Seventh Ecumenical Council

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The Seventh Ecumenical Council is also called the '''Second Council of Nicaea, (787)'''. The last of the [[Ecumenical councils|seven Ecumenical Councils]] dealt with the following:
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The '''Seventh Ecumenical Council''' took place in [[Nicea]] in 787 AD, and is also known as the '''Second Council of Nicaea.''' The last of the seven [[Ecumenical Councils]] dealt with the [[icon]]s.
*Icons
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+
  
 
== The Controversy ==
 
== The Controversy ==
Disputes concerning the Person of Christ did not end with the sixth Council in AD 681, but continued through the eighth and ninth centuries. This time, the controversy focused on icons -pictures of Christ, the Theotokos, the saints, etc.- and lasted for 120 years, starting in AD 726. Icons were kept and venerated in both churches and private homes. The two groups in the controversy were:
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Disputes concerning the Person of Christ did not end with the [[Sixth Ecumenical Council|sixth Council]] in AD 681, but continued through the eighth and ninth centuries. This time, the controversy focused on icons—pictures of Christ, the Theotokos, the saints, and holy events—and lasted for 120 years, starting in AD 726. Icons were kept and venerated in both churches and private homes. The two groups in the controversy were:
  
; [[Iconoclast|Inconoclasts]] : also called "icon-smashers", they were suspicious of any art depicting God or humans and demanded their destruction and saw icons as idolatry
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; [[Iconoclast]]s : also called "icon-smashers," they were suspicious of any art depicting God or humans; they demanded the destruction of icons because they saw icons as idolatry.
; [[Iconodule|Iconodules]] : also called "venerators of icons", defended the place of icons in the Church
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; [[Iconodule]]s : also called "venerators of icons," they defended the place of icons in the Church.
  
 
The controversy, however, was more than a struggle over different views of Christian art. Deeper issues were involved, and it is these the Council addressed:
 
The controversy, however, was more than a struggle over different views of Christian art. Deeper issues were involved, and it is these the Council addressed:
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The Iconoclasts had support from both inside and outside the Church. Outside the Church, there may have been influence from Jewish and Muslim ideas, and it is important to note that just prior to the Iconoclast outbreak Muslim Caliph Yezid ordered the removal of all icons with his territory. Inside the Church there had always existed a "puritan" outlook which saw all images as latent idolatry. The Iconoclasts "failed to take full account of the Incarnation" by refusing icons. Falling into a kind of dualism, they regarded all matter as defilement, thinking that what is spiritual must be non-material; therefore, they wanted a religion freed from all contact with material. But such a view betrays the Incarnation for it allows no place for Christ's humanity or His body, thus linking it with the other controversies about Christ's Person dealt with by the other Councils. The Iconoclasts forgot that the soul and the body must be saved and transfigured.
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The iconoclasts had support from both inside and outside the Church. Outside the Church, there may have been influence from Jewish and Muslim ideas, and it is important to note that just prior to the iconoclast outbreak Muslim Caliph Yezid ordered the removal of all icons with his territory. Inside the Church there had always existed a "puritan" outlook which saw all images as latent idolatry.  
  
Largely through the work of St. John of Damascus (AD 759-826), who ironically was housed in Muslim controlled lands and therefore outside the reach of the Empire, the Iconodules' position won out. He addressed the charges of the Iconoclasts thusly: ''Concerning the charge of idolatry: Icons are not idols but symbols, therefore when an Orthodox venerates an icon, he is not guilty of idolatry. He is not worshipping the symbol, but merely venerating it. Such veneration is not directed toward wood, or paint or stone, but towards the person depicted. Therefore relative honor is shown to material objects, but worship is due to God alone.''
+
Largely through the work of St. [[John of Damascus]] (c. 676-749), who, ironically, was housed in Muslim-controlled lands and therefore outside the reach of the Empire, the iconodules' position won out. He addressed the charges of the iconoclasts thus:  
  
''We do not make obeisance to the nature of wood, but we revere and do obeisance to Him who was crucified on the Cross... When the two beams of the Cross are joined together I adore the figure because of Christ who was crucified on the Cross, but if the beams are separated, I throw them away and burn them.'' '''--[[John_of_Damascus|St. John of Damascus]]'''
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:''Concerning the charge of idolatry: Icons are not idols but symbols, therefore when an Orthodox venerates an icon, he is not guilty of idolatry. He is not worshipping the symbol, but merely venerating it. Such veneration is not directed toward wood, or paint or stone, but towards the person depicted. Therefore relative honor is shown to material objects, but worship is due to God alone.''
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:''We do not make obeisance to the nature of wood, but we revere and do obeisance to Him who was crucified on the Cross... When the two beams of the Cross are joined together I adore the figure because of Christ who was crucified on the Cross, but if the beams are separated, I throw them away and burn them.'' '''—St. John of Damascus'''
  
 
== The Decision of the Council ==
 
== The Decision of the Council ==
; Concerning the teaching of icons : Venerating icons, having them in churches and homes, is what the Church teaches. They are "open books to remind us of God". Those who lack the time or learning to study theology need only to enter a church to see the mysteries of the Christian religion unfolded before them.
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[[Image:Icons restoration.jpg|right|frame|Restoration of the Icons]]
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; Concerning the teaching of icons : Venerating icons, having them in churches and homes, is what the Church teaches. They are "open books to remind us of God." Those who lack the time or learning to study theology need only to enter a church to see the mysteries of the Christian religion unfolded before them.
  
; Concerning the doctrinal significance of icons : Icons are necessary and essential because they protect the full and proper doctrine of the Incarnation. While God cannot be represented in His eternal nature ("...no man has seen God", John 1:18), He can be depicted simply because He "became human and took flesh." Of Him who took a material body, material images can be made. In so taking a material body, God proved that matter can be redeemed. He ?deified' matter, making it spirit-bearing, and so if flesh can be a medium for the Spirit, so can wood or paint, although in a different fashion.
+
; Concerning the doctrinal significance of icons : Icons are necessary and essential because they protect the full and proper doctrine of the Incarnation. While God cannot be represented in His eternal nature ("...no man has seen God", [[Gospel of John|John]] 1:18), He can be depicted simply because He "became human and took flesh." Of Him who took a material body, material images can be made. In so taking a material body, God proved that matter can be redeemed. He deified matter, making it spirit-bearing, and so if flesh can be a medium for the Spirit, so can wood or paint, although in a different fashion.
  
''I do not worship matter, but the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation...'' '''--[[John_of_Damascus|St. John of Damascus]] '''
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:''I do not worship matter, but the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation...'' '''—St. John of Damascus'''
  
The seventh and last Ecumenical Council upheld the Icondule's postion in AD 787. They proclaimed: "Icons... are to be kept in churches and honored with the same relative veneration as is shown to other material symbols, such as the ?precious and life-giving Cross' and the Book of the Gospels." The ?doctrine of icons' is tied to the Orthodox teaching that all of God's creation is to be redeemed and glorified, both spiritual and material.
+
The seventh and last Ecumenical Council upheld the iconodules' postion in AD 787. They proclaimed: ''Icons... are to be kept in churches and honored with the same relative veneration as is shown to other material symbols, such as the 'precious and life-giving [[Cross]]' and the Book of the Gospels.'' The 'doctrine of icons' is tied to the Orthodox teaching that all of God's creation is to be redeemed and glorified, both spiritual and material.
  
Some final thoughts on icons:
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==Commemoration ==
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The '''Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council''' are commemorated in October, on the [[Sunday of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council]].
  
''Icons... were dynamic manifestations of man's spiritual power to redeem creation through beauty and art. The colors and lines of the [icons] were not meant to imitate nature; the artists aimed at demonstrating that men, animals, and plants, and the whole cosmos, could be rescued from their present state of degradation and restored to their proper 'Image'. The [icons] were pledges of the coming victory of a redeemed creation over the fallen one... the artistic perfection of an icon was not only a reflection of the celestial glory --it was a concrete example of matter restored to its original harmony and beauty, and serving as a vehicle of the Spirit. The icons were part of the transfigured cosmos'' '''--Nicolas Zernov (1898-1980), The Russians and Their Church'''
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== Source ==
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*''The Orthodox Church'', Bishop [[Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia]]
  
''The icon is a song of triumph, and a revelation, and an enduring monument to the victory of the saints and the disgrace of the demons.'' --'''[[John_of_Damascus|St. John of Damascus]]'''
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== External links ==
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*[http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_INDEX.HTM Canons of the seven ecumenical councils]
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*[http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/icon_faq.aspx The Icon FAQ]
  
== Source ==
 
''The Orthodox Church'', Bishop KALLISTOS (Ware) of Diokletia
 
  
== External Links ==
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[[Category:Canon Law]]
http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_INDEX.HTM
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[[Category:Church Fathers]]
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[[Category:Church History]]
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[[Category:Councils]]
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[[Category:Creeds]]
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[[Category:Featured Articles]]
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[[Category:Ecumenical Councils]]
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[[Category:Heresies]]
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[[ar:المجامع المسكونية السبعة]]
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[[fr:7e Concile œcuménique]]
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[[mk:Седми вселенски собор]]
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[[ro:Sinodul VII Ecumenic]]

Latest revision as of 06:32, November 27, 2012

The Seventh Ecumenical Council took place in Nicea in 787 AD, and is also known as the Second Council of Nicaea. The last of the seven Ecumenical Councils dealt with the icons.

Contents

The Controversy

Disputes concerning the Person of Christ did not end with the sixth Council in AD 681, but continued through the eighth and ninth centuries. This time, the controversy focused on icons—pictures of Christ, the Theotokos, the saints, and holy events—and lasted for 120 years, starting in AD 726. Icons were kept and venerated in both churches and private homes. The two groups in the controversy were:

Iconoclasts 
also called "icon-smashers," they were suspicious of any art depicting God or humans; they demanded the destruction of icons because they saw icons as idolatry.
Iconodules 
also called "venerators of icons," they defended the place of icons in the Church.

The controversy, however, was more than a struggle over different views of Christian art. Deeper issues were involved, and it is these the Council addressed:

  • The character of Christ's human nature
  • The Christian attitude toward matter
  • The true meaning of Christian redemption and the salvation of the entire material universe


The controversy falls into two periods:

  1. From AD 726 when Leo III began his attack on icons until AD 780 when Empress Irene ended the attacks
  2. Again from AD 815 through AD 843 when Empress Theodora stamped out the attacks permanently


The iconoclasts had support from both inside and outside the Church. Outside the Church, there may have been influence from Jewish and Muslim ideas, and it is important to note that just prior to the iconoclast outbreak Muslim Caliph Yezid ordered the removal of all icons with his territory. Inside the Church there had always existed a "puritan" outlook which saw all images as latent idolatry.

Largely through the work of St. John of Damascus (c. 676-749), who, ironically, was housed in Muslim-controlled lands and therefore outside the reach of the Empire, the iconodules' position won out. He addressed the charges of the iconoclasts thus:

Concerning the charge of idolatry: Icons are not idols but symbols, therefore when an Orthodox venerates an icon, he is not guilty of idolatry. He is not worshipping the symbol, but merely venerating it. Such veneration is not directed toward wood, or paint or stone, but towards the person depicted. Therefore relative honor is shown to material objects, but worship is due to God alone.
We do not make obeisance to the nature of wood, but we revere and do obeisance to Him who was crucified on the Cross... When the two beams of the Cross are joined together I adore the figure because of Christ who was crucified on the Cross, but if the beams are separated, I throw them away and burn them. —St. John of Damascus

The Decision of the Council

Restoration of the Icons
Concerning the teaching of icons 
Venerating icons, having them in churches and homes, is what the Church teaches. They are "open books to remind us of God." Those who lack the time or learning to study theology need only to enter a church to see the mysteries of the Christian religion unfolded before them.
Concerning the doctrinal significance of icons 
Icons are necessary and essential because they protect the full and proper doctrine of the Incarnation. While God cannot be represented in His eternal nature ("...no man has seen God", John 1:18), He can be depicted simply because He "became human and took flesh." Of Him who took a material body, material images can be made. In so taking a material body, God proved that matter can be redeemed. He deified matter, making it spirit-bearing, and so if flesh can be a medium for the Spirit, so can wood or paint, although in a different fashion.
I do not worship matter, but the Creator of matter, who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, who through matter effected my salvation... —St. John of Damascus

The seventh and last Ecumenical Council upheld the iconodules' postion in AD 787. They proclaimed: Icons... are to be kept in churches and honored with the same relative veneration as is shown to other material symbols, such as the 'precious and life-giving Cross' and the Book of the Gospels. The 'doctrine of icons' is tied to the Orthodox teaching that all of God's creation is to be redeemed and glorified, both spiritual and material.

Commemoration

The Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council are commemorated in October, on the Sunday of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

Source

External links

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