Additional/Miscellaneous Notes (Coptic Interpretations of the Fourth Ecumenical Council)

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Coptic Orthodox Cross
Note: This article or section represents an Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian) perspective, which may differ from an Eastern Orthodox (Chalcedonian) understanding.

1. St. Cyril of Alexandria called the Blessed Holy Virgin Mary the Theotokos, Mother of God, not mother of the human nature of Christ. From the soteriological viewpoint, if only an ordinary man without a trace of sin (and not the Incarnate Logos) died on the cross, then this would not be enough as an atonement for the (infinite) sin of mankind against the infinite God.

2. Copts believe in two natures "human" and "divine" that are united in one hypostasis "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration" (from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy). These two natures "did not separate for a moment or the twinkling of an eye" (also from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy). In fact, at the time Christ died on the cross, His human soul left his human body, but His divine nature remained united to His human soul and human body.

3. The Non-Chalcedonian, Oriental Orthodox were habitually represented by their Chalcedonian opponents as denying all reality to the human nature of Christ after the union, but this is definitely not true and was never the case.

4. There is a difference between the word "will" taken to mean the faculty, mere velleity or wish, and the same word taken to mean the decision taken by the will (the will willing vs. the will willed; also voluntas ut natura [thelesis] as opposed to voluntas ut ratio [boulesis]). In case of Christ, the Incarnate Logos, there was definitely one will willed (willed will). The Chambesy 1990 Agreement reads, "Both families agree that the Hypostasis of the Logos became composite by uniting to His divine uncreated nature with its natural will and energy, which He has in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created human nature, which He assumed at the Incarnation and made His own, with its natural will and energy. Both families agree that the natures with their proper energies and wills are united hypostatically and naturally without confusion, without change, without division and without separation, and that they are distinguished in thought alone. Both families agree that He who wills and acts is always the one Hypostasis of the Logos incarnate."

5. More information on St. Severus, Patriarch of Antioch (from the Coptic Orthodox Synaxarium): [1], [2], [3], [4].

6. Summary of Recent Efforts for Unity between the Two Families of the Orthodox Church

7. The Council of Chalcedon and the Church of Alexandria - By the Very Reverend Father Tadros Malaty

8. Additional resources: [5], [6], [7]

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