BENEDICTINE DECONSTRUCTION

The Infernal Quibbling and back to the Nestorian Controversy

Redemption by Darwin Leon www.darwinleon.com

LOGOS VIII BENEDICTINE DECONSTRUCTION BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
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THE INFERNAL QUIBBLING

There have been innumerable occasions for violence. A slight difference of opinion might serve as a pretext to beat and murder a close relative at home. Domestic violence (chastisement) was legal at home-sweet-home. The beloved women and children were loved even the more if violence could be directed outwards, towards a foreign enemy. Rape, murder, theft, and even cannibalism must have been the “right thing to do” when survival depended on it. Fortunately the race has “progressed” to the stage where the sole superpower can wage a pre-emptive war and destroy a country if there seems to be ten-percent chance that it has weapons of mass destruction. Even the Mafioso has progressed, to the point where it is quite all right to kill members on the mere suspicion of disloyalty, and to rub out their wives and children for good measure. The first wars were supposedly racial wars. Enemies were presumably more easily identified by their physical appearance and customary behavior before the mixing of seeds: the mere sight or smell of a difference might result in a killing spree. But enemies belonging to different tribes of the same people might look, smell and behave alike. Victors had increasing intercourse with the vanquished, and it became difficult to perceive who the enemy was by personal appearance unless uniform cosmetic devices were used: perhaps an adornment referring to the tribal totem animal, or appropriate war paint or war dress, would do. Colored banners and other emblems came in handy. The Coats-of-Arms of heraldry, many of them bearing totem animals, were put to good use in war. A national flag and a standard uniform do nicely nowadays – if freedom fighters wage war against massive institutionalized monopolies on violence and do not have a nation or flag or uniforms when they do so, they are called terrorists. Of course religion, concerned as it is with the worship and distribution of power, hence with the regulation of life and death, sex and violence, has been a fundamental factor in warfare, so much so that the celebration of violent death in the belief that life will be rewarded thereafter, provided that the murders are legitimatized by god‟s representatives, is preferable to sexual intercourse, which is denigrated with f-words such as fornication, and is hidden from sight – sex is something to be publicly
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ashamed of even between consenting adults of different sexes, while mass public homicide is something else again, something to be proud of when authorized by the national assembly in the name of its political god, the national totem, as it were. Religion has always been in league with politics. Where theology, the organized worship of power, is transposed to ideology, the distribution of power, the so-called separation of church and state is fraudulent. People fight tooth and nail over what the conservative John Adams once called, in a letter to an American child of the French Enlightenment, Thomas Jefferson, “idiotology,” just as they have fought and died over abstruse theological notions, provided that the abstruse rationalizations were reduced to catchwords and slogans that seemed to have a magical power when chanted. The individual, as if it were the one and only omnipotent god, would have its way and live forever; but the world, including other individuals with the same will to live, stand in the way. In self-defense the infant learns that it must cooperate. Love, so to speak, is a response to fear: the child who is taken captive at birth by its parents must love the higher powers looming over it or be doomed – if the primitive father did not pick the newborn child up, it was left to die, its mother having no say in the matter. Indeed, with this much in common, it might be said that humanity-at-large suffers from what we call the Stockholm Syndrome, the tendency of captives to identify with their captors, no matter how arbitrary and cruel they might be – a phenomenon more evident in the “weaker sex” than the dominant one. United we stand, divided we fall, the head of the human family must be a strongman. If only ONE INDIVIDUAL – the one-god, the one archon, the arbiter, the supreme anarchist or monarch representing the category-of-one – were ultimate overlord, ideally all would cooperate during the day and recline together peacefully on the banks of plenty in the evening.. To that good end there should be a corresponding dogma, a magic formula deemed good by god‟s doom, that all who recite it as their creed may be identified as one. A creed or statement of belief can be a piece of nonsense, and does not even have to be believed in order to have its good effect, for the mere chanting of the sacred combination of words shall suffice for salvation – it would seem that one word would do, but people tend to complicate matters. Let anyone who chooses to go off on their own or to digress or diverge on one excursus or another be condemned as a heretic and sacrificed to the greater good. The sainted Epiphanius (315-402), Bishop of Salamis, took up the cross to that end, that all true Christians might be redeemed. He refuted eighty sects in his “medicine chest” for heresy, dubbed the Panarion or Breadbasket:

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Barbarism, Scythianism, Hellenism, Judaism, Pythagoreans, Platonists, Stoics, Epicureans, Samaritanism, Gorothenes, Sebuaeans, Essenes, Dositheans, Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Hemerobaptists, Nasaraeans, Herodians, Simonians, Menandrians, Satornilians, Basilideans, Nicolaitans, Gnostics, Carpocratians, Cerinthians, Nazoraeans, Ebionites, Valentinians, Secundians, Ptolemaeans, Ptolemaeans, Marcosians, Colorbasus, Heracleonites, Ophites, Cainites, Sethians, Archontics, Cerdonians, Cerdonians, Marcionites, Lucianists, Apelleans, Severians, Tatianists, Encratites, Montanists, Pepuzians, Quartodecimans, Alogi, Adamians, Sampsaeans, Theodotians, Meichizedekians, Bardesians, Noetians, Valesians, Cathari, Angelics, Apostolics, Sabellians, Origenists, Other Origenists, Paulianists, Manichaeans, Hieracites, . Melitians, Arian Nuts, Audians, Photinians, Marcellians, Semi-Arians, Pneumatomachi, Aerians, Aetians, Apollinarians, Antidicomarians, Collyridians, Messalians

Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, called “Five Tongued” because he was familiar with Hebrew, Copic, Greek, Latin, and his native Syriac tongue, was ordained to the priesthood in 333, then built and managed a monastery at Eleutheropolis. He acquired a reputation for unbounded charity, and was so revered for his piety that he was virtually the only bishop in the Eastern Mediterranean region who was not persecuted during the reign of the Arian Emperor Valens. Of his miraculous qualities we need have no doubt since he was duly investigated and made a saint by the Church. Demons were cast out and diseases healed at his tomb. Legend has it that Epiphanius had nearly bankrupted himself and his church; his treasurer called him Charity‟s Spendthrift and cautioned him to hang on to what little was left. Epiphanius gave the small balance away to the poor anyway; thereafter a large bag of gold was delivered to the church by an invisible hand. And we encounter an amusing story reversing the miracle that especially sainted men and women were wont to perform: to wit, raising the dead. Two confidence men, knowing well the fame of Epiphanius for charity, worked a simple con as he passed by: one of them played dead on the ground while the other wailed beside him, bemoaning his destitution and lack of funds to purchase a sepulcher. Epiphanius gave the man money for burial, and said before parting: “Take measures, my son, for the burial of your companion, and weep no more; he cannot now rise from the dead; the calamity was inevitable, therefore you ought to bear it with resignation.” Lo and behold, the man was unable to rouse his companion after the saint departed, for he had died, and an appeal to Epiphanius was to no avail.
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Epiphanius eventually became an ornery old pious cuss –“a relic of ancient piety!” exclaimed his friend, Saint Jerome. Jealous for Christianity‟s roots in the Near East, Epiphanius was mortified by the Hellenizers, who were anxious to turn Christ Jesus into a Greek Platonist. “Hellenism began,” writes Epiphanius in his breadbasket against heresy, “with idolatry and the submission to it by the people of the era, each in accordance with some superstition, for the sake of a higher civilization and fixed customs and laws. …. When idols were first instituted the various peoples made gods for the leaders whose rule they were then accepting, originally by painting pictures and portraying the autocrats or sorcerers they had always honored, or persons who had done something that appeared memorable in their lifetimes, and stood out for their courage and physical strength…. They also introduced the imposture of idolatry by way of statuary. They honored their forefathers, and those who had died before them, with images, at first with the potter's art, then by depicting them with every techniquebuilders by carving stone, silversmiths and goldsmiths by making them with their media, and so with woodcarvers and the rest…. Egyptians, together with Babylonians, Phrygians and Phoenicians, were the first to introduce this religion, which consisted of image-manufacture and mystery rites. Most of these rites were brought to Greece from Cecrops' time and onwards. Afterwards, and much later, they designated Cronus, Rhea, Zeus, Apollo and the rest as gods.” And, “Hellenism was made into sects - I mean Pythagoreans, Stoics, Platonists, Epicureans and the rest.” As for the Platonists: ““The doctrines of the Platonists were: God; matter and form; that the world is begotten and perishable, while the soul is unbegotten, immortal and divine; that the soul has three parts, the rational, the emotional, and the appetitive; that wives are common to all and that no one has one spouse of his own, but that anyone who wishes may have intercourse with any women who are willing; likewise the transmigration of souls into various bodies, even vermin's, but at the same time, also, the origin of many gods from the one.” And the Archontics remind us of Plato‟s archetypes: “Archontics in turn trace the universe to many archons, and say that all phenomena derive from them. But they are also guilty of a certain type of vice. They reject bodily resurrection and slander the Old Testament. But they have both the Old and the New Testaments, though they deal with every word to suit themselves.” The followers of allegorizing Origen of Alexandria, whom Epiphanius believed was the Hellenizing font of heresy, were therefore the prime target of his most vehement attacks. He sums them up in the Panarion: “Origenists, the disciples of one Origen. They are obscene, have unspeakable practices, and devote their bodies to corruption…. Other Origenists, the disciples of the Origen who is called Adamantius
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the Author. They reject the resurrection of the dead, represent Christ and the Holy Spirit as creatures, allegorize Paradise, the heavens and all the rest, and foolishly say that Christ's kingdom will come to an end.” Origen cast a profoundly Grecian influence on the sort of Christianity so much admired by pious Catholics to this very day; for instance, Pope Benedict XVI, who extolled, at Regensburg, “the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God.” As far as Pope Benedict was concerned, Westerners are Greeks, and not by race but by culture – and such culture is geographically rooted, hence Turkey should not be admitted to NATO, at least in his publicly expressed private opinion, which is of course not the opinion of the Universal Church that would not offend anyone. The Catholics are not alone in their admiration of the Greek Jesus; for instance, the highly esteemed Professor William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) of Cambridge and Oxford was a Protestant who preferred Platonic imagination to secular optimism. Many Europeans who were not violently anti-Judaic were still eager to shortchange the Jewish Jesus. To love the Greeks, for the gifts to Jesus that made Christianity what it is today, is not racism but culturalism: In his ethnocentric essay, „Hellenism in Christianity‟, published in his book Church in the World (1927), Professor Inge informs us that, “Those who write about the Greeks must beware of a heresy which is very rife now – the theory of racialism. Political ethnology, which is no genuine science, excused the ambition of the Germans to themselves, and helped them to wage war; it has suggested to the Allies a method of waging peace. It will not help us to understand the Greeks. The Greeks were splendid mongrels, made up the same elements, differently mixed, as ourselves…. Greece for our purposes means not a race, but a culture…. Its religion passes into Christian theology and cultus without any break. The early Church spoke in Greek and thought in Greek…. We are dealing with a permanent type of human culture…. “If Nietzsche was right in calling Plato a Christian before Christ, I do not therefore regard him as n un Hellenic Greek. Rather, I trace back to him, and so to Greece, most of the theology and philosophy of the Catholic Church…. Christianity is the least Oriental of all religions…. Nor is there anything specifically medieval about Catholicism. It preserved the idea of Roman imperialism after the secular idea of the West had disappeared, and even kept the tradition of the secular empire alive. It modeled all the machinery on the Roman Empire…. At first, it is true , their apologetic was directed to proving their continuity with Judaism; but Judaism ceased to count for much after the destruction of the Holy City….

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“The best Greek philosophers taught very much the same as what Christians believe. „We teach the same as the Greeks,‟ says Justin Martyr, „though we alone are hated for what we teach.‟ ” Furthermore, he writes, Greek culture is not an accretion to Christianity or a corruption of its original purity, for it was half-Greek in the beginning: witness Saint Paul, whose mysticism is akin to the Greek mysteries, wherefore the “eating of the god” is not to be taken literally but allegorically. Of course the Greeks had their faults, just as the Northern Europeans still have their Jewish and barbaric aspects, but let us obtain mystical union with our divinity and face the fact that “the Hellenistic combination of Platonic metaphysics with Stoic ethics is still the dominant type of religion philosophy…. “The choice before us is between a „post-rational‟ traditionalism, fundamentally skeptical, pragmatistic, and intellectually dishonest, and a trust in reason which rests really in faith in the divine Logos, the selfrevealing soul of the universe. It is the belief of the present writer,” concludes Professor Inge, “that the unflinching eye and the open mind will bring us again to the feet of Christ, to whom Greece, with her long tradition of free and fearless inquiry, became a speedy and willing captive, bringing her manifold treasures to Him, in the well-grounded confident that He was not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Apparently the sword Jesus said he had brought to Palestine instead of peace was the dialectical tongue of Socrates embalmed by the allegorical disposition to absolutism of his disciple Plato.. But Saint Epiphanius did not cotton to barbarian, Jewish nor Greek culture; indeed, Greek speculation raised his dander the most and he was inclined to take the hammer to its false images. Since the pious literalist was eager to smack down anyone who smacked of Origenism, he might do so on their reputation alone, without bothering to read their biblical interpretations, a fault instanced by the legendary story of his encounter with the Tall Brothers: Theophilus, the pagan-hunting Patriarch of Alexandria, found his natural political rival in the Jew-baiting Patriarch of Constantinople, John Chrysostum – the two most dominant bishopric seats or sees vied with one another to be the predominant seat of Eastern Christianity, which had not yet succumbed to the dominance of the Roman see. John Chrysostum, whose anti-Judaic tirades would eventually be gleefully quoted by the Nazis, happened to be from Antioch, a hotbed of heresy, where the more historically inclined or literalist theological school prevailed; but he was relatively tolerant of the allegorically disposed Alexandrian catechetical school. Philosophically speaking, the controversy was an instance of realism versus idealism; the realists thought the ideals of the idealists were idols, while the idealists thought their ideals were real hence called themselves realists to confuse the real realists even more. A little background is called for: Origen, a native-Egyptian Christian whose father, Leonides, had been martyred by beheading, and who then, at
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age 18, opened a school of rhetoric and also trained catechumens to support his family, was not only a student of Clement, his cofounder of Christian theology, but was apparently a student of one Ammonius Saccas, a porter who worked on the docks of Alexandria when not teaching that form of Platonic idealism we call NeoPlatonism because it philosophically reconstituted the pagan gods, as the One, in order to challenge Christianity‟s One-God – it was this revivalist Paganism that the immensely popular virgin, Hypatia, whose dismemberment by a Christian mob we have spoken about elsewhere, professed to eager aristocratic students at her home and to crowds in public forums. Ammonius Saccas, the founder of Neo-Platonism, left no writings behind; we know his wisdom-teachings through the extant writings of Plotinus, believed to be Origen‟s fellow student; his mark on Origen and Christianity thereafter is obvious. Neither Clement nor Origen, despite their founding of Christian theology in Hellenistic philosophy and their extraordinarily pious lives, were sainted by the Church or formally recognized as Doctors of its doctrine. Even the ideologues who claim that Christianity is solely responsible for modern political freedom and liberal capitalism, pointing out that all other major religions are economic and political failures, have little to say about the Hellenist-Judeo-Christian synthesis established by Clement and Origen, both of whom, especially Clement, were well versed in and appreciated pagan culture. And they both were probably influenced by the mystical doctrine of Philo Judeus, a forerunner of Neo-Platonism, at least in respect to a sort of thing called the Logos, something that mediates between divinity and humanity. The One of Plotinus was a trinity of three gods: the Father, the Maker, and the World. The system of this idealist naturally begins at the top, with the One and the only absolute Good, with Reality – or as the atheist might say, the ideality that denies reality. But the goodness of the One is diffused as it emanates downwards, first of all to the image of the One, the Intellect that comprises the world of ideational archetypes. The Intellect emanates a dynamically differentiated field called the WorldSoul, which emanates various Forces, such as the human soul. The degradation of the One continues perforce to the total opposite of Good, namely Evil; that is, to Matter, which altogether lacks reality. Iamblicus, a Syrian Neo-Platonist (d. 330) who emphasized the miraculous or magic aspects, managed to dovetail pagan polytheism with the One, above which, or so he said, was the Absolutely First, and below which was derived the Intellect and Intellectual duality, both of which emanate triads that are the super-terrestrial gods, and these are divided into 360 celestial beings, and so on and so forth down to 42 order of natural gods, and then we have the Greek heroes, and sages such as Plotinus. A later Neo-Platonist by the name of Proclus described the descent of emanations as a chain of derivations: the derived is both like and unlike that from which it is derived; unlikeness causes it to differ from itself, while likeness causes it to return to itself. Since man, being both soul and body, has fallen from the Good into Evil, his salvation rests in redemption, which he can help along by a
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purification process including contemplation of the One, and ascetic practices; cleansed by virtue of a his virtual suicide, he shall be a Gnostic or one who knows god, a happy prophet, a sage, a wonder-worker, and so on. However, the final redemption, by virtue of immediate knowledge of God, can come only by revelation, a free act of God. Now in this pagan weapon against Christianity, the Christians found a powerful Platonic tool, a way to defend a concept of the soul that the materialists were fain to reject out of hand as nonsense about something non-existent. Origen held that the apostles deliberately left New Testament doctrine incomplete so their spiritual successors would have something to do; to wit; to renounce sin and with a pure heart meditate on scripture to obtain knowledge of the Mystery of the Trinity and the mysterious visible and invisible realities recapitulated in the person of the Son. They would in fact be intimately acquainted with the Logos and therefore have the sort of reason much admired lately by our Pope Benedict XVI: Origen said, “It is much better to be convinced of our teaching by reason and knowledge than by simple faith.” Such knowledgeable Christians would be “gnostics” who live austerely, apart from the world, practicing virginity. In Peri Archon, Origen proceeded with an elaboration of a monarchical hierarchy – a patriarchy, of course – which led critics to charge him with the heresy of Subordinationism – elevating one person of the male Trinity over the other two. Epiphanius, whose gossip did much to discredit Origen for years to come, claimed that Origen said the Son does not see the Father, implying that the Son was his inferior. The charge of Subordination was met by Origen‟s supporting by making a distinction between priority in origination and superiority in power; since incipient Christianity was in effect a protest of sons against patriarchal authority, the son should at least be seated beside his father if not above him, and the Church later capitalized on goddess worship and cultivated Mariolatry to give the cool arrangement a woman‟s touch. As for first principles: first of all we have the Father, who acts on all beings; and the Spirit, who acts on saints and angels; and the Logos, who acts on all rational creatures. The scriptures, Origen surmised, are like a man inasmuch as they have flesh, or literal meaning; and they have soul, or moral significance; and spirit, their allegorical purport. The spiritual and not the literal sense is the true sense of the scriptures given to Christians by the Holy Spirit. Although there exists a literal superstructure, sometime there is no flesh to go by; therefore the “material” or “body” used a the point of departure must itself be a figure of speech. However that might be, pure intelligences with ethereal bodies contemplated God in perfect equality, until, with the special exception of Jesus, their souls grew cold (psychos: cold) by degrees, differentiating them into angels, men, and demons; and then the sensible world was created to give them a means of redemption.
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It is no wonder that God‟s critics insist that the whole creative process, if defined as the work of an omnipotent person, is a waste of time, that the god thus projected by man has made man in his image to vent his sado-masochistic wrath at being alone in individual existence, next to nothing in the first place, and the sooner he returns to eternity the better; but that would spell the end of the world, and we love life more than death although that life may include suffering at the hands of a cruel and malicious deity who believes that the torture and murder of his own son is a good thing because it puts the fear of god into the sons of god. To posit two gods, one good and the other evil, the good one to win over evil some day eons hence, seems far more reasonable. And it might be more reasonable to describe the fall as a sort of accident due to an energy surge, leaving fallen souls with the task of gathering up the sparks and ascending to the Light as they make it brighter and brighter, in which case they will recreate the creator hence have a hand in being gods themselves. Christ Jesus himself had real flesh as far as Origen was concerned, contrary to the view of other gnostically inclined sages, who held that he was a phantasm or mirage, perchance a projection of a god thus far alien to the wrathful god‟s world; i.e. the Stranger or Love-god. The “realities” of this world are copies of the mysterious real realities, and to know the highest reality is to be one with him and love him. The literal aspect of scripture is a platform for spiritual allegories; the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament, which is in effect a detailed prophecy of Christ. Since there is not a single mistake in scripture no matter how ambiguous, absurd, and contradictory some of it might seem to be, and since every detail therein was divinely ordained, there is ample room for infernal quibbling – those who err shall burn in hell if they do not renounce their deviance from currently received authority. God is kind to those who repent, but the hell reserved for those who do not repent is worse than anything that could be possibly suffered by good martyrs on Earth. As for Christianity‟s hell, John Chrysostom warned his “beloved friend” Theodore of the hellish consequences in store for him if he did not repent and return to the brotherhood. Theodore had abandoned the ascetic life and taken up the worldly life, falling in love with a young woman named Hermione. His monkish comrades prayed for him as if he had fallen into the most vicious of clutches. John Chrysostom adjured him to return to the fold, or else there would be hell to pay for all eternity, hence we quote his version of the Logos on that fiery subject: “It is not the multitude of sins which is wont to plunge men into despair, but impiety of soul, therefore Solomon did not make the unqualified statement „every one who has entered into the den of the wicked, despiseth;‟ but only „he who is ungodly.‟ …. For the reason why the devil plunges us into thoughts of despair is that he may cut off the hope which is towards god, the safe anchor, the foundation of our life, the
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guide of the way which leads to heaven, the salvation of perishing souls…. (If a man) formerly belonged to the believers, and as such were well pleasing to God, but afterwards has become a fornicator, adulterer, effeminate, a thief, a drunkard, a sodomite, a reviler, and everything else of this kind; I will not approve even of this man despairing of himself, although he may have gone on to extreme old age in the practice of this great and unspeakable wickedness. For if the wrath of God were a passion, one might well despair as being unable to quench the flame which he had kindled for such evil doings; but since the Divine nature is passionless, even if He punishes, even if He takes vengeance, he does not do this with wrath, but with tender care, and much loving-kindness…. Such is the loving-kindness of God; He never turns his face away from a sincere repentance, but if any one has pushed on to the very extremity of wickedness, and chooses to return towards the path of virtue, God accepts and welcomes, and does everything to restore him to his former position…. Wherefore we have need of zeal in every direction…. Let us turn to Him, my beloved friend, and execute the will of God…. Once we have departed to the other world even if we display the most earnest repentance it will be of no avail, not even if we gnash our teeth, beat our breasts, and utter innumerable calls for succor…. When you hear of fire, do not suppose the fire in that world to be like this: for fire in this word burns up and makes away with anything it takes hold of; but that fire is continually burning those who have been seized by it, and never ceases; therefore also is it called unquenchable…. If a (overheated) bath and fever so afflict and distress us, what will our condition be when we have fallen into that river of fire which winds in front of the terrible judgment-seat. Then we shall gnash our teeth under the suffering of our labors and intolerable pains; but there will be no one to succor us: yea, we shall groan mightily, as the flame is applied more severely to us, but we shall see no one save those who are being punished with us, and great desolation.” Moreover, as if that personal warning to individuals were not enough, John Chrysostom makes reference to the collective doom of the impassive god of lovingkindness: “Esias depicts the actual punishment impending over us speaking thus: „Behold the day of the Lord cometh, inexorable, with wrath and anger; to lay the whole world desolate, and to destroy sinners out of it….‟ Malachi speaking concordantly…says…„Behold the Lord cometh, burning like an oven, and it shall consume them, and all the aliens, and all who work iniquity shall be stubble, and the day which is coming shall set fire to them saith the Lord almighty; and there shall be left neither root nor branch…‟” Theodore did return to the fold, where he championed the historical-critical, philological and scientific exegetical method that anticipated the modern approach contemned most recently by Cardinal Ratzinger before becoming Pope Benedict XVI. Some Catholics wanted Theodore roasted in the fire. According to Origen, there is a
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special sort of fire for each individual according to his or her just deserts. In fact Theodore, emphasizing the human nature of the two natures of Jesus, became known as “The Interpreter” for the Nestorians. Cyril of Alexandria would charge him with Nestorian impiety, but later on the Chalcedon Council of 451 did not protest when he was called a “herald of truth, doctor of the Church.” Theodore criticized Origen‟s allegorical approach to scripture at length, claiming that it was preposterous since it failed to distinguish between dreams and reality. In fact Origen‟s enormous opus of six thousand volumes was condemned from time to time by one synod or the other, but fortunately a good deal of it escaped the oven. The prolific propagandist was fortunate in having a rich convert, Ambrose, to fund his self-publishing endeavor; and the virgin Juliana helped support him when he was hiding in Caesarea (Palestine). He was confronted by personal ordeals during his widespread travels; in the end he was imprisoned and tortured at length; he was released with broken health, and died at the age of 69. His doctrine was contradicted during his lifetime but he was revered as a defender of faith and his supporters took high places and guarded his legacy. Some of his allegories, the product of a poetic imagination, were deemed absurd and heretical after his death by the likes, as we have seen, of Epiphanius, who found Origen‟s allegorical perfusions “hateful and repugnant to God.” A pious man might take scripture too literally as well: one socalled error, always mentioned in the biographies, is Origen‟s literal take on the alleged statement of Jesus quoted at Matthew 9:12, which inspired Origen to castrate himself: “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother‟s wombs; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” The reader familiar with the perennial debate over why Jesus called Mary “woman” instead of “mother” before he died on the cross might enjoy this more literal specimen of Origen‟s style, excerpted from his Commentary on John: “We may therefore make bold to say that the Gospels are the first fruits of all the Scriptures, but that of the Gospels that of John is the first fruits. No one can apprehend the meaning of it except he have lain on Jesus' breast and received from Jesus Mary to be his mother also. Such an one must he become who is to be another John, and to have shown to him, like John, by Jesus Himself Jesus as He is. For if Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus, and yet Jesus says to His mother, "Woman, behold thy son," and not "Behold you have this son also," then He virtually said to her, "Lo, this is Jesus, whom thou didst bear." Is it not the case that every one who is perfect lives himself no longer, but Christ lives in him; and if Christ lives in him, then it is said of him to Mary, "Behold thy son Christ." What a mind, then, must we have to enable us to interpret in a worthy manner this work, though it
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be committed to the earthly treasure-house of common speech, of writing which any passerby can read, and which can be heard when read aloud by any one who lends to it his bodily ears? What shall we say of this work? He who is accurately to apprehend what it contains should be able to say with truth, "We have the mind of Christ, that we may know those things which are bestowed on us by God." Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria had found it politically convenient to turn on the Origenists at their Egyptian origin, his own see in Alexandria. He disciplined four Egyptian monks known as the Tall Brothers: Ammonius, Dioscorus, Eusebius, and Euthymius were Origenists; appalled by the vicious conduct of Theophilus, they retired from the city to the Nitrian desert, where they were hospitable to an priest he had excommunicated, thus offending him. They fled it to Constantinople, where they were embraced by John Chrysostum, said to be the greatest preachers of his time. Although John was tolerant of Origenism, to accuse him of Origenism was wrong; Alexandrian allegory was not his cup of tea: he was of the Antiochene persuasion, more interested in real historical events. Anthropomorphism was the more appropriate charge, since it could be applied to either party depending on the degree of humanity of Jesus: Origen had said Christ was of the flesh, but he was fleshier to the Antiochenes. In any case, Theophilus induced Epiphanius to sail to Constantinople to lead an unauthorized consular persecution to depose and excommunicate the golden-mounthed („chrysostum‟) John. The aged Epiphanius was famed for his piety, hence a better ally against John Chrysostum could not be had. Epiphanius‟ disgust for Origenism did not require much prompting in the first place; sadly, his zeal in prompting the convening of synods to defame John and the Origenists would severely damage his legacy. As for the Tall Brothers, Ammonius and his companions confronted Epiphanius with the question, “We are, O father, are the Tall Brothers: we come respectfully to know whether you have read any of our works or those of our disciples?” Epiphanius responded that he had not read of word of them. “How is it, then, that you consider us to be heretics?” Because, Epiphanius explained, he had heard reports of their heresy. “We have pursued a very different line of conduct from yours,” Ammonius rejoined. “We have conversed with your disciples, and read your works frequently, and among others, that entitled „The Anchored.‟ When we have met with persons who have ridiculed your opinions, and asserted that your writings are replete with heresy, we have contended for you, and defended you as our father. Ought you then to condemn the absent on mere report, and of whom you know nothing with assured certitude, or return such an exchange to those who have spoken well of you?” Epiphanius was moved by their plea to dismiss himself from their presence. But he was more adamant in his prosecution of John of Crysostom in Constantinople.
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The crusty old codger also had the bad taste to violently criticize Bishop John of Jerusalem after John had him over for dinner. And he encroached on John of Jerusalem‟s domain by ordaining his own friend, Jerome‟s brother, Paulinian. He tried to exculpate himself in a long letter to the bishop, having heard that the bishop was incensed by his conduct and had threatened to draft letters condemning him. He assured that bishop that he had done what he had done out of fear of God and love of Christ: “We must consider not so much the thing done as the time and place, the mode and motive, of doing it,” he claimed; such a claim might very well be spoken lately by the sort of modern historian despised by the Church; yet the Church has taken a similar historicist stance in respect to Saint John Chrysotom‟s inflammatory speeches against the Jews: after all, he was not a Nazi or anti-Semite, for there was no such thing in those days, not as we known them now – Forgive our fathers for they knew not what they did, and may their progeny somehow do much better. Epiphanius naturally warned John of Jerusalem about Origenism in his letter: “Withdraw, dearly beloved, from the heresy of Origen and from all heresies. For I see that all your indignation has been roused against me simply because I have told you that you ought not to eulogize one who is the spiritual father of Arius, and the root and parent of all heresies.” To be fair, Origen had stated long before Arius lived that “There never was a time when the Son was not.” Still Origin the idealist had identified Epiphanius‟ beloved historical Jesus too closely with the flesh for comfort, as if he were not God as well, and had written that Adam had fallen, that Adam had therefore lost the image of God, which would in effect repudiate the resurrection and the scriptural statements to effect that Adam‟s descendents, humankind, are beings made in the image of god. Moreover, Origen had treated the Genesis story of Adam and Eve as a pious, allegorical myth, and the real things in the garden as creatures of the imagination; for instance, Epiphanius takes to task Origen‟s allegorical treatment of the mystical correspondence between “waters” of the firmament (heavens) and fundament (earth): “Must not every one reject and despise such special pleading as that by which Origen says of the waters that are above the firmament that they are not waters, but heroic beings of angelic powers, and again of the waters that are over the earth, that is, below the firmament, that they are potencies of the contrary sort, that is, demons? If so, why do we read in the account of the deluge that the windows of heaven were opened, and that the waters of the deluge prevailed? In consequence of which the fountains of the deep were opened, and the whole earth covered with the waters.” Iconoclastic Epiphanius even had the gall to actually tear down an sacred image displayed on a curtain over the door of a church, ripping it to shreds after recommending that it would be better used as a shroud – his more symbolic works, for instance his Pamphlet against the Images, were useful during the great Iconoclast
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Controversy. And although he spoke five languages, he was ignorant of many of the pagan classics, so did not have the sophisticated Greek turn of mind admired by the leaders of the Church to this day.. A Greek-educated bishop named Theotimus challenged Epiphanius at Constantinople: He pulling one of Origen‟s books from his bosom, and read page after page: “Is this the man whom you want us to anathematize? To condemn this saint, whose holy teaching abounds in high and orthodox instruction? To condemn thus indiscriminately is to condemn the sacred books, which he expounded as no one else has done so wisely. If you find anything wrong in his books, reject it; but do not because of it obliterate all the abounding good.” Yet despite this defense, the warnings of the empress, and the courtesies even extended to him by his target, Epiphanius persisted with leading the effort to condemn John Chrysostum. On the other hand, the ascetic Archbishop of Constantinople, famed for his defense of the poor and criticism of the rich and powerful, was not the sort of person who would back down and humiliate himself by confessing heresy, as we can see by this homiletic instance of his fearless, world-defying temperament: “What, pray, are we afraid of? Death? For me life is Christ, and death again. But tell me, is it exile? The earth is the Lord‟s, and all it contains. Is it the loss of property? We brought nothing into the world. It is certain we can take nothing out of it. The terrors of the world I despise, its treasures I deem laughable. I am not afraid of poverty. I do not long for wealth. I do not dread death. I do not pray to live, except to help you advance in virtue. So I simply note what is happening at present and I call on you, my dear people, to be of good heart.” Epiphanius only desisted from his assault on John Chrysostum when he feared Constantinople‟s populace would defame Christianity with a mass riot protesting the proceedings against their champion. Upon his departure back to Cyprus, legend has him saying to John, “I hope you will not die a bishop,” to which John retorted, “I do not think you will ever arrive at home.” Epiphanius died at sea on the way home. John would lose his bishopric, regain it after mass protests, lose it again, and die in exile in the Caucasus, thanks in large part to the malevolence of Empress Aelia Eudoxia, wife to Arcadius. It is no wonder that our legendary saint, a relic of ancient piety, is accused by modern Christian scholars of being of “mediocre Greek culture,” of being a person “lacking in judgment” and someone who is wanting “clarity in expression.” But he has his champions. Epiphanius was certainly convinced of the novelty of his faith: “For it was about these four sects that the apostle clearly said, in reproof, „In Christ Jesus there is neither Barbarian, Scythian, Hellene nor Jew, but a new creation.‟” Yet he would not
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allow for the denial of the Christian connection to Judaism, as can be seen from this summary of the Marcionites: “Marcion of Pontus was the son of a bishop but he seduced a virgin and, after his excommunication by his our father, went into exile. He arrived at Rome, and asked for a remission of punishment from the elders of the time. Because he could not get it, he grew angry and taught doctrines contrary to the faith by his introduction of three first principles, a good, a just, and an evil one; and by saying that the New Testament is foreign to the Old Testament and the Speaker in it. He rejects bodily resurrection and administers not just one baptism, but even two and three after lapses into sin…. He unhesitantly allows even women to baptize, if you please!” Likewise with the “Manichaeans, also called Acvanites, the disciples of Mani the Persian. They pretendedly speak of Christ but worship the sun and the moon, and invoke stars, powers and daemons. They introduce two first principles, a good one and an evil one, both of them eternal. They say that Christ has been manifest only in appearance, and that he suffered only in appearance. They blaspheme the Old Testament and the God who spoke in it, and declare that not the whole world is God's creation, but only part of it.” And the Valentinians are no better: “Valentinians, who deny the resurrection of the flesh and reject the Old Testament, though they read the prophets and accept whatever can be interpreted allegorically to resemble their own sect. They also introduce some other fictions and give the names of thirty aeons, which are male and female and were begotten all together by the Father of all, and which they hold to be both gods and aeons. But Christ has brought a body from heaven, and passed through Mary as though through a conduit.” Let us peruse a few more scraps from Epiphanius‟ basket before we proceed. Today‟s Neo-Barbarians might savor this one: “Barbarism was called Barbarism because the people of that time had no leader or common agreement. Everyone followed his own lead instead and served as a law for himself, to suit his personal preference.” And certainly this morsel is not repugnant to the contemporary taste: “Epicureans supposed that indivisible and simple bodies, homogeneous and infinite in number, are the first principle of all things. And they held that pleasure is the goal of well-being, and that neither God nor providence directs affairs.” Every society seems to contemn lawyers: “Scribes, who were lawyers and repeaters of the traditions of their elders. Because of their further, self-chosen religion they observed customs which they had not learned through the Law but had formulated for themselves – ways of showing reverence to the ordinance of the legislation.” We are not so ashamed of are bodies; we might as well get over our hang-ups and get rid of clothes and the marriage institution provided nothing happens in the bushes: “Adamians, by some called Adamizers, whose doctrine is not true but
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ridiculous. For they assemble stark naked, men and women alike, and conduct their readings, prayers and everything else in that condition. This is because they are pretendedly single and continent and, since they regard their church as Paradise, do not allow marriage.” Sexual intercourse is not the vile thing that it used to be: “Simonians, derived from Simon, the magician from the Samaritan village of Gitthon at the time of the apostle Peter. He was originally a Samaritan, but he assumed Christ's name though only that. But he taught that an unnatural act, sexual congress for the purpose of polluting women, is a matter of moral indifference. He rejected the resurrection of bodies, and claimed that the world is not God's. He gave his disciples an image of himself in the form of Zeus to worship, and one in the form of Athena of the whore who accompanied him, whose name was Helen. He said that he was the Father to Samaritans, but Christ to Jews.” Indeed, modern relativists might not find the practices of this cult disagreeable: “Carpocratians, derived from a native of Asia, Carpocrates, who taught his followers to perform every obscenity and every sinful act. And unless one proceeds through all of them, he said, and fulfils the will of all demons and angels, he cannot mount to the highest heaven or get by the principalities and authorities. He said that Jesus had an intellectual soul, knew what is on high, and made it known here, and that if one does the sorts of things that Jesus did, he is like Jesus. Like the sects from Simon on, Carpocrates repudiated the Law together with the resurrection of the dead.” Antinomians of all types are inclined to repudiate the law: “Cainites, who repudiate the Law and the Speaker in it, with the ones before them; and they deny bodily resurrection, and extol Cain by saying he belongs to the stronger power. But with him they also deify Judas, together with Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and the men of Sodom besides.” Imagine Herod as Christ: “Herodians, who were Jews in all respects, but thought that Herod was Christ, and awarded the honor and name of Christ to him.” Just to be safe, we should be baptized daily in this day and age: “Hemerobaptists…. were Jews in all respects, but claimed that no one can obtain eternal life without being baptized every day.” We might want to avoid the Valesian village: “Valesians live, I believe, in the chief village of Philadelphia in Arabia, Bacathus; they make eunuchs of all who happen by and accept their hospitality. Most of them are castrated eunuchs themselves…. They teach certain other things which are full of heresy, reject the teachings of the Law and the Prophets, and introduce certain other obscenities.” But snakes still have their old charm: “Ophites, who extol the serpent and think he is Christ, and have an actual snake, the familiar reptile, in a sort of basket.” And we are thankful that the angels have returned to aid us: “Angelics
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have entirely died out. Either they boasted of angelic rank, or they were called Angelics because they worshipped angels.” Our contemporaries who are weary of the infernal quibbling might want to list current Christian heresies at this juncture and condemn them all, beginning with the Catholic and Protestant sects; but once the hammer has smashed them all, what would we wind up with?

BACK TO THE NESTORIAN CONTROVERSY

Archbishop Cyril‟s argument, that Mary was the mother of God, Theotokos, won the day in Ephesus, called City of the Goddess long before the birth of Jesus; the career of Archbishop Nestorius, who had insisted that his argument was absurd, and that Mary should be called the mother of Christ, was ruined, although Nestorius‟ namesake, the so-called Nestorian Church, also called the Persian Church and the Church of the East, would become “the greatest missionary Church that the world has ever produced.” Many reputable scholars have attributed the ruination of Nestorius‟ reputation to the difficulties of translating between the Greek and Syrian languages as well as a philosophical confusion of terms by all concerned: consider, for instance, What is meant when it is said that Christ Jesus is two one person with two natures, as opposed to two persons with one nature? What are the precise differences between the meaning of the terms person, nature, and substance? The differences were rooted in politics and personal animosity at the time of the heated argument. It was not long before a diplomatic compromise was struck between the bigoted factions once Nestorius was disposed of. Nestorius had never meant to imply that monotheism possessed more than one god in the first place, but the confining of the infinite to the finite, and the sexual factor necessary for generation of humans were stumbling blocks even to the Greek sophistry that our Pope Benedict XVI has expressed such admiration for of late, claiming at Regensburg that the Greek spin on the Oriental religion was “an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation,” which, “despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe.” The fact of the matter is that the decisive character of Catholic dogma was for the most part fashioned by councils in the East. But yes, we can thank God and Alexander the

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Great that the Near East was Hellenized; otherwise the notion of a 3-in-1 god would not be the received nonsense. The semantics of the Nestorian Controversy seem silly today. The orthodox, meaning those who have the “right opinion,” must at least blame Nestorius for “bad grammar” and corresponding “want of clarity of expression.” The Church has never fully embraced Cyril‟s stance. As we have said, the whole thing would blow over – a compromise would be obtained: letters would be exchanged between Cyril and John of Antioch, the Oriental leader, and conferences would be held. Cyril would of course resort to the usual bribery; Gibbon tells us that he had sailed into Ephesus from Egypt in ships laden with bribes. Well, they were not really bribes, as we call them in the West, but were so-called eulogies and benedictiones (presents). Hefele explained: “The making of presents is absolutely universal in the East, but these presents are not all bribes; very many are simply customary recommendations of a cause which, in itself, is thoroughly just…. And the matter may be stated even more advantageously for Cyril. In any case, he only sought to gain friends and protectors for the ancient faith to which those who were the objects of his gifts entirely belonged, whereas those Protestant theologians endeavored to draw away the Greek clergy from duties which they had sworn to observe.” Furthermore, “That Cyril put every engine in motion, so as to obtain a victory for the cause of orthodoxy, will hardly be imputed to him as a fault by the unprejudiced. That he also had recourse to presents is a circumstance which we will defend…while, at the same time, we must explain it and excuse it, as we have said already, by the peculiar customs of the East.” We note with some interest that Socrates the historian, known as Scholaticus because he was a lawyer, appears on the long list of notables who received presents from the generous donator from Egypt, and that his opinion of Nestorius was not too kind yet not overly harsh, thus proving his famed impartiality. Apparently Cyril‟s presents to the imperial camp did not amount to much: “Empress Pulcheria… and all the persons at court at present had but little care for Cyril, perhaps because the presents, although not of trifling value, were yet insufficient to satisfy the covetousness of the courtiers.” Emperor Theodosius sided with the Orientals for some time, but his efforts had troublesome effects, and in the end he capitulated to the public pressure of the winning side. “God is my witness,” reads the Emperor‟s gospel proclaimed in response to the violent ecclesiastical tumult in Ephesus, where Cyril had gone so far as to stir up a mob to attack the Imperial Guard, “that I am not the author of this confusion. His providence will discern and punish the guilty. Return to your provinces, and may your private virtues repair the mischief and scandal of your meeting.”
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Cyril had been arrested and confined by the Nestorians in Ephesus, but he either escaped or was ordered released by Theodosius. He returned to Alexandria and resumed his illustrious career, which included the suppression of free speech. The Holy Fathers indirectly adopted his anathematizing of the so-called two “persons” of Christ Jesus, in favor of two “natures.” The synod at Chalcedon too up the matter; zealous for their 3-in-1 god, they were moved to declare on behalf of the god of love: “May those who divide Christ be divided with a sword, may they be hewn in pieces, may the be burned alive!” Nestorius was confined to his old monastery in Antioch, then exiled to Petra in Arabia, and then on to Oasis, in the Libyan Desert, pursuant to an imperial edict ranking him with Simon the magician and condemning his work to the flames. Now the evidence points to John of Antioch as the instigator of his banishment – a deal had been struck and the embarrassment of Nestorius‟ presence was unwanted. A brief Formula of Union between the opposing schools of thought, derived from the celebrated epistle of Cyril to John of Antioch, dubbed the Laetentur Coeli and also known as the Ephesine Creed, was drafted and accepted by the 451 Council of Chalcedon after the Holy Father perused the correspondence between the parties. Cyril‟s final draft of his famous letter, which appears as Epistle 39 in the Cyrilline corpus, proceeds with, “Cyril to my lord, beloved brother, and fellow minister John, greeting in the Lord. „Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad‟ for the middle wall of partition has been taken away, and grief has been silenced, and all kind of difference of opinion has been removed….” Cyril alludes to the cause of the disagreement, apparently Nestorius, whom John of Antioch had once supported: “Of the reason of the disagreement it is superfluous to speak. I deem it more useful both to think and speak of things suitable to the time of peace….” Yet Saint Cyril suspects further reasons for disagreement and is not afraid to say so in the interest of peace: “Since I learned that certain of those accustomed to find fault were humming around like vicious wasps and vomiting out vicious words against me, as that I say the holy Body of Christ was brought from heaven, and not of the holy Virgin, I thought it necessary to say a few words concerning this to them….” Furthermore, “Will your holiness vouchsafe to silence those who say that a crasis, or mingling or mixture took place between the Word of God and flesh. For it is likely that certain men also gossip about me as having thought or said such things….” Cyril had faith that the logic of his own spewing is perfectly clear since it presumably issues from the Logos, hence those who misinterpret do so intentionally and deserve to burn in Hell: “When some of those who are accustomed to turn from the right, twist my speech to their views, I pray your holiness not to wonder; but be well assured that the followers of every heresy gather the occasions of their error from the God-inspired Scriptures, corrupting them in their evil minds the things rightly said through the Holy Spirit, and drawing down upon their own heads the unquenchable flame.”
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The theological summation abstracted from the body of Cyril‟s letter and entered on the official record of the Council of Chaldea reads: “We will state briefly what we are convinced of and profess about: the Godbearing virgin and the manner of the incarnation of the only begotten Son of God – not by way of addition but in the manner of a full statement, even as we have received and possess it from of old from the holy scriptures and from the tradition of the holy fathers, adding nothing at all to the creed put forward by the holy fathers of Nicaea. For, as we have just said, that creed is sufficient both for the knowledge of godliness and for the repudiation of all heretical false teaching. We shall speak out presuming to approach the unapproachable; but we confess our own weakness and so shut out those who would reproach us for investigating things beyond the human mind. We confess, then, our lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God perfect God and perfect man of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the virgin, according to his humanity, one and same consubstantial with the Father in godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of the two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy virgin to be the mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her. As to the evangelical and apostolic expressions about the Lord, we know that theologians treat some in common as of one person and distinguish others as of two natures, and interpret the god-befitting ones in connexion with the godhead of Christ and the lowly ones with his humanity.” As for the physical persecutions justified by theosophical metaphysics, we can only forgive our fathers for not knowing what they were doing – if all are predestined to act according to God‟s will, or to behave pursuant to God‟s Mysteries, which justify man‟s ignorance, we would more rightly blame God that his creature, and even take some comfort in the fact that our sins are similar to those of our forebears who are presently called heroes and saints instead of villains and devils. In any case, let us not imagine that the Christological Controversy is entirely settled even at this late date, for the fat lady still sings the same old romantic songs: Witness this excerpt from the „Encyclical of Pope Pius XII on the Council of Chalcedon to the Venerable Brethren, the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See‟, as given at St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, on the 8th September, the feast of the birthday of the Virgin Mary, in the year 1951, the thirteenth of the pontificate, translated from the Latin text published in L'Osservatore Romano‟ on September 13, 1951:
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“…. As our predecessor Pope Pius XI of happy memory solemnly commemorated the Nicene council in 1925 in the sacred city, and by his encyclical letter Lux Veritatis recalled the sacred council of Ephesus in 1931, so we by the present letter pay a tribute of equal honor to the council of Chalcedon. For inasmuch as both councils, Ephesus and Chalcedon, were concerned with the hypostatic union of the Incarnate Word, they are intimately connected with one another. From the earliest times both councils have enjoyed the highest honor, equally in the East, where they are celebrated in the liturgy, and in the West. From the consideration of this event and its attendant circumstances, two points arise and stand out, and these we wish, as far as possible, to make yet more clear. They are: the primacy of the Roman pontiff which shone forth clearly in this very grave Christological controversy and, secondly, the great importance and weight of the dogmatic definition of Chalcedon. Let those who, through the evils of the time, are separated from the bosom and unity of the Church, especially those who dwell in Eastern lands, not delay to follow the example and the customs of their ancestors in paying due respect to the Roman primacy. And let those who are involved in the errors of Nestorius or Eutyches penetrate with clearer insight into the mystery of Christ and at last accept this definition in its completeness. Those, also, who are led by an excessive desire for new things and, in their investigation of the mystery of our redemption boldly dare to go beyond the sacred and inviolable limits of true doctrine, should ponder this definition more truly and more deeply. Finally, let all those who bear the Catholic name draw from it strong encouragement; let them hold fast this evangelical pearl of great price; let them profess and hold it with unadulterated faith; let them render it due honor inwardly and outwardly; and - what is still more important - let them pay it the tribute of lives in which, through God's mercy, they shun whatever is unworthy, incongruous or blamable, and in which they shine with the beauty of virtue, so that they may become sharers of this divinity, who deigned to be a partaker of our humanity. …. After the creeds of Nicea and Constantinople and their explanations by St. Cyril at the council of Ephesus, the writings composed by the holy and apostolic Leo, pope of the universal Church, against the heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches, have already shown what the true faith is…. This sublime doctrine, which is drawn from the gospels and differs in no way from that of the council of Ephesus, refutes Eutyches as well as Nestorius. The dogmatic definition of the council of Chalcedon concords with it absolutely and perfectly, for this definition likewise defines two distinct natures and one person in Christ in the following clear and precise words: 'This great and holy oecumenical council condemns those who pretend that there were two natures in the Lord before the union, and imagine that there was only one after the union. Following, therefore, in the traditions of the holy Fathers we teach that all with one voice confess that the Son of God and our Lord Jesus Christ are one and the same, and that he is perfect in his divinity, perfect in his humanity, true God and true man,
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made of a rational soul and a body, consubstantial with the Father in his divinity, and the same also in his humanity received from the Virgin Mary in recent times for our sake and for our salvation, one and the same Christ, the Son, the Lord, the Only Begotten, having two natures without confusion, change, division or separation; the distinction between the natures was not removed by the union, but the properties of each remain inviolate and are joined together in one person. He is not sundered or divided into two persons, but is one and the same Son and only Begotten God the Word, the Lord, Jesus Christ.‟ …. Moreover, in the twelfth century, a writer of the highest repute, among the Armenians, clearly expounded his views of this matter in these words: 'We speak of Christ as one nature, not to imply confusion as does Eutyches, nor diminution, as does Apollinaris, but in the sense of Cyril of Alexandria, who in his book Scholiorum Adversus Nestorium says, "There is one nature of the Incarnate Word as the Fathers taught". And we also teach this according to the tradition of the saints, but not according to the opinion of heretics. For they introduce confusion and change and alterations into the union in Christ. We say there is one nature referring to the hypostasis, which you also speak of in Christ; and this is correct and granted by us, and equally valid is our own expression: "One Nature." Nor do we refuse to say "two Natures", provided there is no implication of the division maintained by Nestorius, but the expression is used against the confusion introduced by Eutyches and Apollinaris …. If then it is the climax of gladness and the consummation of holy joy, when that comes to pass which the Psalmist said: 'Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to live together in unity' (Ps. 132, I); if then the glory of God combined with the greatest profit for all is apparent when the sheep of Christ are joined together in the fullness of truth and the fullness of charity, let those whom with sorrow and love we have mentioned above, consider whether it is right and expedient that, principally on account of the original ambiguity of certain words, they should still hold apart from the one Holy Church, founded on sapphires (cf. Is. liv, 11), that is to say, on the Prophets and Apostles, on the supreme corner stone itself, Christ Jesus.… This is our final wish, venerable brethren, that when through your diligence the memory of the sacred council of Chalcedon is celebrated, all should be urged to adhere with a most firm faith to Christ our Redeemer and our King. Let no one be deceived by the fallacies of human philosophy or led astray by the quibbles of human speech; let no one corrupt by perverse innovation or weaken by doubt the dogma confirmed at Chalcedon, namely, that there are in Christ two true and perfect natures, the divine and the human, not confused one with another, but joined together and subsisting in the one person of the Word. Let all then be joined in a close bond with the author of our salvation, who is 'the way of holy life, the truth of divine doctrine, and the life of eternal happiness' (St. Leo Serm. lxxii, I. PL. liv, 390). Let all love our restored nature in him, let them cultivate the liberty bought by him; let

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them cast out the folly of the aged world; let them turn with joy to the wisdom that is ignorant of old age, the wisdom of spiritual infancy.” And for the reader‟s further pleasure we quote this excerpt from the „Apostolic Letter, a Concilio Constantinopolitano I of His Holiness John Paul II to the Bishops of the Catholic Church for the 1600th anniversary of the First Council of Constantinople and the 1550th Anniversary of the Council of Ephesus,‟ as they appear in L'Osservatore Romano, January 2-3, 1981: “As I recall the sixteenth centenary of the First Council of Constantinople, I cannot pass over in silence yet another significant occasion that concerns 1981: this year, in fact, there also occurs the 1550th Anniversary of the Council of Ephesus, which was held in 431. This anniversary is, as it were, overshadowed by the preceding Council, but it too has a particular importance for our faith, and is supremely worthy of being remembered. In that same Creed, in fact, we recite, in the midst of the liturgical community as it prepares to relive the divine Mysteries, the words: et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. The Council of Ephesus thus had a value that was above all Christological, for it defined the two natures in Jesus Christ, the divine and the human, in order to state exactly the authentic doctrine of the Church already expressed by the Council of Nicaea in 325, but which had been imperiled by the spread of certain formulas used in the Nestorian teaching. In close connection with these affirmations, the Council of Ephesus also had a soteriological significance, for it illustrated the fact that-as the well- known axiom has it-"what is not assumed is not saved." But just as closely linked with the value of these dogmatic truths was also the truth concerning the Blessed Virgin, called to the unique and unrepeatable dignity of being the Mother of God, the Theotokos, as was so clearly shown principally by the Letter of St. Cyril to Nestorius and by the splendid Formula Unionis of 433. It was a whole hymn raised by those ancient Fathers to the incarnation of the only begotten Son of God, in the full truth of the two natures in the one person; it was a hymn to the work of salvation, accomplished in the world through the working of the Holy Spirit; and all of this could not fail to redound to the honor of the Mother of God, the first cooperator with the power of the Almighty, which overshadowed her at the moment of the Annunciation in the luminous coming of the Holy Spirit. And this is how our brothers and sisters of Ephesus understood it, when, on the evening of June 22, the first day of the Council, celebrated in the Cathedral of the "Mother of God," they acclaimed the Virgin Mary with this title and carried the Fathers in triumph at the end of that first session. It therefore seems to me very opportune that this ancient Council too, the third in the history of the Church, should be remembered by us in its rich theological and ecclesial context. The most Blessed Virgin is she who, by the overshadowing of the power of
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the Trinity, was the creature most closely associated with the work of salvation. The incarnation of the Word took place beneath her heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit. In her there dawned the new humanity which with Christ was presented in the world in order to bring to completion the original plan of the covenant with God, broken by the disobedience of the first man. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine.”

To be continued in LOGOS IX Benedictine Deconstruction

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