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


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#41 Anthony

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:45 PM

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?).


Dear Athanasius,

This has always been my understanding of the situation, following lectures I once attended by an eminent Orthodox (EO) bishop and theologian. However I would demur at the word "mere". Pope Dioscorus was deposed because of his behaviour towards Archbishop Flavian of Constantinople, who he had accused of heresy. The Fathers of Chalcedon were effectively saying that since that accusation had not been made to stick, it rebounded back on the person who made it, and in doing so had disturbed the peace of the Church. These are surely quite serious and legitimate "ecclesiastical reasons", independent of any subtexts of ecclesiastical and imperial politics that may have been present. (And irrespective too of the way in which Chalcedon was enforced, which I know too little about and am grateful to you for forcing to our attention.)

Anthony

#42 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 09:40 PM

I have spent much of today reading about the Council of Chalcedon. First of all the context of Dioscoros appearing at Chalcedon is that he was summoned to answer for his actions at the Council of Ephesus in 449 where Flavian had been deposed & Eutyches restored to his rank.

What becomes apparent from reading about Chalcedon is that even though Dioscoros was eventually deposed for his actions at Ephesus, many bishops present were very hesitant about this action. We can I think, as Athansius Abdullah says, see this with Patriarch Anastasius himself who replied to the Papal delgates' contention about the language of the formula that, "Dioscorus was condemned not for his doctrine but for the illegality of his actions at Ephesus." (This is quoted from The First Seven Ecumenical Councils by L D Davis).

It could very well be that from the Papal side Dioscoros represented as much of a theological as a disciplinary problem when he so emphatically rejected the Tome of Leo. However it is important to recognise that the clear evidence of the Council is that many bishops including the Patriarch of Constantinople himself did not see Dioscoros' theology as being the main problem. This is why they kept resisting the Papal legates' pressure for deposing Dioscoros. And this resistance continued until Dioscoros' eventual refusal to attend the Council to answer the charges against him led to the point where a feasible defense for him could no longer be kept up.

One question I have though is why Dioscoros defended Eutyches at the Council of Ephesus in 449. Perhaps his own theology wasn't as radical as Eutychios'. But why then the open approval of Euthychios' Christology at this Council?

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#43 Kris

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 09:47 PM

One question I have though is why Dioscoros defended Eutyches at the Council of Ephesus in 449. Perhaps his own theology wasn't as radical as Eutychios'. But why then the open approval of Euthychios' Christology at this Council?


Your blessing Father,

I believe Dioscoros defended Eutyches due to a denial of heresy by the latter. Later, however, in the words of Severus of Antioch, Eutyches "returned to his own vomit."

Fr. V. C. Samuel gives quite a detailed account of the situation in his book on Chalcedon. If I get time I'll see if I can post the relevant passages from the book, rather than rely on my own shaky memory.

In XC,
Kris

#44 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 10:15 PM

Your blessing Father,

I believe Dioscoros defended Eutyches due to a denial of heresy by the latter. Later, however, in the words of Severus of Antioch, Eutyches "returned to his own vomit."

Fr. V. C. Samuel gives quite a detailed account of the situation in his book on Chalcedon. If I get time I'll see if I can post the relevant passages from the book, rather than rely on my own shaky memory.

In XC,
Kris


Thanks.

The book I was reading didn't point this out.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#45 Kris

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Posted 07 September 2006 - 11:17 PM

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 agree completely with the above. However, I do not think it is an insult to the memory of our God bearing Fathers to suggest that the miaphysites are, in fact, not heretical (with respect to their christology).

The vast majority of the writings of Severus of Antioch were destroyed, and as such were not available to such venerable and Godbearing teachers as St. John of Damascus, who relied on others for their information about such people instead of being able to consult their actual writings.

When one read's St. John's The Fount of Knowledge, Severus of Antioch is essentially accused of Eutychian monophysitism, and St. John gives his response under this assumption.

Now, like it or not, there is nothing at all in Severus' writings that suggests he ever held such a position. In fact, one could actually argue that St. John is closer to monophysitism than Severus, since the latter attributes to Christ's humanity its own hypostasis (united with the divine hypostasis of the Logos at the incarnation - a composite hypostasis so to speak), whereas the former only allows for the idea of a divine hypostasis.

However, just because St. John was mistaken (through no fault of his own) with regards to what Severus actually taught, his response to what he believed were Severus' teachings is entirely Orthodox, and as such one cannot fault or criticise him.

What I am essentially saying is that admitting that St. John was mistaken in his view of Severus does not in any way mean questioning, revising or criticising the Saints teachings, and as such cannot be viewed as an insult to his memory.

With regards to the Councils, I believe Chalcedon was right in deposing Dioscoros since he acted uncanonically, and I don't question its decision (although I do acknowledge that the situation is far from clear-cut).

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.


That is not entirely correct. Mono is a singular one, mia is composite one. Miathelitism is not monothelitism. There might be no distinction in the English language, but there is in Greek.

#46 Scott Pierson

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:07 AM

To say that times change and that some canons are not as relevant (due to changes in culture, technology, etc) is not the same as saying that a council was wrong. There is a big difference between the two imo.

I’ve seen people discuss the issue of the canons and acting once . A canon apparently existed that barred Christians from being actors.. The reason being - at the time actors generally performed in a perverted manner. In our times being an actor doesn’t of necessity entail that so the canon against it is not as applicable today.. that’s all well and good. No one was saying it was wrong for the canon to have been put in effect in the first place. To say that a council was wrong in anathematizing those it did however is a totally different story . That would imply that the council was not guided by the Holy Spirit. On the issue of acting there occurred a change in the nature of the job . On the issue of the OO church there haven’t been any changes (they still claim to be the One Holy Catholic an Apostolic Church, to not be in schism, the still teach the doctrines that a vast multitude of our saints have labeled heretical, etc) and it’s the council itself that is being claimed to be in error.

#47 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 01:02 AM

Dear Antony,

+irini nem ehmot

However I would demur at the word "mere".


I must clarify the fact that my use of the term "mere" was intended to imply the exclusivity of the nature of the reasons for St. Dioscoros's deposition (i.e. that they were exclusively ecclesiastical); it was not intended to downplay the seriousness of the charges at hand.

Albeit of an exclusively ecclesiastical nature, the charges laid against St. Dioscoros are nonetheless quite serious. We OO’s do not believe it sufficient merely that St. Dioscoros was Orthodox in doctrine; we have our own explanation and perspective on all the charges made out against him. Fr. V.C. Samuel puts forth our case most elaborately and eloquently in his book Chalcedon Re-examined.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#48 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 01:17 AM

Dear Fr. Raphael,

+irini nem ehmot

It could very well be that from the Papal side Dioscoros represented as much of a theological as a disciplinary problem when he so emphatically rejected the Tome of Leo.


It must emphasised that the minutes of the Council of Chalcedon reveal that the Tome of Leo was pretty much initially rejected by the majority of Eastern Bishops present—a fact that is made clear in the Greek text of the minutes of the Council, though it is one that is interestingly obscured in the Latin text, I believe.

In fact, from the very moment Leo of Rome’s Tome became public, it was widely viewed with suspicion. The only historical reason I can find as to why it was ultimately accepted at the Council of Chalcedon regards the persistent insistence by the Roman legates that the Council accept the document in its entirety without compromise. In fact, the Roman legates were so determined that this document be accepted that they essentially blackmailed the Council by threatening to abandon their participation (and hence, essentially Rome’s support and consent), unless the document be accepted. Yet, so obscure and potentially misleading was the document that even the ultimate acceptance of it was quite reluctant; it required a three day investigation by the Eastern Fathers in order that they might put it under scrutiny and critically analyse it in light of St. Cyril's twelve anathemas (which Leo of Rome apparently had no awareness of until after the Council had completed its proceedings).

And this resistance continued until Dioscoros' eventual refusal to attend the Council to answer the charges against him led to the point where a feasible defense for him could no longer be kept up.


It must be noted that St. Dioscoros did not refuse to show at that point in time because he was stubborn or unwilling to defend himself. As you would know, St. Dioscoros was present from the very beginning of the proceedings of the Council; he was more than willing to co-operate. Even when he was humiliated from the outset of the proceedings by being removed from his honourable position at the right hand of the Emperor upon the defiant request of the Roman legates—before any charges were even made out against him—he humbly removed himself in silence, and positioned himself as a guilty man on trial and continued to co-operate with the proceedings.

Even when he was initially deposed he proved himself prepared and willing to continue facing the charges laid against him. Upon his first being summoned he indicated no hesitancy to continue his participation; he simply requested that the Council acquire an Imperial permit for him to come since he was blocked from coming by the Imperial guards. Those who came to summon him pretty much responded to the effect of: “That’s not our problem”. Well, it certainly wasn’t St. Dioscoros’s problem. By the time the permit was acquired a few other factors came into play which constituted the final straw for St. Dioscoros with regard to the blatant miscarriage of justice that he had perceived and tolerated from the beginning.

That is the OO interpretation of the events in question which I briefly point out for the sake of emphasising the point I just made to Antony, namely, that the OO position is not merely content with the fact St. Dioscoros was Orthodox in doctrine, but we believe his ecclesiastical actions which form the basis of the various charges laid against him, to be justified, and hence those charges to be unwarranted. How important this is to the question of potential re-inter-Communion in the present day is another question--I personally don't think it's very relevant.

One question I have though is why Dioscoros defended Eutyches at the Council of Ephesus in 449. Perhaps his own theology wasn't as radical as Eutychios'. But why then the open approval of Euthychios' Christology at this Council?


When called to the Council of Ephesus 449, Eutyches submitted a written confession of faith which confessed the consubstantiality of Christ’s humanity to mankind; this sufficed in the eyes of that Council and hence Eutyches was exonerated by unanimous consensus (i.e. not the mere judgment of St. Dioscoros alone).

As Orthodox11 notes however, rumour had it that Eutyches later fell into the heresy he was initially accused of. When St. Dioscoros’s accusers ascribed the stereotypical “Monophysite” doctrine to Eutyches, St. Dioscoros responded by saying: “If Eutyches holds notions disallowed by the Doctrines of the Church, he deserves not only punishment but even fire. However, my concern is for the Catholic and Apostolic faith, not for any man whomsoever.” The relevant implications of this statement are that: a) St. Dioscoros was implicitly recognising that that which was being attributed to Eutyches at Chalcedon was indeed “diallowed by the doctrines of the Church”, and b) that Eutyches was not punished because he (i.e. St Dioscoros) and the rest of the Council found no evidence that Eutyches ascribed to such things upon investigating his doctrine.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#49 Scott Pierson

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 02:23 AM

Assuming a multitude of the saints are wrong and the OO Church is not heretical that wouldn’t prevent it from being schismatic. If an ecclesial community isn’t in communion with the Church they are by definition schismatic. I don’t think anyone would claim otherwise would they? In order for a schismatic to join the Church they need to reject their schism (and its founders) and accept the Orthodox Church (the Chalcedonian one ) as the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. No one seems to be demanding this. Probably because there isn’t much chance of it happening… but you cant water down the faith just to gain a “victory”. Look at the schisms of the past (like the donatist schism) many of them had (for the most part) the exact same theology but they were still recognized as schismatic. Certainly one wouldn’t have been allowed to venerate Donatus and make the claim that the donatist sect was the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and yet still be allowed to be in communion with the Church! A donatist would have to admit that donatus was wrong for starting his schism, that his sect was not the true Church, and he would need to proclaim the Orthodox Church (or EO Church if you prefer) to be the true Church.

Is there any doubt among OO that their Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church ? Is their any doubt among EO that their Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? If the answer is no to both questions then I dont see how people could avoid claiming the other group to be schismatic ? If a sect is shismatic then it is NOT the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Can you unite a schismatic sect with the Church on equal terms as if the said Church had as much right to be called "the church" as the Church itself does? If not how can EO allow OO's to be in communion with them while still holding the OO Church to be One...Catholic Church? There are two compeating truth claims here. One side would need to renounce its claim to be the Church in order for an honest union to take place.

#50 Scott Pierson

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 11:10 AM

A unity of faith is required for ecclesial union right? The doctrine of the EO Church is that the EO Church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Doctrine of the OO Church teaches the same in regards to itself. Thats NOT the same faith. In order for the same faith to exist they would have to come to the agreement that one Church is right. I dont see any way around that.

#51 Kris

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 11:32 AM

Peace,

Assuming a multitude of the saints are wrong and the OO Church is not heretical that wouldn’t prevent it from being schismatic. If an ecclesial community isn’t in communion with the Church they are by definition schismatic. I don’t think anyone would claim otherwise would they?


No, the OOC is most definately schismatic; I don't think even the Ecumenists would argue with that.

In order for a schismatic to join the Church they need to reject their schism (and its founders) and accept the Orthodox Church (the Chalcedonian one ) as the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. No one seems to be demanding this.


I know His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew has stated that acceptance of Chalcedon and the subsequent Councils must be a prerequisite for any form of union. Sadly, many liberal Ecumenists have abandoned such a faithfulness to Orthodoxy.

Probably because there isn’t much chance of it happening… but you cant water down the faith just to gain a “victory”.


Pope Shenouda III (or was it Metropolitan Bishoy?) has already said the Coptic Church would be willing to accept Chalcedon and the other Councils as local Councils of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which I see as quite a positive sign that such a thing might just happen.

Is there any doubt among OO that their Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church ? Is their any doubt among EO that their Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? If the answer is no to both questions then I dont see how people could avoid claiming the other group to be schismatic ? If a sect is shismatic then it is NOT the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Can you unite a schismatic sect with the Church on equal terms as if the said Church had as much right to be called "the church" as the Church itself does? If not how can EO allow OO's to be in communion with them while still holding the OO Church to be One...Catholic Church? There are two compeating truth claims here. One side would need to renounce its claim to be the Church in order for an honest union to take place.


I don't think this is necessary. Were the OO to accept all the Ecumenical Councils, she would essentially be renouncing the thing that caused the schism in the first place. Were she then to be re-united to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, she would not be merely an add-on or addition, but would be an integral part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, as she was for the first four centuries.

That, in my eyes atleast, solves the problem. But it is unacceptable to speak of any kind of re-unitification without having acceptance of all 7 Councils as Ecumenical as a prerequisite.

In XC,
Kris

#52 Kris

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 12:57 PM

Bismil Abbi, wal Ibni, wa Ruhil Kudus, al Illah al wahad. Amin.

[quote name='Miaphysite']
It must emphasised that the minutes of the Council of Chalcedon reveal that the Tome of Leo was pretty much initially rejected by the majority of Eastern Bishops present—a fact that is made clear in the Greek text of the minutes of the Council, though it is one that is interestingly obscured in the Latin text, I believe.
[/quote]

This is quite open knowledge among the Orthodox, and is proof that the Council of Chalcedon was not some kind of triumph of the papacy, where everyone bowed down and accepted the words of the Pope without question; a view held by Catholics in support of their heretical ecclesiology, and by the Miaphysites to discredit the Council.

I think this is actually one of the big problems with the inter-Orthodox dialogue on the subject of Chalcedon. The OO apologists, Fr. V. C. Samuel included, views the Council in the context of Catholicism rather than Orthodoxy. In the words of Fr. Romanides: "It is easy for you to use the Latin interpretation of Chalcedon as a stick against us, but if we are to get anywhere you will have to take the Greek Chalcedonian interpretation of the place of Leo's Tome at the Fourth Council more seriously."

[quote]
In fact, from the very moment Leo of Rome’s Tome became public, it was widely viewed with suspicion. The only historical reason I can find as to why it was ultimately accepted at the Council of Chalcedon regards the persistent insistence by the Roman legates that the Council accept the document in its entirety without compromise. In fact, the Roman legates were so determined that this document be accepted that they essentially blackmailed the Council by threatening to abandon their participation (and hence, essentially Rome’s support and consent), unless the document be accepted.
[/quote]

You're right in saying that acceptance of the Tome was due to the insistance of the Roman legates, but wrong in deeming their actions as blackmail. The Tome represented Pope St. Leo's, and the rest of the West's, position on Christology.

I don't see how their insistance on their doctrinal formula to be accepted by the Council (and this was all they demanded; it was never held to be the doctrinal standard of the Council as Catholics and Miaphysites often claim) is any different from the Miaphysites' insistance on the Alexandrian formula to be the only acceptable expression throughout the universal Church.

[quote]
Yet, so obscure and potentially misleading was the document that even the ultimate acceptance of it was quite reluctant; it required a three day investigation by the Eastern Fathers in order that they might put it under scrutiny and critically analyse it in light of St. Cyril's twelve anathemas (which Leo of Rome apparently had no awareness of until after the Council had completed its proceedings).
[/quote]

The Tome's obscurity has everything to do with it being written in Latin within the context of the Western school of thought. It was for this reason, and no other, that the Tome was obscure amongst many of those in the Greek speaking East, and for this reason that the Council deemed it right to conduct a lengthy investigation into the document to prove that it was consistent with the teachings of St. Cyril of Alexandria; whose teachings were more or less the standard of Orthodoxy.

How one views the Tome is essentially a question of how you view the words 'nature' and 'person.' The Council itself clearly interpreted St. Leo's 'one person' to mean one hypostasis (which Fr. Samuel states on p.224 of his book), and not merely one prosopon. Fr. Samuel mentions that, among the Antiochians, hypostasis and prosopon were used synonimously (p. 225). But this has little or no bearing on the Council's decision.

Secondly, and more importantly, is the word 'nature.' Again, it is clear from reading Leo's Tome that this equated to the Greek word 'ousia,' not 'hypostasis,' and as such any charge of Nestorianism is, again, unwarranted.

I am aware that Severus of Antioch objected to the idea of 'two ousia' as well, but when one compares his own theology to the Tome, one finds very little difference in substance; only linguistics.

On p. 236 of his book, Fr. Samuel notes that Severus of Antioch said the following in a letter to the monks of Enaton: "They saw Him asleep in the ship as man, and they saw Him walking upon the waters as God. They saw Him hungry as man, and they saw Him feeding [others] as God."

I don't see how this differs from one of the Tome's more controversial points, when it states that "each nature performs what is proper to itself in communion with the other; the Word, for instance, performing what is proper to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what is proper to the flesh."

Once again, the fact that there was a thorough analysis of the Tome, and that it was only accepted because it was held to be in agreement with St. Cyril's Anathemas and the Council's own theological statment, is proof that the Tome was never held as the Council's doctrinal standard, but merely accepted as a valid refutation of Eutychian monophysitism.

"I am also amazed that at this point in our conversations Leo' s Tome is still referred to as a standard formulation of Christology at Chalcedon." Fr. Romanides.

[quote]
Upon his first being summoned he indicated no hesitancy to continue his participation; he simply requested that the Council acquire an Imperial permit for him to come since he was blocked from coming by the Imperial guards. Those who came to summon him pretty much responded to the effect of: “That’s not our problem”. Well, it certainly wasn’t St. Dioscoros’s problem.
[/quote]

I must admit I have never heard about this. I don't think Fr. Samuel makes any mention of it (please correct me if I'm wrong). Instead he says the cause of Dioscoros' refusal to caomply with the three symmonses served on him was that Eusebius, who had come out with a petition against him the first time round, was just going to repeat himself in any further proceedings (pp. 95-96).

Fr. Samuel goes on to say "The second flaw mentioned in the verdict refers to 'other offences of which you have been convicted', without specifying any of them." Since they were not mentioned in the Council's verdict, its difficult for us to say with any certainty what they were; but that does not mean they're mere fabrications.

Nor should one dismiss the fact that Dioscoros supported Eutyches prior to his exhoneration. As Fr. Samuel notes, it cannot be proven that he restored Eutyches to Communion, but these are serious allegations and Dioscoros' refusal to comply with the summonses are made more serious in respect to this.

Fr. Samuel goes on to say that Pope St. Leo had done the same thing with respect to Theodoret of Cyrus. I suppose the difference is that in the case of the latter, his legates were at the Council to speak on his behalf, as was Theodoret, who later agreed to condemn Nestorius. One must also take into consideration the fact that the Council of 449 did not have the same status in the West as it did in the East, and so Pope St. Leo's actions could be excused (if not justified) on these grounds.

With regards to Dioscoros' excommunication of Pope St. Leo, it is correct that the latter, in fact, excommunicated the former 5months this happened. I suppose the reason was Dioscoros' refusal to accept the Tome, which St. Leo then saw as heresy (it could also have been a reaction to his support of Eutyches). But, given this fact, I think we are obliged to give Dioscoros the same benefit of a doubt we give Pope St. Leo in this respect.

[quote]
How important this is to the question of potential re-inter-Communion in the present day is another question--I personally don't think it's very relevant.
[quote]

I would generally agree with this, although I do find the issue of opposing individuals being canonised by the respective sides a problem to any unity.

[quote]
When called to the Council of Ephesus 449, Eutyches submitted a written confession of faith which confessed the consubstantiality of Christ’s humanity to mankind; this sufficed in the eyes of that Council and hence Eutyches was exonerated by unanimous consensus (i.e. not the mere judgment of St. Dioscoros alone).
[/quote]

But it should be taken into account, as I already noted, that the charge against Dioscoros' admitting Eutyches to communion (assuming it means Eucharistic Communion - we don't know for sure) was prior to Eutyches exhoneration by the Council of 449.

[quote]
As Orthodox11 notes however, rumour had it that Eutyches later fell into the heresy he was initially accused of. When St. Dioscoros’s accusers ascribed the stereotypical “Monophysite” doctrine to Eutyches, St. Dioscoros responded by saying: “If Eutyches holds notions disallowed by the Doctrines of the Church, he deserves not only punishment but even fire. However, my concern is for the Catholic and Apostolic faith, not for any man whomsoever.” The relevant implications of this statement are that: a) St. Dioscoros was implicitly recognising that that which was being attributed to Eutyches at Chalcedon was indeed “diallowed by the doctrines of the Church”, and b) that Eutyches was not punished because he (i.e. St Dioscoros) and the rest of the Council found no evidence that Eutyches ascribed to such things upon investigating his doctrine.
[/quote]

Although Fr. Samuel frequently suggests that neither Eutyches nor Nestorius actually held the heresies they are commonly accused of, this is certainly not the view of Severus of Antioch.

He wrote that:
"Since you have thought fit to ask me for what reason Eutyches is anathematized, the man of ill name and impious, and how it is that he was received by Dioscorus of saintly memory, we say in a few words that he was received on presenting a document which contained a right confession of faith and anathematized Mani and Valentine, and Apollinaris, and those who say that the flesh of our Lord and God Jesus Christ came down from heaven….But the man of ill name seems again to have 'returned to his vomit.'"

Note the word "again." It seems that Severus believed Eutyches to have held these views prior to him presenting this written document containing "a right confession of faith," and then later returned to his heretical teachings, warranting his excommunication.

Now if Dioscoros "admitted Eutyches to communion before he had been rehablititated by the council of 449" (Fr. Samuel p.97), that gives valid reason for suspicion. Not that Dioscoros himself held such beliefs (he clearly didn't), but that he supported a man who did.

In XC,
Kris

#53 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 02:57 PM

Maybe I missed something in my reading about Chalcedon but I didn't pick up on any major opposition to St Leo's Tome there. Immediately after the official reading of the Tome at the Council the following appears in the report.

Extracts from the Acts Session II.

(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. IV., col. 368.)

After the reading of the foregoing epistle [ie of Pope Leo], the most reverend bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo. So taught the Apostles. Piously and truly did Leo teach, so taught Cyril. Everlasting be the memory of Cyril. Leo and Cyril taught the same thing, anathema to him who does not so believe. This is the true faith. Those of us who are orthodox thus believe. This is the faith of the fathers. Why were not these things read at Ephesus [i.e. at the heretical synod held there]? These are the things Dioscorus hid away.

Some explanations were asked by the Illyrian bishops and the answers were found satisfactory, but yet a delay of a few days was asked for, and some bishops petitioned for a general pardon of all who had been kept out. This proposition made great confusion, in the midst of which the session was dissolved by the judges.


It says here only that questions were asked about the Tome by the Illyrian bishops but then, "the answers were found satisfactory" which presumably refers to the Orthodoxy of the Tome. Note also the petition for a general pardon for those who had been kept out. Yesterday in my posts I referred to how clear it was from reading the reports of the Council that many of the bishops present were very hesitant about deposing Dioscorus and those who had supported him. Patriarch Anastasius even went so far as to comment that as far as he was concerned what was at question was not Disocorus' theology. The 'great confusion' the report refers to then probably is connected to this same concern the bishops had throughout the proceedings of the Council.

From my own reading I would say that the Council's ambivalence about Dioscoros probably reflected the ambivalence of the Church at large. On the positive side it seemed Dioscoros held to an Orthodox understanding of St Cyril. On the other hand there could well have been hesitation about his relationship to Eutyches. When Eutyches was accepted back at Ephesus in 449 by Dioscoros was this the result of Eutyches being called to account for himself or was it from Dioscoros' ongoing efforts to rehabilitate him from the time of his original condemnation by the synod under Flavian in Constantinople? The fact of Ephesus being considered a Robber Council in Constantinople as well as in Rome led some to question Dioscoros' motives and it is this which could well have been behind the ambivalence about him at Chalcedon.

Reading about the period after Chalcedon is also very interesting. It shows that after Chalcedon there was more theological conflict than ever. This culminated in a schism between Rome & Constantinople from 484- 518. In the books much of this is described as Chalcedonian vs Monophysite but one wonders if this is to read the clear divisions that lay in the future into the past. The fact is that there was little clarity in these disputes in terms of the issues but rather a tremendous struggle from within the Church to determine the boundaries of her own theology.

That is why even though there were those who had a difficult time accepting Chalcedon and the Tome of Leo after 451 much of this was not at all like the clear rejection of the future by what became a non-Chalcedonian church. In general both Chalcedon and the Tome were either greatly respected or else at least accepted as correct expressions of Orthodoxy. Not least in this period of turmoil was the effort by many to compromise while sticking to their theological positions. In a sense at least at this stage much of the dispute seems to arise from the effort to preserve at least two ways of seeing theologically- St Leo's & St Cyril's within the One Church.

It's tempting to condemn one or the other's vision as being incomplete. But in a way the real problem lay in the how each vision could be interpreted in incomplete ways.

One can see at Chalcedon over & over again the effort to hold these two visions together by trying to read them in one Orthodox light. In a way this is partly what Chalcedon is about. But the atmosphere was still far too volatile to allow for the ultimate success of this effort in the long run. Through no fault at all of the Council instead of a harmonious vision, Sts Leo and Cyril were instead interpreted by too many as opposing each other.

Neither Chalcedon nor the turmoil which followed can be blamed for this. Chalcedon was the effort to provide a way forward for maturing the vision of the Church by setting before it another way of speaking and thinking (ie St Leo representing a Roman vision). But there is no good reason to reject this unless we are to maintain we are a Church which can see only through one lens.

Turmoil also is no good reason for having failed. After all there is something similar about what came before and after Nicea when there was a tremendous struggle over language and various ways of using this. But then the Church managed to achieve out of the turmoil a language which takes into account the best of different theological tendencies within the Church. This is what the word homoousios represents for us (and maybe one reason we cling to it so faithfully without trying to change it).

What all of this shows I think is that it is wrong to blame Chalcedon or St Leo or St Cyril for what occurred afterwards. The failure rather was in increasing closed-mindedness about what the Church could and could not allow in terms of its expression. In the period after Chalcedon there was in fact no us & them. Rather there was all of us struggling to find something common in something diverse.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#54 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 12:28 PM

Dear Orthodox11,

+irini nem ehmot

[QUOTE]This is quite open knowledge among the Orthodox, and is proof that the Council of Chalcedon was not some kind of triumph of the papacy, where everyone bowed down and accepted the words of the Pope without question; a view held by Catholics in support of their heretical ecclesiology, and by the Miaphysites to discredit the Council.[/QUOTE]

Whether by conscious intention or not, the very fact Leo of Rome’s document was ultimately accepted in spite of the obvious undesirable theological and practical implications of doing so, in addition to the fact that his apparent agenda against St. Dioscoros, which had slowly unravelled from the time before Ephesus 449 even proceeded, was vindicated by Chalcedon, indicates that Chalcedon did in a sense encourage his sense of supremacy over Church affairs: he got what he wanted, even though what he wanted was unjustifiably to the detriment of the peace of the Church.

[QUOTE]The OO apologists, Fr. V. C. Samuel included, views the Council in the context of Catholicism rather than Orthodoxy. In the words of Fr. Romanides: "It is easy for you to use the Latin interpretation of Chalcedon as a stick against us, but if we are to get anywhere you will have to take the Greek Chalcedonian interpretation of the place of Leo's Tome at the Fourth Council more seriously."[/QUOTE]

Fr. Romanides’ response on this point doesn’t really hold water. Any theological document received and upheld by an Ecumenical Council would surely be nothing less than an authoritative standard by which relevant theological considerations are to be measured. If you consider Chalcedon to be Ecumenical, then you must consider the ultimate unanimous reception and vindication of the Tome by your Fathers to be representative of the fact that within a Chalcedonian framework, the Tome can be considered nothing less than a standard formulation of the faith. If you read the pronouncement pasted in Fr. Raphael's post that follows yours, you will find your Fathers more or less anathematising those who do not accept the Tome.

[QUOTE]You're right in saying that acceptance of the Tome was due to the insistance of the Roman legates, but wrong in deeming their actions as blackmail.[/QUOTE]

The minutes of the Council clearly portray the Roman Legates threatening to abandon the Council unless the Tome was signed. That pretty much represents the basic formula of a typical blackmail: “If you don’t do X I’ll do Y”.

[QUOTE]I don't see how their insistance on their doctrinal formula to be accepted by the Council…is any different from the Miaphysites' insistance on the Alexandrian formula to be the only acceptable expression throughout the universal Church.[/QUOTE]

The problem that I believe you have in understanding the significant and most relevant difference here, is the fact you seem to be considering the issue of theological vocabulary in a vacuum and not in within the immediate historical context in which it was considered. The fact that the primary motivation of the OO approach to certain terminology was shaped by legitimate practical concerns constitutes the fundamental essence of Fr. V.C. Samuel’s Chalcedon Re-examined. It is also something that is recognised by Fr. Romanides who displays a profound sense of empathy as to the Alexandrian insistence on the maintenance of the integrity of mia physis terminology.

The adamant defence of the Alexandrian Christology was significantly relevant to the OO’s, not simply because such Christology was Alexandrian as you would have us falsely believe, but because it was the underlying Christology of the normative Tradition of the Church at that time; more significantly however it represented the most explicit negation of Nestorianism to Nestorian ears. The fact of the matter is, that if we were to go back to the mid-fifth century we would find a significantly large number of Nestorians as well as a newly developed and fiercely progressive crypto-Nestorian movement attempting to adapt its heretical principles to a new theological vocabulary, in contrast to one old monk by the name of Eutyches who may or may not have truly ascribed to this idea of “monophysitism”. It is in this light that we must consider the significance and relevance of one form of language over and above the other.

[QUOTE]Secondly, and more importantly, is the word 'nature.' Again, it is clear from reading Leo's Tome that this equated to the Greek word 'ousia,' not 'hypostasis,' and as such any charge of Nestorianism is, again, unwarranted.[/QUOTE]

We can sit here and debate the various implications of certain philosophical constructs according to their usage within a particular linguistic, cultural, or geographical framework, but in the end it would be to miss the very fundamental point.

I refer you to my above comments regarding the need to relate all issues back to their historical context. As was the case with Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus, terminology and language were chosen primarily to negate heresy rather than to express Orthodoxy. Christ was homoousios to the Father, not because homoousios was the best available expression of His relationship to the Father, but rather because it was the best available negation of Arianism.

In light of this, and in upholding our concern for practical/historical considerations, what may possibly be deemed plausibly Orthodox as to the doctrine Leo subjectively intended to convey as reached by the Chalcedonian Fathers through a three day investigation of the usage of Latin terms and expressions, is of negligible relevance if, in the end, upholding such a document means providing Nestorian heretics with fuel to continue progressing their heresies, and repelling true Orthodox Christians who sought fidelity to the Tradition of the Church. Ultimately, the practical results of vindicating the tome were this: a multitude of Orthodox clergy and laity resisted it, whilst a multitude of Nestorian clergy (including Nestorius himself!) and laity praised it as a vindication of their doctrines.

[QUOTE]On p. 236 of his book, Fr. Samuel notes that Severus of Antioch said the following in a letter to the monks of Enaton: "They saw Him asleep in the ship as man, and they saw Him walking upon the waters as God. They saw Him hungry as man, and they saw Him feeding [others] as God."

I don't see how this differs from one of the Tome's more controversial points, when it states that "each nature performs what is proper to itself in communion with the other; the Word, for instance, performing what is proper to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what is proper to the flesh."[/QUOTE]

First of all, the former quote belongs to St. Dioscoros, not St. Severos.

Second of all, the difference between St. Dioscoros’s quotation and the one you have taken from Leo’s Tome is quite significant to the trained eye, especially if you consider the latter quotation in its relevant context:

"For each "form" does the acts which belong to it, in communion with the other; the Word, that is, performing what belongs to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what belongs to the flesh; the one of these shines out in miracles, the other succumbs' to injuries. "

If you look carefully at St. Dioscoros’s statement, the subject of all activity (i.e. human and divine activity) is the One hypostasis of Christ (which is denoted by the personal pronoun – Him). It was Him, who slept, and it was Him who walked upon waters; there is One personal subject, and it is of Him that the human activity of sleeping is ascribed, and it is of the same Him that the divine activity of walking upon waters is ascribed.

When we look at Leo’s statement, we find him speaking of Christ’s flesh as if it were the subject of human activity. For Leo of Rome, “the flesh [carries] out what belongs to the flesh”, yet according to St. Dioscoros, this very statement would be properly worded, “He carries out what belongs to the flesh”. The fact that Leo of Rome separates the “Word” from the “flesh” is also problematic, for the term “Word” is a title of Christ’s person. This is the way that the title was understood from the very time of the Apostles, for it was St. John who depicted the “Word” as being personally acquainted with God the Father since time eternity in the very first verse of his Gospel.

[QUOTE] I must admit I have never heard about this. I don't think Fr. Samuel makes any mention of it (please correct me if I'm wrong).[/QUOTE]

He certainly does make mention of it. Please see pg. 53 and onwards.

[QUOTE]Instead he says the cause of Dioscoros' refusal to caomply with the three symmonses served on him was that Eusebius, who had come out with a petition against him the first time round, was just going to repeat himself in any further proceedings (pp. 95-96).[/QUOTE]

That was his refusal to comply to the “third” summons, and Fr. V.C. Samuel does not give the reader the impression that St. Dioscoros was merely seeking to avoid repeating his case for the sake of avoiding repitition. He was avoiding a reasonably perceived miscarriage of justice. Eusebius’s claims had already been dealt with; it was obvious that Eusebius had a personal agenda that he was not prepared to relinquish.

[QUOTE]Nor should one dismiss the fact that Dioscoros supported Eutyches prior to his exhoneration. As Fr. Samuel notes, it cannot be proven that he restored Eutyches to Communion[/QUOTE]

Exactly; it’s conjecture.

[QUOTE]Fr. Samuel goes on to say that Pope St. Leo had done the same thing with respect to Theodoret of Cyrus. I suppose the difference is that in the case of the latter, his legates were at the Council to speak on his behalf, as was Theodoret, who later agreed to condemn Nestorius.[/QUOTE]

Leo’s relationship with Theodoret was a lot more telling than St. Dioscoros’s relationship with Eutyches. St. Dioscoros exonerated Eutyches upon consideration of a written Orthodox confession of Faith; he did so canonically according to proper ecclesiastical procedure. Leo of Rome exonerated Theodoret against proper canonical custom—he had no authority to reverse the decisions of Ephesus 449 on his own (another reason why he is labelled the father of papal supremacy), and he exonerated Theodoret with conscious knowledge of the fact that Theodoret was a supporter of Nestorius and that he had not yet anathematised Nestorius.

Theodoret in fact never truly renounced Nestorianism; it is clear that he paid mere lip service to appease his accusers, and there is compelling reason to believe so.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#55 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 12:37 PM

Dear Fr. Raphael,

+irini nem ehmot,

Though I have read over your post I unfortunately do not have sufficient time to respond as of now, especially considering the particularly lengthy response of Orthodox11 that I just responded to.

There is alot you have said that rings true, yet much I still disagree with; nevertheless I sense a genuine and honest attempt on your behalf to provide a balanced and non-polemical account of things, and for that I express my sincere respect and gratitude which stands even if our interpretation of history never ultimately coincides.

I hope to be able to post a response to you in the next week or so.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#56 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 09 September 2006 - 01:48 PM

Dear Fr. Raphael,

+irini nem ehmot,

Though I have read over your post I unfortunately do not have sufficient time to respond as of now, especially considering the particularly lengthy response of Orthodox11 that I just responded to.

There is alot you have said that rings true, yet much I still disagree with; nevertheless I sense a genuine and honest attempt on your behalf to provide a balanced and non-polemical account of things, and for that I express my sincere respect and gratitude which stands even if our interpretation of history never ultimately coincides.

I hope to be able to post a response to you in the next week or so.

In IC XC
-Athanasius



Certainly. I will await your post. And God bless.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#57 Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 04:23 PM

Dear Fr. Raphael,

+irini nem ehmot,

It says here only that questions were asked about the Tome by the Illyrian bishops but then, "the answers were found satisfactory" which presumably refers to the Orthodoxy of the Tome.


The point I was trying to make is that there was already a stigma attached to the Tome prior to Chalcedon, which had aroused the suspicion of many before and even at that Council—the Illyrian Bishops, the Palestinian Bishops, and certain other individual Bishops. The pressure applied by the Roman legates and the Imperial commissioners to procure acceptance of the Tome lead these men to request a five day delay in order to investigate the Tome; ultimately they managed to accept it.

One of the Palestinian Bishops, Juvenal of Jerusalem, had in fact already investigated the Tome prior to the convening of Chalcedon, and he found it to be so undeniably Nestorian to the extent that before his departure to Chalcedon he gathered his congregation together and instructed them to resist his authority if he were ever discovered to have changed his mind with respect to the Tome upon his return from Chalcedon. Obedient as the Jerusalem flock were, they followed through with his words, and their resistance was met with severe imperial force.

The ill-reputation of the Tome amongst many Orthodox was further confirmed by the fact that Nestorians appealed to it as support for their cause. In fact it was none other than Nestorius himself who, whilst in exile from the time of his ex-communication at Ephesus 431, looked upon the Tome as a victory of the doctrines he struggled so hard to infect the Church with. Church historian Professor Henry Chadwick states: “Nestorius, reading the tome in his lonely exile, left that the truth had been vindicated at last, and that he could die in peace.” (The Early Church, p. 202)

From my own reading I would say that the Council's ambivalence about Dioscoros probably reflected the ambivalence of the Church at large.


It is clear that many loved St. Dioscoros, particularly the Church of Alexandria which solidly stood loyal towards him to the extent that many died for the sake of upholding his integrity. It was a bloody day in Alexandria when the congregation refused to betray their Patriarch in exile by refusing to submit to the one enforced upon them by the imperial authorities. The Church recognised St. Dioscoros as their leader till his very death, and he has been a Saint of the OO Church ever since (which was quite a significant representation of the "Church at large" at that time--OO's still significantly outnumber the EO's in the lands of the ancient Patriarchal Sees). St. Dioscoros has not only been received in the tradition of the Church as a teacher and confessor of the faith, but also as a holy man according to his works and deeds--a lover of the poor and oppressed who, even during the time of his own oppression whilst in exile, refused to accept the sympathies of his loved ones but rather turned them away and expended his time and energy to serve the needy on the Island of Gangra, performing many great signs amongst them.

Nevertheless, there were those who held an ill-inclined attitude towards St. Dioscoros, but such was also the case with his predecessors—Sts. Cyril and Athanasius. We must go beyond mere observation of the various attitudes held towards and against St. Dioscoros and investigate their underlying basis.

When Eutyches was accepted back at Ephesus in 449 by Dioscoros was this the result of Eutyches being called to account for himself or was it from Dioscoros' ongoing efforts to rehabilitate him from the time of his original condemnation by the synod under Flavian in Constantinople?


Most certainly the former; there is simply no evidence to suggest the latter. The Council of Ephesus 449 which lead to the exoneration of Eutyches was convened neither by the express will or authority of St. Dioscoros, nor was St. Disocoros’ presidency over that Council due to his express will. The Council was convened by the Emperor upon consideration of the personal appeal of Eutyches himself, and St. Dioscoros was president of that Council by virtue of his position as the Pope and Patriarch of the See of Alexandria and by the express command of the Emperor.

Furthermore, your terminology expresses a fundamental presupposition that underlies one of the great misjustices of St. Dioscoros’ trial at Chalcedon. You indicate the belief that: “Eutyches was accepted back at Ephesus in 449 by Dioscoros”—I must emphasise to you that Eutyches was not accepted back into the Church by St. Dioscoros, but rather he was accepted conciliarly. As Professor R.V. Sellers notes: “To bring these proceedings to a close, Dioscorus then requested each Bishop to state his opinion concerning the Orthodoxy of Eutyches, and, beginning with Juvenal and Domnus, one hundred and eleven Bishops, Basil and Seleuces among them, together with the abbot Barsumas, accepted his confession of faith and agreed that he should be reinstated.” (The Council of Chalcedon, p. 79)

The fact of Ephesus being considered a Robber Council in Constantinople as well as in Rome led some to question Dioscoros' motives


Well for us OO's, the fact that Ephesus 449 was labelled a Robber Council by Leo of Rome leads us to question Leo’s motivations. From our perspective, it was termed the Robber Synod because the Synod had, from the perspective of Leo of Rome, robbed him of his sense of supremacy over Church affairs when it failed to entertain his Tome.

All contrary explanations which attempt to impute some sort of criminal guilt on St. Dioscoros are no more or less akin to the very same charges brought upon his Alexandrian predecessors (particularly Sts. Athanasius and Cyril, both who were charged with some pretty outrageous things) time and time again, and as with those very charges there is a lack of evidentiary basis and in fact a contradiction with what the actual evidence indicates.

In fact, reading through the minutes of Chalcedon where one such charge, particularly that of aggression and force, is discussed, St. Dioscoros pretty much prudently exposes the contradiction in his accuser’s testimonies. When his accusers realised that the untenability and fallacy of their concocted charges had been exposed, many of them renounced their lies and openly cried for St. Dioscoros’ forgiveness.

That is why even though there were those who had a difficult time accepting Chalcedon and the Tome of Leo after 451 much of this was not at all like the clear rejection of the future by what became a non-Chalcedonian church.


The rejection of Chalcedon was quite clear and blatant; in fact the Church held an (essentially) Ecumenical Council (though it is not officially labelled as such) just 20 years after Chalcedon in the year 475; it was presided by St. Dioscoros’ successor St. Timothy and was quite well-represented. This Council re-affirmed the Church’s anathematisation of Nestorius and then went on to anathematise Eutyches and the Council of Chalcedon.

The only confusion, and one which blurred any real distinction between a “Chalcedonian Church” and a “non-Chalcedonian Church” , at that time arose by virtue of the very fact that each side was still holding to the hope that the other side would compromise its position on Chalcedon: Non-Chalcedonians were waiting it out in the hope that those who supported Chalcedon would relinquish their support of it, and vice versa. It is only when all immediate re-union efforts failed to realise the anticipated compromise that a clear distinction and division came to light.

Chalcedon was the effort to provide a way forward for maturing the vision of the Church by setting before it another way of speaking and thinking (ie St Leo representing a Roman vision). But there is no good reason to reject this unless we are to maintain we are a Church which can see only through one lens.


I guess I’d make the same point to you here as I did to Orthodox11: One cannot truly empathise with the OO position if they are to consider particular theological “visions” in a vacuum.

For the OO’s, the adament defence of Alexandrian Christology was neither motivated by a sense of nationalistic pride in the Alexandrian tradition, nor a sense of narrow-mindedness that prohibits consideration of alternative traditions. Rather, it was motivated by the legitimate concern of maintaining the integrity of the underlying Dogmatic Tradition expressed through Alexandrian terminology, against tampering and manipulation by the heretics—a tampering and manipulation that was commonly manifest throughout Church history in the form of an abuse of terminology. The only language at that time that the Nestorians could not tamper with, and which hence served as a clear dividing fence between heresy and Orthodoxy was Alexandrian Christological language.

As discussed earlier, the Tome of Leo gave Nestorius a sense of victory whilst he was in exile; history later reveals that Chalcedon gave rise to a group of Nestorians who upheld Chalcedon whilst commemorating the death of Nestorius. We also hear of Chalcedonians who upheld Chalcedon whilst promoting the Christology of Nestorius’ teacher—Theodore. You see, even if we were to accept the argument that the intent of Chalcedon was Orthodox—its ambiguity leading to its service to the regeneration of an already condemned heresy, and its consequent rejection by many Orthodox, laity and clergy alike, cast doubt on just how much authority and respect is really due to it.

Turmoil also is no good reason for having failed. After all there is something similar about what came before and after Nicea when there was a tremendous struggle over language and various ways of using this.


Consequent turmoil per se is certainly no good reason for deeming Chalcedon a failed Council. It all comes down to the issues of why turmoil arose.

But then the Church managed to achieve out of the turmoil a language which takes into account the best of different theological tendencies within the Church.


I cannot find this interpretation to hold water with respect to any of the Ecumenical Councils, and one that is in fact contradicted by the third Ecumenical Council which was strictly of an Alexandrian flavour, or, to put it in terms more relevant to the issue at hand, was a vindication of the Alexandrian flavour over and above the Antiochian flavour. That is not to say that the Fathers of Ephesus thought there to be something intrinsically wrong with the Antiochian Christological tradition, but in terms of the primary concern of that Council—a practical concern to deal with the problems threatening the Faith of the Church in that immediate historical context (i.e. Nestorianism), it was Alexandrian Christology that had to be vindicated because it was Alexandrian Christology that best expressed Orthodox Christology to the negation of Nestorian Christology, whereas Antiochian Christology was, on the contrary, liable to abuse by the Nestorians regardless of any possible Orthodox intent that may lie behind it.

The Fathers were concerned with providing and dogmatising the best expression of Orthodox Christology to the negation of heresy, they were not concerned with “[taking] into account the best of different theological tendencies within the Church”.

Furthermore, even if that were so, Chalcedon certain didn’t take the “best” of the Alexandrian expression of the unity of Christ’s natures. In fact St. Severos was the one who suggested that had Chalcedon incorporated the Cyrillian “One Nature” formula along with the rest of what it had incorporated, that this may have sufficed in clarifying the ambiguity that lay with Chalcedon, both for the sake of maintaining unity with the many Orthodox who opposed it, and for the sake of not blurring the division between Orthodoxy and Nestorianism.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#58 Anthony

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 05:12 PM

Dear Athanasius,

Thank you for your thought-provoking post. I really appreciate your presence in this discussion and the well-reasoned and courteous way in which you put your views across. All I can manage at the moment are rare and brief posts, but I hope they do not come across as attempts to snipe at your position. I am just trying to figure things out.

I have just one question (for the time being).

For the OO’s, the adament defence of Alexandrian Christology was neither motivated by a sense of nationalistic pride in the Alexandrian tradition, nor a sense of narrow-mindedness that prohibits consideration of alternative traditions. Rather, it was motivated by the legitimate concern of maintaining the integrity of the underlying Dogmatic Tradition expressed through Alexandrian terminology, against tampering and manipulation by the heretics—a tampering and manipulation that was commonly manifest throughout Church history in the form of an abuse of terminology. The only language at that time that the Nestorians could not tamper with, and which hence served as a clear dividing fence between heresy and Orthodoxy was Alexandrian Christological language.


I don't doubt the sincerity of Pope Dioscorus devotion to the verbal integrity of the teaching he inherited from his great predecessors, but I seem to remember that the phrase "mia physis tou theou logou ensesarkomenou" originated in a text of St Athanasios which may have been interpolated by Apollinarians, and which St Cyril adopted believing it to be authentic. I would be interested to know what your views are on that subject, as it would be ironic if the Alexandrian tradition had itself fallen victim to just this kind of tampering.

Second (although I said I had only one question :)) - I thought that the title Theotokos was the traditional bastion against Nestorianism. You are presumably claiming that there were people around who accepted the Theotokos but were still Nestorian. If so, I would be interested to know more about this.

Anthony

#59 John Charmley

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 11:22 PM

It is good to see these things being discussed so thoroughly, and Athanasius' views are certainly supported by the documents on the dialogue on http://www.orthodoxunity.org/. As with all historical questions it is possible to selectively use evidence to support a preferred position, but I hope other readers of this thread would agree that Athanasius is trying to see the wider picture.

We can come back to precise interpretations of contested definitions of contested words, and I am not sure that it gets us very far to state that ecumenical councils cannot, by definition, err, especially when one side in this dialogue would say that it is precisely because Chalcedon erred that it cannot be considered ecumenical. Of course for those who take the opposite view, the opposite is true, but that gets us back into the circularity pointed out earlier in this thread. Dialogue requires that we listen to what the other says; at the very least it is unclear to me why the existing differences between the EO and the OO constitute an insuperable obstacle to unity.

It seems, from the outside, as though there are those who are so attached to their way of seeing things that no amount of dialogue will alter it; a not unfamiliar phenomenon, and certainly all too familiar in the history of Christianity, but one we should seek, in prayer, to overcome.

How many of our fellow Christians could (or would want) to follow this (to me) fascinating and informative discussion. As I look around at this world, and the almost post-Christian Britain in which I live, I cannot but wonder what we could do were we to put this energy into mission.

It may be, on re-reading this thread, that the differences are more substantial than an Anglican can appreciate, and that they really do warrant the EO and the OO remaining apart; but what I do see is how much the division harms the cause of spreading Christ's word. Of course that could be read as an argument for syncretism, especially from an Anglican, but as I hope my previous posts suggest, that is not where I am coming from.

I find this thread so illuminating in so many ways, but we should never (and I think we can sometimes) lose sight of the purpose of the dialogue. I would like to thank Anthanasius in particular for his insightful comments, but also for his tone; he never forgets to treat his interlocutors with respect. Our fellow Christians, however mistaken we may think they are, should not be treated as though they were Amalekites - and one of the blessings of this site is that they are not.

We should not forget in this detailed discussion that our words can only ever be approximations of a sacred mystery. Coptic Orthodoxy believes, as far as I can make it out, that Christ was perfect man and perfect God, and that what was assumed can be redeemed. Is there, sometimes, a danger that in our human pride we seek to define the indefinable? Our Lord did not tell us in plain words exactly what he felt about the Incarnation, and it is plain that holy men have grasped at the immensity of this Christological dilemma. Could we, as His Creation, show a little humility, and are we sure we are not trying to confine the Incarnate Lord into our words.

I look forward to continuing my education here, and being told why we are so certain we can pin down the Almighty, and so sure that our definitions are so different that it warrants blocking the road to union. But I have a sense from the website mentioned above, and from these posts, that dialogue such as this is really moving things on, and that perhaps there will be progress. I am not sure who is closer to each other than the EO and the OO.

We should pray for each other and for the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

In Christ,

John

#60 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 12 September 2006 - 01:15 PM

It is good to see these things being discussed so thoroughly, and Athanasius' views are certainly supported by the documents on the dialogue on http://www.orthodoxunity.org/. As with all historical questions it is possible to selectively use evidence to support a preferred position, but I hope other readers of this thread would agree that Athanasius is trying to see the wider picture.

We can come back to precise interpretations of contested definitions of contested words, and I am not sure that it gets us very far to state that ecumenical councils cannot, by definition, err, especially when one side in this dialogue would say that it is precisely because Chalcedon erred that it cannot be considered ecumenical. Of course for those who take the opposite view, the opposite is true, but that gets us back into the circularity pointed out earlier in this thread. Dialogue requires that we listen to what the other says; at the very least it is unclear to me why the existing differences between the EO and the OO constitute an insuperable obstacle to unity.

It seems, from the outside, as though there are those who are so attached to their way of seeing things that no amount of dialogue will alter it; a not unfamiliar phenomenon, and certainly all too familiar in the history of Christianity, but one we should seek, in prayer, to overcome.

How many of our fellow Christians could (or would want) to follow this (to me) fascinating and informative discussion. As I look around at this world, and the almost post-Christian Britain in which I live, I cannot but wonder what we could do were we to put this energy into mission.

It may be, on re-reading this thread, that the differences are more substantial than an Anglican can appreciate, and that they really do warrant the EO and the OO remaining apart; but what I do see is how much the division harms the cause of spreading Christ's word. Of course that could be read as an argument for syncretism, especially from an Anglican, but as I hope my previous posts suggest, that is not where I am coming from.

I find this thread so illuminating in so many ways, but we should never (and I think we can sometimes) lose sight of the purpose of the dialogue. I would like to thank Anthanasius in particular for his insightful comments, but also for his tone; he never forgets to treat his interlocutors with respect. Our fellow Christians, however mistaken we may think they are, should not be treated as though they were Amalekites - and one of the blessings of this site is that they are not.

We should not forget in this detailed discussion that our words can only ever be approximations of a sacred mystery. Coptic Orthodoxy believes, as far as I can make it out, that Christ was perfect man and perfect God, and that what was assumed can be redeemed. Is there, sometimes, a danger that in our human pride we seek to define the indefinable? Our Lord did not tell us in plain words exactly what he felt about the Incarnation, and it is plain that holy men have grasped at the immensity of this Christological dilemma. Could we, as His Creation, show a little humility, and are we sure we are not trying to confine the Incarnate Lord into our words.

I look forward to continuing my education here, and being told why we are so certain we can pin down the Almighty, and so sure that our definitions are so different that it warrants blocking the road to union. But I have a sense from the website mentioned above, and from these posts, that dialogue such as this is really moving things on, and that perhaps there will be progress. I am not sure who is closer to each other than the EO and the OO.

We should pray for each other and for the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

In Christ,

John



Thanks for your kind words.

I'm not sure how much good it does to simply say that Ecumenical Councils do not err and leave it at that. From this discussion we can see that Ecumenical Councils had their fair share of debate- even heated debate- and that certain things were not completely cleared up. There is some ambiguity of meaning even with Ecumenical Councils.

This does not deny however the undoubted authority which these Councils have for us. Perhaps at the Council itself there was fierce debate over issues. Maybe the final acts of the Council reflect this fact. Nevertheless in the mind of the Church these Councils take on specific meanings which define the Faith for the faithful and this is what in fact makes these Councils as they say 'ecumenical'.

In this light it is heartening to read that, "Coptic Orthodoxy believes, as far as I can make it out, that Christ was perfect man and perfect God, and that what was assumed can be redeemed." I would also agree with this and add that it is this which has given grounds for hope in the past few decades.

However as you can also probably also see Chalcedon is still a major point of contention between us. We can and probably should keep discussing its actual interpretation. But at the end of the day there is a real danger here which overlooks the point made above. This is that an ecumenical council is not only something open to interpretation (yes we should be able to admit that and engage in it ourselves). It also represents something fundamental to our theological vision: in this case how we see Christ. So from this perspective an Ecumenical Council is by our lights absolutely non-negotiable. And we could add that even though discussions are helpful a major roadblock to unity still remains if some method of completely accepting this is not not found or is resisted.

It is my own feeling that there is room for hope. But still at this point too many points of theological and historical disagreement remain. What I think makes the circularity of the arguments is not the fact that one side accepts a council as ecumenical and another does not. I think it is rather created by not recognising how theology is expressed through the Councils and history of the Church- how the people of the Church acted- and how we interpret all this. For these express precisely the Faith we hold to. Therefore we need to take these things fully into account along with the meaning given to them.

In Christ- Fr Raphael




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