Second Ecumenical Council, Canon 1.previous | next
The holy Fathers assembled in Constantinople have decided not to set aside the faith of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers who met in Nicaea, Bithynia, but to let it remain sovereign, and that every heresy be anathematized, and especially and specifically that of the Eunomians, including that of the Eudoxians, and that of the Semi-Arians, including that of the Pneumatomachs, and that of the Sabellians, and that of the Marcellians, and that of the Photinians, and that of the Apollinarians.
(c. V of the 2nd; cc. I and V of the 6th; c. II of Car.)
This first Canon of the present Council asserts that the 150 Holy Fathers who convened in Constantinople decided that the Orthodox faith, meaning the creed adopted by the 318 Fathers who had convened in Nicaea, Bithynia, should remain solid and inviolable, and that every heresy should be anathematized. In particular, the heresy of the Eunomians, or of those called Eudoxians, the heresy of the Semi-Arians, or of those known as Pneumatomach (i.e., spirit-fighters), the heresy of the followers of Sabellius, the heresy of the adherents of Marcellus, the heresy of the pupils of Photinus, and the heresy of those of Apollinaris.
 Note that the followers of Arius subsequently to the First Nicene Council were divided into three classes, according to St. Epiphanius (Haer. 73 and 74), and some were called Anomoeans, because they said that the Son was in all respects unlike the Father. They were led by Eunomius the Gaul, the bishop of Cyzicus, who was wont to rebaptize those joining his cacodoxy with a single immersion, holding their feet up and their head down. He also pratingly asserted that there is no hell or gehenna in reality, but that fear of it is instilled as a threat; and his views were held also by Aetius. Though called Eunomians, they were also known as Eudoxiansr from Eudoxius, who was like-minded with Eunomius and had served as a Patriarch of Constantinople, and had ordained Eunomius bishop of Cyzicus.
 Others were called Semi-Arians because they entertained half the heresy engendered by Arius. They said the Son was like the Father in all respects and coessential with the Father, but they refused to admit the word coessential as above in spite of the fact that it had been in use among the ancient Fathers even before the First Ecumenical Council (see the Prolegomena to the First Council). Their leader was Basil the bishop of Ancyra. Being one of this faction of Semi-Arians, Macedonius even proceeded to wage war upon the divinity of the Holy Spirit; but the present Second Council condemned him, since his followers were called Pneumatomachs (i.e., spirit-fighters, or opponents of the spirit). A third group called the Son neither like nor unlike the Father, but took a view midway between that of the Arians and that of the Semi-Arians.
 Sabellius, who hailed from Lydia and had served as a bishop of Ptolemais in Pentapolis, after becoming attached to the heresy of Noetus, a Smyrnean according to Theodore and Epiphanius, but an Ephesian according to Augustine, disseminated it to such an extent that those who were driveling it came to be called after him Sabellians, instead of Noetians. He asserted that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit were three names for one and the same person, and that that person was called at times the Father, and at times the Son, and at oth3r times the Holy Spirit according to the diversities of that person’s activities and operations.
 Marcellus was from Ancyra. But he embraced the heresy of Sabellius, and not only called Christ a mere man, but also prated that after the second judgment the body of the Lord has to be thrown away, and to go into non-being, according to Euseb. Eccl. Hist., book 3; and that consequently His kingdom will come to an end.
 Photinus, who hailed from Sirmium and had served as bishop of Sirmium, entertained the same views as Paul of Samosata. For he neither recognized the Holy Trinity as a God, calling it only a Spirit creative of the universe, and declaring the Logos to be only the oral word, serving as a sort of mechanical instrument, nor did he call Christ a God, but only a mere human being who had imbibed that oral word from God and had received existence from Mary. According to Sozomenus, Eccl. Hist., book 4, ch. 6. Concerning this see also c. VII of Laodicea.
 Apollinaris, who became a bishop of Laodicea, Syria, embraced the heresy of Arius, who asserted among other things that the Logos (or rational faculty) served the body of Christ in lieu of a soul. According to both Athanasius and Epiphanius, at times he used to say that the Logos received a body without a soul, while at other times, being ashamed of his ignorance or want of knowledge, he would say that He received a soul, but a mindless one and an irrational one, separating, in accordance with the Platonists the soul from the mind. He even went so far as to say that we ought not to adore or worship a God-bearing human being; but, taking him up on this point, Gregory the Theologian countered that we ought to adore or worship not God-bearing flesh, but man-bearing God (see St. Gregory the Theologian’s letter 2 to Cledonius). He even went on to prate that Christ possessed the flesh from ever since the time the world began (or, as the Greek idiom has it, “from the age”), because he misunderstood the phrase “the second man (came) from heaven” (1 Cor. 15:47), and consequently took it that He had received no flesh from the Virgin, as Basil attests in one of his letters.