Heraclius (610-41) took over an empire which had been losing ground against its enemies in the north (the Avars and Slavs) and in the east (the Sassanians who would soon be supplanted by the Saracens).
He worried that the Monophysite Christians who were isolated from the Western Church might join the eastern enemies of the Byzantine empire and to find a solution to the disputes between the antagonistic groups he summoned the Sixth Ecumenical Councils.
The previous compromise formulas defining the nature of Christ were condemned and the doctrines of the Council of Chalcedon (451) were accepted as truth. To bring peace to the Church, a new formula which skirted the question of natures by claiming that while Christ had ‘two natures,’ as confirmed at Chalcedon he had only a ‘single will’, was proposed by the efforts of the emperor Heraclius shortly before his death.
Although this proposal was accepted by the East, Rome opposed it and consequently it did not achieve the unity that Heraclius had expected.
However, the claim was found inconsistent with the reality of Jesus’ human nature and to settle the ‘Monothelete’ doctrine, also called Monotheleotism Constantine IV (668-85) summoned the Third Council of Constantinople. The meetings were held in the Trullos, or the ‘Domed Hall’ of the Great Palace and at the end the doctrine of the ‘single will’ was condemned and the Chalcedonian faith affirmed.
|First Council of Nicaea|
|First Council of Constantinople|
|Council of Ephesus|
|Council of Chalcedon|
|Second Council of Constantinople|
|Third Council of Constantinople|
|Second Council of Nicaea|
The church as established in the middle east has been established under the concept of unity IE catholic and or ecumenical. For the earliest Christian communities the concept of unity was one were the church communities agreed on a doctrinal understanding of Christianity. A doctrine based on the tradition of unity within the different ancient Christian communities. Unity established in what was taught to the communities by Christ and then his apostles. When various persons or groups within the many ancient Christian communities began to come to odds with innovations or interpretations of the tradition of Christianity the communities set out to clarify the validity of the variation in the comparison to traditional understanding. To establish why this change was to be accepted or rejected. As such was the case of the first council in Jerusalem. The later councils where prompted to clarify tradition and address what was proper and what was improper. Proper being what was established by Jesus Christ and then his apostles, then the Seventy and the clergy of the churches that take their linage directly back to the Apostolic era. Innovations being that which changed the understanding that Christian communities.