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Miaphysitism #303060
10/30/08 06:10 PM
10/30/08 06:10 PM
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Georgia
Logos - Alexis Offline OP
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This is, I think, an "East and West" issue, but in this case the East is understood as the Oriental Orthodox whereas the West is understood as being Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and traditional Protestantism.

In recent years I've heard a lot about how the Oriental Orthodox doctrine of miaphysitism (where the Divinity and Humanity of Christ are united and not distinct from one another) is similar to, or consonant with, the traditional Chalcedonian view of the Hypostatic Union, by which we believe Christ had two natures that were distinct but acted in accord with each other.

My general question is: Can we have an in-depth discussion on the real similarities and differences surrounding this issue?

My specific question are: How in miaphysitism not monophysitism (since its adherents seem to make no distinction between Christ's Humanity and Divinity), or if it's different from monophysitism, how is is different from monothelitism? Can the differences be chalked up to confusion concerning the relevant philosphical terms (ousia, prosopon, physis, etc.) and their translations? Can any of these non-Chalcedonian doctrines be construed in a Christologically orthodox manner? If so, how do the Oriental Orthodox stand outside of the True Church, from an Eastern Orthodox point of view? Does it all come down to their not accepting the decrees of an Ecumenical Council?

Also, feel free to cite sources or post links to pertinent websites.

Alexis



Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Logos - Alexis] #303063
10/30/08 06:37 PM
10/30/08 06:37 PM
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As I understand it, a very crucial difference between the miaphysitism of the Oriental Orthodox and the sort of Eutychian monophysitism condemned at Chalcedon is that Eutyches denied that Christ has a nature consubstantial with ours, while the miaphysitism of the Oriental Orthdodox does not.

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Athanasius The L] #303339
11/03/08 12:44 PM
11/03/08 12:44 PM
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Dear Alexis,

Your points are highly interesting and thought-provoking - congratulations on your theological acumen and depth!

The Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox ecumenical commission found that there was no substantial difference between their two "families of Churches" to warrant continuing of the break between them, as you know.

The Orthodox side found that the Miaphysites are not "monophysites" since they do not believe that there is only One Divine Nature in Christ. This was a misunderstanding based on the Oriental Orthodox Churches emphasis of St Cyril of Alexandria's terminology which, in full, refers to the Incarnate Divine Word and His Oneness after the union of the Divine and the Human Natures in Him.

At one point in the discussions, they found that the Oriental Orthodox understood "Nature" to mean, in fact, "Person."

The differences are largely a problem they have with the Council of Chalcedon's formulations which sound "Nestorian" in their ears. They also didn't like any sympathetic references to teachers such as Ibas or Theodore as being "Nestorianizing."

It was also affirmed that the Oriental Orthodox Saint Dioscoros of Alexandria was condemned for his actions (beating up St Flavian) and not for heresy (Dioscoros was, in fact, a nephew of St Cyril of Alexandria).

The Oriental Orthodox are anxious to show they are not Monophysite and that they indeed condemn Monophysism as heretical (which it certainly is). Sometimes Eutyches is made the scapegoat as the originator of Monophysism (who was the true originator of Monophysism? Not, they say, Dioscoros or Severos of Antioch, much less Philoxenos of Mabbugh or Peter the Hairy of Alexandria or Mar Jacob.)

In fact, we know that while Eutyches refused to agree to confess that Christ is "consubstantial with us" he had absolutely no problem confessing that Christ is "consubstantial with His Mother." So his problem was not confessing that Christ had a Human Nature - he had a problem formulating that Christ took His Nature from us sinners and not from the All-Immaculate and All Holy Theotokos.

There could have been true Monophysites - although it would be difficult today to affirm who, in those times, really was.

(And the Alexandrian formula of the Trisagion, as you know, where it says "Who was crucified for us" and which drove the Greeks crazy indicated simply that the Trisagion in the Alexandrian tradition was a prayer addressed to Christ alone and not the entire Trinity).

Alex

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #303365
11/03/08 05:48 PM
11/03/08 05:48 PM
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Hi,

The problem, as I see it, is that we are talking apples and oranges.

From what I have read about this, the Chalcedonian theology about the Hypostatic Union and the Dual Nature of Christ is predicated in the absolute aristotelian categories of Substance/Essence and Accidents.

Non-Chalcedonains explain their views without recourse to Aristotle and in ways closer to existentialism:

The Eternal Logos became Incarnate and at that point, His existence became something it was not before; He began existing as the Incarnate Word, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

If I understand this correctly, then this "change" did not go all the way to the core essence of what the Logos is, but it altered forever the way He lives. Not the "what", but the "how".

If we are talking about the "what", then the Chalcedonian dogma must be affirmed: The Logos became man without any change whatsoever to His divine nature, but by uniting this divine nature to a human nature in the one person of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

However, if we are talking about the "how", it is evident that something did change when the Logos became incarnate. This change is obvious in the temporary "kenosis", but it remains now after Christ's resurrection and glorification. Christ "went back" to the Father, to resume the "exercise" of His divine majesty and glory, the same He had from all eternity, but He took with Him His human nature. The same, but then again, not quite.

Quite honestly, this makes a lot of sense. It adds color and splendor to the mystery of the Incarnation in a way not quite accomplished (because it ws not the intention to do so) by the Chalcedonian dogma, and I really do not see a hard contradiction, if there is no prejudice to see one.

Shalom,
Memo

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Memo Rodriguez] #303798
11/08/08 08:27 AM
11/08/08 08:27 AM
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Dear Brethren in Christ,

Being I am an adherent of Miaphysite Christology, I am very interested in this discussion. I think all of the points made above are valid and helpful -although I'm not sure about Eutyches and the Holy Mother of God. My memory is that he was in trouble because he would not confess that our Lord's humanity was from His mother but was willing to confess a heavenly origin of our Lord's humanity (but I'll double check on that). Be that as it may, I have a simple page on the Council of Chalcedon in which I try to present the historic view from the Oriental Orthodox perspective, while taking account of the great ecumenical advancements between: the Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox and also between the Latin Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches. There are some pretty informitive links on this page, if interested. Thanks for posting on this important topic. Your brother...

Trusting in Christ's Inextinguishable Light,
Sub-Dn. Ghazaros / Lazarus Der-Ghazarian,
Armenian Orthodox Church, Eastern Diocese USA
Chalcedon: http://www.geocities.com/derghazar/chalcedon.html


Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Sub-Deacon Ghazaros] #304264
11/14/08 10:27 AM
11/14/08 10:27 AM
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Canada
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Dear Reverend Sub-Deacon Ghazaros,

I've tried to find my source for Eutyches, but being in the midst of a kitchen reno, most of my "stuff" is packed away and out of reach for at least the next three weeks still.

One problem with finding a good analysis of Eutyches and his views is that many simply assume, uncritically, that he was a heretic without going into the finer points surrounding his issues. He may well have been a heretic, although if it can be shown that he agreed to our Lord taking His Humanity from His Mother - then clearly he could not have been heretical and there was a creed that expressed our Lord's Incarnation in precisely this manner that is orthodox and would have, therefore, been acceptable to Eutyches.

Happy Feast day of Sts Justinian and Theodora!

Alex

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #304944
11/21/08 12:06 AM
11/21/08 12:06 AM
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Metropolitan Detroit, MI
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Dear Brother in Christ, Alexander:

You make a perfectly valid point. One of the definitive books on the topic of Chalcedon is by the Indian Orthodox scholar and priest, Fr. V.C. Samuel: The Council of Chalcedon Revisited. I have never finished this substantial and tedius book smile but I read large sections of it. In it, Fr. Samuel describes Eutyches as and old, confused monk who's forte' just wasn't theology. Yet you are correct brother, Eutyches did indeed confess our Lord's consubstantiality with us. Allow me to share a few excerpts from the above mentioned text:

As his [written] confession was not accepted, Eutyches made an oral statement. 'Thus I believe,' he said, 'I worship the Father with the Son, and the Son with the Father, and the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son. Concerning his coming in the flesh, I confess that it happened from the flesh of the Virgin, and that he became man perfetly for our salvation. Thus I confess in the presence of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and of your holiness.'
...The second part of the question was now pressed, and Eutyches tried to evade it. 'Till this day,' he said, 'I have not spoken of the body of our Lord that it was of the same substance with us. But I confess that the Virgin was consubstantial with us, and that our God became incarnate from her.' Basil of Seleucia commented that if the mother was consubatantial with us, he himself, being called the Son of Man, must be consubstantial with us. 'As you now say,' said Eutyches, 'I agreee in everything."
...Eutyches gave his reason for hesitating to affirm Christ's consubstantiality with us. 'I considered the body of Christ to be the body of God,' he said. 'I did not say that the body of God was the body of man. The body was human, and the Lord became incarnated from the Virgin. But since it was from the Virgin, if it would be permissible to say that it was consubstantial with us, I say it -except that he was God the Only Son, Lord of heaven and earth, who is master and king with the Father, and who is seated and prasied with him. For I do not deny that the Son was indeed consubstantial with God. I did not say this previously. I say this now, because your hoiness says it.' Flavian asked whether he was admitting it out of persuasion or out of a conviction that it was the truth. 'Till this hour,' answered Euthyes, 'I was afraid to say this.' Flavian reminded him that it was not any new idea but the teaching of the fathers. In this context Florentius asked Eutyches whether he affirmed Christ's consubstantiality with us and that he was 'of two natures after the union.' It is in answer to this unexpected question of the imperial officer that Eutyches made the famous statement: 'I confess that our Lord was from two natures before the union, but after the union I confess one nature.'
The discussion around the phrase 'consubstantial with us' shows that Eutyches was reluctant to use it, not becuase he denied the reality and perfection of Christ's manhood, not becuase he refused to admit his real birth from Mary, but because Christ for him was God incarnate. The manhood which God the Son asssumed in the incarnation was not the manhood of a man, but of God the Son who accepted on himself an incarnate state. In other words, Eutyches was trying in his own way to exclude a doctrine of two Sons, which he feared was implicit in the phrase. Even though as an old monk with inadequate theological training in theology, he was not able to spell out this idea properly, he may well have been groping to give expression to it. If indeed he was, he was concerned about affirming a teaching which was central to the teaching of both Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian traiditions.
In any case, the synod demanded that he 'ought to confess clealy the dogmas now read and to anathematize all who hold contrary views.' 'But I have not found them clearly in the scriptures,' said the old monk, 'nor have the fathers said all these things. So, if I anathematize, woe unto me that I condemn my fathers.' 'Let him be anathema,' cried the synod, Flavian, however hesitated and Eutyches made it clear that he would not pronounce any anathema. At this juncture Florentius insisted that Eutyches should affirm 'two natures' and 'consubstantial with us.' Now the monk answered: ''I have read the blessed Cyril, the holy fathers and the holy Athanasius. They speak of 'from two natures" as referring to the before of the union. As for after the union and the incarnation, they no longer affirm two natures but one.' Basil of Selucia said that if he did not admit two natures, he would be maintaining confusion and mixtures; and Florentius gave his ruling that he who did not affirm 'from two antures' and 'two natures' did not have the orthodox faith. The synod now stood up and said: 'That which comes from persusion is not faith. Many years to the emperors! To the orthodox emperors, many years! This faith of yours will triumph for ever, He who does not conform, why should he be persuaded?' As president of the synod, Flavian gave the verdict that Eutyches was a follower of Valentinus and Apollinarius. Thirty bishops and twenty-three archimandrites gave their signaturees to the decree (pgs. 50-52).

I think this account answers our question very clearly of what Eutyches confessed about our Lord's Nature. I hope you find this helpful. Thanks for helping me to remember this as well.

Trusting in Christ's 1st & 2nd Advent
Dn. Ghazar / Lazarus Der-Ghazarian,
Sub-Deacon, Armenian Orthodox Church, Eastern Diocese USA
"Light of Christ" Website: www.geocities.com/derghazar/

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Sub-Deacon Ghazaros] #304966
11/21/08 09:53 AM
11/21/08 09:53 AM
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Dear Reverend Sub-Deacon Lazarus,

Thank you ever so much for your painstaking and informative post! (You put me to shame!).

It was the ecumenical Commission that discovered that Eutyches and others understood "Person" by the word "Nature." In fact, despite Eutyches' refusal to confess Orthodoxy using the language put to him, he could not be considered a heretic - any more than the Miaphysite Churches and tradition as a whole may be so considered (and they cannot!).

We in Toronto are blessed to have a number of beautiful Churches of the Miaphysite tradition - especially Coptic and Armenian. (I am actively at work as a liaison with our Armenian community, especially with respect to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and I had the privilege of speaking at a demonstration last year in honour of Hrant Dink)

Being in one such Coptic Orthodox Church (doesn't "Alexandrian" have a nice ring to it? smile ) there was a book store with icons.

And show me an Eastern Christian enthusiast who isn't overjoyed at the sight of yet one more Eastern Christian bookstore - and I'll show you a real heretic! smile

They had a beautiful icon of . . . St Dioscoros of Alexandria, which I purchased. They asked me my religious affiliation and then the two Copts looked at each other in amazement that a Chalcedonian would want such an icon!

One of them gave a wave of his hand and said, "But we live in ecumenical times, don't we?"

Praying for every blessing on you, your family and your Church, I am

Yours in Christ,

Alex

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #305027
11/21/08 07:53 PM
11/21/08 07:53 PM
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Metropolitan Detroit, MI
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Dear Brother in Christ, Alexander:

I never thought about this, but you are right about the warm fuzzies we get when made aware of an Orthodox bookstore. smile I was glad to hear of your honor for Hrant Dink and veneration of St. Dioscoros. Many Armenians would do well to imitate your piety and ecumenism. I thank God for the Ecumenical times we live in. May God grant us an ever increasing unity -for many years to come. Take care, dear brother. Its always a pleasure to hear from you.

Sub-Dn. Ghazaros

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Sub-Deacon Ghazaros] #305201
11/24/08 01:18 PM
11/24/08 01:18 PM
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Dear Reverend Sub-Deacon,

It is I who am indebted to the pious example of the members of the Holy Armenian Church of Etchmiadzin!

The pleasure is all mine.

Alex

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Athanasius The L] #306959
12/13/08 04:20 AM
12/13/08 04:20 AM
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Are the Copts Monophysites? If we want to know what the term means to the Coptic Patriarch weu can read a book "The Nature of Christ" by Pope Shenouda. This book is an apology for the Monophysite position and the rejection of Chalcedon. Reading this book makes it clear that Pope Shenouda does not consider the problem to be the result of a linguistic misunderstanding, but rather that the Council of Chalcedon and the Tome of Leo are heretical. In fact, Pope Shenouda in this book is simply repeating the same arguments that were used by the Monophysites in the 5th century:

http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/theology/nature_of_christ.pdf


I include a quote from the book. Please note that Pope Shenouda does not reject the term "Monophysite" and substitute it with "Miaphysites" but only says it has been misused by the "Diophysites" (most of the rest of us):

"The Divine nature (God the Word) was united with the human nature which He took of the Virgin Mary by the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit purified and sanctified the Virgin's womb so that the Child to whom she gave birth would inherit nothing of the original sin; the flesh formed of her blood was united with the Only-Begotten Son. This Unity took place from the first moment of the Holy Pregnancy in the Virgin's womb. As a result of the unity of both natures-the Divine and the human-inside the Virgin's womb, one nature was formed out of both: "The One Nature of God the Incarnate Logos" as St. Cyril called it.

"The Holy Church did not find an expression more reliable, deep and precise than that which was used by St. Cyril the Great, and which St. Athanasius the Apostolic used before him. Both of them were true leaders in the theological field worldwide. When I participated in the dialogue arranged by the Pro-Oriente group in Vienna, Austria in September 1971 between the Roman Catholic Church and the ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches concerning the Nature of Christ, the point of discussion was St. Cyril's expression "One Nature of God the Incarnate Logos" (Mia Physis Tou Theou Logou Sesarkwmene).

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #306960
12/13/08 04:22 AM
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"After the schism which took place in the year 451 A.D., when the Coptic Orthodox Church rejected the motions of the Council of Chalcedon and its theological struggles, we were called "Monophysites" that is, those who believe in the "One Nature". Sharing our belief are the Syrians, the Armenians, the Ethiopians and the Indians; who were also called "Non-Chalcedonian" Orthodox Churches. On the other hand, the Chalcedonian Catholic and Creek Churches "The Roman Orthodox" believe in the two natures of Christ; the Protestant Churches also hold this belief.

"Consequently, these churches are known as "Diophysites" - believers in the two natures of Christ.

"The Roman - or Chalcedonian - Orthodox Churches include those of Constantinople, Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Romania, Hungary and Serbia as well as the Roman Orthodox Churches of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, America and the St. Catherine Monastery in the Sinai desert.

"The term "Monophysites" used for the believers in the One Nature has been intentionally or unintentionally misinterpreted throughout certain periods of history. Consequently, the Coptic and the Syrian Churches in particular were cruelly persecuted because of their belief, especially during the period which started from the Council of Chalcedon held in 451 A,D. and continued to the conquest of the Arabs in Egypt and Syria (about 641 A.D.).

"This misinterpretation continued along history as though we believed in one nature of Christ and denied the other nature. We wonder which of the two natures the Church of Alexandria denies?

"Is it the Divine nature? Certainly not, for our Church was the most fervent defender against the Arian heresy in the Council of Nicea, held in the year 325 A.D., as well as before and after that. Or is it The Lord's human nature that the Church of Alexandria denies? St. Athanasius of Alexandria resolved this entirely in the oldest and greatest book on this subject The Incarnation of the Word,

"The expression "One Nature" does not indicate the Divine nature alone nor the human nature alone, but it indicates the unity of both natures into One Nature which is "The Nature of the Incarnate Logos".

"The same applies when we speak about our human nature which comprises two united natures: the soul and the body. Thus, man's nature is not the soul alone nor the body alone, but their union in one nature called human nature. We will discuss this point in detail later on.

"St. Cyril the Great taught us not to talk about two natures after their unity. So we can say that the Divine nature united hypostatically with the human nature within the Virgin's womb, but after this unity we do not ever speak again about two natures of Christ. In fact, the expression "two natures" implies in itself division or separation, and although those who believe in "the two natures" admit unity, the tone of separation was obvious in the Council of Chalcedon - a matter which prompted us to reject the Council and caused the exile of St. Dioscorus of Alexandria.

".....Following the same trend, Leo, the Bishop of Rome, accordingly declared his famous Tome which was rejected by the Coptic Church. But the Council [Chalcedon] accepted and voted for it, thus confirming that two natures existed in Christ after their unity: a Divine nature performing its functions and a human nature carrying out its role."

I recommend this book by Pope Shenouda, no mean theologian in his own right, to any who doubt that his theological position is monophysitism.

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #306967
12/13/08 07:27 AM
12/13/08 07:27 AM
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Fr. Ambrose,

I do doubt. You quote the phrase that somes up there belief: "Mia Physis Tou Theou Logou Sesarkwmene". They are Miaphysites not Monophysites. They belive Christ is perfectly God and perfectly man. They do not believe that the divine subsumed the human as a true monophysite would believe. That they consider Chalcedon and St. Leo heretical is problematic, however.

Fr. Deacon Lance


My cromulent posts embiggen this forum.
Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Fr. Deacon Lance] #306994
12/13/08 01:42 PM
12/13/08 01:42 PM
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The Miaphysites need to differentiate between Leo's Tome and the teaching of Chalcedon, because the Tome was only accepted as authoritative by the Council Fathers when it is read in the light of St. Cyril's teaching as expressed in his letters to Nestorius. This is important because, as Grillmeier points out in his multi-volume series entitled "Christ in Christian Tradition," certain comments made by Pope Leo in his treatise can be easily misinterpreted as implying the false notion that the two natures in Christ are agents of action, but that is clearly false, because only a person -- and not a nature -- can act.

Re: Miaphysitism [Re: Logos - Alexis] #327181
07/10/09 08:36 PM
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Miaphysitism is orthodox. Test the self-proclaimed Miaphysites based on how they profess to understand the formula (μία φύσις Θeoυ Λόγου σεσαρκωμένη = one incarnate nature of God the Word) of the Doctor of the Incarnation, Patriarch St. Cyril I of Alexandria (June 27). The formula, as understood and expounded by that great doctor, means that "the one common nature viewed as a whole in the subsistence of the Word" became incarnate [the Doctor of the Assumption, St. John of Damascus (December 4), An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith[/u] 3:11], and one compound hypostasis (this is the sense of the terminology of St. Cyril) results from the divine nature of the Word uniting flesh to itself in Person [the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28), [u]Summa Theologica[/u][/i] III, q. 2, art. 1, ad 1].

The heterodox (Monophysite) understanding of the Cyrillian formula is that one compound divine-human nature results from the union of the divine nature and the human nature. If those claiming to be Miaphysites understand the formula in the latter sense, they are Monophysite heretics, as St. John of Damascus proves in the following way in 3:3 of his [u]An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith[/u]: If the two natures are united in one composite divine-human nature, then Christ would not be consubstantial with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, and not consubstantial with us, which, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out, contradicts Hebrews 2:7; God the Father and God the Holy Spirit do not subsist in a composite divine-human nature, nor do we.

See Aquinas, St. Thomas (Doctor Angelicus). "Book IV, Article 35: Against the Error of Eutyches." Trans. Joseph Rickaby, S.J., M.A. [u][i]Summa Contra Gentiles: Of God and His Creatures. London: Burnes and Oates, 1905. 10 July 2009 <http://www2.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/gc4_35.htm>.

God bless you and yours!

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