les Conciles dans le Christianisme

Councils in Christian history

This blog article will deal with the great importance of Councils in Christianity, which are at the origin of the interpretation of the Word of God. Councils have played a major role in the history of Christianity by clarifying and establishing the fundamental doctrines of the Church.

Councils also helped define the beliefs and practices of the Church, which promoted unity and coherence within the Christian community. Decisions made at councils were considered authoritative and had a significant impact on theology and life of the Church.

In Christianity, councils are assemblies of bishops and theologians who meet to discuss doctrinal and disciplinary issues important to the Church. Decisions made at councils are considered authoritative and binding on all members of the Church.

The first recognized Christian council was the Council of Jerusalem in AD 50, which addressed the question of whether non-Jewish converts to Christianity should follow Jewish practices, such as circumcision. The council ultimately decided that non-Jewish converts did not need to conform to Jewish practices.

Among the most important councils in the history of Christianity are the Council of Nicaea in 325, which established the Nicene creed, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which defined the doctrine of the Incarnation, and the Council of Trent in the 16th century. century, which reaffirmed the fundamental principles of Roman Catholicism in response to the Protestant Reformation.

In this article we will deal with the 5 largest Councils often qualified as being the most important: The Council of Nicaea, the Council of Constantinople, the Council of Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon and finally, the Council of Trent. We will see precisely in each dedicated section the origin of these Councils, their reason for being and what they came to clarify. We can start.

Council in Christianity

The Council of Nicaea

The Council of Nicaea is an important event in the history of Christianity held in 325 AD in Nicaea, a city of the Roman Empire located in what is now Turkey. This council was convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine to resolve a theological controversy that divided the Church at the time.

The main issue debated at the Council of Nicaea was the relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. Some Christian leaders believed that Jesus was a creature created by God (the doctrine of Arianism which Arius originated and who would be proclaimed a heretic during this same Council), while others believed that he was eternal and coexisting with God the Father, it is the doctrine held by the Catholic Church today and which, in view of the Holy Scriptures, makes sense and truth. The debates were lively, but ultimately the majority of participants adopted the position that Jesus was “of the same substance” as God the Father, that is, he was eternal and divine.

The Council of Nicaea also adopted a number of canons, or rules, for the Church. Among the most important, we find the establishment of a common date for the celebration of Easter as well as the famous Nicene Creed a profession of faith which expresses belief in the Trinity, here it is:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth, of the visible and invisible universe,
I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, born of the Father before all ages:
He is God, born of God,
light, born from light,
true God, born of the true God
Begotten not created,
consubstantial with the Father;
and through him all things were done.
For us men, and for our salvation,
he came down from heaven;
By the Holy Spirit, he took flesh from the Virgin Mary, and became man.
Crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
He suffered his passion and was buried.
He rose again on the third day,
according to the Scriptures, and he ascended into heaven;
he is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, who is Lord and gives life;
it proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son, he receives the same adoration and the same glory;
he spoke through the prophets.

I believe in the Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
I recognize only one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I await the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.



The Council of Nicaea helped unify the Church under a clear theological doctrine, eliminating the divisions and dissensions that existed at the time. The formulation of the Nicene Creed created a common understanding of the nature of God and Jesus Christ. The decisions made at this council also had lasting consequences for Christian theology and the practice of the Church. 


Council in Christianity

The Council of Constantinople


The Council of Constantinople was an ecumenical council of the Christian Church held in 381 in Constantinople, then the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. It followed the Council of Nicaea, which was held in 325, and from which it took up the main decisions.

The Council of Constantinople notably confirmed the divinity of the Holy Spirit and affirmed that the three persons of the Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) were equal in substance and dignity. He also rejected the teachings of Arianism, a doctrine which denied the divinity of Christ.


The Council of Constantinople had great importance for the Christian Church, because it established the Trinitarian doctrine which is still one of the foundations of the Christian faith today.

This council of Constantinople further affirmed the necessity of baptism for salvation, as well as the resurrection of the flesh and the last judgment. He also condemned several heresies, including Macedonianism, which denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and Novatianism, which refused to reinstate people who had committed serious sins into the Church.


The Council of Constantinople had a lasting influence on the Christian Church, particularly with regard to the formulation of the Trinitarian doctrine and the recognition of the primatial role of the Patriarch of Constantinople after the Pope. His decisions were confirmed by subsequent councils, notably the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which definitively established the Trinitarian doctrine as it is professed today by most Christian churches.


Council in Christianity

The Council of Ephesus

The Council of Ephesus was an ecumenical council of the Christian Church held in 431 AD in the city of Ephesus, Asia Minor (now Turkey). The council was convened by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II to resolve a theological controversy that had arisen in the Church at the time.

The main debate concerned the nature of Christ. Some theologians believed that Christ had two distinct natures – a divine nature and a human nature – while others held that he had only one divine nature. The council ultimately decided that Christ had two distinct natures, one divine and one human, united in one person. This decision has been considered fundamental to Christian theology and is known as the "Ephesian definition".

The Council of Ephesus also affirmed the doctrine of the Trinity, that is, the belief in one God in three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The council condemned the heresy of Nestorius, who had denied that Mary, the mother of Jesus, could be called "mother of God" (Theotokos in Greek).

Finally, The council affirmed that Jesus was God and man in one person and that Mary was therefore the mother of God. The Council of Ephesus played an important role in the history of the Christian Church and influenced Christian theology for centuries to come.

Council in Christianity

The Council of Chalcedon

The Council of Chalcedon confirmed the Trinitarian doctrine established by previous councils, affirming the divine and human nature of Christ. According to the decisions of the council, Christ is fully God and fully man, without confusion or separation between his divine nature and his human nature. This doctrine is called the dual nature of Christ or the divine-human hypostasis.

Furthermore, and this is extremely important, the Council defined the doctrine of the Eucharist: the council affirmed that the bread and wine used in the celebration of the Eucharist were truly transformed into the body and blood of Jesus- Christ.

Furthermore, although the council affirmed the authority of Constantinople, it also confirmed the role of the pope as head of the universal Church.

Finally, the council established that the decisions taken during the councils must be considered as having extreme authority and could not be called into question subsequently because they were directly inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Council in Christianity

The Council of Trent

The Council of Trent was an ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church held between 1545 and 1563 in the city of Trento in northern Italy. The council was convened in response to the Protestant Reformation, which had begun several decades earlier and resulted in the Christian Church splitting into several denominations.
The main goal of the Council of Trent was to respond to criticism from Protestant reformers and to reaffirm Catholic teachings on issues such as justification, the sacraments, liturgy, and the authority of the Church. The council also sought to reform certain Church practices, such as the sale of indulgences, which had been one of the targets of the reformers' criticism.
The Council of Trent made several important decisions that had a great influence on the doctrine and practice of the Roman Catholic Church. The main decisions made by the council include:
  • The reaffirmation of the doctrine of justification by faith and works, which was one of the main points of controversy between Catholics and Protestant Reformers.
  • The confirmation of the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church: baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, ordination and marriage.
  • The clarification of liturgical practices, particularly with regard to the mass, sacred music and religious art.
  • The ban on the sale of indulgences, which had been one of the practices criticized by Protestant reformers.
  • Establishing more rigorous training for priests and bishops, including the establishment of seminaries.
  • Recognition of the authority of the Bible and the tradition of the Church, while emphasizing that the Church had the power to interpret the Bible and tradition.
  • The reaffirmation of the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, as guardian of the faith and apostolic tradition directly derived from our Lord Jesus Christ and as the only institution capable of dispensing the valid sacraments.
These decisions had a significant impact on the Roman Catholic Church, helping to clarify and strengthen its doctrine and practice, as well as responding to criticism and divisions of the Protestant Reformation.
Council in Christianity


In summary, the Councils, and in particular those cited in this article, had an extreme importance in the history of Christianity, because they were the ones which made it possible to unify the faith of the Church, to respond to certain heresies by condemning, and made it possible to clarify certain rather complex or vague theological points at least in their time. There is obviously no one Council better than another, moreover, each new Council does not make the previous ones obsolete, quite the contrary, but all intervened in different contexts in order to respond to the problems and questions of their era by basing and relying on the points and truths made explicit thanks to previous Councils.
If you would like to know more about the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and how it was thought of even by the Fathers of the Church, our blog article entitled "What is the Immaculate Conception?" should really please you.