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    October 7, 1897

    “How the Catholic Creed Was Made. The Pope Made Author of the Faith” The Present Truth 13, 40, pp. 626-628.



    THE six hundred and thirty bishops met in the first session of the Council of Chalcedon October 8, A.D. 451. Marcian, the emperor of the East, was represented by commissioners, and Leo, Bishop of Rome, who had got the council summoned in order to undo the work of the Council of Ephesus, was represented by legates.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.1

    As soon as the council opened the legates demanded the withdrawal of Dioscorus, Archbishop of Alexandria, and the presiding bishop in the preceding council which had approved Eutyches. The commissioners argued against the demand, but by threats of leaving the council the legates of Rome overbore the emperor’s representatives. Dioscorus took his place among the accused, and a long list of charges against him was read by Eusebius, the original accuser of Eutyches.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.2


    THE late council at Ephesus had excommunicated Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus. Theodoret had appealed to Leo. Leo had re-instated him, and the emperor Marcian had specially summoned him to this council. Theodoret had arrived, and at this point in the proceedings, the imperial commissioners directed that he should be admitted to the council. “The actual introduction of Theodoret caused a frightful storm.” (Hefele.) A faint estimate of this frightful storm may be formed from the following account of it, which is copied bodily from the report of the council:—PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.3

    And when the most reverend bishop Theodoret entered, the most reverend the bishops of Egypt, Illyria, and Palestine (the party of Dioscorus) shouted out, “Mercy upon us! the faith is destroyed. The canons of the Church excommunicate him. Turn him out! turn out the teacher of Nestorius.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.4

    On the other hand, the most reverend the bishops of the East, of Thrace, of Pontus, and of Asia, shouted out, “We were compelled (at the former council) to subscribe our names to blank papers; we were scourged into submission. Turn out the Manicheans! Turn out the enemies of Flavian; turn out the adversaries of the faith!”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.5

    Dioscorus, the most reverend bishop of Alexandria, said, “Why is Cyril to be turned out? It is he whom Theodoret has condemned.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.6

    The most reverend the bishops of the East shouted out, “Turn out the murderer Dioscorus. Who knows not the deeds of Dioscorus?”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.7

    The most reverend the bishops of Egypt, Illyria, and Palestine shouted out, “Long life to the empress!”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.8

    The most reverend the bishops of the East shouted out, “Turn out the murderers!”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.9

    The most reverend the bishops of Egypt shouted out, “The empress turned out Nestorius; long life to the Catholic empress! The orthodox synod refuses to admit Theodoret.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.10

    Here there was a “momentary” lull in the storm, of which Theodoret instantly took advantage, and stepped forward to the commissioners with “a petition to the emperors,” which was really a complaint against Dioscorus, and asked that it be read. The commissioners said that the regular business should be proceeded with, but that Theodoret should be admitted to a seat in the council, because the bishop of Antioch had vouched for his orthodoxy. Then the storm again raged. Some shouted that he was worthy, others called, “Turn him out!”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.11

    At this stage the commissioners were enabled by a special exertion of their authority to allay the storm. They plainly told the loudmouthed bishops, “Such vulgar shouts are not becoming in bishops, and can do no good to either party.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.12

    When the tumult had been subdued, the council proceeded to business. First there were read all the proceedings from the beginning of the Synod of Constantinople against Eutyches clear down to the end of the late Council of Ephesus; during which there was much shouting and counter-shouting after the manner of that over the introduction of Theodoret, but which need not be repeated.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 626.13

    This session ran into the night, which was made hideous by the cries of the bishops. In the end Dioscorus was condemned. Many of his party now forsook him and asked for pardon, confessing their error, and the council condemned only Dioscorus to deposition.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.1


    As soon as the council had been opened, the direction was given by—PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.2

    The imperial commissioners:—“Let the synod now declare what the true faith is, so that the erring may be brought back to the right way.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.3

    The bishops protested that no new formula could be drawn up, but that already laid down (at Nice, Constantinople, and the first of Ephesus,) was to be held fast. These were read and approved, and Leo’s letter setting forth his disapproval of Eutyches.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.4

    This was acclaimed as the voice of Peter, and the true faith. As there were some points in Leo’s letter, however, which one or two doubted, the council was adjourned.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.5

    As the council was about to be dismissed, some bishops entered a request that the bishops who had taken a leading part in the late council of Ephesus, should be forgiven!PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.6

    This led to another great uproar, similar to that over the introduction of Theodoret. In the midst of this uproar, the imperial commissioners put an end to the session. The recess continued only two days.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.7


    The first step taken at this session was by Eusebius of Doryleum, who proudly stepped forward to secure by the council his vindication as the champion of orthodoxy, and prayed for punishment.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.8

    Following this, Dioscorus was charged with enormous crimes, with lewdness and debauchery to the great scandal of his flock; with styling himself the king of Egypt, and attempting to usurp the sovereignty. Dioscorus was not present, and after being summoned three times without appearing, Leo’s legates gave a recapitulation of the crimes charged against him, and then pronounced the following sentence:—PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.9

    Leo, Archbishop of the great and ancient Rome, by us and the present synod, with the authority of St. Peter, on whom the Catholic Church and orthodox faith are founded, divests Dioscorus of the episcopal dignity, and declares him henceforth incapable of exercising any sacerdotal or episcopal functions.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.10


    At this session, the discussion of the faith was resumed.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.11

    The commissioners.—“What has the reverend synod now decreed concerning the faith?”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.12

    The papal legate.—“The holy synod holds fast the rule of faith which was ratified by the Fathers at Nicea and by those at Constantinople. Moreover, in the second place, it acknowledges that exposition of this creed which was given by Cyril at Ephesus. In the third place, the letter of the most holy man Leo, archbishop of all churches, who condemned the heresy of Nestorius and Eutyches, shows quite clearly what is the true faith, and this faith the synod also holds, and allows nothing to be added to it or taken from it.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.13

    All thereupon voted to abide by the creeds of Nice and Constantinople and to believe “as Leo does.” The five bishops who had been associated with Dioscorus were formally received back into the council. As they took their place, the council cried,PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.14

    God has done this! Many years to the emperors, to the Senate, to the commissioners! The union is complete, and peace given to the churches!PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.15

    The commissioners next announced that the day before, a number of Egyptian bishops had handed in a confession of faith to the emperor, who wished that it should be read to the council. The bishops were called in and took their places, and their confession was read. It was seen that the confession did not curse Eutches by name, and the council demanded that the Egyptians bishops should subscribe to Leo’s letter and pronounce the curse. The Egyptians asked for time, as they were under the Archbishop of Alexandria and wished to confer with him. They feared for their lives if they return to Egypt after cursing Eutyches. Leo’s legates and the council insisted on their immediate assent.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.16

    The Egyptians.—“We shall be killed, we shall be killed, if we do it. We will rather be made away with here by you than there. Let an archbishop for Egypt be here appointed, and then we will subscribe and assent. Have mercy on our gray hairs! Anatolius of Constantinople knows that in Egypt all the bishops must obey the archbishop of Alexandria. Have pity upon us; we would rather die by the hands of the emperor, and by yours than at home. Take our bishoprics, if you will, elect an archbishop of Alexandria, we do not object.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.17

    It was eventually decided that the Egyptian bishops should not be allowed to leave until a new Archbishop of Alexandria was elected.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.18

    During the rest of the session matters were discussed which had no direct bearing upon the establishment of the faith.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.19


    The object of this session was the establishment of the faith; and the object was accomplished. The first thing was the reading of a form of doctrine which, according to arrangement made in the second session, had been framed, and also the day before had been “unanimously approved.” As soon as it was read, however, there was an objection made against it.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.20

    John bishop of Germanicia—“This formula is not good; it must be improved.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.21

    Then followed a discussion in which the Roman legates demanded that the letter of Leo should be agreed to or they would withdraw, and call a council in the West.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.22

    The following extract from the proceedings shows how they were disputing merely about words, and how the authority of Leo, Bishop of Rome, was asserted to establish the faith to be received.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.23

    The commissioners.—“Dioscorus has rejected the expression, ‘There are two natures in Christ,’ and on the contrary has accepted ‘of two natures;’ Leo on the other hand says, `In Christ there are two natures united;’ which will you follow, the most holy Leo, or Dioscorus?”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.24

    The whole council.—“We believe with Leo, not with Dioscorus; whoever opposes this is a Eutychian.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.25

    The commissioners.—“Then you must also receive into the creed, the doctrine of Leo, which has been stated.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.26

    By imperial authority a commission of bishops was appointed to draw up the formula of the true faith. After a short consultation they returned, bringing in the creeds of Nice and Constantinople, with a long preamble, adding the letter of Leo to the statement of Catholic doctrine, and affirming the two natures in Christ, united in one person.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.27

    When the reading of this report of the commission was finished, the council adjourned.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.28


    At this session the emperor Marcian and the empress Pulcheria, came with their whole court to ratify the decision which the council in the previous session had reached concerning the faith. Marcian of course approved the faith now “settled” by the council and as declared by “the letter of the holy Pope Leo of Rome.” He was hailed as a new Constantine, a new Paul, and Pulcheria as a defender of the faith.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.29

    The emperor then “gave thanks to Christ that unity in religion had again been restored, and threatened all, as well private men and soldiers as the clergy, with heavy punishment if they should again stir up controversies respecting the faith.”PTUK October 7, 1897, page 627.30

    Instead of dismissing them, however, the emperor commanded them to remain “three or four days longer,” and to continue the proceedings. The council continued until November 1, during which time ten sessions were held, in which there was much splitting of theological hairs, pronouncing curses, and giving the lie; and an immense amount of hooting and yelling in approval or condemnation. None of it, however, is worthy of any further notice except to say that twenty-eight canons were established, the last of which confirmed to the archbishopric of Constantinople the dignity which had been bestowed by the Council of Constantinople seventy years before, and set at rest all dispute on the matter of jurisdiction by decreeing that in its privileges and ecclesiastical relations it should be exalted to, and hold, the first place after that of Old Rome.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.1


    February 7, A.D. 452, the emperor Marcian, in the name of himself and Valentinian III., issued the following edict confirming the creed of the council, and forbidding anybody to inquire further about the faith:—PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.2

    All unholy controversy must now cease, as he is certainly impious and sacrilegious who, after the declaration made by so many bishops, thinks that there still remains something for his own judgment to examine. For it is evidently a sign of extreme folly when a man seeks for a deceptive light in broad day. He who, after discovery has been made of the truth, still inquires after something else, seeks for falsehood.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.3

    Severe penalties were threatened any who should question the creed established or dispute respecting religion. The faith had been “settled” and all was to be peace and harmony. Eutychus died before the sentence was enforced, and Dioscorus died in exile.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.4

    Eutyches and Dioscorus were sentenced to banishment. Eutyches died before the sentence was enforced, and Dioscorus died in exile.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.5

    As Leo had published his letters rejecting the canon concerning the see of Constantinople, and had not yet formally published any approval of the doctrinal decree of the council, the report went abroad throughout the East that he had repudiated all the decisions of the council. The report, therefore, was a new incentive to all who disagreed with the creed of the council, and “heresy” became again so prevalent that February 15, A.D. 453, Marcian addressed a letter to Leo, earnestly beseeching him as soon as possible to issue a decree in confirmation of the decision of the Council of Chalcedon, “so that no one might have any further doubt as to the judgment of his Holiness.” March 21, Leo responded giving his approval as to the statement of the faith, but rebuking the ambition of the Bishop of Constantinople.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.6


    As the necessity for the Council of Chalcedon was created by the will of Leo alone, as the council distinctly acknowledged Leo as its head, as his letter was made the test, and the expression of the faith, and with that all were required to agree, as the decisions of the council were submitted to him for approval, and were practically of little or no force until he had formally published his approval, and then only such portion as he did approve; as, in short, everything in connection with the council sprung from his will and returned in subjection to his will,—Leo, and in him the bishopric of Rome, thus became essentially the fountain of the Catholic faith.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.7

    It is not at all surprising, therefore, that Leo should officially declare that the doctrinal decrees of the Council of Chalcedon were inspired. This is precisely what he did. In a letter to Bishop Julian of Cos (Epistle 144), he said:—PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.8

    The decrees of Chalcedon are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and are to be received as the definition of the faith for the welfare of the whole world.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.9

    And in a letter (Epistle 145) to the Emperor Leo, who succeeded Marcian in A.D. 457, he said:—PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.10

    The Synod of Chalcedon was held by Divine inspiration.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.11

    As, therefore, the doctrinal decrees of the Council of Chalcedon were the expression of the will of Leo; and as these decrees were published and held as of Divine inspiration; by this turn, it was a very short cut to the infallibility of the Bishop of Rome.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.12

    By reviewing the story of this Eutychian controversy which was used to assert the headship of Rome, it will be seen that Leo and the Council of Chalcedon came so near to saying what Eutyches had said, that no difference can be perceived. Eutyches had been condemned as a heretic for saying that in Christ, after the incarnation, the two natures are one. Now Leo and the council express the orthodox faith by saying that in Christ there are two natures united in one. In other words, Eutyches was a condemned heretic for saying that Christ is “of two natures;” while Leo and the council were declared everlastingly orthodox for saying that Christ is “in two natures.” In Greek, the difference was expressed in the two small words, ek and en; which like the two large words, Homoousion and Homoiousion, in the beginning of the controversy between Alexander and Arius, differed only in a single letter. And like that also, the meaning of the two words is so “essentially the same,” that he who believes either, believes the other.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.13

    And that is all that there was in this dispute, or in any of those before it, in itself. Yet out there came constant and universal violence, hypocrisy, bloodshed, and murder, which speedily wrought the utter ruin of the empire, and established a despotism over thought which remained supreme for ages, and which is yet asserted and far too largely assented to.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.14

    The whole world having been thus once more brought to the “unity of the faith,” the controversy, the confusion, and the violence, went on worse than before. But as the faith of Leo which was established by the Council of Chalcedon, “substantially completes the orthodox Christology of the ancient Church,” and has “passed into all the confessions of the Protestant churches” (Schaff); and as the work of these four general councils—Nice, Constantinople, first of Ephesus, and Chalcedon—was to put dead human formulas in the place of the living oracles of God; a woman in the place of Christ; and MAN IN THE PLACE OF GOD; it is not necessary to follow any farther the course of ambitious strife and contentious deviltry, which makes up the story of the councils.PTUK October 7, 1897, page 628.15

    A. T. JONES.

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