Monday, January 21, 2008

The Synod of Jerusalem, 1672

Over at The Continuum a repost of my essay on the intent of the Eucharist has sparked a debate over the adoration of the Eucharist. My position has been that of Lancelot Andrewes: We do not adore an "it," we adore "Him." We worship Christ who is made present to us via the sacramental elements, we do not adore the elements of bread and wine. Even if we go down a Thomist road, we still cannot say we adore the "accidents" or "forms" of bread and wine. We adore Christ. Therefore, talk of "adoring the Sacrament" is a bit confusing and misleading, and very much against our Prayer Book, homilies, Catechism, and Articles.

However, Father Chad of the blog Philorthodox countered with the assertion that the Orthodox do worship the elements, and indeed many Orthodox authors assert this, while other authors say that such a practice is unnecessary and goes against Christ's command to "take and eat," in that He did not say "lift up and pray to." The consensus position seems to be that while indeed the Bread and Wine simply are the Body and Blood of Christ (without philosophical elaboration), there is no need for separate services set aside for "adoration" of the elements.

As a defense of the view that the Orthodox view the Sacrament exactly as the Romans do, the pronouncements of the Synod of Jerusalem (1672) are often used. Indeed, in these documents the theology of Thomas Aquinas is reproduced writ large. More troubling to the Anglican mind is the adoption of the Roman view of Purgatory (rejected in almost every Orthodox dogmatic text I've read).

In order to place this in a broader context I've reposted below a treatment of the topic from the blog "Conjectures of a Guilty Seminarian."

"A question came up today about the Jerusalem-Bethlehem Synod of 1672, an Eastern Synod which affirmed transubstantiation (and Purgatory--my addition here, AC+). The Synod has often been claimed as a victory for the Roman Catholic position, some going so far as to claim that the Eastern Church actually taught the doctrine. The Patriarch of Jerusalem at the time was Dositheos, who was under the influence of French Jansenists living in the Holy Land. He wanted to refute a work called Confession of Orthodox Faith, by Cyril Lucaris (the Patriarch of Constantinople in the 1620s), which seemed to teach most of the body of Calvinist teaching, claiming that Calvin's teaching adequately teaches Eastern doctrine (especially in reference to the Fathers). The Synod was affirmed in the Russian Church until recently, with the rejection of Scholasticism. Mostly, I think we can relegate the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672 to realm of Roman manipulation of the East.

Judith Pinnington writes in Anglicans and Orthodox:
"In Covel's view, the Bethlehem-Jerusalem Synod (so-called) was framed by Dositheos on Nointel's advice, as the ambassador himself had admitted before witnesses in his own hand. So although there may have been a document, there had not been - nor was there intended to be - synodal deliberation and free choice. In any case, the Turks would never have allowed Synod to go on long enough to deliberate without monetary penalties. Dositheos was therefore the sole author of the document and he, Nointel, had said in writing that the Patriarch had "fully satisfied that which we had desired of him." The fact that Dositheos had had to take responsibility for the textual details because the Ambassador understood no Greek nor Dositheos Latin or French was beside the point. Covel was convinced that the whole thing was a French stitch-up in collusion with sympathetic Catholic diplomats. The Jesuits in the Ambassador's train had done all the preparation and supplied Dositheos with statements to make about Claude and Bellarmine which were quite beyond him to judge. He, Covel, had obtained confirmation of this from Dionysios as an unwilling accessory in a process which ran counter to Orthodox canonical procedures. Modern scholars keep an open mind as to whether the synod was wholly 'synthetic'; but it is easy to see how Covel, knowing the principles as he did, could have come to this conclusion, given his general estimate of Greek ecclesiastical character and the capacity for influence which the western diplomats possessed."

Nointel was the French Ambassador in Jerusalem at the time and it becomes clear that the decretals of the Synod were dictated by the Jesuits. The statement is clearly Roman:
"Further [we believe] that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, there no longer remaineth the substance of the bread and of the wine, but the Body Itself and the Blood of the Lord, under the species and form of bread and wine; that is to say, under the accidents of the bread." This, a clear repetition of Trent. Thus, the extremism of Lucaris was met with the opposite - transubstantiation.

All the while, the Non-Jurors, Jeremy Taylor, and company were holding (to the) Via Media, confuting both the Roman position as well as that of Continental Calvinism, which is a great testimony to the. . .scholarship of the English Church."

And here I agree with the writer of the aforementioned blog: The best Anglican minds of this period maintained a patristic position, while one portion of the Orthodox Church adopted the teachings of the Roman Church. While as an Anglican I see myself bound by the teachings of the ancient and undivided Church, I do not see myself bound by the pronouncements of the Synod of Jerusalem, especially if they embrace transubstantiation and Purgatory.


Anonymous said...

Per usual, I agree.

The Orthodox Liturgy tells the tale - unlike Roman Counter-Reformation practice, n the East the reserved sacraments are not venerated in a public liturgy apart from communion. Indeed, the liturgy of the reserved sacrament,properly celebrated, is a communion service, not an exposition-and-benediction service.

In short, for Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, mystical communion with Christ, not the miracle of change in the elements in-and-of-itself is point of the Eucharist.

Indeed, on this point Counter-Reformation Rome stands alone in emphasizing the change of the elements itself in the public liturgies of adoration of the reserved sacrament.

But, we should note that, since Vatican II, Rome, to its credit, has tended to move away from the "anti-Geneva," Counter-Reformation position.

Anonymous said...

I have continued to follow discussions of this topic among Anglicans, and it seems that the following line of argument (from Richard Hooker, recently posted on this site) has been generating some talk:

(1) The purpose of the Eucharist is communion (worthy reception of the elements).
(2) Whatever the sacrament really is, you either receive it, its benefits (in accordance with the purpose of the sacrament), or not.
(3) Therefore, what the consecrated elements really are is of secondary importance.

I am deeply disturbed by this aspect of Hooker's eucharistic theology. I will be content here to suggest that the above argument is susceptible to a reductio ad absurdum:

(1) The purpose of Christ's coming was to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.
(2) Whatever Christ really is, you either receive him (i.e., as a ransom, in accordance with the purpose of his coming) or not.
(3) Therefore, what Christ really is is of secondary importance.

No Christian, faithful to the great tradition and familiar with Church history and the orthodox theology hammered out therein, would claim (3). Futhermore, (3) is not only central to Christian doctrine in terms of the development of theology; it actually grounds (1) and (2), both ontologically (the redemption considered in itself) and subjectively (redemption as applied to the believer). In other words, Christ's coming to ransom humans from sin is of no consequence apart from what he is, ontologically speaking (true God and true man). Furthermore, no one rightly apprehends Christ as redeemer who, because of culpable ignorance or by outright unbelief, does not apprehend (by faith) what he is ontologically, as declared by the Church (i.e., true God and true man). Likewise, if Christ is not truly God and truly man, then it doesn't matter that his purpose is to ransom men- said purpose cannot be realized. Purpose (or telos) is grounded in being, not vice versa.

The application of the above to the Eucharist should be obvious. Furthermore, the purpose of the Eucharist is not unspecified reception. It is reception of Christ. So the question now becomes: how is it possible that we recieve Christ in the sacrament? Answer: because the Eucharist is Christ (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinty). Other answers have been given, and such answers will undoubtably multiply until Our Lord's return (when sacraments shall cease). But the answer to the questions, what is the Eucharist in reality? is not secondary to the purpose of the sacrament. Being grounds purpose, not vice versa. Something has to be before it can have a purpose.
If the "real presence" is understood in a way that is actually exclusive of the reality or presence of Our Lord in the sacrament, such doctrine must be condemned, which also means that the truth is further defined. The Latin Church further defined this dogma in response to controversy and in opposition to (putative) heresy. This has been the Church's consistent practice from the beginning. It continues to be so.

Unknown said...

Andrew is right in stating the purpose of the eucharist is communion. But the rest of his arguments simply don't hold. The liturgy (with Scripture) defines the elements as the Body and Blood or our Lord without attempting to define how this is so. Elizabeth I pulled it down to the fact that Jesus said it was so and that was sufficient for her as a believer. (I wish I could quote exactly her small poem.) Andrew (who I take is not Anglican) wants to rationalize it to the point that it is no longer either a sacrament or a matter of faith.
His final three sentences concerning the practise of "The Latin Church" about further definition of the dogma rests upon the unwritten assumption that said Church is always right and never wrong is simply factually untrue. Simply ask any Orthodox theologian.