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Author Topic: The Council of Constantinople II as a Model of Reconciliation Council  (Read 1518 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 20, 2011, 08:46:25 AM »

I found this excellent article on Constantinople II but wasn't sure where best to post it.

THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE II AS A MODEL RECONCILIATION COUNCIL
G. L. C. FRANK
University of South Africa, Pretoria
Theological Studies 52 (1991)

http://www.ts.mu.edu/content/52/52.4/52.4.2.pdf

Excerpt:

Quote
"...the Fifth Ecumenical Council represents an orthodoxy which is inclusive and embracing, rather than exclusivistic. Throughout the history of the Church various kinds of "orthodoxy" have arisen and have degenerated into sectarianism, in part at least because of the unconscious desire on the part of their proponents to exclude and cut off as many people as possible. The orthodoxy of Constantinople II was the exact opposite. It struggled to give the conflicting parties as much theological space as possible without compromising or sacrificing the truth. In terms of "orthopraxis," the Byzantines, like Christians of other times and places, often failed to incarnate the truth in their church life. This Council, however, represents one of their greatest achievements—their willingness to reconsider theological formulation so as to extend the boundaries of fellowship and Eucharistie communion.

The third significant feature of Constantinople II is that it recognized the limitations of language in doctrinal formulations and urged that different expressions need not be interpreted in a mutually exclusive way. Some language, such as that of the strict Antiochene tradition, it acknowledged, was not "adequate" to the truth and so had to be rejected. Even when language was "adequate," however, it still had a limited value. Chalcedon's formulation was necessary to combat Eutychianism, while Cyril's language was important to repudiate the Mopsuestian-Nestorian tendency. Each formulation was meaningful and orthodox within its specific context, but neither had the capability of serving as the ecumenical expression of the Church's faith within the wider context if it was isolated from the other. In this sense, they complemented each other and belonged together.

The Council of 553, then, represents a genuine terminological flexibility in catholic thinking and an acceptance of the relativity of all language and methods in expressing the one truth and the one living tradition. The brotherly spirit and the ecumenicity of the Council of Constantinople is evident, as John Meyendorff has pointed out, in the fact that its attempt to correct omissions and better explain that which had been a cause of scandal in the past was for the sake of the separated brethren. The goal of the Council was to express the common mind of the Church while allowing for flexibility in language. The great tragedy is that this conciliar attempt at reconciliation was surrounded by clumsy state politics and that it came too late to heal a schism that had already taken root in the hearts and minds of a large number of Christians. The separation eventually came to be hardened in the forms of ethnic self-identity and self-affirmation."
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2011, 08:49:37 AM »

You can come on over at any time  Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2011, 08:59:28 AM »

I read an article by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy where he mentioned how this council is attacked by some Western scholars and it's quite surprising how he, a Coptic metropolitan, has to defend this council.
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2011, 09:34:09 AM »

I read an article by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy where he mentioned how this council is attacked by some Western scholars and it's quite surprising how he, a Coptic metropolitan, has to defend this council.

Yes, that seems to be the case and this article does go into it a little.  There does appear to be sort of "semi-Nestorianism" among some of the Western scholars especially the Protestants.
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2011, 09:39:46 AM »

You can come on over at any time  Smiley

In a spirit of Reconciliation and Christian charity, absolutely.  As some form of submission, then sadly no.

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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2011, 09:44:25 AM »

Bi-'Khristos af-don-f!
I read an article by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy where he mentioned how this council is attacked by some Western scholars and it's quite surprising how he, a Coptic metropolitan, has to defend this council.
What kind of "scholars" was he defended it against?
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2011, 09:55:12 AM »

I had originally posted the following in the the private forum, but think they may go along well with this thread. I hope that's ok.

From the Capitula of Constantinople II (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. V., col. 568.):
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xii.vii.html

Quote
VII.
IF anyone using the expression, “in two natures,” does not confess that our one Lord Jesus Christ has been revealed in the divinity and in the humanity, so as to designate by that expression a difference of the natures of which an ineffable union is unconfusedly made, [a union] in which neither the nature of the Word was changed into that of the flesh, nor that of the flesh into that of the Word, for each remained that it was by nature, the union being hypostatic; but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, or recognising the two natures in the only Lord Jesus, God the Word made man, does not content himself with taking in a theoretical manner I.e. “as an abstraction (τῇ θεωρίᾳ μόνῃ) .” the difference of the natures which compose him, which difference is not destroyed by the union between them, for one is composed of the two and the two are in one, but shall make use of the number [two] to divide the natures or to make of them Persons properly so called: let him be anathema.

VIII.
IF anyone uses the expression “of two natures,” confessing that a union was made of the Godhead and of the humanity, or the expression “the one nature made flesh of God the Word,” and shall not so understand those expressions as the holy Fathers have taught to wit: that of the divine and human nature there was made an hypostatic union, whereof is one Christ; but from these expressions shall try to introduce one nature or substance [made by a mixture] of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; let him be anathema. For in teaching that the only-begotten Word was united hypostatically [to humanity] we do not mean to say that there was made a mutual confusion of natures, but rather each [nature] remaining what it was, we understand that the Word was united to the flesh. Wherefore there is one Christ, both God and man, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood. Therefore they are equally condemned and anathematized by the Church of God, who divide or part the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ, or who introduce confusion into that mystery.

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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2011, 10:01:21 AM »

And from "Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions" by Fr. John Meyendorff, SVS Press:

Quote
"The eighth session on June 2 was consecrated to the approval of a rather lengthy definition followed by fourteen anathemas, which formally sanctioned Justinian's policies of the past years. It endorsed the Four Councils once more, but affirmed the "Cyrillian" (or "Neo-Chalcedonian") interpretation of Chalcedon: the "theopaschite" formulae were used, the Twelve anathemas against Nestorius were approved, and the famous, ambiguous Cyrillian formula- "one nature incarnate of God the Word"- was even mentioned as legitimate, provided the Chalcedonian "two natures" formula was admitted also. The condemnation of the "Three Chapters" had the form which Justinian had given it: it applied to the person of Theodore of Mopsuestia, to the writings of Theodoret, directed against the Council of Ephesus (431) and St. Cyril, and to the Letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris the Persian, where the condemnation of Nestorius was called unjust".
p. 243

Quote
"Since, on the other hand-as modern research has confirmed-the Severian Monophysites held no other Christology than that of Cyril, was Justinian not justified in attempting to erase suspicions of "Nestorianism" from Chalcedonian orthodoxy? And was it not inevitable to do so precisely by condemning Theodore, as the Monophysites were doing for their extremist Eutyches, and by rejecting those writings of Chalcedonian theologians, like Theodoret and Ibas, who were if not "Nestorian", at least clearly "Mopsuestian"? This solution which, in the sixth century, was accepted by such respected figures of Chalcedonism as Patriarch Ephrem of Antioch, the Alexandrian Nephalius and Leontius of Jerusalem, is that which was endorsed by the fifth council. It allowed the full weight of Cyrillian soteriology-which affirmed that the God of the New Testament is not simply a celestial Creator and Judge, but in his love for creation, personally makes the "flesh" His own in its fallen state and in death itself, in order to bring it back to communion with Himself-to remain part of the Christian kerygma and theology. But it also allowed for the best achievements of Antiochian exegesis, in the person of the blessed Theodoret of Cyrus-whose person and overall critic of Eutyches was not in jeopardy-to be preserved as part of Tradition, together with the Athanasian and Cyrillian doctrine of "deification."

This implied, of course, the recognition of a certain methodological and terminological pluralism. According to the Fifth council, one could speak of "one nature incarnate" as well as use the obviously Severian way of speaking of two natures, distinguished "mentally", provided one admitted that each nature preserved its characteristics or energies, manifested concretely in the life of Jesus. The whole approach was a "catholic" one, which implied the limitations of all languages and all methods in their attempts to express One Truth. In this sense, the decision of 553 could be called "ecumenical" (in the modern sense of the word) since they were made partially fo the sake of the seperated, correcting omissions and explaining in a better way that which had been a cause of scandel in the past"
pp. 246-247
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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2011, 10:26:16 AM »

Bi-'Khristos af-don-f!
I read an article by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy where he mentioned how this council is attacked by some Western scholars and it's quite surprising how he, a Coptic metropolitan, has to defend this council.
What kind of "scholars" was he defended it against?

I think ever since the Assyrian Church entered into dialogue with the WCC, many Protestants seemed to have blasted against Constantinople 553 saying that it swayed away from the spirit of Chalcedon, and that the council should be denounced.
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2011, 11:15:32 AM »

Bi-'Khristos af-don-f!
I read an article by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy where he mentioned how this council is attacked by some Western scholars and it's quite surprising how he, a Coptic metropolitan, has to defend this council.
What kind of "scholars" was he defended it against?

I think ever since the Assyrian Church entered into dialogue with the WCC, many Protestants seemed to have blasted against Constantinople 553 saying that it swayed away from the spirit of Chalcedon, and that the council should be denounced.
I didn't realize large denomination heads were going Nestorian. I've only heard of it on a popular level...
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2011, 11:17:13 AM »

There was a very serious bias against St. Cyril among Western Scholars. I recall reading somewhere that thier opinions of him were shaped by the shabby treatment he received from Gibbons in the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire".

From the article:

Quote
In the nineteenth century, Philip Schaff, for example, interpreted the Council as a "leaning toward Monophysitism," while Adolph Harnack described it as the means whereby the Christian East revenged itself dogmatically on the Christian West for the "blow" given it at the Council of Chalcedon.

This less than positive evaluation of Constantinople II has continued to dominate much of twentieth-century church historiography. In his monograph on the Monophysites, W. A. Wigram, for example, asserted that Constantinople II "provides a landmark to show how far the policy of concession to the Monophysites had been carried." Kurt Aland has claimed that the Council "interpreted the decision of Chalcedon in such a way that it closely resembled the position of the Monophysites. Not until the Sixth Ecumenical Council of 680-81, again in Constantinople, were statements adopted which led back to the intention of Chalcedon." The Lutheran theologian Paul Tillich interpreted the Council of 553 and the Eastern Christian Christological thought which gave rise to it as an indication that the importance of the Council of Chalcedon and its decisions were never really accepted in the East, but were "transformed" and "swallowed up in the eastern Christian sacramental way of thinking and acting."

also footnote 8 states:

Quote
The possibility of a fair and sympathetic reading of Constantinople II is becoming less and less likely in many Western theological circles. Western Christian thought by and large, has never been sympathetic toward the Cyrillian Christology proclaimed by Constantinople II, despite a formal adherence by at least Roman Catholics to Constantinople II as a genuinely ecumenical council.

Protestant theologians have been overtly negative at times toward the Fifth Council; see, e.g., Tillich, A History of Christian Thought 84-86. At other times, they have simply chosen to ignore the significance of Cyrillian Christology before, during, and after the Council of Chalcedon and its articulation at the Council of Constantinople.

J. F. Bethune-Baker, for example, has given expression to a popular Western sentiment that Pope Leo's Tome and the Council of Chalcedon helped to close (sic) the Christological controversy (An Introduction to the Early History of Christian Doctrine to the Time of the Council of Chalcedon [London: Methuen, 1942]) 288.

Orthodox Lutheran thinking may be an exception to this Western tendency inasmuch as it has represented a revival of Cyrillian Christology in the West. See, e.g., Martin Chemnitz, Two Natures in Christ, trans. J. A. O. Preus (St. Louis: Concordia, 1970) and T. G. A. Hardt, Venerabais et Adorabais Eucharistia. En Studie i den Lutherska Nattvardslaran under 1500 Talet (Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1971).

The contemporary theological scene has further exacerbated the negative reading of Cyrillian theology and of Constantinople II by calling into question any Christology "from above," which is interpreted as not taking seriously Jesus' humanity. See, e.g., Gerald O'Collins, What Are They Saying about Jesus (New York: Paulist, 1977).
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2011, 10:04:22 PM »

I read an article by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy where he mentioned how this council is attacked by some Western scholars and it's quite surprising how he, a Coptic metropolitan, has to defend this council.

Yes, that seems to be the case and this article does go into it a little.  There does appear to be sort of "semi-Nestorianism" among some of the Western scholars especially the Protestants.

Dr. István Pásztori-Kupán posted a couple of times here, but I can't recall the thread in which he visited us.  Anyway, I seem to recall him linking his thesis, which I read a little of (I'm too lazy to read all of it.)  I took a couple of notes at the time and based on the notes I was able to pull up the thesis again:

http://proteo.cj.edu.ro/ro/dok/PKI/PKI_PhD_Full_text.pdf

If I recall correctly, he seemed to admire Theodoret and he was very critical of Constantinople II.  Here is a quote:

Quote
I agree with the following conclusion of Blomfield Jackson:

The Council [of 553] satisfied nobody. Pope Vigilius, detained at
Constantinople and Marmora with something of the same violence with which
Napoleon I detained Pius VI at Valence, declined to preside over a gathering
so exclusively oriental. The West was outraged by the constitution of the
synod, irrespective of its decisions. The Monophysites were disappointed that
the credit of Chalcedon should be even nominally saved by the nice distinction
which damaged the writings, but professed complete agreement with the
council which had refused to damn the writers. The orthodox wanted no slur
cast upon Chalcedon, and, however fenced, the condemnation of the Three
Chapters indubitably involved such a slur. Practically, the decrees of the
fourth and fifth councils are mutually inconsistent, and it is impossible to
accept both. Theodoret was reinstated at Chalcedon in spite of what he had
written, and what he had written was anathematised at Constantinople in spite
of his reinstatement.51

Thus, within a century after his death, Theodoret suffered another two unfair trials (the
removal of his name from the diptychs and the condemnation of some of his works in
553), caused either by prejudiced ignorance or by an honest but inappropriately directed
good will to bring peace to the Church. One of the lessons of Constantinople 553 is
perhaps that in order to maintain a united body of Christendom a common goal is needed:
common enemies or however cleverly chosen scapegoats simply do not suffice. 

(page 24)

Maybe he'll visit us again.  That would be kind of fun.   Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2011, 10:16:15 PM »

Here he is:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,21726.msg344757.html#msg344757

He's a Presbyterian.   Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2011, 12:40:25 AM »

You can come on over at any time  Smiley

In a spirit of Reconciliation and Christian charity, absolutely.  As some form of submission, then sadly no.



If you truly believe that Chalcedon and Constantinople II were perfectly acceptable councils then you should join the church which accepted them.
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« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2011, 09:38:47 AM »

Being acceptable under certain circumstances and with particular interpretations is not the same as saying they are authoritative. I think that the OO are seeking to excuse Chalcedon not accept it.

I have already written about Constantinople here just before I left during the great struggles with Linus. It has always been my view that Constantinople II could be accepted with a couple of excisions as being consisten with Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2011, 04:55:16 PM »

Accepting a council of the Church as orthodox is the same thing as accepting it as authoritatively definitive for the faith.
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« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2011, 03:22:40 PM »

If you truly believe that Chalcedon and Constantinople II were perfectly acceptable councils then you should join the church which accepted them.

When you've longed moved on to other things, I'll still be here.
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« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2011, 03:27:40 PM »

deusveritasest, of course it is not.
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« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2011, 04:58:38 AM »

If a doctrinal statement is orthodox, then to deny it is to deny the faith.
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« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2011, 05:21:14 AM »

Why? And what is meant by deny it? There are lots of statements which are orthodox and not considered authoritative. ALL of the large number of creeds are orthodox and say things that are true but only one is authoeritative.

To say that the others are not authoritative or have various defects is entirely reasonable and orthodox.

The problem is, as ever, that your black and white view is neither historical nor orthodox.
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« Reply #20 on: June 01, 2011, 05:37:49 AM »

Why?

There is one Truth; something is either truthful or it is not. If a statement is orthodox then it is truthful, and it describes the faith. To deny what describes the faith is to violate the faith.

And what is meant by deny it?

Contradicting it. To contradict an orthodox doctrinal statement is to violate the faith.

There are lots of statements which are orthodox and not considered authoritative.

I think you are talking past me. I wasn't suggesting that all orthodox definitions by a synod must be proclaimed by all the Church, only that all orthodox definitions by a synod have properly defined the faith with their authority and cannot be contradicted.

ALL of the large number of creeds are orthodox and say things that are true but only one is authoeritative.

To contradict any one of the orthodox creeds would be heretical.

The problem is, as ever, that your black and white view is neither historical nor orthodox.

Would you quit with this personal vendetta? It's really annoying.
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« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2011, 04:47:47 PM »

Sorry, you are making up your own version of history again.

Any statement can be truthful or untruthful based on its interpretation, and any statement can be more or less successful in communicating truth. The idea that if something is understood by some people in a manner which is true then it must and will under all circumstances be understood in that way is manifestly false.

When a council is rejected it is on the basis of a particular understanding of it. When it is accepted it is on a particular understanding of it. A text is not objectively Orthodox, it is always the interpretation of a text which determines its Orthodoxy.

The authority of a text is determined by many other things as well as whether what is said is true. I could produce an Orthodox statement but I could not then send it to all the Synods and insist that they accept it on pain of being considered heretics. To accept a statement is to say much more than that it can be understood in an Orthodox manner, and more than that it is understood in an Orthodox manner. It must also answer some need in the Church in a manner which allows it to recieve a degree of authority.

All of the many Orthodox creeds are Orthodox. But there is only one authoritative creed. This does not mean the others have been rejected as being not Orthodox, but they are rejected as being not best suited to a particular end in the mind of the Church.

I might well be able to accept most of the text of Constantinople 553 as Orthodox but this does not require me to accept it as authoritative. Authoritative means more than Orthodox and true. If that were not so then everything which had ever been said which is Orthodox must be accepted without hesitation or criticism.

The Western Apostles creed is Orthodox in content but it is not used by Orthodox and not considered authoritative by Orthodox. Indeed the basis of the Orthodox understanding of the mind of the Fathers is not that everything anyone has ever written must be accepted as Gospel but that an authoritative consensus is determined by placing the writings of the various Fathers in context and in order of authority.

There are lots of synodal statements which are true but which have not adequately explained the faith. The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church deals with many issues in an Orthodox manner, but the decisions are not binding on all the Church simply because they are synodal and orthodox. It is also entirely possible for a synod to proclaim some truth in a statement but proclaim that truth in an ambiguous and unsatisfactory manner which might even be considered as failing to exclude heresy.

There is no personal vendetta, but it is tiresome when you set yourself up as the arbiter of who is and who is not Orthodox, and insist that various Fathers and Churches have acted in error because they did not do what you think they should have done.

Your little comments like..

If a doctrinal statement is orthodox, then to deny it is to deny the faith.

appear to be designed to undermine the OO on many occasions, and to set up some false division between the EO and OO which is not there. I can easily reject the Definitio of Chalcedon but not because I deny any of the Orthodox content which the EO understand it to contain, but because I believe it fails to communicate that Orthodox content securely, and that it failed to exclude error. Since I manifestly do not deny the Orthodoxy that the EO see in the Definitio while also rejecting it as an authoritative statement your own statement is shown to be false, but you keep making it, and many others like it.
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The poster formerly known as peterfarrington
Tags: Constantinople II  Christology 
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