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Sects & Heresies

  • Arianism: Topic Page
    The doctrine of Arius, pronounced heretical at the Council of Nicaea, which asserted that Christ was not of one substance with the Father, but a creature raised by the Father to the dignity of Son of God. MORE
  • Donatism: Topic Page
    Schismatic movement among Christians of N Africa (fl. 4th cent.), led by Donatus, bishop of Casae Nigrae (fl. 313), and the theologian Donatus the Great or Donatus Magnus (d. 355). The schism arose when certain Christians protested the election of the bishop of Carthage, charging that his consecration by Felix, bishop of Aptunga, was invalid because Felix was considered a traitor. MORE
  • Iconoclasm: Topic Page
    Opposition to the religious use of images. Veneration of pictures and statues symbolizing sacred figures, Christian doctrine, and biblical events was an early feature of Christian worship. MORE
  • Monothelitism
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    7th-century opinion condemned as heretical by the Third Council of Constantinople in 680. This doctrine, by declaring that Christ operated with but one will, although he had two natures, opposed the intent of the Council of Chalcedon. MORE
  • Nestorianism: Topic Page
    The doctrine that Christ was two distinct persons, divine and human, implying a denial that the Virgin Mary was the mother of God. It is attributed to Nestorius and survives in the Iraqi Church. MORE
  • Pelagianism: Topic Page
    A heretical doctrine, first formulated by Pelagius, that rejected the concept of original sin and maintained that the individual takes the initial steps towards salvation by his own efforts and not by the help of divine grace.
    MORE
  • Theotokos
    From Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Post-Classical World
    Theotokos, a title given to the Virgin Mary, literally means in Greek “the one who bore God” but is commonly translated as “Mother of God.” MORE

Ecumenical Councils

  • First Council of Nicaea (325)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    1st ecumenical council, convened by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great to solve the problems raised by Arianism. MORE
  • First Council of Constantinople (381)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    Second ecumenical council. It was convened by Theodosius I, then emperor of the East and a recent convert, to confirm the victory over Arianism. MORE
  • Council of Ephesus (431)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    3d ecumenical council, convened by Theodosius II, emperor of the East, and Valentinian III, emperor of the West, to deal with the controversy over Nestorianism. MORE
  • Council of Chalcedon (451)
    From Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World
    The Fourth Ecumenical Council was held in October 451 at the martyrium of St. Euphemia in Chalcedon. About 520 bishops were present. The council produced the Chalcedonian Creed in response to the Christological controversies of the 5th century. MORE
  • Second Council of Constantinople (553)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    Regarded generally as the fifth ecumenical council. It was convened by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I to settle the dispute known as the Three Chapters. MORE
  • Third Council of Constantinople (680)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    Regarded by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Eastern churches as the sixth ecumenical council. It was convoked by Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV to deal with Monotheletism. The council was attended by more than 150 bishops from all over the world, and it was presided over by the papal legates. MORE
  • Second Council of Nicaea (787)
    From The Columbia Encyclopedia
    7th ecumenical council, convened by Byzantine Empress Irene. Called to refute iconoclasm, the council declared that images ought to be venerated (but not worshiped) and ordered them restored in churches. MORE
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