“The Eastern Church was held by the fathers of the English Reformation in respectful veneration. The Book of Common Prayer bears traces of the influence of Eastern liturgies. The Thirty-Nine Articles, while unhesitatingly affirming that the Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Rome have erred, expressly omitted any such allusion to the Church of Constantinople. The Apology of the Church of England constantly refers to Eastern practice and doctrine, in refutation of the assertions of the Bishop of Rome that is the head of the Church or that he and the clergy and laity under his rule alone form the Holy Catholic Church, or that communion with the See of Rome is essential to the unity of the church.
I wrote this a long time ago, before this blog existed when I was writing on Kimel’s Pontificationsblog. I get requests for it and it is easier to just post it than to send out emails over and over again. Since it was originally a blog post, I have cleaned it up a bit and made it more or less a stand alone piece.
Anglicans in Exile
As a former Anglican myself I can sympathize with the troubles of my former brethren. On the one hand they do not see any good reason to abandon the tradition as it was handed on to them. Their problem is that they seem to be forced to leave the communion, but not the tradition that they are in. It is this loyalty that keeps them in place. Certainly loyalty has its limits and there is eventually a point where someone has to jump ship. I agree with many people who have already articulated the idea that going to Rome the eternal city (because after all, there’s always Rome!) because of problems in Anglicanism seems less than justified. By the same token I would agree with them that going to Constantinople for the same reason also lacks justification on that basis alone. But still, there is the pressing reality of what is going on in ECUSA and even in England. These are something like William James’ “forced decisions.” One doesn’t have eternity (let alone the brains) to study through all of the issues completely and yet one is compelled to make some decision. You have to dosomething. If Anglicanism does recover, it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better, at least in the long run. As an Anglican I never found a move to either body justified on strictly the basis of the quackadoxy of Spong or other individuals. What one needs is a positive reason that will tip the scale in favor of one body or another. And a positive reason that also cuts against Anglicanism would be even better since it would motivate one to leave Anglicanism for some other reason other than the presence of quackadoxy. Such a reason would allay the fears that one is being disloyal.
The Acacian Schism and the Formula of Hormisdas are prime apologetic tools employed by Catholic apologists against Orthodoxy. The Formula of Hormisdas is proffered as a prime example of papal jurisdictional primacy over the East. But there are important facts often left out that show that the Formula isn’t the witness to the papal theory that apologists make it out to be.
First, I note that Patriarch of Constantinople, John affixes his signature with the designation “fellow minister” in reference to the Pope. That by itself may seem unimportant but when John defines his see as being equal with Rome, it takes on a significant meaning.
For I hold that the most holy churches of God, that is yours of Elder Rome and this of New Rome, are one; I define the See of the Apostle Peter and this of the Imperial city to be one see…
John also notes his adherence to the decisions and decrees of all of the ecumenical councils with respect to both the “confirmation of the faith and the constitution of the church…” This has import for canon 28 of Chalcedon. It is also noteworthy for future controversies down the road that John remarks that
I suffer no disturbance with their wise decisions, for I know that such as attempt to interfere with a single tittle of their decrees have fallen away from the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God.
It is also noteworthy that not all of the eastern churches subscribed to the Formula. The Church of Jerussalem would not do so even under threat of imperial force. And it is important to recall that Justinian designated the church of Jerusalem as “the Mother of the Christian name, from which no one dares to separate.” (PL 63, 503) This is important to keep in mind, say during the monothelite controversy under the patriarch of Jersualem Sophronius as opposed to Pope Honorius of Rome.
A second shorter dogmatic formula was drafted which would restore communion with Rome, but which curiously did not include any of the petrine language employed in the Formula of Hormisdas. It also did not include demands to strike various Eastern bishops from the diptychs as was demanded in the Formula of Hormisdas. This was the formula that the vast majority of Eastern bishops in fact subscribed to. And so the majority of East never signed or agreed to the Formula of Hormisdas and the majorty of the Roman conditions were never met.
“This heresy [filioque], which has united to itself many innovations, as has been said, appeared about the middle of the seventh century, at first and secretly, and then under various disguises, over the Western Provinces of Europe, until by degrees, creeping along for four or five centuries, it obtained precedence over the ancient orthodoxy of those parts, through the heedlessness of Pastors and the countenance of Princes. Little by little it overspread not only the hitherto orthodox Churches of Spain, but also the German, and French, and Italian Churches, whose orthodoxy at one time was sounded throughout the world, with whom our divine Fathers such as the great Athanasius and heavenly Basil conferred, and whose sympathy and fellowship with us until the seventh Ecumenical Council, preserved unharmed the doctrine of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. But in process of time, by envy of the devil, the novelties respecting the sound and orthodox doctrine of the Holy Ghost, the blasphemy of whom shall not be forgiven unto men either in this world or the next, according to the saying of our Lord (Matt. xii. 32), and others that succeeded respecting the divine Mysteries, particularly that of the world-saving Baptism, and the Holy Communion, and the Priesthood, like prodigious births, overspread even Old Rome; and thus sprung, by assumption of special distinctions in the Church as a badge and title, the Papacy. Some of the Bishops of that City, styled Popes, for example Leo III and John VIII, did indeed, as has been said, denounce the innovation, and published the denunciation to the world, the former by those silver plates, the latter by his letter to the holy Photius at the eighth Ecumenical Council, and another to Sphendopulcrus, by the hands of Methodius, Bishop of Moravia. The greater part, however, of their successors, the Popes of Rome, enticed by the antisynodical privileges offered them for the oppression of the Churches of God, and finding in them much worldly advantage, and “much gain,” and conceiving a Monarchy in the Catholic Church and a monopoly of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, changed the ancient worship at will, separating themselves by novelties from the old received Christian Polity. Nor did they cease their endeavors, by lawless projects (as veritable history assures us), to entice the other four Patriarchates into their apostasy from Orthodoxy, and so subject the Catholic Church to the whims and ordinances of men.”
Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848, sec. 6.
Signed, Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.
“And to this end we brought to his remembrance the great examples left us by the Apostles, and the traditions of the Fathers. For although the grace of the Holy Spirit abounded in each one of the Apostles, so that no one of them needed the counsel of another in the execution of his work, yet they were not willing to define on the question then raised touching the circumcision of the Gentiles, until being gathered together they had confirmed their own several sayings by the testimony of the divine Scriptures.
And thus they arrived unanimously at this sentence, which they wrote to the Gentiles: ‘It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no other burden than these necessary things, that ye abstain from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.’
But also the Holy Fathers, who from time to time have met in the four holy councils, following the example of the ancients, have by a common discussion, disposed of by a fixed decree the heresies and questions which had sprung up, as it was certainly known, that by common discussion when the matter in dispute was presented by each side, the light of truth expels the darkness of falsehood.
Nor is there any other way in which the truth can be made manifest when there are discussions concerning the faith, since each one needs the help of his neighbour, as we read in the Proverbs of Solomon: ‘A brother helping his brother shall be exalted like a walled city; and he shall be strong as a well-founded kingdom;’ and again in Ecclesiastes he says: ‘Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.'”
So also the Lord himself says: ‘Verily I say unto you that if two of you shall agree upon earth as touching anything they shall seek for, they shall have it from my Father which is in heaven. For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Here is an interesting article, Michael A. Fahey, S.J., Eastern Synodal Traditions: Pertinence for Western Collegial Institutions that is currently being ignored by the folks over at Cathedra Unitatis, while they make much hay out of other articles from this collecton. It vindicates a number of criticisms regarding development in Catholicism that the Orthodox have made.
Very often Catholic apologists tend to give the impression that without the papacy, dogs and cats will co-habitate, mass hysteria will take place and the Borg will invade. If you don’t have a single and psychologically simple center of unity, all you are left with is Protestant like schism upon schism. It is nice to see this isn’t the case.