Church Councils typically define, confirm and further illuminate pre-existing Catholic doctrine.

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There are 5 types of councils, Diocesan, National, Ecumenical, Plenary, and Provincial. No council has ever changed Church dogma, nor can it, since dogma was proclaimed by Jesus Christ Himself, Acts 6:12,15,15:6,*Gal 2:2.

An Ecumenical Council is where all the Bishops in the world that are entitled to vote, gather under the presidency of the Pope or his representative. There have been 21 Ecumenical councils in the history of the Church, other important councils called ‘synods’ are marked ‘*‘.

The very first council or meeting of the Apostles and presbyters is recorded in Acts 15, and is called the Council of Jerusalem. Tradition speaks of St. James as being the Bishop of Jerusalem at that time of about 50 AD.

A Church council is usually a reaction as opposed to an action. They are held to define a truth after someone has denied it.

Jesus Christ gave His authority in several verses of Holy Scripture. One example is in Luke 10:16, “He who hears you hears me“. Armed with this authority, Church teaching has been accepted over the centuries. Then along comes someone who denies a certain teaching and therefore there becomes a need for a Church council to react to the denial.

The Council of Ephesus of 431, one such reaction, defined the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Theotokos”, meaning GOD bearer or Mother of GOD. This formal teaching was only done after someone had denied it.

Another example is the reaction of the Council of Trent in 1546 which defined again, the canon of Holy Scripture after seven books were denied by the Protestants in their revolt.

Non-Catholics look at these reactive Church councils as teaching something new, when in fact, all they are doing is defining a truth that has been taught for centuries without denials.

Read more at The Catholic Treasure Chest

2 Comments

  1. “Church Councils typically define, confirm and further illuminate pre-existing Catholic doctrine.”

    The most recent council being a gross and disastrous exception.

    C’mon, Doug! Just because you now know how easy it is to bait me doesn’t mean you have to be so obvious about it.

    • Dear Mark,

      I said “typically” … meaning “not always”!

      Cheers!

      Doug


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