Ecumenical council  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of the bishops of the whole Christian Church convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice. The word derives from the Greek language "Οικουμένη", which literally means "the inhabited world", which first referred to the Roman Empire and later was extended to apply to the world in general.

Due to schisms, the acceptance of these councils varies widely between different branches of Christianity. Those churches that parted ways with the others over christological matters accept the councils prior to their separation; the Church of the East only accepts the first two, the Oriental Orthodoxy Churches the first three, as Ecumenical. Prior to the East-West Schism the united Western and Eastern Churches held the first eight Ecumenical councils (meeting from the 4th to the 9th century). They accept as Ecumenical the same first seven but differ on the identity of the eighth. While the Eastern Orthodox Church has not generally accepted any later synod as Ecumenical, the Roman Catholic Church continues to hold Ecumenical Councils of those bishops in full communion with the Pope and has counted twenty-one to date.

Anglicans and some Protestants, most commonly Lutherans, accept either the first seven or the first four as Ecumenical councils.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ecumenical council" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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