What are the requirements for a teaching to be infallible in the Eastern Orthodox Church?

For Roman Catholicism, a teaching is infallible when it is declared binding by the papacy and magesterium.

What makes a teaching infallible in the Eastern Orthodox Church?

That is not strictly true. Non-infallible truths can be binding on the faithful. Infallible and binding are two different considerations when it comes to teachings.

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I think this is a case of one of those things you cannot do. The Catholic and Orthodox churches are different and so you simply cannot ask how the Orthodox do something we Catholics do. Being Eastern Orthodox is not doing what Catholics do in a different way. For example, both Catholics and Orthodox make the sign of the cross. We do it differently. I believe that is an exception to the rule: Where we both do something but differently. I think it’s really important to understand Orthodoxy isn’t simply Catholicism done another way.

I can’t swear to being absolutely certain about this but I’m very confident. I believe that the Eastern Orthodox simply don’t have this concept. They don’t rule that something is infallible. Indeed, the Eastern Orthodox have no authority that could do this. And, I am not simply claiming they have no authority, what I mean is they themselves would say there is no authority within Orthodoxy who could pronounce something is infallible.

I think they closest the Eastern Orthodox would come to accept that something is infallible would be if it were decreed by an ecumenical council of the entire Church. Now, I’m moving on to much less certain ground but I think the Orthodox believe that such a council cannot happen. If my understanding is correct they only accept the first seven ecumenical councils.

So, to the point, there are no such requirements because this is just a concept not recognised by the Eastern Orthodox churches.

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In short, that the ecumenical council propounding it be “accepted” by the various churches.

Whether that even could happen today is another question.

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Yes and no. We have the concept of infallibility, but instead of relegating it to one person (the Roman Pontiff) we relegate it to the entire Church and say that the entire Orthodox Church is infallible, although that does not exempt a local Church from falling into heresy.

You will also hear some people treat the Orthodox Saints as infallible, a view which I personally see as indefensible, since “the righteous fall seven times a day” (Prov. 24:16), and the perfection which we are supposed to pursue in this life is only fully attainable in next life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Generally though, the majority view is that the first Seven Ecumenical Councils are seen as infallible, while bishops like Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos will argue that the Photian Council of 879 (Fourth Council of Constantinople, not accepted by Western Church), and the Hesychast Councils (Fifth Council of Constantinople, not accepted by Western Church), constitute the 8th and 9th Ecumenical Councils. My personal opinion is that the Fourth and Fifth Councils of Constantinople (and all intermediary, subsequent local councils) cannot be Ecumenical because the Western Church was not represented.

Then there is questions of Holy Tradition being infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit, etc. etc. etc.

Nebulous enough for you? :sob: :expressionless: :thinking:

Yes and that acceptance entails the affirmation of the laity so…as you can imagine even if we could hold a council with all of the local Churches represented, its deliberations would not be considered binding unless the people accepted it…thus the failure of Ferrara-Florence, the Council of Crete etc.

See Council of Crete 2016, which resulted in Great Schism 2.0 etc.

I’m not referring to the attempt to hold the council, but rather the notion of coming up with something that all of the EO churches would accept there . . .

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I don’t understand why we Catholics are trying to find out what teachings are infallible or not. It does not matter.
We are BOUND BY ALL TEACHINGS, both infallible and non-infallible.

Well that’s true in Catholicism as well. The Church is infallible and indefectible. The Bishop of Rome, as head of the college of bishops, can exercise the infallibility of the Church under extraordinary circumstances, but this never happens in a vacuum. Such exercises of infallibility draw upon Tradition and invariably involve his bother bishops. The bishops as a whole are also infallible, when united with the Bishop of Rome, and this is most clearly seen in the case of an ecumenical council…

Fun part is that even then it isn’t infallible. Robber Councils aren’t infallible yet they were accepted by various Churches before and for example Chalcedon wasn’t accepted by a huge chunk of Christians yet is infallible… it’s useless to try finding some pattern in it. Only thing 7 Ecumenical Councils have in common without bias is that Pope accepted them. Even if you say “both East and West attended” what is exactly meant by that? Are Greeks and Latins sufficient? Are Copts not necessary? I think that Orthodox position can be best clarified as “wait and see what is and isn’t infallible”.

So do I. St. Cyprian was wrong according to Church at large, St. Augustine was wrong according to Orthodoxy (though now this new sentiment results in some people denying his Sainthood)… and we have fair share of “Saints who were wrong” in Catholicism. Some would even be manifest heretics as they contradicted teaching that was already infallible (yet not with full knowledge of course).

It does matter. One Pope once said that ensoulment of unborn baby happens quite late and hence early term abortions are okay. Another Pope discarded that teaching and corrected such mistake. First teaching wasn’t infallible though. If it did not matter there wouldn’t be those degrees in the first place.

No. If Pope says something in and interview I am not bound by it. If my Priest teaches something in homily I am not bound by it. There are various degrees and we aren’t bound by everything.

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Okay. I obviously did not make myself clear. The CCC contains a summary of infallible and non-infallible teachings. Catholics are BOUND BY ALL TEACHINGS in the CCC.

I think you know that and are trying to be cute by talking about homilies and interviews!!!

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Oh sorry. I didn’t know we were talking about Catechism. My bad. I was not trying to be cheeky and play word games… my apologies brother.

Peace be with you.

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I am certain the Eastern Orthodox churches do consider the Church herself to be infallible. However, I remain unconvinced the Eastern Orthodox view of infallibility and the one held by Catholicism are the same. For example, I think the Eastern Orthodox would consider the contents of the Creed as a basic confession of faith is infallible. However, I cannot imagine any organ of the Eastern Orthodox churches, not even a pan-Orthodox council, saying that as from [insert a date] the folowing is now to be accepted as an infallible teaching.

I find the concept of infallibility rather strange. The question really asked is how we know something to be true, and the Orthodox churches does not have a system that is used to extract definite formulas that all Christians necessarily accept. A council is ecumenical because it represents the tradition of the churches in the entire inhabited world (oikouménē). You can hold on to doctrine in the sense that you claim it to be true, but still be deprived of truth, because you do not have access to the truth that the doctrine is trying to defend. The basic content of the hesychast councils (to use an example) is very much part of our tradition, and it really does not matter whether the councils defending it are classified as “ecumenical” or not.

From historical perspective, Ecumenical Councils did not do this… Arianism was widespread and was such “tradition” represented in decision of Nicea? Or were Miaphysites represtented at Chalcedon? Basically Council is Council and those who do not accept it are out of the Church and that means their consent isn’t needed… it’s pretty strange concept. In theory you only need consent of those who are willing to grant it.

Absolutely. Councils exist to preserve, not to invent. And full understanding is needed. In Catholic world Papal Infallibility boils down to this- how many people miss essence of dogma by claiming Pope can not sin or that Pope can not ever lie or the other extreme that Pope can invent new religion through it. I am sure there are things behind dogma in Orthodox world too.

Also great example is Trinity. We defend Trinity yet do we understand the Trinity? :smiley:

I realize that I was unclear. Truth (Orthodoxy) is not dependent on consent, but œcumenicity requires universality. Arianism was indeed represented at Nicaea, and declared heterodox, just like certain notions about the papacy within your Church was declared heterodox at the First Vatican council. If a body of believers declare that you must adhere to something to remain within the body, naturally it only requires consent of those who wants to remain within the body. That is a given in any faith system, including Roman Catholicism. The First Vatican council was declared Orthodox by those who believed in its content, but not by those Bishops and believers who opposed (Old Catholics, for example). A council makes clear who can remain together. We as Orthodox believe that our faith represents the tradition of the saints and the apostles, and this faith is not true because it is proclaimed by a council – the council is true because it adheres to the faith.

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Of course but Roman Catholicism does not adhere to fact that something needs to be accepted by all to be infallible, which eliminates that there needs to be a certain consent of those not directly participating in the Council.

That’s something we also agree with. Problem comes when someone who is confused by many denominations wants to find the Truth. Let’s say that certain someone does not have brains to actually do deep theological research on what is and isn’t Apostolic Faith… then what? How does he decide where Truth is?

Also thank you for quite civil discussion, I am genuinely enjoying it and don’t mean to be offensive by my questions. If I am, I apologize… let me know and I will refrain from asking them. God bless you.

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that’s why I included “the” in front of “various churches” . . .

Well, sure but technically that can be reduced to “Rome”. There is no Patriarchate whose approval didn’t once rest on Robber Council except Rome. Orthodoxy would disagree only with Photian Council (and of course, post-schism Councils).

Interestingly enough, Oriental Orthodoxy could make same case for Alexandria.

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This is my problem exactly worded.

Firstly, sorry for the delay. I have had a busy week and I started writing a response several times, but I was always interrupted for some reason. I will write you a short reply, which I hope is better than nothing. I also enjoy our discussion.

I do not think any Church believes that consensus is required in order for something to be orthodox. What I meant was that a council usually set up boundaries for who is in and who is not. The synod gathers Bishops to solve problems, usually of both doctrinal and disciplinary character. The Bishops in the Latin Church believes that the vote of the Pope outnumbers the vote of all the other Bishops, but we as Orthodox cannot accept this. Our Patriarchs and Metropolitans have the right to gather Synods, but they do not constitute it.

I have heard this argument before, but it never quite spoke to me. The Roman solution to this problem is traditionally, the way I understand it, the following: “The Church is the Church by being faithful to Tradition. The Pope will always protect Tradition. You will, by studying Church history, see that Tradition was always protected by the Pope.”

The way I understand the Orthodox counterpart is, in a nutshell: “We are the true Church by being faithful to the Truth, protected by Tradition. If you study Church history, you will see that we always remained faithful to Tradition.”

Why is referring to a body of believers in communion with a specific Bishop, who claims to protect tradition, more satisfactory than referring to a body of believers claiming to share the same unbroken tradition?

Also, I do not think the role of the Church is to be a substitute to positivism, something you can discover by your mere intellect. There is always some amount of insecurity to matters like this, beginning with choosing the right religion or faith system. I believe the Church witness to the truth by its inner life, not by having a perfect system that provides unequivocal answers. It always amazes me when people say they want to become Orthodox, without any actual experience of Church life.

Thank you for your patience and I also hope I have not offended you or anyone else.

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