Synod of Jerusalem (1672)

Last updated

The Synod of Jerusalem was convened by Orthodox Patriarch Dositheos Notaras in March 1672. Because the occasion was the consecration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, it is also called the Synod of Bethlehem.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem primate of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Jerusalem

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem or Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, officially Patriarch of Jerusalem, is the head bishop of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, ranking fourth of nine Patriarchs in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since 2005, the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem has been Theophilos III. The Patriarch is styled "Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Holy Land, Syria, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee, and Holy Zion." The Patriarch is the head of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, and the religious leader of about 130,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land, most of them Palestinians.

Church of the Nativity basilica in Bethlehem

The Church of the Nativity, or Basilica of the Nativity is a basilica located in Bethlehem in the Palestinian West Bank. The grotto it contains holds a prominent religious significance to Christians of various denominations as the birthplace of Jesus. The grotto is the oldest site continuously used as a place of worship in Christianity, and the basilica is the oldest major church in the Holy Land.

Bethlehem Municipality type A in Palestine

Bethlehem is a city located in the central West Bank, Palestine, about 10 km south of Jerusalem. Its population is approximately 25,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate. The economy is primarily tourist-driven, peaking during the Christmas season, when Christians make pilgrimage to the Church of the Nativity. Rachel's Tomb, an important Jewish holy site, is located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem.

The Synod was attended by most of the prominent representatives of the Eastern Orthodox Church, including six Metropolitans besides Dositheus and his retired predecessor, and its decrees received universal acceptance as an expression of the faith of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Synod council of a church

A synod is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word synod comes from the Greek σύνοδος (sýnodos) meaning "assembly" or "meeting", and it is synonymous with the Latin word concilium meaning "council". Originally, synods were meetings of bishops, and the word is still used in that sense in Catholicism, Oriental Orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not. It is also sometimes used to refer to a church that is governed by a synod.

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. Roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Metropolitan bishop ecclesiastical office

In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis.

Calvinist controversy

In 1629, a small book, attributed to Cyril Lucaris, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and commonly referred to as the Confession of Cyril Lucaris, was published in Latin at Geneva. It contained an eighteen-point summary of beliefs that conformed with Calvinist teaching. French, English and German translations appeared in the same year. A Greek version called Eastern Confession of the Christian Faith appeared in Constantinople in 1631. [1] In view of this book, Lucaris has been accused of adopting in his book Calvinistic views and asserting that Calvinism was in fact the faith of the Eastern Church. His Orthodox defenders claim that the book was a forgery. Cyril himself verbally denied authorship, but did not disavow it in writing. [2]

Cyril Lucaris Patriarch of Constantinople

Hieromartyr Cyril Lucaris or Loukaris, born Constantine Lucaris, was a Greek prelate and theologian, and a native of Candia, Crete. He later became the Greek Patriarch of Alexandria as Cyril III and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople as Cyril I. Calvinist contemporaries, and some modern Calvinist writers as well, have claimed that he strove for a reform of the Eastern Orthodox Church along Protestant, Calvinist lines. Attempts to bring Calvinism into the Orthodox Church were rejected, and Cyril's actions, motivations, and specific viewpoints remain a matter of debate among scholars. However, the Orthodox Church recognizes him as a hieromartyr and defender of the Orthodox faith against both the Jesuit Catholics and Calvinist Protestants. The official glorification of Hieromartyr Cyril Loukaris took place by decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria on October 6, 2009, and his memory is commemorated on June 27.

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople position

The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople–New Rome and ranks as primus inter pares among the heads of the several autocephalous churches that make up the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is widely regarded as the representative and spiritual leader of the 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide. The term Ecumenical in the title is a historical reference to the Ecumene, a Greek designation for the civilised world, i.e. the Roman Empire, and it stems from Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

The opposition to Calvinism arose during Lucaris's lifetime and continued after his murder in 1638 while in Ottoman custody. It found classic expression in the highly venerated confession of Petro Mohyla, Metropolitan of Kiev (1643). Though this was intended as a barrier against Calvinistic influences, certain Protestant writers persisted in claiming the support of the Greek Church for their positions.

Calvinism Protestant branch of Christianity

Calvinism is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. Paul Helm, a well-known Reformed theologian, appropriately uses the term Augustinian Calvinism due to John Calvin's self-admitted adherence to Augustine's theology. "Augustine is so wholly within me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings."

Protestantism Division within Christianity, originating with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church

Protestantism is the second-largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.

Refutation of Calvinism

The Synod refuted the Confession of Lucaris article by article, [1] seeking to put an end to the Calvinists' theses of unconditional predestination and of justification by faith alone, and to reassert traditional Orthodox doctrines about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the fate of the soul after death, which some commentators have regarded as substantially the same as the Roman Catholic views of transubstantiation and personal eschatology. [3]

Predestination Theological doctrine

Predestination, in theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul. Explanations of predestination often seek to address the "paradox of free will", whereby God's omniscience seems incompatible with human free will. In this usage, predestination can be regarded as a form of religious determinism; and usually predeterminism, also known as theological determinism.

<i>Sola fide</i> Christian theological doctrine

Sola fide, also known as justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine commonly held to distinguish many Protestant churches from the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Eucharist Christian rite

The Eucharist is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.

Against both the Roman Catholic Church and most Protestants, the Synod affirmed that the Holy Ghost proceeds from God the Father alone and not from both Father and Son. [4] This rejection of the Filioque clause was not unwelcome to the Turks, though it does not mean that the decisions were made under political pressure from the Ottoman Empire. Protestant writers say that the eastern hostility to Calvinism had been fanned by the Jesuits. [5]

God the Father in Christianity, the first of the three persons of the Trinity, who begets the Son and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds

God the Father is a title given to God in various religions, most prominently in Christianity. In mainstream trinitarian Christianity, God the Father is regarded as the first person of the Trinity, followed by the second person, God the Son, and the third person, God the Holy Spirit. Since the second century, Christian creeds included affirmation of belief in "God the Father (Almighty)", primarily as his capacity as "Father and creator of the universe". However, in Christianity the concept of God as the father of Jesus Christ goes metaphysically further than the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle's Creed where the expression of belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" is immediately, but separately followed by in "Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood.

In the Synod's decrees, called the Confession of Dositheus, it reaffirmed existing Orthodox beliefs incompatible with Calvinist doctrines, restating that apostolic succession of bishops is necessary, that good works done with faith are required for salvation, that there are seven sacraments, that the Eucharist is both sacrament and sacrifice, offered for the dead as well as for the living.

The Synod refused to believe that the heretical confession it refuted was actually by a former patriarch of Constantinople, contending that the Confession of Cyril was a forgery.

In their correspondence with the 18th-century Non-Juror Anglican bishops, the Eastern Patriarchs insisted on acceptance of the Synod's teaching on transubstantiation. [6]

Importance and criticism

The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica called the Synod of Jerusalem "the most vital statement of faith made in the Greek Church during the past thousand years." [7] Protestant scholar Philip Schaff wrote "This Synod is the most important in the modern history of the Eastern Church, and may be compared to the Council of Trent." [8] However, modern Eastern or Greek Orthodoxy is much more reserved about the abiding dogmatic authority of this synod. The fact that the Greek bishops often received their training at Latin schools (notably in Venice) accounts for what the late Georges Florovsky termed the "pseudomorphosis" of Orthodox theology.

Subsequent regional synods have certainly felt free to revisit the issues addressed in Jerusalem. Hence, on the issue of the Old Testament canon, a different position was adopted in the Longer Catechism of Philaret of Moscow.

English translation of the decrees

The Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem was translated directly from the Greek, and edited with notes, by J.N.W.B. Robertson (London, 1899). The text of Chapter VI, which sets forth the Orthodox faith in eighteen decrees and four questions, commonly known as The Confession of Dositheus, can be consulted at the Web site The Confession of Dositheus (Eastern Orthodox 1672) or Confession of Dositheus.

Related Research Articles

Council of Chalcedon Fourth Ecumenical Council held in 451; not accepted by Oriental Orthodoxy

The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451, at Chalcedon, a town of Bithynia in Asia Minor. The Council was called by Emperor Marcian to set aside the 449 Second Council of Ephesus. Its principal purpose was to assert the orthodox catholic doctrine against the heresy of Eutyches; that is Monophysites, although ecclesiastical discipline and jurisdiction also occupied the council's attention.

Ecumenical council conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.

Nectarius of Jerusalem, born Nektarios Pelopidis was the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1661 to 1669.

Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in Christianity, the doctrine that Jesus Christ is really or substantially present in the Eucharist, not merely symbolically or metaphorically

The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a term used in Christian theology to express the doctrine that Jesus is really or substantially present in the Eucharist, not merely symbolically or metaphorically.

Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs

The Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs was a letter issued in May 1848 by the four eastern patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church, who met at Council in Constantinople. It was addressed to all Eastern Orthodox Christians, as a response against pope Pius IX's Epistle to the Easterners, issued in January (1848).

Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem Patriarch of Jerusalem

Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem is the current Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. He is styled "Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine and Israel."

<i>Metousiosis</i>

Metousiosis is a Greek term (μετουσίωσις) that means a change of ousia.

History of the Calvinist–Arminian debate

The history of the Calvinist–Arminian debate begins in early 17th century in the Netherlands with a Christian theological dispute between the followers of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius, and continues today among some Protestants, particularly evangelicals. The debate centers around soteriology, or the study of salvation, and includes disputes about total depravity, predestination, and atonement. While the debate was given its Calvinist–Arminian form in the 17th century, issues central to the debate have been discussed in Christianity in some form since Augustine of Hippo's disputes with the Pelagians in the 5th century.

First seven ecumenical councils

In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

Christianity in the 5th century Christianity-related events during the 5th century

In the 5th century in Christianity, there were many developments which led to further fracturing of the State church of the Roman Empire. Emperor Theodosius II called two synods in Ephesus, one in 431 and one in 449, that addressed the teachings of Patriarch of Constantinople Nestorius and similar teachings. Nestorius had taught that Christ's divine and human nature were distinct persons, and hence Mary was the mother of Christ but not the mother of God. The Council rejected Nestorius' view causing many churches, centered on the School of Edessa, to a Nestorian break with the imperial church. Persecuted within the Roman Empire, many Nestorians fled to Persia and joined the Sassanid Church thereby making it a center of Nestorianism. By the end of the 5th century, the global Christian population was estimated at 10-11 million. In 451 the Council of Chalcedon was held to clarify the issue further. The council ultimately stated that Christ's divine and human nature were separate but both part of a single entity, a viewpoint rejected by many churches who called themselves miaphysites. The resulting schism created a communion of churches, including the Armenian, Syrian, and Egyptian churches, that is today known as Oriental Orthodoxy. In spite of these schisms, however, the imperial church still came to represent the majority of Christians within the Roman Empire.

Parthenius III was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 1656–1657. In 1657 he was charged with treason by the Ottoman Sultan and hanged, after refusing to abjure his own Christian faith. He is hence revered as New Hieromartyr Parthenius III and his feast day in the Eastern Orthodox Church is March 24.

Dositheos II of Jerusalem Patriarch of Jerusalem

Dositheos II Notaras of Jerusalem was the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem between 1669 and 1707 and a theologian of the Orthodox Church. He was known for standing against influences of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. He convened the Synod of Jerusalem to counter the Calvinist confessions of Cyril Lucaris.

Orazio Giustiniani was an Italian Catholic Cardinal.

Anthimus II was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople for a few months in 1623.

Gregory IV was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople for two months in 1623.

Synod of Jassy synod (25 Sept.–27 Oct. 1642) convened in Iași by Patriarch Parthenius I of Constantinople to counter the Protestant Reformation; condemned teachings ascribed to Cyril Lucaris; ratified Peter Mogilas Expositio fidei

The Synod of Jassy was convened in Iași (Jassy), Moldavia, between 15 September - 27 October 1642, by the Ecumenical Patriarch Parthenius I of Constantinople, with the support of the Moldavian Prince Vasile Lupu.

Parthenius I of Constantinople, was the Patriarch of the Church of Constantinople from 1639 to 1644. Parthenius was patriarch during a period of frequent changes of the occupant of the cathedra of Constantinople under the Ottoman Sultan. He only served one period.

Athanasius III of Constantinople

Athanasius III Patellarios was the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1634, 1635 and 1652. Before his patriarchate Athanasius was metropolitan of Thessaloniki. He participated at Patriarch Nikon's book editing reforms in 1653.

References

  1. 1 2 The Greek Orthodox Position on the Confession of Cyril Lucaris (1943) by George P. Michaelides
  2. Ecumenical Patriarchate: Cyril I Lucaris
  3. The Synod of Jerusalem and the Confession of Dositheus
  4. Decree 1 of Confession states: "We believe in one God, true, almighty, and infinite, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the Father unbegotten; the Son begotten of the Father before the ages, and consubstantial with Him; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son. These three Persons in one essence we call the All-holy Trinity, — by all creation to be ever blessed, glorified, and adored" (Calvinism as Heresy).
  5. "Jerusalem (After 1291)". Catholic Encyclopedia. 1913. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  6. "They are furious about the Non-Jurors' denial of transubstantiation (after the Bethlehem synod) and they call the Non-Jurors' denial, criticism, even hesitation, blasphemous" (H.W. Langford, The Non-Jurors and the Eastern Orthodox).
  7. Rockwell, William Walker (1911). "Jerusalem, Synod of"  . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 335.
  8. "Creeds of Christendom".

Further reading