St. Euthymius the Great on Chalcedon

St. Euthymius the Great ca. 377-473

When the news had circulated, as people reported that the great Euthymius had accepted the definition of the faith proclaimed at Chalcedon, all the monks about to accept it, had they not been prevented by one Theodosius, in appearance a monk but in reality a precursor of Antichrist. Coming to Palestine, this man beguiled the empress Eudocia, who was here at that time, and seduced all the monastic population, inveighing against the Council of Chalcedon as having subverted the true faith and approved the doctrine of Nestorius…While at that time almost all the urban population and the monks of the desert followed his apostasy, of the whole desert only the great Euthymius refused to be of his communion. Theodosius was clever enough to send for him because of his great reputation; since the great Euthymius refused to come to the holy city, Theodosius sent to him two monastic archimandrites to invite him to join his party — Elpidius, the disciple and successor of the great Passarion, and Gerontius, who had succeeded blessed Melania. When these men arrived and began their plea, the great Euthymius said, ‘Far be it from me to share in the murderous crimes of Theodosius or be seduced by his heresy.’ Elpidius and Gerontius replied, ‘But ought we to share the doctrines of Nestorius, which have been approved by the council now assembled at Chalcedon by means of the expression “in two natures”? Where have we read in Holy Scripture, or which of the holy fathers has taught us, that Christ is to be acknowledged in two natures, as the council has affirmed?’

The great Euthymius said in answer, ‘I have not read in detail everything that this council has examined and enacted, but as regards the definition it has issued I cannot in any respect accuse it of heresy. It commends the faith of the three hundred and eighteen holy fathers who assembled at Nicea, and professes observing it and keeping it unshakable and inviolate; it teaches following the one hundred and fifty fathers at Constantinople and those who assembled at Ephesus against the impious Nestorius; it calls Bishop Cyril of Alexandria its ally and inscribes him as teacher of the true faith; it proclaims the holy Virgin mother of God, and professes that of her was born according to the flesh the Only-begotten Son and Word of God, and ascribes to Him two generations, one from the Father, timeless and bodiless, and the other from the virgin mother, in time and in an animate body; it professes that the one Christ is to be acknowledged in two natures in accordance with the concepts of godhood and manhood. Consequently, it applies the expressions “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation” both because of those who have the effrontery to divide or separate the ineffable and irreversible hypostatic union that took place in the womb and because of those who say that the Word of God became flesh by transformation and make the flesh of the Only-begotten of one substance with the godhood, and further because of those who do not profess the hypostatic union of the Word with the flesh but concoct the impious monstrosity of a commixture, confusion, and blending of essences, and who say that the nature of the godhood and that of the flesh have been made one nature, with the consequence that, according to their account, neither can Christ’s passibility be preserved because of the impassibility of his godhood nor, conversely, can His impassibility because of the passibilty of His manhood. It was, accrodingly, for this purpose of a correct understanding that the council inserted the expression “in two” into its definition, not as if dividing Christ into individual parts but professing the same Christ in each one and each one in the same Christ. Consequently, we too, when we hear the council affirming Christ in two natures, do not suppose that it is introducing division or cleavage into the composite hypostasis of Christ, but acknowledge that it signifies the difference of the natures, in accordance with the words of the sainted Archbishop Cyril of Alexandria, “not as if the difference of the natures is destroyed by the union”.’ (Cyril of Scythopolis, Life of Euthymius 27)

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