Author Topic: The Validity of the Eastern Orthodox Church despite the Council of Florence  (Read 3200 times)

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Offline EY

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Cyril,

The Chalcedonian Council provides enough evidence that the Pope of Rome held a unique leadership position. That much can be accepted on both sides. The rationale for such leadership is what is instructive to the modern East. The authority of Rome was a divine primacy, one given by the Lord. The bishops of Chalcedon admitted that the Savior gave the whole universal Church into the custody of Leo, the successor of Peter. No matter what they ended up doing in practice (whereas many were obedient), their words admit as much.

And Alexandria/Antioch were overrun by Muslim turks, and it was entirely accomodated for Constantinople to have 2nd place. One wonders why they did not publicly ignore Leo's veto on Cano 28. The canonists who formulated Eastern canon law ommitted canon 28, and it does not show up until the 6th century in the Syntagma of Fourteen Titles (see Francis Dvornik, The Idea of Apostolicity, pp. 39 ff). So you have to explain why they were so quiet about it.

@ Ephesus 431, philip the legate explicates to the Council fathers that they were submitted to Celestine as Head of all the catholic churches, and that such Headship was derivative of the authority bestowed on blessed Peter, whose authority continued to live in his cathedra in Rome. I think you know the sources. But I will find them later.

Offline Cavaradossi

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And insubmission to Rome does not invalidate Rome's authority, even in the West. We experience this very thing even today.

That's cute, but this criterion effectively makes the thesis of Roman Authority unfalsifiable. An unfalsifiable thesis is neither worthy of rational argument or even of consideration.
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Offline Cyrillic

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The authority of Rome was a divine primacy, one given by the Lord.

That's far from an established fact.

The bishops of Chalcedon admitted that the Savior gave the whole universal Church into the custody of Leo

They said that St. Peter spoke through Pope Leo I only after comparing his Tome to the writings of St. Cyril for days on end. That's hardly admitting that "the Savior gave the whole universal Church into the custody of Leo".

Pope Leo I had restored Theodoret to his bishophric before the council, but yet the fathers of Chalcedon thought it necessary to do a trial before restoring him to his bishophic. If the fathers believed that Pope Leo had universal jurisdiction they would have just accepted Theodoret without a trial and wouldn't have thought of reinstating him again.

They knew that Pope Leo objected to having Constantinople as second see, the legates said as much, yet they went ahead anyway and adopted canon 28.

And The canonists who formulated Eastern canon law ommitted canon 28, and it does not show up until the 6th century in the Syntagma of Fourteen Titles (see Francis Dvornik, The Idea of Apostolicity, pp. 39 ff). So you have to explain why they were so quiet about it.

Not at Constantinople II.

The 6th century started a mere 49 years after the Council.

@ Ephesus 431, philip the legate explicates to the Council fathers that they were submitted to Celestine as Head of all the catholic churches, and that such Headship was derivative of the authority bestowed on blessed Peter, whose authority continued to live in his cathedra in Rome. I think you know the sources. But I will find them later.

Well, of course Philip would say that. He's the representative of the Pope!
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 10:42:42 AM by Cyrillic »
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Offline EY

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Jedi,

When I have a moment I will answer your comments

Offline EY

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Cyrillic, I will get to your comments when I have a moment after responding to Jedi.


Jedi, you said :

"That said, EY, can you give me your understanding why the Petrine Sees of Antioch and Alexandria were different than the See of Rome?  In my studies, I have heard the following supportive arguments (none of which, btw, I found intellectually satisfactory):
1. Rome was the final See of Peter. 
2. Rome was the See of Peter AND PAUL.
3. Rome's primacy was divinely mandated, and was an awareness (that grew over time) of a reality that always existed.
4. Peter only established Sees in Antioch and Alexandria, then moved on; but he was the first Pope of Rome (this is a dubious historical interpolation, imo)"


The sees of Alexandria and Antioch had a close connection to the apostle Peter, and for that reason, they are considered as having petrine authority. However, no one of the Fathers ever equated the Roman episcopate with the other 2 petrine sees. In fact, it is very possible that when the Byzantine theologians floated the idea that Roman primacy was derived from her political strength as the chair of the Empire in 381 AD (C'ople 1), Pope Damasus responded in a Synod of Rome 382 by affirming that the primacy of the Roman see was derived from the divine ordination of Jesus Christ himself who spoke to Peter "You are Peter, etc,etc", and adding that Alexandria and Antioch, because they have close connections to this very Apostle, are 2nd and 3rd sees of Christendom. But Damasus always affirmed that Rome was 1st.


Offline xariskai

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The Council of Florence had been closed, and re-union was supposedly settled. But because the Greeks did not embrace it, it was later seen as a false council. This is a problem. Because every condition was met for it to be immediately binding on the whole universal Church.
Councils are not accepted because some "list of every condition" is met.

Councils are not "immediately binding" as such.

"it was later seen as a false council" -effectively immediately, as soon as the facts became known.

Florence was not just rejected by "the Greeks."

The first official repudiation Florence, of April 1443 (Florence ended in 1442), by the three Patriarchs Joachim of Jerusalem, Philotheos of Alexandria, and Dorotheos of Antioch, called the Council "vile." Notice these are mot just "Greeks" (none of them were), and they weren't just monastics and laity." Not that that wouldn't be enough according to Orthodox ecclesiology (cf. St. Mark of Ephesus and Isodore were deputised as representatives of the Pope of Alexandria Egypt])" http://www.ephesus.com/Orthodox/St.Mark-of-Ephesus.txt

"Many of those who signed at Florence revoked their signatures when they reached home. The decrees of the Council were never accepted by more than a minute fraction of the Byzantine clergy and people. The Grand Duke Lucas Notaras, echoing the words of the Emperor’s sister after Lyons, remarked: 'I would rather see the Moslem turban in the midst of the city than the Latin miter.'" -Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church

Bishop Kallistos' description of Florence "never accepted by more than a minute fraction of the Byzantine clergy and people" gives the lie to EY's "every condition was met for it to be immediately binding on the whole universal Church." Such an assessment as suggested by EY is only possible for someone with deep confirmation bias utterly unable to understand (accepting or not is immaterial) a position other than their own.

Once the dire need for help against the approaching Muslim invaders became a foregone conclusion, the politically motivated attempt by the emperor to engineer / cobble together a formal agreement by any means necessary completely disintegrated. If union is ever to occur it has to be more than a desperate attempt for immediate military aid.

"Submission to the Franco-Latin Papacy was the price that the Roman Emperor of New Rome was required to pay for Franco-Latin help against the Turks. This union was supposed to have been consummated at the union Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438-1442. This Council was condemned by the three Roman Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem at their Council of Jerusalem (1443). These three Roman Patriarchates were within Moslem held territories. Then in 1453 New Rome fell to the Ottoman Turks putting all four Roman Patriarchates within the Moslem world, putting an end to the need for asking for help from the Franco-Latin [Roman Catholic] royalties and nobilities of Western Europe and their Pope. The reality of the matter was that the three Roman Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem had opted to continue their tradition and were re-joined in this work by the Patriarchate of New Rome in 1453 after the Ottoman takeover of the capital of the Roman Empire."  http://www.romanity.org/htm/rom.02.en.the_cure_of_the_neurobiological_sickness_of_rel.02.htm

This "gotcha" mentality of some RC apologists to "official proceedings" is really ridiculously naive. The most basic Orthodox "condition" for Orthodox unity is it must represent the faith of the Orthodox people. Florence never did. The following quotation from Orthodox Information Center makes this clear enough, though one suspects not clear enough to cure amateur apologetics.

[RC apologists citing Florence] "of all people, should know that an Orthodox Bishop cannot act unilaterally—after all that is why we reject Papism!  ...We must also, in this honesty, teach them of the majority of the Orthodox world: those poor, disenfranchised, captive masses that Christ entrusted with His Holy Church. Only then will they leave the glitter of a fleeting Orthodoxy in America, which sparkles with the same worldly glitter that they have known in Rome. ...They rush to Patriarchates which must compromise themselves and play politics to survive (often because Rome itself threatens them), while they fail to visit a village where Orthodoxy is lived. They go to places where Orthodoxy is being decimated by missions (some from their own Church), while avoiding the vast amount of the Orthodox world, where the Faith is staunch! They think of Florence, not remembering that the real Orthodox world dismantled that political sham within a week of the return of their Bishops. They know a few popular Orthodox theologians of Greek Catholic background and bent, hardly even having touched a page of Archimandrite Philotheos Zervakos' works or the works of the great Archimandrite Justin of Serbia...  ..Uniates do not come to an Orthodox understanding of the Church. This is essential. If they understood traditional Orthodox ecclesiology, Uniates would not be Uniates. They are Uniates because if there is any place in which they are wholly outside an Orthodox mentality, it is in the area of ecclesiology. In fact, they rage and scream when we bring up the Donation of Constantine, Papism, and Apostolic Succession from an Orthodox perspective. In the first place, Latins came from the bosom of the Orthodox Church. They are, from our understanding, primarily errant in their ecclesiology, having separated themselves from an Orthodox understanding of the Church by opting for a worldly notion of the Church. They understand the Church in terms of numbers, influence, and worldly power—things which the Apostolic Church knew not at all and which the remnant Church will also not know. Papism began in the Gospel as a temptation put before Christ by the Evil One himself: the lure of worldly power. Roman Catholicism is Orthodoxy which has succumbed to such temptation. http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/uniate_tragedy.aspx
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 12:06:00 PM by xariskai »

Offline EY

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Then why would you condemn the anti-Chalcedonians? They did not think Chalcedon represented the faith of the Fathers. Do they get a pass?

Offline Volnutt

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Then why would you condemn the anti-Chalcedonians? They did not think Chalcedon represented the faith of the Fathers. Do they get a pass?

I think that's a problem for the EOs who believe that OOs were and are heretics, but not for EOs who believe they did not deserve to be anathematized.

Offline Justin Kissel

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...The first official repudiation Florence, of April 1443 (Florence ended in 1442), by the three Patriarchs Joachim of Jerusalem, Philotheos of Alexandria, and Dorotheos of Antioch, called the Council "vile." Notice these are mot just "Greeks" (none of them were), and they weren't just monastics and laity."

This speaks of easterners, but did any from the west condemn it around this time as well? (from events leading up to it, including at Basel and Ferrara, we of course know that people willing to publicly oppose Rome existed in the west)


Quote
http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/uniate_tragedy.aspx

I am astonished, tbh, that you would post such an excerpt, as it falls so far below your typical thoughtfulness.

Offline xariskai

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Then why would you condemn the anti-Chalcedonians? They did not think Chalcedon represented the faith of the Fathers.
For the present I'll overlook the fact that you failed to respond to a single syllable of my post, which is little more than very standard Orthodox replies regarding Florence.

OO today are not "anti-" the teaching of Chalcedon. OOs rejected a misinterpretation of Chalcedon; EO also condemned an imaginary picture of the OOs. When the true picture of both sides is shown there is no problem.



Chalcedon is your council too, EY; if you have a problem with it you shouldn't be RC. If on the other hand you wish to caricature the OO as "anti-" the teaching of Chalcedon which RC and EO hold in common you should take that argument to the OO sub-forum.

I am astonished, tbh, that you would post such an excerpt, as it falls so far below your typical thoughtfulness.
Thanks, I think...

OIC is a tad blunt, but the basic point is sound and pervasive.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 02:49:53 PM by xariskai »

Offline Jedi

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The sees of Alexandria and Antioch had a close connection to the apostle Peter, and for that reason, they are considered as having petrine authority. However, no one of the Fathers ever equated the Roman episcopate with the other 2 petrine sees.... affirming that the primacy of the Roman see was derived from the divine ordination of Jesus Christ himself who spoke to Peter "You are Peter, etc,etc", and adding that Alexandria and Antioch, because they have close connections to this very Apostle, are 2nd and 3rd sees of Christendom. But Damasus always affirmed that Rome was 1st.

Thank you, EY, but this simply reiterates what we now know.  Latin primates and some Church Fathers came to claim a jurisdictional primacy for Rome, based on it's Petrine origin; and such an origin is likewise to be no less found in Antioch and Alexandria.  But the question WHY is a critical question here.  In all of my studies, I have never found a good explanation WHY Rome had a Petrine primacy unique from Antioch or Alexandria.  If it was supreme simply by virtue of it's historical origin in Peter, and these other sees shared the same history, why was Rome different? 

Offline Jedi

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Councils are not accepted because some "list of every condition" is met. Councils are not "immediately binding" as such.

Xariskai, it seems to me that there must be some such criteria for determining if a synod is indeed an ecumenical council, or merely a synod.  And it seems to me, that these criteria are still themselves rather murkily identified.  The Council at Florence sought to establish its ecumenicity by noting it's identity to be such in the openings, and then having everyone sign on to that.  Of course, as you bring up, there were other issues.  But if we need consensus from the whole Church prior to a council being identified as ecumenical, would't this effectively hinder it's function, to act decisively and efficiently during a time of a perceived crisis of faith (as with the early Councils)?  To have no "certifying criteria" - would this not result in the Council ultimately only being meaningful after the Church had embraced a doctrine, and resolution achieved (and the crisis thus resolved), thus ratifying the council only after the fact? 

Is this a fair characterization of your understanding?

btw, you seem very knowledgable about the Eastern view of Florence.  Do you know where I might find original sources regarding the Eastern hierarchs admonition that their acceptance of Florence must first be ratified back in the East, at a synod? 
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 05:55:55 PM by Jedi »

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retracted
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 05:55:12 PM by Jedi »

Offline homedad76

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Councils are not accepted because some "list of every condition" is met. Councils are not "immediately binding" as such.

Xariskai, it seems to me that there must be some such criteria for determining if a synod is indeed an ecumenical council, or merely a synod.  And it seems to me, that these criteria are still themselves rather murkily identified.  The Council at Florence sought to establish its ecumenicity by noting it's identity to be such in the openings, and then having everyone sign on to that.  Of course, as you bring up, there were other issues.  But if we need consensus from the whole Church prior to a council being identified as ecumenical, would't this effectively hinder it's function, to act decisively and efficiently during a time of a perceived crisis of faith (as with the early Councils)?  To have no "certifying criteria" - would this not result in the Council ultimately only being meaningful after the Church had embraced a doctrine, and resolution achieved (and the crisis thus resolved), thus ratifying the council only after the fact? 

Is this a fair characterization of your understanding?

btw, you seem very knowledgable about the Eastern view of Florence.  Do you know where I might find original sources regarding the Eastern hierarchs admonition that their acceptance of Florence must first be ratified back in the East, at a synod? 


I know you retracted but I do think you bring up some valid points.  For me it simply comes down to the fact that the Church doesn't have any direct means of enforcement for canons except to propagate them.  Technically any canons put forth are "in force" upon all those for whom they address from the moment they are signed.  But if they do so and the people, en masse, refuse to follow them this is a sign the council is out of touch with the people. As far as I understand the Church has generally shied away from the kind of "pain of sin" enforcement that the RC has become better known for.  But there is no formal ratifying process except for the previous council being named in the next. And with sometimes hundreds of years between councils the fact the previous one is remembered is proof of its power.  Finally as Orthodox we simply don't worry as much about knowing the "rules" exactly and wonder if this canon or that canon's violation will send us to the fiery pits of Hell.  Not that they don't matter but if you are living your life checking the canons before you do anything you have bigger issues.
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Offline xariskai

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Xariskai, it seems to me that there must be some such criteria for determining if a synod is indeed an ecumenical council, or merely a synod.  And it seems to me, that these criteria are still themselves rather murkily identified.
"...a doctrine did not become orthodox because a council said it was, but a council was orthodox -and therefore binding- because the doctrine it confessed was orthodox" (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (University of Chicago Press), p. 24.

The idea of the necessity of rationalist criteria as "grounding" theology so characteristic of medieval epistemological foundationalism does not derive from early Christianity and is not, of course, characteristic of the Eastern Church.

On the other hand we do know very well what genuine union and Orthodox ecumenicity is NOT:

No council vehemently repudiated by the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in its own time is, in our view, a genuine Orthodox Ecumenical Council.

No "union" which enraged the theological sensibilities of the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in its own time is, in our view, a genuine union.

No council which no living Orthodox Christian regards as an Ecumenical Council is, in our view, an Orthodox Ecumenical Council, nor can such a council be reasonably said to be truly ecumenical or unifying, in our view.

Florence fails all of these criteria. We do not here have a failure the breath of a hair but a massive, colossal, stupendous failure of absolute epic proportions to achieve union. It was thus from the beginning centuries ago:

The Serbs were not represented at Florence. The vast majority of Russians rejected Florence as soon as they learned of it. The vast majority of Byzantines rejected Florence as soon as they learned of it. The very delegates that signed the agreement rejected it and claimed they were forced into signing. The Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria formally repudiated Florence forthwith. The Orthodox Church convened to formalize its rejection of Florence in 1872. Herein one with eyes to see may discover the criterion of false union and non-ecumenicity Jedi claims to objectively seek.

"The Ferrara agreement proved to be a shell of paper, and all the parade and rejoicing at the conclusion of the proceedings were made ridiculous by the utter rejection of its articles in Constantinople. On their return, the delegates were hooted as Azymites, the name given in contempt to the Latins for using unleavened bread in the Eucharist. Isidore, after making announcement of the union at Of en, was seized and put into a convent, from which he escaped two years later to Rome. The patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria issued a letter from Jerusalem, 1443, denouncing the council of Florence as a synod of robbers and Metrophanes, the Byzantine patriarch as a matricide and heretic" Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume VI § 18. The Council of Ferrara-Florence. 1438–1445.

The Council at Florence sought to establish its ecumenicity by noting it's identity to be such in the openings, and then having everyone sign on to that.  Of course, as you bring up, there were other issues.
While a particular council may declare itself to be ecumenical, it may later be regarded by the Church as being a Robber Council (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Council_of_Ephesus )

Florence is in our view such a Robber Council, however badly amateur apologists wish to insist it really is an "Orthodox Ecumenical Council" (ignoring the "minor problem" of no Orthodox Christians believing it is an Ecumenical Council).

"Many of those who signed at Florence revoked their signatures when they reached home. The decrees of the Council were never accepted by more than a minute fraction of the Byzantine clergy and people." -Bishop Kallistos, op cit.  The RC view here seems to be that overwhelming and vehement rejection by a majority of Orthodox Christians does not mean there is not Actual Total Union with the Orthodox Church despite almost no one believing it then or now.

“‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice. ‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’ Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’ ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice, said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'” -Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass



But if we need consensus from the whole Church prior to a council being identified as ecumenical, would't this effectively hinder it's function
It is not in this case that a total consensus was needed -no council ever achieved that- but it is the case that the vast majority of Orthodox Christians worldwide  rejecting something, including the delegates that signed the agreement, the leadership and laity of every major trajectory of Orthodox Christianity soon forthwith, and the universal consensus of contemporary Orthodox Christians rejecting something nullifies the presumption of non-Orthodox apologists that true "unity" and "ecumenicity" really was reflected in this council after all; in fact such a presumption would completely empty such words of their meaning.

Oἰκουμένη/oikouménē, lit. means "inhabited"; it was an ancient Greek term for all the known world, the inhabited world, or the habitable world. If effectively the whole inhabited Orthodox world of its time rejected a council it does not by definition reflect the oikoumene/oἰκουμένη and is not in this original sense of the word ecumenical.

St Vincent of Lerins defined true catholic doctrine as marked by universality, antiquity, and consent. Florence fails all three of these criteria as it fails to embody the original meaning of oἰκουμένη. It is rejected by all Orthodox Christians today as it was by the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in its own time as soon as they learned of it.  It is not for us an Ecumenical Council. With reasonable warrant we opine that it never was. No argument in this thread remotely suggests good reason for Orthodox Christians to suppose otherwise. My advice to RCs is live with it and move on to defending more important and somewhat more believable things.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 04:41:26 AM by xariskai »

Offline xariskai

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« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 04:48:00 AM by xariskai »

Offline EY

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For Roman Catholics, it is not as pure a concept that a council is ecumenical because what it says is orthodox. Although that is true.

As Pope Agatho said in his words to the Council, and which was accepted, Christ made certain promises for the Universal Church in blessed Peter's faith, and the promise is that Peter's faith will not fail the Church. So put simply, whatever the bishop of Rome approves us as ecumenical has its validation as "orthodox" by virtue of what is being said is orthodox, but also because of "who" is giving it ratification.

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For Roman Catholics, it is not as pure a concept that a council is ecumenical because what it says is orthodox. Although that is true.

As Pope Agatho said in his words to the Council, and which was accepted, Christ made certain promises for the Universal Church in blessed Peter's faith, and the promise is that Peter's faith will not fail the Church. So put simply, whatever the bishop of Rome approves us as ecumenical has its validation as "orthodox" by virtue of what is being said is orthodox, but also because of "who" is giving it ratification.
Cardinal John Henry Newman cited the example of Pope Liberius to argue that faithful Christian laity were better at preserving orthodoxy during the Arian period than was the hierarchy:

"In that time of immense confusion ...the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commision while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; that at one time the Pope, and at other times the patriarchal, metropolitan, and other great sees, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth; while on the other hand, it was the Christian people who, under Providence, were the ecclesiastical strength of Athanasius, Hilary, Eusebius of Vercellae, and other great solitary confessors, who would have failed without them... It seems, then, as striking an instance as I could take in fulfillment of Father Perrone's statement, that the voice of tradition may in certain cases express itself, not by Councils, nor Fathers, nor Bishops, but the "communis fidelium sensus."" (John Henry Newman, "On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine" http://www.newmanreader.org/works/rambler/consulting.html

Such, from the Orthodox POV, was precisely the case regarding the failure of Florence to faithfully and truly represent the Orthodox oikouménē.

At Florence the Orthodox delegates did not accurately represent the faith of their oikouménē ("whole inhabited world"). They were not claiming to demand what Orthodox must henceforth believe which they presently did not (Orthodoxy does not work that way -never did/never will), but to represent what the Orthodox really did believe. But by the delegates' own admissions they failed to do this accurately and honestly, even claiming they were forced to lie. We have written transcripts of the grieved repentance of delegates who admitted their own deceit dating from the moment the delegates returned from Florence.

In RC canon law such a contingency is referred to as a false premise (false testes). Florence is for RCs ecumenical and represents the Western oikouménē. Florence according to Orthodox never represented the Eastern oikouménē and is, rather, a Robber Council affirming things that were not true about what the Eastern oikouménē really was.

Nothing anyone can say, and no ecclesiastical power in heaven or earth can make a false statement about what the actual faith of the oikouménē/"whole inhabited world" was/is genuinely magically transform into a true representation if it turns out that very same oikouménē/"whole inhabited world" vehemently rejected it (and still rejects it). That is not how "union" works in Orthodoxy. The real Orthodox faith is in every age what Orthodox Christians of their own free will live by and consent to in solidarity with what has been lived and believed since ancient times in the Orthodox Church, not what some lone "theologian" or rouge "representatives" say the Orthodox faith is, not even in a self-described "official meeting." And certainly not what some outsider supposes the Orthodox Church should be but is not.

There will never be and never has there ever been genuine union with the Orthodox people in diametric opposition to the heart and soul of what vast majority of Orthodox Christians throughout "the whole inhabited world" hold dear.

In Orthodoxy if our Patriarchs claim as "Orthodox" what most of us vehemently reject we depose them. If a council claims to describe the belief of the oikouménē but actually describes things the oikouménē vehemently rejects, we write it off as a Robber Council; it would be a contradiction of the very meaning of the Greek term oikouménē to suppose even the logical possibility of a council contradicting what "the whole inhabited world" of the Orthodox actually believe as being "ecumenical."

If RCs want union with the Orthodox Church they must win the heart of all of the Orthodox people. I do nor think amateur apologists insisting the whole Orthodox world is deluded and "really" became RC in the 15th century against the common consent of almost Orthodox Christian then living in every nook and cranny of the planet is the road to unity, but a sort of aggravation like the endless buzzing of a fly, or "a curious breeze of garlic breath that sounds something like a snore."

« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 07:08:59 PM by xariskai »

Offline JoeS2

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For Roman Catholics, it is not as pure a concept that a council is ecumenical because what it says is orthodox. Although that is true.

As Pope Agatho said in his words to the Council, and which was accepted, Christ made certain promises for the Universal Church in blessed Peter's faith, and the promise is that Peter's faith will not fail the Church. So put simply, whatever the bishop of Rome approves us as ecumenical has its validation as "orthodox" by virtue of what is being said is orthodox, but also because of "who" is giving it ratification.
Cardinal John Henry Newman cited the example of Pope Liberius to argue that faithful Christian laity were better at preserving orthodoxy during the Arian period than was the hierarchy:

"In that time of immense confusion ...the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commision while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; that at one time the Pope, and at other times the patriarchal, metropolitan, and other great sees, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth; while on the other hand, it was the Christian people who, under Providence, were the ecclesiastical strength of Athanasius, Hilary, Eusebius of Vercellae, and other great solitary confessors, who would have failed without them... It seems, then, as striking an instance as I could take in fulfillment of Father Perrone's statement, that the voice of tradition may in certain cases express itself, not by Councils, nor Fathers, nor Bishops, but the "communis fidelium sensus."" (John Henry Newman, "On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine" http://www.newmanreader.org/works/rambler/consulting.html

Such, from the Orthodox POV, was precisely the case regarding the failure of Florence to faithfully and truly represent the Orthodox oikouménē.

At Florence the Orthodox delegates did not accurately represent the faith of their oikouménē ("whole inhabited world"). They were not claiming to demand what Orthodox must henceforth believe which they presently did not (Orthodoxy does not work that way -never did/never will), but to represent what the Orthodox really did believe. But by the delegates' own admissions they failed to do this accurately and honestly, even claiming they were forced to lie. We have written transcripts of the grieved repentance of delegates who admitted their own deceit dating from the moment the delegates returned from Florence.

In RC canon law such a contingency is referred to as a false premise (false testes). Florence is for RCs ecumenical and represents the Western oikouménē. Florence according to Orthodox never represented the Eastern oikouménē and is, rather, a Robber Council affirming things that were not true about what the Eastern oikouménē really was.

Nothing anyone can say, and no ecclesiastical power in heaven or earth can make a false statement about what the actual faith of the oikouménē/"whole inhabited world" was/is genuinely magically transform into a true representation if it turns out that very same oikouménē/"whole inhabited world" vehemently rejected it (and still rejects it). That is not how "union" works in Orthodoxy. The real Orthodox faith is in every age what Orthodox Christians of their own free will live by and consent to in solidarity with what has been lived and believed since ancient times in the Orthodox Church, not what some lone "theologian" or rouge "representatives" say the Orthodox faith is, not even in a self-described "official meeting." And certainly not what some outsider supposes the Orthodox Church should be but is not.

There will never be and never has there ever been genuine union with the Orthodox people in diametric opposition to the heart and soul of what vast majority of Orthodox Christians throughout "the whole inhabited world" hold dear.

In Orthodoxy if our Patriarchs claim as "Orthodox" what most of us vehemently reject we depose them. If a council claims to describe the belief of the oikouménē but actually describes things the oikouménē vehemently rejects, we write it off as a Robber Council; it would be a contradiction of the very meaning of the Greek term oikouménē to suppose even the logical possibility of a council contradicting what "the whole inhabited world" of the Orthodox actually believe as being "ecumenical."

If RCs want union with the Orthodox Church they must win the heart of all of the Orthodox people. I do nor think amateur apologists insisting the whole Orthodox world is deluded and "really" became RC in the 15th century against the common consent of almost Orthodox Christian then living in every nook and cranny of the planet is the road to unity, but a sort of aggravation like the endless buzzing of a fly, or "a curious breeze of garlic breath that sounds something like a snore."

 ;)

Offline homedad76

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Xariskai, it seems to me that there must be some such criteria for determining if a synod is indeed an ecumenical council, or merely a synod.  And it seems to me, that these criteria are still themselves rather murkily identified.
"...a doctrine did not become orthodox because a council said it was, but a council was orthodox -and therefore binding- because the doctrine it confessed was orthodox" (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (University of Chicago Press), p. 24.

The idea of the necessity of rationalist criteria as "grounding" theology so characteristic of medieval epistemological foundationalism does not derive from early Christianity and is not, of course, characteristic of the Eastern Church.

On the other hand we do know very well what genuine union and Orthodox ecumenicity is NOT:

No council vehemently repudiated by the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in its own time is, in our view, a genuine Orthodox Ecumenical Council.

No "union" which enraged the theological sensibilities of the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in its own time is, in our view, a genuine union.

No council which no living Orthodox Christian regards as an Ecumenical Council is, in our view, an Orthodox Ecumenical Council, nor can such a council be reasonably said to be truly ecumenical or unifying, in our view.

Florence fails all of these criteria. We do not here have a failure the breath of a hair but a massive, colossal, stupendous failure of absolute epic proportions to achieve union. It was thus from the beginning centuries ago:

The Serbs were not represented at Florence. The vast majority of Russians rejected Florence as soon as they learned of it. The vast majority of Byzantines rejected Florence as soon as they learned of it. The very delegates that signed the agreement rejected it and claimed they were forced into signing. The Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria formally repudiated Florence forthwith. The Orthodox Church convened to formalize its rejection of Florence in 1872. Herein one with eyes to see may discover the criterion of false union and non-ecumenicity Jedi claims to objectively seek.

"The Ferrara agreement proved to be a shell of paper, and all the parade and rejoicing at the conclusion of the proceedings were made ridiculous by the utter rejection of its articles in Constantinople. On their return, the delegates were hooted as Azymites, the name given in contempt to the Latins for using unleavened bread in the Eucharist. Isidore, after making announcement of the union at Of en, was seized and put into a convent, from which he escaped two years later to Rome. The patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria issued a letter from Jerusalem, 1443, denouncing the council of Florence as a synod of robbers and Metrophanes, the Byzantine patriarch as a matricide and heretic" Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume VI § 18. The Council of Ferrara-Florence. 1438–1445.

The Council at Florence sought to establish its ecumenicity by noting it's identity to be such in the openings, and then having everyone sign on to that.  Of course, as you bring up, there were other issues.
While a particular council may declare itself to be ecumenical, it may later be regarded by the Church as being a Robber Council (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Council_of_Ephesus )

Florence is in our view such a Robber Council, however badly amateur apologists wish to insist it really is an "Orthodox Ecumenical Council" (ignoring the "minor problem" of no Orthodox Christians believing it is an Ecumenical Council).

"Many of those who signed at Florence revoked their signatures when they reached home. The decrees of the Council were never accepted by more than a minute fraction of the Byzantine clergy and people." -Bishop Kallistos, op cit.  The RC view here seems to be that overwhelming and vehement rejection by a majority of Orthodox Christians does not mean there is not Actual Total Union with the Orthodox Church despite almost no one believing it then or now.

“‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice. ‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.’ Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’ ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice, said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'” -Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass



But if we need consensus from the whole Church prior to a council being identified as ecumenical, would't this effectively hinder it's function
It is not in this case that a total consensus was needed -no council ever achieved that- but it is the case that the vast majority of Orthodox Christians worldwide  rejecting something, including the delegates that signed the agreement, the leadership and laity of every major trajectory of Orthodox Christianity soon forthwith, and the universal consensus of contemporary Orthodox Christians rejecting something nullifies the presumption of non-Orthodox apologists that true "unity" and "ecumenicity" really was reflected in this council after all; in fact such a presumption would completely empty such words of their meaning.

Oἰκουμένη/oikouménē, lit. means "inhabited"; it was an ancient Greek term for all the known world, the inhabited world, or the habitable world. If effectively the whole inhabited Orthodox world of its time rejected a council it does not by definition reflect the oikoumene/oἰκουμένη and is not in this original sense of the word ecumenical.

St Vincent of Lerins defined true catholic doctrine as marked by universality, antiquity, and consent. Florence fails all three of these criteria as it fails to embody the original meaning of oἰκουμένη. It is rejected by all Orthodox Christians today as it was by the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in its own time as soon as they learned of it.  It is not for us an Ecumenical Council. With reasonable warrant we opine that it never was. No argument in this thread remotely suggests good reason for Orthodox Christians to suppose otherwise. My advice to RCs is live with it and move on to defending more important and somewhat more believable things.

In other words we don't ratify councils.. we just don't reject them.  So if we had been a united Church then Pope Paul VI could have very well been given the heave ho after 1968.
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Offline Jedi

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"In other words we don't ratify councils.. we just don't reject them."


Thank you Homedad76. This is a nice way to phrase it, and helps me better understand the Orthodox perspective.  I am trying to get a prospective sense of what an ecumenical council is, based retrospectively on past ecumenical councils.

There is certainly a difference in spirit between ecclesiological perspectives between our 2 churches (outside of the obvious papal matters).  Catholicism is very much a hierarchical religion, pyramidal, with the pope at the peak, then the councils with the pope, then the episcopoi, then the clergy, and finally the laity.  Doctrine flows in a linear vector, downward from above, and the above is considered, if not infallible, then at least authoritative, from its divine institution perpetuated through apostolic succession.  If there be disagreements, then fragmentation happens, but identity of the Body of the Faithful is with the highest, identified, singular authority.

Orthodoxy, if I may characterize it from my reading, is more concentric, with a great deal of latitude given for theological speculation which is later ratified or rejected by the sense of the faithful believers in communion with their hierarchy.  The RC Church defines orthodoxy as anything which flows from authority; the EO Church, identifies an authority inherent in a doctrine, as reflected in the consensus of the entire body of Faithful. And if there be disagreements, between laity and hierarchs, or as with the Oriental Church at Chalcedon, then fragmentation happens, and is accepted/tolerated, with each fragment holding to its identity as the Body of the Faithful.

In the end, the differences in our Churches' identities is to be found in how we see our connection to Jesus : through authority, or via the body of our beliefs.

Thoughts?

Offline Jedi

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 We have written transcripts of the grieved repentance of delegates who admitted their own deceit dating from the moment the delegates returned from Florence.


Xariskai,  Can you direct me to some of the sources / transcripts of the delegates? I would like to read them, especially if they are available online.

And as an aside, I'm not an apologist.  People don't change people with arguments; God changes people.  I'm not trying to prove anything here.  Just gleaning knowledge of the Eastern Church on a website where people seem to be very erudite of their Faith.  And I don't think anyone will ever compel the Orthodox to "fess up" to their past hierarchs' signatures on a document from the 1400's.  But I have always had a reverence for ecumenical councils, and I'm trying to appreciate why, exactly, a council is ecumenical in nature - and looking at a council which so many consider to be infallibly ecumenical, while others consider to be a robber council, seemed like a great place to start.   It is easier to say what an ecumenical council is not, and easier to identify ecumenical councils in the remote past as being such; but I would like to have a better grasp of what and why a council is marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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 "Orthodoxy, if I may characterize it from my reading, is more concentric, with a great deal of latitude given for theological speculation which is later ratified or rejected by the sense of the faithful believers in communion with their hierarchy."

No, this is more Roman Catholicism. Orthodoxy is communion with God, there is no speculative theology involved. If there is it's independent of the Church. Arianism was an example of speculation in theology, it was rejected. The Church simply does what it needs to on behalf of it's Master. Speculation is something heretics do, when they don't want to follow the simple path ordained by the Church. The Church reacts to this speculation, it doesn't create it.

"And if there be disagreements, between laity and hierarchs, or as with the Oriental Church at Chalcedon, then fragmentation happens, and is accepted/tolerated, with each fragment holding to its identity as the Body of the Faithful."

[REDACTED] If you want my reply to how much you misunderstand the schism that happened at Chalcedon, PM me, otherwise, I'd be in trouble for ranting about Chalcedon in a Catholic-Orthodox discussion topic. Nevertheless, schism is never acceptable, but stuff happens. The Miaphysites took a gamble, believing Chalcedon to be heretical. It had less to do with hierarchy vs. laity and more to do with how certain regions within the Roman Oikomene understood Christology. Alexandria had a Miaphysite view, which was rejected by the views of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem which held to a Dyophysite view. The Emperors attempted to resolve these differences of opinion through efforts such as the Henotikon, and even promulgating heresies such as Monothelitism, but to no avail.

I don't at all believe this has to do with authority, I think this has to do with two things:

a) in the case of Roman Catholics, trying to find justification for doctrines in the Fathers, which are not there. There is no Papal Infallibility in the Fathers, no Purgatory in the Fathers etc. Yet, since they claim these doctrines originate from the Apostles they have to find something to justify it. This is a similar method Protestants use with regards to the Bible. These developments are the problem, the early Church had the same structure of Bishop, Priest and Deacon and where they appeared with the "laos tou theou" the people of God, the laity, then there is the Catholic Church. No Pope required. (c.f., St. Ignatios of Antioch)

b) In the case of Oriental & Byzantine Orthodox, a deep misunderstanding due to regional differences in Christology and efforts on the part of the Roman Empire to impose one view of Christology (c.f., Emperor Justin I) or the other (c.f., Emperor Anastasius I) when it seems like the universal Church has always held to more than one Christological opinion, which was unfortunately not evident to both factions within the Church at the time of the schism. Being blinded by ideological partisanship is what led to this schism, not anything substantive.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 04:21:22 PM by xOrthodox4Christx »
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Offline xariskai

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 We have written transcripts of the grieved repentance of delegates who admitted their own deceit dating from the moment the delegates returned from Florence.


Xariskai,  Can you direct me to some of the sources / transcripts of the delegates? I would like to read them, especially if they are available online.
You can read a brief account of the aforementioned grieved repentance of the delegates beginning immediately upon their return to Florence with quotations and references on pp. 164 and 166 (click the link to Ch IX at the upper right to scroll there quickly) here: https://books.google.com/books?id=z_IQAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

I also have the book in electronic format but cannot presently locate it.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 04:24:07 PM by xariskai »

Offline Jedi

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Thank you, Xariskai