A formal meeting of bishops and representatives of several Churches convened for the purpose of regulating doctrine or discipline. General or Oecumenical Councils are assemblies of bishops representing the whole Church, and their decrees are held to possess the highest authority. Local or ‘particular’ councils represent the various units—e.g. provinces, patriarchates—of the Church, but these are now more often called by other names, e.g. ‘synods’. See also Conciliar theory.