This is not a paper about the technical question about how one lifts anathemas, either those of Dioscorus and his followers by the Chalcedonians, nor those of Leo and the Chalcedonians by the Oriental Orthodox. What we are here concerned with is the evidence already presented by this writer as far back as 1959-60 and especially 1964 that both Leo and Dioscoros are Orthodox because they agree with St. Cyril Of Alexandria, especially with his Twelve Chapters, even though both had been considered heretical by the other side here represented. We do not intend to present new evidence in this matter, but to review aspects we already presented at Aarhus in 1964. But we intend to present the issues at stake in such a way as to throw light on the problem before us with the expectation that specialists in cannon law may find the way to lift anathemas pronounced by Ecumenical or/and local Councils without provoking a controversy.
It is unfortunately also possible to take a clear distinction between the Fathers of the 5th and following centuries of both sides and their nominal followers today. This is so because the modern Orthodox on both sides have officially agreed with doctrinal statements they participated in producing along with Latin and Protestant scholars in the WCC. We will make some observations on this question in the second part of this paper. We will do this in the light of the fact that we are in the process of re-uniting, not necessarily with the Fathers themselves of our respective traditions, but 1) with what has perhaps incompletely survived of these traditions or 2) with what may be even a distortion of what were up to a point in our histories Biblical and Patristic Traditions. On the Chalcedonian side much effort has been expended for some time now in getting rid of the non Biblical Franco-Latin Augustinian presuppositions which found their way into its theology and sometimes even in practice, especially because of the so-called reforms of Peter the Great. However, there are indications that something similar has crept into the Oriental Orthodox tradition also, if one may judge by WCC doctrinal documents like BEM and Confessing the One Faith and by papers produced in other dialogue contexts. This writer is not aware of official rejections of such WCC statements except those made by the late Prof. Gerasimos Konidaris of the Church of Greece.
We thus divide this paper into the titles "I. The Fathers" and "II. Today's descendants of the Fathers."
I. The Fathers
We take Leo of Rome as representative of the problems of unity between us which were created on the Chalcedonian side and Dioscoros as representative of what had been done on the Oriental side. It is around these persons that the central events revolved which produced the final division which we have inherited between us. The point in history where we seem to be at present is that of the lifting of the anathemas against Leo and the Council of Chalcedon, which means the cleaning of the slate on the Chalcedonian side, with the same holding true about Dioscoros and his followers on the Oriental Orthodox side. To clear Dioscoros of doctrinal error should mean the clearing of the slate for those of his followers to be rehabilitated also, as far as the patristic period is concerned. Leo of Rome has no followers so to speak of on the Orthodox side in need of being cleared. It would also seem that agreement that both Leo and Dioscoros were doctrinally Orthodox would then put the problem of their restoration on a non-Christological doctrinal plane, but on a canonical plane. In such a case the reversal of condemnations by Ecumenical and local Councils can be dealt with as canonical, rather than doctrinal problems.
However, whether this covers today's Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox is a separate question. That this is so is due to the fact that there are strong indications that today's Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox have doctrinal positions which are not those of the Fathers of neither the first Three, nor of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.
The keys to clearing up historical misunderstandings between us are the facts 1) that on one side Dioscoros supported Eutyches, who was finally realized to be a heretic by Dioscoros himself on the Oriental Orthodox side, and 2) that on the other side the fact that Leo supported Theodoret whose Christology is indeed heretical and at the same time not that of Leo himself which sufficiently agrees with the Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril.
Leo and Theodoret
Theodoret's heretical Christology is especially clear in his attacks against Cyril's Twelve Chapters. These attacks were indeed considered heretical by all the fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council except by the legates of Pope Leo of Rome. This is clear from the fact that the fathers of Chalcedon accepted Theodoret's condemnation by the Council of Ephesus 449 in spite of Leo's refusal to accept it. The Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon paid no attention to Leo's opinions on the matter and refused to seat Theodoret as a member of the Council since he was still under the condemnation of Ephesus 449. He was allowed to sit only as accuser of Dioscoros. The Council of Chalcedon lifted Theodoret's excommunication of 449 only when he finally anathematized Nestorius, accepted the Third Ecumenical Council and the Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril at session VIII. Ibas of Edessa was also likewise cleared of his condemnation at sessions IX and X.
Here we are faced with a Pope Leo who knowingly or willfully or unknowingly supported a heretical and yet unrepentant Theodoret of Cyrus. Theodoret was allowed by unknown means to quietly manifest his " repentance" for the first time, even though attending the Council only as an accuser, by becoming a member of the committee which was appointed to examine the Tome of Leo to see if it indeed agrees with the Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril. The list of the opinions of the members of this committee are recorded in the minutes and they unanimously found on close examination that the Tome of Leo agrees with Cyril's Twelve Chapters. Among the names listed is that of Theodoret. In other words Theodoret finally found that Cyril agreed with Leo his patron and vice versa. He was latter re-united to the Church as just mentioned.
As this writer pointed out in his paper at Aarhus in 1964, Ephesus 449 was still part of Roman Law and had to be dealt with item by item, i.e. by not only rejecting certain of its decisions, but also by accepting certain of its decisions. The refusal of the Pope of Rome to accept Ephesus 449 and the request of some bishops that the emperor be asked to strike out this Council in toto from its legal standing was rejected by the imperial commissioners. Two of the items of Ephesus 449 which were accepted at Chalcedon were the condemnation of both Theodoret of Cyrus and Ibas of Edessa.
It was understood that John of Antioch's reconciliation with Cyril of Alexandria and his acceptance of the Third Ecumenical Council with the Twelve Chapters was done on behalf of all bishops of the Patriarchate of Antioch. However, after the death of John in 442, his successor Domnus allowed Theodoret to lead a revolt against the Third Ecumenical Council especially after the death of St. Cyril in 444. Thus it fell to his successor Dioscoros to lead the defense of Orthodox doctrine against Theodoret and his Nestorian companions. Pope Celestine had died right after the Third Ecumenical Council in 432, succeeded by Sixtus III, who was in turn succeeded by Leo I in 440. Leo rejected the condemnations by Ephesus 449 of not only Flavian of Constantinople and Eusebius of Dorylaeum, but also of the Nestorian Theodoret of Cyrus. Failing to distinguish between the two Orthodox bishops and the Nestorian Theodoret Leo seems to have used the occasion to assert the authority of his see. But by doing this he reduced doctrine to a lesser level than the papal authority of Rome. Dioscoros in like manner also asserted the papal authority of Alexandria.
It is important to note that Theodoret's profession of the faith of Cyril and the Third Ecumenical Council at session VIII of the Council of Chalcedon was accompanied by much hesitation on his part and Episcopal cries of " Nestorian" against him. This is a clear proof that had Dioscoros accepted to appear before the Council and face Theodoret his accuser, he would have certainly been cleared in his fight against this Nestorian enemy of Cyril. He would have been found at least doctrinally, if not canonically, excusable for his excommunication of Leo for his support of this Nestorian. Dioscoros and his bishops excommunicated Leo upon approaching Chalcedon and learning that the legates of Pope Leo were insisting that Theodoret must participate as a member of the Council. Leo insisted upon this in spite of the fact that Theodoret had never yet accepted the Third Ecumenical Council, the Twelve Chapters of Cyril, the condemnation of Nestorius, nor the re-conciliation of 433 between John of Antioch and Cyril of Alexandria. It seems that the Chalcedonian Orthodox must let these facts sink into their heads and take them seriously.
This is why the Council of Chalcedon upheld the excommunication of Theodoret by the Ephesine Council of 449. Therefore, Dioscoros was legally and canonically correct by excommunicating Leo for his support of Theodoret before the Council of Chalcedon. Ephesus 449 was still before the Council of Chalcedon a part of Roman Law in spite Leo of Rome. From a purely doctrinal viewpoint the Pope of Rome was guilty of supporting a Nestorian and a vigorous enemy of the Twelve Chapters, which were the basis of the doctrinal decision of the Third Ecumenical Council. John of Antioch and his own Third Ecumenical Council of 431 had condemned and excommunicated the Cyrilian Third Ecumenical Council because its doctrinal decisions were summarized in Cyril's Twelve Chapters. But then in 433 John and his bishops accepted the Third Ecumenical Council with the Twelve Chapters and condemned Nestorius. Therefore before the Council of Chalcedon in 451 Theodoret was under condemnation by the Roman Laws of both Ephesus 431 and 449. Ephesus 449 was not yet in the process of being repealed or accepted as was finally done item by item. Thus Chalcedon did not repeal the condemnations of Theodoret and Ibas by Ephesus 449. On the contrary Chalcedon enforced these decisions against both and required that both must repent for their actions against Cyril and the Third Ecumenical Council, accept Ephesus 431 and their own condemnation by Ephesus 449, and to ask forgiveness. In other words Chalcedon completely supported Dioscoros on these questions.
However, Chalcedon would have required that Dioscoros explain his actions in regard to Leo's excommunication and may have either accepted or rejected the action or else at least appreciated a good reasoning behind them. We will never know since Dioscoros refused to argue his case against Leo and Theodoret before the Council. Had he done so he may have come out on top, especially since most of the bishops were Cyrilians. However, Dioscoros could not be exonerated from his condemnations of Flavian of Constantinople New Rome and Eusebius of Dorylaeum for not accepting in Christ " from two natures one nature" which was the " Orthodox" tradition of Alexandria, but not that of all the Churches as Cyril himself explained in his letters to his friends when explaining that by speaking of two natures in Christ one may distinguish them in thought alone. In any case both Flavian and Eusebius were finally justified in their actions against Eutyches by Dioscoros, his bishops and all Oriental Orthodox.
The question is now raised whether there were substantial grounds for Dioscoros' excommunication of Leo of Rome. It would further seem possible to argue that this excommunication was somewhat like that of Cyril's excommunication of Nestorius when the latter refused to subscribe to the Twelve Chapters. Cyril did this with the full support of the Pope Celestine of Rome. But in the case before us in 451 we have Pope Leo of Rome himself who is being excommunicated by Pope Dioscoros of Alexandria. The reason behind this is the simple fact that Pope Leo was in reality repudiating His predecessor's support of Cyril's Twelve Chapters by supporting a fanatic enemy of Cyril and his Twelve Chapters.
The realization of the implications about Leo's support for Theodoret are interesting indeed in view of those who support Franco-Latin Papal theories about the magisterium of their medieval papacy.
In 1964 I pointed out that the fundamental criterion of Orthodox Christology was the acceptance of the fact that the Logos Who is consubstantial with His Father became Himself consubstantial with us by His birth as man from His mother, the Virgin Mary. In contrast, the Nestorian position was that Christ is a person who is the product of the union of the two natures in Christ. For Nestorius and Theodoret (up to 451) it is not the Logos Himself Who became by nature man and consubstantial with his mother and us. For both of them the very idea that the Logos could be united to His human nature by nature meant that He was united by a necessity of His divine nature. Thus for Nestorius and Theodoret the one nature of the Logos is consubstantial with the Father and the created nature of the Logos is consubstantial with us. The Logos did not become man and son of Mary by nature and the Virgin Mary did not become the mother of the Logos incarnate. The Basic question was not whether one accepted two natures or one nature in Christ, but whether one accepted that the Logos Himself, Who is cosubstantial with His Father, became Himself consubsantial with his mother and us without confusion, change, separation, division, etc. Neither Nestorius nor Theodoret accepted that the Logos Himself became consubstantial with his mother and us and was born and died as man.
Dioscoros and Eutyches
Theodoret was a heretic before Leo got involved with him and he remained a heretic all the time that he was being supported by Leo. Just after Chalcedon Leo wrote in a letter to Theodoret about their common victory they had won at the Council of Chalcedon, yet in the very same letter complained about Theodoret's tardiness in rejecting Nestorius. In other words Leo supported Theodoret during all the time that he had not one confession of the Orthodox faith to his credit. The first time that he came close to a confession of the Orthodox faith was when he became a member of the committee, we have already mentioned, which found that Leo's Tome agrees with Cyril's Twelve Chapters. Evidently he was made a member of this committee in order to create grounds for satisfying Leo's insistence that he must have his way about Theodoret or there will be no Council of Chalcedon.
Now we compare Leo's support for Theodoret with Dioscoros's support of Eutyches.
1) Theodoret not only showed no sign whatsoever that he agreed with the Third Ecumenical Council before Chalcedon, but on the contrary rejected it and continued to fight against its Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril and refused to condemn Nestorius.
2) On the contrary Dioscoros supported Eutyches on the basis of his confession of faith that " Christ is consubstantial with his mother." Whether this confession is genuine or not, or in reality an act of penance, the fact remains that Dioscoros defended a Eutyches confessing a Christology which was not exactly that for which he was condemned. This writer brought this confession to light in his paper at Aarhus in 1964. This corrected or perhaps falsified confession of faith was the basis on which Dioscoros accepted to defend Eutyches against false accusers. In any case this means that Chalcedon did not condemn the faith of Dioscoros. He was condemned only because he excommunicated Leo and refused to appear before the Council to defend himself. It is within this context that Anatolius of New Rome Constantinople opposed the effort of the imperial commissioners to have Dioscoros condemned for heresy. Anatolius clearly declared that, " Dioscoros was not deposed because of the faith, but because he excommunicated Lord Leo the Archbishop and although he was summoned to the Council three times he did not come."
It has been pointed out that what Anatolius is perhaps only saying here is that Dioscoros' faith had not been examined and for this reason he had not been condemned for his faith. But it seems that Dioscoros' faith was possibly proven by the confession of faith by which he restored Eutyches to communion. Eutyches had been condemned as denying that Christ is consubstantial with us. Flavian two times confesses to the emperor that Christ is consubstantial with his mother. Now it is supposedly proven that Eutyches is in agreement with Flavian who had him condemned.
After his condemnation by the Home Synod of 448 Eutyches appealed to the emperor, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch and Thessaloniki. He argued among other things that the acts had been falsified. By order of the emperor the Review Council of 449 was convened to examine Eutyches' contentions. There we find among other things the following in the minutes: The Presbyter and Advocate John told the Patrician and examining magistrate Florentius that when in 448 he was sent to summon Eutyches to the Synod in order to testify, Eutyches told him that " Christ is consubstantial with his mother even though not with us." Florentius said that " this is not to be found neither in you memorandum nor in your report." John answered " This he told me while speaking only with me, that he does not have a consubstantial flesh with us, but with his mother." Then the Patrician said, " did you forget what you heard, and for this reason this is not to be found in the memorandum which you composed." John answered, " because the most reverend deacons with me did not hear what was told to me in private. for this reason I did not put it in the memorandum."
On the face of these remarks it could be argued that Eutyches agreed with Flavian. But this Patriarch is not recorded as ever denying that Christ is not consubstantial with us, although there could be the possibility that he believed this. But Eutyches had confessed that, although Christ is not consubstantial with us, his mother is. In the case of Eutyches we end up with a contradiction. Since Christ is consubstantial with His mother and His mother is consubstantial with us, it would stand to normal reason that Christ should be consubstantial with us also. It seems that behind such contradictions are either a forgery or an unbalanced personality.
The backbone of the Orthodox tradition is the fact that the Logos became consubstantial with us. There can be no doubt that Dioscoros agrees with this fact and so could never be accused of being a monophysite along with Eutyches.
It seems that Eutyches was trying to follow the fathers in his own way, but was not doing a good job. Then some like Dioscoros undertook to guide him, but to no avail. But neither Dioscoros himself nor any other of the Oriental Orthodox Fathers every followed Eutyches the way Leo followed Theodoret like a pet on a leash.
Flavian and Eusebius
At Ephesus 449 both Flavian and Eusebius accepted Cyril's One nature of the Logos incarnate, the Third Ecumenical Council and its Twelve Chapters of Cyril. Dioscoros accused them of contradicting themselves and Cyril by using this formula wrongly by speaking about two natures after the union instead of one. So they were condemned because they insisted that when the uncreated nature (or also hypostasis in Cyrilian usage) of the Logos became by nature flesh or incarnate, the two natures out of which Christ was composed, became one nature (or hypostasis). In this natural and hypostatic union, according to Cyril, the human nature or hypostasis of the Logos was neither suppressed, absorbed nor changed and became united by nature to the logos without separation, division and change. In Cyrilian usage the two natures or hypostases are distinguished into two in thought alone. In contrast the Orthodox traditions of Rome, of New Rome and of Antioch used the two natures out of which Christ in composed in the incarnation exactly like Alexandria, but speak about two natures distinguished in thought alone. In other words both traditions agree on what the incarnate Logos is constituted of, created and uncreated natures, the uncreated being from the Father and the created nature from the Theotokos. In other words whether one says two united natures distinguished in thought alone, or one nature out of two natures distinguished in thought alone, on is professing the same reality.
In 433 Cyril accepted that both sides were saying the exact same thing. However, Dioscoros came to the conclusion that Theodoret was escaping from a just condemnation for his real heresy by hiding it behind the possibility of not only saying two natures, but of thinking of two separately acting natures which he had been also doing. However, the key to Thedoret's heresy was not this, but the fact that for him, for Nestorius, for Theodore of Mopsuestia, for Arius, for Lucian, and for Paul of Samosata (the philosophical great-grandfather and grandfather of all the former)[ 2 ] God is united to the creature only by will and energy and never by nature. For all of those just mentioned that which is related or united by nature does so by necessity and not by the freedom of will.[ 3 ]
One may conclude that Dioscoros can be defended in his actions against Leo. He is to be fully complimented for his fight against Theodoret. His actions against Flavian and Eusebius can be explained as primarily motivated by his desire to defend the faith against Nestorianism to such a point that he came at least very close to abandoning Cyril's reconciliation of 433 with John of Antioch. The use of the Alexandrian formula " One Nature or Hypostasis Incarnate" by Flavian and Eusebius were technically wrong as such, since they used it not in its correct historical context. However, from the viewpoint of the 433 reconciliation between Cyril and John, this formula could also be used as was done by Flavian and Eusebius, but only so long as its original usage is made clear also. Neither Flavian nor Eusebius understood this and this is what got Dioscoros hot under the collar. He was correct when he protests that both contradicted themselves when using this formula. But he could have let them use it also in the light of 433.
Chalcedonians and Severians at New Rome 531/3.
The roots of so-called Neo-Chalcedonianism
At this conference the Severians supported that Eutyches was indeed a heretic and that Dioscoros accepted him as one repentant and finally confessing the faith that Christ is consustantial with his mother. They seemed not troubled that Eutyches had denied that Christ is cobsubstantial with us. They defended Dioscoros' action against Flavian and Eusebius because they contradicted themselves when saying " One nature of the Logos Incarnate" and at the same time insisting on " two natures after or in their union." Hypatius, the spokesman for the Chalcedonians, was exasperated at the logic of the Orientals by which they justified Dioscoros' defense of the supposedly penitent Eutyches, but refused to accept the Orthodoxy of Flavian and Eusebius. The conference deteriorated into a fundamentalistic debate about which tradition had the correct terminology, a sanctified tradition of debate which reached right up to Aarhus 1964. The Severians insisted that " from two natures" was only correct and that " in two natures" is only wrong. The Chalcedonian side claimed that both are correct.
But the main cause why misunderstandings could never be resolved was the fact that neither side of this meeting had ever read and studied the minutes of Chalcedon. The Severians accused Chalcedon of not accepting Cyril's letter to Nestorius with the Twelve Chapters. Hypatius answered that Chalcedon had accepted it as part of the Third Ecumenical Council. But the reason why Chalcedon supposedly did not use this letter was because Cyril speaks of two hypostases especially in Chapter 3. In other words oral traditions about Chalcedon had begun replacing the minutes of the Council on both sides so that arguments began to be formulated on the basis of heresy.
This opened the way to the position that the Tome of Leo had supposedly become the standard of Chalcedonian Orthodoxy. This was followed by the position that the Fifth Ecumenical Council returned to Cyril's Twelve Chapters in order to please the Non-Chalcedonians. Having studied at Yale University under specialist in the History of Dogma, one may appreciate the shock this writer had, while preparing for Aarhus 1964, when he saw in the minute's of Chalcedon the debate about whether the Tome or Leo agrees with the Twelve Chapters of Cyril. Hypatius' claim that Chalcedon supposedly avoided the use of Cyril's Twelve Chapters because it uses hypostasis as synonymous with physis, obliges one to realize that Chalcedon did no such thing, since Cyril became the judge of Leo's Orthodoxy. So Chalcedon both accepted the Alexandrian tradition of terms, but also that of Rome, Cappadocia and Antioch. It is important that every effort should be made to get rid of the historians of doctrinal history being caused by the so-called Neo Chalcedonianism of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.
II. Today's descendants of the Fathers
One must emphasize that acceptance of the Three or Seven Ecumenical Councils does not in itself entail agreement in faith. The Franco-Latin Papacy accepts these Councils, but in reality accepts not one of them. In like manner there are Orthodox, since Peter the Great, who in reality do not accept the soteriological and Old Testament presuppositions of these Councils. On the other hand those of the Oriental Orthodox, who have not been Franco-Latinised in important parts of their theology, accept the first three of the Ecumenical Councils, but in reality accept all Seven, a fact which has now become clear in recent agreements.
The determining element in the above fluctuations is the fact that the Carolingian Franks learned to interpret the first two Ecumenical Councils through the eyes of Augustine. Then the rest of the Seven became wagons of the same train drawn by the same locomotive. The bishop of Hippo had neither the lightest understanding of the Arian, Eunomian and Macedonian positions about the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation, nor of the Fathers who opposed them. Neither he nor the Franco-Latins ever realized that each heresy condemned by the Seven or Nine Ecumenical Councils was an attack on the Biblical experience of illumination and glorification. In each case fallen man was imagined to be instructed and saved by a creature: a) either by a created Logos, b) or by a created Spirit's created energies, or c) by a created Spirit/Angel. But Augustine's salvation by created grace, i.e. by his created glorifications in the Old and New Testaments or by his created Pentecostal tongues of fire, or by his fires of hell and outer darkness or by created heavenly glory, are all the same pagan realities. Indeed all these Augustinian creatures which reveal and save in both the Old and New Testaments come into and pass out of existence after each of their specific tasks has come to pass. The Council of 1341 condemned these teachings in the person of Barlaam the Calabrian not knowing that this tradition was initiated by Augustine and was accepted by the Franco-Latin tradition. It was continued by the Reformers and is to be found in Bible Commentaries today.
The reality of the matter is that the difference between Augustine and Ambrose, who baptized the former, became the difference between the Franco-Latin and the Roman traditions, both East and West.
The basic difference between the Franco-Latin and Orthodox traditions is that not only illumination or justification takes place in this life, but also that glorification or theosis does so also. The today's Orthodox must return to the Fathers who see both these stages of cure already in the Old Testament and completed in Christ and Pentecost. This would be the essential patristic basis for our going forward in our coming into organic union since this is a fundamental presupposition in the Bible accepted and clearly expounded by our the Fathers, especially by those of the Three and Seven Ecumenical Councils.
Illumination/justification and glorification/theosis in both the Old and New Testaments have nothing to do with mysticism. The Fathers reject spiritualities based on the soul's so-called liberation from earthly copies of transcendental realities and its quest for union with non existent universals in the essence of God. The Fathers clearly reject universals and condemn efforts to unite with them as figments of the imagination and tricks of the devil. Here is a basic patristic foundation for agreeing with those Protestants who agree with Luther's revolt against Franco-Latin monasticism. Many Orthodox assume that Luther's revolt against monasticism was an attack on Orthodox spirituality. To understand this reality is the main key to our participation in such efforts as the WCC.
Luther's rejection of analogia entis, i.e. universals, made the Bible the only basis of speaking authoritatively about God. But the Fathers go further by rejecting analogia fidei, the identity of the words and concepts about God, even in the Bible, with God Himself. The inspiration of the Bible does not make it revelation itself, but a guide to glorification which is revelation. Even the words of Christ themselves are guides to and not themselves glorification or revelation. Christ prays that his disciples and their disciples may see His Glory (John 17), but He does not describe his glory. The foundation of heresy is the confusion of the Bible with revelation whereby one tries to understand God by meditation and speculation on Biblical texts. Since all of one's words and concepts are from one's environment, such meditation and speculation ends up being a closed circle within createdness. Only by accepting the witness of the prophets that there is no similarity between the created and the uncreated and that " it is impossible to express God and even more impossible to conceive Him" that one submits to the cure of purification, illumination and glorification.
This raises the question about the validity of Systematic or Dogmatic Theology and its distinction from Pastoral Theology and the relation of both to so-called Christian Ethics. Within the context of the cure of purification and illumination of the heart and glorification these theological disciplines do not really exist. The very fact that one's spirit must return to the heart emptied of both good and bad thoughts in order to be occupied only with prayer that the intellect may by occupied with its normal activities does not allow such divisions of labor. What is left is cure of oneself in communion with others as expressed in the gospel of Christ with which He Himself inspired in His friends even before His incarnation.
Such documents as " Confessing the One Faith" are distortions of our Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in its present form. It must be completed by the fact that " God, whom no one has ever seen" (John 1:18), has indeed revealed Himself to the prophets of the Old Testament in His uncreated Messenger even before His incarnation. To see the Angel of the Lord is to see God Himself Who sends Him. " The only begotten Son, He Who is in the bosom of the Father, He reveals." As the prophets saw and heard God in His Messenger, so now also he who sees and hears His incarnate Messenger sees and hears God Himself. She who gave birth to Christ gave birth to God's Logos in the flesh. They who crucified Christ crucified the Logos Himself in the flesh. " He who believes in me does not believe in me but in him who sent me, and he who sees me sees him who sent me." (John 12:44-45). " Lord, show us the Father... He who sees me has seen the Father." (John 14:8-9). This identity between the uncreated Messenger of God in the Old Testament and the incarnate Logos in the New Testament is the key to a correct appreciation of the Three, Seven and Nine Ecumenical Councils (879, 1341) of the Orthodox Church.
From the viewpoint of both the Old and New Testaments and the Fathers correct faith in the Lord of Glory is not a religion, but the rejection of religion. Religion is a sickness which confuses words and concepts taken from one's environment with God and transforms them into the idols that they are. This is exactly what most so-called theologians, pastors and faithful do. The faithful who are not at least in the state of illumination may seem better than members of other religions, but may be even morally worse. Such evaluations may be to the point within the context of the negative role religions seem to be playing today. A discussion and agreement about the dangers of analogia entis, analogia fidei and the fanatics they tend to breed within Christianity and other religions may be a helpful and useful corollary to our work together.
It would seem that we must train ourselves patristically to be ready to examine with our Protestant and Latin friends whether Sola Sciptura and Sola fide want to say what may be described as the Patristic Sola Pentcoste. Each theosis, i.e. glorification, is the extension of Pentecost in the lives of our saints to which nothing can be added and improved upon.
The basic question which we must ask ourselves is whether we are descendants of our fathers in Christ, or have we become part of the Augustinian tradition? Who are and what are the so-called Orthodox who no longer identify Christ with " He Who Is" Who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and the " Angel of Great Council" Who appeared to Isaiah?
I have not once come across a document of the WCC in which the Orthodox have made known Who Christ is in the Old Testament. I tried to do this at the Rhodes meeting on " Confessing the Crucified and Risen Christ in Social, Cultural and Ethical Context today" 4-11/1/88. I explained that no one has the right to explain and comment on the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed without reference to the reasons why the Fathers composed the Creed and how they explain the Creed. I insisted that both the Arians and Eunomians agreed with the Fathers that Christ in the Old Testament is the Angel of the Lord, the Angel of Great Council, etc. who appeared to the prophets; that the difference was that for the fathers the Logos/Angel is uncreated and that for these heretics he was created. Augustine rejected this identity of this Angel of the Lord with the Logos, thinking that only the Arians believed that the Logos was seen by the prophets and that his visibility was the main argument by which they proved that the Logos is created. I presented the meeting with patristic texts. The participants voted the approval of my suggestions. But subsequently nothing appeared in the New Revised Version. But that the Lord of Glory of the Old Testament was born as man from the Theotokos [ 5 ] and was crucified is the foundation of all the doctrinal decisions of all our Ecumenical Councils. Who in God's name are running the Orthodox show in the World Council of Churches?
If we believe as our Fathers that Christ is the Lord of Glory Who appeared to the prophets and made them His friends, and if we are supposed to also see His Glory and become his friends, as clearly prayed for by Christ in John 17, only then do the lifting of anathemas have some meaning.
Return to Articles