Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Orthodox are too Catholic: If you're going to be Eastern, go whole hog!

William Tighe writes here:
Physiocrat said:
"It would not be a matter of finding shelter amongst the Orthodox, but that they may have been right all along. What if we have been mistaken for the past 1200 years?"
Were I convinced (as I am not) that "we have been mistaken for the past 1200 years," it would not be to the Orthodox, historically speaking, that one should turn, but rather to the non-Chalcedonian "Oriental Orthodox" (Copts, Armenians, Ethiopians, Syrians, etc.). The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) split Eastern Christianity right down the middle, with its opponents maintaining (a) that the Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria was the "gold standard" of Christian orthodoxy, as per the Council of Ephesus, (b) that the Christology of the Tome of St. Leo the Great was, if not Nestorian, then "Nestorianizing," and (c) that the Council of Chalcedon had so compromised "pure Cyrilline orthodoxy" as effectively to betray the Faith. Many Easterners who reluctantly accepted Chalcedon seemed inclined to have some sympathy for this perception, as witness the almost universal embrace in the East of the Emperor Zeno's "Henotikon" of 482, which passed over Chalcedon in silence, and declared the dogmas of the councils of Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus to constitute Christian orthodoxy. Rome rejected the Henotikon out of hand, and the result was the "Acacian Schism" between Rome and the four eastern patriarchates, which lasted from 482 to 519. The schism ended when a new emperor sought to heal the schism between Rome and the East, even if to do so meant effectively to accept explicitly that "Rome was right and we were wrong" (and implicitly, "because Rome is always right in its dogmatic stances/decisions," which was certainly Rome's view than, as later), and even if that same emperor, Justinian, sought later in his reign to bend a Roman pope to his will. In other words, the Chalcedonian Orthodox are in part a legacy of a fifth/sixth century "papalism" which they later rejected. The "Oriental Orthodox," thus, in my view, have a more cogent claim than the Orthodox — if we have been mistaken for the past 1200 years — to be "the true Church."

Or, to put it briefly, "if Chalcedon, why not Florence; if not-Florence, then why Chalcedon?"
Every ancient church including ours claims it's the true one, which makes the recent rapprochement between these Lesser Eastern Churches and the Chalcedonian Orthodox curious. Historically they hated each other like many schismatics still hate Catholics.

Might the schismatics believe in development of doctrine after all? (Which is not our doctrine, just Newman's theory.)

A qualified ecclesiastical second-in-command, whoever he may be, could declare the See of Peter vacant tomorrow (it can happen) but I still wouldn't believe my Latin, Gregorian chant, scholastic theology, rosary, and Sacred Heart picture are part of a fraud any more than my antique Russian icons and Slavonic prayer books are. The church geeks and Eastern European xenophobes can bellow away online, even deck me in person, but the gates of hell will not prevail against the Catholic Church.

If the schismatics were right about the Christian God, I wouldn't be a Christian because such a God wouldn't be worthy of my worship. Become a Buddhist (a respectable philosophy but it doesn't answer ultimate questions). Be a hedonist trolling the bars and/or the apps for sex. Be bris'd into Orthodox Judaism to await the Messiah as the late William F. Buckley Jr. said of such a situation. Or blowing my head off would make more sense.


  1. Please explain the first sentence of the last paragraph, if you don't mind.

    I can't believe the Christian God would be so petty as to damn apostolic Christians who happened to be outside the Byzantine sphere of influence.

    But in that case, why would He damn apostolic Christians who happened to be outside the Roman sphere of influence?

    I accept a true-church claim. All ancient churches have one as, you'll see if you read the old high churchmen carefully enough, did/do classic Anglicans. But ours doesn't revolve around an empire or culture even though 98% of Catholics are Roman Rite and the Pope is associated with the former empire's original capital. I don't pick up the vibe of cultural idolatry from Catholicism that I do from Orthodoxy.

  2. In other words, the Chalcedonian Orthodox were the Uniates of their day.


Leave comment