Anglican - Oriental Orthodox International Commission

Members of the Anglican – Oriental Orthodox International Commission outside St Asaph Cathedral, Wales.
Photo Credit: Nathaniel Ramanaden

The agreement from a recent meeting of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC), Christology – Agreed Statement by the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission, heals the centuries-old split between the Anglican churches within the family of Chalcedonian Churches and the non-Chalcedonian churches over the incarnation of Christ. I highly recommend that you read it.

Both families of churches accept the first three church councils: The First Council of Nicaea (325), The First Council of Constantinople (381), The Council of Ephesus (431). The fourth council, The Council of Chalcedon (451), is in dispute. Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac, Malankara Syrian (Indian Orthodox Church) and Armenian Apostolic churches do not accept it.

The Council of Chalcedon debated subtle distinctions about the divinity and humanity of Jesus. And how these relate. As often happens, the issues are confused by language and different understanding of words and terms.

The Commission will meet again next year to continue dialogue about the Holy Spirit.

Anglicans encouraged to drop filioque from Creed

At this recent meeting of AOOIC, yet once again Anglicans were encouraged to drop filioque (“and the Son”) which was not in the original but added later, unecumenically, to the The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (usually referred to as the Nicene Creed). Over and over again, Anglicans have been urging ourselves (including several times at Lambeth Conferences) to go back to the original creed (without the filioque addition). Some Anglican provinces (Canada springs immediately to mind) have restored the creed as it was originally agreed (as recited here together by Benedict XVI, Patriarch of the West, and Bartholemew I, Ecumencial Patriarch of Constantinople).

NZ Anglicanism is in a very peculiar position (surprise!). There is no requirement in our Prayer Book (other than at ordinations) to recite the Nicene Creed. If, at the Eucharist, a community wishes to put a creedal statement before or after the sermon, there is no indication what that creed must be. Several are provided in the Prayer Book. I regularly encounter home-grown “creeds” or ones drawn from other sources. (This often happens in communities that use overhead projection, and it is exhilarating not knowing what the community is about to loudly declare their faith in on the next slide…) There is no reason, if a creed is being used by a community, why it would not be the original Nicene Creed (ie. without the filioque “and the Son”).

But wait! There’s more!

I was present, as an interested observer, at the General Synod that decided (line by line) on the Prayer Book’s content. I had no speaking or voting rights. The Prayer Book Commission had presented a text of the Eucharist with, at the point of the creed, a discussion draft of the Nicene Creed by the International Consultation on English Texts. This “discussion creed” was accepted by General Synod. When, in a break in proceedings, I pointed out to Commission members that this was only at discussion stage and there should be some mechanism to ensure the ecumenically-agreed final English text be in our Prayer Book, I was assured they knew what they were doing. The text before General Synod, they said, was only a place holder. They were convinced that when the Prayer Book came out it in print it would have the ecumenically agreed final text. Well – no prizes for who was correct: NZ Anglicans recite an English-language creed not used by anyone else!

More on the filioque:
And the Son
Churches in communion with Rome which leave out the filioque

I am in favour of not using the creed in worship and, if it is used, of leaving out the filioque:
Don’t use the creed in worship
Don’t use the creed in worship (part 2)
Don’t use the creed in worship (part 3)

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