First Agreed Statement (1989)
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.
Throughout our discussions we have found our common ground in the formula of our common
Father, St. Cyril of Alexandria : mia physis hypostasis (he mia hypostasis) tou Theou Logou
sesarkomene, and in the dictum that "it is sufficient for the confession of our true and
irreproachable faith to say and to confess that the Holy Virgin is Theotokos" (Hom : 15, cf. Ep. 39).
Great indeed is the wonderful mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one True God, one
ousia in three hypostases or three prosopa. Blessed be the Name of the Lord our God, for ever
Great indeed is also the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, for us
and for our salvation.
The Logos, eternally consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit in His Divinity, has in
these last days, become incarnate of the Holy Spirit and Blessed Virgin Mary Theotokos, and thus
became man, consubstantial with us in His humanity but without sin. He is true God and true Man
at the same time, perfect in His Divinity, perfect in His humanity. Because the one she bore in
her womb was at the same time fully God as well as fully human we call the Blessed Virgin Theotokos.
When we speak of the one composite (synthetos) hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ, we do not say
that in Him a divine hypostasis and a human hypostasis came together. It is that the one eternal
hypostasis of the Second Person of the Trinity has assumed our created human nature in that act
uniting it with His own uncreated divine nature, to form an inseparably and unconfusedly united
real divine-human being, the natures being distinguished from each other in contemplation (theoria) only.
The hypostasis of the Logos before the incarnation, even with His divine nature, is of course not
composite. The same hypostasis, as distinct from nature, of the Incarnate Logos, is not composite
either. The unique theandric person (prosopon) of Jesus Christ is one eternal hypostasis Who has
assumed human nature by the Incarnation. So we call that hypostasis composite, on account of the
natures which are united to form one composite unity. It is not the case that our Fathers used
physis and hypostasis always interchangeably and confused the one with the other. The term hypostasis
can be used to denote both the person as distinct from nature, and also the person with the nature,
for a hypostasis never in fact exists without a nature.
It is the same hypostasis of the Second Person of the Trinity, eternally begotten from the Father
Who in these last days became a human being and was born of the Blessed Virgin. This is the mystery
of the hypostatic union we confess in humble adoration - the real union of the divine with the human,
with all the properties and functions of the uncreated divine nature, including natural will and
natural energy, inseparably and unconfusedly united with the created human nature with all its
properties and functions, including natural will and natural energy. It is the Logos Incarnate Who
is the subject of all the willing and acting of Jesus Christ.
We agree in condemning the Nestorian and the Eutychian heresies. We neither separate nor divide
the human nature in Christ from His divine nature, nor do we think that the former was absorbed in
the latter and thus ceased to exist.
The four adverbs used to qualify the mystery of the hypostatic union belong to our common
tradition - without commingling (or confusion) (asyngchytos), without change (atreptos), without
separation (achoristos) and without division (adiairetos). Those among us who speak of two
natures in Christ, do not thereby deny their inseparable, indivisible union; those among us who
speak of one united divine-human nature in Christ do not thereby deny the continuing dynamic
presence in Christ of the divine and the human, without change, without confusion.
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.
Return to Official Statements