An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Chalcedon, Council of

The fourth of the Ecumenical Councils, held in 451 at Chalcedon, a town near Constantinople. The council was held in the wake of the decision delivered by the so-called “Robber Synod” of Ephesus in 449 that upheld the “one-nature” Christology of Eutychianism. That synod adjourned without giving the Roman delegation an opportunity to make the opposite case by reading “Leo's Tome,” a letter written by Pope Leo I which upheld a “two-nature” Christology. In 451 a new emperor, Marcian, anxious for the peace of the church, convened a new council at Leo's urging. After considerable discussion it produced the “Chalcedonian Definition,” which is a summary of the christological decisions of three earlier Ecumenical Councils and a clear repudiation of Eutychianism. It upheld the understanding of “two natures, without confusion, without change. . . .” This delicately balanced statement has become the received Christology of the universal church, eastern and western, Catholic and Protestant. The Council of Chalcedon is the last Council which many Anglicans and most Protestants regard as ecumenical. See Chalcedonian Definition; see Ecumenical Councils.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.