Rounding out the first chapter of Ephesians, St. Paul drives home the truth that salvation is the gift of divine grace from start to finish: not only is Christ's atoning sacrifice a gift, but even the faith to believe in it is a gift, given by the Gospel and Baptism. Audio is here.
This week we begin a study of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. It opens with a marvelous multi-layered declaration of the grace of God in Christ, and in particular his atoning sacrifice (which the Apostle simply calls 'redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins). This, he says to the church, is what you were predestined to have from before the foundation of the world; for even then your redemption was already in the good will and counsel of God. The podcast is here.
All seven ecumenical councils, between 325 and 787 ad, essentially dealt with the Person of Jesus Christ. Even the seventh, which had to do with whether the use of icons is idolatry (it isn't), comes down to what one believes about Jesus. He has adorned the earth with beauty not only in his creation of it, but ultimately in his joining of himself to mankind in his own Person. This is at the heart of the whole Christian faith, and it is critical for us to know it. Here's the podcast.
The Sixth council, in Constantinople, ad 680, affirmed that Christ has not one, but two wills: divine and human; this is an affirmation of his true humanity, including the will. Otherwise, his redemption of man is in question. The seventh council, in Nicaea, ad 787, affirmed the veneration of icons and images as helpful aids to worship of Christ. This is in itself an affirmation of his incarnation, his adornment of the earth with his union with human flesh. St. Paul's on the Air podcast.
Political considerations (a desire to unify the empire against invasions) entered into the proceedings of the Second Council of Constantinople in ad 553, never a good idea. A desire to mollify both sides led to agreements that were church-wide, but the Monophysites (who believed that Christ had only one nature, a mixture of divine and human and therefore fully neither) were not really handled head-on, and therefore much less was accomplished than should have been. Confessions of faith must be clear, and we must ever seek to know well who Jesus is: true God, true man, and therefore our Redeemer and Lord. St. Paul's on the Air for Sunday, June 16th.
In ad 451 the bishops from all over Christendom met in Chalcedon, in the largest of the seven ecumenical councils to affirm the two natures of Christ--that he is fully human and fully divine--in one Person, against Eutyches, who was saying that Christ had only one nature, a mixture of divine and human. The error is deadly, for it holds that Christ is neither human nor divine, in which case our salvation is lost, for he cannot redeem us (mankind), and he has not the capacity, as God, to do so. The podcast is here.
There was a heretical bishop in Constantinople in the first part of the 5th century who insisted that Jesus could not be a single subject, a single Person with two natures, divine and human. Against this the Council of Ephesus in a.d. 431 confessed the unity of Christ's Person, and that, as a strong Christological statement, that Mary is the Mother of God. So must every Christian confess, for we must be confident of who our Lord Jesus is. He is, as Thomas rightly put it, my Lord and my God. St. Paul's on the Air for June 2, 2019.
This Council was held in Constantinople, in ad 381, just over half a century after the first. It expanded the Creed into its current form, reaffirming the deity of Christ and confessing the Person of the Holy Ghost. Here's the podcast.