Critique of THE PROTESTANT'S DILEMMA by Devin Rose

Chapter 3 - Ecumenical Councils

Page 39: For the first several centuries of the Church’s existence, bishops gathered in councils to define true doctrines and condemn heresies, issuing decrees that were recognized as binding upon all the faithful. But at a certain point in history, these councils must somehow have ceased to carry that universal teaching authority. Instead they became mere ceremonial gatherings of the Church’s bishops – or worse, cabals of an apostate church taken over by traditions of men.
Note: The only council in recorded in Scripture was attended by all Christians of one church.
Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. They wrote this, letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. Acts 15:22-23.
Note: The author continually makes false assumptions.

Pages 39-40: Protestants contend that no council of the Church, even the ones traditionally deemed ecumenical (universal), carry any authority – except insofar as they accurately interpret Scripture, in which case the authority is the Bible’s, not theirs. Thus the first four councils of the Church, which largely answered Trinitarian and Christological questions, are considered “authoritative” only insofar as they are accurate deductions from the words of God in the Bible. Most Protestants allege, however, that even these early councils contained errors. For example, few are willing to accept that Mary is the “mother of God,” as the third ecumenical council in Ephesus declared.
Note: Scripture never referred to Mary as the “mother of God.”
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. Acts 1:14.

Pages 41: After much debate among the apostles and elders, Peter stood and explained how God gave the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, and that salvation comes by grace through faith – not by following the Mosaic Law. The apostles then drafted a letter, to be sent out to the churches, in which the men making these challenges were rebuked as having gone out without the authority of the apostles.
Note: The men had been sent out by James of the Jerusalem Church.
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. Galatians 2:11-12.

Page 42: The first ecumenical council to be convened was at Nicaea in the year 325. It was attended by more than 300 bishops, including Hosius, bishop of Cordova and Pope Sylvester’s representative (or “legate”). The primary purpose of the council was to determine whether the teachings of Arius, a deacon from Alexandria who denied the divinity of Christ and his consubstantial relationship with God the Father, were heresy. The truths of Christ’s divinity and of his consubstantiality (“same substance” or “one in being”) with the Father were consequently confirmed as dogmas. Protestants accept the standard for Trinitarian orthodoxy. Most Protestants today still recite the Nicene Creed, the first part of which was formulated at Nicaea.
Note: Roman Catholics today are in violation of the First Council of Nicaea.
The council promulgated twenty new church laws, called canons, that is, unchanging rules of discipline. The twenty as listed in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers are as follows: 20. Prohibition of kneeling on Sundays and during the Pentecost (the fifty days commencing on Easter). Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Page 42: They also accept the second ecumenical council, held in Constantinople in the year 381, which dogmatically affirmed the truth of the Holy Spirit’s divinity, condemning the heresy of Macedonius. The second half of the Creed was drawn up at this council, and the vast majority of Protestants proudly recite it as a profession of their most fundamental beliefs.
Note: The Pope began to lose influence of the eastern churches at this council.
David Eastman cites the First Council of Constantinople as another example of the waning influence of Rome over the East. He notes that all three of the presiding bishops came from the East. Damasus had considered both Meletius and Gregory to be illegitimate bishops of their respective sees and yet, as Eastman and others point out, the Eastern bishops paid no heed to his opinions in this regard. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Page 42: The First Council of Ephesus in the year 431 was the third ecumenical council, which condemned Nestorius’s belief that Mary was the mother only of Christ’s human nature. Such a notion would have mortally wounded the true theology of the Incarnation, making it impossible to say that “God died on the cross for our sins.”
Note: The promotion of Mary was not needed to proclaim the divinity of Christ.
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:22-23.

Page 42: The fourth ecumenical council occurred in Chalcedon in the year 451, rejecting monophysitism – the belief that Christ had only one nature – and affirming that Jesus had two natures in one person.
Note: The Catholic Church is in violation of the Chalcedon Council.
The work of the council was completed by a series of 30 disciplinary canons the Ancient Epitomes of which are: 15. No person shall be ordained deaconess except she being forty years of age. If she shall dishonor her ministry by contracting a marriage, let her be anathema.

Page 43: More problems remain for Protestants who seek to accept the first four councils while rejecting others. The fifth ecumenical council, Constantinople II, declared that Mary remained a virgin her whole life, a belief strenuously rejected by most Protestants.
Note: Scripture strenuously rejects this notion.
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know (had sex) her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:24-25.

Page 43: Yet the next one, held in the seventh century, condemned the monothelite belief that Christ had only one will. It decreed that Christ had two wills – one divine and one human – a truth that Protestants believe as another essential component to Christological orthodoxy.
Note: The Third Council of Constantinople was lightly attended.
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. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Pages 43-44: Does it make sense, as Protestants argue, that ecumenical councils are authoritative only insofar as they accurately represent scriptural truth? When we look at the Council of Jerusalem, we see that the Church settled the matter in question by reference to the apostles’ God-given authority within the Church and not by reliance on the Old Testament (which was the only “Scripture” in existence at the time, with only a few epistles having been written to date and a settled canon still many years away). Indeed, the Old Testament was at best unclear on the matter, both requiring circumcision and foreshadowing Gentile salvation. So the claim that councils are authoritative only when they agree with Scripture – by which the Reformers meant both Old and New Testaments – makes little sense when applied to the prototypical council.
Note: The first century A.D. was revelation directly from God to individuals.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. Ephesians 3:1-7.
Note: Later “councils” sometimes rediscovered Scriptures written by the Apostles.

Page 44: But there’s a second problem with this theory. Who has the authority to accurately interpret the scriptures (and therefore rule whether a council affirms or contradicts their truths)? Luther erred and that they had the correct key to Scripture’s meaning. The problem of varying Protestant interpretations of biblical truth persists to this day. Without a standard for interpreting Scripture, then, according to this test it’s impossible to say with certainty whether a given council teaches authoritatively.
Note: Ruling authoritatively is anti-Christian.
Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:33-35.

Page 45: If none of the Protestant theories makes sense, what makes a council ecumenical and thus authoritative? Quite simply: the pope. The bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter, to whom Christ gave the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” as well as the authority to bind and loose (cf. Matt. 16:18-19).
Note: Whoever confesses Jesus Christ is saved in Scriptural context.
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  Romans 10:8-11.
Note: Sadly, the author is confessing the Roman Catholic Church.

Page 46: The bishop of Rome is, by God’s grace, the final guarantor of orthodoxy. Even when the bishops of the other major sees fell into heresy (for example, during the Arian crisis in the third and fourth centuries), the pope did not. The only criterion for a council to be considered ecumenical that makes historical sense is the approval of the pope. Even in the council of Jerusalem in the book of Acts, we see that Peter is the first to speak and declare the orthodox belief, a foreshadowing of the role of the bishops of Rome in later councils.
Note: The author neglects to mention the numerous anti-popes that have existed.
An antipope (Latin: antipapa) is a person who, in opposition to the one who is generally seen as the legitimately elected Pope, makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were supported by a fairly significant faction of religious cardinals and secular kings and kingdoms. Persons who claim to be pope, but have few followers, such as the modern sedevacantist antipopes, are not classified with the historical antipopes. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Page 46: The Catholic Church is the only Christian Church or community that still holds ecumenical councils today. No other group dares to claim that it has held one, which makes sense when you realize that no other group is led by the bishop of Rome.
Note: Literacy and accurate Scripture translations has broken this ungodly authority.
In 1521, Martin Luther was placed under the Ban of the Empire, and he retired to the Wartburg Castle. During his time there, he translated the New Testament from Greek into German. It was printed in September 1522. The first complete Dutch Bible, partly based on the existing portions of Luther's translation, was printed in Antwerp in 1526 by Jacob van Liesvelt. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.