Portal:Oriental Orthodoxy

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THE ORIENTAL ORTHODOXY PORTAL

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Oriental Orthodoxy refers to the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon (451). Hence, these Oriental Orthodox Churches are also called Old Oriental Churches or Non-Chalcedonian Churches. Despite the potentially confusing nomenclature (Oriental meaning eastern), Oriental Orthodox churches are distinct from those that are collectively referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Oriental Orthodox communion comprises six groups: Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India) and Armenian Apostolic churches. These six churches, while being in communion with one another, are hierarchically independent. The Oriental Orthodox Church and the rest of the Church split over differences in Christological terminology. The First Council of Nicaea (325) declared that Jesus Christ is God, "consubstantial" with the Father; and the First Council of Ephesus (431) that Jesus, though divine as well as human, is only one being (hypostasis). Twenty years after Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon declared that Jesus is in two complete natures, one human and one divine. Those who opposed Chalcedon likened its doctrine to the Nestorian heresy, condemned at Ephesus, that Christ was two distinct beings, one divine (the Logos) and one human (Jesus).

Oriental / African Orthodox Christians do not believe in One Nature, but rather Two distinct natures that are unified in One Person of the Trinity (i.e. the Son). These two natures always exist in Christ and He is never alienated from His Divinity - This is the most important point. Oriental / African Orthodox were believed to fundamentally differ from the Catholics and the Greek Orthodox in that unlike us, the Catholics and others believed that Christ was at times human (e.g. when He wept or when He died)and at times divine. We maintained and maintain that Christ never changed his nature. He was always human and divine. He as G-d freely took on the human attribute of mortality and then flung off the attribute of death at His divine will to resurrect and transform our flesh gotten from St. Mary unto eternal life. We too believe in two natures, but we believe in the constancy of Christ's nature (i.e. it does not change).

Selected article

First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea, held in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey), convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325, was the first Ecumenical council of the early Christian Church, and most significantly resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed. With the creation of the creed, a precedent was established for subsequent 'general (ecumenical) councils of Bishops' (Synods) to create statements of belief and canons of doctrinal orthodoxy— the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom. The Council of Nicaea was historically significant because it was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. "It was the first occasion for the development of technical Christology." Further, "Constantine in convoking and presiding over the council signaled a measure of imperial control over the church." Further, a precedent was set for subsequent general councils to create creeds and canons. The long-term effects of the Council of Nicaea were significant. For the first time, representatives of many of the bishops of the Church convened to agree on a doctrinal statement. Also for the first time, the Emperor played a role, by calling together the bishops under his authority, and using the power of the state to give the Council's orders effect.

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"You victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Savior, you who have boldness of speech toward the Lord himself, you saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us that so we may love him."

--St Ephrem the Syrian, As quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary: Mark, (1999) Thomas C. Oden and Christopher Hall, editors

"This is true perfection: not to avoid a wicked life because we fear punishment, like slaves; not to do good because we expect repayment, as if cashing in on the virtuous life by enforcing some business deal. On the contrary, disregarding all those good things which we do hope for and which God has promised us, we regard falling from God’s friendship as the only thing dreadful, and we consider becoming God’s friend the only thing truly worthwhile."

--St Gregory of Nyssa, As quoted in Gregory of Nyssa: The Life of Moses, (1978) Abraham Malherbe and Everett Ferguson, translators, p. 137


"Prayer is the inspiration of childhood, the refuge of youth and peace during old age."

--St Gregorios Geevarghese of Malankara, As quoted in VISION - a magazine of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Greater India, (Nov. 2000)

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Background: ChristianityEastern Orthodox TheologyMiaphysitismApostolic SuccessionIntercession of SaintsNicene CreedFour Marks of the ChurchPanentheism

Ecumenical and other councils: First Council of NicaeaFirst Council of ConstantinopleFirst Council of EphesusSecond Council of Ephesus

Popes & Patriarchs: Pope of AlexandriaPatriarch of AntiochPatriarch of ArmeniaCatholicos of the East

Rites: Liturgy of St JamesSyriac LanguageCoptic languageSyriac Christianity

Churches: Coptic Orthodox Church of AlexandriaBritish Orthodox ChurchFrench Orthodox ChurchArmenian Apostolic Church of All ArmeniansArmenian Apostolic Church of CiliciaArmenian Apostolic Church of ConstantinopleArmenian Apostolic Church of JerusalemSyriac Orthodox ChurchMalankara Syriac Orthodox ChurchEthiopian Orthodox Tewahedo ChurchEritrean Orthodox Tewahedo ChurchIndian Orthodox Church

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