Disclaimer: My post is in response to the argument that a membership roster a certain deliminator as to who is "in" the Church, a proposition I doubt, given some ambiguity regarding the Non-Chalcedonians amongst the various would-be participants in said upcoming Great Council. My goal is not to incite a debate on the issue of Chalcedon itself, since that is proper to the private forum, but I am rather merely citing material from statements in order to demonstrate why I believe it is reasonable to doubt the proposition at hand.
I have no interest in fostering another EO vs OO debate, as there are plenty in the private forum.
Do you have any statements from the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church which substantiate the claim that a "Two Family" theory is advocated by my Church? This is the first time I have heard of it.
Christ is Risen!
I deliberately said "Your Communion" instead of "Your Church" for fear you would interpret my statement as a reference to your Synod instead of all of your communion (i.e. all of the patriarchates that are in communion with each other). I want to be as specific and limited in my words as possible to avoid any misrepresentation.
Here are two joint agreements of the Commission, which included bishops, priests, and theologians from both communions (Eastern and Oriental):http://www.orthodoxunity.org/state01.phphttp://www.orthodoxunity.org/state02.php
Your Synod (the MP) in particular in 1994 did not accept the Second Joint Agreement between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches as "a definitive text." It also says the issue should be taken up by the whole Church. I think that was good:http://www.orthodoxunity.org/state11.php
But 3 years later, your Synod (the MP) used the two families language: http://www.orthodoxunity.org/state12.php
"The Statement" should not be regarded as a final document sufficient for the restoration of full communion between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches as it contains ambiguities in some Christological formulations. To express hope in this regard that Christological formulations should be clarified in the course of studying the questions pertaining to the restoration of church communion between the two families of Churches of the Orthodox tradition of the Orthodox Churches.
I am happy they still are not saying it is definitive, but they use the two families language, which I think is problematic. By the way, I am not sure why paragraphs 2 and 3 are excised. Perhaps they contain language unfavorable to the dialogue and the editor of the site in question was concerned. Or perhaps that text was excised for some reason from the officially released document? At any rate, if you or anyone else has the original, that would be nice to have so we can be sure we are not missing anything critical.
Regardless of what your Synod has or has not approved, large numbers of clergy and patriarchs seem to have given recognition to them as being part of the Church somehow. This was explicitly taught at St Vladimir's Seminary (OCA) where I studied. There was debate on how to reconcile the issue of councils and saints, which you can see unfold over the years in the St Vladimir's Theological journal (which is unfortunately difficult to obtain outside of large libraries). But it was taken for granted that they were Orthodox by most people there.
The patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch have approved 2 family language: http://www.orthodoxunity.org/state07.php
A further two family language document from Alexandria:http://www.orthodoxunity.org/state05.php
Basically my argument is that we have officially-approved commissions consisting of even bishops, meeting and signing documents that say the two Churches are both Orthodox, and the split is all due to a misunderstanding. We have examples of patriarchs using the same language, even when it is expressed with reservation. We have a de facto recognition of the Orthodoxy of these people by every New Calendar parish I've ever been in in the USA (Greek, Antiochian, OCA) where priests have told me they commune the Non Chalcedonians since they are Orthodox. That is a bit different than say Antiochians communing Catholics in your country, which while wrong, they are not saying "we are communing them because they are Orthodox." I am limiting myself to a specific point, a specific argument, so I don't want to go off tangent here.
I also can offer you my own personal witness that in September 2004 I was at the 40th anniversary liturgy of the priestly ordination of Metropolitan Herman, and there was a Non-Chalcedonian Armenian bishop there (along with an Eastern Rite Catholic and a Roman Catholic bishop) standing near the iconostasis on the right, on a raised area, which they had kind of cordoned off for important guests, and I witnessed priests of your communion coming to the Non-Chalcedonian bishop (some also went to the Catholic ones) and took blessings from them. Hand cupped, extended, bishop's hand put in priest's hand, priest kisses bishop's hand. While their own bishop was 15 feet away in the altar. I found that problematic.
I have never seen a full liturgical concelebration between the two Churches (although there appear to be some Vespers services on youtube that show priests in Epitrachilia from both churches together), so I do not state there is a physical union yet, but I believe that this is kind of like the precursor to Monotheltism, where everything is excused as "personal statements" until after the deal is done. And even the official statements of the MP, while more cautious, are already giving some ground. Some of the other patriarchs have already accepted it.
Your refer to Peter's point but I am not sure really what point Peter wishes to make. It would be a surprise to me if his Church accepted the non-Chalcedonian Churches as the Church. Is there any statement from the OCA Synod on this matter?
I am sure that none of the Churches such as the Russian, the Greek, the Serbian, the Bulgarian, Jerusalem, the OCA would accept the non-Chalcedonian Christians as in the same Church as them. One group demands 7 Ecumenical Councils and the other denies 4 of them. We are frequently called the Church of the Seven Councils, not of the Three Councils.
I wouldn't be so sure.
I see you are referring to our upcoming Council as the 10th. I am not sure why. Our bishops and theologians refer to it as the 8th (assuming it is even eventually accepted as an Ecumenical Council.)
Just as an aside ~ is your Greek Orthodox Church acknowledging Nine Ecumenical Councils? Has that been officially stated by your Synod?
It would seemingly have to be at least the 9th, because in the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs of 1848, they referred to the St Sophia Council of 879-880 as the 8th Ecumenical:http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1848orthodoxencyclical.html
xi. It was subjected to anathema, as a novelty and augmentation of the Creed, by the eighth Ecumenical Council, congregated at Constantinople for the pacification of the Eastern and Western Churches.
The 9th council would be the Hesychast Councils of the 14th century, which teachings were included in the liturgical tradition of the church (2nd Sunday of Lent).
Fr John Romanides, Fr George Metallinos, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, among others, pushed in the last century to cease referring to only 7 and to refer to 9. A fuller discussion is found here under the section 7 and 9:http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ecumenical_Councils
In this article posted on our own website, by a Roman Catholic scholar, you can see some historical information about the numbering of councils in both east and west:http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22:which-councils-are-ecumenical&catid=14:articles&Itemid=2
Of interest for historical reasons is this passage, even if I don't totally buy the reasons Dvornik gives subsequently:
The treatise on synods composed by Euthymius was reedited in the fourteenth century by Neilos Diasorenos, metropolitan of Rhodes (1357).2 Neilos was an ardent supporter of the Patriarch Philotheus and of Gregory Palamas, the protagonists of the hesychast movement.3 The monk Barlaam, the adversary of their doctrine on the living light of Mount Tabor which the mystics were supposed to see when reaching the highest degree of their ascetic practice, was condemned by a synod convoked by the Patriarch John XIV Aprenos in 1341. This synod marked the victory of the hesychasts and was regarded as an important milestone by all adherents of this movement. It is not surprising that they placed it alongside the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the basis of the orthodox faith.
Neilos therefore adapted the treatise of Euthymius to the needs of the fourteenth century by adding to the seven councils that of Photius (879-880) as the Eighth Ecumenical, and the synod of 1341 as the Ninth, giving also an extract from the Acts of this synod. He was not alone in this practice. In the Greek Manuscript 968 (fols. 392-395) in the National Library of Paris, I found an anonymous treatise on councils, also based on Euthymius’ tractate, in which the Photian Council is added to the seven ecumenicals as the Eighth, and that of 1341 as the Ninth. However, the author concedes ecumenical character only to the first seven synods. Another version of Euthymius’ treatise is preserved in the Manuscript Historicus Graecus 34 in the National Library of Vienna (fols. 359 ff.).4 These two treatises must have been composed soon after 1341 by anonymous zealots propagating the hesychast doctrine. I would be tempted to date them before the writings of Neilos, because they are not as emphatic concerning the ecumenicity of the two last councils as was the Archbishop of Rhodes who, because of his zeal for hesychasm, was promoted by the Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos to an exarchos in 1366. He lost this distinction under the Patriarch Makarios (1376-1379) who was an adversary of the hesychasts.
Of course not. I really have no "personal" belief. We must accept not our "personal" belief but the teaching of our Church. If there is anybody holding a "Two Families" theory of Orthodoxy it is they who are holding a"personal" belief.
That is the problem some people have though; what is the official (Eastern) Orthodox belief? There seems to be some contradiction even on the most official level. I think that is what PeterTheAleut was getting at. Maybe this upcoming Great Council can sort that out--but then, it still will not prove that the membership roster is coterminous with who is "in" the Church of Christ, given that clearly there are many bishops -- even patriarchs -- who believe the Non Chalcedonians are.