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  • Requiem for the Third See of Christendom

    by Robert Spencer

    Egypt today is the site of a persecution of the Church on a scale unseen in Western Europe since the darkest days of the French Revolution; the Coptic Church is fighting for its life under vicious and escalating attacks from Muslims. A Muslim Brotherhood government is coming to power that promises to be more hostile. Yet in these dark days the Copts enjoy little support from Catholics who often only dimly understand the great debt we owe to the Church of Alexandria.

    It was not ever thus. The Patriarch of Alexandria was once the third most-powerful prelate in the Church, after those of Rome and Constantinople; he was so designated by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The Lateran Council, moreover, was merely restating and ratifying – quite belatedly, for a variety of reasons – a canon of the fourth ecumenical council, the Council of Chalcedon, which was held over seven and a half centuries before it, in 451.

    The Fathers of Chalcedon, for their part, were actually demoting the See of Alexandria from the second position that it had enjoyed before the Roman Emperors moved their capital to the new city of Constantinople, which accordingly became a great metropolis and a patriarchal see.

    Constantinople, as a relative newcomer, initially drew upon the theological and liturgical traditions of two older patriarchal sees, Alexandria and Antioch. In theological investigation, Alexandria was unrivaled. The Church of Alexandria was the home of the Church’s first great theological school, where students could learn from pioneering teachers of Christian theology such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen. No other Christian center, not even Rome, rivaled Alexandria’s theological sophistication and depth, although certainly Alexandrine Fathers – most notably Origen himself – did not always maintain their speculations within the confines of Christian orthodoxy. At the same time, Alexandria was the cradle of Christian monasticism – although in that case, it was more a matter of saints such as Anthony the Great leaving the great city than learning anything in it.

    From Alexandria came both the arch-heresiarch Arius, who denied that Christ and His Father were one in any meaningful sense, and his nemesis St. Athanasius (298-373), whose legacy includes the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ – as well as many of the doctrinal formulations contained in the Nicene Creed. Alexandria also was the home of another Father and Doctor of the Church, St. Cyril, who presided over the third ecumenical council, held in Ephesus in 431. In order to safeguard the divinity of Christ and his unity as a single person who was both God and man, the Fathers of Ephesus, led by Cyril, declared Mary the Mother of Jesus to be Theotokos, bearer of God – not just the bearer of Christ, as she had been styled by Cyril’s opponent, Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who was excommunicated and deposed.

    After that, as was so often the case during the Christological controversies of the early Church, things get murky. An ecumenical council had declared Cyril’s Christology affirming the unity of Christ the faith of the Church, but Nestorianism refused to die, and Eutyches, a monk of Constantinople, became the center of a new controversy when Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, excommunicated him for refusing to confess two natures in Christ, divine and human.

    Eutyches – and many others – saw this as a Nestorian separation of the Christ whose unity of person had just been affirmed at the third ecumenical council. Finally, in 449 the Emperor Theodosius II convened a new ecumenical council, to be held at Ephesus as well. Theodosius initially asked the Pope, St. Leo the Great, to preside over the council, but Leo declined, as Italy was at that time being overrun by Attila the Hun and travel would have been hazardous. Then, recognizing the influence of Alexandria as a See and the revered Athanasius and more contemporary Cyril (who had died in 444) as the principal architects of the Church’s Christology, Theodosius appointed Cyril’s successor and protégé, Dioscorus, to preside over the council.

    This new council of Ephesus declared that Christ had but one nature. Flavian was deposed and set upon by a mob; he died soon thereafter. The papal legates refused to accept the council’s decrees and fled in fear for their lives. Pope Leo the Great also refused to accept the council, dubbing it a latrocinium – a synod of robbers – and appealed to the Emperor to have it overturned. Leo appealed in vain, but Divine Providence then intervened; Theodosius was thrown from his horse and died, and the new emperor, Marcian, agreed with Leo, annulled the second council of Ephesus, and called a new council at Chalcedon, across the Bosporus from Constantinople, in 451.

    At Chalcedon, events unfolded in exactly the opposite direction as at the latrocinium. Leo’s definition of Christ as one Divine Person in two natures, divine and human, was accepted by the council Fathers, who cried, “Peter has spoken through Leo!” Dioscorus was condemned and excommunicated – taking much of his See and Eastern Christendom with him.

    It remains a point of controversy to this day, however, as to whether he was excommunicated for heresy or for his high-handed mismanagement of his See. Nonetheless, he and his followers were labeled Monophysites – those who held that Christ had no human nature or that His human nature was absorbed entirely into His divinity such that it did not perdure. Those to whom this label was applied, however, always rejected it.

    Dioscorus considered himself to be carrying on Cyril’s teachings. And maybe he was. Both St. Cyril and St. Athanasius had confessed “one nature” in Christ, which was just what had now been condemned at Chalcedon. But it is by no means clear that Dioscorus, any more than Athanasius or Cyril, meant this in a heretical way (that Christ had no human nature at all) rather than in an orthodox way (that His divine and human natures were fully united and inseparable). Ironically, Dioscorus even affirmed that “we do not speak of confusion, neither of division, nor of change” in Christ’s nature – language echoed in the confession of faith of the council that deposed him, Chalcedon: “We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation.” And the Church of Alexandria has through the ages celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil of Caesarea, which affirms that the Lord’s divine and human natures “did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye” – a statement that assumes that both exist.

    And so the Church of Alexandria (aka the Church of Egypt, or “Coptic” Church, “Coptic” being the Coptic word for “Egyptian”) and much of the Christian East, virtually half of Christendom at that time, went their own way, in schism with both Rome and Constantinople (both of which accepted Chalcedon). Dioscorus was declared a saint; his successor, Timothy, was known as The Cat, for he knew how to land on his feet in the treacherous theological disputes of the day.

    Yet the Chalcedonians could not and would not forget them. A succession of Eastern Roman Emperors made numerous attempts to heal this schism, hoping to restore the unity of the Empire and make it easier for it to incorporate and hold areas of Asia Minor and points East that were populated by Christians who rejected Chalcedonian Christology. The Emperor Heraclius (573-641) was so anxious to heal the schism that he invented a new heresy, Monothelism, which tried to bridge the gap between Chalcedonian orthodoxy and the “Monophysites” by positing only one will in Christ, but an otherwise intact human nature.

    As is always the case with theology cooked up in committees rather than conceived in the hearts and souls of believing people, this attempted compromise pleased no one, and the schism went on. It is tragic that the Church was rent by a schism that appears largely to have been a matter of terminology, of words and concepts understood in varying ways by the contending parties. For political reasons and because of the intransigence that was characteristic of the age, those parties were not interested in forming commissions for dialogue in order to arrive at a mutual understanding.

    Finally, when the Arab conquest subjugated and substantially reduced the Church of Alexandria, the entire controversy, and the once-vibrant See that had formulated so much of the Church’s understanding of Christ, faded from Western memory. The Copts endured centuries of Muslim rule, their numbers steadily diminished under the pressure of the institutionalized discrimination that Islamic law mandates for Christians, and from which one can be freed simply by converting to Islam. A fraction of the Coptic Church returned to communion with Rome in 1741, and is known today as the Coptic Catholic Church, but most Egyptian Christians (who today still number as much as ten percent of Egypt’s population) belong to the non-Chalcedonian Coptic Orthodox Church headed by Pope Shenouda III since 1971.

    The title “Pope” doesn’t mean that Shenouda is an antipope or a pretender to the See of Peter in Rome. The Patriarch of Alexandria, in fact, began using the title – which was originally derived from the Greek and Coptic words for “Father” and in itself denotes no claim to primacy over the whole Church – several centuries before the Bishop of Rome did. (That’s why Eastern Catholic Churches generally commemorate the “Pope of Rome” during their Liturgical celebrations: they’re distinguishing him from the Pope of Alexandria, a much more vivid personage in their world than in the Latin West, where the Roman Pontiff is the only Pope in sight.)

    Not long after he became the Coptic Pope, in 1973, Shenouda and the Pope of Rome, Paul VI, made a momentous declaration. They affirmed a common faith in Jesus Christ, who “is perfect God with respect to His Divinity, perfect man with respect to His humanity. In Him His divinity is united with His humanity in a real, perfect union without mingling, without commixtion, without confusion, without alteration, without division, without separation.” They quoted the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil of Caesarea: “His divinity did not separate from His humanity for an instant, not for the twinkling of an eye. He who is God eternal and invisible became visible in the flesh, and took upon Himself the form of a servant. In Him are preserved all the properties of the divinity and all the properties of the humanity, together in a real, perfect, indivisible and inseparable union.”

    This did not heal the schism that had by then continued for a millennium and a half. But to end 1,500 years of misunderstanding and mutual recrimination was accomplishment enough. The agreement reminded many Catholics of the existence and illustrious legacy of their brethren of the Church of Alexandria. Today it looks as if such a reminder was much needed, as the Coptic Church would soon be walking the way of the cross yet again – and Coptic Christians need and deserve all the spiritual and material support their Western brethren can possibly provide.

    The bleakness of the situation for Christians in Egypt today, with the Muslim Brotherhood poised to take power, cannot be overstated. Might elegies be in order for a See and Church that was once among the most influential and powerful in all of Christendom? The Lord may yet see fit to save the Church that has produced so many martyrs for fourteen centuries now, and certainly Coptic heroism has not dimmed. But however events may unfold, the Coptic Church deserves our prayers and help – not only in simple Christian solidarity but in gratitude for the great gifts of grace God has given us through the noble Church of Alexandria, the Third See of the ancient and undivided Church.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Paul S.

      A good article.

      I take issue with one nuance – “No other Christian center, not even Rome, rivaled Alexandria’s theological sophistication and depth, although certainly Alexandrine Fathers – most notably Origen himself – did not always maintain their speculations within the confines of Christian orthodoxy.”

      As with St. Cyril and St. Athanasius, Origen used or proposed theological language and descriptions that we _now_ know were wrong – because the Church has since defined them as wrong, using the terminology that Origen invented.

      If he had been reproved by the Pope, Origen would have submitted – so there is no reason to imply that he had any intent to be outside the confines of Christian orthodoxy in his own time and place.

      Look up Prof. John Rao (St. Johns U), if you want to know know more on this point.

    • Sarto

      Good article. Is there any organized way Christians can speak up, maybe to compel our government to put pressure on the Egyptians? This article does not help my general disdain for things Moslem. I know…I know… Maybe only 10% of the Moslems are so crazy. But that adds up to one hundred million.

    • Per J

      Thanks for the article. I am a Swedish member of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox Churches believe in one God-human nature and one God-human will of Christ, considering themselves miaphysites, not monophysites. We do not follow Eutyches. Although different cultural backgrounds, the Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopian, Eritrean and Indian Oriental-orthodox Churches are united in faith, ecclesiology and Tradition, manifested in sacramental unity.
      Dear Catholic brothers and sisters, please pray for the Copts in Egypt!

    • Ron

      I attempted to point out at Robert’s “Jihad Watch” that for a Roman Catholic to be so keen on the abuses of Islam, yet be unable to acknowledge that the Roman Catholic Church-State is herself responsible for the persecution of (by some estimates) over 50 million “heretics” makes an interesting contrast.
      Lord Acton is again proved, for, having the power to expunge my comment there, Jihad Watch did so: I am posting this, in part, to see if the repression of free speech is only a smokescreen…

      • John Zmirak

        The death of a single “heretic” at the hands of a Catholic government is a crime, for which John Paul II rightly apologized. The Church renounced this practice definitively at Vatican II. But your number, 50 million, is absurd. Give a reputable historical source, or stop whining when your posts are deleted not for being “heretical” but ludicrous.

        • Ron

          Whether you find the sources reputable will be another point of interest:

          In my own library (hardcopy or pdf), I have these sources who by express statement or implication say upwards of 50M: Albert Barnes on the Revelation; Dowling, History of Romanism; Foxe’s Book of Martyrs; Clark’s Martyrology; J.P. Callender, Illustrations of Popery; … and more.

          Vergerius admits that during the Pontificate of Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) “the Inquisition alone, by tortures, starvation, or the fire, murdered more than 150,000 Protestants.”

          Germany murdered six million Jews with Papal consent (standing by and doing nothing, at the least).

          “In short, it is calculated by authentic historians, that papal Rome has shed the blood of sixty-eight millions of the human race in order to establish her unfounded claims to religious dominion (Dr. Brownlee’s “Popery an enemy to civil liberty”, p. 105).

          How is this whining? Why insult? It is the recourse of those who lose arguments.

          As I told Robert, I myself was baptized Romanist. But, that doesn’t mean Rome is without error in my mind.

          • Anonymous

            Robert Spencer is not a *Roman* Catholic, he’s a Melkite Greek Catholic.

            http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/we-are-non-roman-catholics

            Further to your other points the various Inquisitions were a state ministry, hence blaming the pope for them is silly and as another poster commented Pope John Paul II apologised for these heinous acts, something which no respectable, main-stream Muslim cleric has ever done.

            I have found no source that goes anywhere near the number of 150,000 Protestants being burnt. You must remember too that some people fled and were then burnt in effigy but were still counted amongst the Inquisition’s records as having been burnt.

            Finally, the Catholic church, unlike Islam in its various guises, has not persecuted anywhere near 50 million heretics. That’s absolutely absurd.

            Before you castigate Robert Spencer please do some rudimentary research and save our poor, weary fingers any unnecessary taxation.

          • D.A. Howard

            There were not fifty million people alive in the Mediterranean until the 17th-18th Century. It was not until the 16th Century that we had 2.5 million people alive in Europe at one time.

            Do you get the idea who ludicrous your statements are. LOL!

          • Kenneth

            “Germany murdered six million Jews with Papal consent (standing by and doing nothing, at the least).”

            After reading this quite ignorant sentence, Ron’s posts have just lost all credibility.

          • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ Christian

            Terms such as Romanism and Popery reek of objectivity.

        • Mercier

          The answer here doesn’t seem to be that simple. I would recommend reading Dr. Thomas Pink’s essay on the Catholic Doctrine of Religious Liberty. This essay sheds much new light on the subject, and gives a very different perspective then found in the writings of people as diverse as Fr. Brian Harrison and Bishop Fellay. The aforementioned both do not take into account the Church’s claim to jurisdictional authority over the baptized, which includes coercion. This is taught explicitly by Pius VI in Quod aliquantum, and is taught as de fide by the Council of Trent. Moreover it is retained in the current code of canon law.

          Pink: “One thing is clear. It is evident that for the foreseeable future the modern Church would always refuse to involve the state in coercion of the faithful in the ways that, in Ancien Regime Europe, it once did. And given this refusal to delegate authority on the part of the Church, the state will indeed have no justification for involvement in the coercion of religion. Moreover there may also be compelling moral grounds for the Church’s refusal to call upon the state as she once did, even apart from the fact that no state would now respond to such a call. But it is not obvious that the text of Dignitatis humanae is what blocks the Church from ever so employing its authority. And that, again, is because Dignitatis humanae simply does not directly engage with the Church’s own authority and with the extent of and limits to her coercive jurisdiction over the baptized.”

          see Dr. Pink’s essay here: http://kcl.academia.edu/ThomasPink/Papers/647475/What_is_the_Catholic_doctrine_of_religious_liberty

          • John Zmirak

            Very interesting. I will research this further, perhaps assign someone to write about it. Thank you. I find it inconceivable that the Church, like the Muslims, claims the right of coercive force over her members. The implications of that would be extremely disturbing, so I doubt the conclusion on the face of it. But I will read the arguments.

    • digdigby

      I hope it is clear that Robert Spencer is an Eastern Catholic in full communion with Rome. Every day for years this man risks his life to say plainly and compassionately the unvarnished truth about a danger to all decent human beings. If you have seen how open, friendly and utterly non-confrontational he is, even with an ‘argumentative Muslim’ in an audience, the ‘hate label’ so casually stuck upon him is laughable. All those who speak out against Islamic Militancy are in actual physical danger and we must pray for them.

      • Ron

        Robert’s work is indeed laudable; I suggest we not turn a blind eye to the similarities of political and “spiritual” entities however….

    • http://www.jihadwatch.org Robert Spencer

      Ron:

      This is an article about the Church of Alexandria in history, and its present plight. Your anti-Roman Catholic polemic has no place here, and is an insult to the Copts who are suffering daily at the hands of a genuine, as opposed to fictional persecution.

      Your sources have no historical value. The History of Romanism and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs are Protestant polemic designed to discredit the Roman Church; both have long been exposed as making highly tendentious historical claims.

      And your charge about Pius XII and the Holocaust has been amply refuted by Ronald Rychlak, Rabbi Daniel Lapin and many others. Pius XII saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust and never consented to it; in fact, Hitler even considered arresting him at one point.

      But again: none of this is relevant. Your comments may be appropriate on an article about the Roman Church and Protestants or Jews, but here they detract from the very real crisis that the Copts are facing today. I ask you again, out of respect for them, to desist.

    • Ron

      I disagree with you and will not argue further, unappreciative of the altercation; out of respect (which is hardly reciprocal), I am out.

      • digdigby

        I would suggest, Ron, that you read Philip Rieff “My Life Among the Deathworks” in order to understand what is happening to you, me, us. Half mad with grief the dying Rieff is almost incomprehensible at times but this old Jeremiah ‘gets it’ like nobody’s business.

        • Ron

          Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Sarto

      That was (maybe) then, and this is now. The Church has apologized again and again. Now she lives under the gun in Iraq and Egypt.

    • http://www.catholiclane.com Philip

      What sort of self-respecting Catholic all himself a “Romanist”? It’s a vile old Protestant slur. As for the figure of 50 million, it’s laughable simply from a demographic standpoint. If the papacy truly claimed 50,000,000 lives, it would have had to been engaged in operations of mass murder in every generation. For most of its history, Europe was lucky to claim 50 or 60 million living souls at any given time!

      As for your comments about Hitler: Sure, blame the See of Peter for the actions of perhaps the most Protestant nation in the world. Germany is the very heartland of the anti-papal heresy!

      God bless and keep the Copts. May these Muslim antichrists know the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — before it is too late.

    • Charles Lutz

      Anti-jihadists of all stripes: Beware of Ron-like splitters!

    • Dan

      It’s really remarkable when just about everything, article and commentary, gets it wrong.

      First we have Mr Spencer, reliable shill for David Horowitz, railing against things of which he is not well-informed, stirring up hatreds of Muslims, ignoring the more-than-a-little-interesting roles of both the CIA and Mossad in these anti-Christian, giving his Holy Catholic faith a bad name in the process.

      Then we have some laughable commentary from someone railing against the Church for burning heretics (perhaps this benighted fellow would do well to read William Thomas Walsh’s monumental “Philip II”).
      Following that we have Professor Zmirak “defending” the Church by proclaiming – as a good thing! – Pope John Paul’s scandalous “apologies” to the world for supposed crimes the Church has committed, when the biggest crimes committed were those done by people like John Paul himself who fiddles while the Church plunged into a chaos from which it has not escaped. Mind boggling.

      I recommend to all these kind but horribly misguided individuals that they start studying the real glorious history of the one, true Faith and if they are Catholics to start acting like one. Stirring up hatreds against the innocent while ignoring the reasons why the Muslims are furious against us is hardly a helpful contribution to this debate, nor is it very Catholic.

    • Dan

      I apologize for the one or two typos in my above post. Sometimes it is hard to control one’s anger in the face of such a mountain of misinformation.

      • digdigby

        I lived in the middle east for years and have traveled extensively in Afghanistan, Pakistan and N. Africa. I am a Catholic and I am intimately acquainted with the totally Koranic imperative to enslave and exterminate all non-Islam from the earth. This is not some ‘extreme’ form of Islam this IS Islam. Islam is at war with the entire world and is actively persecuting killing and terrorizing Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Animists, Hindus, Bahais, Atheists, and OTHER Muslims who they consider heretical.

        • pammie

          As have I and will be returning this summer if all goes well. Fortunately my experiences in the ME seem to be diametrically opposite from yours Mr. Digdigby.

          Never once was I afraid our female muslim dentist was going to implant a remote control bomb in my husband’s tooth to further Islam’s primary goal of killing all Christians. We have never been concerned that our trusted muslim driver will ram our car into the nearest wall in order to rid the earth of our verminous, infidel selves. But then we have made it a practice to avoid religious nutters in whatever form we might find them, which could explain our differences in perception.

          It must have been awfully stressful having to live in places so disagreeable to one. Or spending time amongst people whom one so despises and fears.

          • digdigby

            Yeah, Muslim women have it great. It is so nice to have Pammie putting a smiley face on Islam – that makes everything alright. I have SEEN such things you cannot imagine. Sudan, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, ad nauseum. I am NOT speaking from hate as a matter of fact I only hope that converted Muslims will save US. they make the best Christians. And martyrs.

            • pammie

              Mr Digdigby: Good heavens! Who were you associating with, one wonders? As far as the “smiley face” reference- I am telling you MY experiences in the ME. Why are they less valid or representational than yours?

              And why the need to paint an entire people with ONE brush stroke? Islam is not a religion I appreciate or care about really. I do want to leave them alone though.They are sort of in the John Haggi catagory for me. But all members are not the same are they? That’s my point in commenting. Is it only Christians who are in fact “christian” in name only and on Christmas Day maybe?

              I resist the temptation to label an entire people for the sins of some.
              Havent we learned that lesson? Dont we know what that can lead to? We can disagree on the pleasantness of our travels, but surely we can agree on that?

              • Michael PS

                In Europe, many Muslims, and especially Muslim women, are manifesting their confidence in the Republic and proclaiming their adherence to its values.

                The president of the Muslim women’s movement Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Sluts nor Door-mats) Sihen Habchi, in a forceful attack on “multiculturalism” has demanded “No more justifications of our oppression in the name of the right to be different and of respect toward those who force us to bow our heads”

                Rachida Dati, herself a Muslim and former French Minister of Justice told the National Assembly that “The Republic is alone capable of uniting men and women of different origins, colours and religions around the principles of tolerance, liberty, solidarity and laïcité making the Republic truly one and indivisible”

                Likewise, Fadela Amara, another Muslim and Secretary of State for Urban Policies has declared that “For this generation, the crucial issues are laïcité, gender equality and gender desegregation, based upon living together in harmony throughout the world, and not only in France”

    • Tony Esolen

      Give Mr. Spencer a break. Thomas Aquinas, at the beginning of the Summa Contra Gentiles, notes that the Muslim faith has spread almost wholly through warfare, which has not been the case with Christianity (Thomas was, of course, writing before the Conquistadors — and yet the Spanish Church’s treatment of native Americans warrants careful discussion and is nothing like the Muslim sweep across North Africa; there has been no Muslim Bartolome de las Casas, or Muslim Junipero Serra). Islam has bloody borders: Muslims fight against Sikhs, animists, Hindus, Jews, Parsees, and Christians, depending on where they find themselves: the Punjab, west Africa, Iran, Palestine, the Philippines …

      It’s fascinating to note that in one sense the secular left and the Muslims are on the same page. They both worship power. There is no doctrine of subsidiarity in Islam, because they’ve pointedly rejected, as unworthy of God, the Incarnation.

      The silly numbers attributed to the Church for the burning of heretics are well refuted by others above. It’s like believing that 10,000 women a year before Roe / Wade died of illegal abortions; there just weren’t enough BODIES of deceased women of childbearing age to make up so outlandish a number. Then too, Dr. Nathanson has affirmed that the number was simply concocted — and the Guttmacher Institute has admitted as much. The other thing that people forget is that heresy was considered a civil crime throughout Europe — and maybe the only decent thing to come from the Enlightenment was the decriminalization of heresy. If you were accused of that, you wanted to be tried by the ecclesiastical courts, which were notably more lenient, and which were actually concerned with ascertaining the truth. The former — the leniency — is why the English king Henry II wanted to try clergymen in civil court after they had been acquitted in the ecclesiastical court, or after they had been found guilty and given a sentence.

      I wonder how that secular organization called The United States of America would fare, if the numbers of people who have died as per her actions were simply totted up … without any attempt to provide a context for the nation’s wars.

      • Gian

        Mr Esolen,
        Islam spread by force of arms in the West, but in East there was a lot of voluntary conversions too, among Hindus, Buddhists and Mongols.
        Indeed the conversion of (a section of) Mongols to the religion of their defeated subjects proves that Islam did not always spread by force.

        There is nothing surprising in this. Islam carries a distorted vision of One True God so its truth is powerful relative to the teachings of the Eastern pagans. Thus while Islam needed to employ force against True Faith in the West, its partial truth alone was sufficient to convince the Eastern pagans.

    • Aryana

      To the readers of Robert’s message. If you will pay attention, Robert’s plight is to have people wake up
      to the danger the Copt Christians are in. If you keep
      up, they are being persecuted and killed like house
      flies. The new Muslim Brotherhood lunacy is planning
      on wiping them all out asap. You are also on their
      list somewhere down the line, also asap.

      Is that so hard to get through thick skulls that the
      article brings forth a need to help, not add fuel to
      a fire that was not the subject to begin with?

      Okay, fact time, kids. I am a news tracker. I track
      global stories about Islam every day and I have been
      doing this to the tune of 16,000 hours. If there is a
      story out there, I get it, one way or the other. Hence
      I track Robert and all he writes and where the story
      and facts meet. Consider me the American hound
      dog never missing a scent. I have tried to catch
      Robert (everyone else too) in a lie. Robert is a
      human sent as our messenger. He does not lie in
      his work in anything he says.

      About Robert. If Robert told me the moon was made
      of cream cheese, I would get out my crackers. If
      he wrote me a check on cardboard written in crayon
      I would fight the teller at the bank to cash it. This
      man does not lie. I would have caught him by now.
      He doesn’t know me but I regard him as the king
      among men and the most reliable source out there.
      No one surpasses Robert for his incredible mind,
      need to help the Western world freedom, loyalty
      to America, graciousness at all times….and he puts
      his life on the line 24/7 to inform accurately.

      It is grow up time, folks. Stick to the subject. Help
      out. This is not an ego trip.

      Now, quitcher bellyaching about his church (I am not
      catholic) and read the koronic text. What is happening
      is the prerequisite mandates required of all Muslims.
      They must follow or they are guilty of apostasy..that
      is a death sentence or a lot of hell on earth. If you
      will read the koron, the sira and the ahadith, you will
      soon realize, Robert should not be questioned. Pay
      him respect, or else suffer the consequences of your
      confusion.

      I have learned an immense amount from him.

      His godmother, and he doesn’t know it.

      Kombada A

    • James Larrabee

      Here’s a writer who deprecates compromise, and theology-by-committee:

      “As is always the case with theology cooked up in committees rather than conceived in the hearts and souls of believing people, this attempted compromise pleased no one.”

      So what’s his solution? Compromise, and theology-by-committee:

      “For political reasons and because of the intransigence that was characteristic of the age, those parties were not interested in forming commissions for dialogue in order to arrive at a mutual understanding.”

      I.e. they were not interested in setting up theological committees in order to arrive at a compromise.

      Given this level of confusion, it isn’t surprising that Mr. Spencer presents yet another compromise (the Paul VI/Shenouda III statement) as an epoch-making achievement.

      On the author’s own showing, the touchstone of orthodoxy at Chalcedon was the two natures. Yet, the word “nature” does not even appear in his citations from the 1973 declaration.

      Score: heresy 1, orthodoxy 0

      • Michael PS

        The Greek word φυσις [phusis] is ambiguous.

        As Bl John Henry Newman points out “The Cyrillian party before Chalcedon did not put forward any doctrine of their own; they only denounced as Nestorians any who taught δΰο φΰσεις [dúo phúseis], two natures, which they made equal to two hypostases, and two Sons. They usually admitted that Christ was Εκ δΰο φΰσεεον [ek dúo phúseon] “of two natures”, but this meant that the Humanity before (that is, logically before) it was assumed was a complete phúsis; it was no longer a phúsis (subsistent) after its union to the Divine nature.

        So, the Fifth Ecumenical Council, in its eighth canon anathematized those who say “one Nature incarnate of God the Word”, unless they “accept it, as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected.”

    • Aryana

      James,

      Did you read this part…the last paragraph?

      “The bleakness of the situation for Christians in Egypt today, with the Muslim Brotherhood poised to take power, cannot be overstated. Might elegies be in order for a See and Church that was once among the most influential and powerful in all of Christendom? The Lord may yet see fit to save the Church that has produced so many martyrs for fourteen centuries now, and certainly Coptic heroism has not dimmed. But however events may unfold, the Coptic Church deserves our prayers and help – not only in simple Christian solidarity but in gratitude for the great gifts of grace God has given us through the noble Church of Alexandria, the Third See of the ancient and undivided Church.”

      Or do you just naturally prefer to keep your head in
      that very dark stinky space. Here is a human who
      is appealing to the public about crimes happening
      now when we can do something about it. Get over
      the supremacist malarky that it is about yesterdays
      history, where you seem to prefer to read only the
      trite that is not quite right and arrogantly display
      a dismal true mission in life….a very urgent need to
      ignore the direct reminder, we as humans need to
      help the innocent who will be killed in the name of
      Islam. What are you thinking? Do you really?

      Stinking Thinking

      Thin skinned and a warty mind,
      Who cannot relate to human kind,
      Find solace in maiming the humane,
      Playing a silly shame, blame, fame
      game of the very selfish and inane,

      Cooperation and empathy,
      Over those with no sympathy,
      Spells out those so empty.

      Were it about you,
      You would bellow over your stew,

      **********
      You wouldn’t last 2 minutes in RS’s shoes!
      Grow up and look at the real picture, James
      This is about humans helping humans and
      right now, Copts need lots of help from us
      who see the real picture, and even those
      who do not want to see at all.

      Sorry, to chew on your ear, but you need it.
      Be good for the next few days, it will help you.

      Kindness and love to you.

      ARYANA
      Holistic Physician

    • Aryana

      To Mark and all,

      Friends or foe. There is a story to tell..
      as deep as the deepest well,

      Islam Sam you do not know where you am,
      Nor do you know what or who I am,
      For a single penny or a little dime,
      My therapeutic procedure reduces mind slime,
      The world is clearly in reverse,
      I see Islam as perverse,
      It has made the world much worse,
      Do not mind if I am terse,
      I studied Islamic texts without stop,
      I can name the suras from Mecca to top,
      To be frank, its a troglodyte flop,
      Moreso, a fetal consciousness crop,
      Winning is not keeping others in shock.

      Knock, knock, who is there. Dead rock?

      Sad, oh so sad, such loss of humanity,
      The crime of anyone to practice insanity,
      Believing themselves superior, an inanity,

      Funny you should not like the infidel,
      There will be millions in heaven with Islam in hell,
      When I talk to God, he gives me instruction,
      Those who hate are the cause of destruction,

      He further tells me he made no people supreme,
      Except for kind ones of love aiming at serene,

      In reading those books with its serious mendacity,
      Surpassed only by mental sickness and audacity,
      It soon became very clear,
      A lie was as good as the closest ear,
      It was aimed at power and fear.
      Alas, it last in sickness year after year,

      What all of us need to know and teach,
      Humans must keep egos within reach,
      Stretch thy human brain into light,
      Bare not false witness with unclear sight,
      It brings a harvest with furious might,
      Those whose arrogance is clearly a mess,
      In the end will suffer a boomerang of stress.

      This is no guess. Islam Sam, to you I bless,
      Go forward, no need to regress,

      Abrogation is the right association.
      Nothing else will heal the agitation
      that has caused the contagion that
      will lead to uttern devastation.

      Love and Kindness,

      Aryana

    • Aryana

      Mark,

      To be sure, thanks for the reminder to pray
      for the innocent Nigerians who are also in
      need of prayer and help. Lets not forget
      to add Pakistan, Indonesia, the Sudan,
      and all the nations where sharia rules in
      6th century arrested adolescent scourging
      of human freedom toward all kafirs and
      the infidels. We are all God’s precious
      children….God did not make any good,
      better and best people, he gave us choice
      and we can create good, better and best
      attiude toward our fellow humans. The
      unfair treatment heaped upon the innocent
      in nations where Islam can bully is a blight
      so enormous upon humanity, it sets us back
      to amoeba mental function. We cannot
      go forward until we learn we cannot kill
      each other…we are killing our own soul
      growth.

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