The Council of Philippopolis (Nicene Orthodoxy and Arian Heresy)
The core of the theme is chronologically situated in the Roman-Byzantine period, when with the construction of the new capital, the center of gravity of the Empire moved from West to East. Some forms of Christianity do not accept the Nicene doctrine. The antagonism between Orthodoxy and Arianism was to the detriment of the Empire, so during the reign of Emperor Constantius II, a staunch and zealous Arian, the struggle against Nicaean Orthodoxy was waged mercilessly.
The Council of Serdica was convened as a Second Ecumenical Council of the Christ’s Church with good intentions as an ecumenical council, with the task of pacifying the empire religiously. The separation of the Eastern bishops into a separate council in Philippopolis changed the type of council from Serdica, turning it into a purely western local church council.
This is the historical period that is busiest with councils, symbols of the faith and events related to the development of Arianism, regrouping and divisions between its adherents or its opponents. Councils are convened against councils, fiercely defending their positions; symbols of faith are drawn against other symbols of faith, counter-anathemas are opposed to anathemas. The pagan historian Amian Marcellinus wrote, “The roads of the empire were overcrowded with galloping bishops.”
The fourth century belongs to the third epoch of the first period in the classification of the science of General Church History, during which the heresies concerning the person of the Incarnate Son of God raise many dogmatic questions. This is the age of the first Ecumenical Council; a period of rapid development of the church hierarchy and administration. Shortly after the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, the reaction of the pro-Arian coalition rose to the East, which went on the offensive and attacked in order to eliminate everywhere in the East those for whom Orthodoxy remained the symbol of faith defined at the Council of Nicaea. The anti-Nicene reaction was a significant force. Politically strong, Arianism came on the scene as a sworn enemy of everything that defined the Nicene Creed. From Palestine to Thrace, a dozen episcopal centers saw their Orthodox bishops removed from office after a series of church councils between 326 and 335.
The Council of Philippopolis in 343 was a significant event in the development of Arianism; a council that marks the confrontation between adherents and opponents of the Nicene Creed, between Orthodoxy and non-Orthodoxy. After the counter-council held at Philippopolis, the East and the West finally confronted, not in a geographical sense, but in relation to the first, in a complete form of division, in the history of the Christian Church.
The Council of Philippopolis in 343 was a significant event in the development of Arianism, a council that marked the clash between adherents and opponents of the Nicene Creed, between Orthodoxy and non-Orthodoxy.
The practical significance of the results of the research is determined by the theoretical relevance of the historical and ecclesiastical-legal analysis of the Council of Philippopolis and its projection in the general ecclesiastical history.
The antinomy in the East-West conflict, which is repeatedly emphasized in the work, is based on the words of the jurors themselves, in paragraph 25 of the Philippopolis epistle, where it reads: a hurricane and a flood in the world, upsetting almost the whole of East and West, so that each of us neglects our church duties, abandons God’s people and gospel teaching to come from afar… What more can we say? … “, and precisely with the meaning they give it – of a universal confrontation, which affected all parts of the world at that time and of one, the apostolic and Catholic Church of Christ. For the Eastern counter-council, the confrontation is conditioned by the violation of the ancient church regulations with the introduction of a new law, according to which the Eastern bishops will be judged by the Western ones – novam legam introducere puntaverunt, ut Orientales episkopi ab Occidentalibus indicarentur. The autonomy of the Eastern ecclesiastical councils was defended in Philippopolis with extreme aggression, because its members believed that the very discussion of the decisions of the councils of the East was offensive to the members of these councils.
There are differences and debates in science about the year of the fairs in Serdica and Philippopolis. Today, according to the testimony of Historia acephata and other sources, we can more accurately date the scheduling of the council in Serdica in 343 (or 1096 Ab urbe condita, from the founding of the city, ie Rome), and not erroneously indicated in Socrates and Sozomen 347. After the dissolution of the council, St. Athanasius went to Naissus (now Nis), where he celebrated Easter in 344, and for Easter the following year he was invited by Emperor Constantine to Aquileia. Bishop Athanasius returned to Alexandria after his second exile in 346 – information confirmed by Jerome, who tells us that Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria returned in the 10th year of the reign of Emperor Constantine. The Easter letters of St. Athanasius inform us that the council was held at least two years before he was found again in Alexandria, i.e. began in the autumn of 343 and resumed its meetings in early 344, also testifying to us that the two delegates sent by Serdica to Emperor Constantius arrived in Antioch for the feast of Passover in the same year 344.
Therefore, it can be said with certainty that the District Conciliar Message of the Eastern Group of Philippopolis was compiled, signed and sent before Easter in 344 years. At the end of the same year, 344, representatives of the Eastern group of bishops arrived in the West to present their views to Emperor Constantine and to present him with their Creed (this is in fact the so-called “ektesis makrostihchos” or IV. symbol of the Council of Sanctification, in enceniis, extended by a series of anathemas).
At the opening of the council in Serdica, almost equal numbers of representatives from the East and the West were represented, about 80 from each country. Upon their arrival in Serdica, the bishops split into two hostile groups. In vain did Bishop Osiy of Cordoba try to reconcile them. The eastern group leaves the city. With the adoption of the rules and the issuance of the encyclical, the work of the Western Athanasius Party in Serdica ended.
The most discussed and contested of the Serdica rules are those concerning the right to appeal to the Bishop of Rome. Regarding these canons of “right of appeal” by Serdica, the view of the Catholic theologians-canonists (with few exceptions) is that the Council of Serdica in 343 gave an exclusive place to the Roman throne, as a guardian and guarantor of ecclesial unity; that one can always appeal to the Roman Church because “it was founded by Peter.” The mention of the name of the Bishop of Rome – Julius, in the third canon of Serdica, many authors take as limiting the effect of the canon with the time he was on the Roman Episcopal throne, because at that time he was the only guarantor of the Nicene Orthodox faith. religion of the West during the Arian crisis; but others oppose the opposite view, pointing out the fifth canon of Serdica, which contains only the “Bishop of Rome,” that is, without any restrictions, and before that the name of Bishop Julius was added because he was well known as a person. and power, and from a clear position. Next, the Council of Serdica recognized the supreme legal authority in the ecclesiastical affairs of the Roman high priest, only in his capacity as a defender of the Orthodox faith from Nicaea and not in the sense of the supreme judge, but as empowered to convene a new council to investigate right in the evening make decisions on ecclesiastical criminal proceedings, if you are convinced that the appeal is justified. It can be argued that Rules 3, 4 and 5 of the Council of Serdica introduced an extraordinary procedure of a temporary nature within the antinomy “Nicene Orthodoxy-Arian Heresy”.