Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians
Posted 07 August 2004 - 12:41 PM
IN CHRIST Clement A
Posted 08 August 2004 - 07:39 PM
And then there is the question of whether or not the laity's desire for union or the episcopacy's desire for union comes first etc. I am not too sure that it is wrong for there to be communion with Coptic Orthodox on a case by case basis. I am sure that some would see this as total nonsense, but it seems that if the people want union, and if it takes a "gray" relationship for a few generations in the new "ecumenical" climate that has emerged between the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonians, then so be it. And I wonder about the definitions of schism and breaches of communion. It is not as if the RCC suddenly lost its sacramental grace (not to be confused with other grace, if that is a category you are comfortable with) one day in 1054 and that the baby baptized in Gaul the next morning was somehow not really baptized and united to Christ. That seems to me to be utter silliness and a magical view of grace. But I also know many who hold this view, including many monastics and priests.
I am hoping that since this is a forum on Patristics, many of you may suggest some works to read on the subject of communion and church in the period before 800 AD. When I get a chance I will post several books that have been helpful to me in my own understanding (Elert, Congar, Florovsky, McPartlan etc). PLEASE suggest some titles! I think that there is a danger in reading patristics to force our categories of thought and our problems upon them. Obviously they are our Fathers and will be for any age to come, but only on their own terms. Otherwise are we not "patristic Fundamentalists" or "Patristic Protestants", without the mind of the Fathers? And again, I am simply a novice and am not teaching my views to anyone and I am perfectly willing to be corrected and shown to be wrong. I am seeking resources.
I think that Fr Alexander Schmemann half-jokingly said that Christian unity is an eschatological concept, but even so, and perhaps especially so, may we all be one in Christ soon!
Posted 30 August 2004 - 12:21 PM
Actually, what he said was even better: that East-West reconciliation awaits a pan-Orthodox council, and a pan-Orthodox council is an eschatological concept (making Christian unity a post-eschatological concept at best).
Guest_ronald j. brotzman
Posted 31 August 2004 - 12:24 AM
Posted 31 August 2004 - 05:32 AM
Posted 02 September 2004 - 02:33 PM
Even if many non-Chalcedonians really do believe the same thing as Orthodox now (and I personally know some that don't), that doesn't mean that we just start having "open communion" between the two churches. I was a part of an evangelical church that converted to Orthodoxy en masse back in the 1980's. Before we were brought into the Church, we essentially believed the same thing as Orthodox Christians. But the Church didn't just start serving us communion or practicing "open communion" with our church. We were brought into the Church through chrismation. I don't see why it should be any different for non-Chalcedonians.
I'm all for dialogue and working in close cooperation with other churches, but we have to remain Orthodox in our ecclesiology.
Posted 02 September 2004 - 05:44 PM
while i agree the orthodox church should not begin to practice open communion, and that those outside the church should be brought in by chrisimation and if need be baptism. I think that the question for the oriental orthdox is whether we have indeed maintained the orthodox faith from the apostolic times. Has the faith deviated from that of the apostolic faith at all? While i am probably the least to be answering those questions as they would be more fit in an ecumenical council, that would be the primary difference between the Oriental orthodox being communed and a convert from an evangelical church. If the faith has been handed down honestly from apostolic times then there would be no need for re-chrismation as the first admisteration of this sacrament would have been vaild.
Posted 02 September 2004 - 07:06 PM
These questions were already dealt with in an Ecumenical Council - the Council of Chalcedon. This council is very important to the Orthodox Church, as are all of the Ecumenical Councils. For scholars today - 1500 years later - to say that it was all a big mistake is a huge statement. What does that say about the rest of the Councils? Maybe the Councils dealing with Arianism, Nestorianism, Iconoclasm, etc. are all big mistakes as well.
Are you familiar with the dialogues that have taken place with the modern Nestorian Church? The same types of statements are made...it was all just a big misunderstanding, and we really believe the same thing. Would you be willing to just sweep the Third Ecumenical Council under the rug and begin venerating St. Nestorius?
Also – I’m not kidding – I once met someone who said that Arius and St. Athanasius were actually saying the same thing and just misunderstanding each other.
Once we start letting revisionist historians determine our practices and beliefs, we start heading down a slippery slope.
One thing I do agree with you on is that an Ecumenical Council is required to come to a decision on this issue. Until that happens, while we should continue to dialogue and strive for true communion, we should respect the decisions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and not take it upon ourselves to practice intercommunion as some priests have unfortunately advocated.
Posted 02 September 2004 - 07:44 PM
Regarding Mr. Henderson’s post 17: I think it is too simplistic to think that there is no difference in the way the Orthodox should approach the communing of Copts and Protestants. It simply ignores history. Are they not ancient in their origins and the producers of many saints? I have a feeling that the black and white approach advocated by some is simply ahistorical. When has the Church practiced this with Copts or Roman Catholics (esp of the Eastern rite)? It certainly is an issue to be addressed, but to fall back on the argument that one is “in or out” misses too much in its narrowing approach to the Church, in my opinion. Furthermore, my point is even made for me in part by Mr. Henderson’s own example of reception into the Church via chrismation and not (re)baptism. If our baptism unites us to Christ fully and is recognized as such, how is it that we are not united at least in part to the rest of his body, the Church? I would argue that if Mr. Henderson were to be consistent in his views, maybe he should have been (re)baptized, as is the practice of some Orthodox communities. Does the Church own the sacraments, the mysteries, and dispense grace accordingly? Obviously I am not trying to pick on anyone, and I certainly have few answers…
And can an (ecumenical) council be understood to have either missed a point or raised more questions than it solved? I would say yes. This does NOT mean that Chalcedon is in error theologically, but rather that it may not have solved the problem. I would point to its use of apophatic terms as an opening for even more dialogue. Also, the same truth can in fact be stated in different ways. I am NOT a “all-roads-lead-up-the-same-mountain” Christian. Please understand me. I am only saying that it is not a dogma of Orthodoxy to believe that a council can solve all of our theological problems and restore unity, even if what it said was correct.
As for revisionist theologians, let’s be careful. Exactly who are they? What books? Which professors? Without specifics, it is simply unhelpful. We shouldn’t be anxious and accusatory if someone studies the past and says, “You know what? They missed this point.” After all, the whole Donation of Constantine thingy was refuted by a man whom some would call a revisionist historian. And the findings that St Cyprian wasn’t a huge supporter of the pope was also determined by “revisionist historians”.
Not sliding down the slopes,
Posted 03 September 2004 - 03:37 AM
At 02:46 PM 9/2/2004, "matt" wrote:
>Regarding Mr. Henderson's post 17: I think it is too simplistic to think >that there is no difference in the way the Orthodox should approach the >communing of Copts and Protestants. It simply ignores history. Are they >not ancient in their origins and the producers of many saints?
Ancient in their origins, indeed...as are the other heretical former Orthodox: Arians, Nestorians, Roman Catholics, and others. But "...the producers of many saints?" No. Not as far as the Church is concerned. In fact, some of those whom they consider "saints" are condemned by the Council of Chalcedon.
>I have a feeling that the black and white approach advocated by some is >simply ahistorical.
Then you have not read the Canons, especially those regarding the reception of heretics back into the Church.
>When has the Church practiced this with Copts or Roman Catholics (esp of >the Eastern rite)?
I'm not sure what this question means, but clearly the Church has provided for the reception into the Church for persons from these heretical bodies.
>It certainly is an issue to be addressed, but to fall back on the argument >that one is "in or out" misses too much in its narrowing approach to the >Church, in my opinion. Furthermore, my point is even made for me in part >by Mr. Henderson's own example of reception into the Church via >chrismation and not (re)baptism.
Chrismation, of course, does *not* presuppose that the previous "baptism" of the one received by Chrismation is "valid" or Grace-bestowing in the way that the Mystery of Baptism is in the Church: it rather provides the Grace that was lacking in the previous "baptismal" rite received by the individual outside of the Church, and joins that person to the Church.
>If our baptism unites us to Christ fully and is recognized as such, how is >it that we are not united at least in part to the rest of his body, the Church?
If by the above the writer means that "...our baptism..." is Baptism in the Orthodox Church, then it does what he mentions. If the "...our baptism..." to which he refers is any other rite performed outside of the Orthodox Church, then his premise ("...unites us to Christ fully and is recognized as such...") is simply wrong. The fact that there are those in the Orthodox Church who do not believe and practice as the Church does only points out their disobedience or ignorance...it does not change the belief and practice of the Church demonstrated through the centuries.
> I would argue that if Mr. Henderson were to be consistent in his views, > maybe he should have been (re)baptized, as is the practice of some > Orthodox communities.
That would not, of course be "(re)baptism" but Baptism. The "re" assumes that the previous "baptism" was real, which is not what the Orthodox Church accepts. Reception by Chrismation is a full and complete reception into the Church for the reason I indicated above.
>Does the Church own the sacraments, the mysteries, and dispense grace >accordingly?
As a matter of fact, yes, in a very real sense. The Church is the Body of Christ, the Mysteries are hers, and she dispenses them. Thus one can be excommunicated - denied the Mysteries and the Grace thereof - as well as returned to Communion. Certain sins even exclude burial from the Church.
>And can an (ecumenical) council be understood to have either missed a >point or raised more questions than it solved? I would say yes. This does >NOT mean that Chalcedon is in error theologically, but rather that it may >not have solved the problem.
Of course it solved the problem. The fact that there are those who refused obedience to the Council (and continue to do so) does not make the Council to be in error, or incomplete.
>I would point to its use of apophatic terms as an opening for even more >dialogue. Also, the same truth can in fact be stated in different ways. I >am NOT a "all-roads-lead-up-the-same-mountain" Christian. Please understand me.
The statements of the Council are quite clear, and I am not aware of even ecumenically-minded persons who claim otherwise: the claims made about the non-Chalcedonian Monophysites are usually that a) they and the Chalcedonians misunderstood each other (which must mean that the Holy Spirit did not understand either, or that He does not guide the Church in Council: both blasphemous, I think) or b) perhaps the nonChalcedonians *did* have it wrong, but not anymore, so now it's O.K. - which is nonsense because one who is *not* Orthodox and a member of the Church does not *become* Orthodox and a member of the Church simply by coming to Orthodox belief...that's just the first step.
> I am only saying that it is not a dogma of Orthodoxy to believe that a > council can solve all of our theological problems and restore unity, even > if what it said was correct.
The Councils which dealt with doctrinal matters *did* solve the problems they addressed. They did *not* solve problems which they did not address. That's kind of elementary, ISTM.
>As for revisionist theologians, let's be careful. Exactly who are they? >What books?
Those which question the history and definitions of the Church. There are more than any of us could list. Yes. Let's be careful and use discernment.
I know several nonChalcedonian clergy (there are three nonChalcedonian parishes within a couple of miles of my home, in fact). They *all* consider us (Orthodox) to be heretical. They love us, as we should love them, but they don't pretend to have the same faith.
Which reminds me...I was at a Christmas party given by those parishes several years ago, to which I and our parish were invited. I brought up the silly expression, "Pre-Chalcedonian" that is often used by those Orthodox who apparently want to minimize the distinction between them and the Orthodox, and which I have always found disingenuous.
I asked what they thought of the term. Unanimously they indicated that it is an insult to them: they are not "Pre-Chalcedonian" - all of the "Pre-Chalcedonians" have been dead for centuries. They told me that they are *Non*-Chalcedonians, even more correctly, *Anti*-Chalcedonians, because they *reject* the Council and its conclusions.
So don't talk to me about having the same faith as the nonChalcedonians: we don't. If they ever come to an Orthodox confession of faith, it will be wonderful for many reasons...not the least of which is that their piety and traditionalism puts many (most?) Orthodox to shame. At an ecumenical gathering at St. Vladimir's seminary a number years ago, which happened to take place during the Apostles' Fast, the nonChalcedonian hierarchs attending refused the non-fasting food served, and were astonished at the cavalier attitude toward fasting shown by the Orthodox hosts!
Posted 03 September 2004 - 07:29 AM
Given your view on the Limits of the Church, I am really curious what your response is to Matt's comment: "It is not as if the RCC suddenly lost its sacramental grace (not to be confused with other grace, if that is a category you are comfortable with) one day in 1054 and that the baby baptized in Gaul the next morning was somehow not really baptized and united to Christ."
I would have to assume that you would not agree with this statement. If that's so, it would be interesting to read your reasoning.
Posted 03 September 2004 - 07:34 AM
Posted 03 September 2004 - 07:49 AM
"The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the five so-called monophysite churches, characterised by their acceptance of the first three ecumenical councils and rejection of the Council of Chalcedon (451). In contrast to Chalcedon's doctrine that Christ is one person existing in two natures the Coptic Church affirms that Christ's humanity cannot be separated from his divinity. After the incarnation, the thoughts and actions of Jesus were those of a single unitary being. This doctrine has sometimes been described as monophysitism because it ascribes to Christ one nature."
Is it not just different words for the exact same idea? What practical (bad) consequences has this had for the non-Chalcedonian Churches? Has this different interpretation of the same doctrine had further consequences in their Theology? I mean, Western Undersatnding of Original Sin is said to have spawned off a very distinct and even harmful theology, coming to its head in the Reformed doctrine of Double-predestination. Has this happened in the Oriental Churches? The council was held on our turf, so it seems we had the home-court advantage and, so, "winning" was in our favor either way. Were this to be held in Askum on Copt turf, it may have ended the same way but with them claiming "victory" and us claiming the Council as invalid. Perhaps at that time we weren't ready to understand another cultural version of what is (perhaps) essentially the same doctrine.
Also, another question about the Ecumenical Councils. This may seem like splitting hairs, but wouldn't we say that Councils try to recognize truths rather than create them? Is it not possible that we (both the Copts and the Orhtodox) "recognized" a division in doctrine that really wasn't there? Can the Church create division or only recognize it? Obviously there is an hierarchical division between the two Churches right now, but are we really divided spiritually?
I'm sorry I am rambling so much. This whole thread is fascninating to me. Thanks for you patience.
Posted 03 September 2004 - 08:57 AM
I was interested to read your comments in response to those in previous posts by others. Particularly the following dialogue:
Matt: And can an (ecumenical) council be understood to have either missed a point or raised more questions than it solved? I would say yes. This does NOT mean that Chalcedon is in error theologically, but rather that it may not have solved the problem.
Fr Anthony: Of course it solved the problem. The fact that there are those who refused obedience to the Council (and continue to do so) does not make the Council to be in error, or incomplete.
I agree with your point in principle, however, we must be careful in our application of this. It is reasonable and truthful to say that the council at Nicaea, for example, 'solved' the 'problem' of the relationship of the Father to the Son by its profession of the homoousion, inasmuch as this was and is seen as the pinnacle expression in human terms of the consubstantiality of the divine essence among the Trinitarian persons. Yet it would be foolish of us not also to admit that this council, to use Matt's words, 'raised more questions than it solved'. Two centuries of intense and heated debate within the Church following Nicaea bear testimony to this. It is also not inaccurate to say, as Matt did, what at first might seem more audacious: that the council 'may not have solved the problem'. We can take such a comment in a way with which I believe you (and certainly I) would disagree, namely, that the council did not deal theologically with the matter in an effective way. If one is obedient to the faith of the Church, one must dismiss this. But if we look at the 'problem' as deeper than only the theological issue, but also including the matter of uniting the Church's faithful behind the proper understanding of such an issue, then the 'problem' may continue even after the theological dispute is solved definitively. In this light, Nicaea 'caused' a great many problems, in that teaching the faithful how to approach and understand the homoousion took centuries, during which point disputes arose and factions battled, and for a time the pro-Nicene faithful were in the steep minority.
Guest_Grigorii (Jarno) Wasse
Posted 03 September 2004 - 11:04 AM
I think that the question for the oriental orthdox is whether we have indeed maintained the orthodox faith from the apostolic times. Has the faith deviated from that of the apostolic faith at all?
No. That is not a question, it is a fact. The Oriental Orthodox are fully and completely Orthodox, whether or not "we" (Chalcedonians) like it. The Council of Chalcedon was not ecumenically accepted, and should not be listed as equal to the first 3 Ecumenical Councils that have been ecumenically received. We, Eastern Orthodox, will simply have to find a way to deal with the fact that Copts (and other Oriental Orthodox) are in fact Orthodox, and that Chalcedon was not ecumenically received and as such does not constitute a true Ecumenical Council; tho I have not seen any other EO draw this conclusion, it is the logical outcome of what has been stated in a common agreement between Oriental and Eastern Orthodox:
"We have inherited from our fathers in Christ the one apostolic faith and tradition, though as Churches we have been separated from each other for centuries. As two families of Orthodox Churches long out of communion with each other we now pray and trust in God to restore that communion on the basis of the common apostolic faith of the undivided church of the first centuries which we confess in our common creed. What follows is a simple reverent statement of what we do believe on our way to restore communion between our two families of Orthodox Churches."
"Our mutual agreement is not limited to Christology, but encompasses the whole faith of the one undivided church of the early centuries. We are agreed also in our understanding of the Person and Work of God the Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father alone, and is always adored with the Father and the Son."
Iow, there is One Orthodox Church and it is constituted by Oriental and Eastern Orthodox.Two families in one Orthodox Church.
Our Bishop, Simon of Brussels Patriarchate of Moscow, allows Copts, Ethiopians, and Syrians to take Communion with us if only they become Parish members. No baptism, not chrismation, nothing of such nature is necessary to receive fellow-Orthodox (deprived of their own Parish) into communion.
I am no specialist on canons and conciliar proceedings, but I do know the life of the Russian Orthodox Church as it is given to me to participate in, and Copts and Syrians are very much a part of it. They, being Orthodox Christians, too are invited to partake of this life, and our priests recognize Orthodoxy in them, as is ordained by our Bishop.
Posted 04 September 2004 - 02:06 PM
Ecumenical councils do not become ecumenical by matter of democratic majority in the acceptance of their determinations.
Posted 04 September 2004 - 02:17 PM
<<In point of fact, none of the ecumenical councils has ever been universally accepted -- going back to the very first, at Nicaea. Vast portions of the Church rejected the determinations of this council, and, as I mentioned in a previous post, there was a period in the fourth-fifth centuries when pro-Nicenes were in the minority.
Ecumenical councils do not become ecumenical by matter of democratic majority in the acceptance of their determinations. >>
It has been a known fact that a large part of the Church in the 4th century AD was very sympathetic to Arius' heresy, such that it led to Athanasius' excommunication or deposal for at least five times. What I am curious to know then is how in this sense, since the conclusions of the council are not universally accepted, are their conclusions agreed upon to be truth. In other words, what is the basis for believing and agreeing that these ecumenical councils encapsulate truth as the Bible would have us believe?
I am rather curious particularly in the sense that later councils which occur after the separation between Catholicism and Orthodoxy (gradually) such as the Council of Trent in 1542 is seen to encapsulate the Catholic faith's defense against the Protestants. In what capacity does Orthodoxy then view these later councils?
Posted 04 September 2004 - 06:54 PM
I also wanted to add this to get feedback: Our Lord Jesus Christ was born to break the power of death by death and unite us to God by being fully God and fully man in nature. Of course no one on this forum would deny that His death was part of the plan of the Father before the foundations of the world. However, God used men, Synagogue and State, to bring His economy to fulfillment, to bring about a new the beginning of a new creation in each of us and the cosmos as a whole. But some secularists may reply that it was simply that Jesus of nazareth was a trouble maker, maybe a wonderworker, and died for saying too much. Of course they discount the resurrection, but that is not my point.
My point is that I think it is not too impious to say that God can write straight with our crooked lines and that even our own selfish motivations can be used for his Glory and our salvation.
In terms of the Ecumenical Councils, I do not think that one must deny or even question the infallible role of the Holy Spirit working through the bishops and politicians and laity when and if one is honest and speaks about the various tensions, jealousies, betrayals, etc that have been at work in the members of the Church from time to time at such gatherings. This does not lesson the greatness of the creeds or say that somehow God's truth wasn't spoken. Is Christ one divine Person in Two distinct natures? Yes, this is our faith. But there remains the problems that have not been soleved between the various patriarchates that had at their root more than only theological issues. So dialogue must be on at least two fronts- theological and pastoral. In the case of ROme adn the Orthodox, i believe the latter is fully realized on the Roman side but that the Orthodox have their pride to give up before we can talk about the faith that unites or divides us. Perhaps this is less true with the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox.
And I wonder if anyone can speak to teh distinction made in the Fathers between heretical and schismatic sects, along with distinctions made between their sacramental (and epiiscopal) "validity". I have not read this stuff in many years, but it seems to me that the Cappadocians made such a distinction but failed to elaborate on it. Is this true? Anyone?
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