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Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians


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#21 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 04 September 2004 - 07:03 PM

Dear Kevin Teo,

You wrote:

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?


This is often, I think, the most difficult aspect for many people to accept of the Church's conciliar body. How does one know that a given council is truly 'ecumenical', that it presents the ultimate truth of the Christian gospel?

There are a number of things to consider. First is the Orthodox belief that the councils are not only the fruitful labour of the successors to the apostles (the bishops) called into faithful deliberation over matters of dispute, but also that they are the forum of the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church -- the Spirit whom Christ sent to His body, to be with it always, 'even to the end of the age'. The Church believes that the Spirit guides the deliberations of these councils, such that through all their debating, discussions, disputes and even arguments, the truth of the Gospel is ultimately that which prevails.

The full recognition that the truth has indeed prevailed in a given council has, historically in any case, often been long in coming. The council at Nicaea, for example, at first declared itself 'universal' (i.e. ecumenical) inasmuch as it was, as much as could be realistically attempted, genuinely a coming together of all the Church's leadership throughout the world. It was ecumenical in the practical, literal sense. But the Church did not come fully to proclaim the ecumenical authority of Nicaea's doctrinal statements until later, at a subsequent council (Constantinople), which proclaimed definitively that the proceedings of the 'great and holy council' (Nicaea) were of divine and truthful authority. So that which the Holy Spirit guided into truth, took some time to be recognised fully for the security of this truth.

The Church's 'retrospective consciousness', that is, its ability to look back over its past with the awareness of subsequent events and deliberations, is also important. Those fathers gathered at Constantinople, for example, could look back on the statements from Nicaea in the face of all that had been debated since they were issued, and proclaim solemnly that Nicaea had authoritatively set forth the true faith of the Church -- a fact which the subsequent disputes had only made yet clearer. This would be just as much the case at Ephesus in 431, when the fathers there would look to the disputes of Christ's personhood with respect to His mother, and re-acclaim the teachings of Nicaea and Constantinople as 'ecumenical', of universal authority and truth. So too with Chalcedon two decades later, which itself looked to Ephesus and claimed it as ecumenical in authority, further clarifying its statements in the light of twenty years of continued disputes with those who had not accepted the teachings of the former.

By this process of retrospective affirmation, the Church has been able throughout her history constantly to re-acclaim that the the Spirit guided certain councils into right deliberation, for the truths they proclaimed have 'held up' to all the debates waged around them before and after their statements were issued. The Church also falls heavily upon the shoulders of the fathers who have supported her, and these have themselves offer the same manner of affirmation of the truth and ecumenical authority of the councils.

I hope these comments begin to offer some food for thought!

INXC, Matthew

#22 Guest_Sarah Mikhail

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Posted 05 September 2004 - 02:25 PM

Hi all,

Greetings in Christ,

Being a memeber of the coptic church i have been following this thread quite intently and it was great to come back and find the thread had progressed so rapidly (being a hotmail account user, my inbox was almost full).

anywayz....i was interested in Fr Anthony's post,

Quote:
"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 agree that one does not become orthodox just through faith but through a uniting with the true church through the grace of the sacraments. I do not think that the non-chalcedonians had it wrong neither do i belive that the Eastern Orthdox church had it wrong becuase their terminology was not mutualy exclusive, the Holy Spirit used the council of Chalcedon to affirm (?) that Christ was both FULLY human and FULLY divine without mingling, confusion or alteration (as we say in the divine liturgy) also that it was a true union of divinity and humanity not just a conjoining as nestorious claimed. that the Council anathematized those that belived that christ's humanity was consumed or lost in his divinity is something applauded by both the Eastern and oriental orthdox, however i do belive that there was a human aspect to this council, that politics and the different herecies present in each side of the "world" added an element of rigity to the council making the Oreintal quite suspicious of the term "two natures" and the Eastern of the term "mia physis" (as opposed to mono-physis)i think that the primary reason the non-chalcedonian's refuse to accept this council is because it anathamatised anyone not using the term "two natures" which goes against the Cyrillian formula so often used by the Oreiental church. It was not a matter of rejecting the christolgy. Both sides anathamtized one another on a matter of terminolgy rather then christology (which is what most of us are taught at youth group anyways) i don't think it would be blashemous to say that they misinterpreted each other as the christology remained the same on both sides.

sorry for the long post but this is the undertanding given to me by my Church, i'm happy to be corrected

In Christ
Sarah

p.s can i say that christ has 3 natures? seeing as the human nature consists of 2 united natures (physical and spiritual)? Posted Image sorry just stirring the pot



#23 James H.

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Posted 06 September 2004 - 07:34 AM

Sister in Christ Sarah,

That was the most excellent post I have read in regards to the Chalcedonian controversy. Thank you for your post and God bless you!

James


#24 Father Anthony

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 01:02 AM

M.C. Steenberg wrote:

>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?

I'm not completely sure what the writer means...does "...these later councils" refer to the councils held by the Roman Catholics, or to Local Councils of the the various Orthodox Local Churches?

If the reference is to councils of the Roman Catholics, they are of no consequence at all to the Orthodox, since they are local councils of a (first) schismatic and (secondly) heretical local church which cut itself off from the Church.

If the reference is to councils of Local Orthodox Churches, that's another matter altogether. They are certainly binding on the Local Church which held them, insofar as they do not depart from that which is Orthodox. They may be accepted and binding on the other Churches, as well.

Fr. Anthony


#25 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 08:10 AM

Actually, Fr Anthony, I did not write those words! Your quotation, attributed to me, in your earlier post, is actually from someone else. Posted Image

INXC, Matthew


#26 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 12:50 PM

p.s can i say that christ has 3 natures? seeing as the human nature consists of 2 united natures (physical and spiritual)?


We can say whatever we want, however, when we choose to say something the Church does not, we run the risks inherent in choosing (which is the essence of heresy?)

Herman

#27 Guest_Sarah Mikhail

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 01:52 PM

LOL

thanks Herman, although i wasn't serious when i added that last line...

pray for me
in Christ
Sarah


#28 Guest_David Watkins

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Posted 14 September 2004 - 01:01 AM

i think that the primary reason the non-chalcedonian's refuse to accept this council is because it anathamatised anyone not using the term "two natures" which goes against the Cyrillian formula so often used by the Oreiental church. It was not a matter of rejecting the christolgy. Both sides anathamtized one another on a matter of terminolgy rather then christology (which is what most of us are taught at youth group anyways) i don't think it would be blashemous to say that they misinterpreted each other as the christology remained the same on both sides.


If so, the question then would be how to correct this misunderstanding. As others have suggested, it would seem to fall to another council.

In the meantime, can it be determined by the hierarchies of our Churches to allow through "economia" that the non-Chalcedonian faithful can be communed?

#29 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 14 September 2004 - 02:48 PM

I think there are two distinct questions here. One is how we see the past of our Church & what the essence of the disagreement was between the Orthodox and non-Chalcedonians. If, as we should, we accept that the Holy Spirit guided the Holy Frs at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon and further guided the pronouncements of the Holy Fathers concerning the Monophysite and Monothelite dispute then it would seem that there was no misunderstanding or confusion of terminology in the past. I have read a number of the documents of the time from both sides and the first thing that strikes one is the mountain of subtle thought & consideration given by both sides to this dispute. In a word the evidence seems to show that both sides very clearly understood each other and disagreed on a fundamental question of Christ's nature (Fr George Florovsky goes into the roots of this in a way I have not yet seen elsewhere). In my subsequent reading I also discovered that non-Chalcedonian asceticism became different in quality from that of Orthodoxy with its Chalcedonian emphasis chiefly as expressed through its monasticism. To put it very briefly, to maintain that the dispute was the result of a misunderstanding is to literally maintain that someone like St. Maximos the Confessor misunderstood (eg in his disputation with Pyrrhus). Conversely this also implies that we know better than the saints & Councils.

On the other hand it is quite possible that there has been a movement of the non-Chalcedonians towards Orthodoxy in the last century. I have read through the documents provided by this site on this dispute and had to admit that both sides were closer theologically than I had thought.

Related to this is the question of how reconciliation can occur within the Church. There is an interesting article on reconciliation to be found at :http://www.russianor...primirenie.html
If you scroll through this article a ways you will find references and quotes from A.V. Kartashev on "The Unification of the Church in Historical Light." In this article Kartashev outlines the subtle and unexpected ways in which the Holy Spirit (only through the willing cooperation of those on both sides though!) has healed various seperations not only of schism but of downright heresy. To maintain that the only way in which reconciliation can take place is through a great prostration before the Church with cries of "forgive me!" is quite wrong. What is required is unity of mind about the Orthodox Faith. Having achieved this the Church in the past has shown a remarkable ability to forgive and overlook past wrongs and mistakes.

Of course in all of this we must have the guidance of our hierarchs since we are dealing with crucial matters such as reception of the sacraments. I agree with the statement already made that in piety the non-Chalcedonians often put us to shame and can teach us some needed lessons. I think reconciliation is possible avoiding on the one hand the attitude that there really was no dispute in the past (or in the present for that matter); and on the other avoiding a misunderstanding of what reconciliation really means and involves for the Church.

Our tendency nowadays is often to try to promote reconciliation by having an attitude that the mistakes of the past were of no consequence or did not in fact occur. Church reconciliation however is an entirely different matter- after achieving unity of mind & heart it covers with love the brokeness of the past. Is this not because the Church is not a negotiating group but rather the Body of Christ the only means of true healing which we can find?

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#30 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 06:52 AM

Dearest to Christ Fr. Raphael,

Peace and Blessings to you:

With all due respect, I think there are extreme presuppositions underlying your post which you will need to justify for the sake of objectivity – a) the infallibility of the Church and Councils and b) the Ecumenicity of councils 4-7 (you keep regressing into circular reasoning on this one).

I have conversed with many "extremist" EO's who possess the same line of thought which you convey, in which they have some sort of a conception of church fathers as God's, or the Church as some kind of incarnate fourth member of the Godhead. You imply that a retrospective analysis of certain councils in order to discern via reason and consideration of historical fact - whether indeed they are valid authorities as you proclaim or invalid as we proclaim - would be blasphemous. I propose the contrary, namely, that your conception of the Church and Councils as infallible to the extent that every minute, proclamation, condemnation, ex-communication etc. is infallible such that it is impossible to see retrospectively and where and why certain fathers or a council got it wrong (e.g. false condemnations etc.), is in itself a blasphemy.

It seems that only the Oriental Orthodox Church is secure in her faith; able to maintain a healthy authoritative conception of the Church, patriarch, and the Bible, without turning them into infallible Gods. The insecurity of Protestants is evident in their assigning infallibility to the Biblical text – in effect therefore (like the Muslims) they worship a book, the text becomes their God. The insecurity of the Roman Catholics is evident in their assigning infallibility to the Pope – in effect their pope becomes their God. The insecurity of certain EO figures (since I have indeed spoken to many reasonable EO’s who do not advocate this view) is evident in their assigning infallibility to the Church – in effect, the Church becomes their God.

The only infallible source for the Oriental Orthodox Church is God Himself, the Blessed Trinity. The Bible, the Patriarchs, and the Councils are all based on human/divine synergy, however the Holy Spirit does not force itself upon anyone or the Church itself – though it may restrict the damage a certain father/Church is capable of, it does not divinize that father/Church to the extent that all his/her dealings are impeccably perfect. The Church was/is lead and guided into all truth through the very Spirit of Truth as promised by our Lord – but there is no more a message or implication of infallible/impeccable guidance in all the Church’s dealings here; than there is foe example, when St Paul speaks through the Holy Spirit saying that all Scripture is God breathed. Clearly we can find errors in the Bible of an historical nature for example, which prove the human aspect of its construction and formulation, so that even such strong language concerning its inspiration does not negate human error. We should be able to do the same concerning the history and dealings of the Church.

The Holy Spirit worked through Chalcedon by making sure heresy was not adopted as Orthodoxy – It condemned two extreme heresies - one which was already dealt with, and another which probably didn't even really exist; but aside from this, I do not see why it should be inconceivable to acknowledge the evidence that proves that there was human misunderstanding. I'm not talking about an honest misunderstanding which the the Holy Spirit could easily have prevented, I am talking about a misunderstanding based on envy, greed, unholy grudges, politics etc. i.e. human evils, which in addition to the Councils being tainted by over-zealous polemics, would have grieved the Spirit of God, leading ultimately to an unwarranted schism - a schism that was the work of man against rather than for the will of God (in the sense that there was no real genuine reason to support it at the time).

Furthermore, that the Holy Spirit was at work at Chalcedon to prevent the adoption of a heresy, does not mean it had anything to do with the positive theological contribution of the Council to Orhodoxy- which I believe, simply don't exist. It is said that Chalcedon provided the much needed balance between Alexandrian and Antiochene Christology - I say this is a farce, and a conclusion drawn only when Chalcedon is anachronistically studied in a sixth century context. We believe Alexandrian Christology is in and of itself the stronger Christology, the one vindicated at Ephesus 431. We believe the Antiochene concerns were successfully dealt with and incorporated via the reunion formula of 433. Chalcedon added nothing, but rather regressed, by essentially ratifying the antiochene twist of the re-union formula. Such a move was a dangerous compromise of the achievements of Ephesus 431 - for whilst the Nestorians could never accept Ephesus 431, or the 12 chapters - they happily recieved both Chalcedon 451, and the tome of Leo.

All these briefly mentioned points negate the Ecumenicity of the council of Chalcedon, and I have yet to find an EO reasonably deal with these points, to then go on and prove the Ecumenicity of Chalcedon. Your reasoning as I stated above, seems to be begging the question. It is something along the lines of this: "We cannot question the happenings at Chalcedon, because Chalcedon is an Ecumenical Council, and Ecumenical Councils cannot be questioned, because they are infallible."

How do you know Chalcedon is Ecumenical? Is there any objectivity to your reasoning, or are you only capable of asserting your subjective position i.e. “because my fathers said so”. My Church has maintained since its rejection of Chalcedon, that it was not an Ecumenical Council – so If I were to respond at this level and confirm that I cannot accept Chalcedon as Ecumenical since likewise “my fathers said so”; then whose subjective position prevails in the objective world? In modern days, our Hierarchs have acknowledged that councils 4-7 are merely local Orthodox Councils for the Eastern Orthodox Church, and can be accepted as such, but in no way can they be considered “Ecumenical”, and we have listed a number of valid reasons based on historical fact as to why our initial and maintained rejection of the Ecumenicity of these councils is justified and valid.

I find that the EO Church in contrast to the OO Church, is an Orthodox Church without reason. You presuppose the Ecumenicity of Chalcedon, whilst we prove that it is nothing beyond a local Orthodox council of schism. The God-given-and-preserved historical evidence is on our side – such that consequently most of the EO positions that i've been acquainted with simply resort to blind arguments void of reason and fact – I guess that’s what happens when certain See’s try to undermine the See of Alexandria – the true theological centre and brain of the Orthodox World, which was prophesied in the Holy Scriptures.

On the other hand it is quite possible that there has been a movement of the non-Chalcedonians towards Orthodoxy in the last century.


Nonsense. The Oriental Orthodox Church has never compromised or changed its Orthodox Christological position since the time of Chalcedon. I challenge you to find any evidence of this. We have maintained the Orthodox Apostolic tradition; remaining faithful to the Alexandrian tradition of Christology which was developed by St Athanasius and St Cyril, and which reached it's sufficient peak by 433. Chalcedon contributed nothing to Orthodox Christology, it was a disaster, it was regression, it was superflous. If you find Orthodoxy in our doctrine today, that is evidence of our Orthodoxy during Chalcedon, for never have we innovated or compromised any aspect of the tradition we received from our fathers.

In IC XC
-Athanasius

#31 Theopesta

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 09:34 AM

forgive me athanasius, I cannot complete your item I stop at:

The only infallible source for the Oriental Orthodox Church is God Himself, the Blessed Trinity. The Bible, the Patriarchs, and the Councils are all based on human/divine synergy


we the oriental belive in the infallibility of the bible if there is misunderstanding of any thing, pray and study the bible you will not find any thing contra to anthor all over the old and new testament.

forgive me if you study the dogmatic theology you will understand more perfect the oriental opinion, which is not cretic to the infallibility of the bible.

after I finish the reading I will send anthor message

#32 Theopesta

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 09:52 AM

please Athanasius, be careful from the uncanonical orthodox thought, wich try to decrease from the authority of the church, of fathers, of patriarch.

we not belive wthe the infallability of the persons this is ok.

I think nearlly the thougts of father Rafial is the canonical orthodox concepts. If you want to read the dogmatological coptic books it is easy downloaded from the copticpope.org.

#33 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 09:54 AM

Dearest to Christ theopesta dem,

Peace and blessings be with you:

The conception of the Bible as an infallible/inerrant text, is a western Protestant one that I have not found grounded in patristic tradition. I do not want to go off topic here, but I will quickly make my case.

Though certain figures such as Tatian, attempted to reconcile apparant contradictions, Origen of Alexandria recognized that some of the proposed harmonizations were incredible and admitted that at an historical level certain contradictions did in fact exist. However he stressed an allegorical interpretation of scripture could harmonize accounts that would seem to contradict if taken literally.

Likewise St John Chrysostom in commenting on the harmony of the Gospel accounts in general states: “But if there be anything touching times or places, which they have related differently, this nothing injures the truth of what they have said...[but those things]...which constitute our life and furnish out our doctrine, nowhere is any of them found to have disagreed, no not ever so little.” (Homilies of the Gospel of St Matthew).

St John Chrysostom hit the nail on the head. The essence of our faith is preserved such that there are no doctrinal or theological contradictions, but in regarding the human aspect of the Bible, we can admit to certain historical or even scientific contradictions which are certainly not to the detriment of our faith.

We do not falsely regard the Bible as the Muslims regard their Quran. I would consider this haram. We do not worship a book. The Bible is a church document made for the Church - and not the other way around as the Protestants would have us believe.

Have faith in the infallibility of our Lord, the Son of God, ibn allah al-wahid, and Him alone, who through His Spirit, inspired: the Prophets and Apostles to write their accounts, the Church to be lead into all truth, and the leaders of the One Holy Universal and Apostolic Church to guide the Church into this truth - leaving significant leeway for the human side of things to operate according to the human-divine synergy, by which the Bible, Church, and Patriarchs operate.

In IC XC
-Athanasius


#34 Guest_leandros

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 10:57 AM

Dear MOnophysite Friends,

Let's first see the false doctrines:
A) Arianism doctrine : The doctrines of Arius, deny that Jesus was of the same substance as God and holding instead that he was only the highest of created beings, viewed as heretical by most Christian churches. Arianism founded by Arius in the 4th cent. It was one of the most widespread and divisive heresies in the history of Christianity. As a priest in Alexandria, Arius taught (c.318) that God created, before all things, a Son who was the first creature, but who was neither equal to nor coeternal with the Father. According to Arius, Jesus was a supernatural creature not quite human and not quite divine. In these ideas Arius followed the school of Lucian of Antioch.

B) Nestorianism doctrine: Christian heresy that held Jesus to be two distinct persons, closely and inseparably united. In 428, Emperor Theodosius II named an abbot of Antioch, Nestorius (d. 451?), as patriarch of Constantinople. In that year Nestorius, who had been a pupil of Theodore of Mopsuestia, outraged the Christian world by opposing the use of the title Mother of God for the Virgin on the grounds that, while the Father begot Jesus as God, Mary bore him as a man. This view was contradicted by Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, and both sides appealed to Pope Celestine I. The Council of Ephesus was convened in 431 to settle the matter. This council (reinforced by the Council of Chalcedon in 451) clarified Christian doctrine, pronouncing that Jesus, true God and true man, has two distinct natures that are inseparably joined in one person and partake of the one divine substance. The council, answered with the text 'The Word was made flesh' (John i, T4): Mary is God's mother, for 'she bore the Word of God made flesh'.' What Mary bore was not a man loosely united to God, but a single and undivided person, who is God and man at once. The name Theotokos safeguards the unity of Christ's person: to deny her this title is to separate the Incarnate Christ into two, breaking down the bridge between God and humanity and erecting within Christ's person a middle wall of partition. Thus we can see that not only titles of devotion were involved at Ephesus, but the very message of salvation. The same primacy that the word homoousios occupies in the doctrine of the Trinity, the word Theotokos holds in the doctrine of the Incarnation.

Now let's see the "non-Chalcedonian" issue: (I use the term Monophysitism, but you may use the term Non-Chalcedonians. I do not hold the term Monophysitism as an insult but as a historical "label").

Monophysitism grew out of a reaction against Nestorianism. Monophysitism challenged the orthodox definition of faith of Chalcedon and taught that in Jesus there were not two natures (divine and human) but one (divine). Discussion of this belief was clouded by misunderstandings of terms and by the lack of knowledge of Greek in the West.

Many modern scholars are inclined to think that the difference between 'Non-Chalcedonians' and 'Chalcedonians' was basically one of terminology, not of theology. The two parties understood the word 'nature' (physis) in different ways, but both were concerned to affirm the same basic truth: that Christ the Saviour is fully divine and fully human, and yet He is one and not two.

Let's see what the official non-Chalcedonian point of view is:

Bishop Gregorios [Coptic]: We are asked why, if we accept the faith of Chalcedon, we do not accept the council itself. The fact is the we have difficulties about the horos [definition] of Chalcedon. Our fathers found Nestorianism in the horos of Chalcedon.... Even if we accept the teaching of Chalcedon, we are not obliged to accept Chalcedon.

Liqe Seltanat Habte Mariam [Ethiopian]: By all means, you continue to believe in Chalcedon; but do not expect us to accept Chalcedon.

Bishop Zakka [Syrian]: When we say we accept the faith, we mean the faith that the Church had before Chalcedon, formulated by the three ecumenical councils accepted by all. Let us be quite clear; Chalcedon is not acceptable to us.

Verghese: When the faith is already there without Chalcedon why insist on Chalcedon being accepted? There should be no misunderstanding of the position of the non-Chalcedonian Churches; there will be no formal acceptance of Chalcedon.

Now let's see the Greek Orthodox Church thesis as it is expressed from Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh in his essay: THE CHURCH OF THE COUNCILS: THE "ONSLAUGHT OF THE INTELLECT AND THE POTENTIAL OF DOUBT.
...
At that stage another phenomenon came to the fore. It was what Daniel-Rops has called the 'great onslaught of the intellect'. The intellect marks the period of the Councils. People submit the faith to the criteria of their intellectual acceptance or rejection. Is it possible to believe this and that? Is it possible to accept such and such realities testified by the apostles and proclaimed by the Church? Can one reasonably be a Christian?

On the lowest level, it could have been seen that way. On a higher level, for instance that of Arius, the problem was more complex and more earnest. For Arius was a man of great culture and of outstanding intelligence. And he submitted the Christian faith to the test of philosophical assessment. One may see that he is an outstanding example of what a heresy can be when the intellect is considered as empowered to judge revelation, to judge the formulations of those who possess an experience which the observer himself does not possess, either at all or to the same degree. For Arius, the problem was basically that God could not become man since an infinite God could never become the prisoner of finitude. God was eternal, and could not become the prisoner of time. And in those days (and I refer once again to Florovsky, since for me his word has enormous value) no Arius could resolve the problem. Indeed, it took centuries of philosophical and scientific reflection and research to arrive at a vision of time which can accommodate the notion of eternity and space. For the first scientific book I know which really faces the problem (Emile Borel, Le temps et l'espace) was only written at the turn of the century. Before that, there was no scientific or philosophical basis that would allow someone to make the distinction and yet to realise that there is no contradiction in eternity pouring into time and not being a prisoner of it, or in infinity being within space and not being limited by it. Time and space, eternity and infinity were simply different categories.
...
What we find in this period of the Councils is people who try to address the gospel proclaimed by the Church from the first days to their own time against the background of classical philosophy or of the various philosophies and mystery religions that had developed later. Some harm could have been done because some of the imagery could be compared with that of the gospel and could thus be used as an accusation that the gospel itself is simply a new mythology.

Doubts were engendered in the minds of many: is not Christianity simply a more elaborate and philosophically more acceptable myth, but still of the same kind (and as unreal) as the mythology of the various nations of the past? As philosophical thought developed, as philosophy taken from the ancient world acquired a new maturity, the intellect came to feel self-sufficient, no longer in need of being guided by God himself. Thus problems arose from the confrontation of a mature intellect with the problem of faith.
...
Perhaps I should say a few words about the nature of doubt in this context.... Let me make a parallel between the doubt, or succession of doubts, which a fever can have, and the way in which a scientist confronts created reality. A scientist collects all the existing facts of which he is aware. To begin with they are disparate; they may belong together in any way. The scientist tries to group them and at a certain moment, when a number of facts are capable of being held together, a model is built that allows him to hold all these facts together and reason about in their totality. If the scientist is honest and creative, the first thing he will do is to ask himself whether his model holds, whether it is a model that has no intrinsic flaw within itself, whether it takes into account all the information possessed to date. If he is satisfied on these counts, his next move will be to look for new facts that will not fit in with his model and will explode it. For the aim of a scientist list is not to create a model for which he will be remembered in the history of science. His aim is to create temporary models, hypotheses; models that must explode in order to enlarge knowledge and to contain new knowledge. Doubt in that respect for a scientist is a creative activity, an activity which is elating because the discovery that something does not fit in a preconceived or ready-made model allows him to discover reality on a wider scale and to see that reality unfolds wider and wider, deeper and deeper, making it possible for him to discard one hypothesis after the other, one model after the other. For him reality is unshakeable and cannot be lost because the model is exploded.

What is tragic in the doubt which we find in a believer is that instead of saying that the model of God, of creation, of the Church, of man which satisfied him fifty years ago no longer satisfied him, can no longer satisfy his intellectual and spiritual development, he makes an either/or decision: either to retrench himself in the old or to abandon his former position altogether. Whereas the developing person who rejects the model he earlier had of God or the creation when confronted with the depths and range of science or of philosophy, is proceeding with something not only legitimate but essential. By contrast, a believer who at the age of eighteen or eighty would remain faithful to a model adequate for an eight-year-old would be spiritually and mentally backward, incapable for communing with all the vastness, depth and greatness of God and of his creation.

We are confronted with such problems in the period of the Councils. But has the Church of the Councils come to an end? I think not. It has not come to an end because the same onslaught of the intellect, the same onslaught of the godless approach to divine things, has continued throughout the ages. It is in action nowadays, within the Church and from without. And if we ask ourselves about heresies and heretics, what their position vis-a-vis the Church is, I would like to point out two things. First, the Church was right in condemning the heresies. But the Church which condemned the heresies from within an experience and a certainty often did so without explaining why this heresy could not be acceptable on the intellectual, rather than the spiritual plane. What I said about Arius, and the fact that in his time the distinction between time and eternity, space and infinity, was not philosophically and scientifically mature, allows people in our days to reason in the same terms. For the Church has not taken advantage of what philosophy and science have discovered and understood about these categories, has not explained what an Athanasius could not explain in his time in scientific or philosophical terms. And that could apply to every other heresy. Thus there is a task for people of our time who are conversant with philosophy or steeped in scientific knowledge. They have to reconsider the ancient heresies and ask themselves whether there is some sort of answer that can now be given from a point of view which is not simply the experiential point of view of the early centuries. For however intellectually mature that was, it failed to solve the problem on the level of the questioner who came from outside.
...
We do not hold ecumenical councils, we are far too disorderly and too divided. But each and every Christian, each parish, diocese, denomination, is confronted with the same problem as the undivided Church when it had to face the outer world, heretical, pagan or godless. And we also need to go beyond condemnation of it in order to achieve its salvation.

#35 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 11:41 AM

Dearest to Christ leandros,

Peace and blessings be with you:

First allow me to make clear my own personal conditions for dialogue. I am both willing and desiring to have intellectual discourse with Chalcedonians on this very sensitive issue; however to avoid temptation, let me make it clear that I will not address nor respond to those who choose to bear false testimony against my Church and I, by dishonestly labelling us with the deragtory monophysite title, without evidence that we ever adhered to such a heresy.

Thus, unless you can prove for me from any authoritative Oriental Orthodox document; where we have ever affirmed the essential attributes of such a heresy: a) A denial of the continuing reality of the divine and human natures after the union b) A denial of the consubstantiality of the divine to the Father and the human to mankind, after the union - then I cannot converse with dishonest persons im afraid. Please forgive me.

If you would like to have a strictly academic and neutral dialogue you will refer to as a non-Chalcedonian and I will refer to you as a Chalcedonian.

If you wish to label me a monophysite, then do it in the same manner as contemporary Protestant scholars such as Gerald O'Collins and Frances Young, by following such an accusation against St Cyril, in acknowledgement of the fact that we remained faithful to his Christology which was set as the standard of Orthodoxy at an indusptable Ecumenical Council: Ephesus 431.

Furthermore, I like to deal with people who do not merely paste articles out of intellectual laziness (no disrespect intended). I have seen this article pasted before, and I have the link to it. It really doesn't serve much of a purpose in this dialogue - the quotations of the Oriental Orthodox heirarchs in question do not do justice to the context of our actual position.

Three quotes merely explain that we cannot formally accept Chalcedon, and this is true - we will never regard it as an authoritative council or Ecumenical, but as His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of the Coptic Orthodox Church affirms; we regard them as local Orthodox Councils dealing with issues the Eastern Orthodox Church was confronted with and having problems with.

Monophysitism was a theoretical heresy, not a practical one - there was never such a thing as "the monophysite church" as there was a "nestorian church". it cannot even be concretely proven that Eutyches - the one individual figure to whom this heresy was ever ascribed to before the events of Chalcedon - ever ascribed to this heresy - though he is condemned by both our Church's on the assumption that he did indeed ascribe to such a heresy. However, the testimony against him was as inconsistent as his own testimony. He was just a simple and confused monk, he was no theologian or scholar.

Furthermore, the quote by Bishop Gregorios from the Coptic Orthodox Church, is not with regards to considering Chalcedon from the subjective context of the Chalcedonians, but rather from an objective perspective - how would the reasonable person reasonably interpret Chalcedon? Our Orthodox fathers, along with the Nestorian heretics found that Nestorianism could creep in via Chalcedon; hence the consequent rejection of it thereof by the former, and the consequent acceptance of it thereof by the latter.

With regards to the article on the Church and Councils - this is more relevant to a Protestant who does not regard the authority of the Church and Councils, and not to the Oriental Orthodox Church. The issue we have with you, is the fact that the council of Chalcedon unlike Nicea 325, Constantinople 381, and Ephesus 431 that preceded it...was NOT a valid Ecumenical Council, since it did not show the fruits of an Ecumenical Council according to the elements I mentioned in my intial posts, both in this thread and in the other on miaphysitism.

In IC XC
-Athanasius


#36 Ken McRae

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 01:08 PM

Dear Athanasius,

As you have specifically addressed Fr. Raphael, I must beg your forgiveness for my interjection. Your posts are interesting to read, I admit, and I'd like to make a comment, if you don't mind. Since you are relatively new here, I should mention that I am Catholic, and have been drawn to the examination of Orthodoxy through the witness of 19th Russian monasticism and the living witness of the Holy Mountain.

The comment I wish to make concerns your view or understanding of the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. It is clear from your post that St. John believed in the infallibility of Scripture, but with some qualification, as you point out. "St John Chrysostom," you say, "in commenting on the harmony of the Gospel accounts in general states" that,

“ ... if there be anything touching times or places, which they have related differently, this nothing injures the truth of what they have said...[but those things]...which constitute our life and furnish out our doctrine, nowhere is any of them found to have disagreed, no not ever so little.”

To say, as St. John does, that these contradictions in no way injure the truth of Scripture, is the same as to say it is "infallible" with regard to the teachings of the faith. The point I wish to make is this: the doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture, as formulated in the Chalcedonian Church agrees fully with the teaching of St. John. You speak of being "intellectually" honest. Can you post for us some direct quotes taken from theological statements on the inerrancy of Scripture, produced by the Chalcedonians, which clearly and openly deny any form of contradiction in Scripture, such those admitted by St. John? Thank you.

humbly,
Theophilus

(Message edited by theophilus on 05 June, 2005)


#37 Theopesta

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 01:15 PM

please athansius,
about your post no.3:
the bible not a book as we not worship books.
the bible not a document or acounts of apostles.
the bible is inspiration not dictation.
this is word of god to know his will.
origin depend on allegorical interpretation as his personallty try to reach to the truth behind the words.
the percepts and thougt of bible not as quran, but it is the straight way which is the truth in infallability, but how you read the bible and from where you study its words.
i pig your pardon from where your thoughts, these thought not orthodox this not our faith.
please try to meet any one of our coptic orthodox fathers in usa,


#38 Guest_leandros

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 03:10 PM

Dear friend,

Let me take you out of your wonder, as I am the original writer of my former post, which I had also posted in OC.net in the past. My reply is not the outcome of laziness.

As for the monophysite label, that you find insulting, I am not using the term according to the Arian doctrine, but according to the declaration of Coptic Pope Shenouda III, Patriarch of the See of St. Mark :
"By one Nature", we mean a real union. This does not involve mingling as of wheat and barely, nor confusion as of wine and water or milk and tea. Moreover, no change occurred as in the case of chemical reaction. For example carbon dioxide consists of carbon and oxygen, and the nature of both changes when they are combined; each loses its properties which distinguished it before the unity. In contrast, no change occurred in the Divine or Human nature as a result of their unity. Furthermore, unity between the two natures occurred without transmutation. Thus, neither did the Divine nature transmute to the human nature, nor did the human nature, transmute to the Divine nature. The Divine nature did not mix with the human nature nor mingle with it, but it was a unity that led to Oneness of Nature.
...
Likewise, the nature of the Incarnate Logos is One Nature, having all the Divine characteristics and all the human as well."


One nature is one physis, 'one' is the word 'mono' in Greek, so in this context I refer to you as 'mono-physite'. But as you find the term as an insult I apologize and I take it back.

As long as you prefer the term mia-physitism, it's ok with me. I understand the difference between the word 'mono' and the word 'mia': While the word mono implies that Christ's nature is singular both of its origin and of His realization, the word mia implies that Christ's nature while being dual of its origin, it ends up single as of His realization.

Nevertheless, I will gladly refer to you as non-Chalcedonian.

Now as for the substance of your arguments, nobody is accusing the non-Chalcedonians for Arianism. You asked if you are being accused for:
a) A denial of the continuing reality of the divine and human natures after the union
b) A denial of the consubstantiality of the divine to the Father and the human to mankind, after the union


Of course, you are being accused of neither of these.

Then, why is the separation between Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians ? you may ask.

The difference between us is that we, Chalcedonains, declare in Christ a hypostatical union of human nature and Divine nature, in the context of unification of created and non-created natures. The end result of this unification is that Christ's nature is singular double. It is singular because it's a unification that hypostatically is expressed by ONE person, and it's double because created human nature and uncreated divine nature has nothing in common and they can not mixed in any way and they remain TWO.

On the other hand you, non-Chalcedonians, declare that in Christ "The Divine nature did not mix with the human nature nor mingle with it, but it was a unity that led to Oneness of Nature".

This is the result of inability to comprehend how is it possible to have one person to give hypostasis to two different natures at once. This is a logical argument that presupposes that the attributes of a personhood results as the outcome of his nature. non-Chalcedonians declare that as long as two natures are, also there should be two persons - each for every nature. If we accept in Christ such a unification of natures then we end up in Nestorianism. Such a conclusion is unacceptable for non-Chalcedonias (it is also the same unacceptable for Chalcedonias too). So in this non-Chalcedonian context, Christ's nature has to be one nature, that is given hypostasis by the one person of Word, which consolidates both human and Devine attributes.

As you see, the difference is there. The question that has to be answered in a unified way, in order to unite the Chalcedonias and the non-Chalcedonians is, whether Divine Personhood of the Word originates from natural Sonship with the Father, or it originates from Uncreated Personal relationship with the Father.

We, Chalcedonias, have declared at the Chalcedon Council, that Christ as a Person originates his Uncreated Devine Personhood from his Uncreated personal Sonship relation with the Father, and not from his natural Sonship, or else His nature would have been the Godhead and his Personhood would have been its uncreated energy. For that we worship not a Divine Nature, but a Trinity of Persons of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, who are united in the Monarchy of the Father as the only non-caused Person; the other Two are caused by Him, the One by generation and the Other by provenance.

These relations between the Trinity Person are about the uncreated personal relations and not about the natural affinity of the Persons. In this context, Christ's human nature has no need to be divinized. It may be all human and He will still carry all Divine attributes of His.

In the acceptance of Christ's uncreated personal Sonship as a relationship with the Father, we introduce the oxymoron presence of uncreated personal relationship into our realm of created things, provided that Jesus is a real human being. This Divine Personal relationship is not of nature-less Persons. By that non-logical introduction, we are aware of the existence of the uncreated nature of God, while in the same time we lack of any experience or knowledge of this nature, as long as Christ has as a Person has an exclusive experience and Knowledge of Divine way of Life and he relates wit us in our common experience of our human way of life.

That is why we declare that the natures of Christ are TWO but He as ONE person gives hypostasis two both of them at once in a non-mixed, non-partite fashion.


#39 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 09:25 PM

Dear Athanasios Abdullah,

Just a couple of comments here as others are covering the meaning of Chalcedon very well.

That the Holy Fathers were not perfect is clear since they are human. But how the Church is guided is another matter since as the Body of Christ the Holy Spirit works through its members overcoming all that is weak & even fallen. So the Council of Chalcedon is an expression of how the Holy Spirit guides the Church in the fullness of Life & Truth. That this is so can only be understood in convergence with the Life of the Church or at least a sympathy for it. Otherwise there is no way to 'prove' such a thing. Nothing can 'prove' that Christ's Life as offered within the Church through Her life- including Her Councils- is True except for this Life itself which is shared with all. Seen rationally this is indeed a tautology- "in Thy Light do we see Light" (from the Doxology at Matins). But seen through the mind of the Church this is simply how Christ's Life is shared with us.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#40 Guest_Athanasius Abdullah

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 11:38 AM

Dearest to Christ Theophilus

Peace and blessings be with you:

To say, as St. John does, that these contradictions in no way injure the truth of Scripture, is the same as to say it is "infallible" with regard to the teachings of the faith.


I guess that some (especially in recent days) have made the distinction between the terms *infallible* and *inerrant*, where the former is a sort of “limited inerrancy”. That the “errors” of the Bible do not injure the doctrinal/spiritual truth conveyed, may thus lead one to conclude that the Bible is indeed “infallible”, though not "inerrant" by virtue of admission of such errors in the first place – it just depends on his/her semantic preferences. When I denied the *infallibility* of the Bible, I was essentially using the term as a synonym for *inerrancy*.

The point I wish to make is this: the doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture, as formulated in the Chalcedonian Church agrees fully with the teaching of St. John. You speak of being "intellectually" honest. Can you post for us some direct quotes taken from theological statements on the inerrancy of Scripture, produced by the Chalcedonians, which clearly and openly deny any form of contradiction in Scripture, such those admitted by St. John? Thank you.


I think you may have misread my post, for I never claimed that Chalcedonians openly deny any form of contradiction in Scripture – as I clearly stated, this was a line of thought evident in various Protestant circles. We as Orthodox - and by Orthodox I include both the Eastern and Oriental Church - acknowledge the existence of errors and contradictions in the Biblical text as an acknowledgement of the human aspect involved in its formulation and construction.

The inspiration of the Apostles, as with the inspiration of the Church, is an enhancement of natural, rational discernment, but not a suspension or abolition. Such a view allows for disagreement, even between the elect Prophets and Apostles (as is evident in the Scriptures), and for recognition of the limitations in the human factor.

In IC XC
-Athanasius




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