Am surfacing 1) so Dustin is satisfied now that my number of postings has hit the millennary mark and 2) to comment on a well-written essay with a couple of surprises.
Looks like an accurate description of the branch theory. Interestingly, I think it only includes Chalcedonian orthodox who can claim apostolic succession. Are the Oriental Orthodox and Assyrians beyond the pale as Monophysite and Nestorian heretics in the orthodox Anglican
point of view or are they lumped together with the Eastern Orthodox?
The Orthodox Church, together with St. Cyprian of Carthage, takes the view that the invisible Church and the visible Church coincide—in other words the Body of Christ is the Orthodox Church. This belief is central to the Orthodox faith.
The part about the visible and visible churches being the same rings true, markedly in the Eastern Orthodox point of view, but re: Orthodox
, that name became synonymous with the imperial church, the state church of the eastern Roman ('Byzantine') Empire, whose rite we now call 'Byzantine'. Might it be that 'you're not in the church' was seen as synonymous (even if that wasn't dogmatized) with 'you're not in our empire'? Meyendorff in Byzantium and the Rise of Russia
noted that imperial people thought that way.
Throughout history there have nevertheless been countless schisms. St. Basil divided the divisions into three ways: heretics, or those who used Christian vocabulary but had an entirely different cosmic and ontological understanding of what the terminology meant (he used the Gnostics as an example); schismatics, or those who maintained the appearance and function of the Church but who denied a major tenet of the faith such as the Divinity of Christ (he cited the Arians) and then finally “the unlawful assembly” or those who rejected the bishop’s authority and set up a separate episcopate.
I didn't see that
Mormons, according to St Basil's terminology, would merely be 'heretics', but they are far beyond that: like Islam, they're a non-Christian
religion. (They use Christian lingo and misrepresent themselves as a Christian church but are really polytheists.) A Christian who converts to Mormonism is an apostate
, as you rightly point out.
Arians are like Jehovah's Witnesses today (only I think the Arians claimed to have bishop and sacraments). Again, a non-Christian religion. For the Christian, apostasy
, not merely schism (not that schism is a good thing).Heresy
= denial of one or more parts of the faith but holding a basic credal orthodoxy such that one is still Christian. Example: the classical Protestantisms, which are still trinitarian.
The 'unlawful assembly' - parasynagogue
to use the fun, confusing (oy, vey) original Greek term = schism
In today’s modern Orthodox Church the terms are slightly different: the Gnostics would be considered apostates, the Arians heretics, the “Macedonian Orthodox Church” schismatic, and a local Orthodox parish rejecting its bishop’s authority an “unlawful assembly”. The terminology is not what is important, however; what we can gleam from these divisions of St. Basil’s is the idea that there are differentiated degrees of separation from the Orthodox Church.
I don't see the distinction between the Gnostics and the Arians: both were non-Christian, just like Mormons and JWs = apostasy
to a Christian. I also don't see a distinction between the 'Macedonian Orthodox Church' and the rebel congregation in your example. Both are schismatic
Augustine in attempting to answer this controversy ended up altering the perception of ordination, however, in ways that 1000 years later would have a curious impact on ecclesiology.... According to modern Roman Catholic ecclesiology, these (vagante) bishops are in fact real bishops (to a certain degree; if the faith is tampered with the RC usually rules the ordinations to be invalid
Is it a matter of ecclesiology or of sacramentology
, a word I've seen in my online travels? (Is that even a real word?) The rogue bishops aren't considered full-fledged members of the true church but are seen as 'valid'.
Today, there are two “basic” varieties of Old Calendarists: those who accept grace in the New Calendarist Churches, saying they are in error but that their error has not made them not-Orthodox
IOW, they're still Eastern Orthodox.
...and those who say that the New Calendarists are schismatics and/or heretics and thus graceless.
IOW, barmy like the separated Old Believers. Personally orthodox, but crazy and technically non-Orthodox. But unlike vagante
game-players ('gay Orthodox churches', New Age 'Inclusive Orthodox' churches - such literally disgraceful
little groups really exist), they're sincere and still deserve some respect because if you buy their premise
they are internally completely logical and consistent. They think they are
the Orthodox Church and nobody else is anymore.
What makes this germane to our discussion of Non-Chalcedonians is that most New Calendarists accept the Old Calendarists—even those not in communion with them—as Orthodox, and some of the Old Calendarists view New Calendarists as Orthodox—even though they are not in communion with one another. Now the Orthodox Church has taught what Met. John Zizioulas calls “communion ecclesiology”: where the bishop is, there is the Church; where the Church is, there is the Eucharist. The Church, Christ, and the Eucharist are all one reality. Since Christ cannot be divided, then theoretically if one leaves the communion of the Orthodox Church, he is no longer Orthodox and his mysteries (sacraments) are nothing.
Since EOxy teaches the second sentence I emphasized, how can the EOs you describe in the first sentence I emphasized hold that, unless they really hold a western Catholic theology of 'validity'?
The reality that is lived is that if one follows the Orthodox FAITH and has apostolic succession, he is Orthodox—yet that begins to sound Augustinian
Right. Every wacko 'independent Catholic' church (IOW, vagante
) out there holds that. Surely EOxy can do better.
As another example I posit the ROCOR. ROCOR is in union with the Serbian patriarchate via full communion and concelebration, and is in a de facto communion with the Jerusalem patriarchate (accounts vary at this time as to priestly and episcopal concelebration—the sign of full communion—so I will leave the status as a question). ROCOR is not, however, in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate or the Ecumenical Patriarchate, however, which raises the question: “how can one be in communion with one Orthodox Church and not the others?” Furthermore, the idea that ROCOR is in an “imperfect communion” with the Jerusalem Patriarchate admits of a level of divide in the Orthodox Church.
Right. Not only are they small-o orthodox but they are
in fact Orthodox - in the EO communion
- even if only by a couple of threads.
But nobody in the EO communion is in communion with anybody in the Oriental Orthodox communion or the Assyrian Church (yet?).
After all of this background information, I believe I can finally state my case for at least the POSSIBILITY of considering the Non-Chalcedonians Orthodox. At the time of Chalcedon, certain bishops were present who were excommunicated by the Council. Some theologian-archimandrites were also excommunicated, such as Eutyches. This led to a division in the episcopate of some Churches where the original patriarch was incumbent and an new imperial-backed patriarch loyal to Chalcedon was in place. At this time, it was impossible to say that the Non-Chalcedonians were in schism since a mere two years earlier, another imperial council with the eastern patriarchs present (the “Robber Synod” of Ephesus, 449) had issued a completely opposite decree. Since in Orthodoxy a council must be “received” by the whole Church (sometimes by ratification by a subsequent council, or by addition of the council into the festal calendar), at this time it was too uncertain as to the outcome for the status of Non-Chalcedonians to be sure. This would continue until the death of Acacius, who had presided over a Church that had broken communion with Rome (I am not arguing Roman primacy here) in order to enter communion with the Non-Chalcedonians via the document known as the Henotikon. At his death, Emperor Justin issued a reaffirmation of Chalcedon and severed communion with the Non-Chalcedonians in order to enter communion with Rome. At this time, one can make the argument that the Non-Chalcedonians are schismatic for not accepting the clear decree of the emperor and the Church.
Interesting but writing off the magisterial teaching of the church for the past 1,500+ years sounds ill-advised. (Classical Protestants did the same thing.) My onetime acquaintance Archimandrite Serge (Keleher), a priest in the Russian Catholic Church, once remarked to me that he thinks the EOs periodically try to do away with the council of Chalcedon. As Arianism is the perennial theological temptation of western Catholicism, so Monophysitism is of the Eastern Churches. I think that's what he was getting at. Seems he might have a jaundiced view of rapprochement with the Oriental Orthodox Churches. 'What next?' he once remarked. 'Will Muslims be reclassed as "pre-Nicene Orthodox"?' (Non-Nicene Orthodox?)
Indeed, can one pinpoint a time when Chalcedon was “received” by the Church (not just the emperor) and afterwhich rejection of the Council made one a heretic?
Ah, yes, that murky part of how EOxy dogmatizes. I don't claim to have an answer and chances are neither does anybody else. It seems to 'just happen'.
The crux of my argument thus becomes: if the Orthodox Church can admit that there are Orthodox who are not in communion with each other but who are still Orthodox, such as the New Calendarist vs. Old Calendarist schism, or the Bulgarian situation with two patriarchs, or the Kievan Patriarchate debacle, then it Non-Chaledonians COULD be admitted to be Orthodox IF it is decided BY THE ENTIRE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN COUNCIL that their terminology is Orthodox. If they passed on the Orthodox Faith, then they can be called Orthodox, even if they have not been in communion with the Chalcedonian Orthodox for 1500 years.
OK, that would solve the problem for the EOs in future. But now the status of the OOs is still a big question mark from the EO POV, based on EO ecclesiology.
The Branch theory states that different groups with different beliefs can be the One Church which is divided. Calling the Non-Chalcedonians Orthodox on the assumption (which still needs to be proved in Church Council for it to be official) that their faith is Orthodox does not constitute this Branch theory. Instead, it states that the Church is present where the Orthodox faith is present and where the apostolic faith has been passed down via a community and the laying-on of hands.
ISTM if you assert they are Orthodox
(meaning 'same as the EOs, from the EO POV') now, jumping the gun of an anticipated future council, that is
of the branch theory, but not exactly the Anglican
version you described so well (which neither Catholicism nor Orthodoxy accept in that form).
Outside the EO framework I think you're trying to employ, there is the view of western Catholicism, which as you point out is based on St Augustine and Pope St Stephen I. It balances an exclusive claim to be the one true church with acknowledging churchness outside itself. On that basis, as you and others here know, it accepts the 'validity' of the EOs! And the OOs and the Assyrians. Its criteria for churchness: 1) basic credal orthodoxy (trinitarian, divinity of Christ, etc.), 2) apostolic succession, 3) historically consistent orthodox teaching about the Eucharist
Some EOs hold an opinion
that mirrors this, but I think you are trying to figure out how the EOs can dogmatically
accept the OOs as the same as them.
The conclusion I see, using the EO frame of reference, is that before the council you envision, it can't be done - yet.
Submerging again. (Turn off the diesels, close the main induction valve! Clear the bridge! Take her to 100 feet. Dive! Dive! Dive!
Goodbye. (See you on the blog.)