Agreement or Power?
…in its final form [the Chalcedonian definition of the faith] was so framed as to enable the delegates belonging to the three traditions then existing in the Church, namely the Alexandrine, the Antiochene, and the western, to interpret it in different ways.
The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined, by V.C. Samuel
Two items bearing on the faith were considered and approved at Chalcedon. First, the Tome of Leo was declared a document of the faith. Second, it offered a definition of the faith. It is this second point that is the subject of the quote above.
Samuel reminds of the political actions behind the council – the emperor, via his wife, wished the eastern Church to be unified under Constantinople. Further, while supporting Rome, at the same time not allowing Rome to be seen as superior to Constantinople.
Hence, an understanding of Samuel’s statement: the purpose of the council was as much or more political as it was doctrinal. An agreement must be reached, even if, once again, the terminology could be understood differently by the different traditions. As long as agreement was reached, authority would move toward Constantinople and away from Alexandria. And this would satisfy the desire of the emperor.
To be clear, this disagreement was not if Jesus was God or man; it was on the point of how, precisely, to understand and phrase that He was both God and man.
After some efforts, the bishops were ordered to come forward, and while over the Gospel that was placed in the middle, say they affirmed the faith in conformity with Nicaea, the creed of Constantinople, and the Tome of Leo. One hundred fifty-eight men did so, each offering a short speech. Thereafter, the remainder were asked to confirm by acclamation, and it was offered.
In their statement, the Illyrian bishops stated that – after having clarifying discussions with the Roman legates – the Tome offered nothing beyond that which was agreed in the earlier councils. It was on this basis that they affirmed the Tome. But here, again, is the problem. The earlier councils were understood differently by different bishops. Why wouldn’t this be? Hence, doctrinally nothing was truly resolved.
In any case,
Article from LewRockwell