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    September 16, 1897

    “How the Catholic Creed Was Made. Another Historic War of Words Begun” The Present Truth 13, 37, pp. 580-582.


    IT been decided that the Virgin Mary was the Mother of God, out of that decision there now arose another question involving the nature of Christ. That question was: How was the divine nature related to the human so that Mary could truly be called the mother of God? That is, Did the Divine nature become human? Or was the divine nature only joined to the human? In other words: Were there two natures in Christ? or was there but one?PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.1


    IT was now A.D. 448, and the Eutychian controversy began. For a clear understanding of the case, it will be best formally to introduce the leading characters.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.2

    Theodosius II. was still emperor of the East; Valentinian III. was emperor of the West.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.3

    Eutyches was the abbot, or superior, of a monastery close to Constantinople. He had been the chief leader of the monks in the contest against Nestorius. “At his bidding the swarms of monks had thronged into the streets, defied the civil power, terrified the emperor, and contributed, more than any other cause, to the final overthrow of Nestorius. He had grown old in the war against heresy.” (Milman.)PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.4

    Flavianus was now the occupant of the episcopal seat of Constantinople.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.5

    Chrysaphius was another eunuch, who had risen to the place of chief minister of Theodosius II., and was also the godson of Eutyches. He hoped also to place Eutyches on the episcopal throne of Constantinople. The accession of Flavianus to that dignity had prevented this design for the time being, but he still held it in mind. When Flavianus was installed in the bishopric, Chrysaphius demanded that he should make to the emperor the offering of gold that was customary on such occasions. Instead of bringing gold, Flavianus brought only three loaves of consecrated bread. This, Chrysaphius so employed as to prejudice the emperor against the archbishop.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.6

    Dioscorus was now archbishop of Alexandria. In this place it will be sufficient description of him simply to remark that he was a second Cyril, and leave it to the progress of the narrative to reveal him exactly as he was.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.7

    Leo I., “the Great,” was bishop of Rome and regarded Dioscorus as “a prelate adorned with many virtues, and enriched with the gifts of the Holy Ghost.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.8

    Eusebius was bishop of Dorylaeum, to which office he had been appointed from a civil office in the household of Pulcheria. He also had been an early, ardent, and persistent adversary of Nestorius. This Eusebius now stood forth as the accuser of Eutyches.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.9

    At a small synod which had been called for another purpose at Constantinople, November 8, A.D. 448, Eusebius presented a written complaint against Eutyches, and asked that it be read. The complaint was to the effect that Eutyches had accused of Nestorianism orthodox teachers—even Eusebius himself. To the complaint was appended a demand that Eutyches should be summoned before the present synod to answer.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.10

    As for Eusebius himself, he announced that he was ready to prove that Eutyches had “no right to the name of Catholic,” and that he was “far from the true faith.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.11

    The synod met again, November 12, and Eusebius renewed his complaint, with the addition that by conversations and discussions, Eutyches had misled many others. He then suggested that the synod should give expression to the faith on the question that had been raised. Flavianus produced a letter which Cyril had written to Nestorius at the beginning of the controversy between them; the act of the Council of Ephesus which approved this letter; and another letter, which Cyril had written, about the close of that controversy. He required the bishops present to assent to the statements therein contained.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 580.12

    This they all signed, and then at the suggestion of suggestion of Eusebius it was sent to those who were absent for them to sign.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.1

    The next session of the synod was held November 15, and the deputies who had been sent to Eutyches reported that he had refused to come, for the reason that when he became a monk, he resolved never to leave the monastery to go to any place whatever. Besides, he told them that the synod ought to know that Eusebius had long been his enemy, and that it was only out of malice that he now accused him. He said he was ready to affirm and subscribe the declarations of the Councils of Nice and Ephesus. The synod summoned him again, and again he refused to come. Then Eusebius declared, “The guilty have ever ways of escaping; Eutyches must now be brought here, even against his will.” The synod then summoned him a third time.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.2

    At the next meeting a messenger came from Eutyches, saying that he was sick. Flavianus told him the synod would wait until Eutyches got well, but that then he must come. At the next meeting, the deputies who had been sent with the third summons, reported that Eutyches had told them he had sent his messenger to the archbishop and the synod that he might in his name give his assent to the declarations of the Councils of Nice and Ephesus, “and to all that Cyril had uttered.” At this Eusebius broke in with the declaration, “Even if Eutyches will now assent, because some have told him that he must yield to necessity and subscribe, yet I am not therefore in the wrong, for it is with reference, not to the future, but to the past, that I have accused him.” The deputies then closed with the information that he would come to the synod on the next Monday.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.3


    At the appointed time, Eutyches came; but he did not come alone. He came accompanied by a messenger of the emperor’s privy council, and escorted by a great crowd composed of soldiers, and servants if the pretorian prefect, and “a rout of turbulent monks.” The emperor’s representative bore a letter to the synod, in which the emperor said:—PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.4

    I wish the peace of the Church and the maintenance of the orthodox faith, which was asserted by the Fathers at Nicea and Ephesus; and because I know that the patrician Florentius is orthodox, and proved in the faith, therefore it is my will that he be present at the sessions of the synod, as the faith is in question.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.5

    At this the bishops cried out:—PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.6

    Many years to the emperor, his faith is great! Many years to the pious, orthodox, high-priestly emperor!PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.7

    Then the emperor’s commissioner took his place, and Eusebius and Eutyches, the accuser and the accused, placed themselves in the midst. The first thing was to read the proceedings from the beginning up to this point, the vital part of which was the declarations to which they had demanded that Eutyches should give his assent. The reader read the Nicene Creed, and there was no dissent. He read the first of Cyril’s letters, yet there was no dissent. He read the decision of the Council of Ephesus, and still there was no dissent. Then he began the second of Cyril’s letters.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.8

    At this point Eusebius broke in. Seeing the reading was nearly finished with no sign of dissent, he was afraid that Eutyches would actually approve all the declarations, which doubtless he would have done. He therefore interrupted the reading, with the exclamation, “Certainly such is not confessed by this man here; he has never believed this, but the contrary, and so he has taught every one who has come to him!” Florentius asked that Eutyches might be given a chance to say for himself “whether he agreed with what had been read.” To this Eusebius vehemently objected, for the reason, said he, “If Eutyches agrees to it, then I must appear as having been lightly a slanderer, and shall LOSE MY OFFICE”!!PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.9

    Florentius renewed his request that Eutyches might be allowed to answer; but Eusebius strenuously objected. And he only consented at the last, on the express condition that no prejudice should lodge against him, even though Eutyches should confess all that was required. Flavianus confirmed this condition, with the assurance that not the slightest disadvantage should come to Eusebius. But even then Eutyches was not allowed to answer in his own way, because the predicament in which Eusebius had found himself, involved in a measure the whole synod also, as they had given full credit to the charges of Eusebius, and had refused all the assurances of Eutyches that he agreed to all the documents which they had cited. Flavianus and Eusebius, therefore, in order to save themselves from defeat and perhaps deposition, if the matter should come to a general council, determined if possible to entrap Eutyches in some statement which they could condemn.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.10


    The proceedings then were as follows:—PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.11

    Flavianus, Florentius, and Basil of Seleucia.—“If thou dost acknowledge that Mary is of one substance with us, and that Christ has taken His manhood from her, then it follows of itself that He, according to His manhood, is also of one substance with us.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.12

    Eutyches.—“Consider well, I say not that the body of man has become the body of God, but I speak of a human body of God, and say that the Lord was made flesh of the Virgin. If you wish me to add further that His body is of one substance with ours, then I do this; but I do not understand this as though I denied that He is the Son of God. Formerly I did not generally speak of a unity of substance, but now I will do so, because your Holiness thus requires it.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.13

    Flavianus.—“Thou doest it then only of compulsion, and not because it is thy faith?”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.14

    Eutyches.—“I have not hitherto so spoken, but will do so now in accordance with the will of the synod.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.15

    Florentius.—“Dost thou believe that our Lord, who was born of the Virgin, is of one substance with us, and that after the incarnation He is of two natures or not?”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.16

    Eutyches.—“I confess that before the union he was of two natures, but after the union I confess only one nature.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.17

    At this “the whole council was in an uproar, and nothing was heard but anathemas and curses, each bishop there present striving to distinguish himself above the rest by being the foremost in uttering the most bitter and severe his zeal could suggest.” (Bower.) When the noise had ceased, Flavianus, in the name of the synod, demanded of Eutyches a public declaration of his faith in, and curse upon every view that did not accept, the doctrines which had been set forth by the synod.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.18

    Eutyches.—“I will now indeed, since the synod so requires, accept the manner of speech in question; but I find it neither in Holy Scripture nor in the Father collectively, and therefore can not pronounce a curse upon the non-acceptance of the question, because that would be cursing the Fathers.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 581.19

    All together (springing to their feet).—“Let him be accursed!”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.1

    Flavianus.—“What does this man deserve who does not confess the right faith, but persists in his perverseness?”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.2

    Eutyches.—“I will now indeed accept the required manner of speaking in accordance with the will of the synod, but can not pronounce the curse.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.3

    Florentius.—“Dost thou confess two natures in Christ, and His unity of substance with us?”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.4

    Eutyches.—“I read in the writings of St. Cyril and St. Athanasius: before the union they speak of two natures, but after the union only of one.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.5

    Florentius.—“Dost thou confess two natures even after the union? If not, then wilt thou be condemned.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.6

    Eutyches.—“Let the writings of Cyril and Athanasius be read.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.7

    Basil of Seleucia.—“If thou dost not acknowledge two natures after the union also, then thou acceptest a mingling and confusion.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.8

    Florentius.—“He who does not say ‘of two natures,’ and who does not acknowledge two natures, has not the right faith.”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.9

    All together.—“And he who accepts anything only by compulsion does not believe in it. Long live the emperors!”PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.10

    Flavianus, announcing the sentence.—“Eutyches, a priest and archimandrite, has, by previous statements, and even now by his own confessions, shown himself to be entangled in the perversity of Valentinus and Apollinaris, without allowing himself to be won back to the genuine dogmas by our exhortation and instruction; therefore we, bewailing his complete perversity, have decreed, for the sake of Christ whom He has reviled, that he be deposed from every priestly office, expelled from our communion, and deprived of his headship over the convent. And all who henceforth hold communion with him, and have recourse to him, must know that they too are liable to the penalty of excommunication.” 1Hefele’s “History of the Church Councils,” see 172, par. 22-24; and Bower’s “History of the Popes,” Leo, par. 46.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.11

    The sentence was subscribed by all the synod, about thirty in number, and the synod was dissolved, November 22, A.D. 448.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.12

    It is not necessary to follow the particulars any farther; as in every other controversy, the dispute speedily spread far and wide. The decree of the synod was sent by Flavianus to all the other bishops for their indorsement. As soon as the action of the synod had been announced, Dioscorus, with all his powers, espoused the cause of Eutyches. Through Chrysaphius the Eunuch, Eutyches was already powerful at court, and added to this the disfavour in which Flavianus was already held by the emperor, the war assumed powerful proportions at the start.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.13

    The next step was, of course, for both parties to appeal to Leo, bishop of Rome. Eutyches felt perfectly safe in appealing to the because he had the words of Julius, bishop of Rome, saying, “It must not be said that there are two natures in Christ after their union; for as the body and soul from but one nature in man, so the divinity and humanity form but one nature in Christ.” This being precisely the view of Eutyches, he felt perfectly confident in his appeal to Leo, for he could not suppose that Leo would contradict Julius. He shortly found that such a hope was altogether vain.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.14

    All hoping to win by a council, pressed the Emperor of the East to call one. But Theodosius, after his experience with the council at Ephesus, dreaded to have anything to do with another one, and sought to ward off another calamity of the kind. But there was no remedy; the thing had to come. Accordingly the two emperors announced that “doubts and controversies” had arisen respecting “the right faith,” and appointed a general council to meet at Ephesus, August 1, 449—to decide again what they believed. A. T. JONES.PTUK September 16, 1897, page 582.15

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