Archive for the ‘Constantinople’ Category

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 19

September 23, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 19

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the nineteenth in the multi-part series.

Seventh Ecumenical Council (783) – Destroyed Patristic Writings Opposed to Icons

In mocking words, the council commanded that all writings opposed to icons be turned over to the Patriarch of Constantinople, whose job it was to prevent these writings from being read. This command was to be enforced by deposing clergy from office and excommunicating laymen and monks:

All boyish whimwhams and mad bacchanalia, the false writings that have been brought forth against the venerable icons, must be turned in to the Bishopric of Constantinople to be put away together with the rest of heretical books. If, on the other hand, anyone should be found hiding these, if he be a Bishop, a Presbyter, or a Deacon, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman or a monk, let him be excommunicated.

You will notice that, in theory, there was a sort of “heretical library” to be possessed by the Patriarch of Constantinople. In effect, however, the removal of iconoclastic books from circulation had the effect of destroying those books, especially since one would not expect the Patriarch to keep each copy of every book.

As almost a footnote, it is interesting to see that this prominent role was held by the Patriarch of Constantinople, not the Patriarch of Rome. There is, of course, a practical reason beyond the fact that the Bishop of Rome was not considered the head of the church in that day: the heart of the resistance to icons would be expected to come from the Eastern church, where just 30 years previously a similarly sized council had condemned icons as contrary to Scripture and Tradition.

Ultimately, though, this council’s decree creates an easy historical explanation for the dearth of writings from the Early Church Fathers against images of Christ: they were rounded up and ultimately destroyed by those who followed the so-called Seventh Ecumenical Council. But for this council, any silence in the Early Church Fathers on this topic would have been harder to explain.


An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 15

September 20, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 15

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the fifteenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Fourth Council of Constantinople (879-80) – Overturned “Eighth Ecumenical Council”

You will notice that I’ve called this council the “Fourth” in keeping with those who recognize only seven ecumenical councils, and oppose the 21-ers. The Eastern Orthodox view the earlier council as – in essence – voided by this later council, which restored Photius (who was deposed with his supporters by the “Eighth Ecumenical Council”).

This council is sometimes referred to (as it apparently referred to itself) as being an ecumenical council (and the eighth), but is not “officially” recognized as such by Eastern Orthodoxy today, though they may occasionally refer to it that way.


An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 14

September 20, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 14

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the fourteenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-70) – Ecumenical Status a Later Fabrication

Those who claim there have been twenty-one ecumenical councils hold that a council held at Constantinople in 869-70 was the 8th such council. There are some rather obvious and severe problems with that theory.

First, there does not appear to be any identification of it as an ecumenical council prior to the era of the Great Schism;

Second, the Eastern Orthodox do not recognize it as ecumenical, although the council was held within the region (and at the political center of that region) that today is largely Eastern Orthodoxy.

The fairly obvious reason for this bickering was that the council was held to depose Photius, the patriarch of Constantinople, who had opposed Nicholas, the bishop of Rome. When it came to for the Great Schism, much cordiality between the church of Constantinople and the church of Rome became lost, and it became important for the Roman position that the deposition of Photius be given ecumenical weight.

Indeed, there is debate over whether Greeks corrupted the true text of the council or whether that was done by the Latins. In short, there was no shortage of divisiveness engendered by this council.


An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 11

September 13, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 11

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the eleventh in what has become a multi-part series.

Council of Constantinople (754) – Implicitly Denies the to-be-invented Doctrine of Transubstantiation

As one argument against images, the council of Constantinople of 754 (attended by 338 bishops) stated:

The only admissible figure of the humanity of Christ, however, is bread and wine in the holy Supper. This and no other form, this and no other type, has he chosen to represent his incarnation. Bread he ordered to be brought, but not a representation of the human form, so that idolatry might not arise. And as the body of Christ is made divine, so also this figure of the body of Christ, the bread, is made divine by the descent of the Holy Spirit; it becomes the divine body of Christ by the mediation of the priest who, separating the oblation from that which is common, sanctifies it.

And unanimously affirmed it, as it is reported:

The divine Kings Constantine and Leo said: Let the holy and ecumenical synod say, if with the consent of all the most holy bishops the definition just read has been set forth.

The holy synod cried out: Thus we all believe, we all are of the same mind. We have all with one voice and voluntarily subscribed. This is the faith of the Apostles. Many years to the Emperors! They are the light of orthodoxy! Many years to the orthodox Emperors! God preserve your Empire! You have now more firmly proclaimed the inseparability of the two natures of Christ! You have banished all idolatry! You have destroyed the heresies of Germanus [of Constantinople], George and Mansur [mansour, John Damascene]. Anathema to Germanus, the double-minded, and worshipper of wood! Anathema to George, his associate, to the falsifier of the doctrine of the Fathers! Anathema to Mansur, who has an evil name and Saracen opinions! To the betrayer of Christ and the enemy of the Empire, to the teacher of impiety, the perverter of Scripture, Mansur, anathema! The Trinity has deposed these three!

What’s even more inconvenient to those who maintain transubstantiation is that when a later council purported to overturn the decrees of this council, no mention is made of this argument. In other words, the council that tried to overturn this council did not argue that the bread and wine are not figures of Christ’s humanity, but instead focused on the alleged permissibility of other figures – representational figures that they supposed could be justified.


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