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Synod of Jerusalem

1672. A generation after the violent death of Cyril Lucar,* who had brought Calvinism into the Eastern Church, the occasion of the consecration of the restored Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem provided an opportunity to exterminate the lingering effects of that influence. Dositheus,* patriarch of Jerusalem (since 1669), with his retired predecessor Nectarius,* convened a synod in Jerusalem in March 1672, in which six other metropolitans among sixty-eight Eastern bishops and ecclesiastics from as far as Russia participated. Their signed decisions serve Eastern Orthodoxy as an equivalent to the Roman Catholic Council of Trent.*

The acts of the synod are in two parts. The “Six Chapters” attack the so-called Confession of Cyril Lucar, declaring it to be forgery, so as to refute the Calvinist impact in a context which shows the patriarchate to have been free from error even while the writings of a patriarch are anathematized. The “Eighteen Articles,” to which are appended four questions catechetical style, serve as a renewed declaration of faith; these were drafted chiefly by Dositheus as his “Confession” and have come to be called “the shield of orthodoxy.” Article I states the Trinitarian formula with single procession of the Spirit. Article II and the first three questions deal with the relation of Scripture to an authoritative Tradition, the questions making it clear that Scripture, defined as including the Apocrypha (3), being full of difficulties (2), ought not be read indiscriminately by all (1), and hence can receive proper interpretation only within that church free from error. Others equally emphasized traditional “Catholic” doctrine over against the “new” doctrines of the Reformation.

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