Ecumenical council

Ecumenical council
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An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice.[1] The word "ecumenical" derives from the Greek language "οἰκουμένη", which literally means "the inhabited world",[2] - a reference to the Roman Empire that later was extended to apply to the world in general. Due to schisms, only the two earliest councils can be considered to have included bishops of the entire Christian Church, as it existed before those schisms. Later councils included bishops of only parts of the Church as previously constituted, leading the Christians who do not belong to those parts to reject the actions of those councils.

Acceptance of these councils thus varies between different branches of Christianity. Disputes over christological questions have led certain branches to reject some of the councils that others accept.


Acceptance of councils by denomination

The Assyrian Church of the East (accused by others of adhering to Nestorianism) accepts as ecumenical only the first two councils. Oriental Orthodox Churches accept the first three.[3] Both the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church recognise as ecumenical the first seven councils which were held from the 4th to the 9th century. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not accept any later council or synod as ecumenical. The Roman Catholic Church continues to hold general councils of the bishops in full communion with the Pope, reckoning them as ecumenical, and counting in all, including the seven recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church, twenty-one to date. Anglicans and confessional Protestants, accept either the first seven or the first four as Ecumenical councils.

Infallibility of ecumenical councils

The doctrine of the infallibility of ecumenical councils states that solemn definitions of ecumenical councils, approved by the Pope, which concern faith or morals, and to which the whole Church must adhere are infallible. Such decrees are often labeled as 'Canons' and they often have an attached anathema, a penalty of excommunication, against those who refuse to believe the teaching. The doctrine does not claim that every aspect of every ecumenical council is infallible.

The Roman Catholic Church holds this doctrine,[4] as do most or all Eastern Orthodox theologians. However, the Orthodox churches accept only the first seven general councils as genuinely ecumenical, while Roman Catholics accept twenty-one. Only a very few Protestants[who?] believe in the infallibility of ecumenical councils, but they usually restrict this infallibility to the Christological statements of the first seven councils[citation needed].

While the Russian Orthodox Church does recognize the first seven ecumenical councils as valid, some Russian Orthodox[who?] theologians believe that the infallibility of these councils' statements derived from their acceptance by the faithful (and thus from the infallibility of all believers), and not from the acts of the councils themselves. This differs from the Greek Orthodox view, which accepts that an ecumenical council is itself infallible when pronouncing on a specific matter.[5]

Council documents

Church councils were, from the beginning, bureaucratic exercises. Written documents were circulated, speeches made and responded to, votes taken, and final documents published and distributed. A large part of what we know about the beliefs of heresies comes from the documents quoted in councils in order to be refuted, or indeed only from the deductions based on the refutations.

Most councils dealt not only with doctrinal but also with disciplinary matters, which were decided in canons ("laws"). In some cases other survives as well. Study of the canons of church councils is the foundation of the development of canon law, especially the reconciling of seemingly contradictory canons or the determination of priority between them. Canons consist of doctrinal statements and disciplinary measures — most Church councils and local synods dealt with immediate disciplinary concerns as well as major difficulties of doctrine. Eastern Orthodoxy typically views the purely doctrinal canons as dogmatic and applicable to the entire church at all times, while the disciplinary canons apply to a particular time and place and may or may not be applicable in other situations.

The tradition before the councils given Ecumenical status

Of the seven councils recognized in whole or in part by both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, all were called by the Byzantine Emperor[6][7], not by the Pope. They were given legal status within the entire Roman Empire. All were held in the Byzantine Empire, not in Rome or any part of the Western Roman Empire. Not one council was attended by the Pope in person, although he sent legates to some of them.

The ecumenical councils are seen as traditional and as a continuation of previous councils or synods, which had already been held in the Empire before Christianity was made legal. Pre-ecumenical councils (also known as synods) include the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50), the Council of Rome (155 AD), the Second Council of Rome (193 AD), the Council of Ephesus (193 AD), the Council of Carthage (251 AD), the Council of Iconium (258 AD),[8] the Council of Antioch (264 AD), the Councils of Arabia (246-247 AD), the Council of Elvira (306 AD), the Council of Carthage (311 AD), the Synod of Neo-Caesarea (c.314 AD), the Council of Ancyra (314 AD) and the Council of Arles (314 AD).[9]

Of the Twenty-One Ecumenical Councils recognised by the Roman Catholic Church, some only gained recognition some time after the councils had closed.[10] The First Eight Councils were called by the Byzantine Emperor and the Sixteenth by a Holy Roman Emperor, not by a Pope. In the first millennium, various theological and political differences such as Nestorianism or Dyophysitism caused parts of the Church to separate. In the second millennium other divisions did not prevent the Church from holding further ecumenical councils, such as the Council of Chalcedon and the Council of Trent. The Roman Catholic Church does not consider the validity of an ecumenical council's teaching to be in any way dependent on where it is held or on the granting or withholding of prior authorization or legal status by any state, in line with the attitude of the 5th-century bishops who "saw the definition of the church's faith and canons as supremely their affair, with or without the leave of the Emperor" and who "needed no one to remind them that Synodical process pre-dated the christianisation of the royal court by several centuries".[11]

List of ecumenical councils

Council of Jerusalem

The Acts of the Apostles records the Council of Jerusalem, which addressed the question of observation of biblical law in the early Christian community which included Gentile converts. Although its decisions are accepted by all Christians, and still observed in full by the Greek Orthodox,[12] and later definitions of an ecumenical council appear to conform to this sole biblical Council, no Christian church calls it a mere ecumenical council, instead it is called the "Apostolic Council" or "Council of Jerusalem".

Fourth-century inscription, representing Christ as the Good Shepherd.

First seven ecumenical councils

In the history of Christianity, the First seven Ecumenical Councils, from the First Council of Nicaea (325) to the Second Council of Nicaea (787), represent an attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to unify Christendom under the State church of the Roman Empire.

All of the original Seven Ecumenical Councils as recognized in whole or in part were called by an emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire and all were held in the Eastern Roman Empire.[13][14]

  1. First Council of Nicaea (325) repudiated Arianism, declared that Christ is "homoousios with the Father" (of the same substance as the Father), and adopted the original Nicene Creed, fixed Easter date; recognized primacy of the sees of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch and granted the See of Jerusalem a position of honor.
  2. First Council of Constantinople (381) repudiated Arianism and Macedonianism, declared that Christ is "born of the Father before all time", revised the Nicene Creed in regard to the Holy Spirit.
  3. Council of Ephesus (431) repudiated Nestorianism, proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos ("Birth-giver to God", "God-bearer", "Mother of God"), repudiated Pelagianism, and reaffirmed the Nicene Creed.
    This and all the following councils in this list are not recognized by the Assyrian Church of the East.
    • Second Council of Ephesus (449) declared Eutyches orthodox and attacked his opponents.
      Though originally convened as an ecumenical council, this council is not recognized as ecumenical and denounced as a Robber Council by the Chalcedonians (Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants).
  4. Council of Chalcedon (451) repudiated the Eutychian doctrine of monophysitism, adopted the Chalcedonian Creed, which described the hypostatic union of the two natures of Christ, human and divine. Reinstated those deposed in 449 and deposed Dioscorus of Alexandria. Elevation of the bishoprics of Constantinople and Jerusalem to the status of patriarchates. This is also the last council explicitly recognised by the Anglican Communion.
    This and all the following councils in this list are rejected by the Oriental Orthodoxy.
  5. Second Council of Constantinople (553) repudiated the Three Chapters as Nestorian, condemned Origen of Alexandria, decreed the Theopaschite Formula.
  6. Third Council of Constantinople (680-681) repudiated Monothelitism and Monoenergism.
    • Quinisext Council, also called Council in Trullo[15] (692) addressed matters of discipline (in amendment to the 5th and 6th councils).
      The Ecumenical status of this council was repudiated by the western churches.
  7. Second Council of Nicaea (787) restored the veneration of icons (condemned at the Council of Hieria, 754) and repudiated iconoclasm.
    This council is rejected by some Protestant denominations, which condemn the veneration of icons.

Councils recognised as ecumenical in the Roman Catholic Church

As late as the 11th century, only seven councils were recognized as ecumenical in the Roman Catholic Church.[16] Then, in the time of Pope Gregory VII (1073–1085), canonists who in the Investiture Controversy quoted the prohibition in canon 22 of the Council of Constantinople of 869-870 against laymen influencing the appointment of prelates elevated this council to the rank of ecumenical council.[16] Only in the 16th century was recognition as ecumenical granted by Catholic scholars to the Councils of the Lateran, of Lyon and those that followed.[16]

Councils recognised as ecumenical by some Eastern Orthodox

Many Eastern Orthodox consider the Council of Constantinople of 879–880,[17] that of Constantinople in 1341–1351 and that of Jerusalem in 1672 to be ecumenical:

It is unlikely that formal recognition as ecumenical will be granted to these three councils, despite the acknowledged orthodoxy of their decisions, so that only seven are universally recognized among the Eastern Orthodox as ecumenical.[18]

The Pan-Orthodox Council now being prepared has sometimes been referred to as an "Eighth Ecumenical Council".[19]

Acceptance of the councils

Although some Protestants reject the concept of an ecumenical council establishing doctrine for the entire Christian faith, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox all accept the authority of ecumenical councils in principle. Where they differ is in which councils they accept and what the conditions are for a council to be considered "ecumenical". The relationship of the Papacy to the validity of ecumenical councils is a ground of controversy between Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Roman Catholic Church holds that recognition by the Pope is an essential element in qualifying a council as ecumenical;[20] Eastern Orthodox view approval by the Pope of Rome as being roughly equivalent to that of other patriarchs. Some have held that a council is ecumenical only when all five patriarchs of the Pentarchy are represented at it.[21][22][23][24][25]Others reject this theory in part because there were no patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem at the time of the first ecumenical council.[26]

By the Assyrian Church

The Assyrian Church of the East only accepts the First Council of Nicaea and the First Council of Constantinople. It was the formulation of Mary as the Theotokos which caused a schism with the Assyrian church. The Unia in the 16th century of the Catholic Church led to the Chaldeans being reconciled into full communion with Rome. Meetings between Pope John Paul II and the Assyrian Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV led to common Christological declarations in the 1990s stating that the differences between the Western and Eastern were primarily linguistic and historical rather than theological (owing to the difficulty of translating precise theological terms from Greek and/or Latin to Aramaic.) Aramaic is believed to have been the native language of Jesus.

By the Oriental Orthodox Church

Oriental Orthodoxy only accepts Nicaea I, Constantinople I and Ephesus I. The formulation of the Chalcedonian Creed caused a schism in the Alexandrian and Syriac churches. Reconciliatory efforts between Oriental Orthodox with the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church in the mid- and late-20th century have led to common Christological declarations. The Oriental and Eastern Churches have also been working toward reconciliation as a consequence of the ecumenical movement.

By the Eastern Orthodox churches

The Eastern Orthodox churches accept the first seven ecumenical councils,[27] with the Council in Trullo considered a continuation of the sixth.[28][29]

To be considered Ecumenical Orthodox accept a Council that meets the condition that it was accepted by the whole church. That it was called together legally is also important a factor. A case in point is the Third Ecumenical Council where two groups met as duly called for by the emperor, each claiming to be the legitimate council. The Emperor had called for bishops to assemble in the city of Ephesus. Theodosius did not attend[30] but sent his representative Candidian to preside.[31] However, Cyril managed to open the council over Candidian's insistent demands that the bishops disperse until the delegation from Syria could arrive. Cyril was able to completely control the proceedings, completely neutralizing Candidian who favored Cyril's antagonist, Nestorius. When the pro-Nestorius Antiochene delegation finally arrived, they decided to convene their own council over which Candidian presided.[32] The proceedings of both councils were reported to the emperor who decided ultimately to depose Cyril, Memnon and Nestorius.[33] Nonetheless, the Orthodox accept Cyril's group as being the legitimate council because it maintained the same teaching that the church has always taught.[citation needed]

Paraphrasing a rule by St Vincent of Lérins Hasler states

"...a teaching can only be defined if it has been held to be revealed at all times, everywhere, and by all believers. "[34]

Orthodox believe that councils could over-rule or even depose popes. At the Sixth Ecumenical Council Pope Honorius and Patriarch Sergius were declared heretics.[35] The council anathematized them[36] and declared them tools of the devil[37] and cast them out of the church[38]

It is their position that since the Seventh Ecumenical Council, there has been no synod or council of the same scope. Local meetings of hierarchs have been called "pan-Orthodox", but these have invariably been simply meetings of local hierarchs of whatever Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions are party to a specific local matter. From this point of view, there has been no fully "pan-Orthodox" (Ecumenical) council since 787. Unfortunately, the use of the term "pan-Orthodox" is confusing to those not within Eastern Orthodoxy, and it leads to mistaken impressions that these are ersatz ecumenical councils rather than purely local councils to which nearby Orthodox hierarchs, regardless of jurisdiction, are invited.

Others, including 20th century theologians Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Naupactus, Fr. John S. Romanides, and Fr. George Metallinos (all of whom refer repeatedly to the "Eighth and Ninth Ecumenical Councils"), Fr. George Dragas, and the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs (which refers explicitly to the "Eighth Ecumenical Council" and was signed by the patriarchs of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria as well as the Holy Synods of the first three), regard other synods beyond the Seventh Ecumenical Council as being ecumenical. Before the 20th century, the council of 879 AD was recognized as the 8th ecumenical council by people like the famous expert on Canon Law, Theodore Valsamon (11th century), St. Neilos of Rhodes, St. Mark Evgenicus (15th century), St. Symeon of Thessaloniki (15th century), and the Patriarch of Jerusalem Dositheus, in his Tome of Joy (17th century).[citation needed]

From the Eastern Orthodox perspective, a council is accepted as being ecumenical if it is accepted by the Eastern Orthodox church at large - clergy, monks and assembly of believers. Teachings from councils that purport to be ecumenical, but which lack this acceptance by the church at large, are, therefore, not considered ecumenical.[39][40][41]

Furthermore Orthodox understand councils were called for in reaction to crises within the church over matters of dogma. For Orthodox no further council would therefore be needed until such time as a major crises arose within the church.

By the Roman Catholic Church

Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches recognize seven councils in the early centuries of the church, but Roman Catholics also recognize fourteen councils in later times called or confirmed by the Pope.[citation needed] (The Council of Constance was called by the German King and later Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund and only obtained papal confirmation later.)[citation needed] The Council of Florence is an example of a council accepted as ecumenical in spite of being rejected by the East, as the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon were rejected by those whom the church considered to have thereby ceased to belong to the church.[citation needed] The remaining church at large - clergy, monks and assembly of believers - accepted the council in spite of its failure to heal the rift of the Great Schism.[citation needed]

The first seven councils were called by the Byzantine Emperors and the sixteenth by the future Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.[citation needed] Most historians agree that the emperors called the councils to force the Christian bishops to resolve divisive issues and reach consensus. One motivation for convening councils was the hope that maintaining unity in the Church would help maintain unity in the empires.[citation needed]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that an ecumenical council is a gathering of the College of Bishops (of which the Bishop of Rome is an essential part) to exercise in a solemn manner its supreme and full power over the whole Church.[42] It holds that "there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor".[43] Its present canon law requires that an ecumenical council be convoked and presided over, either personally or through a delegate, by the Pope, who is also to decide the agenda;[44][45] but the church makes no claim that all past ecumenical councils observed these present rules, declaring only that the Pope's confirmation or at least recognition has always been required, and saying that the version of the Nicene Creed adopted at the First Council of Constantinople (381) was accepted by the Church of Rome only seventy years later, in 451.[46] One writer has even claimed that this council was summoned without the knowledge of the pope.[47]

By the Anglican communion

While the Councils are part of the "historic formularies" of Anglican tradition,[48] it is difficult to locate an explicit reference in Anglicanism to the unconditional acceptance of all Seven Ecumenical Councils. There is little evidence of dogmatic or canonical acceptance beyond the statements of individual Anglican theologians and bishops.

Bishop Chandler Holder Jones, SSC, explains:

We indeed and absolutely believe all Seven Councils are truly ecumenical and catholic - on the basis of the received Tradition of the ancient Undivided Church of East and West. The Anglican formularies address only particular critical theological and disciplinary concerns of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and that certainly by design. Behind them, however, stands the universal authority of the Holy and Apostolic Tradition, which did not have to be rehashed or redebated by Anglican Catholics.[49]

He quotes Dr William Tighe, Associate Professor of History at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania (another member of the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism):

...despite the fact that advocates of all sides to the 16th-century religious conflict, Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed alike, were given to claiming that their particular doctrinal stances and, in some cases, distinctive practices, were in accord with those of the Early Church Fathers, or at least with those of high standing (such as St. Augustine), none [but Anglicanism] were willing to require, or even permit, their confessional stances to be judged by, or subordinated to, a hypothetical ‘patristic consensus’ of the first four or five centuries of Christianity.' But Anglicanism most certainly did, and does so to this day.[49]

Article XXI teaches: "General Councils ... when they be gathered together, forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and word of God, they may err and sometime have erred, even in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture."[50]

The 19th Canon of 1571 asserted the authority of the Councils in this manner: "let preachers take care that they never teach anything...except what is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and what the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops have collected from the same doctrine."[51] This remains the Church of England's teaching on the subject. A modern version of this appeal to catholic consensus is found in the Canon Law of the Church of England and also in the liturgy published in Common Worship:

The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. I, AB, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness; and in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon.[52]

By Lutheran and Methodist churches

Many Protestants (especially those belonging to the magisterial traditions, such as Lutherans, or those such as Methodists, that broke away from the Anglican Communion) accept the teachings of the first seven councils but do not ascribe to the councils themselves the same authority as Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox do. The Lutheran World Federation, in ecumenical dialogues with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has affirmed all of the first seven councils as ecumenical and authoritative.

By other Protestant denominations

Some, including some fundamentalist Christians, condemn the ecumenical councils for other reasons. Independency or congregationalist polity among Protestants may involve the rejection of any governmental structure or binding authority above local congregations; conformity to the decisions of these councils is therefore considered purely voluntary and the councils are to be considered binding only insofar as those doctrines are derived from the Scriptures. Many of these churches reject the idea that anyone other than the authors of Scripture can directly lead other Christians by original divine authority; after the New Testament, they assert, the doors of revelation were closed and councils can only give advice or guidance, but have no authority. They consider new doctrines not derived from the sealed canon of Scripture to be both impossible and unnecessary whether proposed by church councils or by more recent prophets (even though the canon itself was fixed by these councils).

By nontrinitarian churches

Not one council is recognised by nontrinitarian churches: Unitarians, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. The leadership of some groups — such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormon denominations — lay claim to a divine authority to lead the church today and view the ecumenical councils as misguided human attempts to establish doctrine, as though true beliefs were to be decided by debate rather than by revelation.

See also


  1. ^ "Catholic Encyclopedia". 
  2. ^ YourDictionary - ecumenical definition © 1996-2010 LoveToKnow, Corp. All Rights Reserved.
  3. ^ [ Coptic Orthodox Christian Center, "The Coptic Church"
  4. ^ Vatican I, Dei Filius ch. 3 ¶ 1. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium § 25 ¶ 2. 1983 Code of Canon Law 749 § 2.
  5. ^ "The infallibility of the Church does not mean that the Church, in the assembly of the Fathers or in the expression of the Conscience of the Church, has already formally expressed all the truths of faith and norms. The infallibility of the Church is confined to the formulation of truths in question. This infallibility is not wholly a God-inspired energy which would affect the participants of the synod to such an extent that they would be inspired to pronounce all the truths at one time as a whole system of a Christian catechism. The Synod does not formulate a system of beliefs encompassing all Christian teachings and truths, but only endeavors to define the particular disputed truth which was misunderstood and misinterpreted. The Church of Christ and its divine nature, as set forth above, is the foundation upon which the Eastern Orthodox Church [sic.] continues to administer and nourish its faithful, thereby protecting its fundamental essentials." Rev. George Mastrantonis, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 884
  11. ^ John Anthony McGuckin, Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy (St. Vladimir Seminary Press 2004 ISBN 9780881412598), p. 69
  12. ^ Karl Josef von Hefele's commentary on canon II of Gangra notes: "We further see that, at the time of the Synod of Gangra, the rule of the Apostolic Synod with regard to blood and things strangled was still in force. With the Greeks, indeed, it continued always in force as their Euchologies still show. Balsamon also, the well-known commentator on the canons of the Middle Ages, in his commentary on the sixty-third Apostolic Canon, expressly blames the Latins because they had ceased to observe this command. What the Latin Church, however, thought on this subject about the year 400, is shown by St. Augustine in his work Contra Faustum, where he states that the Apostles had given this command in order to unite the heathens and Jews in the one ark of Noah; but that then, this command concerning things strangled and blood had lost its meaning, and was only observed by few. But still, as late as the eighth century, Pope Gregory the Third 731 forbade the eating of blood or things strangled under threat of a penance of forty days. No one will pretend that the disciplinary enactments of any council, even though it be one of the undisputed Ecumenical Synods, can be of greater and more unchanging force than the decree of that first council, held by the Apostles at Jerusalem, and the fact that its decree has been obsolete for centuries in the West is proof that even Ecumenical canons may be of only temporary utility and may be repealed by disuser, like other laws."
  13. ^ [5]
  14. ^ [6]
  15. ^ The appellation "troullos" (Latin trullus, dome) comes from a dome-roofed palace in Constantinople, where the council was hosted.
  16. ^ a b c Francis Dvornik, “Which Councils are Ecumenical?” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 3(2), 1966, pp. 314-328
  17. ^ "In 879, two years after the death of Patriarch Ignatius, another council was summoned (many consider it the Eighth Ecumenical Council), and again St. Photius was acknowledged as the lawful archpastor of the Church of Constantinople" (Orthodox Church in America).
  18. ^ Orthodox Answers: Documents
  19. ^ Towards the "Eighth" Ecumenical Council
  20. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 884
  21. ^ Dvornik, The Ecumenical Councils (Hawthorn Books 1961), p. 80
  22. ^ Francis Aloysius Sullivan, Magisterium (Paulist Press 2010 ISBN 9780809125777) p. 86
  23. ^ M. Conradie, R. H. Gouws, D. J. Prinsloo (editors), Christian Identity (University of the Western Cape 2005 ISBN 1-919980-88-1), p. 23
  24. ^ Donald Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787) (Michael Glazier 1992 ISBN 9780814656167), p. 325
  25. ^ Rahner, Encyclopedia of Theology (Burns & Oates 1999 ISBN 9780860120063), p. 388
  26. ^ D. Whitehead, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic (Ignatius Press 2000 ISBN 9780898708028), p. 104
  27. ^ The Councils at Orthodox Church in America
  28. ^ The Ecumenical Councils of the Orthodox Church at OrthodoxChristianInfo
  29. ^ Runciman, S., (1977), The Byzantine Theocracy, (Cambridge University Press), p61.
  30. ^ Runciman, S., (1977), The Byzantine Theocracy, (Cambridge University Press), p37.
  31. ^ Garry Wills (10 September 2003). Why I Am a Catholic. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 82–. ISBN 978-0-618-38048-0. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  32. ^ Bury, J. B., (1958), History of the later Roman Empire : from the death of Theodosius I to the death of Justinian (A.D. 395 to A.D. 565) (Volume 1) ,(Dover Publications; NY), p353
  33. ^ McKinion, S. A., (2000), Words, Imagery, and the Mystery of Christ: A Reconstruction of Cyril of Alexandria's Christology (Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, V. 55), (Brill Academic Pub) p13.
  34. ^ Hasler, A. B., (1981) How the Pope Became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion (Doubleday; Garden City, NY), p153.
  35. ^ Sixth Ecumenical Council - Session XIII. The Sentence Against the Monothelites. (L. and C., Concilia, Tom. VI., col. 943.)
  36. ^ Session XVI. (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. VI., col. 1010.)
  37. ^ The Definition of Faith. (Found in the Acts, Session XVIII., L. and C., Concilia, Tom. VI., col. 1019.)
  38. ^ The Prosphoneticus to the Emperor. (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. VI., col. 1047 et seqq.)
  39. ^ Hasler, A. B. (1981). How the Pope Became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. p. 153. 
  40. ^ "Ecumenicity at Orthodox Wiki". "An ecclesiological theory which has been popular since the time of the Slavophile philosopher Alexis Khomiakov first defined it is that ecumenicity—the idea that a particular council is of universal, infallible significance for the Church—is determined by the reception of the whole body of the Church." 
  41. ^ "Sunday of the Holy Fathers from the 4th Ecumenical Council - The Right Worship"]. "So the new teachings, that are outside the ecumenical councils cannot be accepted because they have not been verified (by) the whole body of the Church." 
  42. ^ TheCatechism of the Catholic Church, 883-884 states: "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head. As such, this college has supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff. The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council."
  43. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 884
  44. ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 338
  45. ^ of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 51
  46. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 247
  47. ^ Whelton, M., (1998) Two Paths: Papal Monarchy f– Collegial Tradition (Regina Orthodox Press; Salisbury, MA), p51.
  48. ^ For additional references to this section and for more on the Anglican position, see Dr CB Moss The Church of England and the Seventh Council
  49. ^ a b The Seven Ecumenical Councils in Anglicanism
  50. ^ An Exposition Of The Thirty-Nine Articles V2: Historical And Doctrinal by Edward Harold Browne.
  51. ^ The Sufficiency of Holy Scripture as the Rule of Faith By Daniel Wilson, Bishop of Calcutta.
  52. ^ See Common Worship ISBN 071512000X

Further reading

  • Tanner, Norman P. The Councils of the Church, ISBN 0824519043.
  • Tanner, Norman P. Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ISBN 0878404902.
  • Michalopoulos, Dimitris, "The First Council of Nicaea: The end of a conflict or beginning of a struggle?", Uluslarasi Iznik Semposyumu, Iznik (Turkey), 2005, pp. 47–56. ISBN 975-7988-30-8.

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  • Ecumenical council — Council Coun cil (koun s[i^]l), n. [F. concile, fr. L. concilium; con + calare to call, akin to Gr. ??? to call, and E. hale, v., haul. Cf. {Conciliate}. This word is often confounded with counsel, with which it has no connection.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ecumenical council — noun (early Christian church) one of seven gatherings of bishops from around the known world under the presidency of the Pope to regulate matters of faith and morals and discipline the first seven councils through 787 are considered to be… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ecumenical council — Ecumenic Ec u*men ic, Ecumenical Ec u*men ic*al, a. [L. oecumenicus, Gr. ? (sc. ?) the inhabited world, fr. ? to inhabit, from o i^kos house, dwelling. See {Economy}.] General; universal; in ecclesiastical usage, that which concerns the whole… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ecumenical council — a solemn assembly in the Roman Catholic Church, convoked and presided over by the pope and composed of cardinals, bishops, and certain other prelates whose decrees, when confirmed by the pope, become binding. Also, Ecumenical Council. * * * …   Universalium

  • Ecumenical Council of Lyon — can refer to two councils held in the Primacy of Lyon: *the First Ecumenical Council of Lyon in 1245, being the Thirteenth Ecumenical Council *the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyon in 1274 …   Wikipedia

  • ecumenical council —    See councils, ecumenical; councils, general …   Glossary of theological terms

  • ECUMENICAL COUNCIL —    an ecclesiastical council representative, or accepted as representative, of the Church universal or Catholic.    See COUNCILS, CHURCH …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • ecumenical council — church council …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Constantinople, Fifth Ecumenical Council at —    Ecumenical council (q.v.) convened by Justinian I (q.v.) in 553 to condemn the Nestorianism (q.v.) of the Three Chapters (q.v.). Justinian s ulterior motive was to attempt to gain Monophysite (q.v.) adherence to the previous Council of… …   Historical dictionary of Byzantium

  • Ecumenical Council — /ɛkjəmɛnɪkəl ˈkaʊnsəl/ (say ekyuhmenikuhl kownsuhl) noun Roman Catholic Church a conclave representative of the entire Church convened at a specific date and place to consider important questions of dogma and practice and to reach a conclusion… …  

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