The Church Fathers and the Infallibilty of the Ecumenical Councils by Joe Gallegos
"The Bishops who assembled in the great Council of Nicaea agreed, not without the will of God, that the decisions of one council should be examined in another, to the end that the judges, having before their eyes that other trial which was to follow, might be led to investigate matters with the utmost caution, and that the parties concerned in their sentence might have assurance that the judgment they received was just, and not dictated by the enmity of their former judges. Now if you are unwilling that such a practice should be adopted in your own case, though it is of ancient standing, and has been noticed and recommended by the great Council, your refusal is not becoming; for it is unreasonable that a custom which had once obtained in the Church, and been established by councils, should be set aside by a few individuals."
Pope Julius[regn. A.D. 337-352],To the Eusebians in Athanasius 'Defence against the Arians',21(A.D. 340),in NPNF2,XIV:111-112
"Are they not then committing a crime, in their very thought to gainsay so great and ecumenical a Council? are they not in transgression, when they dare to confront that good definition against Arianism, acknowledged, as it is, by those who had in the first instance taught them irreligion? "
Athanasius,Defence of the Nicene Definition,2(A.D. 351),in NPNF2,IV:489
"This gave occasion for an Ecumenical Council[ie Nicea], that the feast might be everywhere celebrated on one day, and that the heresy which was springing up might be anathematized. It took place then; and the Syrians submitted, and the Fathers pronounced the Arian heresy to be the forerunner of Antichrist, and drew up a suitable formula against it. And yet in this, many as they are, they ventured on nothing like the proceedings of these three or four men. Without pre-fixing Consulate, month, and day, they wrote concerning Easter, 'It seemed good as follows,' for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, 'It seemed good,' but, 'Thus believes the Catholic Church;' and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to shew that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolical; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles."
Athanasius,Councils of Ariminum & Seleucia,5(A.D. 362),in NPNF2,IV:453
"But the word of the Lord which came through the ecumenical Synod at Nicaea, abides for ever."
Athanasius,To the Bishops of Africa,2(A.D. 372),in NPNF2,IV:489
"[T]hat you should confess the faith put forth by our Fathers once assembled at Nicaea, that you should not omit any one of its propositions, but bear in mind that the three hundred and eighteen who met together without strife did not speak without the operation of the Holy Ghost, and not to add to that creed the statement that the Holy Ghost is a creature, nor hold communion with those who so say, to the end that the Church of God may be pure and without any evil admixture of any tare."
Basil,To Cyriacus,Epistle 114(A.D. 372),in NPNF2,VIII:190
"Synods create security on the point that falls under notice from time to time."
Epiphanius,Panarion,74(A.D. 377),in FOC,462
"And therefore, first in the holy Synod of Nicaea, the gathering of the three hundred and eighteen chosen men, united by the Holy Ghost, as far as in him lay, he[St. Athanasius] stayed the disease. Though not yet ranked among the BiShops, he held the first rank among the members of the Council, for preference was given to virtue just as much as to office."
Gregory of Nazianzen,Oration 21:14(A.D. 379),in NPNF2,VII:273
"THE Faith of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Fathers assembled at Nice in Bithynia shall not be set aside, but shall remain firm. And every heresy shall be anathematized, particularly that of the Eunomians or [Anomoeans, the Arians or] Eudoxians, and that of the Semi-Arians or Pneumatomachi, and that of the Sabellians, and that of the Marcellians, and that of the Photinians, and that of the Apollinarians. "
Ecumenical Council of Constantinople I, Canon 1(A.D. 381),in NPNF2,XIV:172
"This was decreed at the Synod of Ariminum, and rightly do I detest that council, following the rule of the Nicene Council, from which neither death nor the sword can detach me, which faith the father of your Clemency also."
Ambrose,To the Emperor Valentinian,Epistle 21:14(A.D. 386),in NPNF2,X:428
"Some of the brethren whose heart is as our heart told us of the slanders that were being propagated to our detriment by those who hate peace, and privily backbite their neighbour; and have no fear of the great and terrible judgment-seat of Him Who has declared that account will be required even of idle words in that trial of our life which we must all look for: they say that the charges which are being circulated against us are such as these; that we entertain opinions opposed to those who at Nicaea set forth the right and sound faith."
Gregory of Nyssa,To Sebasteia,Epistle 2(ante A.D. 394),in NPNF2,V:528
"As to those other things which we hold on the authority, not of Scripture, but of tradition, and which are observed throughout the whole world, it may be understood that they are held as approved and instituted either by the apostles themselves, or by plenary Councils, whose authority in the Church is most useful, e.g. the annual commemoration, by special solemnities, of the Lord's passion, resurrection, and ascension, and of the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven, and whatever else is in like manner observed by the whole Church wherever it has been established."
Augustine,To Januarius,Epistle 54:1(A.D. 400),in NPNF1,1:300
"[H]e, I say, abundantly shows that he was most willing to correct his own opinion, if any one should prove to him that it is as certain that the baptism of Christ can be given by those who have strayed from the fold, as that it could not he lost when they strayed; on which subject we have already said much. Nor should we ourselves venture to assert anything of the kind, were we not supported by the unanimous authority of the whole Church, to which he himself would unquestionably have yielded, if at that time the truth of this question had been placed beyond dispute by the investigation and decree of a plenary Council. For if he quotes Peter as an example for his allowing himself quietly and peacefully to be corrected by one junior colleague, how much more readily would he himself, with the Council of his province, have yielded to the authority of the whole world, when the truth had been thus brought to light?"
Augustine,On Baptism against the Donatist,2:5(A.D. 401),in NPNF1,IV:427
"What the custom of the Church has always held, what this argument has failed to prove false, and what a plenary Council has confirmed, this we follow!"
Augustine,On Baptism against the Donatist,4:10(A.D. 401),in NPNF1,IV:450
"And in no wise do we suffer to be shaken by any one, the faith defined, or the symbol of faith settled, by our fathers, who assembled, in their day, at Nicaea. Neither do we allow ourselves,or any other to alter a word there set down, or even to omit a single syllable, mindful of that saying: 'Remove not the ancient land-marks which thy fathers have set.' "
Cyril of Alexandria,To John of Antioch,5(A.D. 433),in FOC,465
"[C]leave to the holy synod which assembled at Nicaea, nothing added(thereto), nothing diminishing; for that synod being divinely inspired, taught the true doctrine."
Isidore of Pelusium,Epistle 99:4(ante A.D. 435),in FOC,466
"So have I learnt not only from the apostles and prophets but also from the interpreters of their writings, Ignatius,Eustathius, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, John, and the rest of the lights of the world; and before these from the holy Fathers in council at Nicaea, whose confession of the faith I preserve in its integrity, like an ancestral inheritance, styling corrupt and enemies of the truth all who dare to transgress its decrees. "
Theodoret of Cyrus,TO Florentius,Epistle 89(A.D. 449),in NPNF2,III:283
"The great and holy and universal Synod, which by the grace of God and the sanction of our most pious and Christ-loving Emperors has been gathered together in the metropolis of Chalcedon in the province of Bithynia, to the most holy and blessed archbishop of Rome, Leo.I. They congratulate Leo on taking the foremost part in maintaining the Faith. 'Our mouth was filled with joy and our tongue with exultation.' This prophecy grace has fitly appropriated to us for whom the security of religion is ensured. For what is a greater incentive to cheerfulness than the Faith? what better inducement to exultation than the Divine knowledge which the Saviour Himself gave us from above for salvation, saying, 'go ye and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things that I have enjoined you.' And this golden chain leading down from the Author of the command to us, you yourself have stedfastly preserved, being set as the mouthpiece unto all of the blessed Peter, and imparting the blessedness of his Faith unto all. Whence we too, wisely taking you as our guide in all that is good, have shown to the sons of the Church their inheritance of Truth, not giving our instruction each singly and in secret, but making known our confession of the Faith in conceit, with one consent and agreement And we were all delighted, revelling, as at an imperial banquet, in the spiritual food, which Christ supplied to us through your letter: and we seemed to see the Heavenly Bridegroom actually present with us. For if 'where two or three are gathered together in His name,' He has said that 'there He is in the midst of them,' must He not have been much more particularly present with 520 priests, who preferred the spread of knowledge concerning Him to their country and their ease? Of whom you were, chief, as the head to the members, showing your goodwill in the person of those who represented you; whilst our religious Emperors presided to the furtherance of due order, inviting us to restore the doctrinal fabric of the Church, even as Zerubbabel invited Joshua to rebuild Jerusalem."
Council of Chalcedon to Pope Leo the Great,Epistle 98:1(A.D. 451),in NPNF2,XII:72
"Anatolius' attempts to subvert the decisions of Nicaea are futile. But at the present time let it be enough to make a general proclamation on all points, that if in any synod any one makes any attempt upon or seems to take occasion of wresting an advantage against the provisions of the Nicene canons, he can inflict no discredit upon their inviolable decrees: and it will be easier for the compacts of any conspiracy to be broken through than for the regulations of the aforesaid canons to be in any particular invalidated."
Pope Leo the Great[regn. A.D. 440-461],To Maximus, Epistle 119:3(A.D. 453),in NPNF2,XII:86
"[T]he Sacred Synod of Nicea ... Ephesus ... [and] Chalcedon ... to be received after those of the Old or New Testament, which we regularly accept."
Pope Gelasius[regn. A.D. 492-496],Epistle 42,in DEN,68-69
"Besides those which are contained in the Decretal of Gelasius, here, after the Synod of Ephesus 'Constantinople(I)' was also inserted: then was added: But even if any councils thus far have been instituted by the holy Fathers, we have decreed that after the authority of those four they must be both kept and received."
Pope Hormisdas[regn. A.D. 514-523],Epistle 125(A.D. 520),in DEN,74
"We confessed that we hold, preserve, and declare to the holy churches that confession of faith which the 318 holy Fathers more at length set forth, who were gathered together at Nice, who handed down the holy mathema or creed. Moreover, the 150 gathered together at Constantinople set forth our faith, who followed that same confession of faith and explained it. And the consent of fire 200 holy fathers gathered for the same faith in the first Council of Ephesus. And what things were defined by the 630 gathered at Chalcedon for the one and the same faith, which they both followed and taught. And all those wile from time to time have been condemned or anathematized by the Catholic Church, and by the aforesaid four Councils, we confessed that we hold them condemned and anathematized."
Ecumenical Council of Constantinople II,Sentence of the Synod(A.D. 553),in NPNF2,XIV:307
"Besides, since with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, I confess that I receive and revere, as the four books of the Gospel so also the four Councils: to wit, the Nicene, in which the perverse doctrine of Arius is overthrown; the Constantinopolitan also, in which the error of Eunomius and Macedonius is refuted; further, the first Ephesine, in which the impiety of Nestorius is condemned; and the Chalcedonian, in which the pravity of Eutyches and Dioscorus is reprobated. These with full devotion I embrace, and adhere to with most entire approval; since on them, as on a four-square stone, rises the structure of the holy faith; and whosoever, of whatever life and behaviour he may be, holds not fast to their solidity, even though he is seen to be a stone, yet he lies outside the building. The fifth council also I equally venerate, in which the epistle which is called that of Ibas, full of error, is reprobated; Theodorus, who divides the Mediator between God and men into two subsistences, is convicted of having fallen into the perfidy of impiety; and the writings of Theodoritus, in which the faith of the blessed Cyril is impugned, are refuted as having been published with the daring of madness. But all persons whom the aforesaid venerable Councils repudiate I repudiate; those whom they venerate I embrace; since, they having been constituted by universal consent, he overthrows not them but himself, whosoever presumes either to loose those whom they bind, or to bind those whom they loose. Whosoever, therefore, thinks otherwise, let him be anathema. But whosoever holds the faith of the aforesaid synods, peace be to him from God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son, Who lives and reigns consubstantially God with Him in the Unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen."
Pope Gregory the Great[regn. A.D. 590-604],To John of Constantinople,Epistle 24(A.D. 591),in NPNF2,XII:81
"And in the fourth holy and great Oecumenical Council, I mean the one at Chalcedon, we are told that it was in this form that the Hymn was sung; for the minutes of this holy assembly so record it. It is, therefore, a matter for laughter and ridicule that this 'Thrice Holy' Hymn, taught us by the angels, and confirmed by the averting of calamity, ratified and established by so great an assembly of the holy Fathers, and sung first by the Seraphim as a declaration of the three subsistences of the Godhead, should be mangled and forsooth emended to suit the view of the stupid Fuller as though he were higher than the Seraphim. But oh! the arrogance! not to say folly! But we say it thus, though demons should rend us in pieces, 'Do Thou, Holy God, Holy and Mighty One, Holy and Immortal One, have mercy upon us.'"
John of Damascene,Orthodox Faith,10(A.D. 743),in NPNF2,IX:54
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