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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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Fourth Ecumenical Council.

Prolegomena.

The holy and Ecumenical Fourth Council was held in Chalcedon, an important city in Bithynia, during the reign of Emperor Marcianus and Pulcheria[80] in the year 451 after Christ. The number of Fathers attending it was 630, the most notable of whom were Anatolius of Constantinople, Paschasinus and Lucinsius, bishops, together with Boniface and Basil presbyters, and with these were also Bishop Julian, Maximus the Bishop of Antioch, and Juvenal the Bishop of Jerusalem, acting as legates of the most holy Leo, Bishop of Rome. They condemned and consigned to anathema unfortunate Eutyches, an archimandrite, and his aid Dioscorus, who had become the Bishop of Alexandria after Cyril. For these men, having fallen into the error which was the opposite of that of Nestorius, shared also the latter’s fate, and went to perdition like him. For Nestorius had divided the one Christ into two persons and two substances, while these men boldly confused the two natures of Christ, the divine and the human, of which He is composed and in which He is known and adored, and conflated them into one single nature, the fools failing to understand that this recusant belief led to the conclusion that Christ was not of the same nature as the Father and of the same nature as human beings, but of some other and different nature.[81] Hence this holy Council, following the Creed of the First Nicene Council and that of the Second Constantinopolitan Council and the letter of Cyril of Alexandria, which is the same as saying the definition laid down by the Third Council, held in Ephesus, but indeed also the letter of the most holy Leo of Rome,[82] left unaltered the common Creed of the First Ec. Council, held in Nicaea, and of the Second one, held in Constantinople, and it anathematized those who might dare to add anything to or to subtract anything from it; and it made it its own definition of the Orthodox faith, which runs as follows (Act 5): “Pursuantly therefore to the divine Fathers we all consonantly join voices in teaching outright that we confess one and the same Son or Lord Jesus Christ, perfect the same in divinity, and perfect the same in humanity. Truly a God, and truly a human being the same (composed) of a soul and body and one who is at the same time of like essence with the Father as respecting divinity, and of like essence the same with us as respecting humanity, in all respects like us, apart from sinfulness. Though begotten before the ages out of the Father as respects divinity, yet in latter days born out of Mary the Virgin and Theotoke, as respects humanity, the same for us and for our salvation. One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten (composed) of two natures unconfusably, inconvertibly, indivisibly, inseparably identifiable,[83] there being nowhere anything removed or annulled in the difference of the natures on account of the union, but rather on the contrary the peculiarity of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one person and one substance. Not being divided or parted into two persons, but (forming) on the contrary one and the same Son and only-begotten God Logos, Lord Jesus Christ, precisely as the Prophets formerly had prophesied concerning him and as he himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, did explicitly teach us, and the Symbol (i.e., Creed) of the Fathers has imparted the matter to us.” On the other hand, this Council annulled and invalidated the Latrocinium (or Robber Synod) which had previously been assembled in Ephesus A.D. 448, at which Dioscorus presided, and spoke in defense of Eutyches, but the legates from the Bishop of Rome were not listened to, while St. Flavian of Constantinople, after being kicked and beaten with many whips, died. In this Council (Act 8) blessed Theodoret said: “Anathema to Nestorius, and to whoever refuses to call Mary the Holy Theotoke and whoever divides the one and only-begotten Son.” In addition he also anathematized Eutyches, and every heresy, and after subscribing to all that had been decreed and adopted by the Council, he was justified and took the seat assigned to him in the Council, and undertook the representation of his province. Besides all these matters, the present Council also issued and promulgated the present thirty Canons, which are to be found in its Act 15, ratified and confirmed by name and definitely by c. II of the Sixth, and indefinitely by c. I of the Seventh; which Canons are necessary for the decorum and constitutional organization of the Church. As for the Minutes of the present Council, they are divided into three volumes. The first volume contains various letters and the transactions endorsed in Constantinople by Flavian, and those endorsed in Ephesus by the Latrocinium (or Robber Synod). The second volume comprises the sixteen Acts of this same Council which was held in Chalcedon. The third volume contains various letters of the Council and of the Emperors, and some other matters which were done after it was held and which related to it.[84] (See Dositheus, from p. 331 to p. 397; and the second volume of the Conciliar Records.)

 

Canons.

 




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