First Unofficial Consultation
Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Theologians
Ever since the second decade of our century, representatives of our Orthodox Churches, some accepting seven ecumenical councils and others accepting three, have often met in ecumenical gatherings. The desire to know each other and to restore our unity in the one Church of Christ has been growing all these years. Our meeting together in Rhodos at the Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1961 confirmed this desire.
Out of this has come about our unofficial gathering of fifteen theologians from both sides, for three days of informal conversations, in connection with the meeting of the Faith and Order Commission in Aarhus, Denmark.
We have spoken to each other in the openness of charity and with the conviction of truth. All of us have learned from each other. Our inherited misunderstandings have begun to clear up. We recognize in each other the one Orthodox faith of the Church. Fifteen centuries of alienation have not led us astray from the faith of our fathers.
In our common study of the Council of Chalcedon, the wellknown phrase used by our common father in Christ, St. Cyril of Alexandria, mia physis (or mia hypostasis) ton Theou Logon sesarkomene (the one physis or hypostasis of God’s Word Incarnate), with its implications, was at the centre of our conversations.
On the essence of the Christological dogma we found ourselves in full agreement. Through the different terminologies used by each side, we saw the same truth expressed. Since we agree in rejecting without reservation the teaching of Eutyches as well as of Nestorius, the acceptance or non-acceptance of the Council of Chalcedon does not entail the acceptance of either heresy. Both sides found themselves fundamentally following the Christological teaching of the one undivided Church as expressed by St. Cyril.
The Council of Chalcedon (451), we realize, can only be understood as reaffirming the decisions of Ephesus (431), and best understood in the light of the later Council of Constantinople (553). All councils, we have recognized, have to be seen as stages in an integral development and no council or event should be studied in isolation.
The significant role of political, sociological and cultural factors in creating tension between factions in the past should be recognized and studied together. They should not, however, continue to divide us.
We see the need to move forward together. The issue at stake is of crucial importance to all Churches in the East and West alike and for the unity of the whole Church of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit, who indwells the Church of Jesus Christ, will lead us together to the fullness of truth and of love. To that end we respectfully submit to our Churches the fruit of our common work of three days together. Many practical problems remain, but the same Spirit who led us together here will, we believe, continue to lead our Churches to a common solution of these.
(Minutes of the Unofficial Consultation 1964 Aarhus)