Differences between Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches
It is very heartening to read in Abba Seraphim's introduction to "Our Daily Life" that progress is being made to heal the oldest schism in Christianity, that between the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. To a Westerner, there would be little to distinguish the two branches, yet an Antiochian Orthodox priest once told me that being "non-Chalcedonian Christians", the Oriental Orthodox Churches are in greater schism with them than are the Western churches, the RC essentially, which was a party to all of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. So can someone who really understands these things explain the long duration of this schism and whether or not it has any bearing on the reality of living a Christian life.
My incomplete understanding is that the Chalcedonian definition of Christ's nature said that He had two natures, one divine and one human. The Oriental Churches claimed that He had but one nature which was both human and divine. Hence the term Monophysite. Yet to a merely amateur theologian like me, we are dealing in semantics. If there is any important difference between Christ having two natures, human and divine, or one nature, human and divine, its certainly lost on me. The politics of power are far more likely to be behind the schism as is the theology. The Popes refused to accept the filioque for almost half a millennium before it was forced on them by the Carolingians.
Any moves which can be made to right the wrongs of history must be most welcome, but are there any other important issues dividing the two families of Christian Orthodoxy? Due both to geography and history, the Orthodox Church has the right to call itself the Church of Christ. Yet a Westerner enquiring would want to know how deep these divisions go.
Yours in Christ