Discovery of the Sixth Ecumenical Council’s Trinitarian Theology

Historical, Ecclesial, and Theological Implications


  • Scott M. Williams University of North Carolina, Asheville



For decades now some Christian theologians, and some philosophers of religion, have labored at distinguishing Social Trinitarianism and non-Social Trinitarianism. Many have revised their models of the Trinity in light of counter-arguments or counter-evidence. For Christian theologians, or philosophers of religion, what counts as a good counter-argument or counter-evidence may (but need not) depend on respected theological authorities. Recently, some focus has been paid to what is called Conciliar Trinitarianism, which is the name for whatever is endorsed by, or rejected by, the first seven ecumenical councils regarding the Trinity. For those who respect these ecumenical councils as authoritative (to some extent), it would be useful to get a clearer understanding of Conciliar Trinitarianism in order to assist in evaluating contemporary models of the Trinity. In what follows I argue that the Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III, in 680-681ce) made important contributions, and clarifications (for the contemporary reader), to Conciliar Trinitarianism. Surprisingly, there is no secondary literature regarding these contributions. So, the historical evidence given in this article is evidence that almost nobody has been aware of - apart from the editors of the critical edition of the Acts of Constantinople III. After having made the historical case, I discuss the implications of Constantinople III for (i) our understanding of the place of the Pseudo-Athanasian creed in Trinitarian speculation, (ii) standard narratives about the division between Greek and Latin Trinitarian theology, and (iii) contemporary models of the Trinity.

Author Biography

  • Scott M. Williams, University of North Carolina, Asheville

    Associate Professor of Philosophy