Hello everyone, I'm new to this forum, however those who recognize my name may shudder due to cringy forum posts elsewhere. I'm a former Roman Catholic, who is a non-member of either the Oriental and Eastern Communions, however I've been mainly attending Chalcedonian Orthodox Churches. Before I become a catechumen, I want to explore Oriental Orthodoxy and try to figure out - to the best of my ability - Who properly holds the title of the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."
I've read portions of Saint Cyril's commentary on John (what we have of it anyways), and I've come across a passage that makes me question one of the main criticisms of Chalcedon that non-Chalcedonians seem to hold.
It seems that one of the main criticisms that I've heard from both of these sources about the Orthodoxy of the Tome of Leo is distinct roles that are granted to both natures.For example, from the Tome of Leo,"So, if I may pass over many instances, it does not belong to the same nature to weep out of deep-felt pity for a dead friend, and to call him back to life again at the word of command, once the mound had been removed from the four-day-old grave; or to hang on the cross and, with day changed into night, to make the elements tremble; or to be pierced by nails and to open the gates of paradise for the believing thief."https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/incac1.htmSeverus of Antioch said something like that it's foolish to draw such distinctions, because in the example of walking on water, or perhaps raising Lazarus, Chalcedonians would say that the Divine Nature is responsible for these miracles; however, the Divine Nature doesn't have feet and isn't capable of walking on water, nor does the Divine Nature have a voice which can say "Lazarus, arise!"Therefore, the conclusion that is drawn by these people as well as the Coptic priest I've talked to is that we cannot separate the actions of Christ like this, which is why they are so enthusiastic about maintaining "One Incarnate Nature of the Word."However, this is what I wanted to show you. This comes from Part 27 and 28 of Book 8 of Saint Cyril's Commentary on the Gospel of Saint John, where he's discussing the Natures of Christ in the Garden."Now, He says, is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save one from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. See I pray you in these words again how the human nature was easily affected by trouble and easily brought over to fear, whereas on the other hand the Divine and ineffable Power is in all respects inflexible and dauntless and intent on the courage which alone is befitting to It. For the mention of death which had been introduced into the discourse begins to alarm Jesus, but the Power of the Godhead straightway subdues the suffering thus excited and in a moment transforms into incomparable boldness that which had been conquered by fear."http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/cyril_on_john_08_book8.htmIt seems that Saint Cyril of Alexandria himself is making a similar "division of Natures" that the Miaphysites that I've talked to have accused the Dyophysites of doing.In fact, out of curiosity, I brought this exact same example up to the priest I was discussing with, without mentioning Saint Cyril as the author, and he condemned the idea as "Nestorian" and spiritually dangerous.I also think it's worth bringing up the Council of Ephesus, which does something similar (although not exactly the same)."In a similar way we say that he suffered and rose again, not that the Word of God suffered blows or piercing with nails or any other wounds in his own nature (for the divine, being without a body, is incapable of suffering), but because the body which became his own suffered these things, he is said to have suffered them for us. For he was without suffering, while his body suffered...http://www.papalencyclicals.net/councils/ecum03.htmSo, it seems to me that there is one of three conclusions that can be drawn from this.1. The Miaphysites have, out of either misunderstanding or out of preserving Alexandria terminology, have actually, in their own belief system, condemned the theological ideas of Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Council of Ephesus.2. There is a nuance of this argument that I am missing, and failing to comprehend the argument that the Miaphysites are making as regards to the Tome of Leo.3. Most Miaphysites don't understand their own theology due to the division of Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, and it has been misrepresented to me; this is an argument that the non-Chalcedonians don't actually hold, rather it's something else with Chalcedon that is heretical.So, could an Oriental Orthodox help me out? In light of the Gospel Commentary by Saint Cyril, or the Council of Ephesus, what is inconsistent with the Tome of Leo?
St. Severus of Antioch, contGram in 33 (CSCO 102) 133 (7-21), Grillmeier, Christ II (2) 167
By death. Christ conquers death through His life-giving divinity. So also by fear does Christ conquer fear through His courage-giving divinity. That’s the point St. Cyril was trying to make, that by being afraid, He quickly suppressed fear by filling natural human fear with “incomparable boldness”. St. Severus made it even clearer that it is within the human fear we receive divine courage, just as within human death we receive divine life. When Christ died, it’s not the human nature the died separated from divinity, but the death is an act of salvation, it’s not a mere death. So also is the fear an act of salvation, not mere fear. We don’t simply say, “his humanity died and his divinity rose his humanity from the dead.” No, we say “Christ died a life-giving death, and rose from the dead by the power of His divinity that filled His humanity.”
Pope Leo on the other hand would say something along the lines of “His humanity feared, his divinity didn’t”. St. Cyril made it clear, “He feared, and filled that fear with incomparable boldness.” Remember a key part of Orthodoxy is paradoxy; through human fear we partake of the uncreated boldness of God. That is the point of “one nature.” Very rarely do I find Leo say something like this. “One and the same person” is simply a dry mechanical way of professing unity, but Leo hasn’t assured me that I partake of the divine nature in the human experiences, that these human experiences are filled with the fullness of the divine counterpart.
Always ask this: where’s my salvation in what is said about Christ? Are we merely talking about human and divine experiences, without the communication of properties between the two? Then that’s a problem. I cannot partake if the divine nature of the properties of Christ are not communicated with each other to give a theanthropic action of our salvation.
"In a similar way we say that he suffered and rose again, not that the Word of God suffered blows or piercing with nails or any other wounds in his own nature (for the divine, being without a body, is incapable of suffering), but because the body which became his own suffered these things, he is said to have suffered them for us. For he was without suffering, while his body suffered. Something similar is true of his dying. For by nature the Word of God is of itself immortal and incorruptible and life and life-giving, but since on the other hand his own body by God’s grace, as the apostle says, tasted death for all, the Word is said to have suffered death for us, not as if he himself had experienced death as far as his own nature was concerned (it would be sheer lunacy to say or to think that), but because, as I have just said, his flesh tasted death."
No the divinity does not experience death in its own nature. In unity with humanity, Christ gives death its salvific property. The divinity doesn’t do one thing and humanity another. After union, we speak of Christ’s actions in His incarnate state. And in fact, all eternal actions in a MYSTICAL and MYSTERIOUS sense can be said to involve His incarnate state, which cannot be easily explained in systematic and logical sense.
If you need an analogy, the famous heated iron. The nails went through iron while it’s still hot. The heat didn’t get nailed, but a heated iron did.
You’re looking for a scientific way of understanding the incarnation. No, we’re not giving that to you. We agree divinity is not materialistic and does not die. At the same time we also reject language that separates divinity from humanity. You need to have that balance. Theology is not a book that you read, but a spiritual life you experience.
I recommend you start listening to some of Fr. John Behr’s talks. A lot of the spiritual Christology he talks about is something I find consonant with the mysticism of Miaphysitism, and not the dry scholastic approach of two natures. I say that with a good amount of irony, since he’s clearly Chalcedonian. You need to give up trying to make sense of something in your own mind and understand there are mysteries in Christ and in the Trinity for your salvation. I’m not saying two natures is wrong, but your approach in the questioning is beyond the scope of importance. No one here is saying the integrity of either nature is lost or changed, but the oneness is emphasized for clear salvific reasons. Apart from the union you can differentiate the properties of each nature, but in the union, we don’t like to utilize separative language.
I am no expert on those things but I hope they have helped you
Concerning your faith and which to choose.
I will give my opinion. Which faith to choose? If we go towards theology it's is because we are analytical and like to know how things work. I'd like to reiterate what minasoliman said "action is mystically one in action."
Historicly, the question came about because ofwhat is God's nature. I guess it's ok to try and understand, but there is also the danger of questioning God when in reality, He is a mystery as stated above.
Where does that lead us? It leads us to Christ and the way He was and showed us how to be. He was one who healed and forgave sin upon confession of faith.
The church meaning the Oriental church is one that believes in the healing of soul.
The Holy Spirit comes through inspiration. Those that experience it like myself when believing I'd lost my salvation repeatedly questioned my confession father until he gave me that right answer and that was Jesus never closes the door for you. That supplied my faith and from there the Holy Spirit takes me to places of scripture that pertain to me personally and to what needs to be given out of service that I may serve God.
A question I was asked by a Sunday school teacher was "If there was war, should we fight? I knew Jesus said we were to die like lambs and I understood the submission and following Him as a lamb sacrifice. But I also remembered Ecclesiastes 3:8 A time to love and a time to hate; A time of war and a time of peace. It is difficult in what to decide but what Ecclesiastes says we do what is appropriate for that time.
This brings me to Chalcedon. Chalcedon represents the spLitton of two different ways of thinking: One is having the church like a hospital and the other into politics, because on their part they had to deal with wars and rulers like Constantine and Helena and Justinias and Theodora who won great wars against invaders cemented this postion of politics. Politics has to do with law and as Mina said regarding Leo's tome it sounds a bit dry. I would suggest it is because there is political thinking behind it.
Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything so there needs to be great decernment when choosing what to do in the appropriate time. The eastern church made the choice of politics and it is one hard to return back back from.
If we are to be Christ-like, then the healing Jesus is the appropriate time for us as the world needs us to be that healing Jesus.
If you are looking for which faith to choose livenotoeviL then the suggestion would be the service of a healing Jesus.
May God guide you in service and faith.
What I'm saying is our connection ( the church) is with a healing Jesus Christ. Do away with most forms of politics as much as possible and I know there has to be some liaison with the state, but have a little as possible.