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Linus7
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« on: March 12, 2003, 11:56:09 AM »

Please give me your views of the Council of Chalcedon.

As I understand it, the Orthodox Church is the Church of the Seven Councils. We view the decisions of ecumenical councils of the Church as infallible and binding.

Do you all reject Chalcedon?

This is an honest question, and I am trying to understand the Oriental Orthodox.

Where do we all stand in relation to one another?

This issue is very troubling to me.

I am constantly arguing with Protestants on another board and faulting them for their doctrinal divisions and chaos.

Have I been hypocritical? Are we Orthodox as guilty of division as the Protestants, even if with far fewer sects?

How am I to regard Non-Chalcedonians?


Glory to Jesus Christ!
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2003, 03:23:04 PM »


My views on Chalcedon can be  understood by reading every page (including external links) at this website.

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Mikho
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2003, 05:45:44 PM »

The division in 451 was political, not doctrinal.  Our Pope was anathmatised for personal conduct (falsely) not for herecy.  We never had a chance to accept Chalcedon.  Looking at it, we don't like it.  The wording is dangerous.. Nestorius interpreted the Tome of Leo as indicating that he was right.  Whether the wording of the Council was ok or not doesn't matter.  The two Churches agree that both our curren Christological expressions are Orthodoxy.  It's not a source of division anymore.  We were never monophysites, and while individual EO may have erred on the other side in response to our preceived herecy, the EO Church is certainly Orthodox in their faith now, and whether or not that's always been the case doesn't really seem to matter, but I don't know enough about history to know.
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2003, 07:25:34 PM »

The division in 451 was political, not doctrinal.  Our Pope was anathmatised for personal conduct (falsely) not for herecy.  We never had a chance to accept Chalcedon.  Looking at it, we don't like it.  The wording is dangerous.. Nestorius interpreted the Tome of Leo as indicating that he was right.  Whether the wording of the Council was ok or not doesn't matter.  The two Churches agree that both our curren Christological expressions are Orthodoxy.  It's not a source of division anymore.  We were never monophysites, and while individual EO may have erred on the other side in response to our preceived herecy, the EO Church is certainly Orthodox in their faith now, and whether or not that's always been the case doesn't really seem to matter, but I don't know enough about history to know.

Jonathan,
You are close.  The division of 451 was "political" in the sense that it was inspired by the heavy-handed tactics of the Emperor in Constantinople in maintaining Byzantine hegemony at the expense of local (Coptic, Syrian, and Armenian) influence. The non-Hellenized churches actually looked at the issue as one of more nationalism; not theology; i.e., it was a manufactured fight over a non-issue. The Emperor won the battle and lost the war to the detriment of the Church with a split that should never have happened. "EO Traditionalists" may demure, but saying the same thing with different wording is still saying the same thing. May our two great communions be one once again.
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2003, 07:30:12 PM »

+PiKhristos af tonf! Khristos anesti! Al Maseeh qam! Christ is risen!+

Peace and grace.

Unfortunately, Paradosis, the 5th "Ecumenical" Council is completely wrapped in politics, which anyone honest in their research will come to see. EVEN if it was doctrinal, and we have issues with the Tome of Leo until this day, we could still never accept that council. The Tome is extremely problematic, and is not following the traditional Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria.

The Tome states:
There is nothing unreal about this oneness, since both the lowliness of the man and the grandeur of the divinity are in mutual relation. As God is not changed by showing mercy, neither is humanity devoured by the dignity received. The activity of each form is what is proper to it in communion with the other: that is, the Word performs what belongs to the Word, and the flesh accomplishes what belongs to the flesh. One of these performs brilliant miracles; the other sustains acts of violence. As the Word does not lose its glory which is equal to that of the Father, so neither does the flesh leave the nature of its kind behind.

To the ear of the Orthodox, this expression is defining the WORD as doing something, and the FLESH as doing another thing...as if there is some kind of on/off switch on WHO does what. In other words, to us, it totally looks Nestorian.

Now, I personally do not want to embark on an all-out debate on the validity of the Tome, and I will grant that the current Eastern Churches understanding of it is not heretical, but there is still no way that St. Dioscorus would be willing to sign that document...but he was never excommunicated for that anyway, as Brett pointed out.

He was excommunicated for 'failure to attend' after the thrice-summons - it didn't matter that he was held under house arrest, it didn't matter that his testament at the council was 100% Orthodox and none of the Bishops attending said anything about what he said (one need only take a look at the minutes to see that)...the fact was that the Constantinopole/Rome vs. Alexandria conflict was at its peak, and Leo was not happy, neither was Flavian or his people.

So yes, it WAS political, it was not doctrinal. If it was doctrinal, then like at all 3 Councils before, they would have held Dioscorus up to defend his position on the Orthodox faith, they would have told him the error in his Christology, they would have in Christian love done their best to convince everyone of the Orthodox faith, but they did not. They did not follow the steps of Athanasius before him, they did not follow the steps of St. Cyril who wrote letters to Nestorius asking him to reconsider, and only anathematizing after Nestorius refused to sign a testament of the faith, and also when Nestorius explained his views (which were heretical)... Even Macedonius was given the chance to defend his position and was told why it was wrong... Not so with St. Dioscorus.

The 'definition' of the council apart from the Tome, is what the Orthodox Church has always believed, but the procedures of the Council were very questionable, and hardly charitable, and it would be difficult to argue that it was truly doctrinal in terms of the decisions made at that council.

In honesty, I believe that we are Orthodox, we have the fullness of truth, and it pains us that the Easterns are not in communion so that we might be whole in our fullness together. Sad

This is a matter that requires much humility on both our parts - and as a Russian Orthodox Priest told me (and he was quoting a Roman Catholic), 'the Road to Unity will be reached on our knees'.

I forgot to add one thing, Copts are by very nature "traditionalists", although, there was nothing ever changed in our church that we had to return to or fight to keep.

Agape.

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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2003, 08:20:35 PM »

Fortunatus,

But didn't at Chambesy, Switzerland, the Oriental Orthodox theologians agree that there was nothing in the Councils 4-7 of the Eastern Orthodox that was contrary to the faith you hold?

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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2003, 08:32:00 PM »

+PiKhristos af tonf! Khristos anesti! Al Maseeh qam! Christ is risen!+

Nothing is contrary technically, but note that we were never forced to put a stamp of approval on the Councils either. The Council has nothing contrary in terms of how Eastern Orthodox Theologians interpret the Tome, so in that respect we can say that it is Orthodox - whether Leo was sound in his thinking is questionable, but it is basically irrelevant for talks of unity. I was just trying to emphasize that it wasn't really a dogmatic council, but if it was, there is no way that I would be able to accept it if the Tome has to be accepted as an absolute document...

Pray for me!
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2003, 08:42:54 PM »

+PiKhristos af tonf! Khristos anesti! Al Maseeh qam! Christ is risen!+

Peace and grace.

Paradosis,

Call it 'deviation' or call it 'honesty' or call it 'rhetoric' it does not matter much to me. I think that Chalcedon was the darkest time in the history of the Church, you seem to disagree, and that's perfectly alright with me.

I recommend the book, "Chalcedon Re-Examined" by Fr. V.C. Andrews. You can find it on Amazon. It is written by an Indian Orthodox Priest. Just as we Oriental Orthodox read stuff from the Eastern Orthodox, I think it wouldn't be dishonest for us to ask you to do the same. It seems like a fairly accurate assessment and scholarly look at what actually happened, and he uses the actual minutes, as opposed to historical rhetoric or 'honesty' in his approach.

Pray for me! Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2003, 08:52:35 PM »

Fortunatus -

Thank you for your posts.

As I follow you thus far, aside from the background of Chalcedon and the Tome of St. Leo, are you saying that Oriental Orthodox have no problem with its doctrine (i.e., the Two Natures of Christ)?

If so, then what prevents their acceptance of that Council?

Where do the OO churches stand in talks with the EO regarding reunion?
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2003, 09:05:01 PM »

+PiKhristos af tonf! Khristos anesti! Al Maseeh qam! Christ is risen!+

Dear Linus7, thanks for your friendly reply! Smiley

I kind of see it like this...

Say you have One Nation with a set system. A big 'misunderstanding' occurs and half of the nation breaks off specifically because of that misunderstanding, call that half 'Oriental'. The Oriental like the system it has always had while being part of the One, and keeps doing it. It does that without problem for years, it goes through its own problems (e.g.
persecution), but the system never changed. Meanwhile, off in the other half, call it 'Eastern',  things have happened that challenged the system that the Eastern part had while part of the 'One' (e.g. the Theology and Traditions), it has a whole bunch of meetings, fixes everything up, and at the end of the day it is
still following the System. Now, the Oriental piece and the Eastern piece realize that the misunderstanding way back in the day was really just that -a misunderstanding - so they want to get back together and become the One Nation again, and both are already still following the System - does the Eastern part have any reason to tell the other equal half that they can only become the One nation if they subsribe to their local meetings?  I think not, I can only see a problem if one of the halves was following something that was incorrect dogmatically, but both agree that this is not the case. To tell us we have to accept their local things is like us saying we can't unite until you are persecuted for 2000 years like we were. It's illogical. Or like telling them they are required first to issue a public statement against Islam  for what the Muslims have done to us in order for us to accept any kind of unity... There is no "bigger half" in the One Church, there is no superiority, and there is no reason for us to accept councils that were irrelevant to us. We can look at them as resources, we can certainly benefit from them (Council 5-7 anyway)...but they're not totally relevant to us. Personally, I could never see myself accepting Chalcedon - I don't even call it a Council because I am genuinely upset at the treatment of our beloved Pope and the conduct of the Bishops, it was not spiritual, and I could not call it that with an easy conscience - I hope that that doesn't offend you, but I am speaking with full honesty. I reject Chalcedon because of the Tome, the politics, and the behaviour. It was an unholy war that Christianity is paying for, in my opinion, until today.

Pray for me too!
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2003, 09:08:35 PM »

I forgot to add... Pope Shenouda is ready to drop the anathemas at the moment the Eastern Orthodox reciprocate - anything else would be hypocritical.
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2003, 09:13:21 PM »

Fortunatus -

Thanks again for your considerate and well-written reply.

The problem I see with it is that we of the EO regard the Seven Councils as infallible statements of the whole Holy Orthodox Catholic Church. How could we be in communion with some who deny one of them, even if they do not actually deny the doctrinal conclusions reached there?

I too am not trying to be offensive.

Is there a way for us to reject the regrettable circumstances surrounding the Council while accepting its conclusions and thus, in that sense, accepting it?

If we all actually believe the same things about Christ, why should we remain separated?
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2003, 09:20:45 PM »

Another book which I would have put online if the publisher hadn't said no (even though it was published 50 years ago!) is The Council of Chalcedon by RV Sellers (Anglican). I'd suggest you check it out by interlibrary loan.

anastasios
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2003, 09:29:07 PM »

+PiKhristos af tonf! Khristos anesti! Al Maseeh qam! Christ is risen!+

Peace and grace.

The key is in exactly what you said - agreement on dogma not the Councils.  We agree that our Christologies are the same, and we don't really have any issues with the dogma clarified at the other 3 councils, the Copts were never iconoclasts etc.. etc..

It's all about dogma in order to be an honest unity. We are over that step now...all that's left now our side-issues and perhaps some pride.
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2003, 09:43:12 PM »

Fortunatus -

That is certainly good to hear.

How can a reunion come about? Is another ecumenical council required? Or a simple exchange of letters among the leaders of the autocephalous churches?
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« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2003, 10:00:47 PM »

I have often wondered if it would be possible to "re-open" Chalcedon to "amend" the definition by acknowledging Cyrillian Christology.  Is the re-opening of councils within the power of the Church?
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« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2003, 10:11:39 PM »

I have often wondered if it would be possible to "re-open" Chalcedon to "amend" the definition by acknowledging Cyrillian Christology.  Is the re-opening of councils within the power of the Church?  

Hmmm . . . interesting idea.

I would think it possible. Look how Constantinople (381) amended Nicea (325) to add the section on the Holy Spirit to the Symbol of Faith.

That is, I would think it possible unless the later council amounts to an outright contradiction of the prior one.
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« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2003, 11:06:06 PM »

Why is it that, when the prospect of reunion with non-Chalcedonians is brought up, it is always the Chalcedonians who appear to be making all the concessions? Especially about that arch-hereitc Leo, with his tome that doesn't square with Byzantine Orthodoxy...(sarcasm).

"Amending" Chalcedon would only lead to a schism, between those who are for/against reunion on those terms with the non-Cs.
I don't think that would be productive.

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« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2003, 11:42:18 PM »

+PiKhristos af tonf! Khristos anesti! Al Maseeh qam! Christ is risen!+

Dear Boswell, it is precisely this attitude, with all due respect, that I think is stopping unity. Both of us have to stop looking at it as "concessions", nobody is changing their faith, or it would be a false unity, one that is not in "spirit and truth". If you want us to pretend to like the Tome, that's another issue, but we will not concede to change our stance on anything, because we obviuosly believe that we have always been Orthodox. See, the problem with these dialogues, is the EO looking at the OO and saying, we are the Orthodox, you are returning to the fold, and the same (thought not often as vocal) from the OO looking at the EO and saying the same thing...instead of, we are two families of Orthodoxy that have both continually preserved the faith under all sorts of challenges and hardships, by the grace of God. Here we join together again by the grace of God in the spirit of truth and love, acknowledging the one faith preserved since the time of Christ. It makes a big difference. If we sit there talkinga bout who's giving up what...we're not going to get past our egos too quickly - that's not an attack at you, but more about the general mentality that often surfaces in these dialogues, which I am often guilty of.

Pray for me.
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« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2003, 11:49:45 PM »

How can a reunion come about? Is another ecumenical council required? Or a simple exchange of letters among the leaders of the autocephalous churches?

+PiKhristos af tonf! Khristos anesti! Al Maseeh qam! Christ is risen!+

Peace and grace.

I would think a council would be necessary, but I don't like the idea of reopening Chalcedon per se. It is sufficient, in my opinion, that St. Dioscorus was never anathematized by the Eastern Orthodox, he was excommunicated, and not for any dogmatic problems. Our anathemas were reciprocated since all anathemas are two-edged swords. Hence, it would make sense that lifting anathemas would be sufficient, as opposed to reopening another Council and arguing over something we have already agreed upon anyway! Smiley

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« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2003, 12:13:32 AM »

Why is it that, when the prospect of reunion with non-Chalcedonians is brought up, it is always the Chalcedonians who appear to be making all the concessions? Especially about that arch-hereitc Leo, with his tome that doesn't square with Byzantine Orthodoxy...(sarcasm).

"Amending" Chalcedon would only lead to a schism, between those who are for/against reunion on those terms with the non-Cs.
I don't think that would be productive.

Boswell


Dear Boswell,

Non-Chal's have already made many concessions. For instance, Non-Chal writers have almost universally stopped calling Chalcedonians "Nestorians" as a prejorative term.  Non-Chals almost universally recognize the Eastern Orthodox as Orthodox whereas the reverse is not always true, etc.

anastasios
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« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2003, 09:38:27 AM »

Basing an argument on the idea that an Ecumenical Council was "politically" and not "doctrinally" based is unacceptable to Orthodox Christians. You have every right to say "It was political, and because of this...", but don't expect Orthodox Christians (traditionalists anyway) to accept what you are saying. If Chalcedon was "political", then so was Acts 15 and 21. But they weren't, thank the Lord!  Smiley

But I didn't say the council was political, I said the division was political.  Our side never had a chance to accept or reject the council at the time, because our Pope had already been anathmatised for a crime he didn't commit in a political move.  I didn't say anything about the cannons of the council being political or not.  Fortunatus knows a lot more about that stuff, and I'll happily leave it to him.
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« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2003, 04:47:57 PM »

Christi is Risen!  Truly he is Risen!

Thank you, Fortunatus, for articulating the position of our Church so thoroughly, thoughtfully, and accurately.  I could not add anything to what you have written concerning the political, doctrinal, and historical factors surrounding Chalcedon.  My own studies of this synod yielded much the same information, and led me to question its validity.  The apparent and covert machinations of Marcian and Pulcheria also played a role in the separation in my opinion.  For anyone interested, I would suggest reading anything by Fr. V.C. Samuel or Fr. Tadros Malaty on the subject, as well as secular historians like Peter Brown, Steven Runciman, Aziz Atiya, and Edward Gibbon.

With regards to the post-Chalcedonian councils accepted by the Eastern Orthodox, it has already been articulated in this forum that we Oriental Orthodox have no problem with the content of these Councils, although they addressed crises which we never faced.  I believe that I am correct in stating that we do not view them as ecumenical simply because to our mind the whole Church did not participate in them.  We have no problem with their content.  To us, they were local councils of the Byzantine Church in which our Churches did not take part.  The only iconolclasts we had to worry about were the Muslims!  Wink  I realize that folks on the other side would object to this understanding.  No problem.  I am not trying to be belligerent, I just want to articulate our view.  

I would also like to put forward a question: Does anyone else think it is possible that the separation between our Churches was only apparent?  By this I mean, since we were both believeing in the same Orthodox Christian Faith, is it possible that in the eyes of God, His Orthodox Church was never split in twain, and that in reality, when we celebrated our Liturgy together with the angels, in the eyes of God we were also celebrating with eachother?  If what the theologians on both sides now say is true and not mere nicities and "political correctness", then maybe the separation was never an ontological reality, but merely a political one.  Just a thought I had.  I'll be presenting a paper on this topic in the near future.

I know that there will always be naysayers on both sides: Men of the type that excommunicate the EP if he says hello to an Anglican at the airport  Cheesy, but we have never needed their "stamp of approval" on our Orthodoxy.  God's will will be done in His own time, and the leaders of the Church seem to be in agreement that we have always professed the same Faith.  Neither side has to modify anything in order for us to come together.  Neither side is "outside the Church" waiting to be let back in.  It seems to be popular to describe these dialogues as meetings between the "Orthodox Church" and the "Orientals", but they could just as easily be described as meetings between the "Orthodox Church" and the "Byzantines", the point being that both sides constitute the divided whole of the Orthodox Church.  The fathers on both sides already know what's up.  True unity will be organic and come from the ground up once the laity are made familiar with the issues at hand, as the clergy already are.

Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory Forever!

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« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2003, 05:47:11 PM »


Can a distinction be made between an actual Ecumenical Synod and a local synod that is ecumenically binding?

How would others react if a heresy sprang up only within the Coptic church (or Serbian church for that matter), and was dealt with by the local synod?  Would the Copts say to the Syrians, you must acknowledge the synod of Luxor or would the Serbs say to the Russians, you must acknowledge the synod of Belgrade?  

I'm just thinking outloud...
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« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2003, 05:57:41 PM »

Hmmmm.....Good point.  I don't think it would be necessary for everyone to have to acknowledge such a synod as ecumenical.  It would be a case of a local problem being taken care of in a local council.  It has happened several times throughout history, like the synod of Whitby in the West (Britain) dealing exclusively with the peculiarities of the Celtic Church.  I think everyone would recognize the council as binding, but not necessarily as "ecumenical" in the sense that not everyone was represented.  So in answer to your question yes, in my humble opinion, such a distinction as you suggest can be made.  This to me is the case with the Byzantine councils after Chalcedon.
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« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2003, 06:09:09 PM »

Ecumenical doesn't have to mean that everyone was there, though-- only 180 something fathers were at Constantinople in 381, yet it is considered as ecumenical now.

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« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2003, 06:56:39 PM »

Pope Shenouda III said during a meeting of Orthodox and Non-Chalcedonian theologians in Chambessy in February 1994: "As regards the Ecumenical Synods, we accept the first three ... we deny the Synod of Chalcedon ... I can say completely openly that all the Oriental Churches cannot accept the Synod of Chalcedon ... You have Seven Ecumenical Synods; if you lose one you are not losing a lot" (Cited in "Suggestions of a Committee From the Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain Athos Concerning the Dialogue of the Orthodox With the Non-Chalcedonians," Section Cool
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« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2003, 07:21:42 PM »

Pope Shenouda III said during a meeting of Orthodox and Non-Chalcedonian theologians in Chambessy in February 1994: "As regards the Ecumenical Synods, we accept the first three ... we deny the Synod of Chalcedon ... I can say completely openly that all the Oriental Churches cannot accept the Synod of Chalcedon ... You have Seven Ecumenical Synods; if you lose one you are not losing a lot" (Cited in "Suggestions of a Committee From the Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain Athos Concerning the Dialogue of the Orthodox With the Non-Chalcedonians," Section Cool

Now that sounds like a genuine stumbling block to me, as much as I would like to see a reunion.

How can we share the same faith concerning the two natures of Christ if the Oriental Orthodox reject the conciliar statement of it?

I will admit, I have not read the primary text of the Council of Chalcedon. What is it that is objectionable about it?

If we truly share the same Orthodox faith, there must be a way around or over or through this difficulty. May God show us what that way is.
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« Reply #28 on: May 09, 2003, 08:23:13 PM »

Not only were there only a few at the 2nd Ecumenical Council, but Rome refused to accept it for centuries. They didn't accept one of the canons for something like 700 years.
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« Reply #29 on: May 09, 2003, 09:16:26 PM »

Anastasios - Your point about the nature of an ecumenical council is well taken, however, what if the shoe was on the other foot?  What if during the course of the separation the Oriental Orthodox convened a council which confirmed some element of the Orthodox Faith which was not in dispute in the Byzantine Church, and we considered this synod ecumenical?  Would you be willing to bump the enumeration of your Councils up to eight to accomodate us?  This is not an entirely academic question.  Although we don't call it ecumenical, we see the Second Council of Ephesus (449) as legitimate and not a "latriconium", as it was convened by an Orthodox Emperor and chaired by an Orthodox bishop (St. Dioscoros).

Not saying that you feel this way, but some in the EO Church seem to think that we in the OO Churches are somehow lacking in the fullness of the Faith because we reject these councils.  This is not the case.  We do not seek reunification with the Byzantine Church because we want to be "readmitted to the Orthodox Communion".  We are already in the Orthodox Communion.  We just want to see a painful schism in the Orthodox Church healed.  Both sides are equals in Orthodoxy, neither will rehabilitate the other.  Unfortunately, some in the EO Church seem to not be able to see this.  They think that we are lost sheep, but in reality, we can't "want in" to a fold we never left.

Nicholas - I agree with the statement of His Holiness Pope Shenouda which you cited, and I stand with Fortunatus concerning Chalcedon.  Knowing what I know about the history and politics surrounding this council I could never accept it.  One of the main reasons I became a communicant of the Coptic Orthodox Church is because I believe its stance on the Chalcedonian issue to be the Orthodox one.

Linus - Let me say that I applaud the spirit in which you started this thread, one of true Christian love, humility, and a desire for understanding.  You ask: "How can we share the same faith concerning the two natures of Christ if the Oriental Orthodox reject the conciliar stement of it?".  Good question!  The answer is, we don't reject the conciliar statement of the Faith.  I will try to give it to you in a nutshell.  This was the topic of my Master's thesis, and frankly I'm tired of repeating it, so I'll try to be brief.  Wink

Eutyches was a pious but unlearned monk, the abbot of an important monastery in Constantinople.  He was so vehemently opposed to the Nestorian heresy that he went too far in the other direction, espousing monophysitism, for which he was excommunicated.  He complained to the Orthodox Emperor and demanded the opportunity to defend himself.  The Emperor ordered that a synod be convened in Ephesus in 449 chaired by St. Dioscoros, the Pope of Alexandria.  At this council, St. Dioscoros showed Eutyches the error of his ways.  The old monk recanted his heresy and was rehabilitated to the Orthodox Church.

The Orthodox teaching of St. Cyril (from which St. Dioscoros, St. Cyril's former deacon never deviated) was confirmed in a conciliar setting.  St. Dioscoros declined to read a letter from Leo of Rome at this council because of its questionable christology (see Fortunatus' earlier post) offending the bishop of Rome.  Political opponents of the Alexandrian Church, desirous of seeing Alexandria diminish in status so that Constantinople could increase, took this opportunity to falsely accuse St. Dioscoros of engaging in violence at Ephesus.  This didn't work, so they accused him of colluding with Eutyches in the monk's former heresy.  In fact, St. Dioscoros himself suffered violence at the hands of Pulcheria (she slapped him) and her soldiers when he was placed under house arrest.  (Pulcheria also had a pro-Alexandrian court eunuch named Chrysaphius burned alive).  

As you said, this is a genuine stumbling block.  If acceptance of Chalcedon remains a prerequisite for reunification, I fear it will never come.  We would no more accept this synod than you would reject it.  I doubt that the Byzantine and Western Churches would accept the council of 449 as a legitimate council, although we would never ask this of them.  We can't pretend to accept Leo and Chalcedon for the sake of unity any more that you (plural, not you specifically) can pretend that we are not fully Orthodox.  I join you in praying that God show us all the way to an honest unity.  

In Christ,

Nick
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« Reply #30 on: May 09, 2003, 09:45:47 PM »

Nick -

Thanks for your response.

I begin to despair of a reunion anytime soon; it seems we have some apparently insurmountable differences.

But who knows what the Lord will do in response to earnest prayer?

Just the same, the OO perspective on the council held in Ephesus in 449 is diametrically opposed to our (the EO) understanding of it. Dioscorus is seen as a monophysite to whom Eutyches appealed because he believed he would find support from him (and, of course, he was right).

The letter of St. Leo, the Orthodox Bishop of Rome (and thus first in honor among bishops), was ignored, and his legates insulted. St. Flavian, Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, was deposed and maltreated. He died a few days later.

I do not think it is possible for an Orthodox Christian to regard such a council as anything but wrong.

I am not trying to foment argument here, but it seems to me that as long as the OO reject the Council of Chalcedon and see Ephesus 449 as a legitimate council, there will never be a reunion - not one true Orthodox can accept, anyway.

Sorry.
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« Reply #31 on: May 09, 2003, 09:55:07 PM »

I really don't get it.  We both have the faith of the  Apostles.  We agree that we have the same faith right now.  But because we don't want to accept wording used 1500 years ago, we can't have union now even though we have a commong Christological formula acceptable to both of us?  Why?  We have the same faith, the same Sacraments, why can't we share Communion?  (over this issue anyways, I realize there'd be other issues to be dealt with first, especially regarding marriage)

And who are these monophisites everyone keeps talking about having union with, I can't think of any group that holds the monophisite heresy?
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« Reply #32 on: May 09, 2003, 10:02:51 PM »

Dear Linus,

It can be easy to despair of reunification hanging out on these message borads, but thanks be to God, the matter will not be decided here, but by our learned and God-fearing bishops on both sides, in whom I place my trust.  I have heard the Roman/Byzantine version of what transpired at Ephesus and Chalcedon before, and yes the versions are diametrically opposed.  

You have said regarding Second Ephesus: "I do not think it possible for an Orthodox Christian to regard such a council as anything but wrong".  This is precisely how I feel about Chalcedon.  

I will never regard Leo as a saint or regard his theological statement as Orthodox.  I know you feel the same about St. Dioscoros.  Although many call St. Dioscoros a monophysite, no one can produce a writing in which he champions this heresy or deviates from the teaching of his personal mentor St. Cyril.  All of his writings are purely Cyrillian, and it was he who induced Eutyches to repent.  I personally am grateful to God that this heretical monk was rehabiltated through His grace and His servant.

Although I'm sure we could type horror stories to eachother all night about who supposedly physically abused who or burned who alive, I don't want this to degenerate into that kind of discussion.  I agree with you - under the present circumstances there could never be a reunion that a true Orthodox Christian would accept, although I'm sure we are saying this for different reasons.  Thankfully, the matter is not in our hands, but in the hands of God and his children the bishops.

Peace
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« Reply #33 on: May 09, 2003, 10:19:24 PM »

Nick -

Well, if Jonathan is right, and we all hold the same faith, and you all are not really monophysites, then there is hope.

I am troubled about your saying that you cannot regard St. Leo as a saint. Is that a common feeling among Oriental Orthodox?

That seems rather extreme to me.

I can see that this controversy is something about which I need to do more reading.

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« Reply #34 on: May 09, 2003, 10:34:40 PM »


I am troubled about your saying that you cannot regard St. Leo as a saint. Is that a common feeling among Oriental Orthodox?

That seems rather extreme to me.



Yes, it is pretty universal.  The same applies to Justinian I.  There's no way we consider him a saint.  But we have to keep in mind, that the idea of universal saints, is not very common--at least among the Oriental Orthodox.  The Byzantine Church is more homogenous as it has, for the most part, remained one rite for centuries.  I could understand how the universality of saints may mean more to those in the Byzantine Church than to those in the Syrian Church.  If you personally, or the Byzantine Church wants to venerate someone like Leo or Justinian I, that's your perogative.  However if the Byzantines were to demand that we not venerate St. Dioscoros, St. Severus, St. Theodora, St. Jacob Baradeus, etc., then this would be problematic.  

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« Reply #35 on: May 09, 2003, 10:41:37 PM »

My Brother Linus,

Please check out www.orthodoxunity.org for a collection of documents from both sides on the dialogue.  That's a good crash course.  Also, I would recommend the historians cited in my earlier post, Church affiliated and secular.  In answer to your question, yes, there are many in my Communion who do not hold Leo in high regard, just as most Chalcedonians have no love for St. Dioscoros.  Of course individual opinions vary.  A Chalcedonian priest (OCA) recently told me: "Its a shame what they did to Dioscoros.  Who can blame him for not answering the summons after what they did to him?", but he is probably the exception, not the rule.  Although Leo will never be a saint to me, I'm not saying definitively whether he is a saint or not in the eyes of God.  Who can say for certain who is not a saint?  Neither of us are in Communion with Rome, but I would venture a guess that Mother Theresa is a saint, although she said the filioque, etc.

May God be merciful to us all,

Nick
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« Reply #36 on: May 09, 2003, 11:12:42 PM »

St. Justinian was obviously a political saint.  I doubt the Romans venerated him even as they maintained communion with Eastern Orthodoxy until 1054.  I personally like him but you all are entitled to your own opinions as far as I am concerned as long as you acknowledge him as our saint.  Like one of you said, Local saints exist and are common, and I think we can leave it at that.

I could accept that you venerate St. Severus and even St. Dioscorus given his ill treatment at Chalcedon (even though he was horrible at the Robber Synod) but in return don't expect us to put him on our calendar.

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« Reply #37 on: May 09, 2003, 11:14:40 PM »

I would be happy to add on more councils. The more the merrier! If we cut a deal, say "you'll accept Chalcedon as long as we accept the Council of 1965" then that's fine.

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« Reply #38 on: May 09, 2003, 11:19:35 PM »

Well here's another point:

Councils express the faith of the Church, they don't CREATE it.

If we can agree on the same points of faith now, such as that we understand and accept each other's christology, then why should we let a council that happened 1500 years ago get in the way?

I personally would be fine with a signed agreement of points of faith (not mumbo jumbo like the Lutheran-Catholic "Agreement" on Justification) but a real, to-the-point, not vague expression of the faith, and a statement that "we Oriental Orthodox affirm that the intentions of Chalcedon were Orthodox and that this council was a true Church Synod. We disagree with the political background of the Council, and we acknowledge that heresy was not taught at that Council.  We honor the Byzantine Churches' acceptance of this council, and we accept its faith."  Leave it at that--no forced "signing" of councils 4-7.

I also like the proposal to reopen the councils and have the Oriental Orthodox sign on with modifications like "we abhor the political sins committed on both sides, and we respect each other's christological terminology."

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« Reply #39 on: May 10, 2003, 12:17:54 AM »


That sounds reasonable.

The Byzantines would never be forced to honor our local saints.  In fact, we all have different calendars, and a universal calendar in the Syriac church is only a recent phenominon.  I have personal veneration of people like St. Macarius the Great, St. Vartan, and others, though they are not part of the Syriac calendar.
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« Reply #40 on: May 10, 2003, 08:44:11 AM »

Anastasios,

Your proposal would be tough for the hardliners on both sides to accept, but I applaud your willingness to reason with love and see this schism ended.  If I may borrow from the phrasing of your proposal, would you also be willing sign off on a similar document concerning Second Ephesus: "We Eastern Orthodox affirm that the intentions of Second Ephesus were Orthodox and that this council was a true Church Synod, being convened by an Orthodox Emperor and chaired by an Orthodox primate. We disagree with the political background of the Council, and we acknowledge that heresy was not taught at that Council.  We honor the Oriental Orthodox Churches' acceptance of this council, and we accept its faith.  Simultaneously, we abhor the political sins committed on both sides, and we respect each other's christological terminology."

Of course we don't expect you to put St. Dioscoros or St. Jacob Baradaeus on your calendar.  Like Mike said, each of our Churches already have a number of local saints, so we would be fine with that.  So long as you are willing to acknowledge that these men and others are our saints we would be willing to do the same for Leo, Justinian, and other saints of your tradition.

I have read that many prominent Eastern Orthodox theologians were signatories at the official and unofficial consultations between our Churches (i.e. Schmemenn, Meyendorff, Erickson, Pulcini, etc.) and also that the annual conferences at St. Vlad's have always been productive.  Coupled with what we know about the agreements between the Churches of Antioch, this leads me to believe that we are heading rapidly towards reunification.   In your assessment, do you think that more Eastern Orthodox are in favor of this reunification or against it?

In XC,

Nick
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« Reply #41 on: May 10, 2003, 12:41:03 PM »

Hmmmm interesting questions.  About Second Ephesus I would have to contemplate.  I have not read much about it, except by Meyendorff who of course is completely against it.

Why would you want us to accept it, though, when it is not an Ecumenical Council on even your side?

I need to do more research on this whole topic.  I couldn't take the "Christology in Dialogue" class we have at St. Vlad's because of time constraints this semester; I hope we will have it next year.

As for the dialogue, I believe it is very productive. But there are hardliners as you say on both sides. Even folks at St. Vladimir's are hardliners in some cases.  Our friend Justin (Paradosis) actually would feel comfortable at St. Vladimir's because there are several students like him (I'm not trying to patronize him, I am serious).

However, at the grassroots level the Armenians and Syriacs (both Syriacs proper and Malankara Indians) are well treated and accepted here, as is the Ethiopian Orthodox priest who paints at St. Vlad's (apparently his parish cannot support him full time).  Finally, my Coptic friend is coming to study at St. Vlad's next year. So on the grassroots level things are good...maybe in 20 years that will mean dialogue will have improved more.

Praying for unity,

anastasios
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« Reply #42 on: May 10, 2003, 02:54:34 PM »

It would be important, at least to me, that it be accepted as a legitimate Orthodox synod (although not an ecumenical one) in order to affirm that St. Dioscoros at no time preached or accepted monophysitism.  This is very important to us in the same way that I assume it would be important to your side that we do not label Pope Leo as a Nestorian because of his Tome, which Nestorious felt validated his position.  Also, you suggested accepting Addis Ababa 1965, which is also not considered by us an Ecumenical Council, although the entirety of our Communion was represented and it was convened by an Orthodox Emperor (Haile Selassie I).  There are allegations of wrong doing at Ephesus which you have every right to investigate and be concerned about, but please understand that we feel precisely the same way about Chalcedon.  I don't think it would be equitable for us to accept a council which we feel abused our leaders while the other side remained unwilling to do the same.  I'm not sure how Communion would work if St. Dioscoros' council was still reviled as a "Robber's Synod".  Are we to accept the labeling of our beloved pope as a "robber" while we are compelled to refrain from such language in our descriptions of Justinian or Leo?

Also, if our side is the one which has to accept all the councils of the other side while the same is not true in reverse, this will imply that we are somehow lacking a fullness of the Faith, which we are not.

I join you in praying for unity.  I am happy to hear that there are many positive people at St. Vlad's.  

In XC,

Nick
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« Reply #43 on: May 14, 2003, 05:20:30 PM »

A couple of thoughts:

1) I don't believe that in order for re-establishment of communion there needs to be any kind of concession that one side was heretical.  For years preceeding the Council of Chalcedon, it was obvious that there were two different "schools" of thought regarding Christological expressions on the Person of Christ.  The Alexandiran School was highly suspicious of any hint of Nestorianism.  As such, the Alexandrian/Cyrillian language (one should read 'On the Unity of Christ' - one of St. Cyrils last writings published by SVS Press) was viewed as the only way to protect the Church from Nestorianism. Likewise the Antiochian School was highly suspicious of the Alexnadrian language which they believed could be in fact Eutychianism in disguise.  

At the time, both sides (we can only verify this in hindsight after hundreds of years have passed) were genuinely (with some politics thrown in for spice) attempting to protect the faith.  Those Fathers dod not have the benefit of hindsight that we have now to look back and say that for the last 1500 years the Chalcedonians did not incline towards Nestorianism (although within the modern RC Church, I believe there is a great tendency towards it today), nor did the Non-Chalcedonians incline towards Eutychianism.

The problem was one of exclusivity. Chalcedon insisted on its formula as the ONLY expression of the faith (possibly with good intentions) which is why the Alexandrians could not accept it (Constantinople II tried to rectify this problem). Likewise (also with good intentions), the Alexandrians could not accept any Christology that was not strictly Cyrillian - St. Severus was a staunch proponent of such a position (i.e. Cyril = Orthodoxy).

Therefore, is it possible for both sides to maintain the Orthodoxy of their Fathers based on the benefit of 1500 years of testimony through each's respective writings, prayers, etc... over the years. I think YES.  

2) No council after Ephesus added anything to the Creed. Therefore, the faith itself was defended and formulated primarily through these three councils. Chalcedon did not provide for any additional confession needed in our "confession of faith" which is the Creed.

As such, is it possible to suggest that the later councils are "interpretive" in nature? That they attmpted to further interpret the first three councils? If so, would that imply that they were not definitive to the same degree as the first three?  I think such a classification of the 7 Councils might be acceptable to the Non-Chalcedonians. We would also include some of our councils after Chalcedon as being interpretive.  It seems like the Henticon can be useful since at the time of its writing (after Chalcedon) it was addressed to all the bishops of the ONE Church and a declaration that both sides essentially agreed.

Peter Farringtons article "After Chalcedon - Orthodoxy in the 5th/6th Centuries" is very nice:

http://www.orthodoxunity.org/article01.html

3) After 1500 years of separation, the similarities in Orthodox Ethos and Praxis is amazing. Go to the monasteries of Egypt and you will find incorrupt relics, wonder-working icons, weeping icons, modern saints (its amazing the similarities between St. Pope Kyrillos VI and St. John Maximovitch), etc... The gifts of the Spirit to the saintly are almost identical - wonder-workers, clairvoyant, driving out unclean spirits, etc...

I personally have a great love for the Russian Church - she played a big role in my repentance and return to the Church when I was in college. I used to visit the relics of St. John in SF (I actually was blessed to attend part of his Glorification). Many of my books in my library are from the Russian and Greek Churches.   I find the same spirit regardless of the sepration of 1500 years. It is truly amazing and one must experience it not write about it.

May God heal our divisions.

In Christ,
Raouf
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Flog your enemies with the Name of Jesus and let the remembrance of Jesus be present with each breath. - St. John Climacus
Raouf
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« Reply #44 on: May 19, 2003, 02:06:35 PM »

Friends,

I wanted to add an additional comment my previous post.  Many, it seems, attempt to simplify the issue of Christological language based on our modern English usage "Nature" and "Person".  Thus, some claim that to cofess two natures (humanity and divinity) in the Person of Christ is essentially agreement with Chalcedon and thus the Oriental Orthodox position is untenable (use of the phrase "one nature").

However, these two words to some extent are actually irrelevant to a true understanding of Chalcedon. They are very relevant, however, in our approach towards seeking reconciliation. In other words, it's completely innapropriate to judge the controversy of Chalcedon by superimposing our modern language on the Fathers and Bishops of that time.  But at the same time, it is appropriate to seek understanding how Eastern & Oriental Orthodox alike translate those words today in a new language.

We speak today of Nature and Person, but at the time of Chelcedon there were four terms used in all the discussions: Ousia, Physis, Hypostasis, and Prosopon.

How many Ousias did Christ have? Phsyis? Hypostasis? Prosopon?

What exactly is the difference between Physis and Hypostasis? Did the meaining Physis sometimes tend more towards Ousia and sometimes towards Hypostasis?

If Non-Chalcedonians for example, understood that every Physis was hypostatic, then is it possible to confess Christ as being IN two Physis? No.

If Chalcedonians mean by the term physis, ousia, then is it possible for them to accept "one physis"? No.

Do Non-Chalcedonians have a right to say in ENGLISH (through two words) what they meant 1500 years ago (through the use of four words)? And likewsie Chalcedonians? And what if they agree? IS that revisionist history?

I realize that I have asked many questions which I have not attempted (intentionally) to answer.  I hope, howeve, that my point has come accross.

Pray for this wretch.

In Christ,
Raouf
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Flog your enemies with the Name of Jesus and let the remembrance of Jesus be present with each breath. - St. John Climacus
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