Share   Print
Related Content

Non-Chalcedonian Heretics: A Contribution to the Dialogue Concerning the "Orthodoxy" of the Non-Chalcedonians

Publisher's Foreward and an Excerpt from the Introduction

by the Holy Monastery of Saint Gregory (Monastery of Gregoriou), Mount Athos, Greece

The Copts, Jacobites, and other Non-Chalcedonian heretics, the "Oriental Orthodox," have been separated from the Orthodox Church since the earliest Christian centuries. Of late, under the rubrics of ecumenical politics, the serious theological differences which separate these heretical confessions from the Orthodox Church have been dismissed as a matter of "semantics"; their condemnation by the Fathers and Synods of the Church has been called into question; and their piety (something which we do not dispute, since our concern is the correct confession of the Faith, not personal integrity) has been cited as a justification for receiving Non-Chalcedonian believers into Orthodox communion. Indeed, parishes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, the Orthodox Church in America, and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese routinely commune Copts and other Monophysites. The Patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria have not only turned a blind eye to this blasphemy, but have knowingly allowed—and later denied—instances of concelebration with various Non-Chalcedonian heretics.

Though the Abbots of the major monasteries on the Holy Mountain have largely capitulated to the threats of Constantinople against any protests directed at the Patriarchate's betrayal of the Faith through ecumenism, the Monastery of Saint Gregory (Gregoriou) did issue a very significant paper on the theological dialogues between the Orthodox and Non-Chalcedonian Churches. In an atmosphere of misrepresentation, denial, and betrayal by the "official" Orthodox Patriarchates, and in the face of misinformation designed to obfuscate the Faith-destroying errors of the Non-Chalcedonian heretics, we have deemed it worthwhile to print the words of a famous Athonite monastery on this matter, the words of monks who are, however heavy and burdened their consciences are because of it, in communion with the very Patriarchates which are leading our Faithful into communion with heretics who have been consistently condemned by our Orthodox Fathers and who, even today, under the guise of politics, hide their absolute commitment to the heresies of their forefathers.

From the Introduction...

I. Ecclesiological Presuppositions

A. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, that is, the Orthodox Church, is "the pillar and ground of the Truth" (I Timothy 3:15). It is impossible to confess the Christian Faith truly and fully, save in the Orthodox Church alone. How, then, can we Orthodox acknowledge the Truth of the Faith in places other than the Church?

B. The Church is conscious of Her identity over time. In dialogues with the Non-Chalcedonians, She remains aware that She is the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Synods. The Church's decisions also carry force across time; and for this reason, the decisions of the Holy Fourth Ecumenical Synod are of such binding character that the Church can make no disparate decisions without refuting Herself.

In keeping with this spirit, the phrase, "We now clearly understand...," has no place among Orthodox. The classical Patristic dictum, "Following the Holy Fathers...," is the only one which expresses how Orthodox understand themselves.

C. We hear it said, today, that one must not use so called "polemical" theological nomenclature, that is, the language with which the Holy Fathers refute and controvert the heretics, but a theological language that flows forth from the Church's struggle for the preservation of the unity of the Ecclesiastical Body.

We do not believe that the present theological engagement of heretics outside the Church serves the Truth. First, because the language of the Church with regard to heretics has always been, since Apostolic times, refutative: "Better, indeed, a laudable war than a peace which severs one from God" (Saint Gregory the Theologian). This stand of the Church is actually charitable, for it both protects the Flock of Christ from heresy and provides heretics with motives and reasons for returning to the Church.

Let it be noted, in passing, that the Ecclesiastical Body is comprised of Baptized Orthodox Christians, and of them alone. The preservation of the unity of the Ecclesiastical Body means, consequently, the ensuring of their Orthodoxy and their perseverance to the end within the bosom of the Church; and this precisely constitutes an important part of the the Church's pastoral concern. We do not include within the Ecclesiastical Body, however, heretics outside the Church. The struggle and the concern of the Church reach even to them, but the intent of that struggle is their return to the Church and not the devising by contrived means of peaceful co-existence with them under some nebulous kind of ecclesiastical communion.

Translated and Published by the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, Etna, CA (1996).