What are the dates of church councils?

by Matt Slick
3/38/2016

Different denominations and divisions within the overall umbrella of Christianity have produced different councils throughout the centuries. This following list represents the broad spectrum of church councils that fall under the general category of Christianity. 

A church council is an assembly of religious leaders, within a general ecclesiastical structure, who are gathered in order to deliberate various religious, civic, and legal matters. Their conclusions are generally considered authoritative for that particular ecclesiastical structure.

The seven ecumenical councils are:

  1. First Council of Nicaea (325)
  2. First Council of Constantinople (381)
  3. Council of Ephesus (431)
  4. Council of Chalcedon (451)
  5. Second Council of Constantinople (553)
  6. Third Council of Constantinople (680)
  7. Second Council of Nicaea (784)
   
Date
Location
Topics Addressed
50? Acts 15:1-35 contains the first Council of the Christian church.  It met to discuss the necessity of circumcision for Gentile converts. It concluded it is not necessary.
251, 252, 254,
255, 256
Coucils of Carthage
Under St. Cyprian.  Dealt with the reconciliation of those who apostacized during the Decian Persecution.1
325
First Council of Nicaea

Dealt with the deity of Christ, and declared Arianism to be heretical.  Arianism (Arius, d. 336) taught that Jesus was a created being, not divine. The correct position was defended by Athanasius (293-373), who affirmed that Jesus Christ was eternally divine and fully God, homoousios.2

341
Council of Antioch

Where attempts were made to replace the Nicene Creed in which four creeds were produced.3

348, 390
Council of Carthage
An African Council under Gratus and Genethlius4
381
First Council of Constantinople

Dealt with the humanity of Christ.  It condemned Arianism, Sabellianism, and Apollinarianism. It also affirmed the deity of the Holy Spirit.  It was attended by 150 Eastern bishops.

397
Third Council of Carthage

Represented the churches in the western part of the Mediterranean area.  It accepted the 27 books of the New Testament as cannon.5

419
Council of
Carthage
Claims of Rome's authority and jurisdiction over Africa were disputed.6
431
Council of Ephesus
Dealt with Jesus being one person. It condemned Nestorianism and Pelagianism. It also, Theotokos, declaring Mary as the "Mother of God".
449
Robber Synod of Ephesus

Asserted that the view that Jesus has two natures was false. This position was later rejected by the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

451
Council of
Chalcedon

Affirmed that Jesus is one person with two distinct natures: divine and human.  Condemned Monophysitism.

506
Council of Agde
South of France, "clerical celibacy, the age for ordination, the relation of a bishop and a diocesan synod, church property, public peace, and religious obligations."7
525, 534
Council of Carthage
Under Boniface, Bishop of Carthage.  No Canons survive of this Council.
553
Second Council of Constantinople
The fifth ecumenical Church Council Attended by 168 bishops. It condemned Nestorianism, monotheletism, and declared the perpetual virginity of Mary. It affirmed the two natures of Jesus: divine and human.
589
Council of Toledo
Stated that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son within the Trinity. This was rejected by the Eastern church in 1054.
680-681
Third Council of Constantinople

The sixth ecumenical Council.  Condemned monothelitism, and affirmed dithelitism.

784
Second Council of Nicaea
Dealt with iconoclasm and affirmed the use of images of Jesus and Mary in church services.8
1095
Council of Clermont

The church counselor Pope urban the second (1042-99) initiated the first Crusade against the Muslim invaders.

1215
Fourth Lateran Council

Approved as a rule the church a life of love, community, obedience, and service.9

1414-18
Council of Constance

Called by antipope John 23rd (died 1419) it was intended to end the great schism in the Roman Catholic Church.

1431-49
Council of Basle
A Roman Catholic Council that did not receive papal recognition.it dealt with various heresies, reform in the church, and peace within Christendom.
1431-49
General Counsel of the Roman Catholic Church
Dealt with people supremacy, tax demands, the Turkish threat to Christianity, and the followers of John Huss.10
1438-45
Council of Florence,

"held in three Italian cities (Ferrara, 1438); Florence, 1439; Rome, 1443), dealt with the issue of reuniting with the Greek and Latin churches. The Greek churches rejected this attempt.

1545-63
Council of Trent

A Roman Catholic Council in response to the Protestant Reformation.  It affirmed the apocrypha to be Scripture and part of the canon with the exception of 1st and 2nd Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh11

1852
First Plenary
Council of Bishops
A Roman Catholic counsel that met in Baltimore, Maryland. It dealt with loyalty to the Pope, examination of religious material, Catholic schools, marriage, etc.
1886
Second Plenary Council of Bishops
A Roman Catholic Council that met in Baltimore, Maryland. dealt with issues concerning the faith, Scripture, the Trinity, and veneration of Mary and the saints.
1884
Third Plenary Council of Bishops
A Roman Catholic Council that met in Baltimore, Maryland. Dealt with Catholic education.
1948
World Council of churches

A World Council of churches gathered to promote cross denominational fellowship on a worldwide basis.

1962-65
Vatican Council 2
New church reforms were enacted dealing with revelation, salvation, and the church. "called for a new openness in the church to the world, toward other Christian churches, and to non-Christian religions."12

 

References:

  • http://www.bible-researcher.com/carthage.html
  • http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3816.htm
  • Cross, F. L., and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/council-basle
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plenary_Councils_of_Baltimore
  •  

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  • 1. Cross, F. L., and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • 2. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition:
  • 3. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition:
  • 4. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2005.
  • 5. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2005.
  • 6. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2005.
  • 7. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Locations 455-456). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
  • 8. though this 2nd Council of Nicaea affirmed the use of images in worship, CARM considers this decision to be a violation of Scripture and an example of the general apostasy that was already beginning in the Christian church.
  • 9. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Location 1235). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
  • 10. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Location 1428). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
  • 11. Ref. Grudem, Wayne A. (2009-05-18). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Cómo Entender) (p. 59). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  • 12. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Locations 480-481). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.