The Christological Confession of Orthodox England

Synod of Heathfield ca. 680 a.d.

ABOUT this time, Theodore [of Canterbury] being informed that the faith of the church at Constantinople was much perplexed by the heresy of Eutyches, and desiring to preserve the churches of the English, over which he presided, from that infection, an assembly of many venerable priests and doctors was convened, at which he diligently inquired into their doctrines, and found they all unanimously agreed in the Catholic faith. This he took care to have committed to writing by the authority of the synod, as a memorial, and for the instruction of succeeding generations…

In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the tenth year of the reign of our most pious lord, Egfrid, king of the Northumbrians, the seventeenth of September, the eighth indiction; and in the sixth year of the reign of Ethelfrid, king of the Mercians, in the seventeenth year of the reign of Aldhulf, of the East Angles, in the seventh year of the reign of Lothair, king of Kent; Theodore, by the grace of God, archbishop of the island of Britain, and of the city of Canterbury, being president, and the other venerable bishops of the island of Britain sitting with him, the holy Gospels being laid before them, at the place which, in the Saxon tongue, is called Heathfield, we conferred together, and expounded the true and orthodox faith, as our Lord Jesus in the flesh delivered the same to his disciples, who saw Him present, and heard his words, and as it is delivered in the creed of the holy fathers, and by all holy and universal synods in general, and by the consent of all approved doctors of the Catholic church; we, therefore, following them jointly and orthodoxly, and professing accordance to their divinely inspired doctrine, do believe, and do, according to the holy fathers, firmly confess, properly and truly, the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, a trinity consubstantial in unity, and unity in trinity, that is, one God subsisting in three consubstantial persons, of equal honour and glory.

We have received the five holy and general councils of the blessed fathers acceptable to God; that is, Of 318 bishops, who were assembled at Nice, against the most impious Arius and his tenets; and at Constantinople, Of 150, against the madness of Macedonius and Eudoxius, and their tenets; and at Ephesus, first of 200, against the most wicked Nestorius and his tenets; and at Chalcedon, 0f 360, against Eutyches and Nestorius, and their tenets, and again at Constantinople. In a fifth council, in the reign of Justinian the younger, against Theodorus and Theodoret, and the epistles of Iba, and their tenets, against Cyril;” and again a little lower, “the Synod held in the city of Rome [the Lateran Synod of 649], in the time of the blessed Pope Martin, in the eighth indiction, and in the ninth year of the most pious Emperor Constantine, we receive : and we glorify our Lord Jesus Christ, as they glorified Him, neither adding nor diminishing anything ; anathematizing those with our hearts and mouths whom they anathematized, and receiving those whom they received, glorifying God the Father, who is without beginning, and his Only-­Begotten Son generated from eternity, and the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son in an ineffable manner, as those holy apostles, prophets, and doctors, whom we have above-mentioned, did declare. And all we, who, with Archbishop Theodore [of Canterbury], have thus expounded the Catholic faith, have also subscribed thereto. (St. Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People Bk. 4.17)

Comments

  1. “and the son”?

  2. Thanks for commenting Mark,

    This synod was presided over by St.Theodore, a Greek monk who moved to the Rome and was then appointed to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Observe what yet another Greek monk in Rome said pertaining to the “Filioque” theologoumenon in use at that early time:

    St. Maximus the Confessor – Those of the Queen of Cities [Constantinople] have attacked the Synodal Letter of the present very holy Pope, not in the case of all the chapters that he has written in it, but only in the case of two of them. One relates to the theology [of the Trinity] and according to this, says ‘the Holy Spirit also has his ekporeusis from the Son.’

    The other deals with the divine Incarnation. With regard to the first matter, they [the Romans] have produced the unanimous evidence of the Latin Fathers, and also of Cyril of Alexandria, from the study he made of the Gospel of St. John. On the basis of these texts, they have shown that they have not made the Son the cause of the Spirit — they know in fact that the Father is the only cause of the Son and the Spirit, the one by begetting and the other by procession — but that they have manifested the procession through him and have thus shown the unity and identity of the essence.

    They [the Romans] have therefore been accused of precisely those things of which it would be wrong the accuse them, whereas the former [the Byzantines] have been accused of those things it has been quite correct to accuse them [Monothelitism].

    In accordance with your request I have asked the Romans to translate what is peculiar to them (the ‘also from the Son’) in such a way that any obscurities that may result from it will be avoided. But since the practice of writing and sending [the Synodal Letters] has been observed, I wonder whether they will possibly agree to doing this. It is true, of course, that they cannot reproduce their idea in a language and in words that are foreign to them as they can in their mother-tongue, just as we too cannot do. (Letter to Marinus)

    Although the Filioque was in use, there were no changes to the Symbol of Faith and at that time it was not interpreted to mean a “dual procession”. As you know, both occurred later. I also wonder if there are any textual variants of St. Bede’s history without the “and the Son” in this particular portion of the work.

    also see here: http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/filioque.pdf

  3. “I also wonder if there are any textual variants of St. Bede’s history without the “and the Son” in this particular portion of the work.”

    That was my first thought as well.

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