However, would it be possible to agree on a statement that listed the dogmatic decisions of the Councils, all of which since Ephesus 431 are Christological... as a substitute for approving every individual council. That way we avoid debating over Chalcedon itself, but concentrate on finding a mutually acceptable way to express the doctrine affirmed at Chalcedon and agree to disagree about Dioscous and Servius of Antioch. It is just an idea.
It sounds like accepting the dogmatic decisions of the Councils is the same as accepting the Council's faith decisions itself. We do not have to accept the Councils' regulatory decisions, as for example we need not accept the science in Genesis or how the Roman Pope recognized heretic baptisms to some extent, despite the canon. Nor, I suppose, do we need to accept every phrase put someplace in the Councils about faith, like I suppose not every Orthodox need accept every phrase in the Bible as right on faith.
But in any case the Councils have to be accepted, or else it would have major consequences for Orthodox thought. First,
it would means that one need not accept Ecumenical Councils to be Orthodox.Second,
if Orthodox can reject the Councils, then it disproves a common belief that the Councils are infallible once they have been confirmed by the Church. You could get someone claiming: "Orthodoxy says that Ecumenical Council C certainly cannot be wrong, but Bishop Y says Council C's faith is wrong, and Bishop Y is fully Orthodox. So Orthodoxy does not make sense."
Perhaps some Orthodox do not believe in the Councils' infallibility, but it is common enough that nonacceptance of the Councils would have a profound impact on EO thinking.Third,
to get out of this conundrum, one can try to argue that the Councils were not confirmed as Ecumenical in the first place because of OO nonacceptance, but that creates another big problem. If OO nonacceptance prevents it from being Ecumenical, it means that the OOs were a major part of the church, even though we were in schism and out of communion. This goes along with ideas like the Invisible Church, Universal Church, Branch Theory, after which perhaps Anglicans, Lutherans, and Catholics could be rationalized to be part of the Church as well. It would be much easier to avoid saying that there was an absolute schism within the Orthodox Church and to resolve this issue as was done in the case of ROCOR by reinstating communion without having to make a judgment on the status during schism.
But by saying that the Councils were not Ecumenical because of OO nonacceptance, it forces the issue and proves that the Invisible Church/Branch Theory idea is in force, and that the visible church can be completely divided and out of communion with itself.
Perhaps you will agree with this ecumenical idea about the Church. I have some symapthy for it and do not dismiss it, but accepting it does have profound consequences for Orthodox thought.In conclusion,
the problem with avoiding approval of the Councils is because it means A) acceptance of Ecumenical Councils is unneeded for Orthodoxy and that Ecumenical Councils are certainly not officially considered infallible, or that B) Our Councils were not really Ecumenical because OOs were part of the Church and did not accept them, meaning that the Church is not always an organizational unity, but can be divided without even indirect full communion (like existed between OCA and ROCOR through intermediaries like Jerusalem and Serbia). For me, the ideal answer
should just be to look at the Creed statements passed by the Councils and ask whether they can be accepted as a valid way of talking. I also like what Mina and I discussed about accepting a Council's overall substance without having to accept every word in a Council's minutes as exact.