June 23, 2021

True Orthodox Diocese of Western Europe

Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC)

The Second Ecumenical Council – Commemorated on May 22

3 min read

The Second Ecumenical Council was convened in the year 381 and consolidated the victory of Orthodoxy, attained in the year 325 at the First Ecumenical Council.
      During the difficult years which passed after the acceptance of the Nicean Symbol of Faith, the Arian heresy developed new off-shoots. Under the guise of struggle against the Sabellian heresy, which taught about a blending together of the Hypostatic Persons of the Father and the Son [as mere aspects or modalities within the Trinity], Macedonias began to employ the word “homio-ousios” (“podobosuschen” or “of like essence” [in contrast to the Orthodox teaching of “homo-ousios”, “one selfsame essence”]) regarding the essence of the Son to that of the Father. This formula still presented a danger in that Macedonias set himself forth as a struggler against the Arians, who employed the term “like to the Father”. Besides this, the Macedonians – being semi-Arians, wavering in dependence on conditions and advantages of the moment now towards Orthodoxy, now towards Arianism, – wound up blaspheming also the Holy Spirit by suggesting that He did not have “oneness of essence” with the Father and the Son. A second heretic – Aetius, introduced the concept “anomoion” (“different in essence” or “inosuschen”) and he said, that the Father has a completely different essence from that of the Son. His student Eunomios taught about an hierarchical subordination of the Son to the Father, and of the Holy Spirit to the Son. Everyone who came to him he re-christened into the “death of Christ”, denying the Baptism in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, which is commanded us by the Saviour Himself.
      A third heresy arose from the teachings of Valentius and Ursacius at the Arimonian (Rimini) Council. They attempted to deceive the Orthodox bishops, proclaiming, that the Son of God is from God and is in likeness to God the Father, and is not a created being as the Arians taught. But under the pretention that the word “essence” is not found within the  Holy Scripture, the heretics proposed not to use the term “one in essence” in the relation of the Son to the Father. Besides these three fundamental heresies, there were also many other false-teachings. The heretic Apollinarios said: “”The flesh of the Saviour, taken from the bosom of the Father in Heaven, did not have an human soul or reasoning; the Word of God filled in for the absented soul; Divinity remained dead over the course of three days”.
      For dealing with these crafters of heresy, the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395) convened at Constantinople an Ecumenical Council, at which 150 bishops were present. Upon investigation by the holy fathers there was proposed affirmation of a Confession of Faith from a Roman Council, which holy Pope Damasus had sent to the bishop of Antioch, Paulinos. Having read aloud the scroll, the holy fathers, in disavowing the false-teaching of Macedonias, unanimously affirmed the Apostolic teaching that the Holy Spirit is not a subordinated being, but is rather – the Life-Creating Lord, Who proceedeth from the Father, and together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified. For the confuting of other heresies: of Eunomians, Arians and Semi-Arians, – the holy fathers attested in affirmation the Nicean Symbol-Creed of the Orthodox Faith.
      In the Symbol (Creed), accepted by the First Ecumenical Council, the Divine dignity of the Holy Spirit was not addressed, since at that earlier time [year 325] heresies against the Holy Spirit had not become problematic. Wherefore the holy fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council thereupon appended the Nicean Symbol-Creed with its 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th sections, – i.e. they definitively formulated and affirmed the Nicean-Constantinople Symbol of Faith, confessed in the Creed even now by all the Orthodox Church.
      The Second Ecumenical Council besides this established also the norms of ecclesiastical courts {Canon VI], and it decided the acceptance into communion through the Sacrament of Chrismation those repentant heretics who were properly baptised in the Name of the Holy Trinity, but those baptised with a single immersion are to be received as pagans.
     

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos. 

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