Question about Councils


Ok I have a real quick question… I am not used to the idea of councils and it kind of confuses me.

I’m mormon, so we have “devine revelation” to… creat doctrines, I guess, there’s probably a better way to put that but it’s all I can think of. Or change doctrines, and that’s a big difference between mormons and catholics.

So I don’t understand Councils, how you can just vote for or against a doctrine? Am I misunderstanding that you can just vote a doctrine in like you vote a political figure?

So then once it’s set then it’s there for good… why doesn’t God change doctrines in the Catholic church? He changed things in the New testament, why not now? I don’t mean to please people… like the marriage deal. I really like how the Catholic church doesn’t change to appease. But what if we need more or less of something. do you understand?

Ok, I feel like I’m kind of missing something here. Please correct and inform me.

Thank you!


Councils usually happen to address some heresy or doctrinal issue or other.

For example, the council of Jerusalem described in Acts addressed the status of non-Jews in the Christian community. Were they oblidged to follow all the precepts of the Mosaic law? The answer was no. This was a development in doctrine that was not clearly defined within the lifetime of Jesus, but implicit in the teachings of Jesus and in the revelations given to Peter in Acts. But the church was the one to make this a final authoritative descision. It was not a new revelation, but just an elaboration of what was revealed either implicitly or explicitly by Christ or the Apostles during their lifetime.

It was a matter of doctrine (e.g. non Jews did not have to follow all the purity laws and Kosher laws except for abstaining from fornication and food offered to idols.) This descision is binding on all Christians for all time and it cannot be revoked. The council was called to address a specific problem (e.g. Judaizers telling non-Jews that they need to get circumsiced etc… to gain salvation). Only the Church had the authority to make such a pronouncement.

In the same way, thorughout history, there have been situations that have required authoritative pronouncements by the Church to define doctrine. We call these pronouncements dogmas, and they cannot be changed because they deals with the issues of faith and morals. The faith was handed down once and for all by the Apostles, so all the church can do is clarify a doctrine for a specific period in history. It does not change doctrines or create new ones.

There is another form of church teaching called disciplinary teachings. These teachings are binding on all Catholics, but they can be changed over time. They are not part of the deposite of faith and morals given once and for all by the disciples.

I hope this helps.



[size=2]The following verses would seem to indicate the complete and unchangeable nature of the apostolic faith of the first century:
[size=2]Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all[/size] delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

[size=2]So then, brethren, stand firm and hold[/size] to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

[size=2]But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary[/size] to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)
Consequently, Church councils with the aid of the Holy Spirit may articulate that ancient apostolic faith with greater and greater precision but it is beyond their authority to introduce new or contrary doctrines.


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