Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Tribute to the Churches of the East

Some time ago, in the thread that Matthew started on the Church of the East, I had noted that the schism caused by the Council of Ephesus "was far greater extent than either the 1054 split with the EO's or the Protestant Reformation".

Viisaus asked me about this, and I told him I'd get back to him on it.

According to Samuel Hugh Moffett, in his work "A History of Christianity in Asia, Volume 1" (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books 1997) the schism that happened at the time of Ephesus and Chalcedon caused splits very much akin to what happened in Europe during the Reformation. He describes it:
What finally divided the early church, East from West, Asia from Europe, was neither war nor persecution, but the blight of a violent theological controversy, that raged through the Mediterranean world in the second quarter of the fifth century. It came to be called the Nestorian controversy, and how much of it was theological and how much political is still being debated, but it irreversibly split the church not only east and west but also north and south and cracked it into so many pieces that it was never the same again. Out of it came an ill-fitting name for the church in non-Roman Asia, "Nestorian."
(Moffett pg 169)

He describes the geographic scope of this church, first of all, which extends from Syria up along the "Old Silk Road" through Edessa in what is now the town of Urfa, "a dusty town in eastern Turkey just north of the Syrian line," through Nisibis (one of the great "schools" of the early church), through names we know such as Mosul, Tekrit, Seleucia-Ctesiphon (just south of modern Baghdad), and easward through Persia, Afghanistan, and eastward to China.

What was striking for me was Moffett's description of "the Great Persecution," which didn't happen in the Roman empire at all, but rather, in the churches of Persia (which included modern Iraq), which began in around 339 and extended through to the year 400, in which "as many as 190,000 Persian christians died in the terror. It was worse than anything suffered in the West under Rome, yet the number of apostasies seemed to be fewer in Persia than in the West, which is a remarkable tribute to the steady courage of Asia's early Christians." (145)

Interestingly, this persecution was set off by Constantine's conversion to Christianity. "It was enough to make any Persian ruler conditioned by three hundred years of war with Rome suspecious of the emergence of a potential fifth column. Any lingering doubts must have been dispelled when about twenty years later Constantine began to gather his forces for war in the East... Faced with what seemed to be a double threat, a threat not only to national security but to the national religion as well, Persias priests and rulers cemented their alliance of state and religion in a series of periods of terror that have been called the most massiver persecution of Christians in history, "unequalled for its duration, its ferocity and the number of martyrs." (138).

It should be noted that this all occurred before the council of Ephesus, before the Schism. There is no way to say "these are not our people."

* * *

Philip Jenkins, in his work "The Lost History of Christianity" (New York: HarperCollins, 2008) goes into some more detail about the scope of the church in this world before describing how it "dies".
To appreciate the scale of the Church of the East, we can look at a list of the church's metropolitans -- that is of those senior clergy who oversaw inferior hierarchies of bishops grouped in provinces. In England, to give a comparison, the medieval church had two metropolitans: respectively, at York and Canterbury. Timothy (a bishop of the eighth century) himself presided over nineteen metropolitans and eighty-five bishops. Though the exact locations of the metropolitan seats changed over time, map 1.1 on page 12 identifies some of the leading centers. Just in Timothy's lifetime, new metropolitan sees were created at Rai near Tehran, and in Syria, Terkestan, Armenia, and Dailumaye on the Caspian Sea.

The presence of metropolitan seats in Turkestan and central Asia is amazing enough, but the list of bishoprics and lesser churches includes just as many shocks. Arabia had at least four sees, and Timothy created a new one in Yemen. And the church was growing in southern India, where believers claimed a direct inheritance from the missions of the apostle Thomas...

Timothy himself was committed to the church's further expansion, and he commissioned monks to carry the faith to the shores of the Caspian Sea, even into China. He reported the conversion of the Turkish great king, the khagan, who then ruled over much of central Asia. In a magnificent throwaway line, Timothy described, about 780, how "[i]n these days the Holy Spirit has anointed a metropolitan for the Turks, and we are preparing to consecrate another one for the Tibetans. Timothy was deeply conscious of the church's universality. When debating a technical liturgical question, he drew support from the practice of the wider churches of the sprawling Christian world he knew: the Persians and Assyrians don't do this, he argued, and nor do the churches of "the countries of the sunrise--that is to say, among the Indians, the Chinese, the Tibetans, the Turks." The church operated in multiple languages: in Syriac, Persian, Turkish, Soghdian, and Chinese, but not Latin, which scarcely mattered outside western Europe.

To put this geographical achievement in context, we might think of what was happening in contemporary Europe. Before Saint Benedict formed his first monsastery, before the probable date of the British king Arthur, Nestorian sees existed at Nisapur an Tus in Khurasan, in northeastern Persia, and at Rai. Before England had its first archbishop of Canterbury--possibly before Canturbury had a Christian church--the Nestorian church already had metropolitans at Merv and Herat, in the modern nations of (respectively) Turkmeistan and Afghanistan, and churches were operating Sri Lanka and Malabar. Before Good King Wenceslas ruled a Christian Bohemia, before Poland was Catholic, the Nestorian sees of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Patna all achieved metropolitan status. Our common mental maps of Christian history omit a thousand years of that story, and several million square miles of territory. (10-11)
Maybe our "mental maps" omit this information because it is just simply too painful to recollect. "When Timothy died in 823, he had every reason to hope for his church's future" (19)

But of course, the anger of the Muslims set off by the Crusades wreaked havoc among these churches. "Still, in 1050, [Asia Minor] had 373 bishoprics, and the inhabitants were virtually all Christian, overwhelmingly members of the Orthodox Church. Four hundred years later, that Christian proportion had fallen to 10 or 15 percent of the population, and we can find just three bishops. According to one estimate, the number of Asian Christians fell, between 1200 and 1500, from 21 million to 3.4 million. In the same years, the proportion of the world's Christians living in Africa and Asia combined fell from 34 percent to just 6 percent. Actually, the contraction outside Europe was probably more dramatic than even these figures suggest, but the basic point is accurate" (23-24).

100 comments:

Ken said...

Interesting that I was also just last night, re-reading and reviewing this exact subject and Samuel Moffat's book (along with some others, like L.E. Browne's "The Eclipse of Christianity in Asia". (In creating a church history course)

Thanks John for bringing this out. Very few westerners even know the history of the eastern churches, both "Nestorian" (Assyrian Eastern) and the "Monophysite" (Coptic and Syrian-Jacobite).

The Zoroastrians were brutal against the Nestorian churches in Persia (mostly Mesopotamia and along the silk road to China) and the Byzantines were seeking to bring the Monophysite Copts and Jacobite Syrians back to the Chalcedonian Creed, since that time, 451 AD.

The council of Ephesus in 431 seems more political (than spiritual or theological) and Cyril of Alexandria seems like a thug and selfish and had a jealous and selfishly ambitious heart as Philippians 2:3 and James 3:14 describes, when you read about what he did. Moffat or someone else wrote something like, "Cyril was a better theologian, but Nestorius was a better Christian." Nestorius accepted persecution with grace. Cyril did evil things behind the scenes to make sure Nestorius was condemned. That is sad.

Moffat and Browne are very good; I was disappointed in some of the other perspectives that Philip Jenkins has in his book, but he has some good information.

Another good book, which relates to the rise of Islam is Richard Bell, "The Origins of Islam in its Christian Environment", available on line.

http://www.muhammadanism.org/bell/origin/p000i.htm

Ken said...

“FROM one point of view the triumph of Islam in the East in the seventh century A.D. may be regarded as the judgment of history upon a degenerate Christianity. The degeneration of the Church may be said to have begun in the fourth century.”
. . .
“True, the fact that Christianity became then the recognized and prevailing religion, brought worldliness into the Church. That would probably have happened apart from any relation to the State so soon as Christianity ceased to be persecuted as such, and by its own success became fashionable. It is true too that ultimately the alliance of Church and State became so close that the bishops and other high dignitaries of the Church became, in a manner, State officials. So much was the Church a part of the Roman Empire, that the acceptance of Christianity was regarded as a sign of subservience to the latter. That fact is not without its significance in trying to realize conditions in Arabia in the time of Muhammad. It helps to explain the readiness with which even Christian Arabs accepted an independent Arabian prophet. It also no doubt played a part in forming Muhammad's ideas of what religion was. If we sometimes feel ourselves brought up with a shock against the fact that Islam is apparently incurably political, is, as we say, not only a religion but a state, we must remember that that was what Muhammad saw in Christianity, and also what he gathered from the Old Testament.”
. . .
“In a way the existence of a Christian Church here belongs to the Christian encirclement of Arabia rather than to the history of Christianity in Arabia itself.” (bold my emphasis)

[my comment - ie, a form of mixture of nominal and heretical Christianity was in the North(Jordan, Palestine), in the South (Najran, Yeman, Abbysinia); and East (Mesopotamia, todays Iraq), but not in the center of Arabia itself, and no Arabic translation of the Bible until after Islam. These later Christian groups were wiped out by Islam and Zhimmi policies against them, especially the covenant of Omar]

Richard Bell, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment, p. 1, 2, 33

Ken said...

The Nestorian churches, later along the Silk roads to China, were wiped out by the Mongolian invasions. and the combination of reaction of Islam to the Crusader periods.

Along with the anger of Islam and dhimmi policies, the Christian churches of the east dwindled to almost nothing.

John Bugay said...

Ken, thanks for helping to flesh this out. I think it's important to note that Christianity and Islam co-existed for centuries in some of these regions.

It's also important to note, for the benefit of some of the scoffers, that no, we would not adhere to some of the doctrines of these churches. But it is impossible to dismiss the common heritage that we share with them.

(As Ken noted, nor would we concur with all of Jenkins's conclusions.)

But I am especially moved by some of the accounts of the persecutions that these churches suffered, especially those that occurred as a direct result of Constantine's intervention in the region (not our frequent commentator here with the funny avatar, the ancient Roman emperor Constantine).

And in the light of these accounts, I am also struck by how utterly small and petty are the claims of Rome to have been the focal point of the entire "one true church" during this era. Such claims just seem laughable.

Lvka said...

There's a reason they went down. Christ-downgrading heresies were almost or completely wiped out: Arianism and Nestorianism. (It is not hard to see why people who see Christ either as a creation, or as a great prophet in whom the Logos and Spirit indwell, would later convert to Islam). Monophysites were not as numerically reduced as them, since their heresy doesn't degrade Christ as much. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, although also under Muslim rule for centuries (the "Balcans": Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania), did not lose its followers to Islam as the Orientals have, all hardship and persecution notwithstanding.

John Bugay said...

There's a reason they went down. Christ-downgrading heresies were almost or completely wiped out: Arianism and Nestorianism.

Yes, but Nestorius was not guilty of the Nestorian heresy. Nor were these "churches of the East".

Ken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Bugay said...

Ken, I really do appreciate you sharing your knowledge of all of this.

John Bugay said...

Ken, I really do appreciate you sharing your knowledge of all of this.

This having been posted after you decided to delete (and I hope) re-post your post!

Ken said...

Lvka-
Most of what you say is true;
However – eventually, because of Islamic wars of aggression and persecution and “dhimmi-ism”, the Byzantines lost Constantinople, Ephesus, Nicea, Chalcedon (today called Kadikoy), all the great Greek Orthodox places of Asia Minor. There are only a very few surviving Greek Orthodox left in all of Turkey today.

Yes, if the population had a low view of Christ - then it was easier to convert to Islam (since they were never really true Christians) - the Arian Vandals first conquered North Africa and wiped out the church in N. Africa in the 430s - 600 AD, that is why Islam easily wiped out the church in N. Africa.

The economic pressures of having to pay the Jaziye (Surah 9:29) and the zhimmih status of being second class citizens and not being able to evangelize nor build new churches was an effective strategy of eventually driving most of Christianity out of Islamic territories - the Dar Al Islam vs. Dar Al Harb doctrine.

(completely out of Arabia and other places; whatever is left in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt is very small and persecuted by Islam.)

Islam also wiped out the Orthodox churches in the very same areas that had the first 4 (even all 7 - I think) - Constantinople was the seat of all the main doctrinal pronouncements of the councils - today it is Istanbul.

Council of Nicaea - 325 - near Istanbul

Council of Constantinople - 381 - in the church of Hagia Irene (church of Holy Peace - behind the Hagia Sophia - Today, the museum of Hagia Irene serves mainly as a concert hall for classical music performances, due to its extraordinary acoustic characteristics and impressive atmosphere. Many of the concerts of the Istanbul International Music Festival have been held here every summer since 1980. Before 1980, it was a storage depot and not open to public.)

Council of Ephesus - ruins, archeological site, etc. - nothing left of Christianity. (431 AD)

John is right - the actual heresy that Nestorius was accused of (of separating the natures of Christ so much that it made Him into two persons) [which is not what you describe either, you seem to describe Arianism and Apollinarism (?), which is not what Nestorius believed, nor what the churches believed that Rome and Constantinople and Alexandria accused them of] , as not what Nestorius actually taught and later he was vindicated by the Bazaar of Hericledis, where he even agrees with the Council of Chalcedon in 451 Ad.

Council of Chalcedon - 451 AD - today is a Greek Orthodox church in Kadikoy - on the other side of Bosphorus accross from the old city of Constantinople - it is all Istanbul today.

The Greek populations of Turkey have dwindled to a few thousand in the big cities of a county of about 72 million.

It was much more than the Balkans that the Byzantines lost.

Ken said...

I made one mistake, that I now corrected, about the church of Hagia Irene; I wanted to be accurate.

Lvka said...

Yes, but Nestorius was not guilty of the Nestorian heresy. Nor were these "churches of the East".


All heretics played the "misundaztood" card, Arius and Sabellius included: don't believe them -- not even when they say "hello!".

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"And in the light of these accounts, I am also struck by how utterly small and petty are the claims of Rome to have been the focal point of the entire "one true church" during this era. Such claims just seem laughable."

That's what I was thinking too.

But the Eastern churches claim apostolic succession and this Reform Protestant rejects that.

steelikat said...

There are remnants of the ancient "Nestorian" and "Monophysite" churches, especially the latter.

Are there remnants of the Arian church, though? I know the heresy keeps popping up (JWs for example) but I'm talking about the original church.

Lvka said...

Nestorius was a better Christian


..the man who violently persecuted almost every single heresy in the Byzantine Empire was "a better Christian"? Than whom?

Lvka said...

Are there remnants of the Arian church, though?

No. They went extinct long before the end of the first millennium.

steelikat said...

The Christians of Turkey did not dwindle away, they ethnically cleansed away. Most of the "Turks" (Moslems) in Greece were relocated to turkey, and most of the "Greeks" (Christians) in turkey were relocated to Greece. in our lifetimes the patriarch of constantinople will probably be driven out, making Constantinople a titular see.

Ken said...

Nestorius was better in behavior than Cyril of Alexandria and what Cyril did behind the scenes to manipulate things against Nestorius. (bribes, violence, mobs, force, etc. - too much to dig out right now, but the records are there.)

Nestorius was right to object to the term "Mother of God" for Mary, for the reasons he objected that is sounds like she is the mother of God the Father or actually birthed God into existence. That is what was such a bad testimony to the Muslims, and still is today.

The implications of his objections and his lack of being able to explain it, made it seem like he said "two persons" for Christ, and that was solved by Chalcedon in 451 AD; and then he agreed with that, once he read Leo I's tome - it is in the Bazaar of Hericlides, discovered in 1889 in Syria. Nestorius wrote that Jesus was "true God by nature and true man by nature" and "the person is one . . . and "there are not two Gods the Words, or two sons, or two only - begottens, but one". (Moffat, p. 176)

These are quotes from Nestorius' book, The Bazaar of Hericleides.

Ken said...

The Christians of Turkey did not dwindle away, they [were] ethnically cleansed away.

True, that is what I meant, over the centuries, the aggressive wars of Islam, dhimmi
ذمی

status of Christians, lack of freedom for evangelism and even education (The Turkish government closed down the Greek seminary in Istanbul a few years ago. The populations dwindled because of the persecution of Islamic policies, slowly over the centuries, many fled and left and immigrated, if they were not killed.

Lvka said...

Nestorius was better in behavior than Cyril of Alexandria

In what parallel Universe was this the case?


That is what was such a bad testimony to the Muslims, and still is today.

Muslims still believe that Mary the Mother of God was Mary the sister of Moses and Aaron -- who gives a dam' what Muslims think? -- Since when exactly is it our fault that they're bloody idiots who don't even know what the heck they're talking about?

Lvka said...

[The "bloody" is to be taken literally].

Ken said...

About the famous, Hagia Sophia, today in Istanbul, built by orders of Justinian around 537-555 AD.

The original "Hagia Sophia" was burnt down; and the tour guides say that one of the stone pulpits in the courtyard is the pulpit of John Chyrsostom.

The Patriarch of Constantinople John Chrysostom came into a conflict with Empress Aelia Eudoxia, wife of the emperor Arcadius, and was sent into exile on 20 June 404. During the subsequent riots, this first church was largely burned down. Nothing remains of the first church today.

Ken said...

Lvka,
Your statement "who gives a dam' what the Muslims think?!!" is exactly the problem - that attitude is not the attitude of Christ - Philippians 2:3-8 - and means you don't care about accurate communication and evangelism nor translation of truth into other nations' languages. That is the root of the problem with the RC and EO and church history and rise of Islam - because they had left their first love (Rev. 2:4-5) and hence there was no evangelism to Muslims, God judged your people and churches by allowing the rise of Islam.

"If you don't repent, I am coming to you and I will remove your lamp stands out of its place, unless you repent."

Revelation 2:4-5

That is what happened. Your attitude is sad.

Lvka said...

Ken,

when was the last time in human history that Islam was interested in dialogue? They swinged the sword at your neck: that was their dialogue and evangelism.

YOU YOURSELF JUST SAID that they punished attempts at proselytism and cases of apostasy with death. -- how was *anyone* supposed to evangelize them?

And "my" Church never converted to Islam, nor did any other Eastern Orthodox Church from the Balcans under Ottoman yoke.

Lvka said...

because they had left their first love

Love's got nothing to do with it.


God judged your people and churches by allowing the rise of Islam.

God judged your people and your churches by allowing the rise of atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, and liberalism.


Your attitude is sad.

My attitude towards man-murderers?

Rhology said...

My attitude towards man-murderers?

Feeling a bit self-righteous today, Lvka?

Rhology said...

(subscribe)

Lvka said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Bugay said...

Lvka, I understand your rationale, but this isn't the place for it.

Lvka said...

I agree. This post was supposed to be about the Churches of the East and their historical trials. Sorry for hijacking the thread.

[If it's of any help, the woman and the serpent (ie, Ken and Rho) made me do it. :-) :D ].

But we can't be at fault for their lack of knowledge AND lack of will to correct it.

John Bugay said...

My point here is two-fold Lvka: we should use much more discretion than Cyril did at Ephesus, and we, today, should look with a critical eye at the authority structures of the early church.

Rhology said...

Hey, *I* wanted to be the woman!

(And Lvka, you're a murderer too.)

Ken said...

when was the last time in human history that Islam was interested in dialogue? They swinged the sword at your neck: that was their dialogue and evangelism.

True, I am talking about before Islam got power - the Early Church before Muhammad failed in evangelism and the balance of apologetics and agape love in evangelism and getting the Scriptures into Arabic.

YOU YOURSELF JUST SAID that they punished attempts at proselytism and cases of apostasy with death. -- how was *anyone* supposed to evangelize them?

Part of the cost is suffering - do I need to quote the whole NT on that?

And "my" Church never converted to Islam, nor did any other Eastern Orthodox Church from the Balcans under Ottoman yoke.

Ok, I didn't know that. (that you are from Romanian Orthodox church).

However, don't you have unity with the Greek Orthodox church ?

What about all the Greeks who were slaughtered by Islamic wars in the Byzantine areas before they conquered Constantinople, etc.? 1071 - battle of Manzikert - Seljuk Turks to Ottomans, 1453, conquering of Constantinople ??

By the way, who is that picture of, of your signature(Avatar)? At first I thought it was Luther (years ago when you started commenting - it is small, and it looks like Martin Luther as a monk. Who is it?

Ken said...

I was right, it is Luther!

So, why do you have Luther as your "signature"/Avatar ?

The man who inspired "Sola Scriptura" and "Sola Fide" - doctrines that the Orthodox church rejects?

Lvka said...

Hey, *I* wanted to be the woman!

I've never doubted you were anything less than a raging metrosexual, Rho. :-) :D

-----------------------------------
Islam rose to power within Mohammed's life-time.

The Scriptures existed in Syriac/Aramaic for centuries before Islam, and the Arab tongue was closely-related to Syriac/Aramaic.


I was right, it is Luther! So, why do you have Luther as your "signature"/Avatar ? The man who inspired "Sola Scriptura" and "Sola Fide" - doctrines that the Orthodox church rejects?

We don't get to choose the ones we like, Ken. :)

Ken said...

What I wrote over at David Waltz' blog - the last 2 sessions/blog posts we are up to 164 comments on one (next to newest) and 12 on the new one today, in debate with David Waltz on the Trinity and in debate with the Muslim, the Grandverbalizer19 -


"Just want to say I appreciate Lvka's defense of the Trinity, and we all agree on the first four Ecumenical councils, (except they are not infallible, but derive their doctrinal truth from the infallible Scriptures)

- except Ephesus in 431 AD was handled wrong (an example of the error of harshness in church discipline) and is a distortion of what Nestorius really believed, as he later agreed with Chalcedon in 451 when he was in exile. Bazaar of Hericlidus vindicated him and the churches of the east. Even today, the churches of the east are in ecumenical discussion with Rome and the Greek Orthodox (I think).

There was not a balance of "truth and love" together. The harshness of the Orthodox (but mostly from the Zoroastrian government of Persia) against the Nestorians in Persia, and against the Monophysites in Syria, Egypt, Armenia created an atmosphere where they at first "welcomed the Arab Muslims as liberators", but were tricked and unjustly treated by high taxes and lack of freedom to evangelize, and later were also persecuted with dhimmi status and much injustice and harshness and wars.

Sola Scriptura is the answer; along with freedom of religion and separation of the church from the government; - but that does not mean separation of Christian morality or talk of God/evangelism from public life - the modern liberal-atheist-secularist take on "separation of church and state".

The iconoclasm controversy contributed to the downfall of the church in the eastern areas also."

Ken said...

The Peshitta/Syriac/Aramaic being "closely related" to Arabic was and is not good enough for getting the Scripture into the language of the people.

The early church failed in sound doctrine and love/mercy and failed in evangelism. Islam was the result.

Ken said...

Lvka,
your post on Luther is just one sentence. Is that all?

It looks like in reference to unconditional Election and Calvin - have you ever read Luther's Bondage of the Will?

What about Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide?

Lvka said...

created an atmosphere where they at first "welcomed the Arab Muslims as liberators", but were tricked and unjustly treated by high taxes and lack of freedom

Reminds me of the liberating Russian Red Army troops that freed Moldavia from Nazi/German occupation.

Stalin si poporul rus
libertate ne-au adus.


(Stalin and the Russian people brought us freedom)

It only exchanged one type of bondage for another.


Part of the cost is suffering

It's not about suffering: they've suffered a lot. It's about the Muslims not listening, and not wanting to listen; not knowing and not wanting to be corrected or informed either. -- Dead men can't talk.

Rhology said...

Lvka is apparently a bigot.

Lvka said...

Lvka, your post on Luther is just one sentence. Is that all?


Shocking, isn't it? :)

John Bugay said...

Shocking, isn't it? :)

I think you overestimate the amount of thought that people give you your little ad libs.

Lvka said...

Can't force someone to think, understand, or interact.

John Bugay said...

No, but you can persuade and intrigue, and you don't do any of that.

Lvka said...

you can persuade and intrigue

Not mechanically. The other person has to be on the same wave-length as I am in order for what I say to resonate with him. (I've ever only found one such person, a retired Lutheran pastor).

John Bugay said...

Thanks for sharing.

Viisaus said...

In his posthumously discovered book, Nestorius clearly stated that he accepted the Christological definition as presented in Roman pope Leo's Tome:

"Nestorius and His Teaching: A Fresh Examination of the Evidence" (1908) by James F. Bethune-Baker

http://www.archive.org/details/nestoriusandhis01bethgoog

pp. 189-190

"The conclusion to which a fresh study of the remains of Nestorius' teaching collected in Dr Loofs's Nestoriana had brought me was that there was nothing in the teaching of Leo and the Chalcedonian definition which he would not have endorsed, that his conceptions were indeed essentially in harmony with, the "orthodox" doctrine as to the Person of our Lord. The date of his death was uncertain. The tale that he lived till the eve of the Council of Chalcedon was very meagrely supported by external evidence and seemed to lack intrinsic probability; it was generally discredited. There were no means of knowing for certain what his attitude would have been towards the definition of Chalcedon, though it was of course certain that he would have regarded Eutyches and Dioscorus as worthy successors of Cyril and, while fervently abhorring their doctrine, would have been able to respect them more as men who "came out into the open" and frankly and unashamed said what they meant.

The recovery of the Bazaar of Heraclides removes the atmosphere of uncertainty which would otherwise have continued to veil the question. It is no longer a hypothesis that Nestorius would have welcomed Leo as an ally. It is a fact that he lived to read Leo's letter to Flavian; that he regarded the treatment of Flavian at Ephesus as a repetition of the Nestorius and his teaching history of his own case — the same doctrines were condemned, and had he himself attended the former Council of Cyril he would have suffered on the spot as Flavian suffered; and it is a fact that he welcomed the proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon as a final triumph for the Faith for which he had contended. We have his own words."

p. 191

"He describes the pleasure with which he learnt that the Church of Rome, which in the person of Celestine had condemned him, was now in the person of Leo ranged on the side of a true confession.

'When the bishop of Rome had read what had been done against Eutyches, he condemned Eutyches of impiety. Now when I came upon that exposition (sc. Leo's Tome) and read it, I gave thanks to God that the Church of Rome was rightly and blamelessly making confession, even though they happened to be against me personally' {Bazaar of Heraclides p. 337).

He declares repeatedly at the end of his book that Leo and Flavian and he held the very same opinions, and that the scandalous treatment of Flavian ('who filled my place') at the "Robber Synod" was only a repetition of what had happened to himself: the same parties and the same doctrines had been at issue, and only the persons were different. It was one and the same struggle for the truth of the Incarnation, and in this epilogue to the drama of which he himself had been the central figure, and the subsequent overthrow of the Eutychian party, he recognized the Hand of God."

Viisaus said...

This is how Anglican apologist George Salmon (who had not read "Bazaar of Heraclides") described the 431 Council of Ephesus:

http://www.archive.org/details/infallibilitych00salmgoog

pp. 302-304

"Cardinal Newman (Historical Sketches, iii. 352) describes the fourth-century Councils, to which I have just referred, as ‘a scandal to the Christian name’; and he goes on to say:’The Councils of the next century, even such as were orthodox, took their tone and temper from those which had gone before them; and even those which were Ecumenical have nothing to boast of as regards the mass of the Fathers, taken individually, who composed them.’ It is of these Ecumenical Councils of the fifth century I come now to speak.

We must be on our guard against the temptation to which party feeling exposes men, whether in religious or political disputes, namely, reluctance to express disapprobation of any men or any means that have helped to bring about the triumph of the right side. I feel very strongly that the side which triumphed, both at the third and at the fourth Ecumenical Council, was the right side. We of the present day are not concerned with the merely personal question, whether Nestorius was misrepresented; or whether he only expressed himself incautiously, without himself holding what we call Nestorianism. But we can heartily join in condemning that Nestorianism as being practically equivalent to a denial of our Lord’s Divinity. Breaking up our Lord’s Personality into two is a scheme which enables a man to use the loftiest language concerning the Divinity which dwelt in Jesus, while at the same time holding Jesus Himself to be a man imperfect morally as well as intellectually. If we hold that the Deity did but dwell in Jesus without being truly and properly one with him, this is to ascribe to him no exclusive prerogative. Might not the Deity thus dwell with many men? You will find that one would be able to affirm, in the same words, concerning the founder of Buddhism, everything that, according to the Nestorian hypothesis, you can affirm as to the Divinity of the Founder of the Christian religion. And if I have no sympathy with Nestorianism, neither have I any with the heresy condemned at the fourth General Council, which practically is equivalent to a denial that our Saviour was truly and properly man. But without having sympathy with either heresy, we are still free to inquire whether we can approve of the measures taken to suppress it, and whether these measures were, in point of fact, successful.

Now, when we come down from the second General Council to the third and fourth, our documentary means of knowledge increase, but not so our respect for Councils. More and more I find myself forced to say, that if I believe the conclusions at which these meetings arrived to be true, it is not because the Councils have affirmed them; and, as far as I can judge, it is not on that account that the Universal Church has believed them either. The more I study these Nestorian and Eutychian disputes, the less sympathy can I feel with either party to the struggle. On both sides the virulence of party rancour seems utterly to have killed Christian charity. The problem on which the disputants were engaged—namely, to explain how the divine and human natures could be united in one person, and to state the conditions of such a union—is as difficult as any with which the human intellect has ever grappled, and is therefore one on which error surely might deserve indulgent consideration. Yet both parties regarded those who differed from themselves—and that possibly only in their use of language—as wilful deniers of the truth, enemies of Christ, haters of God, men for whom no punishment could be too severe in this world and in the next."

Viisaus said...

Salmon, pp. 309-312

"I have spoken at such length about the character of Cyril, because in truth Cyril was the third General Council. You will not expect me to enter into the history of the Nestorian controversy, or to discuss whether Nestorius really deserved condemnation, or whether by mutual explanations he might not have been reconciled to the Church without a schism. He is a man with whom I have no great sympathy; but in those days the views of the bishop of Constantinople were not likely to meet with indulgent criticism from the bishop of Alexandria. If I were to say that Cyril at Ephesus was ‘seeking to revenge a private quarrel rather than to promote the interests of Jesus Christ,’ I should say no more than was said by good and impartial men at the time.5

‘Cyril,’ says Newman, ‘ came to Ephesus not to argue but to pronounce an anathema, and to get over the necessary process with as much despatch as possible.’ ‘ He had not much tenderness for the scruples of literary men, for the rights of Councils, or for episcopal minorities ‘ (pp. 349, 350)

In short, nothing could have been more violent and unfair than the proceedings at Ephesus. Nestorius may have deserved condemnation; but it is certain that he got no fair trial, and that the proceedings against him would have been pronounced null and void by any English Court of Appeal. In fact the Council was opened in the teeth of a protest made by sixty-eight bishops, because the bishop of Antioch and the bishops of the East were known to be within three days’ march of Ephesus. But because these bishops were known to be likely to vote the wrong way, they were not waited for. The Council did its work in one summer’s day; deposed Nestorius in his absence, and acquainted him with the fact in a letter addressed to Nestorius, ‘the new Judas.’ In a few days the bishop of Antioch arrived, and then the other party held what they professed to be the real Council, and deposed Cyril.

There has been a question by what kind of majority must the acts of a Council be carried in order to entitle them to bind the Church: a simple majority? or two-thirds? or more? and ought we to count heads or to take the votes by nations or in some other way? Obviously, if we count heads, the provinces close to the place at which the Council is held are likely to have a disproportionately large share of the representation. At the Council of Ephesus great complaints were made by the Nestorian party that Cyril had taken an unfair advantage over them; that the Emperor had directed only a certain number of bishops to be brought from each province, and that he had brought a great many more from Egypt than he had a right to bring. Ephesus, too, which was on Cyril’s side, was, as was natural, largely over-represented. In modern times these difficulties have been avoided by requiring that the decrees of Councils shall be practically unanimous. Pius IV. boasted of the unity obtained at Trent as plainly ‘the Lord’s doing and marvellous in our eyes.’ The unity, to be sure, was brought about by having the questions submitted to a preliminary discussion in committees or congregations; those who there found themselves in a minority keeping their opposition silent when the question was submitted formally to the Council itself. And so was it done at the Vatican Council the other day. Unanimity was thought so essential to the validity of a Council’s acts that the anti-infallibilist bishops had not courage for such a breach of discipline or decorum as to say ‘non placet’ when the matter came formally to a vote, and with one or two exceptions all ran away from Rome before the day of the final vote.

Viisaus said...

Very different was the state of things at Ephesus. To quote Dr. Newman, ‘At Ephesus the question in dispute was settled and defined before certain constituent portions of the episcopal body had made their appearance, and this with a protest of sixty�eight of the bishops then present, against eighty-two. When the remaining forty-three arrived, these did more than protest against the definition that had been carried. They actually anathematized the Fathers who had carried it, whose number seems to have stood altogether at one hundred and twenty-four against one hundred and eleven, and in this state of disunion the Council ended. How then was its definition valid? By after events, which I suppose must be considered complements and integral portions of the Council.’6

If this be so, the infallibility clearly rested not with the Council, but with the after events, which reviewed and chose between its contradictory utterances. But what were the after events thus vaguely described? Bribery and intimidation at the imperial Court. The scene was soon transferred from Ephesus to Constantinople; and if the deposition of Nestorius had more effect in the end than the deposition of Cyril by the rival section of the Council, the result was due not to the venerable authority of the Council, but to the effect produced by the turbulent monks of Constantinople on the nerves of the emperor, who was one of the weakest of men, and to ευλογίάι, or, in plain English, bribes judiciously administered to his favourites. At an early stage of the controversy Nestorius complained that Cyril was shooting against him with golden arrows; and when the final decision was arrived at, the clergy of Alexandria mourned at the impoverishment of their Church, which, in addition to sending large sums to Constantinople, had gone in debt 1500 pounds of gold besides.7"

Viisaus said...

pp. 316-317

"In conformity with this practice, the proceedings of all the early Councils whose doings are recorded in detail end with acclamations; and the practice was kept up to the latest of them: the Council of Trent, for instance, ends with acclamations, led by the presiding Cardinal, and responded to by the Fathers, in the way of versicle and response, in such manner as could not have worked if the Fathers had not been drilled beforehand or given in print or writing what they were to acclaim. But such acclamations, however harmless at the end of the proceedings, must have been very disturbing in the middle, since it could not be agreeable to a speaker to be interrupted by shouts of ‘anathema to the heretic,’ ‘burn him alive,’ ‘cut him in two.’

At Chalcedon, where the proceedings were comparatively orderly, there were occasional scenes of great uproar. Thus, when the Church historian, Theodoret, whose sympathies had been with Nestorius, took his place, the Acts of the Council record that: ‘The most reverend the bishops of the East shouted out: “He is worthy.” The most reverend the bishops of Egypt shouted out: “Don’t call him bishop; he is no bishop; turn out the fighter against God; turn out the Jew.” The most reverend the bishops of the East shouted out: “The orthodox for the Synod; turn out the rebels; turn out the murderers.” The most reverend the bishops of Egypt: “Turn out the enemy of God; turn out the defamer of Christ.” ‘It became necessary for the Imperial Commissioners to suppress the clamour."

Viisaus said...

And whereas the 431 council of Ephesus was highly irregular "mob justice," the 787 2nd Nicene council (where icon-worship was instituted) was more like a Stalinist show-trial, a kangaroo court where opportunistic former iconoclast bishops shouted out groveling self-denunciations in the hope of getting on the good graces of council-masters.

Lvka said...

The poor, God-fearing iconoclasts, of course, never persecuted, tortured, or executed anyone (for a century or so)..

John Bugay said...

Lvka, is all the rest of what he had to say lost on you?

Lvka said...

You imply that I actually read his kilometric diatribes.

John Bugay said...

Then you don't need to be here, do you?

Ken said...

Viisaus -
Good material - thanks for those quotes! Excellent!

Too bad Lvka won't read - and his short one liners and links to icons don't make much apologetic argumentation either, as John was getting at.

Lvka said...

Don't be upset at me, John: am I supposed to read everything that everyone ever wrote on a given thread? Besides, V. an I had more than our fair share of kilometric interactions with one other on quite a number of occasions, on this and a few other blogs, so it's not like I never got a chance to find out his views and opinions on several topics..

Lvka said...

Oh, and Ken:

I don't remember posting links to icons. Do you?

John Bugay said...

No, you're not supposed to read everything that everyone ever wrote on a given thread. But if you're going to comment -- and what you do seems less like comment and more like throwing tomatoes -- then one would hope you'd interact knowledgeably.

Lvka said...

John,

it's just that I'm getting tired of having to throw whole bags of tomatoes all by myself each time I meet the man, so I'm satisfied with merely throwing the first stone, and then letting the minds of readers carry on my work and legacy..

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

You imply that I actually read his kilometric diatribes.

Then it's time for you to leave. Viisaus regularly makes useful contributions from a variety of interesting sources. All you offer are insipid one-liners and an intractable disposition. That you disparage Viisaus' behavior as "diatribes" suggests there's no hope for improvement on your part.

Viisaus said...

"The poor, God-fearing iconoclasts, of course, never persecuted, tortured, or executed anyone (for a century or so).."


Are you aware how TREASONOUSLY the pro-icons party behaved? All the while the empire was under very serious circumstances - attacked by Muslim Saracens and pagan Bulgarians - they inspired at least THREE serious armed rebellions against the imperial authority:

- an unsuccessful coup attempt against emperor Leo the Isaurian in 727;

- in Italy, popes of Rome gave their support for local separatist movement that rebelled against Byzantine authority:

"The struggle was accompanied by an armed outbreak in the exarchate of Ravenna in 727, which Leo finally endeavoured to subdue by means of a large fleet. But the destruction of the armament by a storm decided the issue against him; his South Italian subjects successfully defied his religious edicts, and the Exarchate of Ravenna became effectively detached from the empire."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_III_the_Isaurian#Iconoclasm

- a long and bloody civil war (741-743) against pro-icon usurper:

"In June 741 or 742, after the accession of Leo's son Constantine V on the throne, Artabasdus resolved to seize the throne and attacked his brother-in-law while the latter was traversing Asia Minor to fight the Arabs on the eastern frontier. While Constantine fled to Amorion, Artabasdus seized Constantinople amid popular support and was crowned emperor."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artabasdos

And this all happened BEFORE any serious general crackdown on icons under had even started! Later iconists (especially the monks) still kept on agitating for more civil unrest.

Iconophiles had simply picked a fight with open subversion, inevitably provoked counter-measures, and thus had little in common with early Christians martyrs.

Besides, new scholarship says that the sufferings of iconodules were mostly later fabrications anyways. Iconodules re-wrote the history after their victory, luridly making up stuff of what horrible nasty persecutors the iconoclasts had been.

John Bugay said...

Lvka, you are much less clever than you think you are.

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Ken said...

Lvka,
I was remembering your linking to some icons at your site with the Muslim, the Grandverbalizer19, at his site, after some of my interaction with him.

I assumed you may link to them here also sometimes, so I guess I was wrong. Sorry about that.

But you just linked to a song by Peggy Lee on You Tube, "Is that all?", etc. -that kind of quick, non thinking, non interactive answer; is what your link to the icon for the Muslim reminded me of. Muslims don't respect icons or pictures, so you need to use thought and words and argumentation.

Same for us - apologia is the Greek word in I Peter 3:15 - 'reasoned defense"; logos - an account" - etc. - thinking, order; involves the foundation of argumentation type of discussion in NT, which we both agree on. Greek; Greek Orthodoxy, - you should respect that aspect because of the linguistic connection with the Greek Orthodox church; and use argumentation that is respectful - "with gentleness and reverence" - also in I Peter 3:15-16.

Lvka said...

Whoever deleted my last comments is a very insincere man, because they were very relevant to the discussion: one of them exposed Viisaus' fallacious approach and double-standards; the other one provided a very well-written and informative link, connecting the topic of the Eastern Churches to that of holy icons. And I do not appreciate such dishonesty.

Lvka said...

Muslims don't respect icons or pictures, so you need to use thought and words and argumentation

...which is probably why I posted the quote from Paul's letter to Philipians beneath the Icon of the Crucifixion...

Viisaus said...

"one of them exposed Viisaus' fallacious approach and double-standards"


Are you referring to your childish apples-and-oranges comparison between the denial of iconodulic martyrdom and the martyrdom of early Christians?

First of all, Protestant Christians would not have any fundamental problem in conceding that yes, the number of martyrs who died at the hands of Roman pagans has indeed been greatly inflated by later traditions, as secular scholarship has pointed out since the days of Edward Gibbon.

For it's not the "blood of martyrs" that saves us but the Blood of Jesus. We have no need to be so insistent on the former as on the latter.

Actually most of those embarrassing non-existent (but popular) RC/EO saints like "St. Maurice" or "St. Catherine" whom Vatican II unceremoniously dropped out of their saint-lists were claimed to have died in pre-Constantinian persecutions:

http://www.ucc.ie/milmart/maurorig.html

http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/?p=178

The memory of such literally fabulous made-up "martyrs" is positively offensive to us.


Secondly, early Christians did not behave nearly so atrociously as 8th century iconists, who were fomenting violent resistance almost all the time against iconoclastic rulers.

If early Christians HAD actually burned down Rome as it was slanderously rumored on the days of Nero, THEN this comparison might be somewhat more justified - that is, Christians would have been brazenly provoking secular authorities to crack down on them, as iconodules did in the 8th century.

I cite John Mendham's book on iconoclasm on how these disturbances (which later led to outright rebellions) started:

http://www.archive.org/details/seventhgeneralc00mendgoog

pp. xix-xx

"The officers of the Emperor had commenced their work at his own palace by the destruction of an image which stood over the brazen gate. It was called Antiphoneta, and was celebrated for many a pretended miracle. While engaged in execution of the orders they had received, they were surrounded by a turbulent mob composed mainly of women. An officer, named Jubinus Spatharocandidatus, was already mounted on the ladder with the axe in his hand intending to strike down the idol: the women first used entreaties and adjurations to induce him to spare it; but when deaf to all their prayers, he had given the first stroke, their grief turning to fury, they drew away the ladder from under him, and when fallen they trampled him to death under their feet. Thus far successful, they flew from the palace to the great church, where the newly created Patriarch was performing divine service: here (as one of their approvers declares), "casting off all shame for the sake of Christ, they discharged a shower of stones at the Patriarch, styling him hireling, wolf, traitor, heretic, and any other opprobrious name which occurred to their minds. The Patriarch, having received many wounds, was forced to flee for safety to the imperial palace: the Emperor provoked, not indeed without cause, sent forth his guards to quell these disturbances: many of the rioters fell in the first onset, and some of the more rebellious and audacious were afterwards punished according to their deserts.

Theophanes, no friend to Leo, describes the whole proceeding as follows: — 'The people of the royal city, being exceedingly grieved at the new doctrines, took council to destroy Leo himself, and did actually kill some of the King's officers who were engaged in destroying the image of the Lord which stood over the great brazen gate: wherefore, he punished many of them for their PIETY with mutilations and stripes, fines and exile, and specially those who were illustrious by birth or learning.'

In these proceedings of Leo we see nothing but the punishment of rebels against lawful authority, and there is no trace of that persecution which fills the pages of Baronius, Maimbourg, and others."

Viisaus said...

And yes, do not delete Lvka's posts. Let his hostile ignorance be shown to all.

Lvka said...

I'm still waiting to see who deleted my posts...


[Yes, V., how childish of me to compare persecution of Christians with persecution of Christians: dumb, huh? What a controversial and completely counter-intuitive idea!..]

John Bugay said...

Lvka, I deleted your posts. I've left some of your more recent because Ken and Viisaus are actually trying to interact with you. You, on the other hand, are not interacting, but acting like a jerk. That is uncalled for.

Viisaus said...

John Mendham describes how RC/EO historians have slandered the memory of iconoclast emperor Constantine V "Copronymus" - "dung-named" being the childish nickname that pro-icon writers gave to him:

http://www.archive.org/details/seventhgeneralc00mendgoog

pp. xli-xlii

"Baronius concludes his remarks thus with allusion to Protestants: — "In such a leader let our innovators glory: him let them exalt as they do with praises; but let these blasphemers of the Saints hear the buzz of the beetle involved in his own dung: let them roll about the same stercoraceous pellets as did he — namely, while they equally augment the same filthy heresies — since, beyond all question, they also in hell shall suffer the same punishment of which he, when about to die, experienced so awful a foretaste: for, while he thus expressed his expectation of the sentence of eternal condemnation against himself, he signified no less than that all his followers would suffer the same."

Thus, by this writer, Constantine was sentenced to eternal wrath, because he kept the second commandment and compelled others to do the same, and all we who observe that command are in like manner to be condemned! — Let us compare this account with a like history of the death of Calvin from the pen of the Jesuit De Ballinghem, for thus he writes: —

"Of which blasphemies against Christ, and against the Virgin, and of his other heresies, a most miserable death was his reward: for he died being eaten of worms, agonized with a foul internal ulcer! Moreover, in invocating demons, in devoting himself to the furies, in cursing the day and the hour in which he first gave himself to literature and writing, he breathed out his miserable soul."

So writes this Jesuit. Now for the fact: — "The remainder of his days (says Beza) Calvin passed in almost perpetual prayer. He departed without even a sigh, in the full possession of his powere to the last."

If such misrepresentations were unblushingly put forth in an age when the art of printing, open to all, could easily manifest their falsehood, how much more might we expect this to be the case when books were scarce — when but few copies of a work could be published — when every statement which pleased not a dominant party could be easily destroyed. Had Beza published his account in the eighth century it would soon have perished, and the slanders of the Jesuit had come forth without contradiction.

As, therefore, we know not what the friends of Constantine might have had to say concerning his last hours, we are at liberty to suspend our belief in the various slanderous tales set forth by his enemies."

Lvka said...
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Viisaus said...

"I'm sure they have slandered his birth in the same way they have slandered Arius' earthly departure."

FYI, Christians are not permitted to bear false testimony, to "bring railing accusation" (Jude 1:9) even against the worst of men.

Nay, Christians would not be allowed to tell slanderous lies or untrue fibs about Satan himself (that would be really a case of "becoming the thing you hate")
, even for the sake of some "higher purpose".

That you clearly approve such behavior - telling tall tales about "enemies of the faith" - shows the low Pharisaical standards of EO morality.

Viisaus said...

"This being said, I'm curious how V. can explain the fact that the Eastern Churches you keep mentioning have the same piety towards icons, saints, and relics as we do, notwithstanding the fact that they broke off from us centuries before Second Niceea."

They don't. Nestorian Assyrians have been famous for their detestation of images, and Monophysite Armenians have also been quite reluctant to adopt the systematic the cult of icons practiced by Greeks. Only in modern times they have in "ecumenical" spirit sometimes began to imitate Greek-Orthodox ways in this regard.

http://ship-of-fools.com/mystery/1998/027Mystery.html

"The church: Cathedral of the Assyrian Church of the East, Trichor, South India.

Denomination: The Assyrian Church of the East is a 'Nestorian' Church, which split with the Orthodox Church in AD431.

The building: Built in 1814, the church has an oriental look. The interior is quite plain, with no icons or images (the Church believes that images break the second commandment), but with a host of globe lamps and a great chandlier hanging from the ceiling."

Lvka said...
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Viisaus said...

Not only Indians, but those "Nestorian" Assyrians who lived in the mountains of Kurdistan had perhaps even more strident anti-icon position than theirs. Many 19th century Western travellers testify on this.

But anyways, Lvka just keeps moving goalposts without attempting to really defend his own position (which he simply takes for granted) with concrete evidence. I'm growing tired of answering his lazy inquiries.

I am also sick of his dishonestly disingenuous insistence that all pictures, even merely decorative ones, are "icons."


But here's yet a bit more, from Gibbon:

"In their Syriac liturgy the names of Theodore and Nestorius were piously commemorated: they united their adoration of the two persons of Christ; the title of Mother of God was offensive to their ear, and they measured with scrupulous avarice the honors of the Virgin Mary, whom the superstition of the Latins had almost exalted to the rank of a goddess. When her image was first presented to the disciples of St. Thomas, they indignantly exclaimed, "We are Christians, not idolaters!" and their simple devotion was content with the veneration of the cross."

http://www.ccel.org/g/gibbon/decline/volume2/chap47.htm#India

Moreover, "Libri Carolini" is a decisive proof that during the iconoclastic era, the cult of images was not yet approved in Western European countries, outside of Italy.

Viisaus said...

"Furthermore: what is the opinion of those "iconoclastic" Indian Christians on the veneration of Saints and relics?"

I'll say this: IF the reform against icons had succeeded in the Byzantine empire, then the reformers might have next taken aim against superstitions concerning relics and saint-worship (as emperor Constantine was rumored to already have done).

Enlightened individuals like bishop Claudius of Turin were ready to oppose those phenomena as well even during those dark centuries:

http://urban.hunter.cuny.edu/~thead/claudius.htm

After all, the 16th century Reformation began with opposition only towards REALLY brazen corruptions like the indulgences, but as it grew larger it began to oppose all anti-Biblical "traditional" innovations altogether.

John Bugay said...

Viisaus:

Lvka just keeps moving goalposts without attempting to really defend his own position (which he simply takes for granted) with concrete evidence. I'm growing tired of answering his lazy inquiries.

I am also sick of his dishonestly disingenuous insistence that all pictures, even merely decorative ones, are "icons."


Thank you for your contributions here. We greatly value that you're taking part here.

And on the other hand, we've had lots of complaints about Lvka. From now on, I'll be deleting his posts.

Lvka said...
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Viisaus said...

And regarding this quip of Lvka:

"God judged your people and your churches by allowing the rise of atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, and liberalism."

In terms of general culture war, the forces of modernism made mincemeat of EO churches just about as soon as they came to contact with them. From the days of Peter the Great onwards, the Russian high society was generally an obedient follower of progressive Western fashions.

Then in the early part of the 20th century, the most militant sort of modernists took over in the heart of Eastern Orthodoxy, with relative ease. Mainstream EO church could not oppose this onslaught in any significant manner:

"It is well-known that for over eighty years now the Moscow Patriarchate has assiduously defended and advanced the cause of world communism, making excuses for the Soviet government even in its most evil acts – and such acts have been without precedent in world history…"

http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/321/1945-moscow-patriarchate-s-/


So that while the Satanic lion of modernism has severely mauled Protestant civilization, let's not pretend that EO civilization has performed any better.

(Not even speaking of the RCC, which has sold out to modernism after Vatican II.)

Viisaus said...

Besides the Moscow Patriarchate, other mainstream EO churches also did not offer any more effective resistance to Communism than, say, Russian Baptists did (who were highly over-represented in the Gulag):

http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/321/1945-moscow-patriarchate-s-/

"Other consequences of Stalin’s “redemption” included the enslavement of the Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbian Orthodox Churches to the KGB and its sister-organizations, as a result of which hundreds of bishops and clergy were killed while the survivors became obedient puppets of the collective Antichrist."

Lvka said...

Romania, for instance, got over communism in 50 years, and atheism in our country is statistically non-existent (same for Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, and Belarus); the West, on the other hand, still struggles with it, losing more and more ground to agnosticism...

No-one denies the persecution of Protestants (and Catholics) under communism, but to say that the Orthodox didn't also suffer enormously is a very great distortion of truth..

John Bugay said...

Lvka -- I'm not going to delete your post here because you have said something coherent.

Like many of us, I grew up in the 1960's and 70's, during the Cold War in the US, and I had the opportunity to read some of the literature that was coming out in those days.

Without going into too much detail about what I read (because the memory is fuzzy), I think it's fair to say that everyone suffered under communism: Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox alike.

But that does not negate the fact that leaders of the Orthodox churches brought some of this pain and persecution on themselves (and everyone else) by selling out to and even working with the communist government.

Odo said...

what a great post, comments, and book referneces! But where is map 1.1 from page 12?

Odo said...

Some peoples comments on here remind me of a this verse from Galatians 5:

If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

John Bugay said...

Hi Odo, welcome to Beggars All. Thanks for your comments.

But where is map 1.1 from page 12?

Basically (and unfortunately for the moment), the two sources I might direct you to, Google Books and Amazon's "Search inside this book" feature don't show this page.

I'll make a note to get it scanned and try and post it here if I get a chance.

Viisaus said...

Here is how a noted secular classical historian J.B. Bury saw the council of Ephesus:

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/BURLAT/11*.html

"It is to be observed that in this controversy both parties agreed in condemning the theory of Apollinaris and in holding that there were two natures in Christ. The main difference between them concerned the formula by which the union of the two natures was to be expressed — Cyril maintaining a "natural p352 union"8 and Nestorius a less intimate "contact."9 The truth may be that the view of Nestorius was not so very different from that of Cyril as Cyril thought. It seems probable that the doctrine of two Persons, somehow joined together, which is commonly imputed to Nestorius, would have been repudiated by him. 10

(footnote)

10 See Bethune-Baker, op. cit. ch. VI. The main object of this book was to prove that Nestorius was orthodox and was not a "Nestorian." The dialogue of Nestorius, the Bazaar of Heraclides, or Πραγματεία Ἡρακλείδου, recently discovered in a Syriac version, supplies the important evidence that Nestorius survived till the eve of the Council of Chalcedon and agreed with the Dogmatic Epistle of Pope Leo. Cp. Loofs' Nestorius (pp21, 22), which gives a clear and interesting account of the tragedy of Nestorius. This theologian agrees with Bethune-Baker partially; he concludes that Nestorius can be considered orthodox according to the WESTERN interpretation of the definition of Chalcedon (p100).

...

The shameless proceedings of the satellites of Cyril and the rabble whom they are collected are graphically described by Nestorius, whose house was guarded by soldiers to protect him from violence. "They acted in everything as if it was a war they were conducting, and the followers of the Egyptian and of Memnon (the bishop of Ephesus), who were abetting them, went about in the city girt and armed with clubs, men with high necks, performing strange antics with the yells of barbarians, snorting fiercely with horrible and unwonted noises, raging with extravagant doings, carrying bells about the city, and lighting fires in many places and casting into them all kinds of writings. Everything they did was a cause of amazement and fear; they blocked up the streets so that every one was obliged to flee and hide while they acted as masters of the situation, lying about drunk and besotted and shouting obscenities."13 Such were the circumstances of the Third Ecumenical Council, which had gathered to pronounce on the true doctrine of the natures of Christ."

Viisaus said...

Here is how a noted secular classical historian J.B. Bury saw the council of Ephesus:

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/BURLAT/11*.html

"It is to be observed that in this controversy both parties agreed in condemning the theory of Apollinaris and in holding that there were two natures in Christ. The main difference between them concerned the formula by which the union of the two natures was to be expressed — Cyril maintaining a "natural p352 union"8 and Nestorius a less intimate "contact."9 The truth may be that the view of Nestorius was not so very different from that of Cyril as Cyril thought. It seems probable that the doctrine of two Persons, somehow joined together, which is commonly imputed to Nestorius, would have been repudiated by him. 10

(footnote)

10 See Bethune-Baker, op. cit. ch. VI. The main object of this book was to prove that Nestorius was orthodox and was not a "Nestorian." The dialogue of Nestorius, the Bazaar of Heraclides, or Πραγματεία Ἡρακλείδου, recently discovered in a Syriac version, supplies the important evidence that Nestorius survived till the eve of the Council of Chalcedon and agreed with the Dogmatic Epistle of Pope Leo. Cp. Loofs' Nestorius (pp21, 22), which gives a clear and interesting account of the tragedy of Nestorius. This theologian agrees with Bethune-Baker partially; he concludes that Nestorius can be considered orthodox according to the WESTERN interpretation of the definition of Chalcedon (p100).

...

The shameless proceedings of the satellites of Cyril and the rabble whom they are collected are graphically described by Nestorius, whose house was guarded by soldiers to protect him from violence. "They acted in everything as if it was a war they were conducting, and the followers of the Egyptian and of Memnon (the bishop of Ephesus), who were abetting them, went about in the city girt and armed with clubs, men with high necks, performing strange antics with the yells of barbarians, snorting fiercely with horrible and unwonted noises, raging with extravagant doings, carrying bells about the city, and lighting fires in many places and casting into them all kinds of writings. Everything they did was a cause of amazement and fear; they blocked up the streets so that every one was obliged to flee and hide while they acted as masters of the situation, lying about drunk and besotted and shouting obscenities."13 Such were the circumstances of the Third Ecumenical Council, which had gathered to pronounce on the true doctrine of the natures of Christ."

Viisaus said...

Here is how a noted secular classical historian J.B. Bury saw the council of Ephesus:

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/BURLAT/11*.html

"It is to be observed that in this controversy both parties agreed in condemning the theory of Apollinaris and in holding that there were two natures in Christ. The main difference between them concerned the formula by which the union of the two natures was to be expressed — Cyril maintaining a "natural p352 union"8 and Nestorius a less intimate "contact."9 The truth may be that the view of Nestorius was not so very different from that of Cyril as Cyril thought. It seems probable that the doctrine of two Persons, somehow joined together, which is commonly imputed to Nestorius, would have been repudiated by him. 10

(footnote)

10 See Bethune-Baker, op. cit. ch. VI. The main object of this book was to prove that Nestorius was orthodox and was not a "Nestorian." The dialogue of Nestorius, the Bazaar of Heraclides, or Πραγματεία Ἡρακλείδου, recently discovered in a Syriac version, supplies the important evidence that Nestorius survived till the eve of the Council of Chalcedon and agreed with the Dogmatic Epistle of Pope Leo. Cp. Loofs' Nestorius (pp21, 22), which gives a clear and interesting account of the tragedy of Nestorius. This theologian agrees with Bethune-Baker partially; he concludes that Nestorius can be considered orthodox according to the WESTERN interpretation of the definition of Chalcedon (p100).

...

The shameless proceedings of the satellites of Cyril and the rabble whom they are collected are graphically described by Nestorius, whose house was guarded by soldiers to protect him from violence. "They acted in everything as if it was a war they were conducting, and the followers of the Egyptian and of Memnon (the bishop of Ephesus), who were abetting them, went about in the city girt and armed with clubs, men with high necks, performing strange antics with the yells of barbarians, snorting fiercely with horrible and unwonted noises, raging with extravagant doings, carrying bells about the city, and lighting fires in many places and casting into them all kinds of writings. Everything they did was a cause of amazement and fear; they blocked up the streets so that every one was obliged to flee and hide while they acted as masters of the situation, lying about drunk and besotted and shouting obscenities."13 Such were the circumstances of the Third Ecumenical Council, which had gathered to pronounce on the true doctrine of the natures of Christ."

Viisaus said...

And here is a 19th-century British traveller's description on the position of mountain-tribe Assyrians (Tiyari) on images:

(It's to be noted that the "Nestorian" Tiyari highlanders were more traditional-minded than those Assyrians who dwelled in the Mesopotamian plains, "lowlanders" who had been subjected to intensive RC missionary activity and had formed their own Uniate "Chaldean" churches. They gradually adopted RC image-policies along with the union.)

http://www.aina.org/books/nfn/nfn.htm#c14

"The rites of the Romish Chaldeans differ little externally from those of their independent brethren. By both, Divine service is solemnized in the ancient Chaldean language; but the Roman missionaries have inserted into the missal, used by the -former, several lines favorable to the doctrine of transubstantiation,34 and have introduced the custom of paying adoration to the consecrated bread. In all other particulars, the service remains the same, and many of the Tiyari Nestorians who had been induced to attend the worship of the Romish Chaldeans, found scarcely any difference between it and their own. They, however, objected strongly to the pictures. and images which, by degrees, had crept into the churches of Mosul and the neighboring villages.
...

The aversion of the Tiyari people to the use of pictures is very strong, and they found it upon a literal interpretation of the second Commandment. One of them was much scandalized at finding a small print of the queen hung up in my room at Mosul. It was in vain, I observed, that a private apartment was not a church, nor the portrait of an English sovereign an object of worship. My Nestorian friend insisted, with some plausibility, that the Commandment prohibited the making of a graven image, or the likeness of anything, as well as the adoration of it, and seemed by no means satisfied with my excuses."

Viisaus said...

What is it with these double- or triple-posts! Could someone delete the two extra rounds of my J.B. Bury post?

:)