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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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 As for those heretics who betake themselves to Orthodoxy, and to the lot of the saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom; viz.: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, those calling themselves Cathari (or “Puritans”), and (those calling themselves) Aristeri[60] (Note of Translator. — This designation may be based upon the Greek word aristos, meaningbest,” though as a word it signifieslefthand.”), and the Quartodecimans (quasiFourteenthists,” to use the English language in this connection), otherwise known as Tetradites (though in English this term is applied to an entirely different group of heretics), and Apollinarians we accept when they offer libelli (i.e., recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the catholic and apostolic Church of God, and are sealed first with holy myron (more usually calledchrism” in English) on their forehead and their eyes, and nose, and mouth, and ears; and in sealing them we say: “A seal of a free gift of Holy Spirit.” As for Eunomians, however, who are baptized with a single immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and the Sabellians, who teach that Father and Son are the same person, and who do some other bad things, and (those belonging to) any other heresies (for there are many heretics here, especially such as come from the country of the Galatians:[61] all of them that want to adhere to Orthodoxy we are willing to accept as Greeks. Accordingly, on the first day we make (Note of Translator. — The meaning of this word here is more exactly renderedtreat as”) them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; then, on the third day, we exorcize them with the act of blowing thrice into their face and into their ears; and thus do we catechize them, and we make them tarry a while in the church and listen to the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.

(Ap. cc. XLVI, XLVII, LXVIII; cc. VIII, XIX of the 1st; c. XCV of the 6th; cc. VII, VIII of Laod.; c. LXVI of Carth.; cc. I, V, XLVII of Basil.)



The present Canon specifies in what way we ought to receive those coming from heresies and joining the Orthodox faith and the portion of the saved. It says that, as for Arians and Macedonians, of whom we have spoken in Canon I of the present Council, and Sabbatians[62] and Quartodecimans, otherwise known as Tetradites,[63] and Apollinarians, we will accept them after they give us libelli, or issue a written document (libellus is a Latin word, interpreted, according to Zonaras, as meaningpublication or issue”)[64] anathematizing both their own heresy as well as every other heresy that does not believe as the holy catholic and apostolic Church of God believes (just as the First Ec. C. demanded this stipulation in writing from Novatians particularly in its c. VIII), whose forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears we first seal with holy myron, saying in each seal, “a seal of a free gift of Holy Spirit.” And we will accept thus all these converts without rebaptizing them, since, according to Zonaras, in respect of holy baptism they nowise differ from us, and baptize themselves likewise as do the Orthodox. But as for Arians and Macedonians, who are manifestly heretics, the Canon accepted them without rebaptismeconomically” (Note of Translator. — This term, and the corresponding nouneconomy” and verbeconomize,” in the peculiar idiom of the Orthodox Church can hardly be said to be translatable into genuine English; as a first approximation they may be taken as signifying something like “managing a disagreeable set of circumstances with tact and shrewdness, instead of insisting upon precision”), the primary reason being the vast multitude of such heretics then prevalent, and a second reason being that they used to baptize themselves in the same way as we do. As regards Eunomians, on the other hand, who practiced baptism with a single immersion, and the Montanists, who there in Constantinople were known as Phrygians;[65] and the Sabellians, who used to say that the Father and the Son were one and the same person, and who used to do other terrible things, and all the other heresies of heretics (a great many of whom were to be found there, and especially those who came from the country of the Galatians); as for all these persons, I say, we accept them as Greeks, or, in other words, as persons totally unbaptized; for these persons either have not been baptized at all or, though baptized, have not been baptized aright and in a strictly Orthodox manner, wherefore they are regarded as not having been baptized at all). Accordingly, on the first day (of their reception) we make them Christians, that is to say, in other words, we make them accept all the dogmas of Christians (while they are standing) outside the Narthex of the church, the priest meantime laying his hand upon them, in accordance with c. XXXIX of the local synod or regional council held in Illiberia, a country in Spain;[66] on the second day we make them catechumens, or, in other words, we place them in the class called catechumens; on the third day we read to them the usual exorcisms, at the same time blowing three times into their face and into their ears. And thus we catechize them in regard to particular aspects of the faith, and make them stay in church a long time[67] and listen to the divine Scriptures, and then we baptize them.[68]

    Canon VII of Laodicea too would have Novatians and Quartodecimans returning to Orthodoxy treated economically in exactly the same way as they are in this Canon: that is to say, with anathematization of their heresy, and with the seal of the Myron. But Phrygians returning are required by c. VIII of the same C. to be baptized. But it must be said also that c. XCV of the 6th is nothing else than a repetition of the present Canon, except that it goes on to say that Manichees, and Valentinians, and Marcionists must be baptized when they turn to Orthodoxy; but Eutychians, and Dioscorites, and Severians may be accepted after anathematizing their own heresies — as may also the Novatians, that is to say, and the rest. Canon XIX of the First Ec. C. wants all Paulianists to get baptized in any case without fail, as is also witnessed by c. XCV of the 6th. Canon XLVII of Basil says for Encratites, and Saccophori, and Apotactites (concerning whom see c. XCV of the 6th) to get baptized when they become converted. Canon V of the same saint says for us to accept those heretics who repent at the end of their life, though not to do so indiscriminately, but only after trying them out. Read also Ap. cc. XLVI and XLVII.




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