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Chapter 22

CHAPTER XXII: COUNCILS OF EPHESUS AND CHALCEDON (AD 431-451)

Augustine died just as a great council was about to be held in the
East. In preparing for this council, a compliment was paid to him
which was not paid to any other person; for, whereas it was usual to
invite the chief bishop only of each province to such meetings, and
to leave him to choose which of his brethren should accompany him,
a special invitation was sent to Augustine, although he was not even
a metropolitan (p 82), but only bishop of a small town. This shows
what fame he had gained, and in what respect his name was held, even
in the Eastern Church.

The object of calling the council was to inquire into the opinions
of Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople. It would have been well for
it if it had enjoyed the benefit of the great and good Augustine's
presence; for its proceedings were carried on in such a way that it
is not pleasant to read of them But, whatever may have been the
faults of those who were active in the council it laid down clearly
the truth which Nestorius was charged with denying--that (as is said
in the Athanasian creed) our blessed Lord, "although He be God and
man, yet is He not two, but one Christ;" and this council which was
held at Ephesus in the year 431, is reckoned as the third general
council.

Some years after it, a disturbance arose about a monk of
Constantinople, named Eutyches, who had been very zealous against
Nestorius, and now ran into errors of an opposite kind. Another
council was held at Ephesus in 449; but Dioscorus, bishop of
Alexandria, and a number of disorderly monks who were favourable to
Eutyches, behaved in such a furious manner at this assembly, that,
instead of being considered as a general council, it is known by the
name "Latrocinium," which means a meeting of robbers. But two years
later, when a new emperor had succeeded to the government of the
East, another general council was held at Chalcedon (pronounced
kal-SEE-don) (AD 451); and there the doctrines of Eutyches were
condemned, and Dioscotus was deprived of his bishopric. This
council, which was the fourth of the general councils, was attended
by six hundred and thirty bishops. It laid down the doctrine that
our Lord is "One, not by conversion [or turning] of the Godhead into
flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God: One altogether, not by
confusion of substance, but by unity of person; for, as the
reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ."

According, then, to these two councils, which were held against
Nestorius and Eutyches, we are to believe that our blessed Lord is
really God and really man. The Godhead and the manhood are not mixed
together in Him, so as to make something which would be neither the
one nor the other (which is what the creed means by "confusion of
substance"); but they are in Him distinct from each other, just as
the soul and the body are distinct in man, and yet they are not two
persons, but are joined together in one Person, just as the soul
and the body are joined in one man. All this may perhaps be rather
hard for young readers to understand, but the third and fourth
general councils are too important to be passed over, even in a
little book like this; and, even if what has been said here should
not be quite understood, it will at least show that all those
distinctions in the Athanasian creed mean something, and that they
were not set forth without some reason, but in order to meet errors
which had actually been taught.

I may mention here two other things which were settled by the
Council of Chalcedon--that it gave the bishops of Constantinople
authority over Thrace, Asia, and Pontus; and that it raised
Jerusalem, which until then had been only an ordinary bishopric, to
have authority of the same kind over the Holy Land. These chief
bishops are now called "patriarchs", and there were thus five
patriarchs--namely, the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria,
Antioch, and Jerusalem. The map will show you how these
patriarchates were divided, but there were still some Christian
countries which did not belong to any of them.

Having thus mentioned the title of patriarchs, I may explain here
the use of another title which we hear much oftener--I mean the
title of "pope". The proper meaning of it is "father"; in short, it
is nothing else than the word "papa," which children among ourselves
use in speaking to their fathers. This title of pope (or father),
then, was at first given to all bishops; but, by degrees, it came to
be confined in its use; so that, in the East, only the bishops of
Rome and Alexandria were called by it, while in the West it was
given to the bishop or patriarch of Rome alone.