Turning Point 3: The Council of Chalcedon (451)


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Summarizes the Christological implications of the Council of Chalcedon, including its background, significance, and relevance today

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Turning Point 3: The Council of Chalcedon (451)

  1. 1. The Council of Chalcedon (451) Turning Point 3 Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity
  2. 2. Turning Points in Christian History <ul><li>Fall of Jerusalem (70) </li></ul><ul><li>Council of Nicaea (325) </li></ul><ul><li>Council of Chalcedon (451) </li></ul><ul><li>Benedict’s Rule (530) </li></ul><ul><li>Coronation of Charlemagne (800) </li></ul><ul><li>Great Schism (1054) </li></ul><ul><li>Diet of Worms (1521) </li></ul><ul><li>English Act of Supremacy (1534) </li></ul><ul><li>Founding of Jesuits (1540) </li></ul><ul><li>Conversion of Wesleys (1738) </li></ul><ul><li>French Revolution (1789) </li></ul><ul><li>Edinburgh Missionary Conference (1910) </li></ul>
  3. 3. “Behold, the man!” <ul><li>Who is Jesus Christ? </li></ul><ul><li>He is divine and human </li></ul><ul><li>If he is fully divine, how is he human? </li></ul><ul><li>If he is both human and divine, how does that humanity and that divinity coexist? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Alexandria and Antioch Bishops of Antioch contended with the bishops of Alexandria (and Constantinople) for primacy in the Eastern Roman Empire
  5. 5. Nicaea: Athanasius vs. Arius <ul><li>Is Jesus fully God? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Athanasius: Yes! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Arius: No, highest creature! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Council of Nicaea agreed with Athanasius </li></ul><ul><li>New question: How is Jesus fully God & human? </li></ul>Athanasius (orthodox) Arius (heretic)
  6. 6. How is Jesus Both Divine & Human? <ul><li>Word-Flesh Christology (Alexandria) </li></ul><ul><li>Christ is a fully integrated person </li></ul><ul><li>Problems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Incompleteness of the humanity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changeableness of the deity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Word-Man Christology (Antioch) </li></ul><ul><li>Christ has a full divine and full human nature </li></ul><ul><li>Problem is division of the person </li></ul>See page 69 in Turning Points for “A Scorecard for Chalcedon”
  7. 7. Apollinaris: Word-Flesh Christology <ul><li>Alexandrian view propounded by Apollinaris </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus is divine </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus is a combination of divine soul & human body </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus does not have a human center of life and consciousness </li></ul>
  8. 9. Theodore: Word-Man Christology <ul><li>Antiochene view propounded by Theodore of Mopsuestia </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus: fully human and God </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jesus has a fully human nature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jesus has a fully divine nature </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. Nestorius and the Theotokos Controversy <ul><li>Nestorius, an influential monk from Antioch </li></ul><ul><li>Denied that Mary was theotokos (the bearer of God) </li></ul><ul><li>Argued that Mary gave birth to the human Jesus, whose humanity is separate & distinct from his divinity </li></ul>Mary: mother of God?
  10. 11. Cyril and the Theotokos Controversy <ul><li>Cyril, bishop of Alexandria </li></ul><ul><li>Rebuked Nestorius for denying that Jesus is the “one incarnate nature of the divine Logos” </li></ul><ul><li>Argued that Nestorius’s Jesus was schizophrenic (two persons having no relation at all) </li></ul>
  11. 12. Formulas and Criticisms <ul><li>Word-Flesh (Alexandrian) </li></ul><ul><li>Formula </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1 human body + 1 divine soul = 1 Jesus </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Criticism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Neither fully human or divine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>½ human body + ½ divine soul = 1 Jesus </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Word-Man (Antiochene) </li></ul><ul><li>Formula </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1 human nature + 1 divine nature =1 Jesus </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Criticism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Singularity/Unity of Jesus compromised </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 human nature + 1 divine nature = 2 Jesuses </li></ul></ul>
  12. 13. Council of Ephesus (431) Ruins of St. Mary’s Basilica, location of Council of Ephesus Christological dispute between bishops from Alexandria and Antioch led to the Council of Ephesus
  13. 14. Council of Ephesus: Stalemate <ul><li>Tempers flared between Alexandrian (Word-Flesh) and Antiochene (Word-Man) supporters </li></ul><ul><li>Each group excommunicated the other </li></ul><ul><li>Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II sided with Cyril of Alexandria and banished Nestorius of Antioch </li></ul>Emperor Theodosius II
  14. 15. Fallout: Ecclesiastical Chaos <ul><li>Eutyches, monk in Constantinople, defended Word-Flesh position, then… </li></ul><ul><li>Flavian, archbishop of Constantinople, banished Eutyches, then… </li></ul><ul><li>Eutyches appealed to Alexandria (and Rome in the West), then… </li></ul><ul><li>Dioscorus, Cyril’s nephew and bishop of Alexandria, organized a council to support Eutyches, then… </li></ul><ul><li>At the council, Dioscorus deposed Flavian from bishopric of Constantinople, then… </li></ul><ul><li>Flavian appealed to bishop of Rome, Leo I </li></ul>
  15. 16. Pope Leo I & His Tome <ul><li>Leo I, Bishop of Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus is a single person </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus has two natures </li></ul><ul><li>Salvation depends on Jesus as human/divine person </li></ul><ul><li>Human/divine interchange of attributes in the person of Jesus </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain distinctive natures and unity of person </li></ul>Leo known as “the Great” for his superior leadership and theological understanding
  16. 17. Council of Chalcedon <ul><li>Marcian, the new Eastern Roman emperor, called for a council to end chaos in the empire </li></ul><ul><li>Leo’s Tome greatly influenced the council’s discussions </li></ul><ul><li>Result of the council was the definition of Chalcedon </li></ul>
  17. 18. Chalcedon “in a Box”
  18. 19. Definition of Chalcedon (1 of 3) <ul><li>Following the holy fathers, we confess with one voice that the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, and that he has a rational soul and a body . He is of one substance [ homoousios ] with the Father as God, he is also of one substance [ homoousios ] with us as man . He is like us in all things except sin. </li></ul>Alexandria + Antioch + Nicaea
  19. 20. Definition of Chalcedon (2 of 3) <ul><li>He was begotten of his Father before the ages as God, but in these last days and for our salvation he was born of Mary the virgin, the theotokos , as man. This one and the same Christ , Son, Lord, Only-begotten is made known in two natures [which exist] without confusion, without change, without division, without separation . The distinction of the natures is in no way taken away by their union, but rather the distinctive properties of each nature are preserved. </li></ul>Alexandria + Antioch + Nicaea
  20. 21. Definition of Chalcedon (3 of 3) <ul><li>[Both natures] unite into one person and one hypostasis [that is, substance] . They are not separated or divided into two persons but [they form] one and the same Son , Only-begotten, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as the prophets of old [have spoken] concerning him and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us and as the creed of the fathers has delivered to us. </li></ul>Alexandria + Antioch + Nicaea
  21. 22. The Triumphs of Chalcedon <ul><li>Sound doctrine over error in the Church </li></ul><ul><li>Christian catholicity over cultural fragmentation </li></ul><ul><li>Discriminating theological reasoning over… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>…the anti-intellectual dismissal of philosophy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>…theological capitulation to philosophy </li></ul></ul>
  22. 23. Theological Importance of Chalcedon <ul><li>Articulation of fundamental Christian doctrine </li></ul><ul><li>Confined the problem of the Christological mystery for further orthodox reflection </li></ul><ul><li>First successful translation of Christianity from Semitic to Hellenistic thought forms </li></ul><ul><li>Completion of work to carry the gospel to the Hellenistic world (“Jesus is Messiah/Christ” communicated as “Jesus is Lord”) </li></ul><ul><li>Heart of the gospel preserved using new conceptual language (synthesis + translation) </li></ul>
  23. 24. Intellectual & Cultural Importance of Chalcedon <ul><li>Avoid extremes of Word-Flesh Christology that tend to devalue Christ’s humanity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Devalue body, flesh, nature, the natural, mundane life, regular human activity, suffering, pain </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Avoid extremes of Word-Man Christology that tend to subvert organic divine-human connection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Divide life into sacred/secular bits, things of God and the world not integrated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secularizing effect on life in this world separated from life in God in this world </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Worldly existence (Antioch) and spiritual matters (Alexandria) held together in balance </li></ul>
  24. 25. Is Chalcedon Still Relevant? Examples of World-Flesh or Word-Man extreme?
  25. 26. Is Chalcedon Still Relevant? Examples of World-Flesh or Word-Man extreme?
  26. 27. Chalcedon: Application for Christians <ul><li>Christian can live in the world and also for the glory of God… </li></ul><ul><li>…since Jesus was one person (like us) who coexisted in the world with the fact of two natures </li></ul><ul><li>Those who have the spirit of Christ indwelling them can live the balanced, organic life of spiritual life in this world . </li></ul>