Volume III - Church History

Fifth Century

Canons of the Councils

The Third and Fourth Ecumenical Councils adopted a number of canons of a disciplinary and practical nature. The Council of Ephesus forbade the composition of a “different faith” from that of the first two councils (Canon 7). This canon has been used by the Orthodox in opposition to the addition of the word filioque to the Creed as it came to be used in the Western Churches. This Council also reaffirmed the ancient independent jurisdictional status of the Church of Cyprus against attempts by the Church of Antioch to hold ordinations there (Canon 8). The Council of Chalcedon, in basically repeating Canon 3 from the Second Ecumenical Council, gave to Constantinople, the New Rome, “equal privileges with the old imperial Rome” because the new capital city was “honored with the emperor and the senate” (Canon 28). The Roman Church, however, fearing that this canon would interfere with her growing aspirations to have universal authority over the whole Church, did not accept this canon of the Council of Chalcedon.