"The Council of Jerusalem has not had much staying power among the Orthodox, as its statements represent Latinization of Orthodox theology. It's an example of the "Western Captivity" of Orthodox theology that held sway for quite some time until the "patristic revival" of the 20th century. The Council of Jerusalem represents a fairly successful attempt by the RC's to get the Orthodox "on their side" as much as possible against Protestants.
I find it hard to accept that 20th century "Patristic revivalists" understand things better than a Holy Council of the Orthodox Church! Truths that were hidden from all until Florovsky found the mystic Rosetta Stone and cracked the code, I suppose.... Western influence existed in those times just like it was Western influences that allowed the Patristic revival--the Church expresses itself in the cultural context it finds itself in.
This is one area that I find rather confusing. On another thread
someone quoted Met. Kallistos as saying: "Orthodox have never held (as Augustine and many others in the west have done) that unbaptized babies, because tainted with original guilt, are consigned by the just God to the everlasting flames of hell." (The Orthodox Church
, p. 224 -- I'm using the 1993 edition of this book) In a footnote given at the end of this statement we find, in part, the words: "It should be noted that an Augustinian view of the fall is found from time to time on the Orthodoxy theological literature; but this is usually the result of western influence. The Orthodox Confession
by Peter of Moghila is, as one might expect, strongly Augustinian; on the other hand the Confession
of Dosithues is free from Augustinianism" (The Orthodox Church
, footnote 2, page 224) What's more, Met. Kallistos calls the The Confession of Dositheus
one of "the chief Orthodox doctrinal statements since 787" (The Orthodox Church
, p. 203)
But some of this seems incorrect to me. The Confession of Dositheus
, for all that it gets right, also gets some things wrong, and seems to be influenced by western thinking, at least in part. So, first, unbaptized infants are said by the Confession
to go to eternal punishment (Decree 16). I've seen some Orthodox express agnostic views on this, and some express the view that such infants go to heaven, but I've not really come across much that says they are condemned and go to hell. That actually seems very unorthodox to me.
Second, the Confession of Dositheus
seems to support the idea of some type of purgatorial state in the afterlife (Decree 18). Some others seem to agree, at least in part, with this. St. Mark of Ephesus, for all his arguments against the Roman Catholic Church, seems to support some purgation in the afterlife (for example, see here
for a sample of what he had to say), as do other Fathers. Yet the standard Orthodox view, so far as I've seen, is that there is no purgatory in the afterlife, end of story.
And third, when the question "Ought the Divine Scriptures to be read in the vulgar tongue by all Christians?" is asked, the Confession
says plainly that the answer is no. This is very different than many of the Eastern Christians that I've read. I can remember St. John Chrysostom, for example, rebuking his congregation because they knew all sorts of information about athletes and celebrities, but let their Bibles (or what books they had of the Bible, anyway), collect dust and go unused. Another example, monks who went to Pachomius were given the following rule(s) to be followed:
"Whoever enters the monastery uninstructed shall be taught first what he must observe; and when, so taught, he has consented to it all, they shall give him twenty psalms or two of the Apostle’s epistles, or some other part of the Scripture. And if he is illiterate, he shall go at the first, third, and sixth hours to someone who can teach and has been appointed for him. He shall stand before him and learn very studiously with all gratitude. Then the fundamentals of a syllable, the verbs, and nouns shall be written for him, and even if he does not want to, he shall be compelled to read. There shall be no one whatever in the monastery who does not learn to read and does not memorize something of the Scriptures. (One should learn by heart) at least the New Testament and the Psalter."
So far from keeping the Scripture out of the hands of the majority of the Church, many early Eastern Fathers I've read encouraged their flock to learn the Scriptures, insofar as they were capable.
So, with all due respect, if someone says that unbaptized babies go to heaven or that we don't konw, or that there is no purgatory, or that all Christians ought to read the Bible, then I would agree with that person and disagree with the The Confession of Dositheus
, which it is my understanding was officially accepted by Synod Of Jerusalem (1672). I don't think that "Florovsky found the mystic Rosetta Stone and cracked the code". But he, and others like him, may have gotten some things right that a Council got wrong. It's possible. Whether that's true in the main case being discussed here, I don't know.