Question for non-Catholics regarding Ecumenical Councils...


#1

There are some Protestant denominations claiming that they accept and fully embrace the doctrines promulgated by the three Catholic Church Ecumenical Councils, and in some instances, seven, but why? How can those Protestant churches, in terms of leadership, know that that those particular Ecumenical Councils (be it 3 or 7) are in fact valid, all the while claiming, with certainty, that the doctrines promulgated by the Council of Trent are invalid? What is the criteria for determining the validity of a Catholic Church Ecumenical Council in the Protestant sphere?

Also, shouldn't there be a way, ecumenically speaking, within protestantism, to settle doctrinal disputes, in the same way it was done during those early Catholic Ecumenical Councils? Why jettison a workable paradigm?

Thanks, Joe...:)


#2

Even though I'm not Protestant, I have an idea as to your answer: "What is the criteria for determining the validity of a Catholic Church Ecumenical Council in the Protestant sphere?

Also, shouldn't there be a way, ecumenically speaking, within Protestantism, to settle doctrinal disputes, in the same way it was done during those early Catholic Ecumenical Councils? Why jettison a workable paradigm? "

My guess is that they would say they only agree with an Ecumenical Council, to the extent that the Council agrees with Scripture. I have seen at least one Evangelical Christian say he does not recognize the Nicene Creed as authoritative by itself either unless he sees that it agrees with Scripture.

When I was growing up Baptist, I never heard any talk about councils. I didn't even understand what a council was until I started learning about the apostolic churches.


#3

I am sure the answer would be that the Council of Trent was not an Ecumenical Council, and by Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox points of view, it was not. It did not represent the entire church, only the portion of the church attached to the Bishop of Rome. I mean, the Reformation had already happened. Why would someone who rejects Roman authority then go ahead and believe in a council that was convened specifically to shore up the Roman church to meet the Protestant challenge?

But more to the point, there is no "within Protestantism". Protestantism is like the equator. It has no address. Protestants are notably fractious and divisive. Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental churches are far more inclined toward apostolic unity than are Protestants.

I am an Anglican and I am inclined toward accepting the authority of the see of Peter, in principle. There are kinks to be worked out, both in my own thinking, and in the attitudes of Rome toward the other churches, but there has been movement on both sides, and for that I rejoice.

[quote="AveChriste11, post:2, topic:310280"]
Even though I'm not Protestant, I have an idea as to your answer: "What is the criteria for determining the validity of a Catholic Church Ecumenical Council in the Protestant sphere?

Also, shouldn't there be a way, ecumenically speaking, within Protestantism, to settle doctrinal disputes, in the same way it was done during those early Catholic Ecumenical Councils? Why jettison a workable paradigm? "

My guess is that they would say they only agree with an Ecumenical Council, to the extent that the Council agrees with Scripture. I have seen at least one Evangelical Christian say he does not recognize the Nicene Creed as authoritative by itself either unless he sees that it agrees with Scripture.

When I was growing up Baptist, I never heard any talk about councils. I didn't even understand what a council was until I started learning about the apostolic churches.

[/quote]


#4

[quote="AveChriste11, post:2, topic:310280"]
Even though I'm not Protestant, I have an idea as to your answer: "What is the criteria for determining the validity of a Catholic Church Ecumenical Council in the Protestant sphere?

Also, shouldn't there be a way, ecumenically speaking, within Protestantism, to settle doctrinal disputes, in the same way it was done during those early Catholic Ecumenical Councils? Why jettison a workable paradigm? "

My guess is that they would say they only agree with an Ecumenical Council, to the extent that the Council agrees with Scripture. I have seen at least one Evangelical Christian say he does not recognize the Nicene Creed as authoritative by itself either unless he sees that it agrees with Scripture.

When I was growing up Baptist, I never heard any talk about councils. I didn't even understand what a council was until I started learning about the apostolic churches.

[/quote]

Arius and Nestorius felt that their view agreed with scripture. If your guess is correct and certain protestants would say they only agree with an Ecumenical Council, to the extent that the Council agrees with Scripture, then perhaps Arius and Nestorius were correct in their beliefs? :shrug:


#5

[quote="Usbek_de_Perse, post:3, topic:310280"]
I am sure the answer would be that the Council of Trent was not an Ecumenical Council, and by Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox points of view, it was not. It did not represent the entire church, only the portion of the church attached to the Bishop of Rome. I mean, the Reformation had already happened. Why would someone who rejects Roman authority then go ahead and believe in a council that was convened specifically to shore up the Roman church to meet the Protestant challenge?

But more to the point, there is no "within Protestantism". Protestantism is like the equator. It has no address. Protestants are notably fractious and divisive. Anglican, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental churches are far more inclined toward apostolic unity than are Protestants.

I am an Anglican and I am inclined toward accepting the authority of the see of Peter, in principle. There are kinks to be worked out, both in my own thinking, and in the attitudes of Rome toward the other churches, but there has been movement on both sides, and for that I rejoice.

[/quote]

Good point. However, if in fact the CC was wrong regarding the council of Trent, then perhaps the CC was also wrong about the early councils accepted by certain protestant churches today? Why be so sure about the first 3 or 7 catholic councils?


#6

[quote="joe370, post:5, topic:310280"]
Good point. However, if in fact the CC was wrong regarding the council of Trent, then perhaps the CC was also wrong about the early councils accepted by certain protestant churches today? Why be so sure about the first 3 or 7 catholic councils?

[/quote]

It's rather simple for us Lutherans - our Church has determined what councils are accepted.

That said, if a modern council involved pretty much all the bishops who haven't strayed too far from the faith - Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental, certain Anglicans and perhaps a Lutheran bishop or two, then I'd agree to what was decided provided it isn't contra to Scripture.


#7

[quote="benjohnson, post:6, topic:310280"]
It's rather simple for us Lutherans - our Church has determined what councils are accepted.

That said, if a modern council involved pretty much all the bishops who haven't strayed too far from the faith - Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental, certain Anglicans and perhaps a Lutheran bishop or two, then I'd agree to what was decided provided it isn't contra to Scripture.

[/quote]

Deference to church authority. OK. :thumbsup:


#8

[quote="joe370, post:1, topic:310280"]
There are some Protestant denominations claiming that they accept and fully embrace the doctrines promulgated by the three Catholic Church Ecumenical Councils, and in some instances, seven, but why? How can those Protestant churches, in terms of leadership, know that that those particular Ecumenical Councils (be it 3 or 7) are in fact valid, all the while claiming, with certainty, that the doctrines promulgated by the Council of Trent are invalid? What is the criteria for determining the validity of a Catholic Church Ecumenical Council in the Protestant sphere?

[/quote]

Most Protestant groups I'm aware of actually look at the ecumenical councils through the lens of scripture, ecumenical or not. And to go to another post and answer a contention that might be brought up:

[quote="joe370, post:4, topic:310280"]
Arius and Nestorius felt that their view agreed with scripture. If your guess is correct and certain protestants would say they only agree with an Ecumenical Council, to the extent that the Council agrees with Scripture, then perhaps Arius and Nestorius were correct in their beliefs? :shrug:

[/quote]

Actually, when you really study the issues, Arius argued mostly from philosophy, and Nestorius was more concerned about the reintroduction of past heresies; the ones who really analyzed what scripture taught and relied upon it were the orthodox party. We have to also ask: if the heretics were handling scripture, were they doing so correctly? Are we saying scripture teaches Arianism and the historical definition of Nestorianism? One might compare this to two historians quoting Abraham Lincoln to try to prove he believed something. We would not simply say, "Well, I guess we can't use the sayings of Lincoln to use this issue, since both sides appeal to it." No one would ever do that. Rather, we'd analyze what each side said, look at their handling of the source material, and see if one is mishandling Lincoln's words or not. This is why the "heretics use scripture too" argument is so fallacious. Hence why, for many groups, the authority of scripture is important in regards to a council's resolutions.

I'm sure other groups might have different answers, but that is my response for the OP's question.

EDIT: Another question that might be posed to general non-Catholics: how do the Eastern Orthodox and other "apostolic" groups decide which councils are legitimate ecumenical councils or not?


#9

Byzantine_Wolf
EDIT: Another question that might be posed to general non-Catholics: how do the Eastern Orthodox and other "apostolic" groups decide which councils are legitimate ecumenical councils or not?

Good question. :thumbsup:


#10

Hi Joe,

=joe370;10204375]There are some Protestant denominations claiming that they accept and fully embrace the doctrines promulgated by the three Catholic Church Ecumenical Councils, and in some instances, seven, but why?

Why not? Since those 7 councils were truly ecumenical, and since they clearly reflect the truth of the faith, it would be silly to reject them, ie. cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

How can those Protestant churches, in terms of leadership, know that that those particular Ecumenical Councils (be it 3 or 7) are in fact valid, all the while claiming, with certainty, that the doctrines promulgated by the Council of Trent are invalid?

Not everything done at Trent is incorrect. As a general rule, however, I would cotend that Trent was not ecumenical, even in those statements where it is right.

What is the criteria for determining the validity of a Catholic Church Ecumenical Council in the Protestant sphere?

My own personal view is it has to be the whole Church Catholic. There has not been one such as that since the 7th council. Some might say Florence, but it too was rejected.

Also, shouldn't there be a way, ecumenically speaking, within protestantism, to settle doctrinal disputes, in the same way it was done during those early Catholic Ecumenical Councils? Why jettison a workable paradigm?

Considering what I've said above, would you consider it unreasonable to expect the Catholic Church to hold that a Catholic council cannot be ecumenical since the Schism?
I suspect you'd say yes, it is unreasonable since the CC is not in communion with the EO bishops. Why, then should lutherans be expected to have a council with, say, Baptists?

Jon


#11

JonNC;10207435]Hi Joe,

Why not? Since those 7 councils were truly ecumenical, and since they clearly reflect the truth of the faith, it would be silly to reject them, ie. cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

The east - west schism did away with any possibility of a true ecumenical council? That is a possibility. However, I just cannot imagine Jesus abandoning His church, in terms of ecumenical councils needed to resolve doctrinal discord when it arises, in order to preserve ecclesial unity. If I did not believe that to be the case, I am not sure if I would even belong to the CC, or any church for that matter. :slight_smile:

Not everything done at Trent is incorrect. As a general rule, however, I would cotend that Trent was not ecumenical, even in those statements where it is right.

:thumbsup:

My own personal view is it has to be the whole Church Catholic. There has not been one such as that since the 7th council. Some might say Florence, but it too was rejected.

I know. :thumbsup: Of the many reasons given that one is pretty good…:slight_smile:

Considering what I’ve said above, would you consider it unreasonable to expect the Catholic Church to hold that a Catholic council cannot be ecumenical since the Schism?

I just don’t think the east - west schism or the development of protestant churches can prevent the CC from declaring something via an ecumenical council, in the same way that the CC did long ago. For example, even if all 23 eastern catholic rites broke away from the church universal, the church universal is still being guided by God, just as it was during those 7 ecumenical councils, IMHO. That’s just me, but I do see where you are coming from. :thumbsup:

I suspect you’d say yes, it is unreasonable since the CC is not in communion with the EO bishops. Why, then should lutherans be expected to have a council with, say, Baptists?

Jon

Well, if God is no longer guiding the CC, as God did prior to the east - west schism, then I would 100 % agree with you. :slight_smile:


#12

=joe370;10207479]The east - west schism did away with any possibility of a true ecumenical council?

I wouldn't put it that way, but ISTM that for a council to be ecumenical it must be agreed to by the bishops. I'm sure, and actually hope for, an ecumencial council that resolves once for all the issue of the pope's primacy.

That is a possibility. However, I just cannot imagine Jesus abandoning His church, in terms of ecumenical councils needed to resolve doctrinal discord when it arises, in order to preserve ecclesial unity. If I did not believe that to be the case, I am not sure if I would even belong to the CC, or any church for that matter. :)

We currently have doctrinal discord, and ecclesial unity is not currently preserved. That doesn't mean the Spirit isn't guiding us, only that we disagree what that guidance means. There is no abandonment by the Spirit. The problem is our discernment. That, to me, is why we need the Church, east and west, to be in unity.

I just don't think the east - west schism or the development of protestant churches can prevent the CC from declaring something via an ecumenical council, in the same way that the CC did long ago.

It can, but the east must be there and accept it to be ecumenical, Protestant churches notwithstanding.

For example, even if all 23 eastern catholic rites broke away from the church universal, the church universal is still being guided by God, just as it was during those 7 ecumenical councils, IMHO. That's just me, but I do see where you are coming from. :thumbsup:

The Church of the early councils was in unity.

Well, if God is no longer guiding the CC, as God did prior to the east - west schism, then I would 100 % agree with you. :)

I think the difference in the way you and I view this is simply that I see the Spirit guiding not only the CC, but also the EO, and the OO, and Lutherans, etc. It is, therefore, a problem not of the SPirit's guidance, but our discernment.

Jon


#13

Jon - what is your criteria for "ecumenical" here? It seems somewhat arbitrary to me (and I mean no offense by that), that you would accept the 4th through 7th councils but not the 8th through 21st (from a Catholic perspective). Why would the absence of the Byzantine bishops be the deciding factor? Why accept Chalcedon when the great Coptic Church of Alexandria, which gave us the Desert Fathers and monasticism, and the Syriac Church of Antioch, which gave us such giants as St. Ephrem, rejected it? Or why limit "ecumenical" to the bishops of the Roman Empire for that matter...why accept Ephesus when the bishops of the Persian Empire (the ancestors of today's Assyrian Church) rejected it?

The Catholic Church no longer considers the Assyrians or Orientals to be heretics - we've agreed that our Christological expressions, while different, convey the same fundamental truth. Do Lutherans still consider the Oriental/Assyrian bishops to be more heretical than Latin or Byzantine bishops?

For what its worth, bishops from all of the surviving ancient apostolic rites/traditions were represented at Vatican II (Eastern/Oriental Catholic bishops), and now with the Anglican Ordinariates, and whispers of potential future Lutheran Ordinariates, any future Catholic ecumenical councils will likely also represent the unique Northern European Western traditions.


#14

twf;10218713]Jon - what is your criteria for "ecumenical" here? It seems somewhat arbitrary to me (and I mean no offense by that), that you would accept the 4th through 7th councils but not the 8th through 21st (from a Catholic perspective). Why would the absence of the Byzantine bishops be the deciding factor? Why accept Chalcedon when the great Coptic Church of Alexandria, which gave us the Desert Fathers and monasticism, and the Syriac Church of Antioch, which gave us such giants as St. Ephrem, rejected it? Or why limit "ecumenical" to the bishops of the Roman Empire for that matter...why accept Ephesus when the bishops of the Persian Empire (the ancestors of today's Assyrian Church) rejected it?

That is a rather good point. Someone back then could have made the same argument, for lack of a better word at the moment, that Jon is making today, in terms of the 11th century east - west schism.

For what its worth, bishops from all of the surviving ancient apostolic rites/traditions were represented at Vatican II (Eastern/Oriental Catholic bishops), and now with the Anglican Ordinariates, and whispers of potential future Lutheran Ordinariates, any future Catholic ecumenical councils will likely also represent the unique Northern European Western traditions.

:thumbsup: Let us pray for reunification. :)


#15

Hey Jon...

JonNC;10209625]I wouldn't put it that way, but ISTM that for a council to be ecumenical it must be agreed to by the bishops. I'm sure, and actually **hope for, an ecumencial council that resolves once for all the issue of the pope's primacy.

**

I'm with you brother. :thumbsup:

We currently have doctrinal discord, and ecclesial unity is not currently preserved.

It is in the CC. ;) LOL...Just joking around...

That doesn't mean the Spirit isn't guiding us, only that we disagree what that guidance means. There is no abandonment by the Spirit. The problem is our discernment. That, to me, is why we need the Church, east and west, to be in unity.

Couldn't the same argument have been made during the 5th century schism e.g. Chalcedon i.e.was the Church, after that council, still in unity?

I think the difference in the way you and I view this is simply that I see the Spirit guiding not only the CC, but also the EO, and the OO, and Lutherans, etc. It is, therefore, a problem not of the SPirit's guidance, but our discernment.

Jon

:thumbsup:


#16

=twf;10218713]Jon - what is your criteria for "ecumenical" here? It seems somewhat arbitrary to me (and I mean no offense by that), that you would accept the 4th through 7th councils but not the 8th through 21st (from a Catholic perspective). Why would the absence of the Byzantine bishops be the deciding factor?

Hi tw,
Of course,cfrom a Catholic perspective, it might seem arbitrary. Part of the arbitrariness might be removed when understanding that it is through the 7th that Lutherans generally accept.

But throw my criteria in the trash for a moment. What is the criteria that prevents the east from accepting any council as ecumenical after 7? The bishops of the east are a critcal factor, IMO, and no less so/ no more so that the Bishop of Rome.

Why accept Chalcedon when the great Coptic Church of Alexandria, which gave us the Desert Fathers and monasticism, and the Syriac Church of Antioch, which gave us such giants as St. Ephrem, rejected it? Or why limit "ecumenical" to the bishops of the Roman Empire for that matter...why accept Ephesus when the bishops of the Persian Empire (the ancestors of today's Assyrian Church) rejected it?

First, because my communion sees it that way. Second, because I am, at heart, a western Christian.

The Catholic Church no longer considers the Assyrians or Orientals to be heretics - we've agreed that our Christological expressions, while different, convey the same fundamental truth. Do Lutherans still consider the Oriental/Assyrian bishops to be more heretical than Latin or Byzantine bishops?

Something I'll have to research, to be honest (heretical, in these days, is probably not the term we'd use.)

For what its worth, bishops from all of the surviving ancient apostolic rites/traditions were represented at Vatican II (Eastern/Oriental Catholic bishops), and now with the Anglican Ordinariates, and whispers of potential future Lutheran Ordinariates, any future Catholic ecumenical councils will likely also represent the unique Northern European Western traditions.

Let's pray for one where agreement reigns.

Jon


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