Interesting History…

… Peter Leithart points it out.

What does this mean?

Were the ecumenical councils infallible?  Many in the early church clearly didn’t consider them so.  The most vigorous, and vicious, arguments over Arius took place between Nicea and First Constantinople, and the Monophysite controversy continued for a century and more after Chalcedon had condemned Eutyches (as well as Nestorius).

al sends


6 responses to “Interesting History…

  1. “Any of the Churhc’s hierarchs may err. Even great numbers of them gathered in solemn assembly may do so, and have. No bishop or council is infallible in itself. Christ’s Church, however, is infallible, and manifests herself as such in history through the succession of churches whose bishops and people remain faithful to her apostolic doctrine and ministry.”

    -Fr. Thomas Hopko, St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

  2. Yeah, I think the Orthodox doctrine is that a council isn’t ecumenical until it has been accepted by the faithful. Thus, the iconoclast council isn’t ecumenical, but second Nicea is. Though both had the same sort of ecumenicity of Bishops, only one was accepted by the people, and it is ecumenical. Thus an Orthodox would have no trouble saying that a council was not authorative till it was accepted. You are free to debate it as much as you like. Till it is accepted. Then it’s infallible. (Mostly).

    I’m not sure how a Catholic would repsond, but I don’t think they would be refuted, though perhaps challanged.

  3. As usual I am at a loss when it comes to Eastern Orthodoxy…

    So, if after a period of time the church comes to accept a council’s ruling it then is dogma? The level of authority given to bare tradition is even more unfounded than Rome’s.

    al sends

  4. Pr. Al,

    I’m not quite sure what your point is, so I’ll try twice and maybe meet it once.

    For Catholics a council is ecumenical if it has the Bishops properly. (Or actually if it is ratified by the Bishop of Rome.) A council is ecumenical because it is accepted by the Bishops. But for the Orthodox it is not just the Bishops who accept a council. The faithful must accept it too.

    This is a relatively pervasive difference between Orthodox and Catholics. For Catholics, ordination is merely preformed by the Bishop. The laity are there, but they don’t participate. But for the Orthodox, the laity must cry out axios “He is worthy”, and without that there is no ordination. And I suppose they could cry out “He is NOT worthy” and end the ordination altogether.

    Similarly, a Catholic priest can say Mass for just himself. But an Orthodox priest must have at least one member of the laity present.

    On the other side:

    I think a lot of Orthodox over-talk tradition. Yes, it is more important than for (most?) Protestants, and in a different way, but the real heart of Orthodoxy is the Liturgy.

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