THE ORIENTAL ORTHODOXY PORTAL
Showcased Oriental Orthodox content
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. 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).
A Copt (Coptic: ⲟⲩⲣⲉⲙ'ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ 'ⲛ'Ⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲓ'ⲁⲛⲟⲥ ou.Remenkīmi en.Ekhristianos, literally: Egyptian Christian) is a native Egyptian Christian. Today, more than 95% of the Copts belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The remaining (around 500,000) are divided between the Coptic Catholic and the Coptic Protestant churches. The Copts are by far the largest Christian community in North Africa and the Middle East. The word "Coptic" was originally used in Classical Arabic to refer to Egyptians in general (see etymology section), but it has undergone semantic shift over the centuries to mean more specifically Egyptian Christian after the bulk of the Egyptian population converted to Islam. In modern usage, it is frequently applied to members of the Coptic Orthodox Church irrespective of ethnic origin. Thus Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians (and Nubians before their conversion to Islam) were traditionally referred to as Copts, though this has been falling out of use since their Tewahedo Churches were granted their own patriarchs.
"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)