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Author Topic: Help with Orthodox Christian Fellowship  (Read 1484 times) Average Rating: 0
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CyberSponge
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« on: January 05, 2005, 02:34:29 AM »

Hi,

I'm the president of a small Orthodox Christian Fellowship at my school, but we're blessed to have people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

I post on this board b/c part of those backgrounds involves the Indian church.

So, here's the deal: We've been having one guy who's from India and who's Hindu.  He said something about having a lot of assyrian friends or something like that.  what was he trying to tell me?  did I hear him right?  who are the assyrians?

Secondly, an Indian girl stopped by at tonight's meeting.  I didn't totally understand her background, but it sounds like there's actually 2 different Indian Churches.  She said hers was in communion with the Catholic church or something.  Can anyone fill me in on what's going on here?

Thanks a bunch!
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2005, 03:36:03 AM »

Quote
So, here's the deal: We've been having one guy who's from India and who's Hindu.  He said something about having a lot of assyrian friends or something like that.  what was he trying to tell me?  did I hear him right?  who are the assyrians?

Here are the link to the homepage of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East

http://www.cired.org

If you have more questions about the Assyrian Church there are folks on the board who are more knowledgeable than I who should be able to provide you with more information. In the meanwhile, do a seach on the forum under "Assyrian"

Quote
Secondly, an Indian girl stopped by at tonight's meeting.  I didn't totally understand her background, but it sounds like there's actually 2 different Indian Churches.  She said hers was in communion with the Catholic church or something.  Can anyone fill me in on what's going on here?

The 2 Indian Catholic Churches are the Syro-Malabar Church and the Syro-Malankara Church.

Here are the links:

http://www.thesyromalabarchurch.org/

http://malankara.net/

Hope the links are helpful!

In Christ,
Aaron
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Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2005, 10:11:33 AM »

Dear CyberSponge,

Your Hindu friend may very well have Indian friends who are of the Assyrian Church, but they are small enough that I suspect he may be talking about "Syrian" Christians, the Orthodox in India (Oriental Orthodox).  Within this group, there are two divisions (due to church politics, as usual), one under the Catholicos of the East in India and the other under the Patriarch of Antioch. 

There are also three Indian Catholic Churches: the Roman Church, the Syro-Malabar Church (following a modified Assyrian rite), and the Syro-Malankara Church (following the West Syrian rite of the Oriental Orthodox in India, with certain modifications). 
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2005, 09:56:32 PM »

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There are also three Indian Catholic Churches: the Roman Church, the Syro-Malabar Church (following a modified Assyrian rite), and the Syro-Malankara Church (following the West Syrian rite of the Oriental Orthodox in India, with certain modifications).

Ahhh, I forgot the Latin Rite Catholics..  Shocked

Do the three rites all have churches in all or most areas of India, or are the different rite churches based upon localities? Like is one part of India mainly Syro-Malabar and another part of the country mainly Syro-Malankara?

How does the size of the various Catholic communities compare to Orthodox?

Do the Catholic and Orthodox communities have friendly relations with one another?

Sorry for all the questions!

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2005, 10:55:09 PM »

everyone,

Thanks a lot for the links and explanations.  I skimmed some of the webpages, although I still have some questions.  1) What are the core differences between the different groups.  Mor Ephrem mentioned politics on the Orthodox side.  But why the different names?  Do they have identical services and such?  Same theology?  Howabout for the Catholic side? (and by "Catholic" I mean under the pope).
2) What are the main theological differences preventing communion between the Indian Orthodox and other large segments of Orthodoxy?  If they are in communion with any other Orthodox groups, which ones?
3) And a general question: why is it that large segments of Coptics and Indians seem to be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church?  How were some of the main theological issues hammered out?
4) Is there any kind of animosity between the Indian Orthodox and those of Byzantine heritage (i.e., Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Antiochian, yada yada)?
5) On a TV show years ago I seem to remember some report about Christians in India.  One thing that stuck with me was how evidently the Hindu class system was somewhat present in the church.  So there were churches for the upper-class and others for the lower-class.  Is this true at all, or is someone from one place in life welcome at any church?

I apologize if partial or complete answers to some of the above questions could be found on the web, but I wasn't having much luck.

Thanks!
CyberSponge
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Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2005, 05:22:16 PM »

1) What are the core differences between the different groups.

Assyrians in India: East Syriac Liturgy, "Nestorian" theology. 

Orthodox in India ("Catholicos" group and "Patriarchal" group): West Syriac Liturgy, Miaphysite theology.

Catholics in India:

Roman Catholics: Roman Liturgy, Roman theology.

Syro-Malabar Catholics: modified East Syriac Liturgy and theology, but faithful to Roman doctrine as well. 

Syro-Malankara Catholics: West Syriac Liturgy (with certain modifications) and theology, but also faithful to Roman doctrine.

Quote
Mor Ephrem mentioned politics on the Orthodox side. But why the different names? Do they have identical services and such? Same theology? Howabout for the Catholic side? (and by "Catholic" I mean under the pope).

Speaking for the Orthodox, they have identical services (although the translations of texts differ every so often), and the theology is the same.  The different names are simply to indicate who's who.

Each of the three Catholic Churches I named have different rites and answer to different hierarchs, but have the same general faith.  The names indicate separate Churches, all under Rome. 


Quote
2) What are the main theological differences preventing communion between the Indian Orthodox and other large segments of Orthodoxy? If they are in communion with any other Orthodox groups, which ones?

They are in communion with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches, and currently not in communion with the Eastern (Byzantine) Orthodox Churches.  The main difference between these two groups is the preferred Christology of each: Cyrillian and Chalcedonian, respectively.   

Quote
3) And a general question: why is it that large segments of Coptics and Indians seem to be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church? How were some of the main theological issues hammered out?

I am not sure if you are talking about the Eastern Catholics from India and Egypt, or the Orthodox.  The latter are not in communion with the RCC. 

Quote
4) Is there any kind of animosity between the Indian Orthodox and those of Byzantine heritage (i.e., Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Antiochian, yada yada)?

Not really.  On the contrary, there seem to be good relations.   

Quote
5) On a TV show years ago I seem to remember some report about Christians in India. One thing that stuck with me was how evidently the Hindu class system was somewhat present in the church. So there were churches for the upper-class and others for the lower-class. Is this true at all, or is someone from one place in life welcome at any church?

The caste thing is not so much a part of the Church as it is of the larger culture, and unfortunately it sometimes filters in. 
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2005, 03:30:59 AM »

Hi Mor Ephrem,


Assyrians in India: East Syriac Liturgy, "Nestorian" theology.
So the Assyrians would be considered heretical by the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, right?

Orthodox in India ("Catholicos" group and "Patriarchal" group): West Syriac Liturgy, Miaphysite theology.
These are the 2 groups you said that are similar but politics divides them.  I'm sure that's the simplified version, but it'll do. Smiley

Catholics in India:

Roman Catholics: Roman Liturgy, Roman theology.

Syro-Malabar Catholics: modified East Syriac Liturgy and theology, but faithful to Roman doctrine as well.

Syro-Malankara Catholics: West Syriac Liturgy (with certain modifications) and theology, but also faithful to Roman doctrine.
I think the woman who came to the OCF meeting said Malankara, but seeing how similar the 2 names are I could be wrong.  Either way, she wasn't an Orthodox Christian!  She's still welcome to our meetings, though. Smiley  I remember her remarking how very disappointed she was in the local Indian church, and so she's going to protestant churches b/c they have Bible studies.  She still has respect for the Indian Catholic church but is definitely wandering.  Any advice?  And how about that guy I mentioned?

Speaking for the Orthodox, they have identical services (although the translations of texts differ every so often), and the theology is the same. The different names are simply to indicate who's who.

Each of the three Catholic Churches I named have different rites and answer to different hierarchs, but have the same general faith. The names indicate separate Churches, all under Rome.
Interesting that such a relatively small Christian community is divided so much.  How long ago was it that the Indian churches were considered "one"?

They are in communion with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches, and currently not in communion with the Eastern (Byzantine) Orthodox Churches. The main difference between these two groups is the preferred Christology of each: Cyrillian and Chalcedonian, respectively.
So if I understand things correctly, those who go by "Orthodox" fall into one of 2 communions: The Eastern Orthodox Churches (of Byzantine heritage), and the Oriental Orthodox Churches (generally outside the borders of the Byzantine empire).  the Eastern Orthodox seem to feel that unity of faith means unity of practice, also.  So, for example, they all use a common Liturgy and generally have the same cycle of feasts, etc.  How similar are the teachings of the Oriental Orthodox, and how similar are the services, practices, etc.?  My impression is that the Oriental Orthodox communion is more of a loosely organized communion...kind of a collection of local churches all considered heretical by the Eastern Orthodox but that don't consider each other heretical.  Was there always this sort of communion among the Oriental Orthodox or was it this more of a recent phenomonen?

I am not sure if you are talking about the Eastern Catholics from India and Egypt, or the Orthodox. The latter are not in communion with the RCC.

I realize that there's no such thing as "Orthodox in communion with Rome," but I was referring to Coptics, Armenians, etc. who go under the authority of Rome but keep most of their traditions.  Based on some websites I've seen, it seems like a significant portion of, e.g., Coptic Christians have done this (at least 200,000).  So I was just wondering why such large numbers are going under rome?  And how does this take place, when it seems like smaller issues between the Easten Orthodox and the Coptic Orthodox are almost impossible to hammer out (e.g. person X is Saint for one, heretic for other).  How did the Catholics resolve all these?

Not really. On the contrary, there seem to be good relations.
Glad to hear that. Smiley  Maybe they were just out of reach of the byzantines. Wink


The caste thing is not so much a part of the Church as it is of the larger culture, and unfortunately it sometimes filters in.
Unfortunate.  How prevelant is it, though?

BTW, on the main page is says you are a student at St. Vlad's.  Wow, that's really interesting.  Please tell me about your experience.  Are you on the "clergy track"?  Good luck with your studies!!! Smiley

Thanks!
CyberSponge
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