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Author Topic: Why aren't we in communion yet?  (Read 2665 times) Average Rating: 0
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Feanor
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« on: January 02, 2010, 09:15:55 PM »

Today I attended a Coptic liturgy, and I was incredibly impressed. The hymns, the deep reverence shown by everyone in the church, the prostrations, the beautiful icons, etc... it was all beautiful and profoundly respectful and reverent. The service was in Coptic and Arabic so I had to read the English translation in a booklet given to me by the priest, but I noticed how similar it is to the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, and how similar they are theologically. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian I could participate int he Coptic liturgy without once thinking "hmm, I don't really believe that" or "that's not how we see it in the Antiochian Church..." - There doesn't seem to be anything in the Oriental Orthodox religion which is incompatible with Eastern Orthodoxy - sure, there are some notable differences (such as the Oriental aversion to the term 'Theotokos'), but it hardly seems like anything which can't be reconciled as cultural and traditional diversity, rather than them having a different faith.

It seems that the heirarchs of many Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches are actively seeking to promote harmony between the two churches, and joint statements issued over the last few decades have shown that the theological misunderstandings which originally caused the split have been resolved. When I attended the Coptic church today I told them that I was Eastern Orthodox, and they were extremely welcoming and friendly, and in discussions with the priest and several laypersons it was clear that they regarded the Eastern Orthodox churches as legitimate, simply not in ecumenical communion with the Oriental Orthodox churches.

So, if the big problems are resolved and we all seem to be agreeing and getting on nicely, what is stopping the ecumenical communion which would reunite the Orthodox churches? I'm curious as to what problems remain that are so significant that they prevent the Eastern and Oriental churches from recognizing and acknowledging each other's sacraments and legitimacy as branches of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. 
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2010, 09:18:41 PM »

sure, there are some notable differences (such as the Oriental aversion to the term 'Theotokos'), but it hardly seems like anything which can't be reconciled as cultural and traditional diversity, rather than them having a different faith

You must have confussed them with Assyrians Wink
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Salpy
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2010, 09:26:15 PM »

Yes, it is the Assyrian Church of the East which avoids the term Theotokos.  The OO's have a strong history of defending that term.
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2010, 09:29:03 PM »

Today I attended a Coptic liturgy, and I was incredibly impressed. The hymns, the deep reverence shown by everyone in the church, the prostrations, the beautiful icons, etc... it was all beautiful and profoundly respectful and reverent. The service was in Coptic and Arabic so I had to read the English translation in a booklet given to me by the priest, but I noticed how similar it is to the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, and how similar they are theologically. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian I could participate int he Coptic liturgy without once thinking "hmm, I don't really believe that" or "that's not how we see it in the Antiochian Church..." - There doesn't seem to be anything in the Oriental Orthodox religion which is incompatible with Eastern Orthodoxy - sure, there are some notable differences (such as the Oriental aversion to the term 'Theotokos'), but it hardly seems like anything which can't be reconciled as cultural and traditional diversity, rather than them having a different faith.

It seems that the heirarchs of many Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches are actively seeking to promote harmony between the two churches, and joint statements issued over the last few decades have shown that the theological misunderstandings which originally caused the split have been resolved. When I attended the Coptic church today I told them that I was Eastern Orthodox, and they were extremely welcoming and friendly, and in discussions with the priest and several laypersons it was clear that they regarded the Eastern Orthodox churches as legitimate, simply not in ecumenical communion with the Oriental Orthodox churches.

So, if the big problems are resolved and we all seem to be agreeing and getting on nicely, what is stopping the ecumenical communion which would reunite the Orthodox churches? I'm curious as to what problems remain that are so significant that they prevent the Eastern and Oriental churches from recognizing and acknowledging each other's sacraments and legitimacy as branches of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. 

One of the two sides will have to admit that they were mistaken for the last 1600 years.
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Salpy
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2010, 09:32:45 PM »

We have better food and cooler hats:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,22455.0.html#top
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Feanor
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2010, 09:41:20 PM »


One of the two sides will have to admit that they were mistaken for the last 1600 years.

Apparently, nobody was 'wrong' - it was a misunderstanding which led to the split.

Quote
On the Unity of the Faith
Joint Declaration of the Patriarchs of the Middle East


We give thanks to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the joy of the spiritual communion which has been granted to us from on high, and which has allowed our meeting in the holy monastery of St Bishoy, Egypt, on the occasion of the Executive Committee meeting of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), 16-19 November 1987, on the invitation of our sister Coptic Orthodox Church which has welcomed us with goodwill.

It is the first time that we, the Primates of the Byzantine and Oriental churches, that are members of the MECC and that have their seat in the Middle East, meet to reflect together on our common task in the current situation in the Middle East.

While reflecting once more on the deeply-rooted inner unity of faith existing between our two families of Churches, we rejoice in realizing how much we have advanced in our rediscovery and in the growing consciousness among our people of that inner unity of Faith in the incarnate Lord.

Attempts by theologians of both families aimed at overcoming the misunderstandings inherited from the past centuries of alienation towards one another have happily reached the same conclusion that fundamentally and essentially we on both sides have preserved the same Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, in spite of diverse formulations and resulting controversies.

We welcome all the efforts made on the international or regional levels, and noting in particular that which has been done on the regioal level, in the meetings of Balamand, Lebanon in 1972, and of Pendeli, Greece in 1978, we affirm our togetherness in the true understanding of the Person of Christ, who being God of God, only-begotten Son of the Father, became truly man, fully assumed our human nature without losing or diminishing or changing His DIvine Nature. Being perfect God, He became perfect man, without confusion, without separation.

In the light of this conviction we recommend that the official dialogue on both the regional (Middle East) and the international levels be pursued through common endeavours in the healthy process of clarifying and enhancing our commonness in faith and dispelling the misapprehensions of the past, thus preparing the way towards the full recovery of our communion.

We urge our people to continue to deepen their consciousness in the deep commonality of faith and to relate to one another as brothers and sisters who share the same Gospel, the same faith and the sae commission entrusted to them by their common Lord.

Thanks be to God that ancient controversies and rivalries have given way to a new era of sincere and open dialogue and new communal brotherhood. We pray that these most difficult and crucial times in the Middle East may stimulate all of us to see more clearly the command of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we may be one according to his will (John 10) and His prayer (John 17).

Pope Shenouda III, Coptic Orthodox Church
Patriarch Parthenios III, Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria
Patriarch Ignatios IV, Orthodox Church of Antioch
Catholicos Karekin II, Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia

Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I. Iwas, Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch,
Not present at the meeting, also expressed is accord with the statement
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2010, 09:42:03 PM »

Let's all pray for Christian unity to prevail. We are all truly Orthodox- both EO and OO. In fact, even the terms "Eastern Orthodox" and "Oriental Orthodox" are misnomers.

As far as I know, the term "Theotokos" is also widely affirmed by the Non-Chalcedonian Churches.

Although I am Ethiopian Orthodox, our family attends Father Chris's Greek Orthodox Church here in Mississippi because the nearest EOTC Church is 7 hours away. But we feel very much at home there, and our sons even assist Father Chris at the altar.

The only thing that I feel I cannot affirm in good consience are the statements that declare Our Lord has two natures. But as far as I can tell these statements are in the Orthros, not in the Divine Liturgy. And the only reason that I feel uncomfortable affirming such statements is because I know that many Non-Chalcedonian Saints and Fathers defended the Tewahedo doctrine (i.e. the unity and oneness of Our Lord's nature) at great peril and great cost. But when I hear the statements of Christ's dual nature being recited, I do not think of my EO brethren as heretics. I understand clearly that they believe the same thing about Christ that I do: He is fully God and fully man without separation, division, or confusion. So I recognize it as a semantical difference rather than a theological one.

My Ethiopian Orthodox Priest and Father Chris have both told me that our Churches are very close to reconciliation. They have both told me that there is really no essential difference in our Christology. So, let's hope and pray that the Spirit of peace, unity, and sound doctrine will prevail over the spirit of politics and pride.

Our Lord is One, the Holy Trinity is One, and thus the Body of Christ must be One! Smiley

Selam  
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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2010, 09:44:37 PM »

Feanor,

Coptic Liturgical services are replete with the term Theotokos. The original Greek term is retained in Coptic hymns, and many Liturgical services retain the Greek term amidst English and Arabic translations also. Here is a link to one of our Vigil service hymns, 'Rashi Ne Maria':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfYtXzUPKSA

The very first line sounds, 'Rashi Ne O ti-Theotokos, Maria ethmav en Isous PiKhristos' (trans. 'Rejoice, O Theotokos, the Mother of Jesus Christ').

« Last Edit: January 02, 2010, 09:45:56 PM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2010, 02:55:02 AM »

It was the Nestorians who had the problem with the term "Theotokos". Nestorians believe that Christ was two persons and they believed that St. Mary gave birth only to the human person of Christ so they call her the "Christotokos" since His divine nature was not included.
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« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2010, 03:10:27 AM »

Coptic Liturgical services are replete with the term Theotokos. The original Greek term is retained in Coptic hymns, and many Liturgical services retain the Greek term amidst English and Arabic translations also. Here is a link to one of our Vigil service hymns, 'Rashi Ne Maria':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfYtXzUPKSA

The very first line sounds, 'Rashi Ne O ti-Theotokos, Maria ethmav en Isous PiKhristos' (trans. 'Rejoice, O Theotokos, the Mother of Jesus Christ').

I like how much you Copts use "Pantocrator" in the liturgy.
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2010, 08:39:45 PM »

Polemical posts were split off and put in the private forum.  If you want to continue polemical debate on the topic, please do so there.  If you do not belong to the private forum, pm Fr. Chris and ask him to give you access.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,25269.0.html
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 08:42:22 PM by Salpy » Logged

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