Counting the Councils

How do we know with certainty which of the Church councils are valid and which are not?

Catholics accept 21 councils, but reject the Second Council of Ephesus (the “Robber Council”).
The Orthodox and many Protestants accept seven of the first eight (also rejecting the Robber Council).
The Oriental Orthodox accept the first four. Others only the first two or three.

So, what are the criteria for determining which councils are to be accepted and which are not?

And specifically, why do you reject any particular council or group of councils from the list?


Well, following the most enlightening conversation I am still on Bishop Wares point bought up “somewhere” in relation.

who admits, “All Orthodox know which are the seven councils that their Church accepts as ecumenical, but precisely what it is that makes a council ecumenical is not so clear.”

I don’t want to be “that guy” but again that is not the proper way to reference an Orthodox bishop. You don’t refer to Pope Francis as “Bishop Bergoglio.” I know you don’t intend any disrespect, I’m just pointing it out for the benefit of those who don’t know.


Perhaps you can explain how for 200 years and the reign of 50 Popes, Rome accepted the council of 879 as the “Fourth Council of Constantinople” and regarded the 869 council as a robber council, then at the end of the 11th century, suddenly did an about face, and without fanfare or explanation, shelved the 879 council and reinstated the false council of 869, calling it the “Fourth Council of Constantinople”?

Amen, these conversations also should have Supreme and Servant of Servants in perspective. And these are all Bishops, the multitude of various titles are also reflective as to their See and so so forth and they certainly should be respected as such.

Perhaps I can. But not in this thread. Here I hope to keep the discussion focused on the mechanism by which we know with certainty which councils we accept and which we reject.

Kinda like asking Protestants how they know which books to include in the NT. :thumbsup:

Any thoughts on the OP from an Orthodox perspective? :shrug:

I refer to the Bishop of Raleigh as Bishop Michael Burbidge or just Bishop Burbidge.

How would you refer to the Orthodox bishop previously referenced but unnamed to avoid additional offense? :o

That is the proper way to reference a Catholic bishop. You refer to an Orthodox bishop by their chosen name with a given last name for reference. So it would be Metropolitan Kallistos and if necessary Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). It’s not a big deal but it’s not correct either.

The Oriental Orthodox do not accept Chalcedon, so they accept the first three, unless by “first four” you are including the Robber Council.

The Assyrians left communion with the other churches before Ephesus.

Do you think they accept Ephesus II? This was what I had in mind as the “fourth” council…even though the rest of us do not call it the Fourth Ecumenical Council.


That is exactly what I am asking. What is the mechanism used by the Catholic Church to determine how that which was accepted as a valid council for 200 years is no longer accepted and that which was rejected for 200 years is now accepted. What criteria do Popes use today which is different to that used by the 50 Popes who accepted 879 as the Fourth Council of Constantinople?
I fail to see how this is not completely relevant to the OP.

As far as I know, they accept Ephesus II.

The position of the Orthodox Churches on the issue of primacy of the Bishop of Rome depends entirely on the consensus on primacy within the Orthodox Church. Yet there is no such a consensus on this issue; instead, there are two dominating interpretations. According to one of them, primus inter pares (“the first among equals”) is just an honorary title, a rudiment of the past, which does not imply any real authority of the first Church. Inter pares is accentuated in this interpretation, which was recently expressed in the document adopted by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, Position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the problem of primacy in the Universal Church.

According to the other perspective, primacy is something real within the Orthodox Church, and it implies real authority and responsibility of the first Church. According to Metropolitan Elpidophoros of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who responded to the document of the Russian Orthodox Church, the first Church, in its primacy, has no equals among the other Churches.

The two interpretations of primacy seem to be irreconcilable. And it is very unlikely that the Pan-Orthodox council can accept a single Orthodox interpretation of Primacy. Without this, however, it will be difficult to proceed in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue.

Far as I know the OO only accepts three ecumenical councils.

Great. Then we are asking the same question.

Would you like to explain the Orthodox approach?

Actually, I would rather hear the Catholic position first.

Me, too, although the Anglicans and Lutherans might want to offer some views of their own.

You would get the impression the Bishop of Rome doesn’t even get to disagree as in 449. What is his responsibility in regard to the decrees at that scary council? I might have ran out of there too. :blush:

They do but they don’t. They don’t accept it fully because of the issue of its exoneration of Eutyches. That part of the council turned out to be a source of great embarrassment for the non-Chalcedonians.

I think the correct title is Metropolitan bishop Kallistos of Diokleia.

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