Ecumenical Council Quotes

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By a divine miracle, the pope of Vatican II taught that Vatican II contained no extraordinary dogma and did not carry the mark of infallibility — meaning the documents of Vatican II are fallible and may contain error. Unlike the previous twenty ecumenical councils, the pope placed an asterisk next to Vatican II.
Taylor R. Marshall (Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within)
The Christian state religion was crowned by the dogma of the Trinity. Only now can this term be used, since the Second Ecumenical Council, of Constantinople, convened by Theodosius the Great in 381, defined the identity of substance of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son. The creed supplemented by this council, and therefore called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, is still in use in the Catholic Church today—alongside the brief Apostles’ Creed. So much did it finally come to be taken for granted that centuries later it was to be turned into great music by the greatest composers of Christianity (Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, in their settings of the mass). After this council, what the three Cappadocians (from Cappadocia,
Hans Küng (The Catholic Church: A Short History (Modern Library Chronicles))
Maximus the Confessor (580–662) lived, historically and to some extent geographically, betwixt and between. Historically, he lived in the indefinite transition between “early” and “medieval” Christianity: after the downfall of the Western Roman Empire and the zenith of the Byzantine Christian Empire under Justinian, but before the schism of Byzantine and Roman Churches had reached the point of no return; after the crucial Councils of Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), and Chalcedon (451), but before the age of the Ecumenical Councils had ended; after the most creative epoch in patristic thought, stretching from Origen to the Cappadocian Fathers and Augustine, but before the tendency toward theological scholasticism East or West had fully gained momentum.
John Behr (On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ)
However, despite my strong affirmation of the Christology expressed in the Nicene Creed (AD 325), it would be a mistake to understand even this powerful statement as the final word on Christology as if no more conversations are either needed or desired. Indeed, the emergence of the later, more precise, Chalcedonian formula (AD 451), which finally hammered out the “two natures, one person” Christology that has become received orthodoxy, demonstrates that further, post-Nicene conversations were needed. The importance of the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian formulation lies in the fact that they were ecumenical councils. In other words, dozens of general church councils over the years have
Timothy C. Tennent (Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology)
The proceedings of these ecumenical councils remind me of the experience of sitting down at a table before a large, thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. Many of us know how frustrating it can be to keep trying piece after piece that looks like it should fit, but it doesn’t. I have even been guilty of trying to force a piece into the wrong space, even though I know only one will be a true fit. Eventually, I find the proper puzzle piece that provides an exact fit. Likewise, the delegates to the Council of Nicea and the Council of Chalcedon were seeking to be faithful to the hundreds of Christological “pieces” found in the texts of Scriptures. It was their unenviable task to put the whole “picture” of Christ together for the very first time in such a way as to find a perfect match for every piece. At times, various groups presented “pieces” they believed were a proper fit regarding the humanity or deity or natures or wills of Christ, but, in the end, each was declared to be improper fits. The proceedings of these councils did more to declare which pieces were not true pieces of the puzzle and should be discarded, than to provide a final, definitive statement of Christology that would silence all future discussions. We may know that the “Arius,” “Nestorius,” and “Eutyches” pieces do not fit the Christological puzzle, but this is not to say that a final and complete picture emerged.
Timothy C. Tennent (Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology)
The Council that is usually cited as that which 'condemend Origen' is the fifth ecumenical council, the second Constantinopolitan Council, in 553 CE. First of all, its ecumenicity is in fact doubtful, since it was wanted by Justinian and not by Vigilius, the bishop of Rome, or other bishops; Vigilius was even brought to Constantinople by force, by the emperor's order, and moreover he did not accept to declare that the council was open (Justinian had to do so). The anathemas, fifteen in number, were already prepared before the opening of the council. Here, Origen is considered to be the inspirer of the so-called Isochristoi. This was the position of the Sabaite opponents of Origen, summarized by Cyril of Scythopolis who maintained that the Council issued a definitive anathema against Origen, Theodore, Evagrius, and Didymus concerning the preexistence of souls and apokatastasis, thus ratifying Sabas' position (V. Sab. 90). One of these previously formulated anathemas, which only waited to be ratified by the Council, was against the apokatastasis doctrine: 'If anyone supports the monstrous doctrine of apokatastasis [τὴν τερατώδη ἀποκατάστασιν], be it anathema.' Other anathemas concern the 'pre-existence of souls,' their union with bodies only after their fall, and the denial of the resurrection of the body. These doctrines have nothing to do with Origen; in fact, Origen is not the object of any authentic anathema. And Vigilius's documents, which were finally emanated by a council that was not wanted by him, most remarkably do not even contain Origen's name. Origen was never formally condemned by any Christian ecumenical council. [G.L.] Prestige once observed, inspiredly, that 'Origen is the greatest of that happily small company of saints who, having lived and died in grace, suffered sentence of expulsion from the Church on earth after they had already entered into the joy of their Lord.' We may add that Origen, strictly speaking, did not even suffer any formal expulsion from the church. One problem is that later Christian authors considered the aforementioned anathemas as referring to Origen; so, extraneous theories were ascribed to him. The condemnations were also ascribed to Didymus and Evagrius; indeed, the Isochristoi professed a radical form of Evagrianism and some anathemas seem to reflect some of Evagrius's Kaphalaia Gnostica, but it would be inaccurate to refer all of Justinian's accusations and of the Council's 'condemnations' to Evagrius. What is notable, these condemnations, however, were never connected with Nyssen, not even that concerning universal apokatastasis. There may be various explanations to this. One is that Nyssen, the theologian who inspired the Constantinople theology in 381 CE, enjoyed too high an authority to be criticized. Also, his ideas could by then be related – and indeed were related – to the Purgatory theory. And his manuscripts bristle with interpolations and glosses concerned with explaining that Gregory in fact did not support the theory of apokatastasis. Germanus of Constantinople, in the eighth century, even claimed that Gregory's works were interpolated by heretics who ascribed Origen's ideas to Gregory. But precisely from the time of Justinian an important confirmation of the presence of the doctrine in Gregory's and the other Cappadocians' writings is given in Barsanuphius's Letter 604. A monk has asked him how it is that Origen's doctrine, especially that of apokatastasis, was supported by orthodox authors, and even saints, such as the Cappadocians. Barsanuphius, far from trying to deny that the Cappadocians supported the doctrine of apokatastasis, simply observes that even saints can have a limited understanding of the mysteries of God and can be wrong. Therefore, neither the monk nor Barsanuphius, who heartily detested the doctrine of apokatastasis, thought that Gregory did not actually believe in apokatastasis and that his works were interpolated by heretics. (pp. 736-738)
Ilaria Ramelli (The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena)
Was Pius X, a canonized saint, entirely wrong about Modernism? Was the First Vatican Council wrong to denounce the trend? If a Roman pontiff and an ecumenical council could be wrong a century ago, how
Philip F. Lawler (The Smoke of Satan: How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, and the Faithful . . . and What Can Be Done About It)
Was Pius X, a canonized saint, entirely wrong about Modernism? Was the First Vatican Council wrong to denounce the trend? If a Roman pontiff and an ecumenical council could be wrong a century ago, how can Catholics be confident that another pope and another ecumenical council are right today? Yet that is precisely the message that Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga delivered to an audience in Dallas in 2013. The Honduran cardinal, the chairman of the pope’s top advisory board, said that the Second Vatican Council had been convened to “end the hostilities between the Church and Modernism, which was condemned in the First Vatican Council.” Lest anyone miss the message, he added, “Modernism was, most of the time, a reaction against injustices and abuses that disparaged the dignity and the rights of the person.
Philip F. Lawler (The Smoke of Satan: How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, and the Faithful . . . and What Can Be Done About It)
But subtler accommodations instigated by breakaway denominations, reform movements, ecumenical councils, and other liberalizing forces have allowed other religions to be swept along by the humanistic tide. It is when fundamentalist forces stand athwart those currents and impose tribal, authoritarian, and puritanical constraints that religion becomes a force for violence.
Steven Pinker (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined)
When eighty ecclesiastics protested to Valens against this election, he had them abandoned aboard a burning ship.
Leo Donald Davis (The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology (Theology And Life Book 21))
From these many theological interchanges a concensus arose; and the historical Jesus became permanently associated with the Logos, and was thereafter regarded by Christians as an incarnation of God; or, in popular circles, ‘the Son of God’. Then, to the duality of the Father and Son was added the “Spirit” or “Holy Ghost”—thus constituting a holy Trinity, comparable to Plotinus’ trinity of The One, the Divine Mind, and Soul. This doctrine of the ‘Holy Trinity’ became firmly established as a metaphysical tenet of the Church with the formulation of the Nicene Creed following the first ecumenical council assembled by emperor Constantine in 325 C.E., and the Athenasian Creed, penned around the same time—though in later years Christendom would become bitterly divided in its acceptance of this tenet.
Swami Abhayananda (Body and Soul: An Integral Perspective)
The Son of God The New Testament recounts few instances when God was heard speaking from heaven. When He did, it was normally to announce something startling. God was zealous to announce that Jesus Christ was His Son. At Jesus' baptism, the heavens opened and God's voice was heard, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). Elsewhere, the Father declared from heaven, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him" (Mark 9:7). Thus, the title conferred from on high to Jesus is Son of God. This title has engendered a great deal of controversy in the history of the church, particularly in the fourth century, when the Arian movement, taking its cue from its leader, Arius, denied the Trinity by arguing that Jesus was a created being. References to Jesus as "the firstborn of all creation" (Col. 1:15) and "the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14, KJV) led Arius to argue that Jesus had a beginning in time and was thus a creature. In Arias' mind, if Jesus was begotten, it could only mean that He was not eternal, and if He was not eternal, then He was a creature. Thus, to ascribe deity to Jesus was to be guilty of blasphemy, because it involved the idolatrous worship of a created being. The same controversy exists today between Christian believers and the Mormons and Jehovahs Witnesses, both of whom acknowledge a lofty view of Jesus over angels and other creatures but deny His full deity. This controversy precipitated in the great ecumenical Council of Nicea. The Nicene Creed provides an interesting answer to the charges of Arianism. The answer is found in the strange statement that Jesus is "begotten, not made." To the Greek, such a statement was a contradiction in terms. In normal terms, begotten implies a beginning, but when applied to Jesus, there is a uniqueness to the way in which He is begotten that separates Him from all other creatures. Jesus is called the monogenes, the "only begotten" of the Father. There is a sense in which Jesus and Jesus alone is begotten of the Father. This is what the church was getting at when it spoke of Jesus being eternally begotten-that He was begotten, not made.
R.C. Sproul (Who Is Jesus? (Crucial Questions, #1))
the formulation of the symbol of the First Ecumenical Council, of which the following is a literal translation: We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten; and that He was made our of nothing (ex ouk onton); or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance [than the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes.
Charles G. Herbermann (The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church)
The Council itself identified religious truth as present in what was in effect a series of overlapping circles, with all Christian faiths possessing some degree of truth but “the fullness of Christ’s truth” present only in the Catholic Church. The new ecumenism appeared revolutionary to many, a complete reversal of what had previously been taught. It was, however, merely a change of perspective, in that the Catholic Church had always recognized the core of orthodoxy in Protestantism (the Trinity, the divinity of Christ) but had previously emphasized its errors. Now she chose to recognize its truths, as the basis of imperfect brotherly unity. Eastern Orthodoxy Ecumenical priority was inevitably given to the Eastern Orthodox, who were recognized as sharing most of the Catholic faith. Separation from the Orthodox was viewed by the Council Fathers as a lamentable historical misfortune, and the mutual excommunications of 1054 were formally rescinded after the Council. Protestants The Council warned against a false ecumenism based on an indifference to, or a misinterpretation of, doctrine. However, under Bea’s direction, official dialogues were initiated, especially with Lutherans and Anglicans. In practical terms, the immediate effect of ecumenism was to alter Catholics’ and Protestants’ attitudes toward one another, as for the first time they were allowed, even encouraged, to pray together both formally and informally, although they could not share the Eucharist. The
James Hitchcock (History of the Catholic Church)
It’s time that Christianity should be redefined by the world based upon the original teachings of Jesus, instead of the Old and New Testaments which have been interpreted, reinterpreted and distorted by all the Ecumenical Councils, i.e. the Church Councils.
Abhijit Naskar (Neurons of Jesus: Mind of A Teacher, Spouse & Thinker)
(1) Karl Barth was not an evangelical. He was a European Protestant wrestling with how to salvage Protestant Christianity in the wake of World War I, which exposed the debacle of liberal theology. Barth was not an inerrantist or a revivalist, and he was wrestling with a different array of issues than the “battle for the Bible.” (2) Karl Barth is on the side of the good guys when it comes to the major ecumenical doctrines about the Trinity and the atonement. Barth is decidedly orthodox and Reformed in his basic stance, though he sees the councils and confessions mainly as guidelines rather than holy writ. (3) Karl Barth arguably gives evangelicals some good tips about how to do theology over and against liberalism. Keep in mind that Karl Barth’s main sparring partner was not Billy Graham or the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, but the European liberal tradition from Friedrich Schleiermacher to Albert Ritschl. For a case in point, whereas Schleiermacher made the Trinity an appendix to his book on Christian Faith because it was irrelevant to religious experience, Barth made the Trinity first and foremost in his Church Dogmatics, which was Barth’s way of saying, “Suck on that one, Schleiermacher!” (4) Evangelicals and the neoorthodox tend to be rather hostile toward each other. Many evangelicals regard the neoorthodox as nothing more than liberalism reloaded, while many neoorthodox theologians regard evangelicals as a more culturally savvy version of fundamentalism. Not true on either score. Evangelicalism and neoorthodoxy are both theological renewal movements trying to find a biblical and orthodox center in the post-Enlightenment era. The evangelicals left fundamentalism and edged left toward a workable orthodox center. The neoorthodox left liberalism and edged right toward a workable orthodox center. Thus, evangelicalism and neoorthodoxy are more like sibling rivals striving to be the heirs of the Reformers in the post-Enlightenment age. There is much in Karl Barth that evangelicals can benefit from. His theology is arguably the most christocentric ever devised. He has a strong emphasis on God’s transcendence, freedom, love, and “otherness.” Barth stresses the singular power and authority of the Word of God in its threefold form of “Incarnation, Preaching, and Scripture.” Barth strove with others like Karl Rahner to restore the Trinity to its place of importance in modern Christian thought. He was a leader in the Confessing Church until he was expelled from Germany by the Nazi regime. He preached weekly in the Basel prison. His collection of prayers contain moving accounts of his own piety and devotion to God. There is, of course, much to be critical of as well. Barth’s doctrine of election implied a universalism that he could never exegetically reconcile. Barth never could regard Scripture as God’s Word per se as much as it was an instrument for becoming God’s Word. He never took evangelicalism all that seriously, as evidenced by his famous retort to Carl Henry that Christianity Today was Christianity Yesterday. Barth’s theology, pro and con, is something that we must engage if we are to understand the state of modern theology. The best place to start to get your head around Barth is his Evangelical Theology, but note that for Barth, “evangelical” (evangelische) means basically “not Catholic” rather than something like American evangelicalism. Going beyond that, his Göttingen Dogmatics or Dogmatics in Outline is a step up where Barth begins to assemble a system of theology based on his understanding of the Word of God. Then one might like to launch into his multivolume Church Dogmatics with the kind assistance of Geoffrey Bromiley’s Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth, which conveniently summarizes each section of Church Dogmatics.
Michael F. Bird (Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction)
The Council of Nicæa. An ecumenical council was a new experiment. Local councils had long since grown to be a recognised organ of the Church both for legislation and for judicial proceedings. But no precedent as yet prescribed, no ecclesiastical law or theological principle had as yet enthroned, the ‘General Council’ as the supreme expression of the Church’s mind.
Philip Schaff (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series 2, Volume 4 - Enhanced Version (Early Church Fathers))
When John XXIII solemnly opened the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, he said, “The Bride of Christ prefers to use the medicine of mercy rather than arm herself with the weapons of rigor.
Pope Francis (The Name of God Is Mercy: A Conversation with Andrea Tornielli)
The Orthodox Church of Christ is the Body of Christ, a spiritual organism whose Head is Christ. It has a single spirit, a single common faith, a single and common catholic consciousness, guided by the Holy Spirit; and its reasonings are based on the concrete, definite foundations of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Apostolic Tradition. This catholic consciousness is always with the Church, but, in a more definite fashion, this consciousness is expressed in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. From profound Christian antiquity, local councils of separate Orthodox Churches gathered twice a year, in accordance with the 37th Canon of the Holy Apostles.18 Likewise, often in the history of the Church there were councils of regional bishops representing a wider area than individual Churches and, finally, councils of bishops of the whole Orthodox Church of both East and West. Such Ecumenical Councils the Church recognizes as seven in number. The Ecumenical Councils formulated precisely and confirmed a number of the fundamental truths of the Orthodox Christian Faith, defending the ancient teaching of the Church against the distortions of heretics. The Ecumenical Councils likewise formulated numerous laws and rules governing public and private Christian church life, which are called the Church canons, and required the universal and uniform observance of them. Finally, the Ecumenical Councils confirmed the dogmatic decrees of a number of local councils, and also the dogmatic statements composed by certain Fathers of the Church — for example, the confession of faith of St. Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neo-Caesarea,19 the canons of St. Basil the Great,20 and so forth.
Michael Pomazansky (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
IN the Church of Christ Truth is one, as indeed it should be. Historically it is one, common to all the Church’s faithful, and unchanging; it has been such from the great day of the Apostolic Pentecost, when the New Testament Church received its beginning, and after that for the course of two thousand years until our time, and it will remain such until the end of time. This attribute of the Church is splendidly expressed in the Church hymn (the kontakion) for the commemoration of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea, which we celebrate on the Sunday before the solemn day of Holy Pentecost. Here are the words of this Church hymn: The preaching of the Apostles and the dogmas of the Fathers have sealed the one faith of the Church. And wearing the garment of truth, woven of the theology from above, she rightly dispenses and glorifies the great mystery of piety.
Michael Pomazansky (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
And should such be the case this volume may well be a step toward "the union of all" and toward "the peace of all the holy churches of God," for which the unchanging East has so constantly prayed in her liturgy.
Henry Percival (The Seven Ecumenical Councils)
In the best-case scenario, that of a truly ecumenical council in the traditional meaning of the term, i.e. actually representative of an undivided Christendom, the most that divine assistance can ensure for the Apostles’ successors is the absence of any possible error in the doctrinal definitions such assemblies venture to produce. But, short of this extreme case, any dosage of approximation, insufficiency, or simple superficiality are to be expected from even so sacrosanct an assembly.
Louis Bouyer (The Memoirs of Louis Bouyer: From Youth and Conversion to Vatican II, the Liturgical Reform, and After)
during a theological conference in the mid-1990s, which Peter Kreeft recalled in 1998 as “the most memorable moment of the most memorable conference I ever attended.” Attending the meeting, says Kreeft, were “dozens of high-octane Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Evangelicals,” who, despite their noted theological differences, converged near the end of the conference in a crescendo of agreement. Kreeft continues: In the concluding session Father Fessio got up and proposed [tongue in cheek] that we issue a joint statement of theological agreement among all the historic, orthodox branches of Christendom saying that what united us was Scripture, the Apostles’ Creed, the first six ecumenical councils and the collected works of C. S. Lewis. The proposal was universally cheered.
Joseph Pearce (C. S. Lewis & The Catholic Church)