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« on: October 20, 2009, 02:23:30 AM »

The following article have been published in the Jacobite Syrian Forum of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India

Syrian Orthodox Priest Fr George Vayaliparambil (Jacobite Syrian Church in India) criticizes Indian Orthodox Church, says St Thomas had no Priesthood and claims that St Peter is the head of the Church.

Claims That St Mark is the successor of St Peter

The Priest also Attacks sister Orthodox Churches like Ethiopian Coptic.. etc..


The Syrian Orthodox Church is making similar claims like the Roman Catholic Church which is agaist the beilfs and teachings of Holy Orthodoxy.

Introduction

Oriental Orthodoxy is the communion of Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the 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. These churches are generally not in communion with Eastern Orthodox Churches with whom they are in dialogue for a return to unity.

 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: Syriac Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church(?) (India) and Armenian Apostolic churches. These six churches, while being in communion with each other are completely independent hierarchically (?).

 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. 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 and one human. In 2001, the certain theologians of the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox traditions concluded that they had always believed in the same Christology, but differed over how this was to be formulated. This conclusion became the basis for healing the schism between them, and the two groups jointly issued a "Middle Eastern Oriental Orthodox Common Declaration."

 

Christians in the World

 
Oriental Orthodox Churches, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Roman Catholic, Protestants and the Pentecostals are the one who claims themselves as Christians. I think it is better to have a good understanding about the origin and truth behind each church. It will help us to worship God in truth in spirit with fellowship to Saints. We can truly say that the church which has all the nature of Christ and the church which didn’t twist the apostolic teachings and traditions is only Syrian Orthodox Church. That is why the Syrian Orthodox Church is accepted and respected in whole Christendom. We need a deep study about all the class of Christian Churches.

 

Oriental Orthodox Church


    *

      Before Calcedon Synod

As I mentioned earlier Oriental Orthodox Churches are the churches which rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon (451). When we say about the Oriental Orthodox Church we use another term as Non-Calcedonians to identify us from other Christian Churches. This means the Church which accepts only the decisions of the Synod of Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus. We can see the Universal Synods in and its decisions in two ways.

 

Some decisions of the Universal Synods which mainly for counter acting against the heretic teaching. At the same time the universal Synod was in its best level gave direction to the systematic administration of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God.

 

Before the Calcedoian Synod there were only one church which had visible “Head” (The bishop of Rome, the bishop of Antioch and the Bishop of Alexandria) who shares the Apostolic succession and authority given by our Lord Jesus Christ to St Peter (“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, when thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing Him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me”. St John 21: 15 – 20)

 

St Peter the head of the Christian Churches


St. Peter the head of the Christian Churches who hold the key of the heaven and earth as Moses who had two tablets of Commandments of the Lord which leads believers to Heaven. It was from the very beginning the early Christian fathers especially St Ephrem the Syrian and all had seen St Peter as the Moses of the New Testament period.

 

Patriarchate of Antioch

 It was evident that St Peter had founded the church of our Lord immediately after the destruction of Jeruslem Temple in Antioch. It was in the city of Antioch (modern day

Antakya in southeast Turkey) that Christians were first so called (Acts 11:26). According to church tradition, Saint Peter established the church in Antioch, and was the city's first bishop, before going to Rome to found the Church in Antioch and Ordained St Evodiose Saint Evodius (d. ca. 69) is a saint in the Christian Church and one of the first identifiable Christians.

 Very little is known of the life of St. Evodius. However, he was a pagan who converted to Christianity due to the apostolic work of Saint Peter. In the Book of Acts, one of the first communities to receive evangelism were the Jews and pagans of Antioch. The city was opulent and cosmopolitan, and there were both Hellenized Jews and pagans influenced by monotheism. The term "Christian" was coined for these Gentile (mainly Syrian and Greek) converts, and St. Peter became the bishop of Antioch and led the church there. Evodius succeeded Peter the Apostle as bishop of Antioch when Peter left Antioch for Rome.

 St. Evodius was bishop of Antioch until 69 AD, and was succeeded by St. Ignatius of Antioch. It is more likely that St. Evodius died of natural causes, in office, than that he was martyred. As one of the first pagans to come to the new church, he is venerated in both the Roman Catholic Church of the east and Orthodox Churches of the East as a saint. His feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is May 6 and in the Orthodox Church it is September 7. Followed by him St Ignatius of Antioch (Noorono) became the Patriarch in the Throne of Antioch.


St. Peter is the head of the Apostles as well as the Supreme Head of the Holy Catholic (Universal) and Apostolic Christian Church. 

Why the Early Christian Community didn’t consider the Indian Orthodox (IOC), Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), Eritrean Orthodox Church (ETOC), and Armenian Orthodox Church (AOC) as the Patriarchates as do now? Why there were only three Patriarchates as per the Nicea Synod? There is evidence regarding the presence of a Bishop, who represented both India and China in the Nicea Synod.  It is in the Nicea Synod the jurisdiction of Antioch Patriarchate was decided and accordingly of   all the nations under the “THEN” Persian Empire came under Antioch Patriarchate.   Now, let me address these questions one by one.

 
The early Christian Churches , considered the primacy of St. Peter, as a very important factor of Christendom. Our Lord ordained 10 Disciples (Sleehanmar), except St. Thomas (St. John 20:24) and Judas Iscariot and vested upon them the spiritual authority - “Koodasha Adikaaram”.  One part of the “Koodasha Adikaaram” - “Right to give Remission of Sin” is mentioned in St. John 20:22-23. Whereas, the other part - “Consecration of Holy Communion” (which he specifically  conducted and taught to his disciples on the day of Last Supper) is mentioned in St. Mathew 26:26-28. The right to Evangelization and Baptism were given to 72 Disciples (who where part of the outer circle - Messengers/Ariyuppukar). It is very clear from the Holy Bible that even though Jesus had given the authority to the 72 Disciples (Messengers/Ariyuppukar) to heal the sick and baptize those who believe in Jesus Christ, they didn’t have the right to anoint with Holy Spirit to those who were baptized by them. This is evident from Acts 8: 5 - 21, which is shown below:

 
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria , and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 8:10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God , and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”

 
Even though Philip was one of the 72 Disciples Messengers/Ariyuppukar) of Jesus Christ, who was send to evangelize and give baptism to the believers, was not having  the authority to pour the Holy Spirit on any one. From the aforementioned quotation of Acts 8: 5 - 21, it is quite evident that only the Apostles had the authority to anoint anyone with Holy Spirit.

 
PATRIARCHATE OF ALEXANDERIA

 Apostolic Succession of Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches

 
Now let us see few words about the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Ethiopian Church claims its earliest origin from the Royal official said to have been baptized by Philip the Evangelist as mentioned in Acts 8: 26-38:

 
Acts 8: 26-28 -"Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza . So he set out and was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian. This man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake (Candace) Queen of Ethiopia in charge of all her treasure."

 The above  passage continues by describing how Philip helped the Ethiopian treasurer to understand a passage from “Isaiah” that the Ethiopian was reading. After understanding the passage, he requested Philip to baptize him, and Philip did so. In the Ethiopian version of this incident, instead of Ethiopian treasurer, name “Hendeke" is mentioned. Here "Hendeke" actually stands for  Queen Gersamot Hendeke VII of Ethiopia ,  who ruled Ethiopia from AD 42 to  AD 52.


Orthodox Christianity became the established Church of the Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom under King Ezana in the 4th century  AD, through the efforts of a Syrian Greek named Frumentius, known in Ethiopia as Abba Selama, Kesaté Birhan ("Father of Peace, Revealer of Light"). Frumentius and his brother Aedesius in their youth met with a ship wreckage and they eventually escaped to Eritrean coast. Both these brothers managed to reach the Royal Court , where they rose to positions of influence and converted Emperor Ezana to Christianity, causing him to be baptized. Ezana sent Frumentius to Alexandria to ask the Patriarch, St. Athanasius, to appoint a bishop for Ethiopia . Athanasius appointed Frumentius himself, who returned to Ethiopia as Bishop with the name of Abune Selama.

 From then on, until 1959, the Pope of Alexandria, as Patriarch of All Africa, always named an Egyptian (a Copt) to be Abuna or Archbishop of the Ethiopian Church .

 The Coptic and Ethiopian Churches reached an agreement on 13 July 1948, which led to autocephaly for the Ethiopian Church . Then the Coptic Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa consecrated Five Bishops and empowered them to elect their new Patriarch. Their new Patriarch was given the power to consecrate new Bishops for them. The Coptic Orthodox Pope Joseph II consecrated an Ethiopian-born Archbishop, Abuna Basilios, on  14 January 1951. Later, Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria crowned Abuna Baslios as the first Patriarch of Ethiopia in 1959.


Patriarch Abune Basilios died in 1971, and Patriarch Abune Tewophilos became his successor. Then in 1974 with the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was disestablished as the State Church . The new Marxist government began nationalizing property (including land) owned by the Church. Patriarch Abune Tewophilos was arrested in 1976 by the Marxist Derg military junta, and secretly executed in 1979. The government ordered the Church to elect a new Patriarch, and Abune Takla Haymanot was enthroned. The Coptic Orthodox Church refused to recognize the election and enthronement of Abune Tekle Haymanot on the grounds that the Synod of the Ethiopian Church had not removed Abune Tewophilos and that the government had not publicly acknowledged his death, and he was thus still legitimate Patriarch of Ethiopia. Formal relations between the two Churches were halted, although they remained in communion with each other. Formal relations between the two Churches established on July 13, 2007.

 Patriarch Abune Tekla Haymanot was not well accommodating  the Marxist Derg regime. So when the Patriarch died in 1988, they wanted to elect a new Patriarch who is closer with the regime. The Archbishop of Gondar, who was a member of the Derg-era Ethiopian Parliament, was elected and enthroned as Patriarch Abune Merkorios. In 1991, after the fall of Derg regime the EPRDF government came into power. Then they abdicated/deposed Patriarch Abune Merkorios due to the pressure of the public and the government.  Then the church elected a new Patriarch, Abune Paulos, and the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria recognized him. Then the former Patriarch Abune Merkorios fled abroad, and from there he announced that his abdication had been made under imprisonment. Hence he was still the legitimate Patriarch of Ethiopia. Several bishops also went into exile and formed a break-away alternate synod. This exiled synod is recognized by some Ethiopian Churches in North America and Europe and they recognize Patriarch Abune Merkorios. But the synod inside Ethiopia continues to recognize the legitimacy of Patriarch Abune Paulos.


Eritrea became an independent nation in 1993. In 1994 the Coptic Orthodox Church appointed an Archbishop for the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church which in turn obtained autocephaly in 1998 with the reluctant approval of its Mother Synod. That same year the first Eritrean Patriarch was consecrated.


As of 2005, there are many Ethiopian Orthodox churches located throughout the United States and other countries to which Ethiopians have migrated. They are under Archbishop Yesehaq from 1997. The Church claims more than 38 million members in Ethiopia . That is about half of the country's population.


From whom Ethiopian Orthodox Church got the apostolic successio
n?

 
Here we have to study the ecclesiastical agreement made by the pope of Coptic Orthodox Church and the patriarch of Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches.

 
Please refer the following link

Copticpope.org

 
The first and second line of the introduction part it says.

 
“The two churches are linked by very intimate relations since the early centuries of Christianity, as both are the sons of St Mark the apostle.”


Article 3 of the Agreement says that ……

It is very clear that even though the Ethiopian church and Eritrean church is found by Philip the evangelist, their priestly succession is from St Mark. Both Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox churches shares the Patriarchal succession of St Mark. Both of them consider each other as the sons of St Mark.

 Eritrean Orthodox Church


Now I would like to bring some point about the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

 The Eritrean Orthodox Church is an offshoot of the   mother Church - Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and  also claims its origins from the same  Philip the Evangelist mentioned earlier (Acts 8: 26-38).

 From Acts, chapter eight it is very clear that Philip had no apostolic authority. He had no authority to perform the “Sacramental rights of Apostles”. 


The apostolic Succession of the Eritrean Church and its relation with Coptic Orthodox Church until the Pope Patriarch Shenuda ordained a Patriarch for them that we can get from the following links.

 Tewahdo.org Protocol

Tewahdo.org Protocol between Copt-Eritrean  Church

 
It is very clear from the above links and the history of both churches that

    1. Their apostolic Succession is from St Mark (The son of St Peter)

    2. Both of them have their own Patron Saint. For COC St Mark the evangelist and for Eritrean Orthodox Church St. Philip

    3. Eritrean Orthodox Church was at first under the patriarch of Coptic Orthodox Church. Later as they were the part of the Ethiopian Church Separated from Coptic Patriarchate Then they were came back in full communion with Coptic Orthodox Church.

    4. It is very clear that Eritrean Orthodox Church is not declared them selves as the Auto cephalous church. It is patriarch who gave that Authority to them. The establishment of this Patriarchate has some social and political aim.

        (A) The Eritrean Church as they lost their religious freedom, which means when the Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church were not allowed to exercise their spiritual authority in Eritrea and the Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church were not willing to allow them to have their own spiritual leaders from Eritrea they were forced by the National Authority to have their own Hierarchy.

        (B) For the Pope of Coptic Orthodox Church it was good occasion to prove his Religious Authority and an Occasion to give a nice kick to the Ethiopian Church which where separated from Coptic Patriarchate. As a wise administrator Pope ordained a Patriarch under His Holiness in Eritrea.

Mark the Evangelist

 
(Hebrew: מרקוס; Greek: Μάρκος; Coptic:), is the traditional name of the author of the Gospel of Mark. Tradition identifies him with the John Mark mentioned as a companion of Saint Paul in Acts, who later is said to have become a disciple of Saint Peter. John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas (Mark's kinsman) on Paul's first missionary journey. After a sharp dispute, Barnabas separated from Paul, taking Mark to Cyprus. Later, Paul called upon the services of Mark. and Mark was named as Paul's fellow worker.

His feast day is celebrated on April 25, the anniversary of his martyrdom. Mark is also believed by various traditions to be the first bishop of Alexandria and thus the founder of the Church in Alexandria and of  Christianity in Africa. In Coptic tradition he is identified as the first Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. His evangelistic symbol is the lion.

 Mark of the Pauline Epistles is specified as a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10); this would explain Barnabas' special attachment to the Mark of Acts over whom he disputed with Paul (Acts 15:37-40). Mark's mother was a prominent member of the earliest group of Christians in Jerusalem. It was to her house that Peter turned on his release from prison; the house was a meeting-place for the brethren, "many" of whom were praying there on the night Peter arrived from prison (Acts 12:12-17). Evidence for Mark's authorship of the Gospel that bears his name originates with Papias.


A number of traditions have built up around Mark, though none can be verified from the New Testament. Traditionally, Mark is said to be the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13). And the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52).

 Coptic Church tradition additionally states that Mark is the one who hosted the disciples in his house after the death of Jesus, into whose house the resurrected Jesus Christ came (John 20), and into whose house the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost. Mark is also believed to be one of the servants at the Marriage at Cana who poured out the water that Jesus turned to wine (John 2:1-11), and was one of the Seventy (72) Apostles sent out by Christ (Luke 10:1).

 According to the Coptic church, Saint Mark was born in the Pentapolis of North Africa. This tradition adds that he returned to Pentapolis later in life after being sent by Saint Paul to Colosse (Colossians 4:10) and serving with him in Rome (Phil 24; 2 Tim 4:11) ; from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria.[15] When Mark returned to Alexandria, the people there are said to have resented his efforts to turn them away from the worship of their traditional Egyptian gods. In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead.

 Who ordained St Mark?

 As we had seen earlier till the 16th century nobody questioned the Supremacy of St Peter and Priestly succession of St Mark. It is very clear that from the 1st epistle of St Peter that there was a unique and special relationship he had with St Peter.

 St Mark as an evangelist not more or not less than St Philip the evangelist.

 What made both Churches to hold on the Throne of St Mark? It is because of the apostolic Succession of St Mark. From the Writings of St Peter it is very clear that St Mark was ordained by St Peter. St. Mark the Evangelist is the spiritual son of St. Peter. St Peter ordained him and vested him with the Authority of Apostolate.
 

1 Peter 5: 13 the church that is at Babylon , elected together with you, salute you; and so do Marcus my son.


As St Peter ordained with other apostles St Evodiose (d. ca. 69) as the head of the Hellenistic Christians in the Church of Antioch and St Ignatius as the head of the Aramaic Christians in Church of Antioch ordained St Mark as the Successor in Alexandrian Church and in Roman Church St Peter ordained Saint Linus (d. ca.76)

 (St Linus was the second Bishop of Rome, according to Irenaeus, Jerome, Eusebius, John Chrysostom, the Liberian Catalogue and the Liber Pontificalis; he was succeeded by Anacletus. The Roman Catholic Church considers Saint Linus to be the second Pope, succeeding St. Peter as Bishop of Rome after the latter's martyrdom.

 Irenaeus identifies him with the Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21, an identification that is not certain, saying,

 The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric.[8]

 The Liberian Catalogue and the Liber Pontificalis both date his Episcopate to 56–67 during the reign of Nero, but Jerome dates it to 67–78, and Eusebius dates the end of his Episcopate to the second year of the reign of Titus (80).)


St Peter never used the term Son to address any one of the apostles of Pre or post resurrected church of our Lord, but only to St Mark.

 Ordination of St Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 13: 2-3)


We can trace back to history that all the Apostles in Antioch, were part of the Patriarchate of Antioch that was established by St Peter the foundation stone of the Christian Church Chosen by Our Lord. St. Peter ordained St Paul, Barnabas and all the Christian ministers together with other apostles. Even though St Paul were in different of opinion to St peter regarding the circumcision instructed by St Peter for pagans to join to Christianity, it is very clear from the letters of St Paul that there was a unique role to St peter among the early Christians and he accepted that spiritual authority too. 

 Acts 13:2-3

 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, to them, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul to do  the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Galatians 1: 18 -2: 10


Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me. Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accept the no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

 We know that even though Mary the Mother of Mark was one of the active members among the women who were followed Jesus Christ in His ministry with St Mother Mary, St Mark was not the member of inner circle of 12 disciples. But from the very beginning of St Peters ’ ministry, he was with St Peter. Then he worked with St Paul for a short period. Later they got separated and St Mark rejoined St Peter. The ‘first written Gospel’ (Gospel of St Mark) is written by St Mark. Before that there was only Oral Gospel. ‘The first oral Gospel’ is the speech by St Peter on the day of Pentecost and were written and preserved by his successor St Mark.

 Here comes another question. Why Syrian Orthodox Church accept the Coptic Orthodox Church and its offshoot Churches Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches as the Canonical Churches? It is because they have the apostolic Succession of St Peter. No matter whether they accept it or not, that is the truth. Accepting and not accepting is another matter.

 
Another Question. Why the Patriarchate of Coptic Church hide the truth that they are the Successors of St Peter?

 It is their politics with Catholic Church. It is to over come the claim of Catholic Church, Infallibility and Supremacy of the Pope of Rome over other Patriarchate. It is ‘Nothing More than that.’

 Also the politics that they played against the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch. If they accepted the Succession of St Peter Publicly they have to accept the truth that the Patriarchate in Antioch is the first and Ancient.


In the history the politics which they played turned against them. Thus happened the division in their church as Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean. We can see the clear picture of the Pope of Coptic Church Played to separate the Eritrean Church which was the Part of the Ethiopian Church. This same fate of their church they wanted to pass to our church that is the only reason they supported the division in our church. As a true Christian Church we won’t allow anyone to make a division to the body of Jesus Christ.     


“Please note that our Lord didn’t offer any throne to any evangelist or any apostles. But God promised them that at the day of last judgment like the twelve tribes they will judge the world by sitting on the throne. I think all the priests will be the part of that throne/ jury. because by giving the apostolic authority for the remission of sin and to restate we all priests as the macrocosm and as the part of this kohanooso will be in that jury. It is true that we the ordained priest should also be stand before that jury”.

 
But the spiritual authority to guide the church and all humanity has given to St Peter only.

 

Here I have a question to my brethren.

Question: Even though these three patriarchate founded by different Christian Missionaries, why they stick on the apostolic succession of St Mark?

 Answer: Because St Mark is the successor of St Peter.


 
Question:  Why the Coptic Church is in full communion with Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches?

 Answer: Both the Patriarchate of Addis Ababa and all Ethiopia and the Patriarchate of Asmara and all Eritrea do acknowledge the supremacy of honor and dignity of the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria on the basis that both Patriarchates were established by the Throne of Alexandria and that they have their roots in the Apostolic Church of Alexandria, and acknowledge that Saint Mark the Apostle is the founder of their Churches through the heritage and Apostolic evangelization of the Fathers of Alexandria. They are the successors of St Mark and the Pope of Coptic Church is in hierarchical order superior to other patriarchate. Even though they are declared as the autocephalous some sort of governess both church have over other churches. The pope of Alexandrian Church is considered as the superior among other patriarchs and they have to have a representation of Bishops during the ordination of their patriarchs.  Like the Pope of Roman Catholic Church the Coptic Pope have the same spiritual authority over the other churches. This is accepted by the other patriarchates through their mutual agreements.

 
Question: Why the church which is under the throne of St Mark need not to invite the prelates of other oriental orthodox churches while they ordain their patriarchs?

 
Answer: They are separate body, which follows the Succession of St Mark the Son of St Peter. They are not under the patriarchate of Antioch and Patriarchate of Rome.

 

It is their freedom to decide through their synods how to administrate their churches. It is the Pope of Alexandria gave the spiritual and temporal authority and freedom to all the other two churches.

 
Here we can come to the conclusion that knowingly or unknowingly they are accepting and following the apostolic Succession of St Peter. They are not the separate bodies they are one. The name of their leaders is remembering in prayers each other. While Ordain their patriarchs they send their representation and it is must thing. In effect they have only temporal freedom. They have the spiritual freedom only in some extent. I want to point out one more things. The separation of the body of Jesus Christ is wrong and there should be visual head for each church. In their agreement we can see this even though they have separate temporal administrative set up they are one in their Spirit and they accept the Pope of Alexandria as their supreme head and first among others.

Source:
http://www.socmnet.org/Resource_Articles_Oriental_Orthodoxy_FrGeorge_Vayaliparambil.htm

Oriental Orthodoxy Graph
http://www.socmnet.org/Resource/Oriental_Orthodoxy_Graph.jpg
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2009, 02:37:06 AM »

Quote
The early Christian Churches , considered the primacy of St. Peter, as a very important factor of Christendom. Our Lord ordained 10 Disciples (Sleehanmar), except St. Thomas (St. John 20:24) and Judas Iscariot and vested upon them the spiritual authority - “Koodasha Adikaaram”.

"Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came". - Jn. 20:24

Thomas was not there at the time, no. He was there the next time Jesus showed up though:

"A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" - Jn. 20:26-29

Thomas was there in the post-resurrection fish story:

"Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together." - Jn. 21:1-2

And he was there at the beginning of Acts:

"Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." - Acts 1:12-14

And Thomas was there when they added a 12th Apostle to replace Judas:

"'Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.' So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, 'Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.' Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles." - Acts 1:21-26

Why go to the trouble of adding a 12th apostle if Jesus only ordained 10 disciples and wanted only 10 to have spiritual authority?

One would assume, based on context (cf Acts 2:14), that Thomas was also there at Pentecost, which is when the Holy Spirit came upon them:

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." - Acts 2:1-4

All of this besides the Church traditions which number the Apostles at 12, and which include Thomas in the list of those 12, given authority and having apostolic succession. He is also in the Church's hagiography and considered a saint.
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2009, 01:10:44 PM »

Here's a discussion that I feel was quite helpful in understanding the situation between the Indian Orthodox churches.  The link I'll give you is the view of a Malankara Syrian Orthodox view of St. Thomas debate.  In his view, the Syrian Church believes that St. Thomas was an Apostle just as St. Peter was:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,7864.msg103187.html#msg103187

I would like to hear Dhinuus' views on this particular article.

God bless.
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2009, 04:41:25 PM »

I would like to hear Dhinuus' views on this particular article.
Thank you very much for valuing my thoughts. I am very much humbled. The above article is written by ONE priest. The said priest is not authorized to speak on behalf of the entire Church, especially on faith matters. When it comes to the 'faith' and 'priesthood' it is only the Holy Episcopal Synod and its head the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East who can speak on behalf of the Syriac Orthodox Church. So I will not give any more or any less importance to the above mentioned article, than what is originally represents. It only represents the views of the particular priest who has written the article.

The best place where you can read regarding the official position of the Syriac Orthodox Church and priesthood is from the 1997 Patriarchal encyclical of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I about the sacrament of the Priesthood.

In it H.H clearly states that Christ "founded His Holy Church on the rock of true faith which was proclaimed by St. Peter the head of the Apostles."  The Patriarch quotes the scripture in his encyclical on Priesthood: " I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven" ( Matt 16:16-19).  The very next sentence in the encyclical reads: "The Lord gave ALL the Apostles this power when he appeared to them...".   It does not say all except two or all except Thomas.

You can read the entire encyclical at:
http://www.syrianorthodoxchurch.org/library/patriarchal-encyclical-letters/sacrament-of-the-holy-priesthood/

Again in the 2009 Lenten encyclical , His Holiness says: "According to the teachings of our fathers, the Lord had ordained his apostles as bishops `when he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted his hands and blessed them, while he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:50-51).''  All apostles including St. Thomas witnessed the ascension as we can read in the Gospel and hence were consecrated as Bishops.

http://www.socmnet.org/Bull_HH/Lent_Encyclical_2009.pdf   (page 13)

This is the official teaching of the Syriac Orthodox Church, in the words of its Spiritual leader, H.H Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I.

In Christ,
Mathew G M




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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2009, 06:46:56 PM »

Thank you Dhinuus.  Part of the reason of hearing your thoughts was to assess the proper way of dealing with this paper before we turn this into another Indian Orthodox debate.  So, thank you for giving us the Syrian Orthodox synodical view.

In our liturgy, we repeatedly call St. Mark, "evangelist, Apostle, beholder of God, and martyr."  HH Pope Shenouda in his book about St. Mark calls him a disciple and apostle.

Yes, it is understood St. Mark was one of the 70, but this did not diminish his role as the first "bishop" of our church.  His role seems to have an influence from St. Paul and St. Barnabas, who were considered to be the ones who would help the growth of the Church among the Gentiles.  Perhaps, St. Peter was involved in laying of hands on St. Mark, just as much as he was involved in laying of hands on St. Paul, just as much as he was involved on laying of hands of St. Matthias to be one of the 12.

For this priest to say that the Coptic Church seems to just leave out St. Peter because of Roman Catholic ideas is like accusing the Coptic Church of playing political games or even worse, lying.  These ideas did not just come recently after the dogma of Papal primacy, but existed for centuries.  We are called the "evangelical" see, for the reason of having St. Mark as the founder of our Church.  That's the reason why we don't have St. Peter as the first "bishop" of our church, not because we are denying St. Peter anything, but because this is a sincere belief in our Church and what we feel is the truth.  St. Peter did not have a direct role (let alone any role) in Alexandria as he did in Antioch.  Even HH Pope Shenouda will go on to tell you that he had more of a role in Antioch than in Rome, and St. Paul should be given the major credit for Rome.

But much worse than an implied "insult" to the Coptic Church (or to the Armenian Church, although he hasn't really talked about the Armenian Church to mention his ideas on it) is that an Indian priest who is influencing his own parish on his own ideas like this, where it is likely to spread to other parish members and priests, either that or this paper comes from a forerunner of these beliefs in some parts of the Church.  Many times I've heard Syrian Malankara members accuse Malankara Syrian members of "Petrine Primacy" beliefs.  It comes to no surprise then why Syrian Malankara members would be angered at the other faction when reading an article like this.  A priest like this is likely to hurt, not help, any future unity efforts for both Indian factions, and in my opinion this priest needs to be disciplined for the sake of peace in the Church, and to show how serious the Syrian Church is on efforts in uniting with the other faction, for the sake of Oriental Orthodox unity.  Or at the very least, an answer to this article by another SOCMET author in opposition to this priest.

But I'm sure if many Coptic persons read this, they will feel insulted.  We are not sister churches because of St. Peter as the link.  We are sister churches because of the undying historical continuity of the Oriental Orthodox faith.  It makes me curious how this case would hold for the founding of the Armenian Church?  As the Syrian Orthodox teaches, as well as the Coptic Church, the Rock of the Church is the faith, and this is what we base our unity on.
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If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2009, 07:29:10 AM »

Thanks to Mathew (dhinuus) for bringing out the Patriarchal encyclical and thanks again for reaffirming the One Faith of the Fathers and the Apostles we all hold.

The Church in India and all its people, Catholic and Orthodox believe that the Apostle came , built churches , ordained priests and so on. Admittedly hard historical evidence may be limited , but the testament of a peoples faith over two millenia and the fact that Churches in all parts remember that Thomas is the Apostle of India speaks volumes.

Articles such as these basically try to undercut the Apostolic foundations of the faith in India, since nobody can dare deny that Apostle ever came to India, they do the next best thing; depending on faulty exegesis of scripture  to say that Thomas had no priesthood. 
That any priest of any faction can claim one of the 12, one who had walked with Christ and died for him had no priesthood and is equal to Judas is deeply disturbing and saddening. 

I will not add to Salpy's workload , but over some time I have noticed that very many laypeople , priests and bishops in the Indian jurisdiction of the Syrians now hold to a view of Peter which the rest of the Orthodox world will not agree to.

Such articles merely flow from such an excessive notion of Petrine Primacy. 

Suraj Iype
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2009, 12:06:50 PM »

Dear Suraj,
I wish you didn't take this one article and generalize that the Bishops and Priests of the Syraic Orthodox Church in India hold to heretical views.

It is a fact that the two jurisdictions don't get along very well in India. This sometimes results in one-offs like this, which is unfortunate. I have seen articles written by Indian Orthodox priests quoting the scripture, especially Matthew 16:23, and then claiming that St. Peter is Satan and his successors in Antioch are also followers of Satan.

The article is written by a priest in a Malayalam and distributed as a pamphlet. I could, but I don’t plan to, scan it, post it online, provide an English translation and broadcast it to the world.

Let us not give undue importance to one offs like this published by extremists on either side. Let us on the contrary pray for peace. In the best case we could unite as one oriental Orthodox Church in India, or the second best could be that we can co-exist in perfect peace as two separate oriental orthodox jurisdictions in India in full communion.

In Christ,
Mathew G M
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2009, 01:07:01 AM »

Dear Mathew,

I certainly don't hold the Jacobite church to be heretical, a few days ago I drove home a Jacobite priest after a engagement and at 11 in the night we went to see the Jacobite church ( the Orthodox currently have a service but no parish in that area),  certainly I don't think both of us dealt with each other as heretics. I would say anything but.  In any case  I cannot agree with what Fr Vayalimparambil has said.  The part of St Thomas is only one issue, I don't agree with his views about the Coptic and Ethiopian Apostolic succession.
More saddening is that such views are posted on the Faith Resources section of a premier Jacobite online portal.   

As I confessed to some members of this forum, many of our people including priests try to downplay the primacy of Peter in response to apologetics from your side, but nobody who has not been in a mental institution can deny that St Peter was an Apostle. The Syrian liturgical tradition does ascribe a certain primacy to Peter especially seen in the various liturgies of ordination, marriage etc & this primacy is to be understood standing within the common tradition of Orthodox faith that we have received.  Using it is proof texts and marrying it with RC Ultramonte theology is dangerous. 
If this vicious cycle of argument and counter-argument continues we can forget about a Christian settlement any time soon.

Suraj   

 
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2009, 12:17:36 AM »

Dear Suraj,
Glad that you clarified that you dont hold the Jacobite Church to be heretical. By that statement I assume that you are withdrawing the claim you made in your previous posting, where you said, many Bishops and Priests in the Syriac Church in India hold views contrary to the Orthodox faith. Because if you still hold that view, then a church that holds views contrary to the Orthodox faith, is heretical. And that is a very serious allegation to make, based on the writings of one priest.

Mathew G M
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2009, 01:33:41 AM »

Aha,

 
Mathew  why attack this one priest, if a Patriarch can release an encyclical saying much the same thing , then what is a simple priest.
I stand by my basic point, that regarding the primacy of Peter, the jacobite church is on a slippery slope.  And the many articles including one whole discussion on SOCM on this topic basically makes my point. Do some clergy and laity seem to hold un-Orthodox views, yes . What is their reason for doing so, I am not very sure. Currently I continue to give them the benefit of the doubt. Particularly because I hope that one of these day one conscientious Patriarch will step in to correct the Ultramonte stuff that is spewing forth.

What constitutes formal heresy,  Mathew?   I am trying to be careful using such words, something which many Jacobites includes high clergy use regularly with respect to the Orthodox. I am not currently inclined to add fuel to the fire by calling people heretics just now when I am not exactly sure about that.  If you want me to use terminology, I will call it a deviation and distortion, but if it is not corrected there exists the danger of heresy , yes.  And in case you did not notice, I never used the word un-Orthodox or heresy in my initial post, I said the current jacobite position will not be agreed with by the rest of the Orthodox world.  There is a nuance. 

I will say this openly, much of the Jacobite "theology of Peter" is not particularly Orthodox, and I hope sincerely that it is corrected. It seems far too influenced by RC apologetics of a bygone era. 
This article is not a flash out of the blue, such articles are written from within a particular environment where such things are encouraged. I actually believe Fr George is rather courageous, he has actually just taken to logical conclusion what he believes and critiqued Oriental Orthodoxy. 

Suraj 
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2009, 01:42:23 PM »

Dear brother,
Forgive me a sinner and pray for me. I am not going to continue to aruge with you.

Mathew G M
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2009, 01:55:05 AM »

Dear Brother,

I seek your prayers as well.  And I did not think we argued at all, we kept forward our respective viewpoints in a reasonable and non-polemical manner.

And I am thankful that OC.net provides a neutral and non-corrosive atmosphere to have such a conversation.

as always best regards

Suraj 
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