Archive for the ‘Councils’ Category

A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church | Edward H. Landon

April 20, 2011

One reference book that might interest many of my readers is a Edward H. Landon’s, “A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church.” Published (as a new and revised edition) in 1909 in two volumes, it can be found on The arrangement of the volumes is a little counter-intuitive. It is arranged in alphabetical order by place name – not the order one might expect from a historical work, but nevertheless a useful order for a reference work. There are some useful appendices in Volume 2 for helping the reader to correlate the “modern” name of the councils with the Latin names and the actual places where the councils were held. The work is, of course, not limited to ecumenical councils. This may serve as a useful supplement to Hefele’s great conciliar work.

Volume 1: A-N

Volume 2: O-Z plus Appendices

There are also older editions, but I am unable to find them on-line at this time.


>Mansi and Coleti — Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio. (Index)

October 12, 2010

>The Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio of Gian (Giovanni) Domenico Mansi and Nicola Coleti is a multi-volume collection of documents related to church councils. Gallica turned out to have a nearly complete collection. There is also a collection at Documenta Catholic Omnia (link to collection).

In looking for these volumes, I found the following:

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6
Volume 7
Volume 8
Volume 9
Volume 10
Volume 11
Volume 12
Volume 13
Volume 14
Volume 15 (missing from both collections)
Volume 16
Volume 17, part 1
Volume 17, part 2
Volume 18, part 1
Volume 18, part 2
Volume 19
Volume 20
Volume 21
Volume 22
Volume 23
Volume 24
Volume 25
Volume 26
Volume 27
Volume 28
Volume 29
Volume 30
Volume 31, part 1
Volume 31, part 2
Volume 32
Volume 33 (Missing from both collections)
Volume 34
Volume 35
Volume 36, part 1
Volume 36, part 2
Volume 36, part 3
Volume 37
Volume 38
Volume 39
Volume 40
Volume 41
Volume 42
Volume 43
Volume 44
Volume 45
Volume 46
Volume 47
Volume 48
Volume 49, Vatican Council part 1
Volume 50, Vatican Council part 2, section 1
Volume 51 (missing from both collections)
Volume 52, Vatican Council, part 2, section 3 (section 2 per CDO)
Volume 53, Vatican Council, part 2, section 4 (section 3 per CDO)

I’m not sure what the story is behind the apparently missing volumes.

Karl Joseph von Hefele – A History of the Christian Councils: from the original documents

June 11, 2010

The work of von Hefele in assembling the materials regarding the history of Christian councils is significant. While his opinions and conclusions may be subject to bias, I have yet to hear any criticism that he falsified the source materials included in his work. With that in mind, I present the following downloadable editions of his work in English translation (translation from the German original by William R. Clark):

Second Edition, Revised (1872)

Volume 1 (second copy)


Volume 2 (Second Copy)

Second Edition, Revised (1883)

Volume 1


Volume 3 (Second Copy)

Second Edition, Revised (1894)

Volume 1 (Second Copy)


Volume 4 (Second Copy)


Volume 2

Volume 5 (Second Copy)

(all links are to


Evangelicals and Idols: a Reformed Response

February 22, 2010

Over at the mixed-religion blog Evangel, Matthew Milliner (a doctoral candidate in art history at Princeton University, and apparently a member of the PCUSA) has attempted to argue that the rejection of icons of Christ is a defect in Christology. When faced with the argument that icons inherently involve an implicit Nestorianism (or perhaps Monophysitism), one of Mr. Milliner’s responses was:

This argument, furthermore, was itself deemed heretical by the universal church, which (unless Protestantism sprung from the sixteenth century ex nihilo) includes Protestantism.


In the comment box there, Steve Hays has already demonstrated one of the holes in this argument (namely that icon-rejecting Protestants are themselves at least a part of the universal church), but there are several other holes in the argument:

1) The Iconoclastic Council of 754 with 338 bishops in attendance unanimously condemned the use of images of Christ.

2) The later council of 787 to which Mr. Milliner was appealing was convened to try to overthrow the earlier council. Like the council of 754 it called itself an ecumenical council, but it wasn’t universally received.

3) In fact it was initially rejected in the west by, for example, the council of Frankfurt (called by Charlemagne) of 794. Naturally, as with all these sorts of disputed topics, folks have tried to argue that Frankfurt actually rejected a bad translation of the council of 787.

4) It was also rejected by various bishops in the East including, most famously, Patriarch John Grammatikos (also known as John VII of Constantinople or John the Grammarian) (patriarchate from 837-43).

5) We might also add that the entire argument that something was “deemed heretical by the universal church” is the sort of polemic claim that has been popular since the 4th century, but which always begs the question of the definition of the bounds of the church. When the church is defined to include only iconophiles, then one gets one result, when the church is defined to include only iconoclasts, a second result, and when both are included, a third result.

– TurretinFan

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 19

September 23, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 19

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the nineteenth in the multi-part series.

Seventh Ecumenical Council (783) – Destroyed Patristic Writings Opposed to Icons

In mocking words, the council commanded that all writings opposed to icons be turned over to the Patriarch of Constantinople, whose job it was to prevent these writings from being read. This command was to be enforced by deposing clergy from office and excommunicating laymen and monks:

All boyish whimwhams and mad bacchanalia, the false writings that have been brought forth against the venerable icons, must be turned in to the Bishopric of Constantinople to be put away together with the rest of heretical books. If, on the other hand, anyone should be found hiding these, if he be a Bishop, a Presbyter, or a Deacon, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman or a monk, let him be excommunicated.

You will notice that, in theory, there was a sort of “heretical library” to be possessed by the Patriarch of Constantinople. In effect, however, the removal of iconoclastic books from circulation had the effect of destroying those books, especially since one would not expect the Patriarch to keep each copy of every book.

As almost a footnote, it is interesting to see that this prominent role was held by the Patriarch of Constantinople, not the Patriarch of Rome. There is, of course, a practical reason beyond the fact that the Bishop of Rome was not considered the head of the church in that day: the heart of the resistance to icons would be expected to come from the Eastern church, where just 30 years previously a similarly sized council had condemned icons as contrary to Scripture and Tradition.

Ultimately, though, this council’s decree creates an easy historical explanation for the dearth of writings from the Early Church Fathers against images of Christ: they were rounded up and ultimately destroyed by those who followed the so-called Seventh Ecumenical Council. But for this council, any silence in the Early Church Fathers on this topic would have been harder to explain.


An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 18

September 22, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 18

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the eighteenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Fifth Lateran Council (1512-17) – Promotion of Religious Wars in 16th Century

It is widely held in Catholicism today that John Paul II acknowledged the religious wars of the past were a mistake. What is an inconvenient truth for such folks is that these wars were, even to at least the 16th century, promoted by the Roman church. Those who count there as being 21 ecumenical councils consider the Fifth Lateran Council to be the 18th Ecumenical Council.

The council decreed:

We decree, with the approval of the sacred council, that the said campaign against the infidels is to be undertaken and carried through. Zeal for the faith prompts us to this. It has been so often proposed and promised by us and our predecessor Julius in the sessions referred to, when the business of the council was being explained. On several occasions it was communicated to, and discussed with, spokesmen at our court representing kings and princes. Pope Nicholas V, our predecessor of pious memory, summoned a general expedition against the infidels after the disastrous fall of Constantinople in order to crush their fury and to avenge the wounds of Christ. Callistus III and Pius II, of happy memory our predecessors as Roman pontiffs, urged on by zeal for the faith, followed in the same path with skill and energy. During a subsequent period of three years, we imitated them by means of an authorisation from ourselves and our said brothers for imposing and exacting a tithe on the revenues of churches, monasteries and other benefices throughout the world and for doing each and every other thing that is necessary and customary in a campaign of this kind. We continually pour forth holy, humble and earnest prayers to almighty God that the campaign may have a happy outcome. We order the same to be done by all Christ’s faithful of either sex. We exhort Maximilian, the emperor-elect, and kings, princes and christian rulers, whose courage God bids us to rouse, beseeching them by the tender mercy of our God, Jesus Christ, and appealing to them by his fearful judgment to remember that they shall have to render an account of their defence and preservation — even by giving their lives — of the church itself, which has been redeemed by Christ’s blood, and to rise up in strength and power for the defence of the christian faith, as is incumbent on them as a personal and necessary duty, with all mutual hatred being set aside and quarrels and conflicts among themselves being committed to everlasting oblivion. At this time of such great need, let them offer with eagerness their ready assistance in keeping with their resources. We urge with paternal affection and ask them that, at least during the campaign, out of reverence for almighty God and for the apostolic see, they assure the unbroken observance of the peace into which they have entered, so that such an important good, which we hope and desire will be obtained with the help of the Lord’s right hand, may not be impeded by some interruption from discord and dissension.

What is interesting, however, is that it does not appear that any new crusade followed on this council’s proclamation. God had other ideas for Europe. Martin Luther in October of 1517 presented 95 theses, which are often identified as the starting point of the Protestant Reformation.


An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 17

September 21, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 17

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the seventeenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Second Vatican Council (1962-65) – Freedom of Religion Promoted

You will recall that in a previous section, we noted that the “ecumenical” council Lateran IV canonized persecution of the Jews, even to the point of coercing them to prevent their reversion to Judaism if they once freely converted to Christianity. Vatican II contrarily declared:

2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

4. The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious communities are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself.

15. The fact is that men of the present day want to be able freely to profess their religion in private and in public. Indeed, religious freedom has already been declared to be a civil right in most constitutions, and it is solemnly recognized in international documents.(38) The further fact is that forms of government still exist under which, even though freedom of religious worship receives constitutional recognition, the powers of government are engaged in the effort to deter citizens from the profession of religion and to make life very difficult and dangerous for religious communities.

This council greets with joy the first of these two facts as among the signs of the times. With sorrow, however, it denounces the other fact, as only to be deplored. The council exhorts Catholics, and it directs a plea to all men, most carefully to consider how greatly necessary religious freedom is, especially in the present condition of the human family. All nations are coming into even closer unity. Men of different cultures and religions are being brought together in closer relationships. There is a growing consciousness of the personal responsibility that every man has. All this is evident. Consequently, in order that relationships of peace and harmony be established and maintained within the whole of mankind, it is necessary that religious freedom be everywhere provided with an effective constitutional guarantee and that respect be shown for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society.

Frankly, it is hard to imagine a more clear example of a 180 degree change in position from 1215 to 1965 than on the issue of religious freedom. Who knows what a Roman bishop 750 years hence will do with Vatican II? It is an inconvenient truth that the canons and decrees of councils (even those designated “ecumenical”) cannot necessarily be counted on to represent the dogma of Rome, if she chooses to say something different at a later time.


An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 16

September 21, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 16

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the sixteenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) – Jews Officially Persecuted

I must immediately qualify this “persecution” claim, but noting that this is measuring the 4th Lateran Council by the standard of modern-day sensitivities, not by an objective standard.

Lateran IV forbade public offices to Jews, authorized “coercive action” to prevent reversion of “converted” Jews, required Jews and Muslims to wear distinctive clothing, required the Jews to tithe (and the like) on properties they acquired from Christians, and prohibited Jews and Muslims from public places during “Holy Week.” (Canons 67-70)

I think by modern standards, most (if not all) of those things would constitute persecution. This is an inconvenient truth for those who like to imagine that the Catholicism they practice today is the same as the “Catholic faith” practiced by the fathers of the Fourth Lateran Council, and yet who cannot stomach religious discrimination and persecution.


An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 15

September 20, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 15

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the fifteenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Fourth Council of Constantinople (879-80) – Overturned “Eighth Ecumenical Council”

You will notice that I’ve called this council the “Fourth” in keeping with those who recognize only seven ecumenical councils, and oppose the 21-ers. The Eastern Orthodox view the earlier council as – in essence – voided by this later council, which restored Photius (who was deposed with his supporters by the “Eighth Ecumenical Council”).

This council is sometimes referred to (as it apparently referred to itself) as being an ecumenical council (and the eighth), but is not “officially” recognized as such by Eastern Orthodoxy today, though they may occasionally refer to it that way.


An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 14

September 20, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth – Part 14

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the fourteenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-70) – Ecumenical Status a Later Fabrication

Those who claim there have been twenty-one ecumenical councils hold that a council held at Constantinople in 869-70 was the 8th such council. There are some rather obvious and severe problems with that theory.

First, there does not appear to be any identification of it as an ecumenical council prior to the era of the Great Schism;

Second, the Eastern Orthodox do not recognize it as ecumenical, although the council was held within the region (and at the political center of that region) that today is largely Eastern Orthodoxy.

The fairly obvious reason for this bickering was that the council was held to depose Photius, the patriarch of Constantinople, who had opposed Nicholas, the bishop of Rome. When it came to for the Great Schism, much cordiality between the church of Constantinople and the church of Rome became lost, and it became important for the Roman position that the deposition of Photius be given ecumenical weight.

Indeed, there is debate over whether Greeks corrupted the true text of the council or whether that was done by the Latins. In short, there was no shortage of divisiveness engendered by this council.


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