What Were the Aftereffects of the Council of Chalcedon? | Church History

The Alexandrians and some Antiochians were not fond of the treatment of Dioscorus or the way the Tome of Leo was imposed on all the Churches. Indeed, some saw the council as a betrayal of Cyril of Alexandria because it canonized the language of two natures which he had only conceded to for the sake of reunion, as in the formula of reunion, but had never established as a standard. Statements in the Tome of Leo, such as “The one [referring to the divine nature] of these shines out in miracles, the other [referring to the human nature] succumbs to injuries” seemed to be betraying Cyril’s line of thinking where all qualities and activities are to be attributed to the hypostasis rather than the distinct natures. In other words, only one person, namely Christ can be born, suffer or perform a miracle rather than ascribing hunger, thirst, and suffering to the human nature as a dual nature to the divinity in which case could only perform miracles. Consequently, the divinity would not be in full unity with humanity.

The Tome of Leo sounded both ambiguous and unfit to be the standard of faith due to its usage of the Latin terms of “persona” which could be translated to mean “prosopon” – literally face – in reference to the unity between divinity and humanity rather than ‘hypostatic union’: the unity of the divine and human natures at the level of the “persona” implied outward realities becoming one (‘face’) as opposed to “hypostatic union” or “natural unity” which is a more internal union. 

In other words, Cyril was inclined to emphasize the union of the divine and human natures in one composite nature, without their mingling and each remaining unaltered, to affirm the reality of the union being natural, that is hypostatic and internal. The Latin reading of the tome of Leo however could imply the unity to be between a divine and a human person thus rendering the unity to be a mere conjunction, that is prosopic and external. This implication raised incredulity on the part of a number of attendee bishops including both those who subscribed and rejected Chalcedon.

These factors together with the political factors of deposing Dioscorus without Juvenal of Jerusalem and the readmission of Ibas of Edessa and Theodoret of Cyrus was seen by the anti-Chalcedonians negatively and one that is leaning towards the teaching of Nestorius. This caused a violent schism between the Chalcedonians and anti-Chalcedonians. The Chalcedonians accused the anti-Chalcedonians of being monophysites or Eutychians (or those who adopted the ‘single-nature’ form of Christology wherein Christ’s humanity was overcome by the Divinity to form a single nature). The anti-Chalcedonians accused the Chalcedonians of being Nestorians, viewing them as believers in two separate natures of Christ. This caused riots and mobs to cause disturbance within Alexandria and Antioch. A lot of blood was shed, to the extent that 10,000 anti-Chalcedonian Christians in Alexandria were killed at one time for choosing their own patriarch rather than succumbing to the imperially appointed Chalcedonian patriarch. The anti-Chalcedonians have also been accused of murdering one of the Chalcedonian patriarchs who acted as both patriarch and prefect (or governor) simultaneously. His attempts to subdue anti-Chalcedonians were seen as attempts of colonization under the pretext of promulgating the theological formulations of a council. 

The schism in the East was treated by the Henotikon, a formula of faith, coined by Zeno in 481 AD the emperor, that was Christologically satisfactory to both sides inasmuch as it clarified that both sides had the same faith regarding Christ. However, its omission of anything related to Chalcedon was infuriating for the Church of Rome to the extent that the Pope severed communion with all the bishops of the East who signed the document as it was seen as a betrayal of Chalcedon. This schism came to be known as the Acacian schism after Acacius, bishop of Constantinople, who accepted the Henotikon despite Felix of Rome’s rejection. Alexandrians were no less suspicious of Chalcedon and the Henotikon and wished that Chalcedon be expunged from the Church’s memory. Anti-Chalcedonian masses were suspicious of their own patriarchs and bishops who would sign the Henotikon. In a way, the schism persisted because of the zealotry of both Alexandrian anti-Chalcedonians and Roman Chalcedonians. The former party saw Chalcedon in a purely negative light whereas the latter perceived Chalcedon’s authority to be valid and unquestionable. Ultimately, the reunion of the Henotikon would fail and the schism would persist after Zeno died in 491 AD.