The Oneness of the Orthodox Church
It is of the greatest mystery to find out what it means for the one Orthodox Church to exist. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š For once, we echo St. Paul's words "One Lord, One faith, One Baptism." ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š But on the other side, we see a schism that is very apparent.
There are many opinions. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Either one of the families are outside the church, or both families constitute one church regardless of the schism. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š To believe the first opinion, there had to be particular reason that at the source of schism, heresy was professed.
Was Nestorianism taught at Chalcedon? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š In the context of Leo's other letters, the many Eastern bishops, and perhaps even the condemnation (hesitated) of Nestorius by Theodoret, as well as the clear definition with those four adverbs, despite the use of the word "in," as well as the fruits and legacy Chalcedon brought with theologians like St. Maximus the Confessor and St. John Damascene, it's practically reasonable to lift our anathemas from Chalcedon as Nestorian in belief, despite the nasty politics and some other ambiguities Chalcedon may have brought.
Were Dioscorus, Severus, Timothy, Theodosius, Philoxenus, Peter Mongus, etc. etc. etc. Monophysites? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Were they all confusers of the two ousia of Christ? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Was St. Dioscorus rightly deposed? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Were all these Oriental saints rightly anathematized as Eutychians? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The answer is a very easy "No." ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We have letters from each of these theologians showing that their thought has not deviated from St. Cyril's thought, and at the same time, not hesitant to condemn Eutychians and Monophysites. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š In light of Dioscorus' CLEAR defense at Chalcedon, Timothy's "Ecumenical" convening at Ephesus, and St. Severus' plethora of writing left for the world to read, and upon which the present OO Church uses as an authoritative theology along with St. Cyril and St. Athanasius, and in which in essence is the theology of St. John of Damascus, who did not read an iota of St. Severus' writings, shows not only that the OO is truly Orthodox and was never, not in a single day heretical or guiltly schismatic, but that the harmony of both St. Severus and St. John Damascene, who both would have loathed each other, spoke the same truth by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In light of this evidence, it is impossible to say that "one left the church." ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š When I say there was a misunderstanding, I say this not as some cheap ecumenical politician, but after much reading on the situation at hand, I find no other way to conclude it as such. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Either one family knew the other professed Orthodoxy and ignorantly anathematized them, or both truly did not know how to interpret one another rightly, and thus were misunderstanding one another. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The opinion that one or the other had to be heretical must be disposed of, for there is no reasonable proof to say such a thing considering the plethora of proof that both churches have professed Orthodoxy elsewhere. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Thus, IN CONTEXT, both OO and EO are rightly "O" and never were not "O."
So can we truly divide the church? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It has happened before. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I name two examples:
One was the excommunication of St. John Chrysostom. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š While there was no heresy professed, he was still deposed, excommunicated, and sent to exile, unjustly. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š This confessor suffered as outside the church and yet innocent of the charges brought against him. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š He DIED deposed. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Is he truly condemned since a council followed good procedure, and under the powers of the priesthood, rightly deposed by other "priests"? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š If so, then how can we call him saint? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š What is the belief behind unjust excommunications? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It seems here that that Church logically found that an unjust excommunication is not accepted by Christ. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Therefore, Church history seems to teach us that despite "correct procedure," St. John Chrysostom remained a Patriarch even unto his death, and the Church, although split between the world and St. John Chrysostom, was still one.
The second example was St. Cyril and John of Antioch. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š For two years both of these men split on grounds that each of them have taught heresy. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š St. Cyril was a Monophysite, i.e. a confuser of ousia, while John of Antioch was a Nestorian. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š After two years, however, when a deacon named Paul appeared to Cyril, St. Cyril did not hesitate to echo the words of St. Paul, "One Lord, One faith, One baptism," showing that the two year schism was merely a misunderstanding and that therefore the anathema does not hold valid. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I ask simply, does it make a difference to our God, who is above time, that there be a 2-year or a 1500-year schism? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š To believe that it does make a difference would be heretical, ascribing to God as a deity not above time. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š But the fact remains that since John of Antioch was never outside the Church as result of the one faith professed according to the tone of the Formula of Reunion, therefore, a schism is "unnecessary and inopportune," and we are a time of peace to unite what is already united.
Therefore, SNB is right when he says that the Orthodox Church consists of the Oriental and Eastern Traditions. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It is wrong to say there are two churches split from one another. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The body of Christ is never split. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Only men split, but we still remain to have "One Lord, One faith" and thus, as is agreed by the heirarchs, "One Baptism."
This is how I interpret the division between us. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Many may disagree and many people will say I'm nothing but a cheap ecumenical politician, but the evidence shown in history cannot be interpreted in any other way.
I accept any criticism.