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Author Topic: Description of the conditions necessary for a council to be regarded as ecumenic  (Read 13333 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #90 on: May 10, 2010, 09:58:47 PM »

The reason we've not had another ecumenical council, IMO, is because there is no empire and no emperor. . .

That makes a lot of sense because "Ecumenical" simply means "Imperial" and the Seven Councils were called by emperors to preserve the unity of their empire.

Yeah, but so were the Constantinopolitan synods in 879 and 1341.

I do not understand why an Oriental Christian would be arguing that the Eastern Orthodox have had not 3, not 4, but 8 or even 9 Councils!

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« Reply #91 on: May 10, 2010, 09:58:47 PM »

Christos anesti!
It may not be the current usage in English, but I believe we should deliberately redefine it...the word is a translation of a Greek term which had a clear connotation to the Christian empire.  What gets "lost in translation" only benefits the Roman Catholics, and not us, because of this confusion about "having to have Rome to have a council."  We've had several pan-Orthodox councils since then, but in Greek they are not called ecumenical because (as I understand it) they were not called by the emperor).

I'm not always a partisan of redefining words, etc., as I think it can become an exercise in silliness (a la "we are the Real Roman Catholics" --> Well yes, we are, but who understands what that means?)  But with the term ecumenical council, we are discussing something that is a translation of a Greek term and we should have an understanding of what the word connotated in Greek.  Yes, ecumenical means the whole world, but to the Christians, that mean the empire, outside of which was just barbarianism....
a-HEM! Armenia was outside the empire, and the first Christian kingdom.

retranslating "Ecumenical" as "Imperial" would give validation to the Caesaropapism nonsense.  Render unto God, that which is God's.  The emperor's only role as far as the Councils are concerned is making it possible for the whole of the Church to meet and disseminate Her teaching.

None the less, the Roman Empire was explicitly referred to as the oecumene and thus it is most reasonable to assume that what the Fathers meant by an Oecumenical council was one convoked by and sanctioned by the Roman Empire.
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« Reply #92 on: May 10, 2010, 10:01:18 PM »

The reason we've not had another ecumenical council, IMO, is because there is no empire and no emperor. . .

That makes a lot of sense because "Ecumenical" simply means "Imperial" and the Seven Councils were called by emperors to preserve the unity of their empire.

Yeah, but so were the Constantinopolitan synods in 879 and 1341.

I do not understand why an Oriental Christian would be arguing that the Eastern Orthodox have had not 3, not 4, but 8 or even 9 Councils!



That's because you're having a hard time exiting outside of your contrived and revisionist understanding of what "ecumenical" meant (not to your personal fault, as it is admittedly the common mythological understanding of what it means).

I recognize there having been 9 councils that were ecumenical because they were sanctioned by the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire is not understood by us as the real definer of the faith and thus I only consider 3 of the 9 Ecumenical Councils worth accepting.
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« Reply #93 on: May 10, 2010, 10:04:17 PM »

Armenian, Syriac, and other bishops were invited and attended various of the three first councils

As far as I know, however, the Persian church, which was recognized by a representative of the Church of Antioch as autocephalous in a synod in 410, was not represented at any one of those councils.
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« Reply #94 on: May 10, 2010, 10:07:40 PM »

ISTM, that to us modern English speakers, the term 'imperial' conjures up a negative image - not one consistent with a living Church that must operate in the times in which we live. Since I can not presume to foresee the future of humanity, I won't state that there will 'never' be a new Christian empire as there once was, but there is just 'something' about empires and imperial power that sticks in my 'craw' so to speak.  I  prefer the term 'ecumenical'.

To avoid recognizing "of the Roman Empire" as the original meaning of "Ecumenical" is none the less delusional, even if you happen to not like changing the English word for it. That this reality conjures up problems for you Byzantines reveals your unhealthy obsession with the concept of ecumenicity. If you just realized that a council can have universal authority in whether it properly reflects the orthodox faith or not, this would not be a problem.
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« Reply #95 on: May 10, 2010, 10:10:58 PM »

It was my understanding that the council's themselves referenced that the councils were called by the emperor and the Pope.

It's possible that they did, but if that is the case it was an error. Some of these councils had absolutely nothing to do with the Bishop of Rome, Constantinople I being the most famous example.
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« Reply #96 on: May 10, 2010, 10:13:02 PM »

If it can be proved, then Rome has never had an ecumenical council since the split.

I don't think your conclusion follows, because you're missing a fundamental step:  Since the split, each side sees the other as having completely left the Church - and those outside the Church cannot prevent the Church from having an Ecumenical Council.  Rome will claim that she has had Ecumenical Councils, and will point out that she has Bishops/Archbishops/Cardinals/Patriarchs in each of the other Eastern Sees that have attended these councils.  The Orthodox will also claim that we have had Ecumenical Councils, and we can continue to do so, because Rome has left the Church but yet the Church is still whole, not dependent on one human personality or see.

Ummmm. The document says that ecumenicity must involve agreement of the Eastern Patriarchs. He is right in his conclusion. If we do not take the document into account, one could explain that Rome can still have Universal Councils because of the Eastern Patriarchs falling. However, the document appears to not take that reality into consideration.
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« Reply #97 on: May 10, 2010, 10:14:58 PM »

Unless of course the Eastern Bishops ceased to be members of the Catholic Church, in which case they would not be necessary anymore. 

I don't even think this is an issue for you folks: you've got bishops in each of the Eastern Ancient cities that are in your communion.

Again, what you are saying is missing the mark. The Uniates did not begin rejoining Rome until significantly after the first few councils the Romans consider to have been universal after the schism.
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« Reply #98 on: May 10, 2010, 10:17:41 PM »

Is the council of Jerusalem depicted in Acts considered an ecumenical council by the Orthodox?

No. Yet more proof that "ecumenical" actually historically meant of the Roman Empire rather than ecclesiastically univeral. The Roman Empire had nothing to do with the council of Jerusalem, though the Church was universally represented at it.
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« Reply #99 on: May 10, 2010, 10:18:53 PM »

The reason we've not had another ecumenical council, IMO, is because there is no empire and no emperor. . .

That makes a lot of sense because "Ecumenical" simply means "Imperial" and the Seven Councils were called by emperors to preserve the unity of their empire.

Yeah, but so were the Constantinopolitan synods in 879 and 1341.

I do not understand why an Oriental Christian would be arguing that the Eastern Orthodox have had not 3, not 4, but 8 or even 9 Councils!



That's because you're having a hard time exiting outside of your contrived and revisionist understanding of what "ecumenical" meant (not to your personal fault, as it is admittedly the common mythological understanding of what it means).

I recognize there having been 9 councils that were ecumenical because they were sanctioned by the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire is not understood by us as the real definer of the faith and thus I only consider 3 of the 9 Ecumenical Councils worth accepting.

Please don't play word games.  It is *you* who are insisting on your own understanding of 'ecumenical.'

But call these Councils what you like - General Synods of the Church perhaps.  The fact remains that despite this rather unusual attempt by an Oriental Christian to foist 8 or 9 of them on us, the tradition of the Church recognizes 7.
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« Reply #100 on: May 10, 2010, 10:19:43 PM »

Is the council of Jerusalem depicted in Acts considered an ecumenical council by the Orthodox?

No - we call it the Apostolic Council, which is a term that is IMO more reverent than Ecumenical.
Sort of the template of what the Apostles' successors did in Ecumenical Council.

But obviously without the cooperation with the Emperor. I would think this implies that the emperor isn't needed for a council to be ecumenical/apostolic.

Actually, the fact that it was not historically considered ecumenical implies quite the contrary: that the Roman Emperor is necessary for a council to be considered ecumenical.
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« Reply #101 on: May 10, 2010, 10:23:41 PM »

Please don't play word games.  It is *you* who are insisting on your own understanding of 'ecumenical.'

That's because it's the most apparent historical meaning. The Church universal was not referred to as the oecumene. The Roman Empire was. Quite simple.

But call these Councils what you like - General Synods of the Church perhaps.

A General/Universal Council would be an entirely different matter from an Ecumenical one.

The fact remains that despite this rather unusual attempt by an Oriental Christian to foist 8 or 9 of them on us, the tradition of the Church recognizes 7.

Most OO don't really care to enumerate how many Ecumenical Councils there actually were. We only accepted the first three of them, and after that point it doesn't really matter to most. The numeration of 8 or 9 is almost exclusively done by scholars of your communion. And it points to a different understanding of what "Ecumenical" means, a difference I happen to recognize.

Your conception that "the tradition of the Church recognizes 7" is simply what you want to believe. Presbyter Anastasios showed pretty significant evidence to the contrary, which you seemed to have simply ignored.
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« Reply #102 on: May 10, 2010, 10:27:19 PM »

Is the council of Jerusalem depicted in Acts considered an ecumenical council by the Orthodox?
No - we call it the Apostolic Council, which is a term that is IMO more reverent than Ecumenical.
Sort of the template of what the Apostles' successors did in Ecumenical Council.
But obviously without the cooperation with the Emperor. I would think this implies that the emperor isn't needed for a council to be ecumenical/apostolic.

Well, yes, but then again it had what none of the Ecumenical Councils had: a discussion dominated by people who heard Christ's teachings from His lips, who held His hands, and who had their feet washed by Him in His humility.  Further councils followed their example of piety, humility, and organization, but certainly the charism of that council was different (not less or more, just different) than the subsequent Ecumenical Councils.
No emperor, no councils?

No Roman Emperor, no Ecumenical Councils, in the sense of what Christians understood "Ecumenical" to have meant throughout much of history. The term could very well be re-applied sometime in the future to something else that may fit the sense of "the inhabited world", and then we could begin to have Ecumenical Councils again. However, that is largely irrelevant to the actual sense of authoritative councils or universal (of the whole Church) councils. Authoritative or even universal councils could very well happen without Ecumenical Councils.
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« Reply #103 on: May 10, 2010, 10:30:37 PM »

Not relevant at all as to their authority in the Church as whole Christian kingdoms (starting with Armenia, the first one) were not under the Emperor for the first 2 at least, and his authority didn't extend much beyond the patriarchate of Constantinople for the seventh.

"Authority in the Church as a whole" is not relevant to a council's status as ecumenical.
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« Reply #104 on: May 10, 2010, 10:31:58 PM »

You will note that there has been for decades various mentions of the possibility of the upcoming Great and Holy Council becoming the 8th Ecumenical Council.

Such numeration would be based on the opinion that there has not been already an 8th, which is a disputed opinion.

I don't see the dispute.  If there had been an 8th Ecumenical Council already, the Churches would know of it and honour it.  It would be included in our ecclesiastical calendar and celebrated liturgically as are the Seven Ecumenical Councils.  It would be included in the text books for seminaries and taught to our future priests.  It would be in catechisms.  There would be icons to honour it.

Why would that be so?
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« Reply #105 on: May 11, 2010, 02:11:05 AM »


A confirmation of the Orthodox judgement of whom it sees as within the Church will come in the form of the list of participant Churches at the forthcoming Great and Holy Council.  In actual fact we are already aware of the participating Churches and so we may determinine who holds membership in the Church.  None will be excluded from the Council who should be there and none will be included who should not be there.  Churches such as the True Orthodox Church of Serbia, the Walled Off Synod in Protest of Phili, will not be participating.

Quite a large percentage of the clergy of your communion accept the Non-Chalcedonians as in the Church, yet I do not see them being invited to this would-be 10th ecumenical council. Perhaps the invitation list is not as comprehensive as you suggest, and PeterTheAleut raises a valid point; after all, if Non-Chalcedonians are still in the Church, but only accept 3 councils, then how are there 7 (or 9) already?

Maybe you do not personally believe in the "Two Families" theory of Orthodoxy, but it's certainly not a fringe view amongst clergy in your communion, so I am curious how you reconcile these quite divergent views? Or is the "Two Families" language just diplomacy that shouldn't really be taken seriously?
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Dear Father,

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.

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?
Fr. Ambrose, I think Fr. Anastasios actually understands my point pretty well.  I'm not arguing that my church accepts the OO as being in the Church, which appears to be what you see in my logic.  My point is that IF we consider the OO to be part of the Church, how do we also hold fast to seven Ecumenical Councils?  Why do we not believe that only the first three are truly ecumenical?  I'm not arguing that the OO are part of the Church and that there are only three councils we can call Ecumenical, nor am I arguing that there are seven Ecumenical Councils and that the OO put themselves outside the Church by rejecting the last four.  All I'm pointing out is that belief that the OO are in the Church and belief that there are seven Ecumenical Councils are, on the surface, contradictory beliefs.

No, they are not. There were seven (or more) councils officially sanctioned as universal to the Roman Empire (the oecumene) and its church (which was not identical to the universal church, excluding Armenia, Ethiopia, Persia, etc.) regardless of whether the Orientals accepted them or not.
Did you miss my use of the phrase "on the surface"?  It's actually very important to the logic of my statement.
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« Reply #106 on: May 11, 2010, 05:19:42 AM »

It would seem that the long-advertised "Eighth Ecumenical Council" may indeed be near at hand, and it is time enough for Orthodox Christians to look

-oOo-

HISTORY OF THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE ""EIGHTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL"
(The outline of historical facts is taken from Episkepsis, publication
of the Orthodox Center at Chambesy, 1976, no. 155, pp. 7-9.)

THERE WAS TALK of an "Eighth Ecumenical Council" already before the First World War and especially in the 1920's

-oOo-

RESULTS OF THE FIRST PRE-SYNODAL CONFERENCE
THE RESULTS of this latest Pan-Orthodox Conference were printed in Episkepsis (1976, no. 158, in French, much abridged) and in the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate (1977, no. 3, pp. 4-14, in Russian, apparently complete). These results are composed of the reports of three Committees, a general Decree and communiquée, and official Declarations of several hierarchs. These documents already begin to give a more clear and precise idea of what, after fifteen years of preparations, the approaching "eighth Ecumenical Council" is all about.

-oOo-

And unknown by such a luminary as Archbp Theophan of Poltava:

In 1930 a young theological student, later to become the great spokesman of true Orthodoxy, Archbishop Averky of Jordanville, heard of the rumors of an approaching "Eighth Ecumenical Council" and asked his Abba, the great theologian of the Russian Diaspora, Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, about it. The latter replied: "Of an eighth ecumenical council I have as yet heard nothing. I can only say, in the words of St. Theodore the Studite: 'Not every gathering of bishops is a council, but only a gathering of bishops who stand in the Truth.'

-oOo-

The above extracts from
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/towards.aspx

-oOo-

Also these words from Saint Nektary of Optina, the last Optina Elder who died in 1927:

Once N. Pavlovich asked the Elder: "Is it possible to hope for the unification of the churches?"

He replied, "No! only an Ecumenical Council could do that, but there will be no more councils. There have already been seven councils, like the seven sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. For our age, the number of fullness is the number seven. Eight is the number of the future age. Only separate people will be united to our Church."

"Wisdom has built herself a house with seven pillars. Orthodoxy has these seven pillars. But God's wisdom has other dwellings- they may have six pillars or fewer, and accordingly a lesser measure of grace." Saint Nektary of Optina


Source: Elder Nektary of Optina by I.M. Kontzevitch Pages 181 and 182

Saint Nektary may be mistaken about the possibility of a future eighth ecumenical Council, but he is quite sure that there have been just seven so far!
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« Reply #107 on: May 11, 2010, 07:08:22 AM »

Am I to trust that the Photian and Palamite Councils are less important to our faith than the first Seven?
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« Reply #108 on: May 11, 2010, 07:21:43 AM »

Am I to trust that the Photian and Palamite Councils are less important to our faith than the first Seven?

I think that local Councils may very well have a large significance to the Church but that does not mean they must be included in the number of Ecumenical Councils, and in fact the Church has not seen fit to include these.

It will be a quite different matter if the upcoming Ecumenical Council (assuming it is so accepted by the Church) affirms and names the Photian Council and the two Palamite Councils as Ecumenical Councils as Eight, Nine and Ten (or combines the Palamite Councils under the designation of Nine.)

But until that happens there is no consensus in the Orthodox Churches which proclaims more than Seven Ecumenical Councils.

To assert that there are any more is to be on the wrong side of Saint Vincent of Lerins' handy rule of thumb '"Magnopere curandum est ut id teneatur quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est"  - We must take extreme care that what is held is that which is believed everywhere, always and by everybody.

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« Reply #109 on: May 11, 2010, 07:24:58 AM »

I do not agree that the Church has not upheld those two councils as being on par with the First Seven, and I certainly do not think the issue is as cut-and-dry as you imply (see Pensateomnia's earlier post on the matter for some examples).

By the way, your quote is not useful here - for the objections to the RC changes, and the clarification of hesychasm, are upheld and believed by all Orthodox everywhere, always.
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« Reply #110 on: May 11, 2010, 07:41:07 AM »


By the way, your quote is not useful here - for the objections to the RC changes, and the clarification of hesychasm, are upheld and believed by all Orthodox everywhere, always.

My apologies for being unclear.  I did not mean to imply that there is no Orthodox consensus on Hesychasm, etc, but I was referring to the non-consensus on these three Councils for inclusion with the Seven Ecumenical Councils, making a total of Nine or Ten Councils.

I am not aware of any synodal statements from any Orthodox Church proclaiming that there are eight or nine or ten Ec.Councils.
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« Reply #111 on: May 11, 2010, 07:45:39 AM »


I do not agree that the Church has not upheld those two councils as being on par with the First Seven, and I certainly do not think the issue is as cut-and-dry as you imply (see Pensateomnia's earlier post on the matter for some examples).


The only Orthodox support for Eight Councils comes from the 1848 reply of
some of the Orthodox Patriarchs to Pope Pius IX's letter.

There is a 1000 year gap when the idea of 8 or
even 9 Councils seems to have been unknown in the Church.

Now that one example from 1848 does not count for too much - and it is even less
substantial when one reads the letter and sees that there is internal
confusion. The letter contains:
EIGHT references to SEVEN Ecumenical Councils
TWO references to EIGHT Councils
No references to NINE Councils.

This is quite a discrepancy in the letter and those who support Eight Councils
need to account for it.  They also need to account for not the slightest
mention of a Ninth Council.

Here are all the references compiled from the 1848 Encyclical:

SEVEN: "For being the miserable cogitations and devices of miserable men,
both one and the other, struck with the thunderbolt of the anathema of the
seven Ecumenical Councils, shall vanish away, though they may last a
thousand years;"

SEVEN: "The new doctrine, that "the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father
and the Son," is contrary to the memorable declaration of our LORD,
emphatically made respecting it: which proceedeth from the Father (John xv.
26), and contrary to the universal Confession of the Catholic Church as
witnessed by the seven Ecumenical Councils.."

SEVEN: "It reproaches the Fathers of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and
seventh Ecumenical Councils,

EIGHT: "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."

EIGHT: "by his letter to the holy Photius at the eighth Ecumenical
Council.."

SEVEN: "But if his Holiness had sent us statements concordant and in unison
with the seven holy Ecumenical Councils.."

SEVEN: "..and by the seven Ecumenical Councils, and in obedience to the
Truth."

SEVEN: "This same anathema the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the whole choir
of God-serving fathers pronounced..."

SEVEN: "..taught in the Gospel from the mouth of our LORD, witnessed by the
holy Apostles, by the seven sacred Ecumenical Councils, preached throughout
the world

SEVEN: "The august Ecumenical Councils, those seven pillars of the house of
Wisdom, were organized in it and among us."
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« Reply #112 on: May 11, 2010, 08:17:59 AM »

I do not agree that the Church has not upheld those two councils as being on par with the First Seven, and I certainly do not think the issue is as cut-and-dry as you imply (see Pensateomnia's earlier post on the matter for some examples).


I am quite interested in what Pensateomnia presented but for the life of me I cannot find any posts from him in this thread.
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« Reply #113 on: May 11, 2010, 09:59:23 AM »

I do not agree that the Church has not upheld those two councils as being on par with the First Seven, and I certainly do not think the issue is as cut-and-dry as you imply (see Pensateomnia's earlier post on the matter for some examples).

I am quite interested in what Pensateomnia presented but for the life of me I cannot find any posts from him in this thread.

I'll do the search a bit later - I may be mistaken.
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« Reply #114 on: May 11, 2010, 10:55:54 AM »


A confirmation of the Orthodox judgement of whom it sees as within the Church will come in the form of the list of participant Churches at the forthcoming Great and Holy Council.  In actual fact we are already aware of the participating Churches and so we may determinine who holds membership in the Church.  None will be excluded from the Council who should be there and none will be included who should not be there.  Churches such as the True Orthodox Church of Serbia, the Walled Off Synod in Protest of Phili, will not be participating.

Quite a large percentage of the clergy of your communion accept the Non-Chalcedonians as in the Church, yet I do not see them being invited to this would-be 10th ecumenical council. Perhaps the invitation list is not as comprehensive as you suggest, and PeterTheAleut raises a valid point; after all, if Non-Chalcedonians are still in the Church, but only accept 3 councils, then how are there 7 (or 9) already?

Maybe you do not personally believe in the "Two Families" theory of Orthodoxy, but it's certainly not a fringe view amongst clergy in your communion, so I am curious how you reconcile these quite divergent views? Or is the "Two Families" language just diplomacy that shouldn't really be taken seriously?
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Dear Father,

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.

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?
Fr. Ambrose, I think Fr. Anastasios actually understands my point pretty well.  I'm not arguing that my church accepts the OO as being in the Church, which appears to be what you see in my logic.  My point is that IF we consider the OO to be part of the Church, how do we also hold fast to seven Ecumenical Councils?  Why do we not believe that only the first three are truly ecumenical?  I'm not arguing that the OO are part of the Church and that there are only three councils we can call Ecumenical, nor am I arguing that there are seven Ecumenical Councils and that the OO put themselves outside the Church by rejecting the last four.  All I'm pointing out is that belief that the OO are in the Church and belief that there are seven Ecumenical Councils are, on the surface, contradictory beliefs.

No, they are not. There were seven (or more) councils officially sanctioned as universal to the Roman Empire (the oecumene) and its church (which was not identical to the universal church, excluding Armenia, Ethiopia, Persia, etc.) regardless of whether the Orientals accepted them or not.
Did you miss my use of the phrase "on the surface"?  It's actually very important to the logic of my statement.

Alright. But it's still worth pointing out that if a council's status as ecumenical is a matter of its sanction by the Roman Empire then there can very well be more ecumenical councils than the OO recognize as orthodox without that posing an inherent problem for their catholicity.
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« Reply #115 on: May 11, 2010, 10:56:49 AM »

It would seem that the long-advertised "Eighth Ecumenical Council" may indeed be near at hand, and it is time enough for Orthodox Christians to look

-oOo-

HISTORY OF THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE ""EIGHTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL"
(The outline of historical facts is taken from Episkepsis, publication
of the Orthodox Center at Chambesy, 1976, no. 155, pp. 7-9.)

THERE WAS TALK of an "Eighth Ecumenical Council" already before the First World War and especially in the 1920's

-oOo-

RESULTS OF THE FIRST PRE-SYNODAL CONFERENCE
THE RESULTS of this latest Pan-Orthodox Conference were printed in Episkepsis (1976, no. 158, in French, much abridged) and in the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate (1977, no. 3, pp. 4-14, in Russian, apparently complete). These results are composed of the reports of three Committees, a general Decree and communiquée, and official Declarations of several hierarchs. These documents already begin to give a more clear and precise idea of what, after fifteen years of preparations, the approaching "eighth Ecumenical Council" is all about.

-oOo-

And unknown by such a luminary as Archbp Theophan of Poltava:

In 1930 a young theological student, later to become the great spokesman of true Orthodoxy, Archbishop Averky of Jordanville, heard of the rumors of an approaching "Eighth Ecumenical Council" and asked his Abba, the great theologian of the Russian Diaspora, Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, about it. The latter replied: "Of an eighth ecumenical council I have as yet heard nothing. I can only say, in the words of St. Theodore the Studite: 'Not every gathering of bishops is a council, but only a gathering of bishops who stand in the Truth.'

-oOo-

The above extracts from
http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/towards.aspx

-oOo-

Also these words from Saint Nektary of Optina, the last Optina Elder who died in 1927:

Once N. Pavlovich asked the Elder: "Is it possible to hope for the unification of the churches?"

He replied, "No! only an Ecumenical Council could do that, but there will be no more councils. There have already been seven councils, like the seven sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. For our age, the number of fullness is the number seven. Eight is the number of the future age. Only separate people will be united to our Church."

"Wisdom has built herself a house with seven pillars. Orthodoxy has these seven pillars. But God's wisdom has other dwellings- they may have six pillars or fewer, and accordingly a lesser measure of grace." Saint Nektary of Optina


Source: Elder Nektary of Optina by I.M. Kontzevitch Pages 181 and 182

Saint Nektary may be mistaken about the possibility of a future eighth ecumenical Council, but he is quite sure that there have been just seven so far!

That's nice.

Why is this significant?
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« Reply #116 on: May 11, 2010, 10:58:26 AM »

and in fact the Church has not seen fit to include these.

No, only all 4 of the ancient Greek Patriarchates.
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« Reply #117 on: May 11, 2010, 10:59:43 AM »

I am not aware of any synodal statements from any Orthodox Church proclaiming that there are eight or nine or ten Ec.Councils.

Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs of 1848.
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« Reply #118 on: May 11, 2010, 11:02:03 AM »


I do not agree that the Church has not upheld those two councils as being on par with the First Seven, and I certainly do not think the issue is as cut-and-dry as you imply (see Pensateomnia's earlier post on the matter for some examples).


The only Orthodox support for Eight Councils comes from the 1848 reply of
some of the Orthodox Patriarchs to Pope Pius IX's letter.

There is a 1000 year gap when the idea of 8 or
even 9 Councils seems to have been unknown in the Church.

Now that one example from 1848 does not count for too much - and it is even less
substantial when one reads the letter and sees that there is internal
confusion. The letter contains:
EIGHT references to SEVEN Ecumenical Councils
TWO references to EIGHT Councils
No references to NINE Councils.

This is quite a discrepancy in the letter and those who support Eight Councils
need to account for it.  They also need to account for not the slightest
mention of a Ninth Council.

Here are all the references compiled from the 1848 Encyclical:

SEVEN: "For being the miserable cogitations and devices of miserable men,
both one and the other, struck with the thunderbolt of the anathema of the
seven Ecumenical Councils, shall vanish away, though they may last a
thousand years;"

SEVEN: "The new doctrine, that "the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father
and the Son," is contrary to the memorable declaration of our LORD,
emphatically made respecting it: which proceedeth from the Father (John xv.
26), and contrary to the universal Confession of the Catholic Church as
witnessed by the seven Ecumenical Councils.."

SEVEN: "It reproaches the Fathers of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and
seventh Ecumenical Councils,

EIGHT: "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."

EIGHT: "by his letter to the holy Photius at the eighth Ecumenical
Council.."

SEVEN: "But if his Holiness had sent us statements concordant and in unison
with the seven holy Ecumenical Councils.."

SEVEN: "..and by the seven Ecumenical Councils, and in obedience to the
Truth."

SEVEN: "This same anathema the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the whole choir
of God-serving fathers pronounced..."

SEVEN: "..taught in the Gospel from the mouth of our LORD, witnessed by the
holy Apostles, by the seven sacred Ecumenical Councils, preached throughout
the world

SEVEN: "The august Ecumenical Councils, those seven pillars of the house of
Wisdom, were organized in it and among us."

These are not substantially contradictory. When they speak of seven ecumenical councils, it should be clear that they are referring to the first seven, rather than that there are only seven.
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« Reply #119 on: May 11, 2010, 09:29:34 PM »

These are not substantially contradictory. When they speak of seven ecumenical councils, it should be clear that they are referring to the first seven, rather than that there are only seven.

On the contrary. The Orthodox Church commemorates seven councils, both in its liturgical tradition, and in its iconography. Post-schism, any further councils, though still binding on the Orthodox Church, were simply not referred to as Ecumenical. Hence they are not commemorated liturgically or iconographically by the Church. The closest we get is the commemoration of the Sunday of St Gregory Palamas, being the second Sunday of Great Lent.
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« Reply #120 on: May 11, 2010, 10:18:22 PM »

and in fact the Church has not seen fit to include these.

No, only all 4 of the ancient Greek Patriarchates.

Prove it.    Patriarchal statements. Synodal texts. Seminary texts. Catechisms.
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« Reply #121 on: May 11, 2010, 10:25:01 PM »

I am not aware of any synodal statements from any Orthodox Church proclaiming that there are eight or nine or ten Ec.Councils.

Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs of 1848.

See above message #111.  The letter to the Pope is a great confusion on this point.

Also explain how this letter was written in 1848 and nothing is mentioned of an Eighth Council prior to that.

That is a 1000 year gap from the Seventh Ecumenical Council.  Absolute silence for 1000 years.  

Where are all the references in that 1000 year period?  Was it some sort of esoteric tradition known only to initiates and concealed from the rest of the Church?
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« Reply #122 on: May 11, 2010, 10:28:35 PM »


I do not agree that the Church has not upheld those two councils as being on par with the First Seven, and I certainly do not think the issue is as cut-and-dry as you imply (see Pensateomnia's earlier post on the matter for some examples).


The only Orthodox support for Eight Councils comes from the 1848 reply of
some of the Orthodox Patriarchs to Pope Pius IX's letter.

There is a 1000 year gap when the idea of 8 or
even 9 Councils seems to have been unknown in the Church.

Now that one example from 1848 does not count for too much - and it is even less
substantial when one reads the letter and sees that there is internal
confusion. The letter contains:
EIGHT references to SEVEN Ecumenical Councils
TWO references to EIGHT Councils
No references to NINE Councils.

This is quite a discrepancy in the letter and those who support Eight Councils
need to account for it.  They also need to account for not the slightest
mention of a Ninth Council.

Here are all the references compiled from the 1848 Encyclical:

SEVEN: "For being the miserable cogitations and devices of miserable men,
both one and the other, struck with the thunderbolt of the anathema of the
seven Ecumenical Councils, shall vanish away, though they may last a
thousand years;"

SEVEN: "The new doctrine, that "the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father
and the Son," is contrary to the memorable declaration of our LORD,
emphatically made respecting it: which proceedeth from the Father (John xv.
26), and contrary to the universal Confession of the Catholic Church as
witnessed by the seven Ecumenical Councils.."

SEVEN: "It reproaches the Fathers of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and
seventh Ecumenical Councils,

EIGHT: "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."

EIGHT: "by his letter to the holy Photius at the eighth Ecumenical
Council.."

SEVEN: "But if his Holiness had sent us statements concordant and in unison
with the seven holy Ecumenical Councils.."

SEVEN: "..and by the seven Ecumenical Councils, and in obedience to the
Truth."

SEVEN: "This same anathema the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the whole choir
of God-serving fathers pronounced..."

SEVEN: "..taught in the Gospel from the mouth of our LORD, witnessed by the
holy Apostles, by the seven sacred Ecumenical Councils, preached throughout
the world

SEVEN: "The august Ecumenical Councils, those seven pillars of the house of
Wisdom, were organized in it and among us."

These are not substantially contradictory. When they speak of seven ecumenical councils, it should be clear that they are referring to the first seven, rather than that there are only seven.

Right!   And the fact that there is no mention of any Ninth Council at all is firm proof that they knew of it but were concealing it from the Pope.     laugh
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« Reply #123 on: May 12, 2010, 03:35:39 PM »

These are not substantially contradictory. When they speak of seven ecumenical councils, it should be clear that they are referring to the first seven, rather than that there are only seven.

On the contrary. The Orthodox Church commemorates seven councils, both in its liturgical tradition, and in its iconography. Post-schism, any further councils, though still binding on the Orthodox Church, were simply not referred to as Ecumenical. Hence they are not commemorated liturgically or iconographically by the Church. The closest we get is the commemoration of the Sunday of St Gregory Palamas, being the second Sunday of Great Lent.

The supposed 8th council was not post-Schism.

Besides that fact, where do you get that ecumenicity is limited to the first 1,000 years?

I would also be interested in seeing where you two are getting the idea that common recognition is required for a council to have been ecumenical.
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« Reply #124 on: May 12, 2010, 03:38:36 PM »

and in fact the Church has not seen fit to include these.

No, only all 4 of the ancient Greek Patriarchates.

Prove it.    Patriarchal statements. Synodal texts. Seminary texts. Catechisms.

The Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs is the proof I am talking about. All 4 of the ancient Greek Patriarchates explicitly referred to an 8th Ecumenical Council. That's precisely the claim I was making.
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« Reply #125 on: May 12, 2010, 03:41:49 PM »

Also explain how this letter was written in 1848 and nothing is mentioned of an Eighth Council prior to that.

Nothing that you or I know of at this moment. Maybe someone mentioned it that we don't know of. Or maybe no one simply deigned to mention it. Maybe the Seven Councils have been historically regarded as more fundamental and important and worthy of mention.

Was it some sort of esoteric tradition known only to initiates and concealed from the rest of the Church?

Obviously it was not esoteric or concealed if all 4 of the Greek Patriarchates happened to be aware of it independent from each other. That would be pretty much impossible if someone was just making it up.
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« Reply #126 on: May 12, 2010, 03:42:47 PM »

Right!   And the fact that there is no mention of any Ninth Council at all is firm proof that they knew of it but were concealing it from the Pope.     laugh

No, it's either proof that they were not aware of a 9th council or they did not consider it worth mentioning at the time.
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« Reply #127 on: May 12, 2010, 05:52:37 PM »

and in fact the Church has not seen fit to include these.

No, only all 4 of the ancient Greek Patriarchates.

Prove it.    Patriarchal statements. Synodal texts. Seminary texts. Catechisms.

The Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs is the proof I am talking about. All 4 of the ancient Greek Patriarchates explicitly referred to an 8th Ecumenical Council. That's precisely the claim I was making.
Christ is Risen!

PLease go back and read Message #111.  That Letter to the Pope is a bit of a mess as regards the enumeration of the Councils, and not to mention that it has no knowledge of any Ninth Council which had supposedly taken place 500 years previously.

Got any 20th century references, official references, from any of the Orthodox Churches?
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« Reply #128 on: May 12, 2010, 08:01:03 PM »

Here is a list of the Councils which have received general approbation and are counted by some as Ecumenical:

Two other councils, called Ecumenical by their signatories and convoking Emperors, and one indubitably local council, are considered Ecumenical by some Orthodox:

880 – Constantinople IV
            Issues:  Resolution of the Photian Schism
            Heroes:  Photios the Great, Patriarch
            Dogmatics:  Restored Photios to the See of Constantinople, anathematized anyone who altered the Creed.

1351 – Constantinople V
            Issues:  Hesychasm
            Heroes:  St. Gregory Palamas
            Dogmatics:  Affirmed Hesychasm as taught by St. Gregory Palamas, condemned Barlaam of Seminara.

1672 – Jerusalem
             Issues:  Protestantism, Catholicism
             Heroes:  Dositheos, Pat. of Jerusalem
             Dogmatics:  Defined Orthodoxy relative to Protestantism and Catholicism, defined the Greek Orthodox Biblical canon.

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« Reply #129 on: May 13, 2010, 12:35:29 AM »

Here is a list of the Councils which have received general approbation and are counted by some as Ecumenical:

Two other councils, called Ecumenical by their signatories and convoking Emperors, and one indubitably local council, are considered Ecumenical by some Orthodox:

880 – Constantinople IV
            Issues:  Resolution of the Photian Schism
            Heroes:  Photios the Great, Patriarch
            Dogmatics:  Restored Photios to the See of Constantinople, anathematized anyone who altered the Creed.

1351 – Constantinople V
            Issues:  Hesychasm
            Heroes:  St. Gregory Palamas
            Dogmatics:  Affirmed Hesychasm as taught by St. Gregory Palamas, condemned Barlaam of Seminara.

1672 – Jerusalem
             Issues:  Protestantism, Catholicism
             Heroes:  Dositheos, Pat. of Jerusalem
             Dogmatics:  Defined Orthodoxy relative to Protestantism and Catholicism, defined the Greek Orthodox Biblical canon.



Deae Cymbyz,

Re:  The Symbolical Books of Orthodoxy

As you know, the old curmudgeons on the forum like to have things referenced and substantiated...  Who are the "some"?   

Which of the autocephalous Churches and their Synods have proclaimed these Councils as ecumenical?   Moscow?  Belgrade?  Jerusalem?

In the "good old days" (which was only 40 years ago Smiley ), the acts of these Councils were called "The Symbolical Books" of Orthodoxy and were accorded great respect and authority.  It seems just so unlikely that in the space of a mere 40 years they have travelled up so much in status that they are no longer seen as "The Symbolical Books" but as "Ecumenical Councils."    WHO made this change in their status?  Did I miss a Pan-Orthodox council? Please, if you have some reliable references, provide some evidence of their upgrade in status...?

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« Reply #130 on: May 13, 2010, 12:41:35 AM »

I was referring more to disparate individuals, rather than to autocephalous churches.  This is the first time I've heard of "The Symbolical books of Orthodoxy;" many thanks for that bit of enlightenment.

But, question:  if the dogmatic decisions of these councils are now accepted by everyone everywhere (or at least, by a preponderant majority within each of the Churches), then why aren't the Councils accorded the title Ecumenical?
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« Reply #131 on: May 13, 2010, 12:58:03 AM »

That Letter to the Pope is a bit of a mess as regards the enumeration of the Councils, and not to mention that it has no knowledge of any Ninth Council which had supposedly taken place 500 years previously.

I already addressed that and you didn't respond to me.

1. Referring to "Seven Ecumenical Councils" and then an "Eighth Ecumenical Council" is not inherently consistent.

2. Like I said, it's possible that they were not aware of the 9th Council or they did not find it relevant to mention at the time.

3. The only reason you're being so stubborn about this, I suspect, is because you are misinterpreting what "Ecumenical" meant to the Fathers.
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« Reply #132 on: May 13, 2010, 01:03:55 AM »

I was referring more to disparate individuals, rather than to autocephalous churches.

It's unusual that "disparate individuals"  would have the authority to bump these "Symbolical Books" of Orthodoxy up to the exalted status of Ecumenical Councils!!   We are a conciliar Church governed by synods of bishops and not by the opinions of individuals a la Protestantism.

 
Quote
But, question:  if the dogmatic decisions of these councils are now accepted by everyone everywhere (or at least, by a preponderant majority within each of the Churches), then why aren't the Councils accorded the title Ecumenical?

I believe they were Greek Councils and had no representation from the Churches of Georgia, Cyprus, Russia, Serbia, etc.  So as with the enormously important Russian Council of the 17th century they are local Councils and will remain such until and if a Great Council of the whole Orthodox Church proclaims them Ecumenical Councils.
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« Reply #133 on: May 13, 2010, 01:13:26 AM »

That Letter to the Pope is a bit of a mess as regards the enumeration of the Councils, and not to mention that it has no knowledge of any Ninth Council which had supposedly taken place 500 years previously.

I already addressed that and you didn't respond to me.

1. Referring to "Seven Ecumenical Councils" and then an "Eighth Ecumenical Council" is not inherently consistent.

2. Like I said, it's possible that they were not aware of the 9th Council or they did not find it relevant to mention at the time.

3. The only reason you're being so stubborn about this, I suspect, is because you are misinterpreting what "Ecumenical" meant to the Fathers.

Rather because as a young student in Serbia I was taught that there are SEVEN Ecumenical Councils and no more.  Perhaps in the 1970s they were ignorant of the Ecumenical status of these Councils?!  As the great Saint Paul says:  "Itaque, fratres, state et tenete traditiones, quas didicistis sive per sermonem sive per epistulam nostram."  Paul I know, and my teachers I know,  but who is Deusveritasest and who are the anonymous "disparate individuals" mentioned by Cymbyz? 
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« Reply #134 on: May 13, 2010, 01:14:03 AM »

Irish Hermit, as far as I know only those documents generated after the Fall of Constantinople are called the symbolic books. That is what this GOAA article would seem to indicate:

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8038

Do you have anything that indicates that Constantinople IV or V were part of that group?
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