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Capitula by capitula look at Constantinople 553


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#1 Peter Farrington

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 06:24 PM

Hi all

I'd like to work through the Capitula of Constantinople to see how far we can come to a common understanding of it, and what explanations may be required to clarify it for a non-Chalcedonian audience.

I am assuming that most EO here are willing to clarify what they believe? Although I have met EO convert types who insist that the latter councils must be accepted without any discussion or explanation. That always seems rather cult like for me.

Anyhow, I hope we can work through this council passage by passage and see how far it is mutually comprehensible and acceptable.

Peter Farrington

#2 Peter Farrington

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Posted 19 September 2006 - 07:32 PM

Here is the first Capitula. Taken from the CCEL version so I can't vouch for its accuracy. But it's a start. I will try not to race ahead and wait for comments. I hope some EO will join in.

Capitula 1

If anyone shall not confess that the nature or essence of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, as also the force and the power; [if anyone does not confess] a consubstantial Trinity, one Godhead to be worshipped in three subsistences or Persons: let him be anathema. For there is but one God even the Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit in whom are all things.

This does not seem problematic to me from an OO point of view. There is one essence or ousia of the Trinity. The Trinity is a consubstantiality of three persons or hypostases. The persons are Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I do hope to research passages from our universal Fathers, especially the Cappadocians, St Athanasius and St Cyril for each passage so I will probably go away and read some Trinitarian patristics, but if someone has passages in mind and to hand it would be great to have them referenced here.

I believe this Capitula could be accepted as Orthodox by the OO. It seems rooted in the creed to a great extent.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth is reproduced in the phrase there is but one God even the Father of whom are all things.

And in One Lord Jesus Christ...through whom all things were made is echoed in the phrase and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things.

I wonder if the phrase and one Holy Spirit in whom are all things comes from the ancient universal prayer tradition which includes prayers like:

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who is present in all places and fills all, the treasury of good things and the Life‑Giver, graciously come, and dwell in us and purify us from all defilement, O Good One, and save our souls.

Can anyone point me to a more direct reference?

With regard to the passage the nature or essence of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, as also the force and the power I see that St Gregory Thaumaturgus says in one homily (though I am sure it is present in many places in the Fathers):

When I baptize others, I baptize into Thy name, in order that they may believe on Thee, who comest with glory; but when I baptize Thee, of whom shall I make mention? and into whose name shall I baptize Thee? Into that of the Father? But Thou hast the Father altogether in Thyself, and Thou art altogether in the Father. Or into that of the Son? But beside Thee there is no other Son of God by nature. Or into that of the Holy Spirit? But He is ever together with Thee, as being of one substance, and of one will, and of one judgment, and of one power, and of one honour with Thee; and He receives, l along with Thee, the same adoration from all.

So as far as I can see this first Capitula is entirely rooted in our common tradition and can be affirmed as Orthodox without controversy. The Nicene Creed, St Gregory Thaumaturgus, the ancient prayer tradition, are all part of the OO Tradition. Therefore the theology of this Capitula is within the OO Tradition.

Any other helpful comments anyone? I don't want to have a Dialogue with myself.

Peter Farrington

#3 Peter Farrington

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 07:59 AM

Well it is naturally rather disappointing that no EO wants to discuss one of their own councils and see how far the OO accept its contents.

I can't help feeling confirmed in my experience that many EO are more interested in insisting that a particular number of councils be given a particular description than in their substance.

Never mind, I will continue by having a dialogue with myself.

Capitula 2

If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her: let him be anathema.

This seems a straightforward representation of the universally Orthodox position. It is important because against Nestorianism, which is the error in view here and which therefore must still have been an issue, it is made explicit that it is the Word of God Himself who has two nativities. The Word is the one subject of both the humanity and the Divinity.

It is well known that the Theodorean position was that it was not possible to say that 'God was born'. But this Capitula picks up the Cyrilline teaching that both the birth of the humanity and begotten-ness of the Divinity are predicated and belong to the Word of God.

And of course above all others the Alexandrians already supported the phrase Theotokos and have been unwavering in their devotion to the Mother of God, whom they have always taught is Ever-Virgin.

We can use a passage from the letters of St Cyril, quoted with approval by Severus of Antioch and therefore representing his opinion also:

Our Lord Jesus Christ is, to be sure, the only begotten Son of God, his Word made man and made flesh, not to be divided into two sons, but that he was ineffably begotten from God before all time and in recent periods of time he was born according to the flesh from a woman, so that his person is one also. In this way we know that the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God, because he is God and man at the same time, that he who without change and without confusion is the only begotten, is incarnate and made man, and moreover that he was able to suffer according to the nature of his humanity.

and here is a passage from Dioscorus of Alexandria which teaches the same position:

I know full well, having been brought up in the faith, that he has been begotten of the Father as God, and that the Same has been begotten of Mary as man. See Him walking on the sea as man, and Creator of the heavenly hosts as God; see him sleeping in the boat as man, and walking on the seas as God; see Him hungry as man, and bestowing nourishment as God; see him thirsty as man, and giving drink as God; see him stoned by the Jews as man, and worshipped by angels as God; see him tempted as man, and driving away the demons as God; and similarly of many instances.

Since we are dealing narrowly with the teaching about the two nativities and the Theotokos I will not drift off into a wider discussion here.

But a few passages from Severus of Antioch will demonstrate the age-long view of the non-Chalcedonians respecting the Theotokos.

Even though the Word of God is infinite, the whole of him was united to the flesh that was received from the holy Virgin, the God-bearer and ever-virgin Mary, even the very person of the Word and not a partial operation as in the prophets.

and

he was ineffably born without rending her from Mary the God-bearer

and

..confess that the true flesh of God and the Word which is from the holy God-bearer and ever-virgin Mary and from the Holy Spirit, which was hypostatically united to him, so that from the fact that he came to be with us as God who became man he was named Emmanuel, and that he was made like unto us in all things except sin, suffers like us and is susceptible of innocent passions.

This is probably enough material to support my considering this Capitula to be Orthodox and to be acceptable to the Oriental Orthodox.

Am I 'accepting' these Capitula? Well as far as I can see I am. I cannot see what more is required of any man than to agree that something which is Orthodox is Orthodox.

Peter

#4 Antonios

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 04:42 PM

Well it is naturally rather disappointing that no EO wants to discuss one of their own councils and see how far the OO accept its contents.

I can't help feeling confirmed in my experience that many EO are more interested in insisting that a particular number of councils be given a particular description than in their substance.


Dear Peter,

I guess many of us are just waiting to see which capitula you will eventually find to be problematic.

As you correctly stated, "I cannot see what more is required of any man than to agree that something which is Orthodox is Orthodox." So, up to this point in this thread we agree. Maybe you could just skip ahead and describe where you think there may be a misunderstanding.

Antonios

#5 Peter Farrington

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 06:25 PM

Hi

Well I guess I could do that. But I think I would have liked some/one EO even to say, 'on this point we are in agreement on the Orthodox Faith and this Capitula can be considered as having been "accepted" by Peter Theodore Farrington'.

Peter

#6 Peter Farrington

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 06:53 PM

I also think it is necessary that we plod through all the stuff that the OO have no problem with, which is 95% of the text.

This sets the context in which to discuss those things which require clarification. If we merely go over the few phrases and sentences which will come up then we have not discovered how much of the text is 'accepted'.

Does the fact that I 'accept' a Capitula as Orthodox mean that I have 'accepted' it, or is there some other use of the term 'accept' which I need to take account of?

Peter

#7 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 07:23 PM

Dear Mr Farrington and others,

I think there is indeed interest in looking at some of the issues this council raises; but perhaps the most effective way of striking up conversation on the topic would be to identify some key issues in the document which, from your point of view, have bearing on an EO/OO conversation, to which others can respond. I have found in the past that, in this electronic medium, promptings to read texts and formulate commentary is hard to ask of readers -- many of whom are pressed for time, and are more accustomed to responding to comments made, rather than initiating whole conversations.

Perhaps you could provide us with a listing of issues, with textual references, that you think are pertinent in the acts of this council, and why you think they're relevant / interesting issues. I have no doubt you'll find people drawn into the conversation that way!

INXC, Matthew

#8 Peter Farrington

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 09:13 PM

Dear M.C. Steenberg

Thank you for your post, but I have been assuming that it is necessary for me to 'accept the seven councils' and that is why I am looking at this one council in detail to see if my acceptance of it counts as 'acceptance' by the EO, and if not then what is actually meant by 'acceptance' beyond considering it Orthodox.

I am not sure what else you are suggesting.

When I have tried to raise issues such as 'which heresy I am guilty of', I am generally referred to the necessity to 'accept the seven councils' which comes back to what I am doing.

My concern, as I indicated, is that the EO correspondents I have come across over the last 12 years tend to want to deal only with potential issues of controversy and then tend to insist that these issues show how far apart we are.

I am more concerned to see how far my willingness to accept the capitula of this council, as a start, is responded to.

Since you have responded let me ask you directly. When I 'accept' a capitula as Orthodox do you consider my acceptance of it satisfactory or do you have some other definition of 'accept' in mind other than 'consider as Orthodox'.

It would seem to me that though there is much good will here, which is greatly appreciated, nevertheless there is an underlying sense that I am in some manner a 'monophysite heretic', therefore it is necessary to plod through these Capitula.

I do find it telling and rather disheartening that it doesn't seem to interest many, going by the number of page views. Perhaps it is easier to just consider me a monophysite heretic. :-)

It would be encouraging for me to have some EO say whether my acceptance of these Capitula have any value or whether even if I accept all of them I will still be considered as rejecting them.

These posts aren't very long, much shorter than posts on other topics on these forum which are less important to the salvation of my soul if I really am a monophysite heretic.

I am only posting about one Capitula every two days so I would not have thought that too onerous to comment on. Just this evening in the bath I have read two serious papers on Maximus the Confessor which filled about 30 pages of A4.

Peter

#9 Antonios

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 06:13 AM

Dear Peter,

Though your last post was directed towards Dr. Steenberg, I would like, if I may, address some of the statements.

Thank you for your post, but I have been assuming that it is necessary for me to 'accept the seven councils' and that is why I am looking at this one council in detail to see if my acceptance of it counts as 'acceptance' by the EO, and if not then what is actually meant by 'acceptance' beyond considering it Orthodox.


I think acceptance in this case means to agree with. There is no secret 'acceptance'. You either agree or dont agree.


My concern, as I indicated, is that the EO correspondents I have come across over the last 12 years tend to want to deal only with potential issues of controversy and then tend to insist that these issues show how far apart we are.


The fact is, unfortunately, that there are issues of controversy and these controversies are what keep us disunited. These may be perceived by many to be purely historical differences (which I, myself, am beginning to give serious creedance to), yet to others there are issues of the sanctity of synods and Councils and authority which still cause great strain.

I am more concerned to see how far my willingness to accept the capitula of this council, as a start, is responded to.


Well, I think the response you will probably get would be 'great, we are in agreement.'

Since you have responded let me ask you directly. When I 'accept' a capitula as Orthodox do you consider my acceptance of it satisfactory or do you have some other definition of 'accept' in mind other than 'consider as Orthodox'.


I honestly don't understand the question you are posing. Are there other definitions for 'accept'?

It would seem to me that though there is much good will here, which is greatly appreciated, nevertheless there is an underlying sense that I am in some manner a 'monophysite heretic', therefore it is necessary to plod through these Capitula.


I don't recall anyone in this forum calling you a 'monophysite heretic'. I apologize if I or anyone else has made you feel this way, but I think the discussions so far have been honest and respectful.

I do find it telling and rather disheartening that it doesn't seem to interest many, going by the number of page views. Perhaps it is easier to just consider me a monophysite heretic. :-)


I wouldn't take this personal. While it may true that some people may not have much interest in undergoing such a discussion about the Capitula, many people are too busy to go step by step through a Capitula which they already consider orthodox. This is not a 'cult-like' behaviour as you mentioned in the start of this thread, but rather obedience and humility towards the divine fathers of the Church and their understand and teachings. I, personally, try not to be so presumptious to consider my own sinful thoughts and disposition above such holy men. If this sounds 'cult-like' to you, than perhaps we are both in such a cult.

It would be encouraging for me to have some EO say whether my acceptance of these Capitula have any value or whether even if I accept all of them I will still be considered as rejecting them.


Again, I dont understand where you are going with this. If you accept them, then that is great to hear and of course has value. I don't see how accepting them you are considered rejecting them.

If you accept the entire Capitula, than I am happy to hear we are in agreement. In which case, say so, and let us venture into other areas which may lead to fruitful discussions about our respective Churches. If, however, there does exist parts of the Capitula that you don't accept, then by all means, please post them so that we may also have fruitful discussion. As of right now, however, you going step by step of the Capitula and then simply stating that you agree with it does not appear to be a very fertile ground for dialogue.

Antonios

#10 Tim Grass

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 07:06 AM

PATIENCE! Conversations online take time.... people reply when they have time.... when they're ready. You can't force interest. Be patient.... things do move along.

And noone's called anyone a monophysite anything. You can't start a new thread and then claim people are being prejudiced against you just because they don't join in!

--tim

#11 Peter Farrington

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 09:05 AM

No...but unfortunately I have 12 years experience of prejudice.

Just at the moment I am in a conversation with a Greek priest who has written the most offense paper possible, and who has done no research at all into what any OO believe, but he genuinely thinks he is speaking the truth. Thank God that at least he had the grace to send us his paper first, although I think he hopes to convert us. This happens ALL the time. There is even such a post here today. So I do have a living experience that certainly no EO here have.

I am sorry that my mention of the term 'accept' appears rather incomprehensible, it wasn't meant to be, but I have also had conversations many times with Eastern Orthodox who have said to me that even if I state that all the documents of, say this 5th council, are Orthodox and I am in agreement with them, it is not the same as 'accepting the Seven councils'. This would require some exercise in humiliation, rather than a celebration of a common faith. To many EO 'accepting the councils' does not mean finding a way to authentically integrate the councils into the OO Tradition, it means 'making the OO admit they were wrong all along'.

I was trying to determine whether this was the view here.

What I will do is point out where I think there are issues with these Capitula. If this is the way to draw interest then I will adopt it.

Peter

#12 Peter Farrington

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 09:42 AM

Ok. So there are 14 Capitula.

I. OK

II. OK

III. OK

IV. OK

V. This is fine except for the reference to Chalcedon.

VI. OK. Except possibly for the reference to Chalcedon.

VII. OK

VIII. Of course 'one nature by mixture' has always been rejected by the non-Chalcedonians so this is OK

IX. The bit about one worship is OK. And of course the non-Chalcedonians take nature generally in this context as a synonym for hypostasis not ousia. We do not speak usually of mia-ousia, which would stand for an unconfused union of essence, certainly never of mono-ousia. Since the Capitula is addressed to those who wish to deny the humanity or confound it with the divinity it is OK. We have the same anathemas.

X. OK

XI. OK, although personally I have problems with anathematising those who are dead.

XII. OK

XIII. OK

XIV. OK.

This is just a brief run through. I do not believe there is anything theological here which is not my own faith and has not always been the OO Faith. I can think of no writer from the time of the controversy who does not confess these things.

The reference to and defense of Chalcedon is well understood in its historical context but produces some historical issues which relate to the subjective interpretation of those events. These are not theological matters.

I would value some comments from others when they have time.

Peter

#13 Peter Farrington

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 10:12 AM

Just to be complete, I have also worked through the Sentence of the Synod.

There are about 4500 words and I have pulled out just 218 in sentences which are not theological but I would want clarification about.

These passages are:

But also the Holy Fathers, who from time to time have met in the four holy councils.

And what things were defined by the 630 gathered at Chalcedon for the one and the same faith, which they both followed and taught.

And all those who from time to time have been condemned or anathematized by the Catholic Church, and by the aforesaid four Councils


Which relate to the number of councils and which is obviously a matter of dispute.

And these passages:

Such was the state of the case, how could anyone presume to say that that impious letter was received by the holy council of Chalcedon and that the holy council of Chalcedon agreed with it throughout?

If therefore they were willing to allow the reception of Ibas in no other manner unless he condemned the impiety which was contained in his letters, and subscribed the definition of faith adopted by the Council, how can they attempt to make out that this impious letter was received by the same holy council?


Which relate to the reception or otherwise of the Letter of Ibas. I have the full three volume scholarly edition of the Acts of Chalcedon and I am not convinced that the Letter was not accepted, so that is a genuine reservation about these two sentences.

And finally these passages:

Having thus detailed all that has been done by us, we again confess that we receive the four holy Synods, that is, the Nicene, the Constantinopolitan, the first of Ephesus, and that of Chalcedon, and we have taught, and do teach all that they defined respecting the one faith.

And we account those who do not receive these things aliens from the Catholic Church.


Where there is again the issue of number of councils, and more importantly WHAT are the things to be received from Chalcedon. These THINGS may be received (and are) even if the council is not.

I have tried to pull out anything I found problematic, but this is it out of the 11 pages of A4 I had to read through.

So my question is whether from an EO point of view my acceptance of all the theological material counts as 'accepting this council'.

I do think that there is scope for working to see this, most straightforward because most Cyrilline, council being accepted, but I believe the passages I have marked are ones that need glossing in some way that clarifies what is being said.

Since I am confident that any educated Oriental Orthodox would more or less agree with these points, I would be interested to know in what way the EO considered that having agreed to the content the OO should still be accused of rejecting the council?

Peter

#14 Kris

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 12:35 PM

Dear Peter,

I think, from the EO perspective, acceptance of a Council not only means accepting its theological content as Orthodox, but also holding what we consider to be an Orthodox view of that Council. Namely, that it is Ecumenical and binding upon the entire Church.

Any reunion between our two Churches that does not involve the Miaphysites accepting the last 4 Councils as Ecumenical would essentially be one in which the EO would be forced to reject what it considered to be an Orthodox interpretation of these Councils and to accept them as merely local synods.

Moreover, accepting the Councils means accepting them in their totality. If you accept every theological aspect of the 5th Council (which is wonderful), but reject its affirmation of Chalcedon, an obvious problem remains.

Likewise, if you accepted the 7th Council for example (and I have seen many instances of OO scholars and hierarchs using the arguments of St. John of Damascus, which certainly suggests you do accept its theological basis), but again rejected its affirmation of the previous Councils, there would again be a problem.

This, I believe, is the major issue here. No reunion can take place without either the OO accepting all 7 Councils as Ecumenical or the EO rejecting them as Ecumenical and reducing their status to that of local synods (which is what would happen if a reunion took place without the OO's accepting the Councils as Ecumenical).

In XC,
Kris

#15 John Charmley

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 05:13 PM

Kris/Peter

Kris' comments raise an interesting, and perhaps terminal problem.

I hate to interrupt the discussion of the Capitula, but we can go back to that.

Peter's original methodology would have allowed a discussion of things we have in common prior to one about the things which divide us, but in adopting another method we have plunged straight into the differences - which is where we are here. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it has deprived us of a cushion of shared understandings which might have helped us over the inevitable rough patches.

But the problem is that since the whole Church, as it was at Ephesus, did not accept the following Councils, affirming them as Ecumenical is a polemical position. What is the EO position on accepting the Councils which the Roman Catholics see as ecumenical but which they do not.

If we are going to let unity founder on such issues, we may need to ask ourselves hard questions about what we really want.

If there are real issues of sustance that divide us, we can discuss them and decide what to do; but if the 'real' issues are about the use of words, I refer you to my Barhebraeus quotation on the unity thread.

What do we think?

In Christ

John

#16 Peter Farrington

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 05:34 PM

John/Kris

I do find it very hard to see what can be added to anything when it is called Orthodox.

It seems a matter of fact that certainly councils 5-7 or 9 were local Byzantine councils. There was no invitation to any of the non-Chalcedonians, indeed not long before it was still a criminal offence in the Empire to be non-Chalcedonian and there were penal consequences as tough as in the days when Roman Catholicism was persecuted in England.

So I can't see on what basis these later councils could be considered ecumenical. And since ecumenical means universal, I still can't see, other than playing with words, what is added of value when a council is described as Orthodox.

I think this may be rather terminal. Certainly the OO wish to be as flexible as possible on terms, as St Cyril was, but it does seem that at root there is an unwillingness on the part of the EO to be flexible at all, even in respect of those who have the same substance of faith. I find that very problematic, troubling even. It seems a view which is at odds with many of the EO bishops and Synods.

Since the Antiochian Patriarchate has entered into a functional communion with the Syrian Orthodox I wonder how Antiochians view this, Surely it must mean, in your view, that your Patriarchate and Patriarch has united with heretics?

Let me quote a bit from the agreement which is signed by your Patriarch:

All the meetings, the fellowship, the oral and written declarations meant that we belong to One Faith even though history had manifested our division more than the aspects of our unity.

...

All this has called upon our Holy Synod of Antioch to bear witness to the progress of our Church in the See of Antioch towards unity that preserves for each Church its authentic Oriental heritage whereby the one Antiochean Church benefits from its sister Church and is enriched in its traditions, literature and holy rituals.

Every endeavour and pursuit in the direction of the coming together of the two Churches is based on the conviction that this orientation is from the Holy Spirit, and it will give the Eastern Orthodox image more light and radiance, that it has lacked for centuries before.

.....

If bishops of the two Churches participate at a holy baptism or funeral service, the one belonging to the Church of the baptized or deceased will preside. In case of a holy matrimony service, the bishop of the bridegroom's Church will preside.

....

If a bishop from one Church and a priest from the sister Church happen to concelebrate a service, the first will preside even when it is the priest's parish.


These statements of your Patriarch and Holy Synod seem at odds with the statements made by EO here.

Peter

#17 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 05:42 PM

It seems a matter of fact that certainly councils 5-7 or 9 were local Byzantine councils. There was no invitation to any of the non-Chalcedonians, indeed not long before it was still a criminal offence in the Empire to be non-Chalcedonian and there were penal consequences as tough as in the days when Roman Catholicism was persecuted in England.

So I can't see on what basis these later councils could be considered ecumenical. And since ecumenical means universal, I still can't see, other than playing with words, what is added of value when a council is described as Orthodox.

I think this may be rather terminal.


I fear this thread is becoming a bit too confrontational, with posts seeking to find ways that others disagree with individuals as a kind of first project. Nonetheless, I think the above is worth some further consideration. Does 'ecumenical' really mean 'universal' as you've described it? If so, none of the councils was ecumenical in this sense -- not Nicaea, not Constantinople, certainly not Ephesus. It seems that universal representation cannot be taken as the criterion of 'ecumenicity' in a conciliar consciousness, even if it may figure in part into one's overall assessment of a council.

INXC, Matthew

#18 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 10:51 PM

If we are going to let unity founder on such issues, we may need to ask ourselves hard questions about what we really want.

If there are real issues of sustance that divide us, we can discuss them and decide what to do; but if the 'real' issues are about the use of words, I refer you to my Barhebraeus quotation on the unity thread.

What do we think?

In Christ

John



Dear John,

In my estimation until there is agreement to come to grips with the theological issues which divide us it will be the proof in the pudding that the effort to find unity at least at this stage is premature.

The assertion that we are both saying the same thing theologically with different words is the reverse order of what the Church requires. Indeed there is something anti-eccelsiological about it, divorcing the Church's theology from the manner in which it expresses itself. Of course as we have said here quite a few times the relationship between the two is not absolute. The Truth of the Church is not absolutely summed up in any one Council or father or whatever.

But yet here it seems we have gone too far in the opposite direction detaching the Church from its own Councils in a way which ends up denying the life of the Church. In fact it is this which so many here are reacting to for membership in the Church is always contingent upon acceptance of the way the Church has manifested itself. Indeed we can say that rejection of the Church- at least up until modern times- always was identical to rejection of the Church's life on this level.

Theology disconnected from the Church's own witness to this theology- ie theology regardless of Councils- implies that theology is something that can be separate from the Church like branches without the tree. It is only proper this is seen with great hesitancy. This risks denying any reality to the Body of the Church & easily leads to the view that as long as we have 'correct teaching' we are part of the Church. At the very least then this requires a lot more attention than we have given it so far.

Don't get me wrong. Many of us see how close the OO are to us. But from what we can see here however we need to reconsider the whole way we are approaching this for any good to result.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#19 Kris

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 11:29 PM

Certainly the OO wish to be as flexible as possible on terms, as St Cyril was, but it does seem that at root there is an unwillingness on the part of the EO to be flexible at all, even in respect of those who have the same substance of faith. I find that very problematic, troubling even.


Dear Peter,

With all due respect, I don't think this is an entirely fair assessment of the EO position. The OO is in a position to be flexible, the EO simply isn't to the same extent. The union proposed by the OO is one in which the OO does not actually need to change anything at all, other than lifting mutual anathemas and such (which I believe most EOs are prepared to do). For EO such a union would force us to abandon the way we have thought about these Councils for hundreds of years.

I don't see how the EO refusal to abandon its interpretation of these Councils displays any more unwillingness to be flexible than the OO refusal to accept it.

Also, what do you mean by "functional communion" - I had not heard about this. I would greatly appreciate it if you could elaborate on the issue.

Thank you,

In XC,
Kris

#20 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 12:45 PM

Dear Fr. Raphael,

+irini nem ehmot

In my estimation until there is agreement to come to grips with the theological issues which divide us.


Would you mind pointing out what specific theological issues remain issues of contention? I am amazed that you maintain such a sentiment in spite of all the discussion on this issue that has already taken place, especially when you admit, in the 'Beyond Dialogue' thread, to the fact that St. Dioscoros himself was even regarded Orthodox in doctrine by leading Chalcedonian Fathers.

Indeed there is something anti-eccelsiological about it, divorcing the Church's theology from the manner in which it expresses itself.


The problem with this statement—a problem inherent in the rest of your post, which means it suffices that I respond to this particular remark in order to respond to your entire approach in general—is simply that it hangs on presuppositions that OO simply do not accept. If the OOC was anti-ecclesiological about its approach to theology in general, then we wouldn’t be commemorating Nicaea 325, Constantinople 381, and Ephesus 431 every Divine Liturgy; we wouldn’t be upholding, and appealing to, these Ecumenical Councils as authoritative standards of theology. The fundamental irony here is that our rejection of Chalcedon was based upon a very pro-ecclesiological approach to theology—our allegiance to the authority of the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus 431.

We are not “divorcing the Church’s theology from the manner in which it expresses itself” simply and quite frankly because, we do not accept Chalcedon to be “the manner in which [the Church] expresses itself”. Furthermore, I don't think you have really given us any sufficient reason to believe that it is so; you simply assert or imply it as if it is self-evident. Ultimately Fr. Raphael, you are presupposing the validity of Chalcedon’s authority as an expression of the Orthodox Truth in order to argue why Chalcedon’s absolute authority as an expression of the Orthodox Truth cannot be disregarded by OO’s. You are arguing, “X cannot not = Y because X = Y”. This is simply not going to work.

I ask you to seek an objective answer to the following question: what makes Chalcedon, and its expression of Christology, any more superior or authoritative than the OO sources and expressions of the very same Christology which many of the Holy Synods and Heirarchs of your Church (to repeat them—the Holy Chalcedonian Synods of Antioch, Alexandria, Romania, the EP etc.) have agreed to be exactly the same as that of your Church? I honestly cannot think of any, and on the contrary, I have already provided you with many reasons as to why the Chalcedonian expression of Christology was quite weak at the time—how does a Chalcedonian respond to the fact that Nestorius the arch-heretic, who found himself defeated by the great St. Cyril and Ephesus 431, departed in exile in peace believing that finally Chalcedon had vindicated his cause? I think OO’s have been more than reasonable to put this aside and give EO’s the benefit of the doubt with respect to how they presently treat and regard Chalcedon regardless of what various historical incidents, such as that relating to Nestorius, indicate. I think EO’s are pushing it, and unreasonably at that, in their insistence that Chalcedon be given any higher treatment, especially since every argument launched in this respect has been essentially circular.

It doesn’t help to throw around terms like “the life of the Church” and the “mind of the Church”, when it is clear you are not using these terms phrases with any real clarity or objectivity within the context of EO-OO dialogue.

In IC XC
-Athanasius




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