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Author Topic: Meaning of "Oriental Orthodox"  (Read 1229 times) Average Rating: 0
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deusveritasest
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« on: August 07, 2009, 06:09:50 PM »

Does the phrase "Oriental Orthodox" only refer to the 6 churches of the Oriental Orthodox Communion and those initiated within them? Is it thus an inherently ecclesiastical consideration? What should those who are one in faith with the Oriental Orthodox Church, but who have (for some reason or another) not been initiated into the Communion, be called?
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2009, 04:37:52 AM »

As far as I can see the term Oriental Orthodox only has meaning as distinguishing an ecclesiastical community from the Eastern Orthodox in a narrow set of circumstances.

I consider myself as simply a member of the Orthodox Church. There is no need for further clarification unless confusion might be introduced in a discussion. When at work I described myself as an Orthodox Christian. If someone asked I would say that I was a member of the British Orthodox Church which was part of one of the most ancient of Churches in the world, the Coptic or Egyptian Orthodox Church. I don't recall often having to use the term Oriental Orthodox Church in such contexts.

I am the Secretary of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the UK, and I am sure that the use of the word Oriental in such a context is not an ontological description of our communion, but a means of distinguishing our own communion from others who would also call themselves Orthodox. It is a means of avoiding unnecessary confusion and tension I suppose.

I am happy to use the term Oriental Orthodox in contexts where the term Eastern Orthodox is used. I am not happy to use it when other parties take to themselves the simple term Orthodox. Oriental Orthodox describes a communion of Orthodox churches, it does not describe something other than Orthodoxy.

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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2009, 04:07:18 PM »

Something I'm not sure about...Oriental Orthodox aren't monothelites, right? You believe that Christ has two wills?
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« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2009, 04:17:53 PM »

We believe that Christ has the human faculty of will, but we do not confess two wills, because this means for us two independent wills and therefore two identities or subjects.

The Word who wills is one, and what he wills is one, therefore his will is one, even though it is expressed in and through the divine faculty of will - which is beyond our comprehension, and the human faculty of will which he shares with us and redeems for us. The statement of the EO 6th council has always seemed acceptable to me...

We likewise declare that in him are two natural wills and two natural operations indivisibly, inconvertibly, inseparably, inconfusedly, according to the teaching of the holy Fathers.  And these two natural wills are not contrary the one to the other (God forbid!) as the impious heretics assert, but his human will follows and that not as resisting and reluctant, but rather as subject to his divine and omnipotent will.  For it was right that the flesh should be moved but subject to the divine will, according to the most wise Athanasius.  For as his flesh is called and is the flesh of God the Word, so also the natural will of his flesh is called and is the proper will of God the Word, as he himself says:  “I came down from heaven, not that I might do mine own will but the will of the Father which sent me!” where he calls his own will the will of his flesh, inasmuch as his flesh was also his own.  For as his most holy and immaculate animated flesh was not destroyed because it was deified but continued in its own state and nature (ὄρῳ τε καὶ λόγῳ), so also his human will, although deified, was not suppressed, but was rather preserved according to the saying of Gregory Theologus:  “His will [i.e., the Saviour’s] is not contrary to God but altogether deified.”


This seems to adequately recognise the unity of will, while also describing the natural human faculty of will. What I would absolutely resist as error is any idea that the human Jesus willed differently to the divine Word. The OO confess that the human Jesus is the divine Word and therefore has one will, which is expressed humanly and divinely.

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« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2009, 04:21:35 PM »

Something I'm not sure about...Oriental Orthodox aren't monothelites, right? You believe that Christ has two wills?

No, it refers to the comunion of Churches that rejected the council of Chalcedon.  They were accused of monophysitism because they profess that there is 'one incarnate nature of the Word'.   Monothelitism was an attempt at a compromise by the emperor Heraclius to create union between those who accepted Chalcedon and those who didn't.  It was rejected by both sides as heresy.  Miaphysite rather than monophysite is an accurate term to refer to their Christology.  It is essentially the same as that professed by the Chalcedonian tradition.  
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« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2009, 04:39:25 PM »

Is it not the case that the Third Council of Constantinople also condemned the idea that Christ has one theandric will?
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2009, 05:04:25 PM »


We believe that Christ has the human faculty of will, but we do not confess two wills, because this means for us two independent wills and therefore two identities or subjects.

The Word who wills is one, and what he wills is one, therefore his will is one, even though it is expressed in and through the divine faculty of will - which is beyond our comprehension, and the human faculty of will which he shares with us and redeems for us.

Well, Father, you know my thoughts on the Council of Chalcedon and the "in two natures", idea. However, I don't know that I have trouble admitting that Christ has two natural wills. By will I'm assuming we are meaning a desire to act? And that the substance of the will is defined by what act is desired? As a basis, it seems that the OO are willing to admit that there is a certain twoness between the humanity and divinity in Christ even after the union. The union is a hypostatic one, meaning that the experiential self of the human known as Jesus was always the exact same as that of the Word; the instance of humanity that we came to know as Jesus was from the very beginning the Word, for the Word fully inhabited, possessed, and subsisted in this humanity as His own. The union, on the other hand, was not an essential (ousia) one, for there was no mixture or confusion of the humanity and divinity of the Word. Even Cyril of Alexandria himself wrote a treatise against the idea of synousia. Thus, the Word's humanity and divinity do not become each other or come together to form a third thing, but retain their full integrity as two different substances/essences. On this same principle, I think we could say that the natural will of the Word's humanity and the natural will of the Word's divinity retain their distinction and are not confused. While the subject of the desiring is the one Incarnate Word, and He experiences these desires not in separation but together, it still stands that there can be a distinction drawn in the substance of the things He is desiring. For instance, if Jesus were to desire to eat because of hunger, we could accurately say that this desire is proper to His humanity and not His divinity, even though it is a divine individual who is desiring to eat, no? On this basis, I believe with certain Chalcedonians we can recognize that the Incarnate Word has two natural wills which are the subject of one theanthropic hypostasis.

Do you agree, or do you believe that there is a point that I am missing that leaves this "two wills of one hypostasis" Christology less than sufficiently orthodox?
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2009, 05:21:16 PM »

My concern is only when the idea of two natural wills is used to describe two distinct objects of will and not distinct faculties of will. I am not sure that I would want to say that the desire to eat belongs to the human nature and not to the Word incarnate. I think I would feel happier saying that all of the human desires belong to the Word incarnate while they are experienced in his humanity to which those desires are proper.

It is human to walk, but it is the Word incarnate who walks, even while he walks in his humanity. It is human to will in a human way, but it is the Word incarnate who wills in a human way and not the human nature independently of the Word incarnate. Even more so, the object of the human willing of the Word incarnate is always the divine will and not some other will. There is only one who wills, and he wills divinely in his humanity.

I think it is also necessary to consider the different elements of willing in our own human experience, and understand that these are not unitary in any case. We have an animal desiring, a mental and psychological desiring and a spiritual desiring (three at the least). Therefore to speak simply of will as if there were only one aspect is problematic to me. It is clear that the animal/instinctual will was present in Christ, as is proper to our humanity - he hungered and was tired and desired relief. But that is hardly the most important aspect of willing. Indeed we honour those saints who have most perfectly united their own independent will with that of God, and we do not consider them less human, rather more completely human. It seems that we should expect that in Christ there is a uniquely perfect union of every aspect of willing so that we see one will, even while we recognise by careful and prayerful contemplation that the human aspects of willing retain their intregrity. This is surely how we deal with every aspect of duality in Christ?

I have found that those who stress two wills in Christ - I use the word stress - have tended to express view to me which seem to verge towards Nestorianism. An independent human will in Christ describes two subjects and is Nestorian.

That's more or less my thinking and reflecting at the moment.

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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2009, 05:58:45 PM »

I'm not sure quite how the EOC describes the relationship. Is it two wills working together, or as Fr. Farrington said, one will expressed in both Divinity and humanity? Or are these the same?
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2009, 11:20:03 PM »


I'm not sure quite how the EOC describes the relationship. Is it two wills working together, or as Fr. Farrington said, one will expressed in both Divinity and humanity? Or are these the same?

EOC (ideally) says two natural wills found in and exercised by one hypostasis.
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2009, 11:30:15 PM »


My concern is only when the idea of two natural wills is used to describe two distinct objects of will and not distinct faculties of will.

What exactly do you mean by that?


I am not sure that I would want to say that the desire to eat belongs to the human nature and not to the Word incarnate.

That's not what I was trying to indicate. I was trying to say that the desire to eat is derived from the human nature and remains human in substance and is thus "proper to" humanity, though it is found in, possessed by, and exercised by the Incarnate Word. It is the divine ousia that I am saying that desire to eat is not proper to, not the divine hypostasis.


I think I would feel happier saying that all of the human desires belong to the Word incarnate while they are experienced in his humanity to which those desires are proper.

That's pretty much what I was trying to say. My point was though that because the Word derives human will from His humanity and experiences it in His humanity, rather than in His divinity, in this is it not proper to speak of two wills?


It is human to walk, but it is the Word incarnate who walks, even while he walks in his humanity. It is human to will in a human way, but it is the Word incarnate who wills in a human way and not the human nature independently of the Word incarnate.

Definitely agreed. There is no independent subject known as "the human nature" that would even be capable of desiring aside from the Word.


Even more so, the object of the human willing of the Word incarnate is always the divine will and not some other will. There is only one who wills, and he wills divinely in his humanity.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this?


I have found that those who stress two wills in Christ - I use the word stress - have tended to express view to me which seem to verge towards Nestorianism. An independent human will in Christ describes two subjects and is Nestorian.

Certainly the human will is not independent of the theanthropic subject. Independence is probably a word that would rarely be helpful when speaking of the Trinity or the Incarnation. The point is that hunger is not a divine type of desire. The Father and the Holy Spirit do not hunger and never would because they are not human. This establishes that hunger is particular to the human way of being of the Word and not to His divine way of being. The substance of the will is thus distinct. The subject and executioner of both the human and divine wills is always the one theanthropic hypostasis, but the two wills retain their distinct essences.
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