I read somewhere that the Orthodox were planning on holding an ecumenical council, the first one since the 7th one. I thought it was supposed to be this year or next. Can anyone shed some light on this? My understanding was that this was NOT to be just a pan-orthodox council.
That’s the first I’ve heard. I hope someone can shed some light on this!
We keep hearing this, such is/was the case for 2013. Then we keep hearing there is no need for one. :shrug:
Without a Byzantine emperor or pope, there is no one way to legally force an Eastern Orthodox ecumenical council to convene. You have to wait until every jurisdiction agrees to meet up. Also, if anyone had problems about what was decided, there would be no way of obligating anyone to keep its decrees (id Mark of Ephesus).
The Byzantine Empire is, of course, long gone, and the very thought of a “Byzantine Pope” with the authority to do this just does not compute.
In theory, I suppose, a proposition could be put before each respective Synod. If the proposition were accepted, and a Council were convened, would not all be bound to its decrees by virtue of the their Synod’s pre-acceptance of the proposition? That’s just hypothetical, of course, as the likelihood of such a thing happening is about the same as pigs (other than loud little Maxwell :p) flying.
I know that in debates about the Council of Florence… The Catholics say that the pope called for an ecumenical council and every EO bishop accepted it except one (Mark of Ephesus), therefore it is certainly ecumenical. The EOs say that it was not an ecumenical council because over time the Orthodox Church ultimately rejected it.
The Catholic theologians teach that the convening of an ecumenical council makes it an ecumenical council. The EO theologians teach that the ultimate, permanent acceptance of an ecumenical council is what makes it an ecumenical council.
This is a position I"ve always struggled with. It strikes me as arbitrary and unworkable in practice. Were any of the first seven councils accepted by the “entire Church”. Absolutely not. Not by any stretch of the imagination. If the argument is that a council is only binding if the entire Church accepts it, Chalcedon is out as both the Copts and Syriacs rejected it. Otherwise the reasoning becomes very circular…Chalcedon is binding because those of the truth faith accepted it. I thought the purpose of the Council was to clarify the orthodox position. I have a similar concern with the position of many Eastern / Oriental Catholics that none of the post-schism General Councils of the Catholic Church are binding ecumenical councils as the Orthodox were not present… why then were the fourth through seventh councils binding without the Orientals? What’s the cut off? Is the Church of Christ impotent unless every conceiveable validly ordained bishop in full communion with each other?
Pardon my generalization… A typical conservative Russian answer would be that the 4th Ecumenical Council supported the Orthodox faith and those that rejected it are not part of the Orthodox Church since they rejected the Orthodox faith. All of the Orthodox bishops accepted the 4th Council, therefore, it is ecumenical.
Exactly the circular reasoning I was referencing in my previous post. It drives me nuts - and it is one of the reasons why I could never be Orthodox.
I think the idea behind it is that it is essentially a retroactive definition. One cannot properly call it an ecumenical council until everyone who remains in communion has either accepted it or left the communion, then it may be called an ecumenical council, and thereafter it must be accepted in perpetuity, and may be used as a whacking stick against any heretics.
No question that it’s arbitrary. I will reserve comment on whether or not it’s unworkable.
Indeed, the purpose is to clarify the orthodox position. Chalcedon, however, presents many of its own unique problems. One of which is that it was called by the Byzantine Emperor. Let’s face it: when a political entity is involved, can political interests be far away? :hmmm:
This, I think, is rather different. Nothing precludes a Church from calling a General Synod (“Council” if one prefers), to deal with whatever issues it may face. It’s canons are binding on that Church. But to call such a Synod/Council “Oecumenical” seems to me to be a bit of a stretch. Further, nothing says that every bishop involved is forced to accept such a Synod’s/Council’s determinations. Those who outright reject them are excluded from the fold of communion (e.g. the Old Catholics). I suppose one has also to consider the matters put before those Synods/Councils. How many of them have (in the later Councils) had a bearing beyond the Latin Church?
Chalcedon is not unique in this regard. Of the first seven Ecumenical Councils, all were called by Roman (i.e., Byzantine) Emperors–except the seventh, which was called by an Empress.
Talk about a pan-Orthodox synod has been stirring for years, and proposed dates have come and gone, so I wouldn’t bet on it happening within any particular timeframe. The problem is that not everyone in the Orthodox Church is as enthusiastic about the concept as one might think. The Greek Churches are interested, but the Slavic traditions might condemn it as an exercise in renovationism and ecumenicism. As I understand, the Moscow Patriarchate are most opposed to any pan-Orthodox synod, despite being the most populous Church in the Orthodox Communion. It may sound silly, but if you think about how the US is one of the biggest critics of the United Nations, despite also being its biggest contributor, it kind of makes sense. The reasons are rather similar.
Yes, I know, but the political implications of Chalcedon are far more clear. At least so IMHO.
There have been plans for a council of some sort or another for some time. Some say it’ll be an ecumenical council, although more likely it’ll be another general synod - on par with the Council of Jerusalem (edit: I should specify, the one that was held in 1672, not the one described in Acts). We have issues to work out but not the sort the Ecumenical Councils used to deal with.
As for when, dates have been set, and passed. We’re working on the details slowly but surely, the way the church has always operated. We’ve been around for 2,000 years - we don’t need to have it tomorrow, the Church and the issues will still be around for us to deal with.
My understanding is that the issues are mostly procedural. I’ve heard the status of the OCA is a particular sticking point, The EP wants it to be represented by Russia, and Russia wants it to have its own representation.
But whatever God wills, it is in his hands, not ours. If he doesn’t want us to have a council, so be it. The Church won’t die without one.
Well…how can one tell which is the true orthodox faith if there was one or some (a handful) who rejected what was decided in the council?
And what if one Orthodox bishop rejected it…does that then make it not an Ecumenical council?
Okay…what is the difference between a synod and an EC? Or rather, what makes a synod a synod and an EC and EC?
I am so confused. Is this a church separate from than the Russian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. Do they recognize the EP as their Patriarch? I was under the impression that all Orthodox in America where within his “sphere,” but in another thread it was indicated that only Greeks were likely to accept this.
Sorry to be so obtuse, but my wife and kids are GO and I try to understand as much as I can in order to answer questions my kids have.
The distinction is not well defined, historically the ECs were all called by Emperors but they also called councils that aren’t recognized as Ecumenical. I suppose the answer I would give (and remember it isn’t well defined so someone can give you a whole other answer, and neither of us are necessarily wrong) but an Ecumenical Council deals with matters of faith, is accepted by all the churches, and stands the test of time. The Synod of Jerusalem does actually meet this definition and for that reason there are many who would argue it was an Ecumenical Council.
In reality we aren’t all that concerned about what the meeting is called. If it espouses the true faith and is accepted by all the churches, then what does it matter what people say it was?
The situation you describe is what the Greeks say it should be, nothing close to what it is (this is one of the issues to be discussed at the council, which is why the OCA wants to be represented)
Juristictionally, the Orthodox Church is a bit of a mess in North America (this traces back to the Communist Revolution in Russia, before that time the Russian Orthodox Church was the only one in North America). The OCA itself is the result Russian Orthodox mission in North America. Meanwhile the Greeks argue that some Canon (can’t remember which) grants them the right to lead the “barbarian lands”, which they interpret to mean any country that isn’t Orthodox.
Either way, almost all of the 15 autocephalous Orthodox Churches (and at least three autonomous Churches) have a presence in North America, and all 15 agree that this isn’t how it should be. One bishop per territory, not 15 overlapping but separate bishoprics per jurisdiction.
I should point out that in spite of these disagreements, we all recognize each other as being fully Orthodox.