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Christianity /
Ecumenical council

Ecumenical councils
1 325 First Council of Nicaea
2 381 First Council of Constantinople
3 431 Council of Ephesus
4 451 Council of Chalcedon
5 553 Second Council of Constantinople
6 680-681 Third Council of Constantinople
... 786 Interrupted council at Constantinople
7 787 Second Council of Nicaea

In Christianity, assemblies convened to decide upon questions relating to theology, administration and discipline. The Roman Catholic Church defines the ecumenical council as the supreme authority.
The first meeting defined as a Christian council was in the middle of 1st century CE, in Jerusalem with Peter, Paul and other Christian leaders (Acts 15:1-31). This council dealt with the question whether non-Jews could convert to Christianity (or Jesus-Judaism as it still was) , as well as how to maintain Jewish with converts.
Regional councils soon emerged as an important instrument in solving questions of the emerging religion.
Ecumenical councils began in 325 in Nicaea, in which bishops from all over the Christian world were represented. Since then, such meetings have been held numerous times. In this context, the 7 ecumenical councils of early Christianity are dealt with. The Roman Catholic Church lists 21 ecumenical councils; Protestants and Orthodox churches only accept the 7. Martin Luther even came to accept onlyu the first 4.
The 7 ecumenical councils were convened by the Byzantine emperor, the strongest Christian leader of the time. Later that power passed on to the Pope in Rome.
Throughout the 7 councils, there were a few questions more controversial, which had final decisions made for them: Arianism; Monophysitism; Monothelitism; and Christian iconoclasm.
"Ecumenical" comes from Greek oikoumene, meaning "the inhabited world". The terms involved here are confusing, and seem to change depending on relations within the Christian world and with political changes. Terms "synod" and "council" occasionally overlaps, although "synod" seldom is used for large meetings. How "ecumenical" is understood also varies; the term "general" is often used in place of "ecumenical".

By Tore Kjeilen