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Chalcedonian Christianity

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Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ. While most modern Christian churches are Chalcedonian, in the 5th - 8th centuries AD the ascendancy of Chalcedonian Christology was not always certain. The dogmatical disputes raised during this Synod led to the Chalcedonian schism and as a matter of course to the creation of the non-Chalcedonian body of churches known as Oriental Orthodoxy. The Chalcedonian churches were the ones that remained united with Rome, Constantinople and the three Greek Orthodox patriarchates of the East (Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), that under Justinian at the council in Trullo were organised under a form of rule known as the Pentarchy.

The majority of the Armenian, Syrian, Coptic, and Ethiopian Christians rejected the Chalcedonian definition, and are now known collectively as Oriental Orthodox. However, some Armenian Christians (especially in the region of Cappadocia and Trebizond inside the Byzantine Empire) did accept the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon and engaged in polemics against the Armenian Apostolic Church[1], and churches of the Syriac tradition among the Eastern Catholic Churches are also Chalcedonian.

The Chalcedonian and The Non-Chalcedonian definition

The Chalcedonian understanding of how the divine and human relate in Jesus of Nazareth is that the two essences are conjoined in one person. This view, known as the hypostatic union, became the official theological understanding after it was endorsed by the Council of Chalcedon. The Non-Chalcedonians held the Cyrillian position of miaphysitism that in the one person of Jesus Christ, divinity and humanity are united in one "nature" ("physis"), the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration. Misunderstandings occurred that led the two churches to condemn each other as either monophysite (Non-Chalcedonian) or dyophysite or Nestorian (Chalcedonian). Although the two creeds are generally believed to have the same meaning, not all theological historians agree.

Dissent from the Chalcedonian view

In accepting the trinitarian views supported by the concept of hypostatic union, those present at the Council of Chalcedon rejected the views of the Arians, modalists, and Ebionites as heresies (these views had also been rejected at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325).

Those present at the Council also rejected the christological views of the Nestorians, Eutychians, and the monophysites. Later interpreters of the Council held that Chalcedonian Christology also rejected monothelitism and monergism. Those who did not accept the Chalcedonian christology were collectively known as non-Chalcedonian. Those who held to the non-Chalcedonian christologies called the doctrine of the hypostatic union dyophysitism.

References and notes

  1. The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the Sixth to the Eighteenth Century By Agop Jack Hacikyan, Gabriel. Basmajian, Edward S. Franchuk

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