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The Church In The Eastern Empire





At the beginning of the permanent division of the Empire, the church life
of the East was disturbed by a series of closely connected disputes known
as the First Origenistic Controversy ( 87), in which were comprised a
conflict between a rationalistic tendency, connected with the religious
philosophy of Origen, and a traditionalism that eschewed speculation, a
bitter rivalry between the great sees of Alexandria, the religious and
intellectual capital of the East, and Constantinople, the church of the
new imperial city, and personal disputes. But more serious controversies
were already beginning. While the Church of the West was laying the
foundations of the papal system, the Church of the East was falling more
and more under the dominance of the secular authority; while the West was
developing its anthropology, with its doctrines of Original Sin, Grace,
and Election, the East was entering upon the long discussion of the topic
which had been left by the Arian controversy--granted that the incarnate
Son of God is truly eternal God, in what way are the divine and human
natures related to the one personality of the incarnate God ( 88)? The
controversies that arose over this topic involved the entire Church of the
East, and found in the general councils of Ephesus, A. D. 431 ( 89), and
Chalcedon, A. D. 451 ( 90), partial solutions. In the case of each
council, permanent schisms resulted, and large portions of the Church of
the East broke away from the previous unity ( 91); and on account of the
intimate connection between the affairs of the Church and the secular
policy of the Empire, a schism was caused between the see of Rome and the
churches in communion with the see of Constantinople.





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