Today my church observed the Feast celebrating the Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. For the Orthodox, this is a big day. It is a day we remember the work done by those who went before us, a day we look back at the foundation of our faith.
On the Orthodox Church in America’s website: In the Ninth Article of the Nicea-Constantinople Symbol of Faith proclaimed by the holy Fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, we confess our faith in “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” By virtue of the catholic nature of the Church, an Ecumenical Council is the Church’s supreme authority, and possesses the competence to resolve major questions of church life. An Ecumenical Council is comprised of archpastors and pastors of the Church, and representatives of all the local Churches, from every land of the “oikumene” (i.e. from all the whole inhabited world).
Some highlights of these giant meetings include–Adopting the Nicene Creed to combat the heresy of Arianism and proclaim Christ as “true God of true God”; proclaiming Christ both fully-man and fully-God, divine and human nature in a hypostatic union; and affirmed that Christ had both human and divine wills.
In other words, the Councils are all about Christ–who He is and what He did. And most of these doctrines are now assumed as correct by most Protestant denominations (with the exception, of course, of the oneness Pentecostals).
As Father Paul talked about the councils today, primarily Chalcedon, I thought about the reformation. I thought about the work done by the Holy Fathers and how it laid the foundations for all correct Christian thought. Much of Protestantism has felt, to me, as the rebellious teenager–pushing against those values of the parents (stability, moral absolutes, etc.) that enabled them to have such discussions in the first place. Were those great theological wars not fought in the past, had the bishops not stood against the heresies, all of this now would be a moot point.
Fr. Paul said “Orthodoxy is about who Christ is. Many other churches are about what Christ does for us, but our concern is WHO He is and how we have a relationship with Him.”