The Orthodox Pages

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TALK ON THE SEVEN

ECUMENICAL COUNCILS  

20th October 2011

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I have been asked to talk about the 7 Ecumenical Councils. This is a subject that we saw in the beginning of 2008 so with almost 4years gone by we would be justified in looking at this subject again. What are these Councils and why were they summoned?
As the Church grew, so also did different understandings develop concerning the two natures of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity, which divided the Church into two or more camps. In general, these different understandings developed from two rival catechetical Schools, those of Alexandria and Antioch. Both played an important part in the understanding of who Jesus was, but each used a different approach. We cannot fully examine these two theological schools today, but if any of you remember, we did cover them in detail last year. In short, the Alexandrian school was greatly influenced by Platonism and Stoicism which led to a theology with an allegorical approach that stressed the divine aspect of the unity of Christ sometimes at the expense of His humanity, which portrayed a Christ whose humanity was absorbed by His divinity. This teaching lead to various monophysite heresies where Christ was no longer seen as having two natures, a human and divine, but only one divine nature.
In contrast, the Antiochian school seemed to have been more influenced by the philosophy of Aristotle. It developed a literal approach in the explanation of Scripture and theology, rather than the allegorical approach of Alexandria, and emphasised the human nature of Christ rather than the divine and put great weight on the human experiences of Christ’s temptations and sufferings.
But as Alexandria’s overemphasis of the divine led to heresies which denied Christ a human rational soul, the Antiochian’s overemphasis of the human led to heresies which denied him his divinity. At first these heresies began as a local problem and so Local or Regional synods were called to deal with them. This was because Christianity as a whole was forbidden and persecuted in the Roman Empire and inadvertently this assisted in constraining heresies to their local boundaries. With the Edict of Milan in 313AD which officially granted full religious tolerance and when the Emperor Constantine officially made Christianity the religion of the empire, these heresies were very fast becoming widely known throughout the Empire. But as these heresies were now free to reach beyond their original boundaries and threaten the whole Church so also the Church was now free to go a step bigger than a local council and summon an Ecumenical Council from all regions of the Christian World. Although Ecumenical Councils were mainly summoned to deal with certain heresies, the gathering of Bishops from the various Patriarchates and Autocephalous churches were excellent opportunity to discuss other important issues in the daily life and running of the Church and canons were drawn up as measures to help and guide Bishops and Priests in their parochial duties.
The First Ecumenical Council was summoned to deal the heretic Arius. Arius was a Christian priest in Alexandria, Egypt, but of Libyan origin. It is believed he studied at the Antiochian Theological School under its founder Lucian of Antioch. For a while Lucian himself fell under suspicion for heresy and was excomunicated, but was later reconciled to the Church and died a martyr’s death on 7th January 312. Antioch as we have seen overemphasized the human nature of Christ and some teachings may have influenced Arius in developing his ideas and theology. Having returned to Alexandria, Arius taught that God the Father and the Son did not exist together eternally. He taught that the pre-incarnate Jesus was a divine being created by God the Father at some point, therefore the Son is a created being. Arius and his followers appealed to the Bible verse where Jesus says that the father is “greater than I”. (John 14:28)
This teaching by Arius reached far beyond Alexandria and became a topic of discussion and disturbance for the entire Church.
The Emperor Constantine the Great wasn’t yet a baptized Christian, but he was sympathetic to its teachings and established it as the religion of the Empire. He desired unity in his newly formed Byzantine Empire and took a personal interest in several ecumenical issues. He wanted to bring an end to the Arian dispute which was disrupting his Empire and therefore took an unprecedented step and summoned and presided at the First Ecumenical Council held in Nicaea in the year 325.
This set the pattern for future Ecumenical Councils and all 7 councils were summoned by the Byzantine Emperor, and not by the Church as would be expected.
The emperors fixed the place and time of the council. They summoned the Patriarchs, metropolitans and bishops of the empire by an edict. They provided the means of transit and they paid the cost of travel and other expenses from the public treasury.
The emperors not only convened the Ecumenical Councils but also, directly or indirectly, attempted to take an active part. They attempted to exercise their influence on the discussions and decisions, but, they had no actual vote. The Emperor’s presidency was therefore limited, always restricted and always subject to the ultimate decision of the bishops. This procedure of the Emperor summoning and taking part in the proceedings gave the councils a legal status and legal validity within the entire Roman Empire. The emperors took the theological decisions and elevated them to the status of imperial law. They were responsible for having them observed and they had the power to punish the noncompliant heretic with deposition and banishment.
The main work of the First Council was to prove that Christ was equal and consubstantial to the Father, that he was truly God and not a creation. Arius’ teaching was officially condemned by the Church as heresy. The Council summing up the Christian faith gave us the Nicene Creed, the statement of faith which was then completed by the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381AD. The Creed has remained unchanged from then until the present day. To show that the Son was in all things equal to the Father, the word Ομοούσιος was adopted into the Creed. The English equivalent of the word is as we say in the Creed: “Being of one substance with the Father” or Consubstantial.
Besides the question of Arianism, the First Ecumenical Council also addressed a number of other concerns. Of particular note is the matter of the Paschalion, the method for the calculation of the celebration of Pascha. Up to this point there had been a number of different methods for determining the date for Pascha, but at Nicaea the bishops chose to accept the Alexandrian practice of making a calculation independent of the Jewish Passover, stipulating also that the Paschal celebration had to follow the vernal equinox. They thus rejected the Antiochian practice of making reference to Jewish reckoning when choosing the day for Pascha.
The First Ecumenical Council is said to have been attended by 318 bishops, but if we consider that each bishop was allowed to bring with him two priests and three deacons then those actually present could have been as high as two thousand. At the Council certain personalities stood out above the others.
One of these was St. Athanasius who, while still only a deacon of 27, accompanied the Patriarch of Alexandria Alexander as his secretary. At the Council, he surpassed everyone there in his zeal to uphold the teaching that Christ is consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and not merely a creature, as the Arians proclaimed. His speech met with the approval of the Orthodox Fathers of the Council, but the Arians, came to hate Athanasius and persecuted him for the rest of his life.
Another personality is St. Nicholas of Myra. Having heard Arius and his blasphemy, Nicholas being fired up with zeal for the Lord, attacked Arius verbally but then, in the heat of the moment, also struck him in the face. For this act, he was removed from the council and from his Episcopal duties until some of the chief hierarchs had a vision of the Lord and the Mother of God returning to him the Gospel and omophorion. The Fathers of the Council agreed that the audacity of the saint was pleasing to God, and restored the saint to the office of bishop.
One other event that has come down to us from that first Ecumenical Council, involves our very own St. Spyridon, Bishop of Trimithonta of Cyprus. To prove that God was one God in three Persons, he took a brick in his hand and squeezed it. At that very moment fire shot up from it, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in the hands of the wonderworker. St Spyridon said, “There was only one brick, but it was composed of three elements. In the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, but only one God.”
The Second Ecumenical Council was held during the reign of Theodosius the Great at Constantinople in 381. A total of 150 Bishops were present including Sts. Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, and Meletius of Antioch. Not one bishop from the west attended it. Later, however, they agreed and acceded to the things it decreed and even to this day the whole of the Western Church accept and recognize this Council as a truly Ecumenical Council. At first the Pope of Rome did not acknowledge the authority of the third canon of the Council which dealt with the ranking of the Ancient Patriarchates. Up until then, Rome was ranked as first in honour, then Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. This present canon stated: “Let the Bishop of Constantinople have the priorities in honour after the Bishop of Rome, because of it being the New Rome.” The rankings had nothing to do with the holiness of the cities; if that were the case then Jerusalem would have been ranked as first in honour. The Patriarchates were ranked in order of the importance of their cities. Rome which was the capital of the Roman Empire naturally was ranked as first. Constantinople, the New Rome was now the Capital of the Empire. The canon did not mean that the patriarch of Constantinople was to be second in honour, but only second in order. He was to have the same honour and privileges as the Pope of Rome. If this seemed unclear to some, it was made very clear at the Fourth Ecumenical Council in 451 that the Patriarch of Constantinople was to enjoy the same and equal privileges in a manner as has the Patriarch of Rome.
The main reason the Second Ecumenical Council was of course held not to sort out who was first and second, but to deal with the heresy led by Macedonius, who blasphemously taught that the Holy Spirit was a thing constructed or created by the Son. The Council also dealt with other heresies. The first Canon of the Council reads: “The holy Fathers assembled in Constantinople have decided not to set aside the faith of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers who met in Nicaea, Bithynia, but to let it remain sovereign, and that every heresy be anathematized and especially and specifically that of the Eunomians, including that of the Eudoxians, and that of the Semi-Arians, including that of the Pneumatomachi, and that of the Sabellians, and that of the Marcellians, and that of the Photinians and that of the Apollinarians.” I will explain what these heresies are shortly.
Macedonius, somewhat like Arius, who taught that Christ was a creature, now taught that the Holy Spirit was not a person (hypostasis), but simply a power or energy of God. Therefore the Spirit was inferior to the Father and the Son. The Council condemned Macedonius' teaching and defined the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The Council decreed that there was one God in three persons (hypostases): Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The holy fathers of the Council added five articles to the Nicene Creed. They read as follows: “And (We believe) in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father: who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified: who spoke by the prophets. In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
Most heresies fall under one of three groups: the Monophysites, the Monothelites and the Pneumatomachi. The Monophysites were heresies that had to do with Christ’ nature. Either Christ was made less than God or his manhood was so divided from his Godhead that he became two persons instead of one. The Monothelites argued that although Christ has two natures, yet since he is a single person then he only has one will. In other words Christ does not have a human will but only a divine will. The Pneumatomachi meaning “Spirit fighters” were those who did not recognize the Holy Spirit as God, they did not recognize than he was one of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Macedonius’ heresy is therefore a Pneumatomachi heresy. Many of the heretic Churches that exist today are not new heresies but revivals of the many heresies that developed in the first four centuries.
Earlier I mentioned some of these heresies, the Eunomians, the Eudoxians, the Semi-Arians, the Sabellians, the Marcellians, the Photinians and the Apollinarians. They are named after the people that taught these heresies. What then was their belief?
Eunomius was bishop of Cyzicus, he use to re-baptize people with a single immersion, holding their feet up and their head down. He also asserted that there was no hell, but that hell was used to install fear as a threat. Like Arius, he rejected that Christ was equal and of one substance with the father, but whereas Arius said he was like the Father, Eunomius said he was unlike the Father, thus his followers are also called Anomians meaning the “unlike”.
Eudoxius was sympathetic to the Anomians, but as Patriarch of Constantinople, he felt it necessary to discourage them. He again subscribed to the Arian heresy and used the word “like the Father” without saying whether this likeness was supposed to be just a likeness or something more.
Others were called Semi-Arians because they entertained half the heresy engendered by Arius. They said the Son was like the Father in all respects and coessential with the Father, but they refused to admit the word coessential or consubstantial in the creed in spite of the fact that it had been in use among the ancient Fathers even before the First Ecumenical Council. Their leader was Basil the bishop of Ancyra. A third group called the Son neither like nor unlike the Father, but took a view midway between that of the Arians and that of the Semi-Arians.
Sabellius had served as a bishop of Ptolemais in Pentapolis. He asserted that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit were three names for one and the same person, and that that person was called at times the Father, and at times the Son, and at other times the Holy Spirit according to the diversities of that person’s activities and operations.
Marcellus was bishop of Ancyra. He asserted that the Logos was not a divine Person but only an impersonal divine power which was issued to him in the act of creation and entered into relations with the human person of Jesus, who thus became God’s Son. He also taught that after the second judgment the Logos would retire from Jesus and his body would have to be thrown away, and to go into non-being, and that consequently His kingdom will come to an end.
Photinus, had served as bishop of Sirmium. He didn’t recognized the Holy Trinity as a God, calling it only a Spirit creative of the universe, and declaring the Logos to be only the oral word, serving as a sort of mechanical instrument, nor did he call Christ a God, but only a mere human being who had absorbed the oral word from God and had received existence from Mary.
Apollinaris, who became a bishop of Laodicea, Syria, embraced the heresy of Arius, and asserted among other things that the Logos (or rational faculty) served the body of Christ instead of a soul. At times he used to say that the Logos received a body without a soul, while at other times, being ashamed of his ignorance or want of knowledge, he would say that He received a soul, but a mindless one and an irrational one, separating, in accordance with the Platonists the soul from the mind. He made Christ a middle being between God and man, in whom, as it were, one part divine and two parts human were fused in the unity of a new nature. He even ventured to use created analogies to explain his theory such as the mule, midway between the horse and the ass, the grey colour, a mixture of white and black, and spring, in distinction from winter and summer. Christ he said, is neither whole man nor God, but a mixture of God and man. On the other hand he regarded the Orthodox view of a union of full humanity with a full divinity in one person – of two wholes in one whole – as an absurdity.
We see that all these heresies started with bishops or priests who belonged to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. They were Christian in origin, but introduced blasphemies into the true teaching of the Church. The Church, to protect the true teaching on the Person of Christ the God-man, the Person of the Holy Spirit and in general the Holy Trinity, responded by anathematizing and excommunicating them from the Church. Heresies, no matter how trivial they might appear to the layperson were always seen by the Church as extremely dangerous. They impair the teaching of the New Testament and set up barriers between man and God, making it impossible for man to attain full salvation. The New Testament teaches that man is separated from God by sin and cannot through his own efforts break down the wall of separation which his sinfulness has created. God has therefore taken the initiative: He became man, was crucified, and rose from the dead, thereby delivering humanity from the bondage of sin and death. This is the central message of the Christian faith, and it is this message of redemption that the Councils were concerned to safeguard.
In Saint John’s Gospel, Christ states that He has given His disciples a share in the divine glory, and He prays that they may achieve union with God: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” (John 17:22-23) The Greek Fathers took these and similar texts in their literal sense, and dared to speak of man’s deification (theosis). They argued that if man is to share in God’s glory, he is to be perfectly one with God, this means in effect that man must be deified: he is called to become by grace what God is by nature. Accordingly Saint Athanasius summed up the purpose of the Incarnation by saying: God became man that we might be made god. Now if this theosis is to be possible, Christ the Saviour must be both fully man and fully God. No one less than God can save man; therefore if Christ is to save, He must be God. But only if He is also truly a man, as we are, can we men participate in what He has done for us. A bridge is formed between God and man by the Incarnate Christ who is both. Christ must be fully God and fully man.
Each heresy in turn undermined some part of this vital teaching. Either Christ was made less than God (Arianism); or His manhood was so divided from His Godhead that He became two persons instead of one (Nestorianism); or He was not presented as truly man (Monophysitism, Monothelitism). Some of these heresies are not so easy to understand especially when the person does not have knowledge of the true teaching of the Church, but what it all boils down to is that any teaching that makes Christ less than true God and true man at the same time teaches that man cannot become one with God and therefore cannot be truly saved.
Today many of these old heresies still exist but with variations. We often hear people say that it doesn’t matter which church you belong to as long as we are all Christians which makes us all God’s children. From time to time we have heard this even from our own group. Can we really say such a thing and believe it? If there is no difference between one church and another then why are there so many different denominations? Of course we are all God’s children, whether we be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew or Hindu, but that does not mean that we all believe that we will be saved in the same way. Orthodoxy believes that man can obtain deification through grace, a complete salvation by becoming one with God. This is the teaching that Christ himself teaches us in the Gospels. Should I then expect anything less than this? And if I believe that the Orthodox Church contains the complete truth then should I be sympathetic to another church’s teaching which if it doesn’t contain the complete truth is in reality a lie? Each person should answer these questions and others similar to them by himself. The question of whether other Christians from other churches can be saved is not really our concern; that is up to God’s righteous judgement: our main concern should be if and how I will be saved. This is not a selfish act. It does not mean that we do not love all people, but that it is not in our power to save anyone, not even ourselves. We only can pray and hope for salvation, for ourselves and for others, but only God saves.
The next Ecumenical Council, that is the Third, was held in Ephesus in 431. It was called to hear the charges made against Nestorius the Patriarch of Constantinople who in his teaching had divided the person of Christ into two and was unwilling to call the Blessed Virgin Theotokos – Mother of God. He said that Mary could only be called Christotokos - the mother of Christ the man for she did not give birth to the pre-existing, pre-eternal Son of God, who already had a Father with whom He shared His divine nature. The Pope St. Celestine had heard reports about Nestorius and asked Cyril the Patriarch of Alexandria to send him a detailed report of Nestorius’ doctrine. After examining the report he gave Cyril the power to act on his behalf and send letters to all the bishops informing them of his judgement on the case. Nestorius was to be given ten days to denounce his heresy otherwise he would be deprived of the Episcopate and Communion.
But what the Pope and Cyril didn’t reckon on was the power and influence Nestorius had. He was the Bishop of the royal city and had gained many friends among the bishops and the young Emperor Theodosius and the important great men of the Empire. Almost all the bishops in the east, especially the Patriarchate of Antioch, and the Patriarch John himself, were ill disposed to Cyril, and seemed to favour Nestorius. Feelings were divided, and the whole Empire of the East seemed to fluctuate between Cyril and Nestorius. There was therefore the need of an Ecumenical Council. The Emperor, thus wrote to Cyril, saying” It is our will that the holy doctrine be discussed and examined in a sacred Synod, and that be ratified which appeareth agreeable to the right faith, whether the wrong party be pardoned by the Fathers or no.” We see that the Pope’s judgment on the matter was not enough to remove Nestorius from his Episcopal duties. According to the Ecclesiastical Canons, another judgment, that of a council was still required and that judgment would be decisive and final. So Cyril, with more than 200 bishops and Nestorius, came to Ephesus for the Universal Council. Cyril was president, representing Celestine, as being appointed by the Pontiff himself to execute his sentence. Nestorius was summoned three times to take his seat with the other bishops in order to answer to what was charged against him, but he refused to come, and chose to have his doors besieged with an armed force, that no one might approach him. The emperor therefore commanded the proceedings to begin. The charges against Nestorius were read and examined without him being present. He was found guilty of blasphemy, was deposed from his throne and excommunicated.
Nestorius was not the only bishop deposed by this Synod. During the proceedings, about 30 bishops who were loyal to the Patriarch John of Antioch walked out. John as we mentioned before was a close friend of Nestorius. He delayed coming to the Synod. The first session of the Council commenced on June 22. John arrived in Ephesus on the 27th. After being informed that the council had condemned Nestorius without his side being heard, he held his own council at his residence with a total number of 43 bishops. At this council they turned the tables on Cyril and Memnon, the bishop of Ephesus, accusing them of Arian and Apollinarion heresies. John then proceeded to carry out the sentence and had Cyril and Memnon deposed. All those who approved and signed the decree of the pseudo-council were deposed from office by the officially recognized Council of Ephesus.
The Council also dealt with a problem concerning Cyprus. The Church of Cyprus was and is one of the oldest autocephalous Churches. The island at the time was under the secular administration of the Duke of Antioch. The Bishop of Antioch thought this gave him the right to have the authority over the ecclesiastical administration of Cyprus which was contrary to the Apostolic canons. The Council decreed that Cyprus was Autocephalous, in other words self-governing and was not subject to any Patriarchate. Later in 478AD, the Archbishop of Cyprus Anthemius, after seeing a vision, found the tomb and relics of St. Barnabas. Upon his breast was a copy of St. Matthews Gospel. The Archbishop offered the Gospel to the Byzantine Emperor Zenon who in turn gave the Archbishop of Cyprus the right to three imperial prerogatives which continue to this day. They are to write in red ink, to wear a purple cloak and instead of the usual bishop’s staff to hold an imperial sceptre.
All the Ecumenical Councils were summoned to condemn the many heresies that troubled the Church and the true faith. In spite of the condemnations from the Councils, the heresies continued or similar ones sprouted that needed to be rooted out. The fourth Ecumenical Council was held in Chalcedon, near Constantinople in 451 under Emperor Marcian. A total of 630 bishops were present. Once again the Council was concerned with the nature of Jesus Christ. The new heresy was led by an archimandrite called Eutyches and his aid Dioscorus who was now Bishop of Alexandria. Whereas the previous Council dealt with the Nestorian controversy which denied that the person of Christ who was born of Mary was both God and Man and divided him into two persons and two natures, this new heresy taught exactly the opposite. Eutyches and Dioscorus confused the two natures into one. They said that Christ’s human nature which was less perfect, dissolved itself in His divine nature which was more perfect, thus Christ only had one nature the Divine. This heresy is called Monophysite a composite word from ‘mono’ meaning one and ‘physis’ meaning nature. Hence, the term Monophysitism overemphasized the divine nature of Christ, at the expense of the human. The Council condemned Monophysitism and formulated the dogma that Christ has two complete natures: the divine and the human, as defined by previous Councils.
The Fifth Ecumenical Council was held in Constantinople in 553 under the Emperor and Saint Justinian the Great. The Monophysite controversy still continued even after the condemnation of Eutyches and the issuing of the Chalcedonian Statement of Faith. The council was asked to examine the writings of three Antiochian Bishops and renowned teachers who were already dead for over a century, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa. The Monophysite-accusers wished all three to be condemned even though they were dead. The Council presided by the Patriarch of Constantinople Eutychios were in full agreement that the writings of the three famous teachers were heretical. Thus their writings were condemned and they themselves were anathematised. During the Council a quarrel erupted between Eastern and Western bishops as to anathematising the dead, and for a time the name of the Pope was erased from the diptychs. But as a result of Justinian's efforts, a permanent rupture between East and West was prevented.
The Council also examined another famous writer who died in 254AD. His name was Origen and came from Alexandria. He was a brilliant scholar and Theologian and his writings are still studied and quoted by many theologians to this day. Origen became more famous than anyone else in word and deed and was greatly admired for his mode of living as well as for his great intelligence, his learning, his ability and his experience. However his renown did not remain untarnished because his experience proved in the end to be his great blunder. Wishing to leave nothing uninterpreted in the Holy Scriptures, he tripped himself into error and sin through his interpretations. Among the things he wrote was that the souls of people pre-exist and that they are spirits and holy powers. Upon the death of one body the souls then enter another. He believed that hell was not eternal and that there would be an end to all punishment. To this he also believed that the demons would recover their original dignity of angelic grace which they used to have before they fell. This would come about because Christ in a future time would be crucified for the demons as he was for men. He believed that the bodies of the sun, moon and stars have souls and are reasonable beings. He was condemned with a total of 15 anathemas against his teachings. Origen is also well known for taking the Gospel word in the literal sense. Where Christ says “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake” (Matt.19:12) Origen took this in the literal sense and to avoid any possible scandal while giving private instruction to women catechumen, he castrated himself.
A little should be said about the Emperor Justinian. He was a major figure in the history of the Byzantine state and a great champion of Orthodoxy who worked not only to protect its dogmatic teachings, but also to elevate the spiritual and moral stature of its representatives.” He built many churches; his finest structures being the monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai and the great Church of Agia Sophia in Constantinople. He concerned himself with the education of clergy and monks, ordering them to be instructed in rhetoric, philosophy and theology. He also put his hand to Church writings and composed the hymn “O Only Begotten Son and Word of God” which is sung to this day at the Divine Liturgy after the second Antiphon.
The Sixth Ecumenical Council met in Constantinople in 680 AD and was convened by Emperor Constantine IV (Pogonatos) and was attended by 170 bishops. The Council was called to examine a new teaching that was spreading in regard to the Person of Christ. The previous Councils concerned themselves with the Monophysite heresy, this new heresy was called Monothelitism. It said that although the God-man Christ had two natures, yet since He is a single person, He has only one will and subsequently only one mode of activity: the divine. In other words Christ didn’t have a human will or his human will was totally absorbed into his divine will. The Council replied that if Christ has two natures, if follows that He also has two wills and two operations. In each act of Christ one can see two distinct operations, for Christ acts in conformity to both natures, and by both natures. Each nature acts according to its own properties: the human hand raises the young girl, the divine restores her to life; the human feet walk on the surface of the water, because the divinity has made it firm. “It is not the human nature that raises Lazarus, it is not the divine power which shed tears before the tomb,” said St. John of Damascus. The two wills proper to the two natures are different, but He who wills is one, though He wills in conformity with each of the two natures. Each nature exercises its own free will". Christ's divine nature had a specific task to perform and so did His human, without being confused nor subjected to any change or working against each other: the divine performing miracles and the human performing the ordinary acts of daily life.
The next Council is not called the Seventh but the Quinisext in Latin and Penthektis in Greek – both meaning fifth and sixth. It is also known as the Trullan Council because in was held in the domed hall of the imperial palace. It was not called the Seventh Ecumenical Council because it was regarded as a supplement to the Fifth and Sixth Councils. The Council was called by Justinian II in 692. Both the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils fully occupied their time with the Christological problem and issued no canons pertaining to ecclesiastical government and order. This Council was therefore called to supplement the two previous Councils by supplying disciplinary canons for the correction of evils and the regulation of the internal policy of the whole Church. The Council set down a total of 102 canons. The disciplinary canons of the Quinisext, however, were not accepted by the Pope, and even though most of them were not completely observed in the East, they contributed appreciably to the widening of differences between East and West. For example, Rome practiced celibacy among the clergy, and if someone who was married wished to enter holy orders then he had to promise that he would not enter into intercourse with his wife after ordination. Canon 13, of this Council disagreed with this practice and stated that marriage ties should continue and remain solid and inseverable. Other canons also were contrary to established practices in the West and the Roman See did not wish to change on directives from the Quinisext Council. We can see then that the problems between East and West began long before the Great Schism of 1054.
This is where we will end for today. There remains the 7th Ecumenical Council which was called to deal with the problem of Icons and the Iconoclast controversy.