|Third Council of Constantinople|
Miniature 45 from the Constantine Manasses Chronicle, 14 century: Sixth Ecumenical Council
|Second Council of Constantinople|
|Second Council of Nicaea|
|Convoked by||Emperor Constantine IV|
|President||Patriarch George I of Constantinople|
|Attendance||Perhaps 300; signatories to the documents ranged from 43 (first session) to 174 (last session)|
|Topics||Monothelitism, the human and divine wills of Jesus|
Documents and statements
|condemnation of Monothelitism|
|Chronological list of ecumenical councils|
|Part of a series on|
| Ecumenical councils |
of the Catholic Church
Renaissance depiction of the Council of Trent
|Antiquity (c. 50 – 451)|
|Early Middle Ages (553–870)|
|High and Late Middle Ages (1122–1517)|
|Part of a series on the|
|Eastern Orthodox Church|
The Third Council of Constantinople, counted as the Sixth Ecumenical Councilby the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches, as well by certain other Western Churches, met in 680/681 and condemned monoenergism and monothelitism as heretical and defined Jesus Christ as having two energies and two wills (divine and human).
The Council settled a set of theological controversies that go back to the sixth century but had intensified under the Emperors Heraclius (r. 610–641) and Constans II (r. 641–668). Heraclius had set out to recover much of the part of his Empire lost to the Persians and had attempted to bridge the controversy with Monophysitism, which was particularly strong in Syria and Egypt, by proposing a moderate theological position that had as good support in the tradition as any other. The result was first monoenergism, i.e. that Christ, though existing in two natures, had one energy (divine and human), the second was monothelitism, i.e. that Christ had one will (that is, that there was no opposition in Christ between his human and divine volition). This doctrine was accepted in most of the Byzantine world, but was opposed at Jerusalem and at Rome and started a controversy that persisted even after the loss of the reconquered provinces and the death of Heraclius. When Heraclius' grandson Constans II took the throne, he saw the controversy as threatening the stability of the Empire and attempted to silence discussion, by outlawing speaking either in favour or against the doctrine. Pope Martin I and the monk Maximus, the foremost opponents of monothelitism (which they interpreted as denying a human faculty of will to Christ), held a synod in Rome in 649 that condemned monoenergism and monothelitism. At Constantinople in around 653, some accused the Pope of supporting revolution, this was regarded as high treason, and Martin was accordingly arrested, tried, condemned and sent into exile, where he soon died. Maximus was tried and tortured to death. Martin and Maximus's position was supported by others at the Council of Constantinople.
After Constans' son and successor, Constantine IV had overcome the Muslim siege of Constantinople in 678, he immediately set his sights on restoring communion with Rome: he wrote to Pope Donus suggesting a conference on the matter. When the letter reached Rome, Donus had died, but his successor, Pope Agatho, agreed to the Emperor's suggestion and ordered councils held throughout the West so that legates could present the tradition of the Western Church. There was a synod in Milan under Archbishop Mausuetus; another synod was held in 680 at Hatfield, over which Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury presided. Pope Agatho then convened a synod at Rome at Easter 680, with representatives from the regional synods.
Then he sent a delegation to meet the Easterners at Constantinople.The delegates set out bearing two letters, one from Pope Agatho to the Emperor, and the other from the bishops of the Rome synod to those gathered in Constantinople.
In the meantime, Constantine summoned Patriarch George I of Constantinople and all bishops of his jurisdiction of Constantinople to a council. He also summoned Patriarch Macarius of Antioch, a Byzantine appointee permanently resident in Constantinople because of the Muslim occupation of his see.
On 7 November 680, a mere 37 bishops and a number of presbyters convened in the imperial palace, in the domed hall called the Trullus. The Patriarchs of Constantinople and of Antioch participated in person, whereas the patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem were represented by Byzantine appointees (because of the Saracen Muslim conquest there was at this date no patriarch in either of these sees). The Pope and a council he had held in Rome were represented (as was normal at eastern ecumenical councils) by a few priests and bishops. In its opening session, the council assumed the authority of an Ecumenical Council. The Emperor attended and presided over the first eleven sessions, took part in the discussions and returned for the closing session on 16 September 681, attended by 151 bishops.
During the council, a letter by Pope Agatho was read which asserted as the traditional belief of the Church that Christ was of two wills, divine and human. Most of the bishops present accepted the letter, proclaiming that Peter spoke through Agatho, [ dubious ] though this council also proclaimed another historical pope as anathema. Macarius of Antioch defended monothelitism but was condemned and deposed, along with his partisans. The council, in keeping with Agatho's letter, defined that Jesus Christ possessed two energies and two wills but that the human will was 'in subjection to his divine and all-powerful will'. The council carefully avoided any mention of Maximus the Confessor, who was still regarded with suspicion. It condemned both monoenergism and monothelitism as heretical and included those who had supported this heresy, including Pope Honorius I and four previous patriarchs of Constantinople. When the council had concluded, the decrees were sent to Rome where they were accepted by Agatho's successor, Pope Leo II. In his letter of confirmation of the Council, Leo accuses Honorius of "profane treachery ... who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition."
At some point during the council's proceedings, a Monothelite priest claimed he could raise the dead, thereby proving his faith supreme. He had a corpse brought forth, but after whispering prayers into its ears, could not revive the body.
The Fourth Council of Constantinople was held in 879–880. It confirmed the reinstatement of Photius as Patriarch of Constantinople.
Pope Agatho served as the Bishop of Rome from 27 June 678 until his death in 681. He heard the appeal of Wilfrid of York, who had been displaced from his See by the division of the Archdiocese ordered by Theodore of Canterbury. During Agatho's tenure, the Sixth Ecumenical Council was convened which dealt with the monothelitism controversy. He is venerated as a saint by both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Pope Martin I reigned from 21 July 649 to his death in 655. He succeeded Pope Theodore I on 5 July 649. He was the only pope during the Eastern Roman domination of the papacy whose election was not approved by a mandate from Constantinople. Martin I was exiled by Emperor Constans II and died at Cherson. He is considered a saint and martyr by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the Orthodox church he is known as St. Martin the Confessor, the Pope of Rome.
The Second Council of Constantinople is the fifth of the first seven ecumenical councils recognized by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. It is also recognized by the Old Catholics and others. Protestant opinions and recognition of it are varied. Some Protestants, such as Calvinists and Lutherans, recognize the first four councils, whereas most Anglo-Catholics accept all seven. Constantinople II was convoked by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I under the presidency of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople. It was held from 5 May to 2 June 553. Participants were overwhelmingly Eastern bishops—only sixteen Western bishops were present, including nine from Illyricum and seven from Africa, but none from Italy—out of the 152 total.
Monothelitism or monotheletism is a particular teaching about how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus. The Christological doctrine formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in 629. Specifically, monothelitism is the view that Jesus Christ has two natures but only one will. That is contrary to the Christology that Jesus Christ has two wills that correspond to his two natures (dyothelitism). Monothelitism is a development of the Neo-Chalcedonian position in the Christological debates. Formulated in 638, it enjoyed considerable popularity, even garnering patriarchal support, before being rejected and denounced as heretical in 681, at the Third Council of Constantinople.
Chalcedonian Christianity refers to the Christian denominations adhering to the christological definitions and ecclesiological resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon, the Fourth Ecumenical Council held in 451. Chalcedonian Christians follow the Definition of Chalcedon, a religious doctrine concerning the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. The great majority of Christian communions and confessions in the 21st century are Chalcedonian, but from the 5th to the 8th centuries the ascendancy of Chalcedonian Christology was not always certain.
Pope Vitalian reigned from 30 July 657 to his death in 672. He was born in Segni, Lazio, the son of Anastasius.
Maximus the Confessor, also known as Maximus the Theologian and Maximus of Constantinople, was a Christian monk, theologian, and scholar.
Constans II, also called Constantine the Bearded, was emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 641 to 668. He was the last emperor to serve as consul, in 642. Constans is a nickname given to the Emperor, who had been baptized Herakleios and reigned officially as Constantine. The nickname established itself in Byzantine texts and has become standard in modern historiography.
Monoenergism was a notion in early medieval Christian theology, representing the belief that Christ had only one "energy" (energeia). The teaching of one energy was propagated during the first half of the seventh century by Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople but opposition to Dyoenergism would persist until Dyoenergism was espoused as Orthodoxy at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Ultimately, monoenergism was rejected as heresy, in favour of dyoenergism.
Sergius I was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 610 to 638. He is most famous for promoting Monothelite Christianity, especially through the Ecthesis.
Pyrrhus was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 20 December 638 to 29 September 641, and again from 9 January to 1 June 654.
Cyrus of Alexandria was a Melchite patriarch of the see of Alexandria in the 7th century, one of the authors of Monothelism and the last Byzantine prefect of Egypt. He died in Alexandria on March 21, 642.
The Ecthesis is a letter published in 638 CE by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius which defined monotheletism as the official imperial form of Christianity.
In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.
The Fourth Council of Constantinople was the eighth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church held in Constantinople from October 5, 869, to February 28, 870. It included 102 bishops, three papal legates, and four patriarchs. The Council met in ten sessions from October 869 to February 870 and issued 27 canons.
The Byzantine Papacy was a period of Byzantine domination of the Roman papacy from 537 to 752, when popes required the approval of the Byzantine Emperor for episcopal consecration, and many popes were chosen from the apocrisiarii or the inhabitants of Byzantine-ruled Greece, Syria, or Sicily. Justinian I conquered the Italian peninsula in the Gothic War (535–554) and appointed the next three popes, a practice that would be continued by his successors and later be delegated to the Exarchate of Ravenna.
Dyothelitism or dythelitism is a particular Christological doctrine that teaches the existence of two wills in the person of Jesus Christ. Specifically, dyothelitism correlates the distinctiveness of two wills with the existence of two specific natures in the person of Jesus Christ (dyophysitism).
The Lateran Council of 649 was a synod held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran to condemn Monothelitism, a Christology espoused by many Eastern Christians. The Council did not achieve ecumenical status in either East or West, but represented the first attempt of a pope to convene an ecumenical council independent of the Roman emperor.
The Type of Constans was an imperial edict issued by Eastern Roman Emperor Constans II in 648 in an attempt to defuse the confusion and arguments over the Christological doctrine of Monotheletism. For over two centuries, there had been a bitter debate regarding the nature of Christ: the orthodox Chalcedonian position defined Christ as having two natures in one person, whereas Monophysite opponents contended that Jesus Christ possessed but a single nature. At the time, the Byzantine Empire had been at near constant war for fifty years and had lost large territories. It was under great pressure to establish domestic unity. This was hampered by the large number of Byzantines who rejected the Council of Chalcedon in favour of Monophysitism.