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Capitula by capitula look at Constantinople 553


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#21 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 02:58 PM

Dear Athansius and other OO brothers in Christ,

What I am referring to is what I see going on here with our discussion. Like Matthew S I notice a confrontational tone that I think comes from our tendency to personalise what are important theological and ecclesiological issues. We need to engage in what divides us rather than interpreting every point about what divides us as an attack.

The following are a few examples that point to a remaining fundamental theological problem between us that still needs calm discussion:

From Timothy Aelurus, Patriarch of Constantinople

No man whose heart is healthy in the faith teaches or believes two natures, either before or after the union, for when God the Father's fleshless Word was conceived in the womb of the Holy Virgin, then He also took a body from the flesh of the Holy Virgin, in a manner known to Him alone, while He remained without change or modification as God, and was one with His flesh, for His flesh had no hypostasis or essence before the conception of God the Word so that one could give it the name of particular or separate nature, for the nature does not exist without the hypostasis, nor the hypsotasis without the person (prosopon); therefore, if there are two natures, there are also necessarily two persons; but if there are two persons, there are also two Christs.


From Severus

To say that there are two natures in Christ is to incur every accusation, even if it has been said in innocence by most of the holy fathers...

Now on the other hand, you ought not to say that some of the fathers used the formula of the two natures. For they used it blamelessly, as we said, in the time of St Cyril when the Church was being assaulted by the disease of Nestorius' innovations in order that this very formula might be repelled; for the antidote must be prescribed according to the disease. So then, we ought not to introduce this way of speaking, even though the fathers used this terminology without blame. St Cyril also used this terminology, but specifically for the purpose of healing the afflicted malady; yet even though St Cyril used this expression for this purpose, we still ought to stay away from it.



Later on during the Monothelite controversy from Sergius Patriarch of Constantinople

Because the expression one energy, although some of the Fathers use it, yet it soundeth strange to the ears of some, and disquiets them... and since in the same way many take offense at the expression, two energies, since it is not used by any of the holy Fathers (on account of the fact that) we should then be obliged as a consequence to teach two mutually contradictory wills, as if God the Logos, aiming at our salvation, was willing to endure suffering, but His manhood had opposed itself to His will which is impious and foreign to the Christian dogma--when even the wicked Nestorius, although he, dividing the Incarnation and introducing two Sons, did not venture to maintain two wills of the same, but on the contrary, taught the similar willing of the two persons assumed by him; how can, then, the orthodox, who worship only one Son & Lord, admit in Him two, and those mutually opposed wills?


Hopefully as you can see there is a lot that needs to be discussed in what these few examples show about OO theology. At least we have questions or a feel discussion must be undertaken in order for us to be confident that this is a responsible and mature process. After all we go into this knowing that unity is not not like little children who need to coddle each other or feel coddled by each other. It is maturely recognizing what divides us and then engaging in this if mutually it is discerned that the time is propitious by God's will.

Let's also get straight that this discussion isn't hauling someone before a court of law and demanding that they justify themselves.

Rather this discussion is part of the wider effort our Church is involved in at present which involves raising the above issues which are crucial to us. So the best way to be involved in this is simply to seek to grasp the point of what is being asked. Then after the required time of study to give an answer according to the intent of what was written (like above). It would also help greatly if this was put into a positive theological context rather than a negative historical/political one. Certianly your theology isn't just a story of negatively reacting- certainly it must have been part of an effort first to proclaim something positive about Christ. Please then refocus- consider- and calmly explain if possible, from where you are coming from, what your theological intent is in that which we find problematic in the OO position. Quite possibly a final solution couldn't be arrived at right now- but at least we could both mutually recognise where the lines and borders are in this discussion.


One last point to bring up. As with us, theology is something that is not just as given- it is rather something that needs to be constantly understood and re-understood again and again. In doing this we see the whole specturm of theological views that the Fathers had. Indeed some were a little vague, weak or even wrong in their views or expression. Recognising this in turn helps us understand our own theology- it shows the larger context. Looking at this is partly what I mean when I refer above to being mature in our approach. Polemics inevitably leads us into the defense of perfection: 'they said (or rather 'we say it') it because it's perfect' rather than the more tenable, 'we say it as the best way we know, from where we come from, of saying something very difficult to express. It could be it's a bit vague or unclear. Maybe it's even wrong. But since we understand you come from a different tradition with it's own approach & language here's what we're trying to say.'

Somehow I feel confident this approach could achieve quite a bit.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#22 John Charmley

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 03:19 PM

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


An interesting point Matthew.

As I said in my previous post on this thread, I feared that the moment we cut to the chase and concentrated on points of difference (as suggested earlier) we might end up sounding a little more confrontational than some of us are comfortable with (soggy Anglicanism takes time to dry out, I suppose!). I think that was why Peter wanted to take the longer route!

Still, you have now bowled a nice curve ball. What do we think we mean by 'Ecumenical'. Never quarrel with a Patristics don when he says none of the Councils were 'universal'. What do EO mean then when they ask the OO to acknowledge the 7 Ecumenical Councils?

As a poor old history professor, I am now very puzzled!

In Christ

John

#23 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 04:20 PM

Dear Fr. Raphael,

+irini nem ehmot

Like Matthew S I notice a confrontational tone


I would have to disagree with this reading of either my or Peter's posts. We are being assertive, yes, but we are certainly not trying to be confrontational.

We need to engage in what divides us rather than interpreting every point about what divides us as an attack.


I am sorry but I fail to see how this comment relates in any way to the responses of Peter and I. We have not been given reason as of yet as to what the theological differences are in the first place. Peter and I have simply requested that you be specific about what theologically divides us instead of merely presuming that such is the case (contrary to the conciliar decisions made by various local Synods of your Church).

Surely, if there were theological difference, there would be no reason as to why we would interpret that as an “attack”; after all, the Oriental Orthodox Church does not presuppose your Church to be the standard of Orthodoxy by which we feel we have to measure ourselves.

The following are a few examples that point to a remaining fundamental theological problem between us that still needs calm discussion:


Forgive my assertiveness Fr. Raphael, but you seem to assume that the “fundamental theological problem” is self-evident in these texts. You are going to have do more than merely paste a few selected quotes; you are going to have to attempt to explain and investigate how they are to be interpreted.

That the OO Fathers historically repudiated any notion of “two natures” within that historical context is not something surprising to any of us, but over and over again we have explained to you and others that in that historical context, a repudiation of “two natures” was not necessarily a repudiation of the current understanding of “two nature” terminology given to the Council of Chalcedon by the present EO Church. It is simply a historical fact that the phrase "two natures" had Nestorian connotations in that historical context. This historical observation is one made by Professor Frances Young in his book From Nicea to Chalcedon:

“The ‘prosopic union’…becomes Nestorius’ attempt to provide a metaphysical account of Christ’s unity of person which did not involve the difficiulties of a ‘natural’ or ‘substantial’ union, and Nestorius meant to convey a ‘real union’. The One Christ has ‘two grounds of being’, he exists ‘in two natures’, as Chalcedon was later to confirm.” (p. 237)

You are just going to have to accept the fact that Nestorians were using "two natures" to deny the hypostatic union; not only before Chalcedon, but even after Chalcedon--Chalcedonians after Chalcedon were using "two natures" in this very sense; these were the Chalcedonians who were celebrating the death of Nestorius, and promoting Theodore's Christology--this isn't my attempt to be polemical or confrontational, it is a historical fact.

Let’s look at St. Timothy first. The quote you have provided reveals St. Timothy’s primary motivation behind repudiating “two nature” terminology—the fact that “His flesh had no hypostasis or essence before the conception of God the Word so that one could give it the name of particular or separate nature, for the nature does not exist without the hypostasis”. St. Timothy clearly understands the term physis in the sense of independent subsistence. Now, if you want to argue that your understanding of “two natures” is such that Christ’s “humanity” was capable of subsisting independently of the hypostasis of God the Word, then you would be correct in arguing that we are theologically divided.

With regards to St. Severus’ quote, it says nothing of his theology. It simply shows him repudiating “two nature” terminology, but the question once again becomes, in what sense is St. Severus repudiating “two nature” terminology? Is he repudiating it in the same sense present day EO’s understand it? Is he repudiating it in the same sense Nestorius understood it? Is he repudiating it in the same sense that the large number of those who simultaneously ascribed to Chalcedon whilst celebrating Nestorius’ death and upholding Theodore’s Christology understood it? Again, let us revert back to the words of Professor Frances Young who attests to the historical fact that "two nature" terminology possessed Nestorian connotations in that historical context:

“The ‘prosopic union’…becomes Nestorius’ attempt to provide a metaphysical account of Christ’s unity of person which did not involve the difficiulties of a ‘natural’ or ‘substantial’ union, and Nestorius meant to convey a ‘real union’. The One Christ has ‘two grounds of being’, he exists ‘in two natures’, as Chalcedon was later to confirm.” (From Nicaea to Chalcedon p. 237)

From the very inception Peter and I have essentially argued that our Fathers employed semantic constructs differently to the way you claim they did, so how does quoting our Fathers repudiating particular semantic constructs per se makes any light of whether this argument Peter and I have consistently made holds any water?

Let us consider the following fact: We have primary documentation of both St. Timothy (see here) and St. Severus (see here) attesting to:

a) The consubstantiality of Christ’s humanity to mankind;
b) The consubtantiality of Christ’s divinity to the Father;
c) The reality, perfection, and distinctness of both His divinity and His humanity;
d) The fact Christ's humanity united with His divinity without confusion, alteration, commingling, transfusion or transmutation.

If one is to be honest about drawing any conclusions regarding the Christologies of St. Timothy and St. Severus in consideration of their repudiation of "two nature" terminology, they have to i) confront the historical fact that "two nature" terminology possessed a Nestorian connotation in the ears of a) non-Chalcedonian Nestorians, b) Chalcedonian Nestorians, and c) Oriental Orthodox, and ii) find an interpretation of such a repudiation that is consistent with a), b), c), and d).

Later on during the Monothelite controversy from Sergius Patriarch of Constantinople


Sergius is not a Father or Saint of the OO Church. He was in fact a theological opponent of St. Severus of Antioch, and hence in opposition to the OO Church.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#24 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 04:50 PM

Dear John,

You asked:

Still, you have now bowled a nice curve ball. What do we think we mean by 'Ecumenical'. Never quarrel with a Patristics don when he says none of the Councils were 'universal'. What do EO mean then when they ask the OO to acknowledge the 7 Ecumenical Councils?


We don't mean it as a curve ball. We are taught the importance of the 7 Ecumenical Councils from the moment we are catechumens and are received into the Orthodox faith. Also thoughout our lives as Orthodox Christians the importance of these Councils to our life as active Christians is stressed continually. The importance of this is such that many clergymen among us would very seriously consider refusing the Eucharist to someone who consciously refused the teachings of these Councils. So that is how serious this is to us.

In any case for us these Councils are universal or 'ecumenical' in the sense that the doctrine they proclaim is first off sound doctrine & then applicable to all the faithful within the Church. This doesn't mean that such a proclamation was arrived at by delegates from the every part of the Church, by majority or even by consensus. Votes in the Councils were arrived at by consensus but actually the relation betwen the Faith proclaimed and such votes is not one to one. Rather a Council proclaims the Faith and in time the larger Church judges this to be universally applicable to the faithful. This is what Chalcedon means to us.

Of course this gets us to the question raised here during this discussion of whether it is obligatory to receive this doctrine in the way a particular Council puts this. Must all use the language of Chalcedon if their intent is similar?

I have tried to raise some issues connected to this. In general we do over time gain a deep respect for words such as homoousios, hypostasis & nature which convey for us what the Faith is about. There is in this a faithfulness to the way of life of the Church which should never be overlooked. Then there is the ecclesiological point of how, if, or in what way it is possible to separate the Church's theology from Her expression of this, eg the Councils, in the first place. In the OO situation this last is a very delicate question.

In general at this point perhaps we could say that for us outright rejection of these Councils would be very difficult for us to accept. But having another way of expressing the Faith side by side with what we are used to- I'm not sure- but this could work.

But here a point I raised elsewhere this morning I think really needs to be addressed. The way in which OO theology is being presented is far too negative as if it is mainly the product of reacting to events and personalities. This is hard to believe & makes discussion well nigh impossible. It is high time that OO theology was presented in a positive light for what it is trying to proclaim positively about Christ. We already have a sense of this as those who also treasure St Cyril. What's needed though is to spend more time in a positive presentation trying to fill in the picture a little more about is being proclaimed about Christ.

One can sense behind some of the OO irritation an effort to say, "we have a valid theology. Please accept it." Go ahead then- this is exactly what is needed. But be patient and take the next while- if need be years- explaining your theology to us who have been separated from its expression for 1600 years. Let this sink in first. Acceptance of whatever it is that should be accepted will come later.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#25 John Charmley

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 05:20 PM

Father Raphael,

We are blessed by your presence here.

What you have to say deserves great thought. As I see it two things need to follow (although it may be that the unity thread is the palce for this?):

1. Your comment about ways of understanding the same Faith needs exploring; I do think that was where Peter was trying to go, and I don't sense that this is an impassable barrier, simply a plea for more dialogue; am I in the ball park here?

2. An OO exposition of Christology. I cannot speak for Peter, but I suspect he will say he has provided this; and certainly if one reads the BOC website one can find this in abundance. But I wonder if Peter would mind, for Monachos posters, distilling the essence of his deep understanding of the OO position. I, myself, am quite unclear that it really is different from the EO understanding - but after 1600 years a layman might be excused, I hope, especially when he has spent his life in the deep rich fudge that is Anglicanism!

I have a sense that this dialogue is worth continuing, and am grateful to you, Father, for your patience with those of us whose understanding lags behind our desire to understand.

In Christ

John

#26 Anthony

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 05:25 PM

Dear Athanasios,

I was wondering if you could say more about the way in which OO dogmatic definitions guard against Eutychianism (forgive me if you already have, but i was away for a while and may not have completely caught up). What I am getting at is that I have been taught to regard dogmatic definitions as essentially negative, safeguards against various erroneous ways of thinking ("putting a fence around the mystery", as I think Fr Kallistos expresses it). Thus somebody who accepts the teaching of Chalcedon and the subsequent EO councils should be well warned against falling into either Nestorianism or Eutychianism. From our point of view, the way EO doctrine has been formulated by the councils has been given to us by providence precisely to this end (not to the exclusion of other ends). Maybe this angle might help to clarify why wording might be important, even if our respective theologies are not incompatible. I would thus like to know more about the OO's defences on the Eutychian front. I hope by now that this will not be confused with the claim that OO theology is itself unorthodox.

One further request for information, arising from your earlier post: do the OO regard the second council of Ephesus in (?)449 as ecumenical?

In Christ,
Anthony

#27 Jose Lauro Strapasson

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 07:24 PM

This is borring! I hope had not read this topic, but I did .

Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic, both, consider the II concil of Constantinople 553 as ecumenical concil, as infalibel.

For us this is something like the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the letters of Paul, Acts, etc.

Would like to see some exotic Cristhian who don't believe in this Gospels (but who say to have the in true christian faith with other books) mading a "capitula by capitula look" in Saint Mathew, for example?

Or put yourself in our place.

Or yet, would you like to see a member of "The Church of The East" doing a analyze of the 3 ecumenical concil? (of corse the CE don't consider itself to be Nestorian and thinks to be the true Church of God)

If Arians still existe the fantastic WCC would sugest us to give up Nicea as well?

EOC has not 7 ecumenical concil but actualy 9, and forget the 8th and 9th before given comunion to some one else would be a already big thing from EO side.

We are not the creators of WCC, thanks WCC if I (as antiochian) go to a ROCOR parish the father will not give me eucaristic (because Antiochian use the New Calendar and is a member of WCC).

Is not good in a yahoo list like parodises (I used to be a member) see some EO (who have the same faith than us) calling Antiochian Patriarcate heretical, only because this "ecumenical things".

We EO have not to win and a lot to lose to this things and if some one else like us, just joing us, if don't like us just forget us. If we realy believe to be in the true Church of God we don't need anything else from outside.

Yes, I think you already realized that I am "anti-ecumenism". If EO have The Church of Jerusalem, the Mother of All churches, what do we need from the others? By the way, the holy lumen miracle only work with the greek (eastern) patriarch, others already tried but nothing happened, ;)

Dear OO brothers, don't forget, the Constantinople 553 is like the Gospel to us!;)

#28 Jose Lauro Strapasson

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Posted 23 September 2006 - 08:20 PM

Dear Peter

We believe this concil were made under the guidence of the Holy Spirit, say this is wrong even in a single small part sounds like blasfemy for our ears.
I am sure you can ask everything you want, there are too many EO pristes here who certanly will answer you, but, please, not in this tone.;)

In Christ

J.L.

#29 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 09:29 AM

Dear Anthony,

+irini nem ehmot,

I was wondering if you could say more about the way in which OO dogmatic definitions guard against Eutychianism.


There are two fundamental dogmatic affirmations consistently made by the OO Church, from the days of St. Dioscoros till the present, that unequivocally deny Eutychianism.

1) An affirmation of the consubstantiality of Christ’s humanity to mankind.

Logical corollary: Christ’s humanity was true, real, perfect and complete humanity.

2) An affirmation that the real and perfect union between Christ’s humanity and divinity took place without mingling, confusion, alteration, transmutation, transfusion etc.

Logical corollary: The distinction between Christ’s humanity and divinity within the hypostatic union was and is a continuing and dynamic reality.

I would really appreciate it if proponents of the argument that we are Eutychian could please explain why these two affirmations do not suffice to negate Eutychianism.

With respect to 1), here are relevant quotations from our Fathers:

St. Dioscoros of Alexandria:

“God the Logos, consubstantial with the Father, at the end of the ages for our redemption became consubstantial with man in the flesh, remaining what he was before.” [Sellers, R.V. The Council of Chalcedon, p. 31]

St. Timothy (Aelurus) of Alexandria:

“Let no-one, thinking to honour God, insult his mercy by refusing to abide by the teaching of our holy fathers, who have confessed that our Lord Jesus Christ became consubstantial with us in the flesh.” [Samuel, Fr V.C. The Council of Chalcedon Re-examined, p. 258]

St. Severos of Antioch:

“Therefore, he united to himself a body which was consubstantial with us and suffered like us, and which was prone to suffer and to die, and he died like a triumphant warrior” [Sévère d’Antioche, La polémique antijulianiste I, ed. and trans. R. Hespel, p. 130]

St. Severos also makes the point in one of his letters to John the Grammarian, that “not once or twice, but many times” did local OO councils in Syria and Egypt write to each other, confessing that “Christ, the Word of God who was truly made man and had become incarnate assuming flesh which was consubstantial with us and which was animated with a rational soul, and identified himself with us in everything except sin.”

As I showed in the ‘Beyond Dialogue’ thread, this affirmation is one that is also presently made during the Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory the Theologian according to the Coptic Rite. Here, once again, is the audio of the relevant section: http://www.rapiduplo...&filepath=18811

Here is the text:

“And when [man] fell by the guile of the enemy, and the disobedience of Your Holy Commandment, You desired to renew him and to restore him to his original state.

Neither an angel nor an archangel, neither a prophet nor a patriarch have you entrusted with our salvation.

But You who, without change, was Incarnate and became man, and resembled us in everything except sin alone…”


With respect to 2), here are the relevant quotations from our Fathers:

St. Dioscoros of Alexandria:

“Let him who says confusion, change or mixture, be anathema” [Samuel, Fr V.C. The Council of Chalcedon Re-examined, p. 48]

St. Theodosios of Alexandria:

“‘We confess that God the Word in the latter days became incarnate. In him there was no change or confusion; neither did the flesh which he united to himself hypostatically undergo confusion or mixture after the ineffable and indissoluble union. The hypostatic union did not affect the difference and otherness of the natures which came together into the union, nor were the natures divided or separated from each other. But from two Emmanuel was formed for us indivisibly, and his nature, namely hvpostasis, is one, which has been formed in composition.” [Samuel, Fr V.C. The Council of Chalcedon Re-examined, p. 207]

St. Severus quotes St. Cyril with approval, saying:

“Therefore those who say that, if the Word incarnate is one nature it follows in everything and in every respect that there will be confusion and mixture, as if the nature of man were decreased and stolen away, speak needlessly, for it is not decreased, nor as they say, stolen away. For it suffices for the complete demonstration of the fact that the Word became man to say that he was incarnate.” (Against Julian, quoted in W.G. Young’s Handbook of Source Materials, p. 174).

In fact affirmation number 2) is made in the priest’s ‘Last Confession’ at the end of every Divine Liturgy according to the Coptic rite. An audio of this confession can be downloaded and heard here: http://www12.rapidup...&filepath=26569

Here is the text of that confession:

"Amen. Amen. Amen. I believe, I believe, I believe and confess to the last breath, that this is the life-giving body that your only-begotten Son, our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ took from our lady, the lady of us all, the holy Theotokos Saint May. He made it one with his divinity without mingling, without confusion and without alteration. He witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate. He gave it up for us upon the holy wood of the cross, of his own will, for us all. Truly I believe that his divinity parted not from his humanity for a single moment nor a twinkling of an eye. Given for us for salvation, remission of sins and eternal life to those who partake of him. I believe, I believe, I believe that this is so in truth. Amen."

One further request for information, arising from your earlier post: do the OO regard the second council of Ephesus in (?)449 as ecumenical?


It does not given the official title of “the Fourth Ecumenical Council”, but I believe it essentially is, just as for example, the first Council held in Jerusalem by the Apostles was “essentially” an Ecumenical Council. In that regard, Ephesus 475 which condemned Eutychianism and Nestorianism (and “Chalcedonianism” which was essentially regarded as a variation of Nestorianism at the time), is likewise Ecumenical.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#30 Jose Lauro Strapasson

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 08:42 PM

There is one thing I would like to say.
I have a personal friend who is OO, from Copty Church in Brazil :)
His church web site, In são paulo
http://www.igrejacopta.org.br/

#31 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 08:47 AM

I would really appreciate it if proponents of the argument that we are Eutychian could please explain why these two affirmations do not suffice to negate Eutychianism.


I'm curious who this comment was aimed at? I can't seem to find reference to anyone having called anyone else here Eutychian.

INXC, Matthew

#32 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 09:53 AM

Dear M.C. Steenberg,

+irini nem ehmot

I wasn't implying that anyone here called anyone a Eutychian; I can sense that you may have read my comments in a manner surely unintended. I think some clarifications are in order.

First I would like to emphasise that what I posited was a genuine request rather than a confrontational "challenge" as such. I am not here to challenge anyone I assure you, so I would hope that people give me the benefit of the doubt as to my intentions and tone behind certain remarks which, due to the very nature of online discourse, may be prone to a range of varying interpretations.

Secondly, there are evidently some who still maintain that Christological differences divide us, and one would presume that such a belief is held upon the premise that OO Christology is, in spite of all the attempts of Peter and I to prove otherwise, and in spite of the conciliar decisions of a number of local Synods on the matter, "monophysitic". In fact, it would seem that such is the very belief of your good self, who has stated in the prologue to the Agreed Statements page, "It should be carefully borne in mind that the Orthodox and Oriental churches, despite current efforts at increased dialogue, remain very much separated and distinct - the issue of monophysitism remaining the primary divisive factor."

Ultimately therefore, I am not seeking to challenge any specific person or persons who have allegedly expressly accused us of monophysitism/eutychianism. I am simply requesting that those who hold to such a belief explain the rationale behind the maintenance of such a belief in consideration of the arguments in that particular post.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#33 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 02:05 PM

Dear M.C. Steenberg,

+irini nem ehmot

I wasn't implying that anyone here called anyone a Eutychian; I can sense that you may have read my comments in a manner surely unintended. I think some clarifications are in order.

First I would like to emphasise that what I posited was a genuine request rather than a confrontational "challenge" as such. I am not here to challenge anyone I assure you, so I would hope that people give me the benefit of the doubt as to my intentions and tone behind certain remarks which, due to the very nature of online discourse, may be prone to a range of varying interpretations.

Secondly, there are evidently some who still maintain that Christological differences divide us, and one would presume that such a belief is held upon the premise that OO Christology is, in spite of all the attempts of Peter and I to prove otherwise, and in spite of the conciliar decisions of a number of local Synods on the matter, "monophysitic". In fact, it would seem that such is the very belief of your good self, who has stated in the prologue to the Agreed Statements page, "It should be carefully borne in mind that the Orthodox and Oriental churches, despite current efforts at increased dialogue, remain very much separated and distinct - the issue of monophysitism remaining the primary divisive factor."

Ultimately therefore, I am not seeking to challenge any specific person or persons who have allegedly expressly accused us of monophysitism/eutychianism. I am simply requesting that those who hold to such a belief explain the rationale behind the maintenance of such a belief in consideration of the arguments in that particular post.

In IC XC
-Athanasius


Dear Athansius,

I think only a minority among us would ever consider you to be Eutychian. You & others have explained this and I think we accept this. Also by far the majority of our recent authorities like Frs John Meyendorff or Georges Florovsky write that by their estimation the OO are not Eutychian.

Yet the concern remains that at some time in the past if not the present that the OO did not accept the full humanity of the Incarnate Christ as we define this. Especially as this was defined by Chalcedon we feel or felt that the OO understanding of Christ's humanity was functionally monophysite; while in turn the OO feel or felt that the EO understanding of Christ's humanity was functionally nestorian.

In the extremely polemical atmosphere of the past this led to the common charge that we are Nestorian & you are Monophysite. In today's atmosphere however perhaps this has led to the situation where the essential problem can be discussed- whether and how we are or are not functionally respectively monophysite or nestorian.

As I have said here many times I do not think it gains anything to try to jump over this step and just say that due to Agreed Statements we have already agreed in reality. These Statements for us represent at best a possible way forward like coming up with a road map- they're don't mean we've reached the destination. So again that's why I think coming to grips with the essential issues and then patience are the best way to achieve anything of worth.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#34 John Charmley

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 08:20 PM

In the extremely polemical atmosphere of the past this led to the common charge that we are Nestorian & you are Monophysite. In today's atmosphere however perhaps this has led to the situation where the essential problem can be discussed- whether and how we are or are not functionally respectively monophysite or nestorian.

As I have said here many times I do not think it gains anything to try to jump over this step and just say that due to Agreed Statements we have already agreed in reality. These Statements for us represent at best a possible way forward like coming up with a road map- they're don't mean we've reached the destination. So again that's why I think coming to grips with the essential issues and then patience are the best way to achieve anything of worth.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


Dear Father Raphael, Peter, Athanasius,

This seems an excellent statement of the reality - which is both clear, and not a little depressing. It is hard to read, in an objective sense, monophysitism or Nestorianism into the current OO and EO positions; it is equally cruelly easy to read these things into those positions by selective quotation designed to prove a point one assumed before 'proving' it.

I have a sense that the inter-Orthodox dialogue has got way ahead of many in both communities - something the reports from the meetings acknowledged. But those same reports also went on about the need to get to know more about each other, which is necessarily a slow process. I hope this debate and the one in the dialogue thread contribute to this - but both threads show how far there is to go, even when there is good will on both sides - and that, as we know, is not always the case.

Fortunatly for us all, we are in the hands of the Living God, whose love is so great that he sent His only-begotten Son to die for us so that we might be saved. In the face of that miracle, one can only be humble and pray that He might give us the wisdom and compassion to find our way to the unity He wants.

In Christ,

John

#35 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 01:26 AM

Dear Fr. Raphael (it's always a pleasure to recall your name--the blessed Archangel Raphael is received in our tradition as "the one who gladdens the heart" which has always given him a special place in my own.)

+irini nem ehmot

I think only a minority among us would ever consider you to be Eutychian.


It doesn’t really concern me how many people wish to believe, or to even take that further step and express their belief, that I am X, Y or Z. I am only concerned that such people be honest enough to engage with the evidence that suggests the untenability of their position.

Also by far the majority of our recent authorities like Frs John Meyendorff or Georges Florovsky write that by their estimation the OO are not Eutychian.


We must be reminded that such is not only the estimation of a couple of priest-theologians from your Church, it is the estimation of some of the highest ecclesiastical authorities of your Church. EO-OO dialogue may not have reached a scale significant enough to convoke an Ecumenical Synod to deal with the matter, but you have the next best thing to that—the conciliar decisions of local Synods; the Holy Chalcedonian Synods of Antioch, Alexandria, and Romania. The EP has also expressed that such is his estimation also. Do not the conclusions of local Synods hold any respect or authority in your Church, particularly in the absence of an Ecumenical Synod dealing with such matters? It suprises me that EO laity are so easily inclined to disregard their authorities and to draw their own personal conclusions on the matter. There is also this tendency for such EO's to justify themselves by leaning on the idea that clergy and even local Synods are not infallible with respect to the matters they speak upon--two members on this forum have expressly resorted to such self-justification and many others in my experience seem to adopt the same approach.

In my opinion, if one is going to contradict the decisions of the highest of available authorities, then they should have overwhelmingly strong reason and evidence to do so; but that simply does not seem to be the case at all.

Yet the concern remains that at some time in the past if not the present that the OO did not accept the full humanity of the Incarnate Christ as we define this.


Well again, in the spirit of earnestness, I beseech those who genuinely hold to this concern to genuinely deal with the quotations in my last post. I attempted to provide quotations from OO authorities of the first few successive generations after Chalcedon, which unequivocally and explicitly affirm the full humanity of Christ. I have plenty more quotations to that effect. Our OO Fathers went to pains stress the full humanity of Christ. Ironically enough, this effort was pursued with greater emphasis in response to the Julianist heresy arose within the Chalcedonian Church--in other words, the polemical literature of our Church was at one stage focused on dealing with a perceived Chalcedonian compromise of the humanity of Christ!

Especially as this was defined by Chalcedon we feel or felt that the OO understanding of Christ's humanity was functionally Monophysite


So when an OO explicitly states that Christ’s humanity is consubstantial (using that very exact same word that sufficed in depicting the perfection and fullness of Christ’s divinity with the Father) with mankind, this does not suffice to affirm that Christ’s humanity was consubstantial with mankind, because ultimately OO’s reject the “in two natures” formula on other grounds?

What I am interested in Father, is not what people believe or what people do not believe, what people feel or what people do not feel, but rather I am concerned with the objective reasonableness of what people believe and feel or what people do not believe and do not feel.

These Statements for us represent at best a possible way forward like coming up with a road map- they're don't mean we've reached the destination.


The Agreed Statements reflect the official views of the highest authorities of the OO Church. The Agreed Statements essentially express the OO Church’s rejection of the monophysitism historically attributed to her; I do not understand, and in my opinion with very good reason, why certain EO’s do not believe such statements suffice, not as a means towards the restoration of full communion, but rather as an end to the historical Christological disputes.

Instead of speaking generally, vaguely, and abstractly about the Agreed Statements in question, it would be best to serve these Statements due justice by directly engaging with them. Would you mind reading through them and pointing out any inadequacies? I have read through them quite a few times, and I have found them to be an overly comprehensive treatment of the subjects in question—the fullness of Christ’s humanity is dealt with, the unconfused nature of the union between His divinity and humanity are dealt with, the natural energy and will proper to each nature is dealt with, issues of terminology are dealt with—as far as I am concerned they have left nothing out and been quite unequivocal about everything.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#36 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 03:15 AM

Dear Athansius,

To be honest it could well be that at times we try to cover up our self-will and 'independent spirit' with the constant call to conscience as members of the Church & there not being Papal supremacy among us. It's interesting there isn't as much or even more of a call to obedience during our times. I agree it gets pretty fishy at times & seems like an excuse for doing whatever we want.

Still though there really is the call of conscience as members of the Church. I really think major mistakes have been made with the whole process at leat from our side. Most EO churches weren't involved and for those which were the faithful were told very little about either the process or the results. Meanwhile on the local level some parishes act as if unity has been achieved while others as if nothing has occurred.

The effect on our faithful is opposition from some & 'I didn't know anything was going on' from others.

So I really think that procedurally this process needs to first involve the whole EO and the whole OO churches. It needs to be massively conciliar. Then the suggestions that came from Abba Seraphim seem like a good step that involves a detailed look at the theology.

At this stage perhaps it would be most helpful if you posted daily some quotes from your authorities. Not to prove a case so much as just to get a sense about how they express themselves and think.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

Ps You also have a good saintly name!

#37 Tim Grass

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 07:13 AM

I think all Oriental Orthodox are Eutychians. And monophysites.... and Apollinarians. And probably also Masons. And supporters of Al Qaida.

Just wanted to point out some of the things that haven't been said in this forum..... even though they seem to keep being brought up as if they had. And no matter how someone tries to qualify it, language like "us" vs. "you" is confrontational. "Prove to me why so-and-so isn't totally right" is also confrontational.

When did the conversations about EO/OO things (which have gone on here for years) take this tone?

--tim

#38 Peter Farrington

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 08:08 AM

Dear Father Raphael,

Your suggestion about posting some excerpts from texts is a good one.

Here is a passage from Dioscorus:

"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."

and another:

"God the Logos, consubstantial with the Father, at the end of the ages for our redemption became consubstantial with man in the flesh, remaining what he was before."

and from Timothy Aelurus:

"Let no-one, thinking to honour God, insult his mercy by refusing to abide by the teaching of our holy fathers, who have confessed that our Lord Jesus Christ became consubstantial with us in the flesh."

and:

"Since children partake of flesh and blood, he also participated in them, in order that he might, by his death, abrogate the power of death…..He did not receive the nature from the angels, but from the seed of Abraham. It was necessary that he should identify himself with his brethren in everything in order that he might be merciful…Since he endured suffering and temptation he is able to succour those who are being tempted."

and:

"The Scriptures teach us of Christ that he identified himself with us in everything, and that he became perfectly of the same nature with us, but for the impulse of sin. He was born supernaturally apart from conjugal union. But he became perfect man, having been conceived in Mary the Virgin, and from her born by the Holy Spirit, and he himself continued to remain God incarnate without any change."

and finally for now:

"For the Divine Logos, not yet incarnate, was conceived in the womb of the holy Virgin, and was then incarnate of the flesh of the holy Virgin, in a manner in which he alone knew, while remaining without change and without conversion as God."

Dear Father Raphael, and others, I would appreciate your comments on these passages. There is much else in a similar vein from these two writers alone but I am restricted to what I have available here at work.

As ever

Peter

#39 John Charmley

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 05:04 PM

Father Raphael/Peter,

Another passage, well-known to Peter, I am sure, but perhaps not so outside OO circles:

However, since there is a doubt about it, and in order that we may close the doors against all contention, on this point too let the words of the father himself, I mean the holy Cyril come to our assistance, who in the defence of the second chapter addressed to Theodoret the deceiver wrote thus: Since Nestorius therefore eliminates the birth in flesh, and introduces among us a union of authority only, and says that a man was conjoined to God ... in contending against this proposition we were compelled to say that the hypostatic union took place, in which the word 'hypostatic' denotes nothing else except this only, that the nature itself or his hypostasis, which is the Word himself, after it has been united to human nature without variation and confusion, as we have often said, is recognised as one Christ and is so, the same God and man

Letter XXV Slected Letters of Severus of Antioch (OO Library, volume 1)

In Christ

John

#40 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 05:29 PM

Thanks to both Peter & John for the quotes. I will read over them and try to digest their meaning. Hopefully others among us will do likewise also!

In Christ- Fr Raphael




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