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§ 17. The Synod of Jerusalem and the Confession of Dositheus, A.D. 1672.

Hardouin: Acta Conciliorum (Paris, 1715), Tom. XI. pp. 179–274.

Kimmel: Monumenta Fidei Ecclesiæ Orientalis, P. I. pp. 325–488; Prolegomena, pp. lxxv.–xcii.

On the Synod of Jerusalem, comp. also Ittig: Dissert. de Actis Synodi Hieros. a. 1672 sub Patr. Hiers. Dositheo adv. Calvinistas habitæ, Lips. 1696. Aymon: Monuments authentiques de la religion des Grecs, à la Haye, 1708. Basnage: Hist. de la religion des églises réformées, P. I. ch. xxxii. J. Covel: Account of the present Greek Church, Bk. I. ch. v. Schroeckh: Kirchengeschichte seit der Reformation, Bd. ix. (by Tzschirner), pp. 90–96. Gass: Symb. der griech. Kirche, pp. 79-84.

The Synod convened at Jerusalem in March, 1672, by Patriarch Dositheus, for the consecration of the restored Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem,129129    Hence it is sometimes called the Synod of Bethlehem, but it was actually held at Jerusalem. issued a new Defense or Apology of Greek Orthodoxy. It is directed against Calvinism, which was still professed or secretly held by many admirers of Cyril Lucar. It is dated Jerusalem, March 16, 1672, and signed by Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem and Palestine (otherwise little known), and by sixty-eight Eastern bishops and ecclesiastics, including some from Russia.130130    Its title is Ασπὶς ὀρθδοξίας ἢ ἀπολογία καὶ ἔλεγχος πρὸς τοὺς διασύροντας τὴν ἀνατολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν αἱρετικῶς φρονεῖν ἐν τοῖς περὶ θεοῦ καὶ τῶν θείων, κ.τ.λ. Clypeus orthodoxæ fidei sive Apologia adversus Calvinistas hæreticos, Orientalem ecclesiam de Deo rebusque divinis hæretice cum ipsis sentire mentientes. The first edition, Greek and Latin, was published at Paris, 1676; then revised, 1678; also by Hardouin, and Kimmel, l.c.

This Synod is the most important in the modern history of the Eastern Church, and may be compared to the Council of Trent. Both fixed the doctrinal status of the Churches they represent, and both condemned the evangelical doctrines of Protestantism. Both were equally hierarchical and intolerant, and present a strange contrast to the first Synod held in Jerusalem, when 'the apostles and elders,' in the presence of 'the brethren,' freely discussed and adjusted, in a spirit of love, without anathemas, the great controversy between the Gentile and the Jewish Christians. The Synod of Jerusalem has been charged by Aymon and others with subserviency to the interests of Rome; Dositheus being in correspondence with Nointel, the French embassador at Constantinople. The Synod was held at a time when the Romanists and Calvinists in France fiercely disputed about the Eucharist, and were anxious to secure the support of the Greek Church. But although the Synod was chiefly aimed against Protestantism, and has no direct polemical reference 62to the Latin Church, it did not give up any of the distinctive Greek doctrines, or make any concessions to the claims of the Papacy.

The acts of the Synod of Jerusalem consist of six chapters, and a confession of Dositheus in eighteen decrees. Both are preceded by a pastoral letter giving an account of the occasion of this public confession in opposition to Calvinism and Lutheranism, which are condemned alike as being essentially the same heresy, notwithstanding some apparent differences.131131     Ἄδελφὰ φρονεῖ Λουθῆρος Καλουνῳ, εἰ καὶ ἐν τισι διαφέρειν δοκοῦσιν . 'Non alia est Lutheri hæresis atque Calvini, quamquam nonnihil videtur interesse' (Kimmel, P. I. p. 335). The Answers of Patriarch Jeremiah given to Martin Crusius, Professor in Tübingen, and other Lutherans, in 1572, are approved by the Synod of Jerusalem, as they were by the Synod of Jassy, and thus clothed with a semi-symbolical authority. The Orthodox Confession of Peter Mogilas is likewise sanctioned again, but the Confession of Cyril Lucar is disowned as a forgery.

The Six Chapters are very prolix, and altogether polemical against the Confession which was circulated under the name of Cyril Lucar, and give large extracts from his homilies preached before the clergy and people of Constantinople to prove his orthodoxy. One anathema is not considered sufficient, and a threefold anathema is hurled against the heretical doctrines.

The Confessio Dosithei presents, in eighteen decrees or articles,132132     Ὅρος, decree, decision. It is translated capitulum in Hardouin, decretum in Kimmel. a positive statement of the orthodox faith. It follows the order of Cyril's Confession, which it is intended to refute. It is the most authoritative and complete doctrinal deliverance of the modern Greek Church on the controverted articles. It was formally transmitted by the Eastern Patriarchs to the Russian Church in 1721, and through it to certain Bishops of the Church of England, as an ultimatum to be received without further question or conference by all who would be in communion with the Orthodox Church. The eighteen decrees were also published in a Russian version (1838), but with a number of omissions and qualifications,133133    Under the title 'Imperial and Patriarchal Letters on the Institution of the Most Holy Synod, with an Exposition of the Orthodox Faith of the Catholic Church of the East.' See Blackmore, l.c. p. xxviii. Blackmore (pp. xxvi. and xxvii.) gives also two interesting letters of 'the Most Holy Governing Synod of the Russian Church to the Most Reverend the Bishops of the Remnant of the Catholic Church in Great Britain, our Brethren most beloved in the Lord, 'in answer to letters of two Non-Jurors and two Scotch Bishops seeking communion with the Eastern Church. Comp. § 20. showing that, after all, the Russian branch of the Greek 63Church reserves to itself a certain freedom of further theological development. We give them here in a condensed summary from the original Greek:

Article I.—The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, with the single procession of the Spirit. (Πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον. Against the Latins.)

Article II.—The Holy Scriptures must be interpreted, not by private judgment, but in accordance with the tradition of the Catholic Church, which can not err, or deceive, or be deceived, and is of equal authority with the Scriptures. (Essentially Romish, but without an infallible, visible head of the Church.)

Article III.—God has from eternity predestinated to glory those who would, in his foreknowledge, make good use of their free will in accepting the salvation, and has condemned those who would reject it. The Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional predestination is condemned as abominable, impious, and blasphemous.

Article IV.—The doctrine of creation. The triune God made all things, visible and invisible, except sin, which is contrary to his will, and originated in the Devil and in man.

Article V.—The doctrine of Providence. God foresees and permits (but does not foreordain) evil, and overrules it for good.

Article VI.—The primitive state and fall of man. Christ and the Virgin Mary are exempt from sin.

Article VII.—The doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God, his death, resurrection, ascension, and return to judgment.

Article VIII.—The work of Christ. He is the only Mediator and Advocate for our sins; but the saints, and especially the immaculate Mother of our Lord, as also the holy angels, bring our prayers and petitions before him, and give them greater effect.

Article IX.—No one can be saved without faith, which is a certain persuasion, and works by love (i.e. the observance of the divine commandments). It justifies before Christ, and without it no one can please God.

Article X.—The holy Catholic and Apostolic Church comprehends 64all true believers in Christ, and is governed by Christ, the only head, through duly ordained bishops in unbroken succession. The doctrine of Calvinists, that bishops are not necessary, or that priests (presbyters) may be ordained by priests, and not by bishops only, is rejected.

Article XI.—Members of the Catholic Church are all the faithful, who firmly hold the faith of Christ as delivered by him, the apostles, and the holy synods, although some of them may be subject to various sins.

Article XII.—The Catholic Church is taught by the Holy Ghost, through prophets, apostles, holy fathers, and synods, and therefore can not err, or be deceived, or choose a lie for the truth. (Against Cyril; comp. Art. II.)

Article XIII.—Man is justified, not by faith alone, but also by works.

Article XIV.—Man has been debilitated by the fall, and lost the perfection and freedom from suffering, but not his intellectual and moral nature. He has still the free will (τὸ αὐτεξούσιον) or the power to choose and do good or to flee and hate evil (Matt. v. 46, 47; Rom. i. 19; ii. 14, 15). But good works done without faith can not contribute to our salvation; only the works of the regenerate, done under grace and with grace, are perfect, and render the one who does them worthy of salvation (σωτηρίας ἄξιον ποιεῖται τὸν ἐνεργοῦντα).

Article XV.—Teaches, with the Roman Church, the seven sacraments or mysteries (μυστὴρια), viz., baptism (τὸ ἅγιον βάπτισμα, Matt. xxviii. 19), confirmation (βεβαίωσις or χρίσμα, Luke xxiv. 49; 2 Cor. i. 21; and Dionysius Areop.), ordination (ἱεροσύνη, Matt. xviii. 18), the unbloody sacrifice of the altar (ἡ ἀναίμακτος θυσία, Matt. xxvi. 26, etc.), matrimony (γάμος, Matt. xix. 6; Eph. v. 32), penance and confession (μετάνοια καὶ ἐξομολόγησις, John xx. 23; Luke xiii. 3, 5), and holy unction (τὸ ἅγιον ἔλαιον or εὐχέλαιον, Mark vi. 13; James v. 14). Sacraments are not empty signs of divine promises (as circumcision), but they necessarily (ἐξ ἀνάγκης) confer grace (as ὄργανα δραστικὰ χάριτος).

Article XVI.—Teaches the necessity of baptism for salvation, baptismal regeneration (John iii. 5), infant baptism, and the salvation of baptized infants (Matt. xix. 12). The effect of baptism is the remission of hereditary and previous actual sin, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It can not be repeated; sins committed after baptism must be forgiven by priestly absolution on repentance and confession.

65Article XVII.—The Eucharist is both a sacrament and a sacrifice, in which the very body and blood of Christ are truly and really (ἀληθῶς καὶ πραγματικῶς) present under the figure and type (ἐν εἴδει καὶ τύπῳ) of bread and wine, are offered to God by the hands of the priest as a real though unbloody sacrifice for all the faithful, whether living or dead (ὑπὲρ πάντων τῶν εὐσεβῶν ζώντων καὶ τεθνεώτων), and are received by the hand and the mouth of unworthy as well as worthy communicants, though with opposite effects. The Lutheran doctrine is rejected, and the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation (μεταβολή, μετουσίωσις) is taught as strongly as words can make it;134134    Decr. 17 (Kimmel, P. I. p. 457): ὥστε μετὰ τὸν ἁγιασμὸν τοῦ ἄρτου καὶ τοῦ οἴνου μεταβάλλεσθαι (to be translated) μετουσιοῦσθαι (transubstantiated), μεταποιεῖσθαι (refashioned, transformed), μεταῤῥυθμίζεσθαι (changed, reformed), τὸν μὲν ἄρτον εἰς αὐτὸ τὸ ἀληθὲς τοῦ κυρίου σῶμα, ὅπερ ἐγεννήθη ἐν Βηθλεὲμ ἐκ τῆς ἀειπαρθένου, ἐβαπτίσθη ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ, ἔπαθεν, ἐτάφη, ἀνέστη, ἀνελήφθη, κάθηται ἐκ δεζιῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατέρος, μέλλει ἐλθεῖν ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ—τὸν δ̉ οἶνον μεταποιεῖσθαι καὶ μετουσιοῦσθαι εἰς αὐτὸ τὸ ἀληθὲς τοῦ κυρίου αἶμα, ὅπερ κρεμαμένου ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ ἐχύθη ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ξωῆς. Mosheim thinks that the Greeks first adopted in this period the doctrine of transubstantiation, but Kiesling (Hist. concertat. Græcorum Latinorumque de transsubstantiatione, pp. 354–480, as quoted by Tzschirner, in Vol. IX. of his continuation of Schroeckh's Church Hist. since the Reformation, p. l02) has shown that several Greeks taught this theory long before or ever since the Council of Florence (1439). Yet the opposition to the Calvinistic view of Cyril and his sympathizers brought the Greek Church to a clearer and fuller expression on this point. but it is disclaimed to give an explanation of the mode in which this mysterious and miraculous change of the elements takes place.135135    Ibid. (p. 461): ἔτι τῇ μετουσίωσις λέξει οὐ τὸν τρόπον πιστεύομεν δηλοῦσθαι, καθ̉ ὃν ὁ ἄρτος καὶ ὁ οἶνος μεταποιοῦνται εἰς τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὸ αἷμα τοῦ κυρίου—τοῦτο γὰρ ἄληπτον πάντη καὶ ἀδύνατον πλὴν αὐτοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ. In the Lat. Version: 'Præterea verbo Transsubstantiationis modum ilium, quo in corpus et sanguinem Domini panis et vinum convertantur, explicari minime credimus—id enim penitus incomprehensibile,' etc. Μετουσίωσις (not given in the Classical Dict., nor in Sophocles's Byzantine Greek Dict., nor in Suicer's Thesaurus)—from the classical οὐσιόω, to call into being (οὐσία) or existence, and the patristic οὐσίωσις, a calling into existence—must be equivalent to the Latin transsubstantiatio, or change of the elemental substance of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

Article XVIII.—The souls of the departed are either at rest or in torment,136136     ἐν ἀνέσει, lit. in relaxation, recreation, ἢ ἐν ὀδύνῃ, or in pain, distress. according to their conduct in life; but their condition will not be perfect till the resurrection of the body. The souls of those who die in a state of penitence (μετανοήσαντες), without having brought forth fruits of repentance, or satisfactions (ἱκανοποίησις), depart into Hades (ἀπέρχεσθαι εἰς ᾄδου), and there they must suffer the punishment for their sins; but they may be delivered by the prayers of the priests and the alms of their kindred, especially by the unbloody sacrifice of the mass 66(μαγάλα δυναμένης μάλιστα τῆς ἀναιμάκτου θυσίας), which individuals offer for their departed relatives, and which the Catholic and Apostolic Church daily offers for all alike. The liberation from this intervening state of purification will take place before the resurrection and the general judgment, but the time is unknown.

This is essentially the Romish doctrine of purgatory, although the term is avoided, and nothing is said of material or physical torments.137137   The same doctrine is taught in the Longer Russian Catechism of Philaret (on the 11th article of the Nicene Creed). It is often asserted (even by Winer, who is generally very accurate, Symb. pp. 158, 159) that the Greek Church rejects the Romish purgatory. Winer quotes the Conf. Metrophanis Critopuli, c. 20; but this has no ecclesiastical authority, and, although it rejects the word πῦρ καθαρτήριον (ignis purgatoris), and all idea of material or physical pain (τὴν ἐκείνων ποινὴν μὴ ὑλικὴν εἶναι, εἴτους ὀργανικήν, μὴ διὰ πυρός, μήτε δἰ ἄλλης ὕλης), it asserts, nevertheless, a spiritual pain of conscience in the middle state (ἀλλὰ διὰ θλίψεως καὶ ἀνίας τῆς συνειδήσεως), from which the sufferers may be released by prayers and the sacrifice of the altar. The Conf. Orthodoxa (P. I. Qu. 66) speaks vaguely of a πρόσκαιρος κόλασις καθαρτικὴ τῶν ψυχῶν, 'a temporary purifying (disciplinary) punishment of the souls.' The Roman Church, on her part, does not require belief in a material fire. The Greek Church has no such minute geography of the spirit world as the Latin, which, besides heaven and hell proper, teaches an intervening region of purgatory for imperfect Christians, and two border regions, the Limbus Patrum for the saints of the Old Testament now delivered, and the Limbus Infantum for unbaptized children; but it differs much more widely from the Protestant eschatology, which rejects the idea of a third or middle place altogether, and assign all the departed either to a state of bliss or a state of misery; allowing, however, different degrees in both states corresponding to the different degrees of holiness and wickedness.

To these eighteen decrees are added four questions and answers, with polemic reference to the similar questions at the close of the enlarged edition of Cyril's Confession.138138    Comp. § 15, p. 57. The first question discourages and even prohibits the general and indiscriminate reading of the Holy Scriptures, especially certain portions of the Old Testament. The second denies the perspicuity of the Scriptures. The third defines the extent of the canon including the Apocrypha.139139    The following Apocrypha are expressly mentioned (Vol. I. p. 467): The Wisdom of Solomon, Judith, Tobit, History of the Dragon, History of Susannah, the books of the Maccabees, the Wisdom of Sirach. The Confession of Mogilas, though not formally sanctioning the Apocrypha, quotes them frequently as authority, e.g. Tobit xii. 9, in P. III. Qu. 9, on alms. On the other hand, the less important Confession of Metrophanes Critopulus, c. 7 (Kimmel, P. II. p. 104 sq.), mentions only twenty-two canonical books of the Old Test., and excludes from them the Apocrypha, mentioning Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Baruch, and the Maccabees. The Russian Catechism of Philaret omits the Apocrypha in enumerating the books of the Old Test., for the reason that 'they do not exist in Hebrew,' but adds that 'they have been appointed by the fathers to be read by proselytes who are preparing for admission into the Church.' (See Vol. II. 451, and Blackmore's translation, pp.38, 39.) The fourth teaches the worship of saints, especially the Mother of God (who is the object of 67hyperdulia, as distinct from the ordinary dulia of saints, and the latria or worship proper due to God), as also the worshipful veneration of the cross, the holy Gospels, the holy vessels, the holy places,140140    προσκυνοῦμεν καὶ τιμῶμεν τὸ ξύλον τοῦ τιμίου τοῦ ζωοποιοῦ σταυροῦ, κ.τ.λ. and of the images of Christ and of the saints.141141    τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χρ. καὶ τῆς ὑπεραγίας θεοτόκου καὶ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων προσκυνοῦμεν καὶ τιμῶμεν καὶ ἀσπαζόμεθα.

In all these important points the Synod of Jerusalem again essentially agrees with the Church of Rome, and radically dissents from Protestantism.


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