Fr. Stephan Baljian was invited by the leadership of Homenetmen Boston to speak at its winter "Yerets" (Leadership) Seminar. The lecture took place on Saturday, February 2, at Camp Runels in Pelham, New Hampshire.
As part of the scouting curriculum and in order to complete a unit in religious instruction, the topic of the day was the Council of Chalcedon, a fifth century meeting of the world's Christian leaders, considered "Ecumenical" by the majority of the world's Christian communions today. Almost uniquely, the Armenian Apostolic Church was not represented at the Council and subsequently rejected its deliberations and conclusions, refusing to acknowledge it as "Ecumenical" until this day.
Convened in 451 A.D. as an attempt to further refute the Nestorian heresy dealt with at the Holy Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council dealt with among other things the issue of the two natures of Christ and their relationship with each other. The Bishops of the Council, at the prompting of then Pope of Rome Leo the Great, adopted and developed the Theological position and language of "in two natures" when referring to the divine and human natures of the Son of God.
To the Armenian Church and the several others that followed suit (which make up the Oriental Orthodox faith), Pope Leo's written exposition on the subject (known as the "Tome of Leo"), which further delineates the separation between the two natures, represented a significant departure from the declarations of the Council of Ephesus and from the established Orthodox teachings of Sts. Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria and other, earlier Church Fathers. These taught that the nature of God the Son after the incarnation is "out of two natures, one co-mingled, unconfused, unchanged, immutable nature."
At the time of the Council, the Armenians were occupied with the campaigns of the Persian overlord Hazgerd and the ideological struggle for their faith and nationality, which culminated in the rise of St. Vartan Mamigonian and the strategic battles of Avarayr and others.
After the treaty of Nuvarsag ended the wars a few decades later, by the end of the fifth century, the Armenian Church leaders of the time had definitively rejected the Council of Chalcedon, reaffirming instead the teachings of the first three Holy Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (325), Constantinople (381) and Ephesus (425). This marked the point in history when the Oriental Orthodox communion separated from the other major branches of the ancient Christian Church, including the Eastern Orthdox and Roman Catholic branches.
While there are some articles of the Council that the Armenians would accept theoretically, the Church specifically rejects and anathematizes Leo the Great and the Tome written on the subject. During the "Service of Calling" examining the faith and values of candidates for the priesthood the night prior to ordination, the priesthood candidate must specifically reject (among other heretical teachings) "Leo and his profane Tome."
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