Among Christians, there sometimes appear people who
incorrectly expound on Christian teachings and who want their incorrect
teaching to be binding on the whole Church.
The Church calls such false teaching heresy
and the false teachers — heretics. When general persecution of the
Christians ceased, heresies’ especially started to trouble the life of the
Church. The Devil, unable to defeat the Church from without, began to attack it
Following the example of the Apostles, councils of
bishops, pastors, and teachers of the Church from the whole known world were
convened for the struggle against the heretics and for the instruction of all
Christians in the correct Orthodox faith
When it was necessary to resolve the question
whether Christians converted from pagan religions should fulfil the ceremonies
of the laws of Moses, the Holy Fathers gathered at the Apostolic Council of
51 A.D. in Jerusalem (see Acts 15:1-35). So also, the fathers of the Church,
the bishops to whom the apostles transferred their power received
by laying on of hands, gathered at the Councils when some sort of teaching
contrary to Christian faith arose.
These general conferences of the entire Christian
world, called Ecumenical Councils, maintained the truth of Christ by the
guidance of the Holy Spirit and participation of the whole Christian Church.
There have been seven Ecumenical Councils.
At the First and Second Ecumenical
Councils, the Symbol of Faith or Creed was composed. The Creed is
a short statement of all the tenets of the Orthodox Christian faith. Every
Orthodox Christian is obliged to know it. We sing it at the Divine Liturgy and
recite it during our morning prayers.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council defended and
affirmed the veneration of holy icons.
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