Today is the anniversary of one of the most important events in Church history: on October 22nd, 451, the Council of Chalcedon published their declaration regarding the divinity and humanity of Christ:
Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; “like us in all things but sin.” He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. The distinction between natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis. (emphasis added)
This decree, which was based on Pope Leo’s famous Tome, crystallized orthodox Christology and avoided the extremes which sought to either subsume Christ’s humanity into his divinity or deny his true divinity. Although today the declaration appears to be almost obvious in its simplicity, it was the result of over 120 years of debate, dating back to the Council of Nicea. I find it to be one of the most beautiful creedal statements every produced.
Chalcedon was also the last of the Four Great Councils, of which St. Gregory the Great said, “I confess that I receive and revere, like the four books of the holy Gospel, four Councils…for on them as on a cornerstone rises the structure of the holy faith”. The vast majority of Christians around the world accept these four councils as teaching the true faith, and theologians consider them to be the foundation for all orthodox theology regarding the Trinity and Christology.
Take some time today to thank the Holy Spirit for leading the Church to all truth, just as Christ promised He would (John 16:13).