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Author Topic: Church Unity!  (Read 2639 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #90 on: December 14, 2013, 01:30:25 PM »

And I think this underscores a major difference between the OO's and the Chalcedonians.  As Mina indicated earlier, we just have a different mindset.  EO's have a belief in infallible councils, and from their point of view there can be no unity without their councils being accepted.  Similarly, the Catholics have infallible decrees from the Pope, and the Protestants have an infallible Bible.  We OO's just don't get that.  I don't think we have that infallibility concept the way the various types of Chalcedonians do.  Like Mina said, from our point of view many different things are taken collectively as a part of Tradition, and it's the Faith that matters.  I suspect that is why I find more OO's who accept EO's as Orthodox than the other way around.  We just look at the Faith, and don't fuss about "infallible" councils.  

I kind of wonder if in the end this is what will keep us from union.  There is no way the OO's are going to accept Chalcedon as ecumenical.  The reasons for that have been discussed and debated ad nauseam in the private forum and it would be inappropriate to discuss them here, but it is just not realistic for the EO's to expect that to happen.  However if we don't accept Chalcedon as an ecumenical council, the EO's will not unite with us.  Even if some agree to union, many others would go into schism because of the belief that seven councils = Orthodoxy.  It's a problem, and I'm not sure we will be able to overcome it.  
I don't want to exagerrate the infallibility issue. Traditional protestants do not necessarily consider the Bible more infallible than OOs or EOs do. Also, EOs are more open on infallibility as an idea about Councils than RCs are. If you check Wikipedia, EOs do not usually use the term infallible when talking about Councils. But the fact that a number of EO theologians consider the Councils' Creed statements infallible when confirmed is something to consider, even though infallibility is not the only EO belief on the topic.

The other issue you highlighted is one of acceptance of Councils themselves. This is also considered a hallmark of the EO Church. I get the idea that Councils are just one of many sources of tradition. But for EOs they play a major role. Imagine how OOs would feel if some OOs decided that OOs did not have to accept the Nicene Creed. (Putting aside for the sake of argument the Nicene Creed's role in the liturgy.)

Considering the importance of Ecumenical Councils, even if they are not infallible, I think it's best if Christians simply look at whether the Creed Statement is a possible, valid way of looking at things. Just try to make it a simple, clear cut issue people can understand. Is X a rational, possible statement? If so, then if you want unity with someone, say that.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 01:34:29 PM by rakovsky » Logged
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« Reply #91 on: December 14, 2013, 01:33:55 PM »

There is no branch theory in Orthodoxy. Where the Orthodox bishop is, there is the Catholic Church. This is what we believe.  We are "Catholic", that is "according to the whole." That is why one can say, and I know this is an EO bishop saying it, "we know where the Church is, we don't know where it isn't."
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« Reply #92 on: December 14, 2013, 02:13:44 PM »

There is no branch theory in Orthodoxy. Where the Orthodox bishop is, there is the Catholic Church. This is what we believe.  We are "Catholic", that is "according to the whole." That is why one can say, and I know this is an EO bishop saying it, "we know where the Church is, we don't know where it isn't."

I agree, that's how I've always understood it. 
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« Reply #93 on: December 14, 2013, 02:17:03 PM »

The reason I actually go into all this is because I like the OO Church, as well as the EO Church. We should want to have the best resolution possible.
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« Reply #94 on: December 14, 2013, 02:29:26 PM »

The reason I actually go into all this is because I like the OO Church, as well as the EO Church. We should want to have the best resolution possible.

Agreed, and I cant see any good reason why we should not be in serious discussions at the hierarchial level to resolve these differences.
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« Reply #95 on: December 14, 2013, 03:16:22 PM »

Unity will come when we begin to read and appreciate (and dare I say venerate) one another's saints.
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« Reply #96 on: December 14, 2013, 03:51:57 PM »

Unity will come when we begin to read and appreciate (and dare I say venerate) one another's saints.

How dare you  Wink

That may be also be beneficial to our health for unity, maybe not in the first generation of united people, but the second or afterwards
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« Reply #97 on: December 14, 2013, 05:37:46 PM »


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.

And I think this underscores a major difference between the OO's and the Chalcedonians.  As Mina indicated earlier, we just have a different mindset.  EO's have a belief in infallible councils, and from their point of view there can be no unity without their councils being accepted.  Similarly, the Catholics have infallible decrees from the Pope, and the Protestants have an infallible Bible.  We OO's just don't get that.  I don't think we have that infallibility concept the way the various types of Chalcedonians do.  Like Mina said, from our point of view many different things are taken collectively as a part of Tradition, and it's the Faith that matters.  I suspect that is why I find more OO's who accept EO's as Orthodox than the other way around.  We just look at the Faith, and don't fuss about "infallible" councils. 

I kind of wonder if in the end this is what will keep us from union.  There is no way the OO's are going to accept Chalcedon as ecumenical.  The reasons for that have been discussed and debated ad nauseam in the private forum and it would be inappropriate to discuss them here, but it is just not realistic for the EO's to expect that to happen.  However if we don't accept Chalcedon as an ecumenical council, the EO's will not unite with us.  Even if some agree to union, many others would go into schism because of the belief that seven councils = Orthodoxy.  It's a problem, and I'm not sure we will be able to overcome it. 

I think we need to capitalize on the fact that this is what some EOs have encultured into their thinking of the faith of the Church a meaning of "ecumenicity" as infallible, whereas even in the ancient church when ecumenical councils happened, the word "ecumenical" meant nothing more than imperially convened. In other words, if we have in common the acceptance of 3 and there might be 2 more on our side, 4 or 6 more on their's, plus all the heretical ecumenical councils, we can find as a matter of mere fact that there have been much more than 11 "ecumenical" councils, just by merely defining "ecumenical" as "imperial". 

However, I'm moved by other EO traditions like this one:

Quote from: Elder Sophrony, Life of St. Silouan the Athonite
Suppose that for some reason the Church were to be bereft of all her books, of the Old and New Testaments, the works of the holy Fathers, of all service books—what would happen?

Sacred Tradition would restore the Scriptures, not word for word, perhaps—the verbal form might be different—but in essence the new Scriptures would be the expression of that same ‘faith which was once delivered unto the saints’.

They would be the expression of the one and only Holy Spirit continuously active in the Church, her foundation and her very substance.

The Scriptures are not more profound, not more important than Holy Tradition but, as said above, they are one of its forms—the most precious form, both because they are preserved and convenient to make use of.

But removed from the stream of Sacred Tradition, the Scriptures cannot be rightly understood through any scientific research.

If the Apostle Paul had the ‘mind of Christ’, how much more does this apply to the whole body of the Church of which St Paul is one member!

And if the writings of St Paul and the other Apostles are Holy Scripture, then new Scriptures of the Church, written supposedly after the loss of the old books, would in their turn become Holy Scripture, for according to the Lord’s promise God, the Holy Trinity, will be in the Church even unto the end of the world.

Men go wrong when they set aside Sacred Tradition and go, as they think, to its source—to the Holy Scriptures. The Church has her origins, not in the Scriptures but in Sacred Tradition.

The Church did not possess the New Testament during the first decades of her history. She lived then by Tradition only—the Tradition St. Paul calls upon the faithful to hold.

Source

This is what OO's believe!  (and sometimes I fear that this is what needs to happen for true unity to happen...that we lose all material expressions of the faith to gain the Spirit of unity that unites these expressions)
« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 05:41:34 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #98 on: December 14, 2013, 05:46:49 PM »


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.

And I think this underscores a major difference between the OO's and the Chalcedonians.  As Mina indicated earlier, we just have a different mindset.  EO's have a belief in infallible councils, and from their point of view there can be no unity without their councils being accepted.  Similarly, the Catholics have infallible decrees from the Pope, and the Protestants have an infallible Bible.  We OO's just don't get that.  I don't think we have that infallibility concept the way the various types of Chalcedonians do.  Like Mina said, from our point of view many different things are taken collectively as a part of Tradition, and it's the Faith that matters.  I suspect that is why I find more OO's who accept EO's as Orthodox than the other way around.  We just look at the Faith, and don't fuss about "infallible" councils. 

I kind of wonder if in the end this is what will keep us from union.  There is no way the OO's are going to accept Chalcedon as ecumenical.  The reasons for that have been discussed and debated ad nauseam in the private forum and it would be inappropriate to discuss them here, but it is just not realistic for the EO's to expect that to happen.  However if we don't accept Chalcedon as an ecumenical council, the EO's will not unite with us.  Even if some agree to union, many others would go into schism because of the belief that seven councils = Orthodoxy.  It's a problem, and I'm not sure we will be able to overcome it. 

I think we need to capitalize on the fact that this is what some EOs have encultured into their thinking of the faith of the Church a meaning of "ecumenicity" as infallible, whereas even in the ancient church when ecumenical councils happened, the word "ecumenical" meant nothing more than imperially convened. In other words, if we have in common the acceptance of 3 and there might be 2 more on our side, 4 or 6 more on their's, plus all the heretical ecumenical councils, we can find as a matter of mere fact that there have been much more than 11 "ecumenical" councils, just by merely defining "ecumenical" as "imperial". 

However, I'm moved by other EO traditions like this one:

Quote from: Elder Sophrony, Life of St. Silouan the Athonite
Suppose that for some reason the Church were to be bereft of all her books, of the Old and New Testaments, the works of the holy Fathers, of all service books—what would happen?

Sacred Tradition would restore the Scriptures, not word for word, perhaps—the verbal form might be different—but in essence the new Scriptures would be the expression of that same ‘faith which was once delivered unto the saints’.

They would be the expression of the one and only Holy Spirit continuously active in the Church, her foundation and her very substance.

The Scriptures are not more profound, not more important than Holy Tradition but, as said above, they are one of its forms—the most precious form, both because they are preserved and convenient to make use of.

But removed from the stream of Sacred Tradition, the Scriptures cannot be rightly understood through any scientific research.

If the Apostle Paul had the ‘mind of Christ’, how much more does this apply to the whole body of the Church of which St Paul is one member!

And if the writings of St Paul and the other Apostles are Holy Scripture, then new Scriptures of the Church, written supposedly after the loss of the old books, would in their turn become Holy Scripture, for according to the Lord’s promise God, the Holy Trinity, will be in the Church even unto the end of the world.

Men go wrong when they set aside Sacred Tradition and go, as they think, to its source—to the Holy Scriptures. The Church has her origins, not in the Scriptures but in Sacred Tradition.

The Church did not possess the New Testament during the first decades of her history. She lived then by Tradition only—the Tradition St. Paul calls upon the faithful to hold.

Source

This is what OO's believe!  (and sometimes I fear that this is what needs to happen for true unity to happen...that we lose all material expressions of the faith to gain the Spirit of unity that unites these expressions)

So, in other words, Ecumenical means Consensus or majority agreement?
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« Reply #99 on: December 14, 2013, 06:13:48 PM »

No...ecumenical merely means imperial.
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« Reply #100 on: December 14, 2013, 06:19:12 PM »

No...ecumenical merely means imperial.

Thank you for that clarification.
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« Reply #101 on: December 14, 2013, 07:31:14 PM »

So, in other words, Ecumenical means Consensus or majority agreement?
For EOs it means a Church Council with delegates from across the Church that is accepted by the whole Church. It is somewhat like the word "Catholic". Please correct me if I misconstrue that.

Certainly it does not mean imperial, since we could have another Ecumenical Council, even without an empire.
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« Reply #102 on: December 14, 2013, 07:59:51 PM »

So, in other words, Ecumenical means Consensus or majority agreement?
For EOs it means a Church Council with delegates from across the Church that is accepted by the whole Church. It is somewhat like the word "Catholic". Please correct me if I misconstrue that.

Certainly it does not mean imperial, since we could have another Ecumenical Council, even without an empire.

In order for a council to be ecumenical, it must be accepted by the Church. The EO has had many councils since 787. Out of respect for the 7 Ecumenical Councils, we call them Pan-Orthodox Councils. Why could not  Pan Orthodox Council write up a statement of the doctrine affirmed by the 7 Ecumenical Councils in way that the truth of Orthodoxy is not sacrificed, but that the doctrine of the Church is expressed in such way that Oriental Orthodox can accept? St. Cyril set the example for this through his letter to John of Antioch.

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« Reply #103 on: December 14, 2013, 08:07:45 PM »

The reason I actually go into all this is because I like the OO Church, as well as the EO Church. We should want to have the best resolution possible.

You cant force Gods hand to do ones will. It is best to learn to love one another and pray that God brings us unity. There are those who think its impossible but God moved mountains ans split the sea nothing is impossible for Him. Fortunately, things are much better now between us in comparison to the past. 
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« Reply #104 on: December 14, 2013, 08:13:57 PM »

It's not "impossible", but is it fair to say that to do so from where we are now, respectively (even if it is better than it was before, in terms of relating to one another), would conceivably involve making changes that neither side actually wants to make? I mean, we're never accepting Chalcedon as an ecumenical council. That's pretty well established, I'd think. And just the same, those EO for whom "Orthodoxy is seven councils, not three" won't accept anything less from us. So neither of us are moving. This is why only God can get us there. Moqattam didn't want to move on its own, either. Smiley
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« Reply #105 on: December 14, 2013, 09:32:34 PM »

It's not "impossible", but is it fair to say that to do so from where we are now, respectively (even if it is better than it was before, in terms of relating to one another), would conceivably involve making changes that neither side actually wants to make? I mean, we're never accepting Chalcedon as an ecumenical council. That's pretty well established, I'd think. And just the same, those EO for whom "Orthodoxy is seven councils, not three" won't accept anything less from us. So neither of us are moving. This is why only God can get us there. Moqattam didn't want to move on its own, either. Smiley

I may be wrong, but I think that the OOs have no real objections to the doctrinal conclusions of the 5th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Councils. Their chief objection to the 4th Council is its acceptance of the Tome of Leo. I read the Tome of Leo this afternoon. I can see why the OOs find fault with this document. It lacks the precision to prevent one from interpreting it as expressing a Nestorian Christology. Alone the Tome of Leo is an inadequate expression of sound Christology.  It lacks the important defining words of the final declaration of Chalcedon, "without division," and "without separation" which prevent a Nestorian interpretation of the actual declaration of Chalcedon because these words make it clear that the humanity was never, ever, separated, from the divinity of Christ not even as the Coptic Liturgy correctly states, "for the twinkling of the eye." Forgive me for mentioning Chalcedon, I know that it is not encouraged on this thread, but I do not know how to respond to the quote above which mentions the Ecumenical Councils without mentioning the proper interpretation of Chalcedon.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #106 on: December 14, 2013, 09:55:51 PM »

The word "ecumenical" was used to describe anything that has to do with the emperor or the capital.  The emperor was "ecumenical".  The patriarch of Constantinople was/is "ecumenical".  The royal guards are "ecumenical".  The archivists in Constantinople are "ecumenical".  If the emperor had a barber, the barber would be called "ecumenical".

Ecumenical is nothing but an honorary title that reflects imperial politics.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The whole theologizing on the word "ecumenical" came much much later in Church history, which reduced the "ecumenical councils" to 7 in the EOs.  The fact of the matter is there is more than 11 "ecumenical" councils in history, not because they're Orthodox or accepted by the whole Church, but because the emperor presided and ruled for them at times.
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« Reply #107 on: December 14, 2013, 10:19:56 PM »

The word "ecumenical" was used to describe anything that has to do with the emperor or the capital.  The emperor was "ecumenical".  The patriarch of Constantinople was/is "ecumenical".  The royal guards are "ecumenical".  The archivists in Constantinople are "ecumenical".  If the emperor had a barber, the barber would be called "ecumenical".

Ecumenical is nothing but an honorary title that reflects imperial politics.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The whole theologizing on the word "ecumenical" came much much later in Church history, which reduced the "ecumenical councils" to 7 in the EOs.  The fact of the matter is there is more than 11 "ecumenical" councils in history, not because they're Orthodox or accepted by the whole Church, but because the emperor presided and ruled for them at times.

It is true that the Emperors called the 7 Ecumenical Councils However, the emperor only presided over the 1st Ecumenical Council, Nicea I in 325 and part of the 6th Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III in 680.

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« Reply #108 on: December 14, 2013, 10:26:46 PM »

It's not "impossible", but is it fair to say that to do so from where we are now, respectively (even if it is better than it was before, in terms of relating to one another), would conceivably involve making changes that neither side actually wants to make? I mean, we're never accepting Chalcedon as an ecumenical council. That's pretty well established, I'd think. And just the same, those EO for whom "Orthodoxy is seven councils, not three" won't accept anything less from us. So neither of us are moving. This is why only God can get us there. Moqattam didn't want to move on its own, either. Smiley

I may be wrong, but I think that the OOs have no real objections to the doctrinal conclusions of the 5th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Councils. Their chief objection to the 4th Council is its acceptance of the Tome of Leo. I read the Tome of Leo this afternoon. I can see why the OOs find fault with this document. It lacks the precision to prevent one from interpreting it as expressing a Nestorian Christology. Alone the Tome of Leo is an inadequate expression of sound Christology.  It lacks the important defining words of the final declaration of Chalcedon, "without division," and "without separation" which prevent a Nestorian interpretation of the actual declaration of Chalcedon because these words make it clear that the humanity was never, ever, separated, from the divinity of Christ not even as the Coptic Liturgy correctly states, "for the twinkling of the eye." Forgive me for mentioning Chalcedon, I know that it is not encouraged on this thread, but I do not know how to respond to the quote above which mentions the Ecumenical Councils without mentioning the proper interpretation of Chalcedon.

Fr. John W. Morris

Thank you, Father, for making the effort to look at the situation from our point of view.  Few people try to do that.  It is appreciated.   Smiley

And mentioning Chalcedon is OK.  It's just that more lengthy and involved discussions belong in the private forum.
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« Reply #109 on: December 14, 2013, 10:46:08 PM »

It's not "impossible", but is it fair to say that to do so from where we are now, respectively (even if it is better than it was before, in terms of relating to one another), would conceivably involve making changes that neither side actually wants to make? I mean, we're never accepting Chalcedon as an ecumenical council. That's pretty well established, I'd think. And just the same, those EO for whom "Orthodoxy is seven councils, not three" won't accept anything less from us. So neither of us are moving. This is why only God can get us there. Moqattam didn't want to move on its own, either. Smiley

I may be wrong, but I think that the OOs have no real objections to the doctrinal conclusions of the 5th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Councils. Their chief objection to the 4th Council is its acceptance of the Tome of Leo. I read the Tome of Leo this afternoon. I can see why the OOs find fault with this document. It lacks the precision to prevent one from interpreting it as expressing a Nestorian Christology. Alone the Tome of Leo is an inadequate expression of sound Christology.  It lacks the important defining words of the final declaration of Chalcedon, "without division," and "without separation" which prevent a Nestorian interpretation of the actual declaration of Chalcedon because these words make it clear that the humanity was never, ever, separated, from the divinity of Christ not even as the Coptic Liturgy correctly states, "for the twinkling of the eye." Forgive me for mentioning Chalcedon, I know that it is not encouraged on this thread, but I do not know how to respond to the quote above which mentions the Ecumenical Councils without mentioning the proper interpretation of Chalcedon.

Fr. John W. Morris

Thank you, Father, for making the effort to look at the situation from our point of view.  Few people try to do that.  It is appreciated.   Smiley

And mentioning Chalcedon is OK.  It's just that more lengthy and involved discussions belong in the private forum.

If you have been reading my posts, you will see that I have argued all along that without the qualification that Chalcedon must be interpreted in conformity with the Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria, that it is quit possible to give a Nestorian interpretation to Chalcedon. Calvin did and as a result the Reformed Movement adheres to what is basically a Nestorian Christology.

Fr. John W. Morris
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« Reply #110 on: December 15, 2013, 12:29:10 AM »

Fr. John,

Certainly
what you wrote here can occur:
Why could not  Pan Orthodox Council write up a statement of the doctrine affirmed by the 7 Ecumenical Councils in way that the truth of Orthodoxy is not sacrificed, but that the doctrine of the Church is expressed in such way that Oriental Orthodox can accept? St. Cyril set the example for this through his letter to John of Antioch.
St. Cyril set a good example about reconciling two views on a topic, or two sides of the same coin. He did this by affirming both his own view (Miaphysitism) and accepting the views of others (Duophysitism), and in his writings you can see him accepting both sides. I think that is a good idea, and that both of them are correct.

I think joint statements are helpful, but they only express a viewpoint as far as the other side will accept it, and thus unlike St. Cyril's method it may not really affirm both views. Deacon Kuraev, a leading Russian theologian, felt that the joint statement ended up repeating Monoelithism, which was an attempt to create a theology that was halfway between two views.

Not only was St. Cyril affirming both perspectives as OK, but he also did not have the task of defending the acceptability of Ecumenical Councils. At that point no one was rejecting such a Council.

I think you can propose a solution where accepting Ecumenical Councils is considered unnecessary, but this comes up against the issues I mentioned in messages 84 and 89:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,55215.msg1045091.html#msg1045091
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,55215.msg1045197.html#msg1045197
Namely, it would require rejecting the Councils' Ecumenicity (being Pan-Orthodox as you put it), as well as either rejecting forever some theologians' idea of the Councils' infallibility or accepting for certain the idea of the Invisible Church / Branch Theory.

Further, I do think that the outcome you are proposing is possible, because the Church can define things as it wishes, and I can entertain different views on Ecumenicity, acceptance of Councils, infallibility, and the Branch Theory.

Personally I do not prefer this outcome or making such revisions because I think that the Councils' main creedal statements made were logical and valid. I would prefer that Christians be of one mind and resolve whether those statements were OK.

It would be helpful if it was true as you suggested that:

Quote
I think that the OOs have no real objections to the doctrinal conclusions of the 5th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Councils.

You noted:
Quote
Their chief objection to the 4th Council is its acceptance of the Tome of Leo. It lacks the important defining words of the final declaration of Chalcedon, "without division," and "without separation" which prevent a Nestorian interpretation
The Tome notes that Christ said:
Quote
"See My hands and feet, that it is I. Handle Me and see that a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see Me have ;" in order that the properties of His Divine and human nature [singular] might be acknowledged to remain still inseparable: and that we might know the Word not to be different from the flesh...
I find this passage as remarkably accepting Miaphysitism for two reasons, and explain this in the private section:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,52873.msg1045510.html#msg1045510

Regards.
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« Reply #111 on: December 15, 2013, 12:41:43 AM »

The word "ecumenical" was used to describe anything that has to do with the emperor or the capital.  The emperor was "ecumenical".  The patriarch of Constantinople was/is "ecumenical".  The royal guards are "ecumenical".  The archivists in Constantinople are "ecumenical".  If the emperor had a barber, the barber would be called "ecumenical".

Ecumenical is nothing but an honorary title that reflects imperial politics.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The whole theologizing on the word "ecumenical" came much much later in Church history, which reduced the "ecumenical councils" to 7 in the EOs.  The fact of the matter is there is more than 11 "ecumenical" councils in history, not because they're Orthodox or accepted by the whole Church, but because the emperor presided and ruled for them at times.

It is true that the Emperors called the 7 Ecumenical Councils However, the emperor only presided over the 1st Ecumenical Council, Nicea I in 325 and part of the 6th Ecumenical Council, Constantinople III in 680.

Fr. John W. Morris
At the very least perhaps convened or made them into imperial law in some way.
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« Reply #112 on: December 15, 2013, 12:49:55 AM »

Father, without discussing Chalcedon in detail (so as to not drag this into private forum land), what I meant to convey in my post is that when people say that such and such a thing need happen or needn't happen, I think it is sort of missing the point. What either communion views as necessary is almost secondary in the context of what they're actually willing to do. We are unwilling to accept Chalcedon just as there are those on the Chalcedonian side who are unwilling to be in communion with any who do not accept Chalcedon. In some sense this boils down to a difference in understanding between EO and OO regarding the nature of Councils themselves, in that EO apparently (?) view them as infallible while OO do not (someone -- Mina, Mor Ephrem...can't remember -- recently posted about this, but I can't recall the thread; may have been in the private forum; it's worth finding if you're curious). So while EO may tells us over and over that we ought to accept this or that council as there is nothing objectionable in it, I have a hard time believing that this argument would have much traction with OO. This is not how things are done. Saying any more than that may delve into polemics, and that's not an appropriate response to such a good post as yours. I only mean to highlight that there is a difference in understanding here that underlies why we're fine with you having other councils that even proclaim things that we agree with (e.g., the veneration of icons, from the 7th council), without agreeing formally to them (in the sense of 'signing on' to their declarations) ourselves. Put simply, they weren't and aren't needed to preserve the faith we already have, so they're your councils. You needed them in your own context and for your own theology and outlook regarding the substance of the Orthodox faith, so you affirm them. It's natural, but it's also one of the reasons why all this "Orthodoxy = 7" and "hurry up and agree with everything we say and do already" style of sub-apologetics from some EO has very little effect on OO other than causing pain from excessive eye-rolling.
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« Reply #113 on: December 15, 2013, 01:03:45 AM »

Fr. John,

Certainly
what you wrote here can occur:
Why could not  Pan Orthodox Council write up a statement of the doctrine affirmed by the 7 Ecumenical Councils in way that the truth of Orthodoxy is not sacrificed, but that the doctrine of the Church is expressed in such way that Oriental Orthodox can accept? St. Cyril set the example for this through his letter to John of Antioch.
St. Cyril set a good example about reconciling two views on a topic, or two sides of the same coin. He did this by affirming both his own view (Miaphysitism) and accepting the views of others (Duophysitism), and in his writings you can see him accepting both sides. I think that is a good idea, and that both of them are correct.

Unfortunately, as subsequent events demonstrated, the agreement with John of Antioch didn't really work.  Fr. Peter puts it well here:

Quote
Clearly the Formula of Reunion, like the Henotikon, could not be a lasting basis for reunion since it was understood as meaning something different by the various parties. The letter of Ibas to Maris the Persian shows that those in his circle understood it as meaning that St Cyril had abandoned his Christology and accepted that of Theodore of Mopsuestia!

St Cyril hoped it meant that the Easterners were Orthodox enough, but came to realise that many of them did not accept an Orthodox Christology at all. Theodoret and Ibas were both loyal followers of Theodore after all, and never rejected his teachings, even after Chalcedon.

Father Peter

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,28222.msg445329.html#msg445329

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« Reply #114 on: December 15, 2013, 01:11:30 AM »

Also, EOs are more open on infallibility as an idea about Councils than RCs are.

Are you saying EO's are less strict than RC's about insisting that Ecumenical Council's are infallible?  I always heard differently.  I heard that the RC's allow the Eastern Catholics to not accept all 21 councils considered Ecumenical by the Vatican.  That's a more relaxed attitude than we find among many EO's who consider Orthodoxy to equal Seven Councils.  My understanding is that the Catholics put infallibility on ex cathedra statements by the Pope, while the EO's put infallibility on the Seven Councils.

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« Reply #115 on: December 15, 2013, 03:11:08 PM »

Also, EOs are more open on infallibility as an idea about Councils than RCs are.

Are you saying EO's are less strict than RC's about insisting that Ecumenical Council's are infallible?  I always heard differently.  I heard that the RC's allow the Eastern Catholics to not accept all 21 councils considered Ecumenical by the Vatican.  That's a more relaxed attitude than we find among many EO's who consider Orthodoxy to equal Seven Councils.  My understanding is that the Catholics put infallibility on ex cathedra statements by the Pope, while the EO's put infallibility on the Seven Councils.



Not exactly. It is the Church that is infallible. A council is only an infallible Ecumenical Council if it is recognized by the Church as such. For example the Council of Hieria called by Emperor Constantine V in 754 had all the outward markings of an Ecumenical Council, but was rejected by the Church at the II Council of Nicea in 787, because Hiria accepted the heresy of iconoclasm.
The dogmatic decisions of the 7 Ecumenical Councils established the standard for correct Eastern Orthodox doctrine. However, I do not think that arguments about the imperialistic ambitions of an empire that has not existed for centuries or arguments about semantics should keep EOs and OOs divided if we share a common doctrine.
I find Eastern Catholics doctrinally confusing. Some seem very close to Eastern Orthodoxy, while others are very highly Latinized. Rome's chief concern seems acceptance of papal authority rather than doctrine.

Fr. John W Morris
 
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