First of all, just because a synod can theoretically error, does not mean that it necessarily does, I would submit that the very Idea that any of the Oecumenical Synods errored in their primary professions of Doctrine (Christ is God, Christ is One Person, Christ has Two Natures, et cetera) to be too absurd to even warrent consideration.
This is the first (in that
particular post that is) of a number of arguments based on the oft-repeated fallacy of circular reasoning. The idea that an Oecumenical Synod errs in its primary profession of Doctrine is indeed inconceivable; in fact, I would submit that it is impossible. The fact Chalcedon did err in the manner and context of its profession of two natures such that it lead the Church of Alexandria to reasonably perceive a regression or concession to the very heresy that it had essentially been responsible for defeating only 20 years earlier, such that it (along with the Armenian, Indian and Syrian Church’s et al) ultimately rejected the council in the name of holding steadfast to the already revealed, established and confirmed Tradition expressed by the pre-Chalcedonian Fathers beforehand, acts as the very evidence against its Ecumenicity.
As would be clear to anyone, I am negating the Ecumenicity of this council on a basis that is not biased towards my own position, but rather on a basis that should be reasonably acceptable to any believer who holds fast to the very Tradition of the Church — the eternal, unchanging, permanent, consistent Tradition — and who should thus regard it befitting that this Tradition be used as the measuring stick or standard if you will, of those councils alleging continuity with that Tradition. You on the other hand are attempting a legalistic approach to the matter based on some sort of procedural criteria which is neither reasonable nor objective, and obviously biased towards your position; for what is it to me, an Oriental Orthodox believer, what an Imperial Synod states (whether momentarily or perseveringly) concerning a previous Imperial Council, if it is my belief that the imperial authorities apostatized from the Church at the very Council under investigation in this discussion. What kind of argument is it that the Imperial Synod’s actions are justified because a majority of the patriarchates agreed with the events in question? It is not news to I, nor any other Oriental Orthodox believer, that although many of the ancient Orthodox Church’s (the Armenian, Syrian, et al) maintained their communion with Alexandria, that all the Ancient Patriarchates had broken their communion with Alexandria. However, what does an argument of majority really prove, and since when has it been the standard of truth? The imperial authorities, Rome, Constantinople, and Antioch, all had their own self-interests disconnected from any real or actual concern for maintaining a pure and Orthodox Christology, and Chalcedon served those interests well. Rome for example, wanted to assert its authority over Alexandria which it had perceived it as a threat — the vindication of Leo’s tome, and the unwarranted deposition of St Dioscorus, had achieved this. Antioch as another example, wanted to vindicate its Christology over the Alexandrian-Cyrillian Christology that had been vindicated at Ephesus 431 — the exoneration of the heretical proponents of the Antiochene school of thought (Theodoret and Ibas) as well as their heretical documents, in addition to the acceptance of the “in two natures” formula served such interests well also.
Furthermore, while any given synod can error, by virtue of being composed of humans, the continued opponents to the Tradition established by the Oecumenical Synods are far more likely to be in error, by virtue of being composed of humans out of communion with the Body of Christ.
Argument drawn on circular reason #2. Again, we are still waiting for you to objectively prove the Ecumenicity of Chalcedon and hence its validity as part of Tradition, as opposed to drawing arguments based on the presupposition that it is. Opponents of Tradition are not only “far more likely to be in error”, they are inevitably in error, there is no argument here. The argument surrounds whether Chalcedon defines Tradition in the first place, or whether it was an event in contravention of Tradition.
There is the stance implicitly adopted above by S_N_Bulgakov (he can correct me if I am wrong), which suggests that Tradition (capital ‘t’) encompasses the tradition (lower case ‘t’) of the Chalcedonian church (which includes councils 4-7) as well as the tradition of the non-Chalcedonian Church (which includes the teachings of her fathers which elaborate upon the nature of the distinction of the two natures and the nature of their union), such that both maintained an Orthodox Christology in the name of the same Tradition (by the work of the Holy Spirit), though through varying traditions (by the work of man), which is also the position implicitly adopted by those EO and OO theologians responsible for drawing statements of Agreement:
Second Agreed Statement (1990), Point #9:In the light of our Agreed Statement on Christology as well as of the above common affirmations, we have now clearly understood that both families have always loyally maintained the same authentic Orthodox Christological faith, and the unbroken continuity of the apostolic tradition, though they have used Christological terms in different ways. It is this common faith and continuous loyalty to the Apostolic Tradition that should be the basis for our unity and communion.
However, most the theology and arguments around the influence and role of the Emperor are from Later, St. Justinian the Great
I’m not interested in what Justinian has to say, for he is a representative of the position you are seeking to objectively validate — to appeal to him would be to beg the question for the umpteenth time.
The Empire followed the Church, not the Church the Empire. The Imperial Authorities insisted on Chalcedon because all of Christendom, save Alexandria alone, was in agreement. The Empire sought unity, so they went with the Church as a whole against a faction that had broke off.
Two issues I have this:
a) You have assumed that the “the empire sought unity” as opposed to the fact it was simply looking out for its own personal political interests, which Chalcedon (a council coincidently supported by all patriarchates but for Alexandria) happened to conveniently serve.
b) You are again presupposing this absurd “majority” argument. The unity of the Church is not preserved by supporting and vindicating the “majority position” per se, for if that majority position is misguided, or in error, (the claim which you are supposed to be dealing with), then that majority position does not represent the Church, for the Church is thence located in “that faction that broke off” which has “broke off” in the name of maintaining Orthodox Tradition. The Church is defined by the truth, and not the majority; you have yet to make a cogent argument on this issue.
and if that Synod Stands for 1650 Years, there can be little doubt that those who oppose it are in error.
I’m sorry to sound repetitive, but you continue to repeat the same fallacies. I could assert the converse and point to the fact that this Synod has been opposed for 1650 years by the Coptic, Armenian, Syrian, Indian and Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and conclude that “there can be little doubt that those who support it are in error”. There is simply no objectivity to either of these assertions, and they’re useful for this dialogue.
But I will admit to the theoretical possibility, on an academic level only, that Perhaps the Arians were Right
No, the Arians were certainly wrong. I did not agree to or support the “theoretical possibility” of an Ecumenical Council vindicating false doctrine in opposition to true doctrine, I simply affirmed the very practical possibility that an Imperial Synod’s understanding of a previous Synod as Ecumenical in the first place, may be in error, in order to hopefully (God-willing) get you to accept a logical and objective approach to the situation whereby you seek to deal with the historical facts, proceedings, theology, and results of a particular council in order to support the subsequent declaration of a Synod regarding its Ecumenicity, as opposed to your consistent question-begging approach whereby you merely point to that subsequent Synod’s declaration as evidence, thereby presupposing its validity as well.
The Arians were wrong because they held to a false theology, period. Their theology contradicted pre-Nicaean Tradition as it was revealed through the Holy Scriptures, and the patristic tradition of the Church. Nicaea simply affirmed and confirmed an already revealed truth — it is because of its conformity and harmony with and its attestation to, this already revealed truth which allows it to qualify as an Ecumenical Council taking into consideration also, its universal acceptance by the Church.
Please, enlighten my ignorant mind, what Synod, when they are split 4-1, adopts the posistion of the 1 against the 4?
I am not claiming precedence for such an event, and thus it is not ignorance that is infecting your mind, it is narrow-mindedness; I am claiming that a Synod does not become Ecumenical by sole virtue of its receiving the support of the majority of the Patriarchates. This is a very easy claim to make, because obviously you do not have any pre-Chalcedonian evidence to negate it; the day you find me this evidence, I will covert to the Eastern Orthodox Church and bring many with me.
Old Rome got arround this by trying to set herself up above the Church...how did a deposed Patriarch of Alexandria get around this problem?
From the perspective of the True Church, the Patriarch of Alexandria, and successor of the See of St Mark, had not been deposed; rather the council of Chalcedon had deposed itself through its false actions. There was no “getting around this problem”, for it was not the Church’s problem to begin with, it was the problem of the heteredox who had decided to cut themselves off from The Church.
If Arianism had persevered in the Church, then yes, today we would have to say that Arianism is orthodox
I am not talking about Arianism persevering “in the Church”; I am speaking about Arianism persevering with the support of the state and the “majority of the patriarchates” — for I would submit that “the Church” is not defined by this, and that the faithful opposition are themselves “The Church”. According to your theory, if you were to be consistent (and let us pray you are at least capable of this), you would have to conclude that regardless of the Scriptural and patristic evidence regarding the Holy Trinity and the Divinity of Christ, that had the emperor at the time been an Arian heretic himself, and had the majority of the patriarchates adopted the arian heresy, such that this heresy was declared truth at an Imperial Synod which perseveringly insisted on Arianism, that “the faction” holding steadfast to the Apostolic Tradition in opposition to such councils, would be “out of the Church”, and the Arians defining the Church.
Unites the Church against heresy i.e. Its accomplishments are (drum roll) Ecumenical - it does not allow for division resulting from that Council’s being a) heretical or b) crypto-heretical or c) equivocative and ambiguous such that it is reasonably interpreted as heretical (which relates to the next point).
By virtue of being an Oecumenical Synod ti iherently does not fall into any of those Categories
By virtue of the facts of history it falls into at least one of these. By virtue of drawing an objective and logically coherent argument, you cannot presuppose the Ecumenicity of your council in order to prove it.
by virtue of the Procedure being Correct, so also is the Theology.
a) By virtue of the theology being incorrect, the procedure fails to uphold the truth of The Church, in the same manner that a criminal being acquitted of a crime on the procedural grounds — for instance, the evidence against him being attained illegally, fails to uphold justice in society.
b) You have not yet presented an objective procedural theory. “Majority” vote is not an objective argument.
As far as mininterpretations of the Synod, the teachings of the Church are often mininterpreted by those outside her bounds,
I have heard of no Ecumenical Synod that has been reasonably misinterpreted for promoting an heresy that has a) already being condemned by a previous Ecumenical Synod, or b) that is being condemned by that very Ecumenical Synod. That Chalcedon fell into both a) and b), proves it was not Ecumenical, for assuming that it indeed was misinterpreted and that it was in fact Orthodox then it failed to clearly define the Orthodox Truth in order that; a) those who adhered to that truth (of which the Coptic, Armenian, Syrian et al Churches always have) would be unified, and d) those opposed to that truth (Nestorian heretics) would understand themselves condemned and incompatible with the council in question.
But according to the Arians, Nicea professed false theology
So? They cannot support their assertions by an appeal to pre-Nicean Tradition, therefore their theology is false, and hence their claims against Nicaea unwarranted.
simply because the Non-Chalcedonians believe Chalcedon to be either heretical or a misunderstanding, this in no way diminishes the Authority of the Synod.
Yes it does, for such an interpretation was, in its historical context, a very reasonable one to make — it was neither far-fetched, nor outrageous, and hence assuming that the Synod was Orthodox, it nonetheless failed to satisfy the requirement of “Ecumenical” in the title “Ecumenical Council”, for it purported an ambiguous theology that resulted in a division between two groups who shared the same substantial faith, but who mutually failed to recognize it due to the nature of the proceedings of the council. If we therefore consider the fact, that but for
Chalcedon, our Church’s would legitimately
be in communion with each other with nothing theological, doctrinal, ecclesiastical etc. dividing us
, then it becomes clear that Chalcedon was a council of schism.
The Arians could say the Same thing about Nicea I or Constantinople I and the Nestorians could say the same thing about Ephesus...and I take the Complaints of the non-Chalcedonians about Chalcedon in the same light as the Arian complaints against Nicea or the Nestorian complaints against Ephesus.
Actually, this analogy is ridiculously flawed; allow me to debunk it quite easily:
The complaints of the Orthodox Church against chalcedon were in relation to its being interpreted as undermining the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus 431 and the Alexandrian Christology that was then vindicated and that subsequently became the Orthodox standard i.e. it was regressing into Nestorianism - an already anathematized and condemned heresy. This obviously does not parallel the claims of Arians and Nestorians who simply opposed as heretical, the councils condemning them, by virtue of the fact that the theology professed at such councils was simply different from their own. Your analogy may have been appropriate had the Orthodox Church’s opposition to Chalcedon been the result of an adherence to monophysitism — unfortunately, this almost standard textbook version of history is not grounded in any fact.
No Orthodox Groups rejected Nicea, because by virtue of Rejecting the Synod, they were not Orthodox
Putting aside your semantics for a minute, you’re missing my point; assuming that Chalcedon was Orthodox in its Christology and not Nestorian as reasonably interpreted, we find that it was rejected by those who held to the Orthodox Christology we are assuming the council had intended to promote. By virtue of this inter alia, my Church denies the Ecumenicity of Chalcedon. Now, can you refer back to the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus 431 for example, and show me where a church adhering to the very Orthodox Alexandrian theology vindicated at Ephesus 431 (unlike with Chalcedon, that the Christology vindicated at Ephesus 431 is Orthodox, is not an assumption granted for arguments sake in this discussion, for it is simply a given with respect to both our positions on this council), misinterpreted the fact that this was the Orthodox Christology being promoted?
As far as heresies that tried to use Nicea as a vindication of their Heresy, the Eusebians first come to mind
I’m going to need you to be specific and precise for all of us so that when I debunk yet another false analogy, it is apparent to everyone upon what grounds it falls. So assume me ignorant of Nicaea, I have no idea regarding the proceedings or theology of that council, not of its purpose and outcome, nor do I know anything about St Athanasius of Alexandria or Eusebius of Caesarea or Eusebius of Nicodemia or even Arius. Spell it out for us GiC, so we know exactly what you’re talking about; prove for us that there really is some sort of precedent or analogy to when Nestorius the King of Heteredoxy said upon being acquainted with a highly esteemed and vindicated document of your council: “I thanked God because the Church of Rome held to an orthodox confession of faith.”
questioning the Seven Oecumenical Synods is probably just as absurd as questioning the Theory of Gravity
I’m sure that the Muslim feels the same way about questioning the Word of God, as you are of questioning the seven Oecumenical CouncilsÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦but there’s just a slight problem, for I am still waiting for you and the Muslim, to prove that there is seven Oecumenical councils and that the Quran is the Word of God, respectively.
Or, more accurately, the revealed pseudo-tradition is simply uncovered to be the false tradition that it actually is by the Oecumenical Synod, which upholds the True Tradition of the Church.
That’s possible; but assuming that you’re consistent in your logically fallacious style of circular argumentation, I would assume that your first going to presuppose the Ecumenicity of the Synod first to then blasphemously claim the true and universally accepted Tradition of the Church a “false” tradition; it’s obviously difficult for you to conceive the mere fact that your Church is in schism, and hence it is falsified by the Tradition it undermined (whether subjectively according to intent, or objectively according to the reasonable persons reasonable interpretation of it)— that Tradition being grounded in a previous Ecumenical Council, and the patristic writings of pre-Chalcedonian Doctors of the Faith.
I assume you're talking about Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria from A.D. 444-451
Actually, I’m talking about St Dioscorus Confessor of the Orthodox Faith, Pope and Patriarch of the See of Alexandria A.D. 444-454.
for his defiance and mocking of the Synod
It was St Dioscorus’ duty as the only true representative of the Orthodox Faith to, in the words of the great St Severus of Antioch, refuse “to bow the knee to Baal in the assembly of schism.”
and refusal to appear before the Synod, though thrice summoned while staying in the City
This was Baal’s cop-out. They wanted to get rid of St Dioscorus one way or another, they were desperate for somethingÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦ and ultimately they used force and deception to get their way; for as was already pointed out to you more than a month ago by another member of this board, St Dioscorus was placed under house arrest by the very imperial authorities who summoned him; it was simply a matter of dirty Chalcedonian politics. Find something else to justify the unjustifiable self-excommunication of your council.