting ready for the liturgy so I will not write more, but I cannot recall that Ibas ever accepted the Cyrilline Ephesus either. An anathema on Nestorius is not the same thing at all. Quite clearly many Theodoreans were able to anathematise Nestorius while never ceasing to be disciples of Theodore.

I do not sense that the anti-Chalcedonians insisted on the acceptance of Ephesus II, though it was certainly considered an Imperial/Universal/Ecumenical council. Indeed the prayers used to reconcile Byzantines show that although it was necessary to reject Chalcedon. On the positive side, when St Timothy sends a confession of his faith to the Emperor he does not say how many councils he accepts, he states rather that he believes the confession of the fathers of Nicaea.

This seems to me to be a different attitude, which we can research further. But to accept the faith of a council is not the same as stating, as many EO have to me, that everything said or done at an ecumenical council is infallible and directly attributable to the Holy Spirit.

I do not believe that Leo of Rome ever accepted the 28th canon, I do not believe that Ibas and Thedoret ever accepted the Cyrilline Ephesus, or his 12 anathemas which were received there. Nevertheless they were received at Chalcedon. But nowadays it seems to me that many EO would not wish to accept an OO into communion without them accepting everything that has been said and done at each council. This does not seem to me to be the most ancient attitude.

I sense that St Cyril wanted to accept John of Antioch irrespective of his opinion of Ephesus, as long as his faith was substantially sound. But Councils became a tool in the Imperial will to impose a unity and uniformity of faith. You lived or died depending on how you responded to them. The beginning of this situation seems to me to be Nicaea and the Arian controversy. It is Imperial intrusion into Church affairs which skews the process of internal Church discernment and government.

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« Reply #64 on: June 28, 2009, 10:42:55 AM »

A post about the Coptic Church and theosis was split off and added to the latest thread discussing that topic:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20713.45.html#lastPost

Let's please keep this thread on topic.  Thanks.   Smiley


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« Reply #65 on: June 29, 2009, 03:42:27 AM »

Orthodox11,

I have put my paper on Eutyches here .. http://www.britishorthodox.org/Eutyches.pdf

and I don't know if you have seen my paper on Ibas here .. http://www.britishorthodox.org/Ibas.pdf

They are not academic papers as they were written for my Church members, but I hope they are serious.

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« Reply #66 on: August 10, 2009, 05:08:25 PM »


Thanks for all the insight. - I guess we've got a lot of talking left to do. I didn't realize we condemned eachother's saints. I was aware of Nestorious' works being cast out (lack of the proper terminology) but I know the OO did the same thing later anyway.

There was no difference in the timing of the condemnation of Nestorios between the EO and OO. I think you are thinking rather of Eutyches.
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« Reply #67 on: August 10, 2009, 05:09:35 PM »


Couldn't the OO accept the Canons made by the councils without accepting the Anathemas placed on certain saints? Would that be acceptable and still maintain the infallibility of the Council Decisions?

Beyond canons and anathemas, even the definitions of those councils are not even fully agreed upon.
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« Reply #68 on: August 10, 2009, 05:13:03 PM »

I think it was mentioned in one of the threads to which I linked above that the EO Church pretty strongly identifies itself as the Church of the Seven Councils.  If I am wrong about this, someone correct me.  Since the EO's view the seven councils as foundational to their Church, they have a hard time with the idea of accepting the OO's without the OO's first fully accepting all seven councils as ecumenical.  I don't think that their leadership will be OK with the OO's just accepting some of the canons, much less just a demonstration that we essentially have the same faith.  The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation. 

There are some who strongly identify us EO as "the Church of the Seven Councils," but this is usually in the context of EO-OO or EO-RC polemics.  In reality, there would be more to accept than "just" the 7 Ecumenical Councils; I don't see reunion without acceptance of also at least the 8th (Photian) and 9th (Palamite) Ecumenical Councils.

As someone who identifies rather strongly with the Christological tradition of the OOC, I can say that personally I don't really have any problem with the ideas that either Photios or Palamas are famous for.
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« Reply #69 on: August 10, 2009, 05:15:41 PM »

The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.

No, they will have to accept the Three Ecumenical Councils.

LOL

If that wasn't an implicit polemic, I don't know what is.
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« Reply #70 on: August 10, 2009, 05:17:33 PM »


it was my understanding that it is after the 3rd, that the OO's and us stopped communing. right or wrong?

It is certainly because of Chalcedon that communion was broken, but it didn't necessarily occur in an immediately consistent fashion.
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« Reply #71 on: August 10, 2009, 05:18:14 PM »

The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.

No, they will have to accept the Three Ecumenical Councils.

You mean they would have to reject the latter four?  You don't think our Church leaders would be willing to see them keep the four other councils, with the understanding that we and they disagree as to their status, but still have a common faith?

I was thinking he means that he thinks the EO are not really faithful to Ephesus.
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« Reply #72 on: August 10, 2009, 05:21:51 PM »

The OO's, on the other hand, would be more likely to accept reunion based upon a demonstration that we have the same faith.  At least that is how I understand the situation.

No, they will have to accept the Three Ecumenical Councils.

You mean they would have to reject the latter four?  You don't think our Church leaders would be willing to see them keep the four other councils, with the understanding that we and they disagree as to their status, but still have a common faith?

Hmmm.  I'm wondering if OO leadership would want us to reject Ecumenical councils 5-9, since those are not disputed; now, the debate (ongoing) about Chalcedon, the various Anathemas and definitions included, would likely be lengthy and of critical importance to the discussion, in addition to addressing the situation post-Chalcedon (i.e. persecution of the OOs in the name of the Empire).

5-9 are nowhere near as problematic as 4. But if 4 would have to be rejected, then clearly 5-9 could be accepted as nothing more than orthodox local councils.
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« Reply #73 on: August 10, 2009, 05:24:39 PM »


Let me re-phrase that ( if I've got it wrong tell me)...In a nutshell, there is no dispute between the first three, there is some dispute over the fourth, and at the fifth the Copts and EO's had some disagreement on who's way of expressing the divinity of Christ ( in their own tongue ) was better ( each saying the same thing ). Anathemas were wildly flung at eachother in offense over misunderstanding and everyone stopped talking. Then the sixth and seventh were pretty much a Byzantine issue that didn't concern the Copts and Ethiopians.

Not quite. The "Fourth Ecumenical Council", the Council of Chalcedon of 451, is where the major disagreement you are speaking of came into play. The Oriental Orthodox did not participate in "the Fifth Ecumenical Council", the Council of Constantinople of 553, though are more accepting of it than Chalcedon.
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« Reply #74 on: August 10, 2009, 05:25:50 PM »


Funny thought: Would we not also be the largest Church in the world?

Nowhere near. We still wouldn't even have half the numbers of the RCC.
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« Reply #75 on: August 10, 2009, 05:29:33 PM »


I have no idea what councils 8 and 9 were about, but I suspect they had something to do with the Catholics.

8, the Council of Constantinople of 879, dealt with the filioque clause and the status of the Patriarch Photios.

9, the Council of Constantinople of 1341, dealt with an issue of the perceptibility of God. Gregory Palamas said that God is found in His essence and also His energies, and that while the essence is incapable of us grasping in anyway, the energies nonetheless can be participated in.

Both of these councils are usually used to spite the RC's, and the RC's generally reject them. 


It would make my life easier if someone could tell me how many ecumenical councils the EO's really have.  Is it 7, 8, or 9?  I hear different numbers from different people.  Is there a consensus on this among the EO's, or is it something which is disputed?

It's truly not agreed upon. Most say 7 though.
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« Reply #76 on: August 10, 2009, 05:30:52 PM »


This depends on the jurisdiction in the EO's...Byzantine Catholics, Eastern Catholics from Bosnia, Old Believers & from which Country (not totally sure)...etc. OCA admits to seven in the Orthodox Faith handbook viii Bible and Church History

Byzantine/Eastern Catholics are not Eastern Orthodox. Old Believers are EO, but not part of the mainstream EOC that is usually spoken of.
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Tags: ethiopian  Oriental  eastern unity ecumenical councils Chalcedon 
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