Friday, February 19, 2010

To believe the same thing is to not believe a different thing?

The Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) was the fourth ecumenical council, following Nicaea I (AD 325), Constantinople I (AD 381), and Ephesus (AD 431). Below are two selections from its Acta, the first paragraph describing how they recorded the Symbols of Nicaea and Constantinople, the second declaring, after the new declarations regarding the two natures and one person of Christ, that nobody should profess "a different faith" or publish "a different symbol" but this one.
And this have we done with one unanimous consent, driving away erroneous doctrines and renewing the unerring faith of the Fathers, publishing to all men the Creed of the Three Hundred and Eighteen, and to their number adding, as their peers, the Fathers who have received the same summary of religion.  Such are the One Hundred and Fifty holy Fathers who afterwards assembled in the great Constantinople and ratified the same faith.  Moreover, observing the order and every form relating to the faith, which was observed by the holy synod formerly held in Ephesus, of which Celestine of Rome and Cyril of Alexandria, of holy memory, were the leaders, we do declare that the exposition of the right and blameless faith made by the Three Hundred and Eighteen holy and blessed Fathers, assembled at Nice in the reign of Constantine of pious memory, shall be pre-eminent:  and that those things shall be of force also, which were decreed by the One Hundred and Fifty holy Fathers at Constantinople, for the uprooting of the heresies which had then sprung up, and for the confirmation of the same Catholic and Apostolic Faith of ours.
The Creed of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers at Nicaea.
We believe in one God, etc.
Item, the Creed of the one hundred and fifty holy Fathers who were assembled at Constantinople.
We believe in one God, etc.
These things, therefore, having been expressed by us with the greatest accuracy and attention, the holy Ecumenical Synod defines that no one shall be suffered to bring forward a different faith (ἑτέραν πίστιν), nor to write, nor to put together, nor to excogitate, nor to teach it to others. But such as dare either to put together another faith, or to bring forward or to teach or to deliver a different Creed (ἕτερον σύμβολον) to as wish to be converted to the knowledge of the truth, from the Gentiles, or Jews or any heresy whatever, if they be Bishops or clerics let them be deposed, the Bishops from the Episcopate, and the clerics from the clergy; but if they be monks or laymen: let them be anathematized. [Shaff, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, pp. 262-5. (Source)]
They anathematize heterodox faiths and symbols. Does that refer to the formula, or to what the formula expresses?

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