Question for Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Christians...

Regarding either the Oriental Orthodox or the Eastern Orthodox Church, could someone please clarify as to how exactly an Ecumenical Council is determined to be valid, i.e. how can an ordinary, everyday Christian, belonging to the EOC, clearly recognize and determine the validity of an Ecumenical Council?

Thanks, Joe…

The church universal comes to recognise the council. It should be remembered Ecumenical councils solved nothing when they were convened, only later would these councils be recognised as absolute authorities.

In the beginning they just held councils that involved as many bishops as possible. There are issues they need to resolve and they try to resolve them. For a council to become Ecumenical, it must be accepted by all the canonical bishops in the world. This means that these are bishops who are in communion with the rest of the Church. There is no time limit to this, and often a certain council is accepted much later after certain bishops who deny it are either deposed or dead.

There were times they attempted to declare a council Ecumenical when they were organizing it, but such councils actually even ended up non-Ecumenical as they have declared heresy (the first council that was recognized as Sixth actually supported monothelitism, and the first council that was recognized as Seventh actually supported iconoclasm).

Just to add an OO voice, our Greek friend IgnatianPhiilo writes correctly. As unsatisfying as the answer might seem, councils are considered ecumenical when recognized as such by the Church, which can be quite a long process.

The OO, EO and the CC all teach that no Christian is required to believe the doctrines that were promulgated by an invalid Ecumenical Council? That I get. An example: the Robber Council of Ephesus, 499 A.D., was an invalid Ecumenical Council.

Regarding the OO and EO churches the following statement is not necessarily true: Both teach that when validly ordained bishops meet in an Ecumenical Council, said Bishops can definitively define doctrine in a way that binds the consciences of all the members of the church universal, in terms of the EO and OO church, respectively?

I understand how the following would work in the CC: an ordinary person such as myself, can know if an Ecumenical Council is valid when the pope ratifies the dogmas promulgated by an Ecumenical Council, as was the case with the Assumption and the IC.

How is the ordinary person, such as myself, supposed to know when an Ecumenical Council is valid in either the OO or the EO church? A few have suggested the following: when the whole church accepts it; what specifically does that mean, i.e. does the “whole church” meet after an Ecumenical Council and vote to decide the validity of said council? Does the laity, as some have suggested, get a say in deciding the validity of an Ecumenical Council?:confused:

I understand how the following would work in the CC: an ordinary person such as myself, can know if an Ecumenical Council is valid when the pope ratifies the dogmas promulgated by an Ecumenical Council, as was the case with the AoM and the IC.

How is the ordinary person, such as myself, supposed to know when an Ecumenical Council is valid in either the OO or the EO church? A few, such as yourself, have suggested the following: when the whole church accepts it; what specifically does that mean, i.e. does the “whole church” meet after an Ecumenical Council and vote to decide the validity of said council? Please define the “whole church”? Does the laity, as some have suggested, get a say in deciding the validity of an Ecumenical Council?


In the early church e.g. the council of Nicaea, council of Ephesus etc., how would someone like myself, back then, come to recognize the validity of an Ecumenical Council, in an unambiguous way?

Well you could have argued from scripture and the fathers, but I believe the arrians did this as well. Take in mind that not even the trinitarians fully trusted nicea till it was clarified by constantinople. It took time for people to recognise Nicea and any council, it was not an immediate solution, the pope agreeing with a council did not end all disputes, arrians would still exist for some two hundred more years.

Is not Greek btw.

This raises another question if I may:

At what point in time did “as many bishops as possible” become “it must be accepted by all the canonical bishops in the world”? How and/or why was this decided?

Thanks

The Councils work by consensus. Those who oppose the consensus are no longer canonical.

This is how it has played out in the Catholic Church as well. You need only to look at Vatican I. There was a great deal of controversy over the idea of infallibility, divided into three camps, those who supported it, those who opposed it because they thought it was a bad time to define it as doctrine, and those who opposed it because they disagreed. When consensus was made on the issue (and it did eventually come about), those who had disagreed either submitted, or broke off (forming the Old Catholic Church).

The councils themselves never involved all the bishops. I think even the Second or Third was even a local council that eventually was accepted by all. Sorry if I was not that clear. Attendance involved as many of the bishosp as possible, but acceptance must be universal. In some cases it was at a later council that they affirm a previous council to be Ecumenical. They point to the original council that declared a definition of faith and call that one ecumenical rather than the one where they finally got everyone to agree.

Either you have to wait for a few centuries later when it is eventually accepted. If not I think they are quite happy to keep the issue a mystery.

Follow the teaching of your bishop and pray and fast and discern. If you feel your bishop is wrong, then discuss with him. The laity certainly has a part in this process even though it is indirect. In Orthodoxy there is no concept of total submission to the clergy, you can very much disagree with them and you must discuss your disagreements with them like a family.

So, in some cases it was a later council that affirmed a previous council to be Ecumenical. I get that. However, in either the Oriental Orthodox or the Eastern Orthodox Church, in the 21st century, how exactly is an Ecumenical Council identified as being valid, as opposed to being affirmed by a later Ecumenical council? :slight_smile:

OK, I understand. :slight_smile:

In either the Oriental Orthodox or the Eastern Orthodox Church, in the 21st century, how exactly would an Ecumenical Council be identified as being valid?

Nine_Two - The Councils work by consensus. Those who oppose the consensus are no longer canonical.

In either the Oriental Orthodox or the Eastern Orthodox Church, in the 21st century, how exactly would an Ecumenical Council be identified as being valid? Let’s exclude the various folks who might be opposed to the decisions of a valid Ecumenical Council since they would not be part of the decision-making process during a valid Ecumenical Council e.g. Arianism or the CC, as you pointed out, when a “great deal of controversy over the idea of infallibility” occurred. leading to many breaking away from the decision-making process of a valid Ecumenical Council.:thumbsup:

Hmmm…Well, thank God that was not how the early CC Ecumenical Councils functioned. :slight_smile:

If a council is determined to be Ecumenical, then it is valid. As I said before, a council is ecumenical if all canonical bishops agree to it. Given that they are agreeing to the council, then it is valid. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth and therefore if all bishops agree, that is the truth.

The Orthodox I think won’t be calling any councils as ecumencial very soon. There has been varied speculation on the matter as to why, but there certainly has been councils post-Great Schism that have been widely accepted by the Orthodox and could have been labeled as Ecumenical. But for one reason or another they just didn’t.

The first Seven Ecumenical Councils are common among Orthodox and Catholics, so I don’t know what you are talking about “how the early CC Ecumenical Councils functioned.” That is exactly how the early CC ecumenical councils functioned.

They would be identified by the Consensus of the Bishops. If there is no consensus, it is not an ecumenical council.

I know you’re looking for an easy to see tell, but there isn’t one. Ecumenical Councils are regarded as such over time. With hindsight.

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