What's funny about this INSANELY long post is that I just got through telling EA this morning that I liked to keep replies simple. So much for that idea...
Insanely long posts beget Insanely long posts...
Just to clear something up before I address your points: my only reason for commenting in the first place was to question your own response to GiC -- he said that "the Councils are a proclamation of our Doctrine" (emph. mine), meaning the EO, to which you replied that this could not be, for the latter councils were not attended by the Non-Chalcedonian churches. This, to me, is a logical fallacy, as councils held by the all EO churches were indeed considered ecumenical within our own communion.
I believe you misunderstood my intentions, and hence consequently you have set up an implicit straw man. First allow me to reiterate; I understand (and always did understand) that from the EO perspective, the absence of the non-Chalcedonian church from a council may be irrelevant to the subjective understanding of that particular council as Ecumenical - but my point is, that objectively speaking
(since the context of our discussion was regarding the coming of a mutual
agreement on the councils), this involves circular reasoning, for it is based on a presupposed idea of Chalcedon as Ecumenical in the first place. The argument is something along the lines of “Since Chalcedon is Ecumenical, those who do not adhere to it are not of the universal Orthodox Church, therefore Chalcedon represents the universal Orthodox Church, and is therefore Ecumenical.”
Now regarding that specific response of mine, and the context of that particular aspect of the discussion in which it was made, it actually concerned the non-Chalcedonian perspective i.e. our (the OO Church’s) stance with regards to the Council; why we cannot consider it Ecumenical despite our recognition of the Orthodox substance presented. My response to GiC concerned the fact that despite how the EO church views Chalcedon, that since we (OO) were not represented at the councils in question, therefore we (OO) cannot accept these councils as Ecumenical, but merely Orthodox councils at a local rather than Ecumenical level - and therefore, my ultimate point was, that re-union cannot and will not happen by us (OO) accepting these councils as Ecumenical, nor can you expect us (OO) to accept these councils as Ecumenical - because the fact of the matter is, if we do come to an agreement that we have the same doctrine, then that is in and of itself justification for our position against the councils which misunderstood, misrepresented, and consequently unfairly dismissed us in the first place (this is why I believe many EO’s strenuously go to lengths in order to try and prove that there is doctrinal dissonance in the first place; because to concede that there never was is damaging to the claim that the councils in question are Ecumenical)
I am using doctrine
as the measuring stick of one’s Orthodoxy to conclude that the non-Chalcedonian Church does indeed have rightful title to The Orthodox Church, in order to consequently conclude that since councils 4-7 did not represent us, and did not take into consideration our Orthodox views and perspectives; that they were thus not Ecumenical in the truest sense of the word. If you can think of a better or more objective criterion then id love to hear it.
We would say that, for all intents and purposes, the continued separation of the two churches over hundreds of years serves as the greatest testimony to the existence of two separate churches, with Chalcedon merely serving as the starting point.
I don’t understand your point, nor its relevance to this discussion to be honest; can you please elaborate?
However, it is after having examined the Council (admittedly, not as much as I'd like, nor as much as, say, you and GiC have), that I've come to think that St. Cyril's confession of the two natures was, ultimately, the proper one
I don’t understand; proper relative to what? Are you saying that St Cyril’s confession “of the two natures” (an expression which is way too ambiguous for a discussion of this sort in which the prepositions and additional clauses modifying the term “two natures” make all the difference) is more proper than his confession “of the one nature”? Are you saying you want to arbitrarily and selectively pick and choose which of St Cyril’s formula’s and expressions to use and which of those to discard?
The thing you will find about post-St-Cyril Alexandrian Christology, is that it was absolutely faithful to everything St Cyril said. We did not pick and choose some of his doctrinal proclamations whilst disregarding others. Everything has been taken in context, and hence we have absolutely no problem confessing “the two natures” per se, but as I also said, this really says nothing by itself; it needs to be qualified. As Cyrillians, we re-iterate the qualifications of St Cyril, namely; that these two natures cannot be separated after the union (a danger one can fall into simply through the manner in which he speaks of the two natures, their functions, and interaction after the union, regardless of an affirmation that they are “inseparable”), and that they should be spoken of in contemplation/thought alone.
as I don't think it's "better" or "fuller" to say that Christ has only one nature as it is to say that he has a fully human nature, like mine, along with a divine nature, to which the human nature is perfectly and inseperably united and with which it acts, albeit independently, in perfect unity with the divine.
Well neither do weGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âª we have never affirmed “The One nature of God the Logos Incarnate” to the exclusion of his full and perfect humanity (consubstantial with mankind) united without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration to His full and perfect divinity (consubstantial with the Father). So what exactly is the problem here? There will never be one
formulary expression which encompasses all the necessary Christological principles. The affirmation of The One Nature of God the Logos Incarnate is simply our foundation, since the unity of The Word was the basis for the Orthodox Christology upheld at Ephesus 431.
I think the Chalcedonian decisi+Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦n better maintains the distinction between the two "substances" of Christ--his divinity and his humanity--while allowing for no separation of person.
I would say that it accepted documents whose language imply a lot more than mere distinction. I would also say that its lack of clarity with regards to what it means by "hypostatic union" also leaves open room for separation of the natures (a point i briefly touched on in my reply to DT in the orthodoxinfo's take on non-Chalcedonians
thread). The way I see it, Ephesus 431 was a vindication of Strong Alexandrian Christology; the reunion formula was Strong Alexandrian Christology making concessions for Antiochene concerns; the home synod of 448 was a ratification of the Antiochene interpretation of the formularly reunion which St Cyril defended himself against, as the standard; Epehesus 449 in turn overturned 448 and its Antiochene regression, and Chalcedon overturned 449, once again ratifying Antiochene Christology against Alexandrian Christology. Many today believe that Chalcedon presented the perfect balance between Alexandrian and Antiochene Christology, but as Father V.C. Samuel points out in his book (which I have yet to complete) Chalcedon Re-examined, this is the result of studying Chalcedon in an anachornistic context. In response to the claim that Chalcedon presented this balance, he states on page 4 of his book:
A voice of dissent has, however, been expressed from the side of the council’s ecclesiastical opponents. Tiran Nersoyan, for instance, asserts that in its historical context Chalcedon did not work out the balance claimed forit, and that this defence of the Chalcedonian position is plausible only with reference to a theological development which took place in the sixth century. This itself, argues Archbishop Tiran, was made possible by the unceasing criticism of the council by the ‘Monophysites’5. Karekin Sarkissian shows that the council of Chalcedon did violence to the already established theological tradition of both the Armenian Church and a considerable part of Christian east. The theology underlying the council’s formula, for instance, and the treatment of persons like Theodoret of Cyrus and Ibas of Edessa were such that the Nestorian school could feel gratified, and the Tome of Leo which the council declared a document of the faith was hailed by Nestorius himself as a vindication of his position. It was these facts, insists bishop Sarkissian, not any adherence to Eutychianism. which led many Christian communities in the east to repudiate Chalcedon.6 In this way, maintains Sarkissian, the council of Chalcedon created, what he calls, ‘the ecumenical problem in Eastern Christendom’7
Re: Nestorius: It matters not a bit if he liked Chalcedon. Eutyches liked y'all's stance, but that doesn't mean anything.
I don’t think the parallel holds water. First of all, Nestorius was an able theologian who once held the authoritative position of Patriarch. He was stable in his doctrine (not that his doctrine in itself was stable), it was clear, it was known, it was consistent, and he persisted in it till the end. Clearly his doctrine was incompatible with true Orthodoxy - for there was no way Nestorius could read over St Cyril’s 12 chapters for example, and warmly receive it; yet this he did with leo’s tome, and I don’t think this is a negligible observation. It says a lot indeed.
In contrast, Eutyches was really nobody theologically speaking. He was just a simple old monk; certainly no theologian, and the only reason anyone made a big deal about what Eutyches may or may not have believed was due to the sort of influence he could exert at the court of Theodosius II through his godson. The confusion of this monk can be seen through a study of his dialogues at the home synod of 448 and Ephesus 449; the more he was interrogated the more lost he became about his own position; he simply just had no idea what he really believed, nor did he have any idea of what he was really supposed to believe; he was just not theologically consistent.
All the explicit heretical statements attributed to him these days, are those that were historically ascribed to him by his enemies, rather than stated by him in his own words, so we dont know for a fact whether he really held onto the position that Christ's humanity became consumed by his divinity etc.. In his own words he actually affirmed the perfect humanity and divinity of Christ, and implicitly (though hesitantly
) affirmed the consubstantiality of Christ to both the divine and to mankind. Although he was a supporter of Alexandrian tradition, he on many occasions proved and admitted ignorance of what the fathers really taught; refraining to speak on matters pertaining to the faith in fear that he would be investigating the nature of God, only to be reminded by those interrogating him, that such matters have already been investigated by the fathers (including the Alexandrian ones).
So basically Eutyches supported our theology because as a person who wasn't a theologian or scholar
, he was only adhering to it because it was reputed as the apostolic theology handed down through St. Cyril and was thus the standard of the issue, which of course he interpreted or misinterpreted for himself; in other words, its questionable from what we assert that he would have actually loved or supported the theology for its dogmatic content, or that he was even educated in the dogmatic content of Alexandrian Christology in the first place. The Chalcedonians would be straining to come to the same conclusions regarding Nestorius’ understanding of Chalcedon - Nestorius found in the tome of leo expressions and formula’s that he could put a twist on in order conform it with his heretical Christology.
To cut a long story short, your parallel is as fallacious as the parallel between, for example, a science professors understanding and reception of a particular scientific theory to that of a mere C-minus average science student who is simply following a line of thought his teacher told him to, without really understanding or grasping it. The former means something and hence worth consideration, whereas the latter does not.
Re: the Council: They were dismissed--and, again, this is according to my more limited knowledge--for downplaying the activity (not the existence) of the human nature of Christ.
The condemnation of Nestorianism is significant in considering the intent of the council, which I find to be Orthodox. However, the warm reception of the council by the Nestorian church is significant in considering the non-Chalcedonian position that Chalcedon was a bow to Nestorianism, allowing it to creep in via various loopholes that it left open. The manner in which subsequent councils treated Chalcedon are also evidence of the acknowledgement of its “Nestorian defects”.
The "one dynamic nature" you speak of does not parallel with the idea that Christ brought his human nature into conformity with his divine nature but did not make it "the same as" or “one nature from two natures with” his divine nature.
Actually the idea of Christ’s “One dynamic nature” has no bearing whatsoever regarding the nature of the union between his human and divine, it is simply an indication and affirmation of that inseparable union per se. It refers to the fact that after the Incarnation and hypostatic union, Christ functioned according to a new operative capacity, a new nature - that of the God-Man, the Logos Incarnate.
The non-Chalcedonian Church being strong and faithful Cyrillians, affirmed the miaphysis formula just as St Cyril affirmed it, and in the same context that St Cyril affirmed it also. Just as St Cyril qualified his miaphysis Christology, by maintaining that the union was without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration, such that the humanity of Christ remained consubstantial with mankind, as His divinity remained consubstantial with the Father, we also likewise make this qualification after him.
If he has one nature, his human nature is no longer like mine.
That is a non sequitor committed precisely because you misunderstand the context in which we affirm that Christ has One nature. Furthermore, you challenge St Cyril with a statement like that, for he was clearly able to affirm the One physis of Christ whilst maintaining the consubstantiality of his humanity to mankind.
As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the term physis can be understood essentialistically or dynamically. With regards to the former, the term would be synonymous with ousia, yet with regards to the latter it would simply refer to operative capacity. Allow me to show you in what manner these terms would be employed in the heretical Eutychian context vs. the Orthodox Cyrillian context:
In Eutychian Christology, a new third essence (i.e. essentialistic physis or ousia) is formed through the divine essences’ dissolving reaction upon the human essence: Ousia 1
(divine) + Ousia 2
(human) ---->* Ousia 3**
Ousia 1 dissolves Ousia 2 **
physis in it’s essentialistic context
In Cyrillian (Oriental Orthodox) Christology, Christ does not obtain a new third essence
as a result of the reaction between the initial two, but rather the hypostasis of Christ which initially operated according to the capacity of the divine nature, obtains a new operative capacity - The One Dynamic nature of the God-man - such that He may operate according to the perfect attributes of a perfect humanity and the perfect attributes of a perfect divinity: Ousia 1
(divine) + Ousia 2
(human) ---->* Nature 1**
Ousia 1 unites with Ousia 2, without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration. **
physis in it’s dynamic context.
I think the most often made analogy, that which was made by St Cyril himself, concerns the union between body and soul. The body has its own nature distinct from soul, yet in their union they constitute a new ultimate nature i.e. the human nature. This One human nature is not the result of a reaction between sould and body, such that one or the other is "compromised", but rather it refers to the operative capacity. When we think of human nature, we think of a nature that allows one to eat, cry, bleed, and feel guilty etc. i.e. we have an operative capacity determined by the union of the body and soul.
Granted, you're not guilty of Eutyches' heresy, but your definition does, to Chalcedonian ears, seem a bit weak in terms of affirming the unconfused humanity of Christ. And this is what we've got a problem with.
Once the consubstantiality of Christ’s humanity to mankind, and the consubstantiality of Christ’s divinity to the Father is affirmed, the Eutychian heresy is automatically negated. Period. The Non-Chalcedonian Church has always affirmed this Christological principle and has never denied it - we cannot claim Cyrillian Christology without affirming this aspect which St Cyril himself affirmed. With regards to the Coptic Church, we have quotes from St Cyril’s successors - St Dioscorus, and St Timothy, who also both clearly affirmed this as I proved in my last response to GiC.
There is nothing weak about our definition, it is clear, and it is explicit about the Christological principles which directly contradict the defining exclusive attributes of the Eutychian heresy.
the ultimate result of the council served to preserve both the indivisibility of the one Person of Christ, as well as the unconfusable distinction between His one, active human nature and His one, active divine nature.
The ultimate result of the council was to cause a schism with those who already preserved the indivisibility of the one person of Christ, as well as the unconfused distinction between His divine and human natures. There is no dispute with regards to this particular doctrinal principle.
However, generally speaking, apart from condemning the two heresies at the extreme ends of the spectrum, the council of Chalcedon did not provide any focal point within that spectrum regarding what constitutes Orthodox Christology. It affirmed documents which used language implying two centers of consciousness in Christ; language which challenged St Cyril’s terminology and qualifications, and it simply did not achieve anything productive - theologically speaking - which hadn’t already been achieved by Alexandrian Christology by 433.
But are not both Churches founded on a precept of infallibility, that is, that the Holy Spirit is definitely guiding SOME Church into all truth? For either of our churches to “drop any arbitrariness” would be tantamount to saying that the claim to inspiration of the Holy Spirit within our communions is up for debate.
No, not exactly. That all depends on how far you take this concept of infallibility, and whether or not taking it to that extreme level is really justified. The church is guided into all the truth by an infallible source but the church itself is not infallible and is capable of erring in one way or another, though not to the degree that the doctrinal and spiritual truth which the Church has been called to preserve is compromised. It seems that every “sect” except the OO church, claims a source of infallibility apart from God Himself - The Protestants have the Bible, the Roman Catholics have the pope, and the EO (or even just some
EO’s - since I haven’t heard consistent opinion on the matter) have the councils. Each feels the need to ultimately assign infallibility to a source independent of God in order to feel secure.
I believe in human-divine synergy with regards to the Bible, Patriarch and the Church Councils. As such I can affirm that the church was guided into all truth on the level that counts - doctrinally speaking. The Holy Spirit worked through Chalcedon by making sure that heretical doctrines such as Nestorianism and Eutychism did not become “Orthodox”. The manner in which this was carried out however, and the schism that eventuated can be attributed to human actions - and those actions consequently need to be judged as valid or invalid. Though both Church’s maintained the fullness of truth (divinely inspired), human error was the result of our initiated and maintained dissonance.
Now this human error was either on part of the non-Chalcedonian Church:
a) Doctrinally: The dissonance was the result of the fact that we truly were monophysites in the sense condemned by Chalcedon, and hence we doctrinally erred and need to repent. Or,
b) Historically: We had Orthodox doctrine, yet we had no good reason to challenge Chalcedon or Leo, and other figures etc., for it was a legitimate council, with a legitimate purpose, and appropriate according to those historical circumstances, and hence we need to repent of our disobedience.
Or, this human error was on part of the Chalcedonian church:
a) Doctrinally: The dissonance was the result of the Chalcedonians regressing from the Cyrillian Alexandrian Christology that was vindicated at Ephesus 431, back into the Antiochene tendencies that lead to Nestorianism in the first place, and hence the Chalcedonian Church needs to repent for this regression, and the disruption caused to the Christology developments of the Orthodox Church.
b) Historically: The council of Chalcedon was uncalled for, and motivated for certain people’s own personal or political agendas, as opposed to for the purpose of maintaining and solidifying Church unity. It was tainted by over-zealous polemics as a result, and consequently certain figures were falsely condemned and quickly dismissed, resulting in an unholy and unwarranted schism within the church - hence, it was ultimately counter-productive to the ontology of the church and thus more of an anti-ecumenical council.
These issues we can resolve through a retrospective and objective analysis of the facts in question.
Say we do come to some common conclusion concerning Christology and hagiography that satisfies all on both sides. How, then, would you recommend that our two communions, making the claim as they both are (as I understand it) to be the one Church of Christ, get themselves out of the corner of infallibility we seem to have painted ourselves into?
My Church doesn’t have this extreme concept of infallibility that would preculde the sort of objective investigation im calling for, and I’m hoping that the hierarchs of the EO church don’t either. We can accept that the Church maintained Orthodox doctrinal truth via the infallible Holy Spirit, and that this evidence of Christ’s faithfulness to His promise to the Church; but we also need to concede that the Church operates through human/divine synergy. My Church needs to be open to the possibility that maybe it was a little pedantic with regards to its adherence to Cyrillian Christology, and that it had no justified reason to challenge or reject Chalcedon. Your Church needs to be open to the possibility that it did compromise a particular tradition of Christology that was established as the standard for Orthodoxy, by regressing into the opposing tradition through adopting particular conflicting traits inherent in that tradition, and that the council itself was superfluous and not concerned with genuine Ecumenical purposes, and that its dismissal of certain figures and our Church in gereal was just not justified.
For the record, I dont think that the non-Chalcedonian church denies that the Eastern Orthdox Church is a "genuine" Orthodox Church, simply because it adheres to councils as Ecumenical that we dont. You maintained Orthodox doctrine down one road, and we maintained Orthodox doctrine down another - the very maintainment of Orthodox doctrine is the infallible work of the Holy Spirit. The separation of paths in maintaining this Orthodox doctrine was the work of man. Man now needs to determine where man really went wrong.