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Author Topic: What is Oriental and Coptic Orthodoxy?  (Read 3077 times) Average Rating: 0
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Simayan
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« on: August 03, 2006, 03:28:04 PM »

Ok, this will sound completely stupid, but even after a year of studying Orthodoxy and knowing tons about it, I haven't come across what exactly Oriental and Coptic Orthodoxy are. I know that Oriental must mean the Asian Orthodox churches (Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria), and the Copts are Egyptians (I think..). This concerns me, especially thinking that 3 Patriarchal cities are 'out of it'.

However, the part that confuses me the most is how Ive heard from some people that the Orientals AREN'T apart of the Official Orthodox Churches. Ive also heard the same about the Copts.

After that, I have another question, of which Ive argued with my Jehovah Witness friend about. As you know, they reject the Trinity.

When I asked why, he said because (from what he's learned), the members of the Trinity are all equal.

After furrowing my brow, I recalled what my priest said on Sunday how they aren't equal to eachother. So, after this, I cant honestly see how anyone can reject it, and neither can he.

Can someone tell me why some people would reject it knowing that they're probably worshipping the Trinity anyway?


And my final question:

I am considering entering the U.S. Navy as an officer through the Academy. What is the Orthodox's view from defending your country (and if need be, killing)? And if you must kill someone in war, is there a restriction placed upon you by the church? (I.e. Not being able to become a priest, barred from communion for a certain amount of time, etc.)

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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2006, 04:25:36 PM »

As far as the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox communions go, yep, you're confused. You must study further the the Fourth Ecumenical Council and those who rejected it and became the Oriental Orthodox (of whom the Coptic Church is one). The two communions are not the same church.

(Don't want to start a war here, but didn't want to ignore his question either, folks.)
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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2006, 04:29:01 PM »

The Oriental Orthodox Churches  are "The Church of Alexandria (The Coptic Orthodox Church), The Antioachian Church (Syrian Orthodox Church), Armenian Orthodox Church, Ethiopean Orthodox, Indian Orthodox Church, Eritrean Orthodox Church" , ... we all accept only the first three ecumanical councils and reject the 4th council ... and we are not monophysite as some people claim.

Pray for the unity between the Oriental orthodox & Eastern Orthodox
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« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2006, 07:39:20 PM »

Quote
those who rejected it and became the Oriental Orthodox

For the sake of objectivity I wish to address the subtle connotation of this clause (whether it was intended or not), for I could imagine someone like Simayan reading it and thinking that the Coptic Orthodox Church was once Eastern Orthodox, and that it subsequently became Oriental Orthodox upon its rejection of Chalcedon, which doesn't really make much sense of such labels and which further implies deviation on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox Church (which is all well and good if you're making it clear that you are presenting a strictly EO perspective on the matter, but you haven't done that).

I think Simayan has to realise that both the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox have different interpretations of the history of the 5th century schism. The term "Oriental Orthodox" was not self-created-and-designated by the Oriental Orthodox Church which always recognised itself (i.e. from its own perspective) simply as "the Orthodox Church". As far as I am aware, the Oriental Orthodox Church came to be known as the "Oriental Orthodox Church" strictly within the context of recent scholarship and ecumenical discourse, for the sake of objectivity in order to replace misnomers such as "Monophysites", and the undesirable label of "Non-Chalcedonian". In like manner, the designation of "Eastern Orthodox" has come to replace the unqualified "Orthodox". How mainstream literature and theological discourse came to be overwhelmed with the "Orthodox vs. Monophysite" distinction in the first place can be boiled down, in my opinion, to the idea that history is written by the winners. I use the term "winners" here in a strictly earthly context, in consideration of the Eastern Orthodox Church's political and military support and ultimately the fact that Chalcedonians (which would include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and a number of Protestant sects) constitute the majority of Christians, particularly in the West where Christian scholarship flourishes.

Ultimately, the Oriental Orthodox Church understands herself to be and to have always been the Orthodox Church, and vice versa for the Eastern Orthodox Church, yet both Churches have ceased to be in full* Communion with the other since the fifth century. Generally therefore, no Bishop of the Oriental Orthodox Church will allow his faithful to commune at an Eastern Orthodox Church, nor will he allow an Eastern Orthodox member to commune at his Church, and vice versa for a Bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, generally friendly relations and a mutual understanding that the apparent doctrinal differences that divided us have ceased to become an issue at the present (or that such were never real issues to begin with), has been established.

*Partial communion between the Coptic Church of Alexandria and the Greek Church of Alexandria has been reached on pastoral grounds. See www.orthodoxunity.org
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« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2006, 07:41:01 PM »

Oriental Orthodoxy is pre-Chalcedonian, holding to the christology as accepted by the Church in the Council of Ephesus.
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2006, 07:45:03 PM »

Matthew,

Our Church is not statically bound to four centuries of Church history. We have 2000 years of Tradition, not 400.
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2006, 07:48:16 PM »

St Basil's canons make it clear that a solider who kills in war is not prevented from being a priest, although he still must do penance for any kills, even if in self-defense.

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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2006, 07:49:35 PM »

Our Church is not statically bound to four centuries of Church history. We have 2000 years of Tradition, not 400.

The purpose of tradition, if I am not mistaken, is for doctrine and practice to not change, to remain uncorrupted.
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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2006, 09:37:30 PM »

Quote
...which further implies deviation on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox Church (which is all well and good if you're making it clear that you are presenting a strictly EO perspective on the matter, but you haven't done that).

Of course. The original questioner lists himself as Greek Orthodox.
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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2006, 09:45:06 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9653.msg130284#msg130284 date=1154655450]
Of course. The original questioner lists himself as Greek Orthodox.
[/quote]

Whilst you may be answering the personal inquiry of Simayan, you are not having a personal conversation with him, which is why, within the context of a public forum, I feel the need to jump in and address statements with implicit prejudices*.

*Which is not to say you don't have the right to hold such prejudices, since I likewise hold my own which are diametrically opposed to yours.
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« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2006, 09:46:30 PM »

I can see this will be shut down and moved to private forums...should be.
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« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2006, 09:49:12 PM »

I am considering entering the U.S. Navy as an officer through the Academy. What is the Orthodox's view from defending your country (and if need be, killing)? And if you must kill someone in war, is there a restriction placed upon you by the church? (I.e. Not being able to become a priest, barred from communion for a certain amount of time, etc.)

I think you'll find nothing but admiration for being a military man, and the Church certainly celebrates a lot of saints who were soldiers. But speaking as one honourably discharged from the United States Navy as a conscientious objector (some years before I came home to Orthodoxy), it's wondering if God has called one to refuse to bear arms that some generally vocal Orthodox will consider unacceptable.
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« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2006, 09:53:44 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9653.msg130287#msg130287 date=1154655990]
I can see this will be shut down and moved to private forums...should be.
[/quote]

There is clearly no reason to. Your comment seems rather out of place; one would presume that such sentiments follow a post with polemical overtones, which ironically seem to reflect your original post if any post at all.

I vote against moving this thread. I think it's good basic education to new members who may share similar confusions to Simayan, or who, having no familiarity with these issues, may be vulnerable to developing such confusions.
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« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2006, 10:11:34 PM »

Good thing we're no 'democracy'.

And technically "Eastern Orthodox" is not the name of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church either, whilst we're knitpicking.

Your comments are, well, you as usual.
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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2006, 10:24:48 PM »

Quote
Good thing we're no 'democracy'.

Indeed, else this thread might actually be moved in the absence of justified reason.

Quote
whilst we're knitpicking.

If knitpicking serves to expose prejudice that may subtly influence how the general reader formulates their opinion or judgment on a matter, then glory be to nitpicking.

Quote
Your comments are, well, you as usual.

That's kind of you. I do try to be consistent in assissting objective independent thinking.   
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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2006, 10:26:02 PM »

Teehee  Grin

Anytime , EA, anytime.
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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2006, 01:35:25 PM »

Thanks folks! Lemme just see if I understand this:

The Asian and Middle Eastern Orthodox are Oriental, and they only follow the first 3 Councils.

The Russian, Greek, and other Eastern European Orthodox follow all 7 Councils.


However, can a Oriental take communion at an Eastern Orthodox church, and vice versa, or is it a clear cut "We dont want you go away" type thing?
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« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2006, 03:11:29 PM »

Thanks folks! Lemme just see if I understand this:

The Asian and Middle Eastern Orthodox are Oriental, and they only follow the first 3 Councils.

Please don't confuse "Eastern" and "Oriental" which grammatically mean the same but are used by the western churches (and now us) to designate the two separate communions.

The "Oriental Orthodox Churches", those EA has enumerated above, only accept the first 3 councils.
The "Eastern Orthodox Churches" (now 15 autocephalous and 5 autononous churches) accept 7 councils.

At least two of these churches in each communion share a common apostolic origin with their  counterpart in the other communion. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria; the Syriac (Syrian) Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
You're going to have to do some homework to understand the origins of each of these.

Quote
The Russian, Greek, and other Eastern European Orthodox follow all 7 Councils.

Correct

Quote
However, can a Oriental take communion at an Eastern Orthodox church, and vice versa, or is it a clear cut "We dont want you go away" type thing?

NO, pretty clear cut - no.
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« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2006, 03:16:43 PM »

I would probably add that the "Oriental" Orthodox only follow the first 3 councils from the "Eastern" Orthodox perspective; they have had councils since Ephesus, just as we have.

Also, isn't there limited inter-communion in certain nations in the Middle-East out of consideration for the socio-political situation out there?

Essentially, the major theologians in each group (EO and OO) consider our churches to have very little difference.  If you want to see more discussion on that, and on what still separates us, I would check out the Oriental Orthodox Board or the EO/OO Private board (PM Anastasios to sign up for that).
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« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2006, 03:22:01 PM »

And I've tried here many times to get a definitive listing and description of those councils, never succeeding. Apparently they don't call them "ecumenical".
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« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2006, 03:26:24 PM »

Well, I can understand mayby why they wouldn't - one of the commonly accepted criteria (of course formulated de facto) is that they be Imperial; the events surrounding the split, Ephesus 449, Chalcedon, and the reaction left a bad taste for "Imperial" things with the members of the OO.
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« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2006, 03:28:00 PM »

I'm sure EA will pop in to add his $2.00...
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« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2006, 05:26:12 PM »

Well, this is troubling to say the least  Embarrassed I always assumed the Holy Land's Patriarchal Cities were still in full communion with Constantinople. Guess Im about 1700 years late Roll Eyes

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« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2006, 06:15:33 PM »

Well, this is troubling to say the least  Embarrassed I always assumed the Holy Land's Patriarchal Cities were still in full communion with Constantinople. Guess Im about 1700 years late Roll Eyes

They still are. There's still an Orthodox bishop of Antioch in communion with Constantinople, still an Orthodox bishop of Jerusalem in communion with Constantinople...
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« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2006, 07:48:23 PM »

Oh, ok. I assume theres still one in Alexandria too.

So they just replaced the old bishops who split away with new ones. Makes sense.
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« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2006, 09:21:19 PM »

With regards to the issue of Councils, I think we are placing unwarranted emphasis on what a Council is or is not "officially called". Whether a Council bears the name "Ecumenical" or not isn't necessarily relevant to whether or not it is in fact Ecumenical by nature. This is a point I infer from Coptic theologian Fr. Tadros Malaty's short work which discusses the Apostolic Council held in Jerusalem in the first century as a model of a true Ecumenical Council. Such a Council represented the consensus of Church leadership and stayed true to the Faith, and hence was binding on the Church; it was in essence the Church's first Ecumenical Council, even if we do not list it as such.

The relationship of the Emperor to the authority of a Council as Ecumenical was not a necessary one, and any sufficient study of the Council of Nicea and its aftermath should make that clear. Yes, indeed, a canon had developed which required the Emperor to convene Church Councils, but this canon was made purely for the sake of organisational efficacy and not because of some inherent right or God-given gift possessed by the Emperor. The canon also presumes that the Emperor is indeed Orthodox in faith, else its essential purpose in the first place is obviously undermined.

Subsequent Councils of the Oriental Orthodox Church, such as Ephesus 475, though never bearing the name of "The Fourth Ecumenical Synod", are consciously received as such by the Church. Why? Because this Council represented the consensus of the Church and stayed true to the Faith. Period.
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« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2006, 09:21:52 PM »

You assumed right...

HH Baba Abba Shenouda III is Patriarch of Alexandria and Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church

There is also a Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria...I believe his name is Theodoros (am I correct???)

There is also a Coptic Catholic (Eastern-Rite Catholic) Patriarch whose name totally escapes me.
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« Reply #27 on: August 04, 2006, 09:25:55 PM »

There is also a Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria...I believe his name is Theodoros (am I correct???)

Yep: H.H. Theodoros II
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