Church of Caucasian Albania - Structure of The Church - Theology


The Church of Caucasian Albania was represented in the early œcumenical councils but similarly to a number of other Oriental Orthodox churches, it generally did not accept the Chalcedonian Creed (a doctrine condemning monophysitism and propagating the dual nature of Jesus Christ) adopted at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451, viewing it as a return to Nestorianism. In 491, Caucasian Albanian bishops, along with Armenian Catholicos Babgen I and Georgian bishops at Vagharshapat, condemned the Chalcedonian creed. Later synods held at Dvin in 527 and 551 also condemned the Council of Chalcedon.

At the First Council of Dvin held in 506, the Caucasian Albanian, Armenian, and Georgian churches all declared doctrinal unity with each other, and also possibly with the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches as well. Specifically, at this council the Church of Caucasian Albania rejected both Nestorianim and the legitimacy and beliefs of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon. As of the late 6th century, both Nestorian and Chalcedonian beliefs were popular enough in Caucasian Albania to provoke a letter of concern, dated sometime between the years 568 and 571, from Armenian Catholicos Hovhannes addressed to Bishop Vrtanes and Prince Mihr-Artashir of Syunik province. Around the same time, representatives of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem were actively promoting Chalcedonian beliefs in Caucasian Albania. Indeed, it is likely that because of such advocacy and possible coercive pressure, dioceses of the Church of Caucasian Albania located in Jerusalem had already accepted Chalcedonian beliefs and had begun promoting them back home. By probably the first decade of the 7th century, though, the Church of Caucasian Albania had already come back into communion with the Armenian Apostolic Church as a fellow non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox Church.

In the late 7th century Catholicos Nerses attempted to install the Chalcedonian rite in Caucasian Albania. According to Kaghankatvatsi, Nerses was the Bishop of Gardman who adhered to diophysitism, as did the queen-consort of Caucasian Albania, Spram, the wife of Varaz-Tiridates I. In 688, with Spram's help, Nerses managed to be appointed as Patriarch, planning to bring the country under the Chalcedonian creed. Many members of the ruling class and clergy accepted his ideas, whereas those that remained loyal to the original teachings of the Church (including Israel, Bishop of Mets Kolmanķ), became subject to repression. The growth of diophysitism was contrary to the interests of the Arabs who had taken over most of the Caucasus by the early 8th century, because diophysitism was regarded as Greek in essence and thus associated with territorial aspirations of the Byzantine Empire. In 705, the anti-Chalcedonian clergy of Caucasian Albania convoked a council and anathematised Nerses and his supporters. Elias, Catholicos of Armenia, followed up by writing a letter to Caliph Abd al-Malik notifying him of the political threat that Chalcedonianism was posing to the region. Abd al-Malik arranged for the arrest of Nerses and Spram, who were then bound in fetters and exiled.

In light of the fact that leaders of the modern Caucasian Albanian Church are considering sending potential clergy to study in Russia, its future may be with Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Read more about this topic:  Church Of Caucasian Albania, Structure of The Church

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