The first Seven Ecumenical Councils fundamentally defined the Christian faith. These councils were gatherings of the important figures of the Christian world who voted on doctrinal matters and instituted laws for the church.
In this five volume set the German Catholic bishop and theologian Karl Josef von Hefele gives the full history of these important councils and the events surrounding them.
The seven councils are summarized below:
First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.)
+ Arianism the belief that the Son of God did not always exist, but was created byand is therefore distinct fromGod the Father. The First Council of Nicaea declared this belief heretical, as did the First Council of Constantinople.
+ Easter date the date for celebrating Easter was chosen so as not to conflict or be on the same day as the Jewish Passover.
+ Meletius of Lycopolis bishop of Lycopolis in Egypt. Founder and namesake of the Melitians, who refused to receive in communion those Christians who had renounced their faith during the persecution and later repented of that choice.
+ Nicene Creed the declaration of the faith of the church
+ 20 Canon Laws issued, including several addressing the primacy of Roman, Antochian, and Alexandrian patriarchs.
First Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.)
+ Arianism the belief that the Son of God did not always exist, but was created byand is therefore distinct fromGod the Father. The First Council of Constantinople declared this belief heretical, as did the First Council of Nicaea.
+ Macedonianism also known as Pneumatomachi; an anti-Nicene Creed sect which flourished in the countries adjacent to the Hellespont during the latter half of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth century. They denied the divinity of the Holy Ghost, hence the Greek name Pneumatomachi or 'Combators against the Spirit'.
First Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.)
+ Nestorius teachings included rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos ("Mother of God") for the Virgin Mary, and were understood by many to imply that he did not believe that Christ was truly God. The Council formally condemned him and his followers for heresy.
+ Nestorianism emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus.
+ Caelestius major follower of the Christian teacher Pelagius and the Christian doctrine of Pelagianism, which was opposed to Augustine of Hippo and his doctrine in original sin, and was later declared to be heresy. He and his followers were declared heretics during this council.
+ Nicene Creed the declaration of the faith of the church - confirmed. Departure from the creed decreed as heretical.
+ excommunication eviction from the church. This was the punishment decreed at this council for those who did not accept Church doctrine
+ The Virgin Mary Mary, mother of Jesus. This council decreed she is to be called Theotokos (God-bearer)
Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.)
+ Chalcedonian Creed declares that Jesus Christ is both truly God and truly Man
+ 27 Canon Laws
Second Council of Constantinople (553 A.D.)
+ Three Chapters three people and their writings person and writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia,Certain writings of Theodoret of Cyrus,The letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris repudiated as Nestorian
Third Council of Constantinople (680-681 A.D.)
+ Monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will. This council repudiated this belief.
+ Monoenergism teaches that Jesus had two natures but only one "energy." This council repudiated this belief.
Second Council of Nicaea (787 A.D.)
+ Byzantine Iconoclasm the practice of destroying icons and images. This council repudiated this belief.
+ This council decreed that altars must contain a relic.
+ 22 Canon Laws
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