Jump to content


- - - - -

Beyond dialogue: the quest for Eastern and Oriental Orthodox unity today


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
344 replies to this topic

#21 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 05 September 2006 - 03:06 PM

John Charmley wrote

What I would be interested to know is whether those discussions between the two Communions have now stalled? As an outsider beginning to experience Othodoxy, I am hesitant to say much for fear of giving offence, but it does seem to me that the dialogues of the past few decades have clarified in a helpful way, what differences still remain, and it would be good to see progress here.


Some might describe the discussions as being 'stalled' while others might describe it more as 'taking a breather'. I would second the point made by Athansius Abdullah that in all of the ecumenical talks, gatherings, committees, etc which have occurred in the past 30 years and more only that with the OO have shown any realistic hope of something that could result in actual ecclesiastical union. But after each round of talks there has always followed a period of time when things just had to sink in for awhile.

I think the interaction here at Monachos very clearly reflects the present level of unity achieved and what still remains. The present reveals that there is more potential between us than with any other churches. Part of this is based on the degree of theological agreement achieved over what mainly divided us- Chalcedon. But a lot is also a reflection of a common theological way of looking at things that is more in accord with that of the ancient Church. After all Rome is Chalcedonian, so are the Anglicans and so are many Protestants. But we are very far from any realistic prospect of unity with any of them. So obviously there is something besides Chalcedon which connects us and which we lack with others. Again I think this is a shared understanding about Tradition or at least something close enough to allow us to make real progress.

But on the other hand there still is not enough confidence on either side that we share a common enough theological vision. Also as we can see the past needs to be healed without ignoring it, without covering it up or implying that those who were its defenders on either side were ignorant and misinformed.

Here I'm not too sure how much good it does to point to the fact that the fathers of the Church were human and fallible in their understanding. This only leads us back to the untenable argument that the division between us occurred due to ignorance and misunderstanding. But if that is so how to account for the obvious fact of division between us for the past 1500 years or so? Has the division been the result of total delusion on both sides for all these centuries?

Probably this is why so many still resist unity in the way it has been presented so far. Unity must not be the fruit of totally disowning our past. For if we do this then what is our present except some sort of newly invented 'church' which has no connection with the saints, theological fathers and faithful who have gone before us?

Without this being some sort of intellectual sophistry unity must be the fruit of healing the past by an openess to what is most true among each of us. Obviously each of us needs to have been able to find where the truth lies on the other side and accept it- which as we can see is a very painstaking task that must be handled with great care. To have humility in how we see others while not compromising on what is esssential to the Faith is no easy task. But it absolutely is required for real unity to be achieved.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#22 Scott Pierson

Scott Pierson

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 370 posts

Posted 05 September 2006 - 03:51 PM

Ultimately this is not your call, but rather the call of your hierarchs,


It is the duty of every baptized believer to preserve the faith. It would be morally wrong for a lay person to sit idly by while some of their hiearchs insult the memory of our God bearing Fathers and attack the conclusions of an eccumenical council. If my hiearchs enter into union with the OO without first fixing the problems I disscussed above (God forbid!) I would be forced to cease communion with them. The hiearchs have a duty to be in submission to the councils and tradition of the Church they have no legitmate power to do otherwise. The Priests and Bishops are servants of God not masters who proclaim their own truth and will contra the teaching of the councils and Church tradition.. In other words they are not Popes.

The Church teachs that christ has 2 wills (a divine AND a human will).. dythelitism. If one rejects that, they are by definition of an eccumenical council a heretic. Miathelitism - ONE divine human will. One = mono the fact that the will is considered one "divine human" doesnt prevent it from still being one and thus monothelit.

#23 John Charmley

John Charmley

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,101 posts
  • Guest from Another Religious Tradition

Posted 05 September 2006 - 09:51 PM

I hope that Athanasius Abdullah or someone else from the Oriental Orthodox communion will address Mr. Pierson's important point, but I hope he can see from previous posts, particularly those of Father Raphael and Athanasius Abdullah that no one wishes to avoid answering the sort of point he makes in his last post.

Is there not a difference between the sort of ecumenism one sees on the WCC and the dialogue between the EO and OO? Both these Churches have borne a steadfast witness to their Faith and to the Apostolic tradition in a way that has, I think, no equal, at least in so far as they have both avoided the accretions that have attached to Roman Catholicism since 1054, and the sort of thing that has gone on in the West since the Reformation.

Of course, if prayerful dialogue were to reveal that the differences were insurmountable, that would be that. There is an interesting article by Subdeacon Peter Farrington of the BOC at the following address http://www.britishor...ox.org/107d.php which those following this thread might like to ponder.

In Christ,

John

#24 Michael H. Lake

Michael H. Lake

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • 2 posts

Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:10 AM

Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,

A cradle Roman Catholic, I was chrismated by an OCA pastor into the Orthodox Church (hereinafter referred to as "THE CHURCH") in June of 1990. Without fully recognizing or understanding the differences between EO and OO, I soon began attending St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church here in Seattle mainly because I had met two lovely parishoners who were full of love and fidelity. Little did I realize then, however, what I had gotten myself into--I mean culturally, not theologically. But as I have read the Fathers of the CHURCH and compared their wise words with the history of political machinations perpetuated by many emperors (and patriarchs), the awareness has dawned on me that OE and OO are fighting a war of words their spiritual ancestors started, whether for good reasons or ill.

Yet, we must soberly recognize that the division between the two bodies is nigh unto abyssal because of the all the massacres the Christians of Egypt and Syria suffered at the hands of their "brothers," who considered themselves to be the only true Christians and guiltless in the slaughter of the "heretical". But while noting this, I am quite persuaded that if imperial favor had gone the other way, we would now be talking about OO crimes against humanity.

But where is the CHURCH in all this history? Do we continue to approach the differences between the OE and the OO as merely theological and not also historical? Do triumphalist OEs or OOs, then, demand that the other side repent in sackcloth and be rebaptized in order to be saved? Quite honestly, I am ashamed that we continue to sin against one another in the name of being "tc" (theologically correct). What would happen to the intercommunion dialogue if we finally admitted that both "St." Dioscorus and "St." Leo were more concerned with their respective positions of primacy than with the question of whether Eutyches were preaching heresy or not?

I realize that I have perhaps stirred up a maelstrom with this posting, but I am very tired of people in the CHURCH rearranging deck chairs while the Titanic sinks in this era of the anti-Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Michael

#25 John Charmley

John Charmley

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,101 posts
  • Guest from Another Religious Tradition

Posted 06 September 2006 - 04:56 PM

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Mr. Lake's post takes this thread on an interesting, and as he says, possibly provocative turn; but all the way through, as elsewhere on this site, we have not shied away from provocative thoughts sensitively expressed!

Whilst not being able to express it with the elegance or force of Mr. Lake, his view has resonances with mine. His comments echo those of Professor Chadwick cited at the start of this thread - namly that the main cause of the divisions continuing is the fact that they exist. Here we might pause and take on board Mr. Pierson's forthright position, and unless we can address it (and I think we can) then I fear there will be little positive progress.

But where Mr. Lake's post strikes home with me is when he writes about rearranging he deckchairs on the Titanic - and that after the iceberg has been sighted!

On the other hand, someone might riposte that it is pretty rich of an Anglican to make such comments, since my own Church has sold every pass even before there was a buyer for it, and its search for 'relevance' has led it to some sad places. If the stauchness of Mr. Pierson and those who think his way helps prevent Orthodoxy from following suit, more power to them.

But, at the risk of being terribly Anglican, we can surely find some balance here? IF the dialogue between the OO and EO has revealed how very small the differences between them are, then Mr. Lake's sentiments are surely germane? How many souls do we risk losing whilst we gaze at our respective navels?

Unity for its own sake and on the lowest common denominator terms, no, but even then, no only when it is clear after a thorough debate that the real differences are too great. Christ's commission to spread the Good News would be much facilitated by real unity between those who have held the Orthodox Faith intact and who have so much to teach those of us outside Orthodoxy.

In Christ,

John

#26 Scott Pierson

Scott Pierson

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 370 posts

Posted 06 September 2006 - 10:25 PM

To me the issue comes down to one thing, trust. Who do I trust to be a more reliable source for truth on this subject . One the one hand we have the teachings of an ecumenical council and a vast multitude of God bearing saints spread out over a thousand plus years of Church history who teach that the OO are in fact schismatic and heretical. On the other hand we have a few modern scholars and ecumenical activists who claim that they are not heretical and some who go so far as to claim that they are not even schismatic (despite the fact they are not in communion with us!? ). To me the answer is obvious. You trust the fathers. Yes, it is possible for the fathers to err when discussing their own theological opinions as opposed to the dogma of the Church… But we are not talking about a few errant words from one or two of the fathers who were later corrected by other saints for teaching something not in line with the holy Church. We are talking about a real consensus that spreads out over a thousand years, hundreds if not thousands of saints, etc. I know when I was becoming Orthodox I was told over and over about the importance of the patristic consensus and that we are not to judge the fathers by our own standards and opinions but rather are to submit our will to the teachings of the fathers. Do we really know better then the God illumined fathers ?

I can understand why many people think we have a lot in common. In certain areas we do. Personally I’ve learned a lot from reading Fr. Matthew the Poors books for example. But the issues of Christological theology and our similarities and differences in that area are very complex subjects and I would trust the penetrating mind and soul of a saint over a modern scholar or ecumenical representative any day. He who prays is a real theologian not he who has a degree from a seminary or studied dogmatic theology in school. Do we have the same faith? Who would know better then the respective saints of each of our traditions… and the conclusion of those saints appears to be a unanimous “no”. Do the people who represent our Church in ecumenical dialogue have a more refined and clear view of Christological realties then the God bearing fathers ? Do they have better spiritual discernment?

If one is going to represent the Church in ecumenical dialogue they have a duty to represent the teachings of the Church (and therefore the teachings of the fathers) and not just their own personal opinion. If one side dropped the teachings and presuppositions of their Church and the other party did the same any agreement or finding (that “wow we really have the same faith already) would be worthless. They would only have proved that those who reject the teachings of their respective churches have the same faith not the actual churches themselves. I’m not saying all the people who are participating in the dialogue are doing that but from some of things I’ve read it seems more then a few are.

#27 Ryan

Ryan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 837 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 06 September 2006 - 10:55 PM

I am wondering, how much do the OO churches talk to each other? For instance, I visited the website of the Armenian Church and I could find no reference to the Coptic Church or any of the other OO churches they are in communion with.

#28 Athanasius Abdullah

Athanasius Abdullah

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 125 posts

Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:34 PM

Dear John Charmley,

+irini nem ehmot,

I think Fr. Raphael hit the nail on the head with respect to the reason behind the apparent stalled state of progress on the matter; our Churches are simply “taking a breather”.

In the last OO Synod (2003) represented by the Patriarchs of the Coptic, Armenian, and Syrian Orthodox Churches, the point was in fact explicitly made that whilst it’s great that many prominent hierarchs, theologians and scholars have come to realise that the OO Church is not Monophysite, it still needs time to be received and to sink in for many others.


Fr. Raphael,

+irini nem ehmot

I must say I firmly agree with everything you said in your last post. I would just like to make a couple of points in response to the following remarks:

This only leads us back to the untenable argument that the division between us occurred due to ignorance and misunderstanding. But if that is so how to account for the obvious fact of division between us for the past 1500 years or so? Has the division been the result of total delusion on both sides for all these centuries?


1) There have been many times throughout the last 1500 years, even points in time within the first few centuries subsequent Chalcedon, that a mutual unity in essential and substantial faith was perceived between our Churches and hence why attempts at re-union had been pursued or at the very least borne in the mind of certain hierarchs at various points in time throughout these last 1500 years.

2) Coptic theologian, Fr. Tadros Malaty, makes the point that our Church wasn’t even labelled “Monophysite” by the Chalcedonians until a few centuries after the incident. The time immediately subsequent to the event of Chalcedon was a time of severe confusion for everyone; it wasn’t a clear-cut matter whereby two distinct groups emerged, one being deemed Monophysite by another, and that other being deemed Nestorian by that one. A great and brief article on the subject can be read here: http://www.orthodoxu.../article01.html

#29 Athanasius Abdullah

Athanasius Abdullah

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 125 posts

Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:44 PM

Dear Scott Pierson,

It is the duty of every baptized believer to preserve the faith. It would be morally wrong for a lay person to sit idly by while some of their hiearchs insult the memory of our God bearing Fathers and attack the conclusions of an eccumenical council.


I can agree with this in theory, but the question would arise as to whether that would in actual fact be the case, or whether you would in fact simply be recklessly and ignorantly disobeying hierarchs who are being moved by the Spirit to exercise their authority in such a manner simply because of your ill-informed private interpretation of what it means to preserve the faith?

I believe that to uphold the integrity of any claim to preserving the faith would require that you question the presuppositions underlying the particular faith you are deeming worthy of preservation.

For example, as to upholding the “conclusions of an ecumenical council”, would this include the anathemas launched against our Saints (particularly Sts. Dioscoros and Severos) by those councils you consider ecumenical? And if the available evidence vindicates these Saints from the charges so launched against them, do you think it would be “morally wrong” (to use your own terms) to submit to the proposal of your hierarchs that these anathemas be lifted? It seems to me that the only moral wrongness that could be committed in this circumstance would be to blindly uphold these charges contrary to the facts that the available evidence give witness to (simply because your presuppositions compel you to). It would be morally wrong on account of it being dishonest and on account of it bearing false witness.

The Church teachs that christ has 2 wills (a divine AND a human will).. dythelitism. If one rejects that, they are by definition of an eccumenical council a heretic.


The issue of Christ’s will(s) has more or less been agreed upon between our two Churches in the following points of the Second Agreed Statement of the Joint-Commission (1990).

3. Both families agree that the Hypostasis of the Logos became composite (sunqetoj) by uniting to His divine uncreated nature with its natural will and energy, which He has in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created human nature, which He assumed at the Incarnation and made His own, with its natural will and energy.

4. Both families agree that the natures with their proper energies and wills are united hypostatically and naturally without confusion, without change, without division and without separation, and that they are distinguished in thought alone (th qewria monh). 20

5. Both families agree that He Who wills and acts is always the one Hypostasis of the Logos incarnate.


Source: http://www.orthodoxu...rg/state02.html

Miathelitism does not deny two distinct natural wills in Christ; it simply assigns these two distinct wills to the realm of theological contemplation. Miathelite language focuses on the practical expression of the synergic interaction between these two distinct natural wills in the Incarnate Word Who exists and ultimately wills as a composite unity (as opposed to a singularity or duality).

One = mono the fact that the will is considered one "divine human" doesnt prevent it from still being one and thus monothelit.


‘Mono’ implies one in the sense of exclusive singularity. The OO Church has never used the prefix ‘mono’ in her Christological vocabulary, but rather the Cyrillian term ‘mia’ which connotes multiplicity in unity i.e. composite unity. Christ’s one (mia) will therefore, is not a hybrid natural divine-human will, but rather the hypostatic will of the Incarnate Word. The primary theological implication of such terminology is that the One Hypostasis wills in accordance with the synergic relationship between His natural divine and natural human wills.

Thus, contrary to what is propagated in polemical literature, mia-type language does not represent an extreme opposition to an extreme dualism. Rather, it represents, by virtue of its attestation to multiplicity in unity (as opposed to mere singularity or mere duality) the very balance that Chalcedonians claim for their own Christology.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#30 Scott Pierson

Scott Pierson

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 370 posts

Posted 07 September 2006 - 12:14 AM

or example, as to upholding the “conclusions of an ecumenical council”, would this include the anathemas launched against our Saints (particularly Sts. Dioscoros and Severos) by those councils you consider ecumenical?


Yes it would. The ecumenical councils are very important expressions of our Churches dogma and teaching. We test doctrines and teachings against the standard of the ecumenical councils. We do not sit in judgment over an ecumenical council and declare it to be wrong based on our own opinions or views on a matter. It would be like declaring the Bible wrong... as Orthodox we believe that our ecumenical councils are God directed and guided by the Holy Spirit. We also believe that our holy God bearing fathers came to their conclusions under inspiration of the Holy Spirit and that the councils are therefore without error. At least that is what I have always been taught.

#31 Athanasius Abdullah

Athanasius Abdullah

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 125 posts

Posted 07 September 2006 - 02:18 AM

Dear Scott Pierson,

+irini nem ehmot

Yes it would.


If such is the case, then I would consider your vision of re-inter-communion to be dishonest; there is no doubt in my mind that the OO Church would cease dialogue with the EO Church if it were made clear to her that there were no intention that the anathemas be lifted from Sts. Dioscoros and Severos. Fortunately, that has not been the case:

In 1991 His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius IV (EO Patriarch of Antioch) issued a Synodal and Patriarchal letter, affirming the Antiochian-Syrian Pastoral Agreement that took place earlier that year. The first two points of that agreement read:

1. We affirm the total and mutual respect of the spirituality, heritage and Holy Fathers of both Churches. The integrity of both the Byzantine and Syriac liturgies is to be preserved.

2. The heritage of the Fathers in both Churches and their traditions as a whole should be integrated into Christian education curricula and theological studies. Exchanges of professors and students are to be enhanced.


Source: http://www.antiochia...ent/view/143/21

In 1994, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church issued a declaration approving of the conclusions of the Joint-Commission, which include the proposal regarding the mutual lifting of anathemas.

Source: http://orthodoxunity.org/state10.html

In 1997, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church issued a declaration approving of the Second Agreed Statement which contains proposals regarding the mutual lifting of anathemas. The statement expresses some reservations regarding the specificity and clarity of the Christological language employed however.

Source: http://orthodoxunity.org/state12.html

In 2001, the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria issued a pastoral agreement with the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, which states:

"Since the Holy Synods of both the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa have already accepted the outcome of the official dialogue on Christology between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, including the two official agreements: the first on Christology signed in June 1989 in Egypt and the second also on Christology and on the lifting of anathemas..."

Source: http://orthodoxunity.org/state05.html

The OO Church appeals to the EO Church to lift the anathemas off her Saints, not by virtue of some question-begging argument resting on the mere fact of their being Saints of the OO Church and hence Orthodox by virtue of the presupposed infallible Truth of our Ecclesiastical Tradition, but rather upon consideration of the available evidence regarding what these Fathers actually taught and preached.

I think it’s rather absurd and senseless that you would expect OO’s to abandon both their Tradition (which testifies to the sanctity and Orthodoxy of these Fathers) as well as the abundant available evidence regarding what these Fathers taught and preached, simply because of the presupposed infallibility of the historical polemics of a Council you consider to be Ecumenical.

It furthermore seems absurd that you would uphold anathemas against those very Fathers who are the very reason behind our present common perception of unity in faith. To accept re-inter-Communion with the OOC for the very faith their Fathers are responsible for, whilst upholding anathematisations of those Fathers, would be an obvious contradiction. We OO believe what we believe today because of these Saints and not in spite of them.

ecumenical councils are very important expressions of our Churches dogma and teaching.


That’s all well and good, but an anathema is only an expression of a Church’s dogmatic teaching insofar as it implicitly anathematises a certain doctrine in anathematising the person presupposed to be a proponent of that doctrine.

What harm does it do therefore, to submit to the facts and evidence that indicate, not that the teaching implicitly condemned is falsely condemned, but that the condemned teaching is falsely attributed to certain historical persons?

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#32 Scott Pierson

Scott Pierson

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 370 posts

Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:24 AM

If one comes to the conclusion that the ecumenical council was wrong in it decisions (to anathematize )then that’s their opinion. In the Church one doesn’t put their opinion over the rulings of an ecumenical council. If the Church “admitted” that the council was wrong in its anathematazations (for whatever reason) then they are in effect denying the traditional orthodox teaching that the ecumenical councils are without error. Either God guided the council into all truth or the council was merely a human endeavor. As an Orthodox Christian I believe that God guided the fathers to anathematize Dioscoros and Severos. It is not up to us to second guess them. If we disagree with them that is our right but we have no right to lead the Church according to our opinions.

#33 Scott Pierson

Scott Pierson

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 370 posts

Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:42 AM

The OO Church appeals to the EO Church to lift the anathemas off her Saints, not by virtue of some question-begging argument resting on the mere fact of their being Saints of the OO Church and hence Orthodox by virtue of the presupposed infallible Truth of our Ecclesiastical Tradition, but rather upon consideration of the available evidence regarding what these Fathers actually taught and preached.



Our Church Tradition was not formed via “rational consideration of available evidence.” If it was it could be right or it could be wrong. Our Tradition came about through direct divine illumination and revelation. The fathers speak as they are lead by God. The Church proclaims and we obey. We do not test the teachings of the Church against our logic we submit our logic to revelation. If in our opinion X + Y =Z and the Church proclaims X+Y=A then we drop our opinion (regardless of the perceived evidence) and accept the teachings of the Church.

I dont expect you to agree with this I'm not writing it to convince you of the truth claims of the Church... just to point out the reasons I as an Orthodox can not accept the decisions of an eccumenical council to be wrong.

#34 Athanasius Abdullah

Athanasius Abdullah

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 125 posts

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:00 AM

Dear Scott Pierson,

+irini nem ehmot

I dont expect you to agree with this


Well I’m glad that you can implicitly admit to the fact that you have no real valid reason as to why OO’s (or really anyone who doesn't accept your EO presuppositions) should adopt your point of view, which essentially means that such an adoption requires a blind submission to your subjective experience and interpretation of what you consider to be the infallible and unquestionable Truth.

I, on the other hand, expect (in the sense of considering reasonable and due, as opposed to in the sense of considering obligatory) all rational human beings to judge St. Severus according to St. Severus’ own writings (which attest to his Orthodoxy beyond all reasonable doubt), and not according to the polemical accusations of his ecclesiastical opponents, nor even according to his exalted position within the OO Tradition which is, in like manner to the conception of ‘Holy Tradition’ within the EO Church, perceived and experienced as being divinely inspired and guided etc.

Lastly, I was hoping that you would address the last question that I posed to you in my last reply. The question I was essentially asking was: “Why do you feel it necessary to incorporate historical polemics into your concept of Church Tradition?” As I proved in my last post, the hierarchs of your Church (and I didn’t just refer to the opinions of the odd Bishop or theologian, but rather the formal declarations of the Holy Synods of the EO Churches of Antioch, Alexandria, Russia, and Romania) seem to conceive of Holy Tradition in a manner in which it is not compromised by the retraction of polemical pronouncements; so the question I am encouraging you to ask yourself is whether you are even holding to a proper interpretation of what this overarching authority (i.e. Holy Tradition) actually encompasses according to your ecclesiastical tradition.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#35 Ryan

Ryan

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 837 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 September 2006 - 05:11 AM

Forgive me if this has already been brought up. St. Isaac of Nineveh, while not specifically anathematized, was a member of a church that was condemned as Nestorian, yet he is lovingly venerated in the EO church (I don't know how the OO view him). Whether this brings any light on the present discussion of anathematized Coptic saints I'm not sure.

#36 Scott Pierson

Scott Pierson

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 370 posts

Posted 07 September 2006 - 11:09 AM

t. Isaac of Nineveh, while not specifically anathematized, was a member of a church that was condemned as Nestorian,


There are many people who make that claim. According to tradition he was Orthodox and in the Orthodox Church. Many Fathers reference him in their writings and none of them claim he was a Nestorian (at least that I know of). Many of them did however point out that he was not only Orthodox but a pillar of the Church ( Not the Nestorian Church mind you but the real Church). Some scholars make the claim that he was Nestorian (others that he was a monophysite <the exact opposite> ), but I trust the Saints over modern “scholars”. I think the idea (among some Orthodox**) that he was really in the Nestorian Church is a relatively new phenomena.

** I say "among some Orthodox" because those in other Churches tried to claim him for themselves as well.

#37 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 07 September 2006 - 12:48 PM

The Quest for Eastern & Oriental Orthodox Unity thread seems to have gone for the moment at least in the direction of authority in the Church and how this is reflected in the Councils. So I've also posted this related question to the Ecclesiology area. Reply posts should go to the Ecclesiology area however unless it directly relates to the EO-OO question.

Maybe some useful questions at this point would be how we relate the authority of Councils to the fact that the Church no longer follows all of the canons proclaimed by them or reinterprets their original meaning.

What part if any of Councils is unchanging? Or turn the question around- what part can change?

How can we have respect for the authority of a Council as well as the need to constantly be interpreting it and applying it in a practical living way?

What then does this suggest about the authority of Councils?

Where does the authority of the Church lie and how is this expressed?

I bring this up partly from our own present ROCOR-MP experience where spiritual life & death issues (ie our future direction as part of the Church) are affected by how past documents and statements are interpreted.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#38 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 07 September 2006 - 01:39 PM

I have to admit that even though there are obvious differences there are also some similarities in this discussion about the possibility of union between the EO & OO. The obvious difference is that what we are talking about relates so much to the basic doctrine of the Church- something which cannot be allowed by either side to be negotiated away.

There are however also some real similarities which are interesting. One of these which I've brought up in the Ecclesiology area is that of where authority in the Church lies. Why this question comes up I think is because on the one hand the possibility of reconciliation implies some sort of profound change in the way the Church has been living compared to the past. On the other hand though this change itself needs to take place in the context of a continued faithfulness to the Faith & Tradition of the Church. It's in between these two areas of what apparently needs to change and what must never change that the most active and indeed fierce discussions occur.

Amidst all of this discussion it is only natural that past councils, decrees and even statements are constantly referred to support change or not. But what's interesting about this in terms of this thread is that the same question of where the authority of the Church lies always comes up in terms of past councils & decrees. How much is the Church bound by its past and how is it bound to the past? Where does the authority of the Church lie?

In this way I think we can see that similarly to the ROCOR-MP question the EO-OO question is really as much a question of trying to figure out what we are as the Church as much as the other side.

Another thing I want to add about this which also comes from the ROCOR-MP experience. There is a noticable phenomenon- which almost should be given an official name by some trained psychologist- amidst all of the debate about the significance of past councils, etc where slowly without noticing it councils are claimed to have said things they never said at all. Gradually this can become a whole urban legend where everyone is arguing over interpretations (and interpretations of interpretations...) as if they were absolute facts.

Anyway I thought I'd just bring this up from another similar experience. Last night I went to the actual Acts from the sessions of the 4th Ecumenical Council. So far I'm only about half way through. But for now it's interesting to see the following from Session III of the Council:

After this Dioscorus was again summoned and, as he did not come, sentence was given against him, which was communicated to him in a letter contained in the acts. (L. and C., Conc., Tom IV., col. 418.) The Bishops expressed their opinions for the most part one by one, but the Roman Legates spoke together, and in their speech occurs the following (Col. 426:)

Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the Apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, hath stripped him of the episcopate, and hath alienated from him all hieratic worthiness. Therefore let this most holy and great synod sentence the before mentioned Dioscorus to the canonical penalties. The bishops then, one by one, spoke in favour of the deposition of Dioscorus, but usually on the ground of his refusal to appear when thrice summoned.


Here then is the Condemnation sent to Dioscorus:

The Condemnation Sent by the Holy and Ecumenical Synod to Dioscorus.

(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. IV., col. 459.)

The holy and great and ecumenical Synod, which by the grace of God according to the constitution of our most pious and beloved of God emperors assembled together at Chalcedon the city of Bithynia, in the martyry of the most holy and victorious Martyr Euphemia to Dioscorus.

We do you to wit that on the thirteenth day of the month of October you were deposed from the episcopate and made a stranger to all ecclesiastical order by the holy and ecumenical synod, on account of your disregard of the divine canons, and of your disobedience to this holy and ecumenical synod and on account of the other crimes of which you have been found guilty, for even when called to answer your accusers three times by this holy and great synod according to the divine canons you did not come.


Maybe it's best if I leave the interpretation of this to each of us.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#39 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 07 September 2006 - 01:41 PM

I have to admit that even though there are obvious differences there are also some similarities in this discussion about the possibility of union between the EO & OO and that between ROCOR & the MP. The obvious difference is that what we are talking about relates so much to the basic doctrine of the Church- something which cannot be allowed by either side to be negotiated away.

There are however also some real similarities which are interesting. One of these which I've brought up in the Ecclesiology area is that of where authority in the Church lies. Why this question comes up I think is because on the one hand the possibility of reconciliation implies some sort of profound change in the way the Church has been living compared to the past. On the other hand though this change itself needs to take place in the context of a continued faithfulness to the Faith & Tradition of the Church. It's in between these two areas of what apparently needs to change and what must never change that the most active and indeed fierce discussions occur.

Amidst all of this discussion it is only natural that past councils, decrees and even statements are constantly referred to support change or not. But what's interesting about this in terms of this thread is that the same question of where the authority of the Church lies always comes up in terms of past councils & decrees. How much is the Church bound by its past and how is it bound to the past? Where does the authority of the Church lie?

In this way I think we can see that similarly to the ROCOR-MP question the EO-OO question is really as much a question of trying to figure out what we are as the Church as much as the other side.

Another thing I want to add about this which also comes from the ROCOR-MP experience. There is a noticable phenomenon- which almost should be given an official name by some trained psychologist- amidst all of the debate about the significance of past councils, etc where slowly without noticing it councils are claimed to have said things they never said at all. Gradually this can become a whole urban legend where everyone is arguing over interpretations (and interpretations of interpretations...) as if they were absolute facts.

Anyway I thought I'd just bring this up from another similar experience. Last night I went to the actual Acts from the sessions of the 4th Ecumenical Council. So far I'm only about half way through. But for now it's interesting to see the following from Session III of the Council:

After this Dioscorus was again summoned and, as he did not come, sentence was given against him, which was communicated to him in a letter contained in the acts. (L. and C., Conc., Tom IV., col. 418.) The Bishops expressed their opinions for the most part one by one, but the Roman Legates spoke together, and in their speech occurs the following (Col. 426:)

Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the Apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, hath stripped him of the episcopate, and hath alienated from him all hieratic worthiness. Therefore let this most holy and great synod sentence the before mentioned Dioscorus to the canonical penalties. The bishops then, one by one, spoke in favour of the deposition of Dioscorus, but usually on the ground of his refusal to appear when thrice summoned.


Here then is the Condemnation sent to Dioscorus:

The Condemnation Sent by the Holy and Ecumenical Synod to Dioscorus.

(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. IV., col. 459.)

The holy and great and ecumenical Synod, which by the grace of God according to the constitution of our most pious and beloved of God emperors assembled together at Chalcedon the city of Bithynia, in the martyry of the most holy and victorious Martyr Euphemia to Dioscorus.

We do you to wit that on the thirteenth day of the month of October you were deposed from the episcopate and made a stranger to all ecclesiastical order by the holy and ecumenical synod, on account of your disregard of the divine canons, and of your disobedience to this holy and ecumenical synod and on account of the other crimes of which you have been found guilty, for even when called to answer your accusers three times by this holy and great synod according to the divine canons you did not come.


Maybe it's best if I leave the interpretation of this to each of us.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#40 Athanasius Abdullah

Athanasius Abdullah

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 125 posts

Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:03 PM

Dear Fr. Raphael,

+irini nem ehmot

Maybe it's best if I leave the interpretation of this to each of us.


That St. Dioscoros was deposed at Chalcedon for mere ecclesiastical reasons as opposed to doctrinal reasons, should be clear to anyone (and i'm presuming that's the point you had in mind when posting your last response?).

In fact, if you continue reading through the minutes of Chalcedon to the point where the Chalcedonian Fathers begin to pursue the idea of drafting a confession of faith (the fifth session if my memory serves me correctly), you will find that Anatolius, Bishop of Constantinople, drafted his own version with the formula "of two natures". Upon seeing this, the Roman legates contested with outrage on two accounts: 1) that Anatolius sought to substitute this formula for the one used by Leo of Rome, and 2) that Anatolius was using a formula used by St. Dioscoros. In response to the latter, Anatolius more or less answered with the sentiment of: "Well, so what? Dioscoros wasn't deposed for doctrinal reasons, so what has his expression of Christology got to do with anything?".

Another interesting point to notice is that St. Dioscoros was the very first figure at Chalcedon to express the unconfused union of Christ's divinity and humanity. He in fact anticipated the very formula used in the Chalcedonian Confession of Faith attesting to the fact that Christ's natures were united "without confusion, change, division, or separation". He in fact added an additional adverb ("without transmutation") to further safeguard himself from any potential accusation of compromising the distinctness between Christ's humanity and divinity.

It is in light of this that Anglican scholar R.V. Sellers writes in his book The Council of Chalcedon: "t should be understood that the [OO] Fathers were not heretics, [I]nor were they regarded as such by leading Chalcedonians" (p. 269). Greek Orthodox Professor Fr. Romanides expresses a similar view, stating that, “Dioscorus was considered quite orthodox in his faith by such leading Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon as those represented by Anatolius of Constantinople.”

Metropolitan Methodius of Aksum further remarks indicating that: the “information which we possess does not depict Dioscorus as a heretic. From available information it is obvious that he was a good man and even Bishop Leo himself tried to take him on his side…Likewise Emperor Theodosius in a letter to Dioscorus calls him a man who radiates the Grace of God, a humble man and of orthodox faith. Several times in the course of the Council Patriarch Dioscorus declared his faith. He was not condemned because he was heretical but because he refused to communicate with Leo…and because he refused to come to the Council although he was invited to do so three times. The evidence is sufficient for us to look for other reasons for Dioscorus’ condemnation”

In IC XC
-Athanasius




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users