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Slama amkhon

Something that has bothered me lately is why is COE and the Eastern Orthodox are still out of communion. Recently, I got a hold of Mar 'bdisho of Suwa's Nomocanon and the Synodicon Orientale by Chabot, so I am better informed on Persian/Assyrian/"totally not Nestorian" Christology. Also, I recently finished reading Wigram's History of the Assyrian Church. It seems that Nestorius is not followed in the East, but he is venerated for reasons stemming mostly from history. Given that the COE even included the Tome of St Leo (with St removed before Cyril, replaced by a negative epithet, and "two qnume" added) and that all subsequent and, as far as I can see, prior COE definitions are totally Chalcedonian, why in the world haven't the two come together. Okay, so we anathamized Theodore of Mopsuestia, but most of our scholors agree that that was a political move aiming to appease the monophysites and achieve union--it didn't work. Our idea of Theotokos is the same, if Wigram's explaination at the end of his book is correct (and Marganeeta d'Mar 'bdisho supports it). We take it to mean that she gave birth to the divine person who is of two natures--divine and human--and ever remains in two natures, without mingling, mixture, or confusion. The COE seems to object as they take the very old idea that God/Alaha/O Theos means God the Father who is the source of the Son and the Spirit. The term "Triune God" is a modern invention. This is not saying that we don't see the trinity as one essence in three persons, but that headship of the Father is maintained. So, Mar Babai accept Mary as Theotokos as long as it refers to her as Mother of Christ the True God and not as some sort of Theogenetrix. Fine, we mean the same thing, but Nestorius might not of. He is a third party condemened in the Ecumenical (Household) Synods of the Roman Empire and his status is of no concern to the Assyrian Church. My guess is that the COE acclaimed him at Beth Lapeh (along with forcing celibates to marry in order to appease Persian--esp the Mobeds'-- tastes) to distance themselves from the Romans.

In short, if we believe the same things, then why cant we come together? The EO, unlike Rome, never requires submission to a certain person, but a union of faith is the only requisite for communion--along with Trinitarian baptism and chrismation by a valid priesthood, both which the COE possesses. Our entire model is that of each national church having its own patriarch and synod. The only ranking between patriarchs is of prominence, ie, the Pat of Constantinople (the most prominent) has no jurisdiction over that of the Orthodox Church in America (the least prominent). It is just a recognition of a particular see's legacy. Icons? Well, the COE had them until the 13th or 14th century, so why would it have a problem now unless its theology was islamisised. It may have given up icons to appease moslem tastes and then developed a puritanical spirit around a practice that was a force of history. It seems silly that we are not in union. It is definatly sad.

In Christ

Ashur Ephraim
Shlama w'Iqarra Qabil, Shamasha Ashur

You raise quite a few valid points:

(a) Nestorius was not affiliated in any way, shape or form with the Eastern Church. He was a Greek, a Patriarch of the Western Church.

(b) The CoE took more objection to the anathematizing of Theodore of Mopsuestia, whom the Universal Church regarded as a "Doctor" of the Faith.

Where I disagree with you is here:

(a) We now have record of Nestorius' own words, as preserved in his anonymous work the "Bazaar of Heracleides" http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/nestor..._intro.htm In this work, it is clear that Nestorius himself never ascribed to the heresy falsely attributed to him by Cyril and other opponents. Nestorius was, in fact, as Orthodox in belief as they come. Therefore, the CoE was right in refusing to condemn him 80 years later when it heard what happened at Ephesus.

(b) The Church of the East does not venerate Nestorius, nor will you find one single church named after him. We do, however, rightfully say that he was persecuted wrongly. We do hold that he held to the Apostolic Faith. We celebrate his memory, as you know being a former Deacon of the CoE, along with the other "Greek Doctors" on a certain day in our liturgical cycle.

As for why we don't unite with anyone, as you know the CoE is the only Apostolic Church that is not in communion with any of the other ancient sees. The reason for this is quite simple. The CoE regards all other Apostolic Churches as members of the same community as we are, and they are welcome to our table. The same cannot be said about how the other Apostolic Churches treat us.

Nevertheless, the CoE since it's inception during the 1st century until today has remained an independent Petrine Seat, and will remain so until the Second Coming of Christ.

Whether it be the dogma of the Papacy claiming supremacy over all other Patriarchs, or whether it be the "First Among Equals" (sic) of the Eastern Orthodox, it will be rejected by our community. There is no head over our Church except the temporal Patriarch of Babylon, and the Heavenly Christ above him. That's the way it's been since day one and there's no need to change it 20 centuries later.

If that's something that will work with the EO, then they should talk. However, from what I hear they won't even talk to us before we renounce the name of Nestorius. I can tell you, my dear friend, that we will turn Muslim before that happens. <!-- s:biggrin: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/biggrin.gif" alt=":biggrin:" title="Big Grin" /><!-- s:biggrin: -->

Take care Akh!
I'll tackle the issues from easiest to most difficult...
The issue of church authority. The Orthodox share an ecclesiastical model with the COE. When we mention "primus enter pares" we only mean that political and historical honor is recognized. For instance, Rome was the capitol and, therefore, its bishop had a certain role to play as the bishop of the capitol city (later Constantinople would also have this recognized). This does not mean that one patriarch is in submission to any other but rather that the ancient see's venerable history is recognized by formalities such as the Patriarch of Constantinople would be like the oldest priest in a given liturgical celebration. In fact, we are more accepting than the COE of episcopal independence because each bishop is totally the Peter of our time and the Andrew of our age (forgive the shabby quoting, but it's from memory) since many of our fathers--especially the Syriac ones--saw Peter as the Rock, like Rome, but unlike Rome saw his episcopacy shared by all bishops equally. Ie, the bishop of Los Angeles (a see barely two years old) is the successor of Peter in a total way the same as the bishop of Constantinople or Alexandria--the entire episcopacy is manifested in each bishop but it is also the one universal episcopacy. But we have Patriarch, Archbishop, Metropolitan, Bishop as seperate rankings for administrative reasons. The Patriarch or Archbishop must call a synod meeting to order twice a year and see to the well being of the Church. We would never force an independent Church that shares the apostolic faith with us to submit to one of our bishops. Unfortunately, because of he millet system, sometimes the bishop of Constantinople calls himself the "father of the worlds Orthodox", but this is silly to the ears of most Orthodoxy and is not, nor has ever been, the actual practice. The only body that can speak for the Church as a whole is an Ecumenical Synod (a council of the entire "household" oikos). So the COE would never have to submit to any Orthodox bishop but, were there a re-union, would be an independent Church with it's ancient see recognized as an independent patriarchate. Our Patriarchs are not quite as dominant as the COE's since we were a millet for a shorter time period.

Issue #2. Speaking as a layman and not anyone who has political authority. I can not imagine the Orthodox refusing to dialouge with the COE. We dialouge with the non-Chalcedonians without them rejecting anyone. Now the Coptic "Orthodox" Church of Alexandria is rather nasty towards Nestorius and will not even allow the COE to join the Middle Easter Council of Churches until they reject Nestorius. We have nothing to do with the Copts, Syriani, Armenians, Eritrians, or Ethiopians as they schisimed with us 1600 years ago. I believe it is them and not us that will not speak to you. Sadily, it may be that when the Copts refused the COE, it was taken as the Orthodox refusing, which are totally seperate.

The issue of Nestorius is tricky. Firstly, he was anathemized in the Christian West, so the COE has no authority over these decisions. Why should the COE have any right to declair a Wester synodal decision invalid when they were not at any one council nor part of the discussion. Should the Orthodox require the COE to change its anathemas against Khnana of Adiabne, etc because he may have been wronged? The debates that happened in the West were often delivered to the COE in a very convoluted manner that resulted in some strange descriptions of Western theology; that the westerners believed in two half natures, etc. If the COE should be respected as an independent Church that never was nor could have been under the rule of Ecumenical Synods, why should it be going beyond its rights in deciding of the results of those synods. This is a point of ecclesiastical polity and respect. I don't believe the Beth Lapeh and the heralding of Nestorius was based on theology but on a purposeful distancing of the COE from the West in a time that the Roman Empire was the avowed enemy of Persia. That is why marriage was forced on celibates in the same council.
Now, the Theodore question is much more open to debate given that his theology posses less difficulties. Rather, his anathemization by the Fifth Council is what is difficult for many Orthodox since HE WAS DEAD at the time. The reality of the anathemas of the 3 Chapters is that they were an attempt at reconcilliation by St Justinian, who was ready to anathemize a couple of dead fathers for the sake of Church unity. He is loved by as many if not more Orthodox scholors than hated by others. He wrote within the context of apollinarianism and he context serves to help understand his strong diophysite stance. Nestorius, no the other hand, is more murky. Yes, the book of Heraclides certainly shows that he didn't believe the NestorianISM that Cyril condemned him of--that there are two Christs or two persons. But one must be careful to show that he does believe Christ to be one divine person in two natures. Personally, I have just begun to enter into the issue of Nestorius' christology and have not read the book of heraklides (much), so I am only pointing at some issues. We believe Christ to be a Divine Person (that suffered) with a human nature (that suffered) and a divine nature (that didn't suffer).
In the end, I think that unity must always be the coming together of two groups that believe the same faith. Rome is much more welcoming with issues like Nestorianism and doctrine since once you're unified, they own you--you're a "particular church" and it doesn't matter what you believed. We only want to resolve divisions in a un-hypocritical fashion by acknowledging a shared faith which means holding one communion and demonstrating in that communion the un-breakable body of Christ. Furthermore, I believe that the missionary spirit of the COE is dormant if not dead and that the Church needs the support of the Orthodox to escape the millet mentality. By coming together, we can share our reflections on missioning to America. Here at the US' flagship Orthodox Seminary, bringing the faith to America is always on the mind. Most students are converts and the sons of Converts. I am not saying that the Orthodox can fix the doctrines of the COE, or that money is the issue. I would like to see COE students study here where the Eastern model of Christianity is being brought to America since there is little Assyrian diaspora anymore. We are mostly sons of immigrants and therefore not immigrants but US americans. For the COE to live if must mission to America, since that is who their children are (applied likewise to Europe and Australia). Our, COE and Orthodox, clergy need to be prepared to bring the faith to Americans and not be merely Roman trained scholors. We need to know our faith as it is taught within the ancient context and understand the modern context in order to bring the modern person to see the Ancient and eternal Christ.
Hi Akhi,

aalkhas Wrote:This does not mean that one patriarch is in submission to any other but rather that the ancient see's venerable history is recognized by formalities such as the Patriarch of Constantinople would be like the oldest priest in a given liturgical celebration.

Akhi, in all seriousness.....why would the CoE care about which city was the capital of the Roman Empire at ANY given time?

And why would the Apostolic Seat of Babylon, centuries older than Constantinople, consider the Patriarchate of Constantinople it's elder?

Why not add Moscow to that mix?

I agree that ecclesiastically, the CoE has more in common with the EO than with the RCC.

However.....

aalkhas Wrote:So the COE would never have to submit to any Orthodox bishop but, were there a re-union, would be an independent Church with it's ancient see recognized as an independent patriarchate.

Wait a minute, hold on there a second. The use of the word "re-union" there is inappropriate. It's the same thing the Roman apologists attempt when they play with words like "re-establishment of communion", etc.

First of all, "re-anything" presupposes that something existed prior.

Whether or not there ever is a "re-anything" with the EO, or any other group for that matter, the fact remains that the COE has an independent Patriarchate, and that fact is not dependent on your recognition. It's a fact, whether it's "recognized" by anyone else or not.

The Church of the East, being to the east of the Roman Empire, never was in union or communion with anyone over the other side. Yes, all believers consider themselves part of the Universal Church. We proudly calls ourselves by one and the same name.

However, that ends whenever jurisdiction or ecclesiastic matters arise.

Remember, we don't even share the same Synods. The "Ecumenical Councils" within the Roman Empire, were local to that empire's Church. We had nothing to do with them. As you had nothing to do with our "Councils."

If we can collectively view history in a truthful manner, then the relationship can be more fruitful. However, we immediate become suspicious the very moment anyone prepends "re-" to anything.

aalkhas Wrote:Issue #2. Speaking as a layman and not anyone who has political authority. I can not imagine the Orthodox refusing to dialouge with the COE. We dialouge with the non-Chalcedonians without them rejecting anyone. Now the Coptic "Orthodox" Church of Alexandria is rather nasty towards Nestorius and will not even allow the COE to join the Middle Easter Council of Churches until they reject Nestorius. We have nothing to do with the Copts, Syriani, Armenians, Eritrians, or Ethiopians as they schisimed with us 1600 years ago. I believe it is them and not us that will not speak to you. Sadily, it may be that when the Copts refused the COE, it was taken as the Orthodox refusing, which are totally seperate.

Of course. We won't even attempt to discuss anything with the Copts. Cyril was their man. That's totally understandable. That will never change.

But the EO refuse to talk to us without a very important pre-existing condition, and that's the acceptance of a co-called "Ecumenical Council" that condemned 3 innocent men. That's what I've heard from our bishops themselves.

To us, condemning any of those 3 Greek Doctors (Theodore, Diodore and Nestorius) would be akin to condemning the Apostolic Faith itself. That's never going to happen. So as long as that pre-existing condition is there.....that we have to accept a local council held in the Roman Empire, that incidentally we did not participate in, but that's somehow "Ecumenical", it's a no-go.

aalkhas Wrote:The issue of Nestorius is tricky. Firstly, he was anathemized in the Christian West, so the COE has no authority over these decisions.

Then quit asking us to accept the decisions of that local council! It's not we who are making it a point of contention. We'd be more than happy to forget it ever happened.

And I assume by your statement above that you concede that council had no authority to speak for Christendom in total? If it's not our place to have authority over those Western decisions, then it's not your place to impose the decisions of that council on non-attendees.

aalkhas Wrote:Why should the COE have any right to declair a Wester synodal decision invalid when they were not at any one council nor part of the discussion.

Because YOU have excluded from your definition of "Orthodoxy" anyone who disagrees with decisions made "when they were not at any one council nor part of the discussion."

Additionally, we have never declared any Western synod as invalid. We don't have that right. As you don't have the right to claim that the Synod of Beth-Lapat was invalid.

We've simply refused to accept the decisions of a local Western Synod that we did not agree with, nor participate in.

A robber Synod, by the way, with no shame......POSTHUMOUSLY condemning a Doctor of the Faith, resting in the Arms of our Lord, without the possibility of any defense by the accused who was lying in the grave and up until that time was in the good graces of the Church Universal.

aalkhas Wrote:Should the Orthodox require the COE to change its anathemas against Khnana of Adiabne, etc because he may have been wronged?

That's not even the same comparison. The question you should be asking is: Does the COE require that the EO accept the condemnation of Khenana of Adiabene?

No, it doesn't. Neither have we delivered the decisions of our Synods to Constantinople's doorstep and demanded that they be included in your Canon Law........have we?

aalkhas Wrote:The debates that happened in the West were often delivered to the COE in a very convoluted manner that resulted in some strange descriptions of Western theology; that the westerners believed in two half natures, etc.

Why were they delivered in the first place? Did we ever deliver any Synods to the West to be signed off on or pushed down their throats?

No, we haven't. What makes the EO think that we care what debates were happening in the West?

aalkhas Wrote:If the COE should be respected as an independent Church that never was nor could have been under the rule of Ecumenical Synods, why should it be going beyond its rights in deciding of the results of those synods.

It's not. That's were you are wrong. We didn't care until AFTER the documents were delivered to us to sign, as if you need our approval, anyway.

There's a difference between refusing to accept something someone else decided, and calling it invalid.

aalkhas Wrote:This is a point of ecclesiastical polity and respect. I don't believe the Beth Lapeh and the heralding of Nestorius was based on theology but on a purposeful distancing of the COE from the West in a time that the Roman Empire was the avowed enemy of Persia. That is why marriage was forced on celibates in the same council.

There's two errors there:

Firstly, Beth-Lapat was a sane voice when the West was in disarray. Every heresy ever born came from there, not in the East. We simply refused to condemn 3 men who obviously held to the Apostolic Faith. If the fact that Persia and Rome were warring prevented the Church of the East from accepting decisions of Western councils, then the acceptance of Nicea would never have happened. As you well know, the persecution of Christians in the East by the Sassanids was even greater during the time of Nicea than during the time of Beth-Lapat. For your argument to hold any truth, that we refused Ephesus simply because it was the politically expedient thing to do at the time, then the same would have held true for Nicea.

As you well know, we accepted the decisions of Nicea and in fact liked them so much we incorporated the Creed within our liturgy....not that we had to, not that we were present at the council, not that we were subject to anyone over there .... but simply because when Marutha delivered it, it was interpreted as valid by our Apostolic tradition.

Secondly, marriage was never forced upon anyone by the decisions of Beth-Lapat. Quite the opposite: celibacy was no longer forced down the throats of those who didn't want to be celibate. The Synod simply declared that anyone, from Patriarch on down, can be a married man. The reasons were both scriptural and cultural. Celibacy was seen, correctly, as a Western invention. Scripturally, bishops were to be married men and have children.

Again, there's a big difference between allowing marriage (which was the decision) vs. forcing marriage upon anyone. The Synod actually stopped forcing celibacy.

aalkhas Wrote:Now, the Theodore question is much more open to debate given that his theology posses less difficulties. Rather, his anathemization by the Fifth Council is what is difficult for many Orthodox since HE WAS DEAD at the time. The reality of the anathemas of the 3 Chapters is that they were an attempt at reconcilliation by St Justinian, who was ready to anathemize a couple of dead fathers for the sake of Church unity.

Do I need say anything here?

If someone is ready to abandon the Truth for the sake of the reconciliation of a bunch of heretics, under the guise of so-called "unity" - are you surprised that a disinterested 3rd-party, like the CoE, would tell you to take a hike when presented with this so-called "Ecumenical Council?"

These games you guys played in the West, with the reputation of a deceased Doctor of the Church, are despicable. And we're the ones that aren't "Orthodox" unless we ascribe to this silliness. That's what kills me.

aalkhas Wrote:He is loved by as many if not more Orthodox scholors than hated by others. He wrote within the context of apollinarianism and he context serves to help understand his strong diophysite stance. Nestorius, no the other hand, is more murky. Yes, the book of Heraclides certainly shows that he didn't believe the NestorianISM that Cyril condemned him of--that there are two Christs or two persons.

Of course he didn't. Modern scholarship has proven that the CoE was right all along in not condemning Nestorius.

Are we ready to abandon this silliness if true "re-conciliation" is desired?

Let me ask you a question: why does the EO, or RCC for that matter, care about the CoE? We're decimated, only a few hundred thousands left.....aren't there bigger fish to swallow up?

Or is the EO, like the RCC, just interested in counting the glorious history of the CoE as it's own? Because that's what it sounds like to me. It sounds to me like an independent CoE is the bane of the mythology that at any time the Church was ever united in any sort of Western model....whether one ascribes to the Papacy, or to the even more ludicrous and later "First Among Equals (sic)."

aalkhas Wrote:But one must be careful to show that he does believe Christ to be one divine person in two natures. Personally, I have just begun to enter into the issue of Nestorius' christology and have not read the book of heraklides (much), so I am only pointing at some issues. We believe Christ to be a Divine Person (that suffered) with a human nature (that suffered) and a divine nature (that didn't suffer).

Then you hold to the same Faith as Theodore, Diodore and Nestorius.

Are you ready to condemn them for the sake of some false "unity?" Go ahead and condemn them....you've only succeeded in tearing the Church asunder with your silly Greek debates.

You guys over there have taken a simple, Semitic faith and have turned it into some Greek mess of debates, theatrics and tragedy....mostly tragedy.

Sitting there inside the walls of Constantinople, ready to fall to the infidel Turks who were waiting outside the gates, all the while the Greeks are debating about how many angels fit on the head of a pin!

Does this silliness never end?

No thanks!

aalkhas Wrote:In the end, I think that unity must always be the coming together of two groups that believe the same faith. Rome is much more welcoming with issues like Nestorianism and doctrine since once you're unified, they own you--you're a "particular church" and it doesn't matter what you believed.

That's why our talks with them ended abruptly. Did you notice we also threw out the former bishop of the CoE who was conspiring against us, to deliver the CoE on a silver platter to the Pope?

We had hoped, against all hope, that something changed with Pope John Paul II - that somehow, someway unity could be achieved without a destruction of historic reality and without a compromise of truth.

Apparently, nothing has changed much since Ephesus.

aalkhas Wrote:We only want to resolve divisions in a un-hypocritical fashion by acknowledging a shared faith which means holding one communion and demonstrating in that communion the un-breakable body of Christ.

Except when it comes to appeasing apostates by continuing to condemn a dead man, who died in the graces of the Church, who cannot come to his own defense, and a 2nd man who tried to defend himself..... but you burned any trace of his writings you could find, and those that you couldn't find in time to burn, and are available now on the internet, you don't have time to read.

We would love to resolve divisions in a un-hypocritical fashion, but as long as you're in denial that the "shared faith" you speak of was also shared by those 3 most unfortunate souls, there is nothing we can do.

You guys are sitting on the fence between the CoE and the Copts. You know Cyril was in the wrong, you know Nestorius' faith was Orthodox, yet for political expediency you condemned him and a dead man. And continue to honor that robber Synod that tried to force Cyril's decrees down the rest of our throats.

I'm sorry - I can't be as politically correct as you are trying to be, I'm not a PR-type.

Something is broke - and it's not in the East. There's only one faith there, decimated and insignificant as it is. It's in the West that you have a Yellow Pages full of thousands of branches of Christianity.

That's not our fault.

aalkhas Wrote:Furthermore, I believe that the missionary spirit of the COE is dormant if not dead and that the Church needs the support of the Orthodox to escape the millet mentality. By coming together, we can share our reflections on missioning to America. Here at the US' flagship Orthodox Seminary, bringing the faith to America is always on the mind. Most students are converts and the sons of Converts. I am not saying that the Orthodox can fix the doctrines of the COE, or that money is the issue. I would like to see COE students study here where the Eastern model of Christianity is being brought to America since there is little Assyrian diaspora anymore. We are mostly sons of immigrants and therefore not immigrants but US americans. For the COE to live if must mission to America, since that is who their children are (applied likewise to Europe and Australia). Our, COE and Orthodox, clergy need to be prepared to bring the faith to Americans and not be merely Roman trained scholors. We need to know our faith as it is taught within the ancient context and understand the modern context in order to bring the modern person to see the Ancient and eternal Christ.

The history of the CoE is replete with periods of magnificent missionary activity punctuated with periods of extreme persecution. We just finished with 1915, 1933, Saddam Hussein, 2 gulf wars....and are now dealing with Al-Qaeda. Excuse us while we try to survive before embarking to China again. We'll be OK......alone, but at least independent of Western silliness.
Shlama Akhi

Sorry that I haven't responded earlier but finals week was upon me. I believe that there has been some misunderstanding about a few key points.
What I have written is not a "politically correct" answer at all. At no time was I being political since I have no reason to be. I am neither a bishop or a politico, but a student of Christianity from a Eastern perspective who is interested by the likely doctrinal unity between two bodies who are out of communion. I cannot tell you how real talks would proceed and must err on the side of a more hard nosed approach. If you think I am being political, it is because you overestimate how divisive the Orthodox are. Do not read Rome into Orthodoxy! We have been on seperate paths for a very long time and comparing or projecting Rome unto Orthodoxy is like doing so with the COE.

Please be more careful when reading what I wrote about the ranking of Patriarchates and do not use Roman models of heirarcy to view the Orthodox. I never said the the COE would be under or inferior to Constantinople in any way shape or form. Unity does not mean administrative unity but it means that we acknowledge that both are parts of one unified Body of Christ that cannot be broken. We take communion together and can learn from each other as brothers and manifestation of the Universal Church in each ones respective sphere of ministry. Of course, the COE would not be subject to any one patriachate nor would it be considered inferior to any one patriarchate. I wrote what I did to clarify how the "pentarchy" system is interpreted by the Orthodox. Of course the COE is beyond the pentarchy as is the patriachate of Bulgaria or Greece. The old ranking is used as a formality by the bishops of those sees and is not to be considered in a Roman sense. "First among equallys" is not a doctrinal or ecclesiological decree but a counter-statment to pro-papal supremecy guys that attempts to denote how far we are willing to go in recognizing papal honor. This is not to be applied in a manner to suggest that the COE would be considered within the system of a pentarchy. Apples and Oranges. My statements on ecclesiastical order was to clarify--with the present Orthodox context (read my words honestly here)--how each national church is fully independant and sees to the upkeep of its own household. If there were a re-union (we realize that we are in accord with the COE) between COE and Orthodox, I couldn't imagine that any power shifts or rankings would be touched. Rather, other issues aside, we would open communion by having a shared eucharist and the COE would maintain its present status. Anything short of that, I couldn't imagine. No patriach is above or bellow any other.

I began this thread because in my reading I realise that we may share a faith in a manner that no other two churches do. If that is true it is both sad and a sin that we do not act as brothers in one Universal faith. If that is true we are brothers in one faith who must demonstrate it in one communion. Since you like to read roman powerplays into my words I'll state it again: that does not infer any submission of one to the other but a mutual recognition. (yeah, that is a period)

Issues like Theodore, Nestorius, etc would only properly be examined by commissions of both bodies who address the issues as is appropriate. Paul nor Ashur cannot decide what entire churches should do unless they are deluded enough to be so arrogant. However, I think that there is ground for looking at why there is a division between the two churches. I do read up on Nestorius and am not such a jerk as to think that he is un-important. I was just admitting that I could know more. I never berated you for not knowing much about Orthodoxy. Please, don't be politically correct but also don't attack me personally. I write out of love and a genuine wonder as to why there is a separation and to see your views on what keeps us from talking about the issues we have been discussing. I really don't care what you or me think about Nestorius or Theodore since we will read who we will read (I like Theodore and will read Nestorius as well as Cyril) and learn from it. My concern is what keeps our churches from discussing these issues. There are some 14 or so orthodox patriarchates and there will be varying degrees of willingness to participate in such discussions--that is part and parcel of our decentralized nature. If you were to sit at table with the Russian Church's representation to the European Union you would find a man very close to COE ways of theology, but there are also those who have a more alexandrian understanding. That doesn't mean unity is not achievable, but that discussion would be richer than with Rome. Rome is all to happy to dismiss the historical/theological stuff since when you're one with Rome they own you. Who cares what a unia believed once it is in submission to the Pope. We are not like that since we don't swallow up people.

Quote:Wait a minute, hold on there a second. The use of the word "re-union" there is inappropriate. It's the same thing the Roman apologists attempt when they play with words like "re-establishment of communion", etc.

First of all, "re-anything" presupposes that something existed prior.

Whether or not there ever is a "re-anything" with the EO, or any other group for that matter, the fact remains that the COE has an independent Patriarchate, and that fact is not dependent on your recognition. It's a fact, whether it's "recognized" by anyone else or not.

The Church of the East, being to the east of the Roman Empire, never was in union or communion with anyone over the other side. Yes, all believers consider themselves part of the Universal Church. We proudly calls ourselves by one and the same name.

Yeah, there was a union in that we recognized each other fully and shared a communion until 612--with some probable breaks before. I am speaking of "unity" as any easter christian writer I have ever read speaks of it (I have read a few as I am a seminarian). No one looks at it like you seem to--as administrative unity--unless he's a roman catholic. Since you are not, I used it in an Eastern context. We were unified in that we considered ourselves as parts of one Body of Christ and not heretics. If there is no heresy seperating us then we are in union, but are not sacramentally demonstrating it. Re-union means we are living as sister local churches in the One body of Christ--no one over the other! Where did I say that the ORthodox must recognize the COE for it to be legit? Yeah, you were in commion with Rome and several bishops of each side intercommuned including one patriach of COE who communed post-chalcedon at Hagia Sophia.
Quote:Remember, we don't even share the same Synods. The "Ecumenical Councils" within the Roman Empire, were local to that empire's Church. We had nothing to do with them. As you had nothing to do with our "Councils."
Yeah, no one disputes that. Nicaea is binding on the COE only because the Pat of the COE accepted it. They do represent to us a true definition of what it means to be a Christian and that is why we stand by them. Unlike Rome, just cause it is a council called ecumenical does not mean it will become imporatant; it must be shown to chystalise the faith in a true manner and that only happened in the centures after the council. Ephesus is not complete without Chalcedon as developed by St Maximos the Confessor. This is a deep matter for which space does not suffice here. I recommend The Church of the Ancient Councils: the Disciplinary Work of the First Four Ecumenical Councils if you want to understand how we use councils. This is similar to how the COE made statments on christology and all, but they only hold water in how they were interpreted by the likes of Mar Babai and Mar Abdisho.

and No the EO never "shoved decisions" down the throat of the COE. It was only gradually that commion was broken and that involved the battles between Persian Assyrians and Monophysites. When did the EO not respect COE authority in its own land? What ephesan documents where sent to the COE to sign? When? The COE wasn't forced to sign any councils; correct me if I am wrong.

Again, what I am wondering is why more capable and intelligent scholors and bishops from both sides get together to see if there is ground for cultivating between the COE and EO. With the Orthodox there is no fear of the COE's independence being threatened, but recognizing the orthodox Christianity of both parties is not only nice but simply christian.

B'sheyna o shlama
Shlama Shamasha Ashur,

aalkhas Wrote:My concern is what keeps our churches from discussing these issues.

I thought I answered this one, but let me restate it:

What keeps our churches from discussing these issues is a prerequisite on the part of the EO that Theodore/Diodore/Nestorius be condemned by the CoE, and that the CoE recognize Ephesus as a council binding on all Christians.

We don't mind speaking with anyone. I think we've demonstrated that by humbling ourselves and traveling to Rome to sign the CCD in 1994.

At least the Latins didn't have any preconditions to starting these (thankfully, now defunct) negotiations. Trust me, we've learned a very good lesson from that monumental mistake.

Negotiations aren't negotiations if there are pre-existing conditions attached to them....before they even start.

aalkhas Wrote:When did the EO not respect COE authority in its own land?

http://www.roca.org/bishop_john.htm

Do you consider the EO missions at Urmia and Salamas, along with the consecration of a bishop (John and Yonan) of the CoE to the EO fold, a sign of respect?

The irony is that the same Church complaining today about any potential Papal visit to mother Russia, because of all the proselytizing that Rome has historically been involved in among the EO.....is the same Church that, itself, was guilty of the same exact thing.

When has the CoE ever sent missions to Rome or Constantinople or St. Petersburg in order to convert already baptized believers ???

No, we don't do any such thing. That's because we respect your apostolic authority. We obviously don't enjoy that same respect. Rather, we are labeled as "heretics."

I think if you seriously contemplate these things, you will know exactly what I'm talking about and stop trying to sweeten an already sour situation. I wish your world-view was shared by your fellows in the EO, however do a word count of "heretic" in the link above and you'll see exactly how they feel about us.

I wasn't born yesterday dude, we are well aware of where we stand with all the rest of Christendom. But like I said, that's fine with us. M'shikha will decide on Yoma d'Nukhama whether our isolation was justified, or not.
I don't want to go one until yoma d'nukhama about this one. Just FYI, that link you posted is well know to me. It is a posting by a ROCOR website and represents the most conservative elements in Orthodoxy. ROCOR is the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia which formed against the "canonical" Moscow patriarchate that was forced to recognize the communist government. ROCOR sees itself as the church of the Great New Martyrs of Russia who suffered under communism as it was the faction that would rather die than accept commie backed bishops--it helps that ROCOR's strength was in the diaspora. They have since--last June--reconciled with Moscow and are in full communion with the rest of Orthodoxy. They had been like the Old Calanderist COE until then. They are very respected, but their writings then to be either extremely good on liturgical and spiritual matters or very antiquated and simplistic on historical matters. If you asked Fr Alexander Rentel, prof of Canon Law at St Vladimir's seminary, about the COE he'll say "they are a venerable Church" and wont call you heretics.
The article was written a la 19th Century russian seminary (type of high school) where Papist textbooks were imitated. Furthermore, I have heard Orthodox refer to the Assyrian Church as Nestorian and then state that it isn't really Nestorian and go on signing her praises! Sadly, the label stuck. The story of Bishop John is all too simplified in the above and it is my intention to delve deeper into the matter here at St Vladimir's where there are ample resources. I know that in the archived of the ROCOR seminary and of the OCA there are the documents pertaining to the Bishop Jonah story, which I may investigate in the next couple of years. Either way, the Orthodox never prostylised a la Rome. At worst, in Urmia the Assyrians had long looked for refuge in Moscow, who obliged requests and recieved them by confession of faith. The Orthodox would never want to "absorb" the COE in such a fashion, and Urmia was a isolated case where, I believe, politics were more at heart. Please, don't lose credibility by comparing the union of Urmia to what Rome did. The COE has just as ugly episodes in its history as the Ortodox but I would not compare either to Rome.

Please, do not assume that you know the world-view of the entirety of Orthodoxy and especially do not lecture someone sitting the flagship academic Orthodox institution in the West--I get to hear many attitudes and opinions. Bp Hilarion Alfeyev, current representation to the European Union from the Moscow Pat and Bishop of Vienna, has a very open view of Theodoros and Nestorios in the first chapter of his work on St Isaac of Nineveh. There are many more like him. I am actually known as anti-ecumenical and hard nosed, so don't pray that my brethren be as open as I am, pray that I be as open as they are. That is why I started this tread. I see what seems like fertile soil for discussion. Again, I have never been political here, but have always represented the more harsh attitude of the mainstream church. Also, don't read the internet to ascertain how Orthodox feel, but read books from respected Orthodox venues such as stots.edu or svots.edu. People who post online tend to be nuts! Seriously, the radicals are much better represented on the net than anywhere else. I mean, I am a canon toting, patristics memorizing, liturical rubrics tatooing on my arm sort of nutcase and represent a rather conservative stance, but there are those who are crazier than I.

Also, the COE does owe much to the Greek east in its theology as the Greek east owes much to the COE. For instance, the Spiritual Heirachy as a patristic theme in COE lit comes from Dionysius the Pseudo-Areophagate. The monastic model of the COE, by Mar Awgen or St Eugenios of Egypt, the works of the Interpreter, etc. So there was much communication betwee the two, once upon a time. What I mean about the COE learning from the EO, is that like in the time of Theodore and Athanasius, the EO have resources that can boost the COE in areas of learning and missions. We have great seminaries, for instance, where COE students would be respected and free to learn in an eastern context. Here at St Vlads, we have Armenian, Indian (Syriac), Syriani, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic students. All are respected, but I imagine the first three are most comfortable. Yeah, the COE has always been and will always be administratively independent, but she can still use resources to the Glory of God--especially when so badly wounded by such a treacherous history.

Peach,

In IC XC
Ashur Ephraim
Hey Ashur,

Like I said, the problem is that talks cannot even commence without a recognition of the first seven western councils. That is a precondition on the side of the EO.

As the CoE will never accept the decisions of Ephesus, this is never going to go anywhere.

I admire your Christian wish that unity is enjoyed within Meshikha's one Body, but as it stands unfortunately for the reasons stated above it's just not feasible.

One thing I am is a hopeless realist when it comes to these matters.

Now, if the EOC drops the condition that the CoE adopt Ephesus and condemn the 3 Greek Doctors before talks can begin, we will be more than happy to start talking.

Trust me, I know this first-hand from our bishops....they (the EO) aren't going to drop that condition.
Akhai (or, if you prefer, adelphe mou)

If what you say about us requiring EO councils as an absolute requisite is true, that is sad. Based on talks with the monophysites, I imagine that confirmation of the faith of the 7 councils is what is at heart, which wouldn't neccesarily mean anything about persons. Again, there is a great variety with EO bishops and theologians and I suspect that the COE has experiance only with one group, perhaps one of the least ecumenical. Personally, I have always believed that if a union with the Oriental Orthodox is to be achieved then the Assyrian Church should also be in full comunion--you guys would be a safty against monophysitism. Personally, I believe we two--EO and COE--share much more similar beliefs on who Christ is than do the OO and the EO. Anyways, perhaps man's sin stands too strongly in the way. I still believe if a dialouge with the right people in the EO opened it could bear great fruit.

In the long run, I have always hoped for a reformation of the COE. By reformation, I don't mean it in the manner of Babai Soro. I mean that for at least 1700 years the COE has been a melet and that it has formed much of its epistimology understandings in light of this political reality. The whole nation=church=nation paradigm is one example. Another would be how the Church relates to other bodies confessing Christ, but that might have wrong beliefs and/or lack apostolic roots. For much of her history, the COE only had to deal with those outrightly anathematized and excommunicated--IE monophysites and the Unia.

When Orthodox theologians began teaching in Paris and New York after the Russian revolution, they began an unpacking of what we believe and why in order to apply it in a coherant manner to the current situation. After 321 until 1918 there had been either the Church in a Christian Empire (Byzantine and Russian) or a melet (Ottoman). Many understanding coming out of emigres were just wrong and unhelpful and a theological education seeking to systhesise and reexamine what we have in light of our tradition was needed. Such an unpacking would not mean any liturgical reforms or radical changes, but a renewed expression of what we believe, how we worship, and what we worship. I am speaking about a revolution in the teaching ministry of the Church as based in a mission to America. For the children of the COE are no longer Assyrians but Americans of Assyrian heritage. A Palestinian friend of mine once asked a convert Russian bishop, "is Orthodoxy loosing something of its value in Americanizing since it has always been a Greek, Arab, Syrian, Russian, etc thing". The Bishop responded: "do you eat watermelons in Winter? do you get splinters after using the restroom? NO!, so you're an American." Until the COE become the faith of America (American Church of the East?) how will it minister to its own children who are American. Obviously, it won't be soon when the president gets the patriarchs blessing before he is inaugurated, but the idea is what counts. We Orthodox have been blessed by great revolutionary minds such as Met Philip Saliba, Frs Alexander Schmemman, Thomas Hopko, and Bp Kallistos Ware to have the paperwork--the reflective writings--done as well as, in most parts, good leadership with a mind to mission to America. I can imagine a similar renewal in the COE where the ancient theology is unpacked, the liturgy is understood, and the priests are trained to be parish priest of their entire parish defined as their geographical and not ethnic community. For instance, all of the swadaya translations I have read have been either poor representations of the classical or overly classical to where most people didn't understand them. I believe that liturgy can be done properly in Classical Syriac if you want to not change, not even a language, or in English if you want to reach people. Almost every Assyrian who has spent ten years or so here has a command of English far surpassing their children. Most speak a pigon mixed with Farsi, kurdish, and arabic, anyways. Hamzim? please, mamel. Why not inspire priest to spend the money and energy used on teaching swadaya on local missions and outreach to the community? Isn't this intrinsic to the gospel?

Anyways, have a blessed feastday on the Nativity.

In Maran Eesho,

Ashur
Couple of points:

True, after the decimation of Tamerlane and the subsequent milletization of the Church under the Ottomans, the CoE suffered it's greatest period of decline.

However, I doubt you can classify the Indian portion of the Church (which is actually the majority) as part of any millet.

Additionally, we do have outreach churches. Mar Youkhannan parish, in which I serve, does the service in Aramaic and English combined. In fact, the Synod has decreed that every parish work towards having some sort of English service, whether in total or in part.

The remnant in China has even been found, after more than 500 years the parish there is now being set up under Mar Gewargis' leadership. They made contact with the Patriarch.

Sooner rather than later the missionary heritage of the CoE, always an integral part of our history, will flourish again. We don't need to be in communion with anyone else for that to happen. We certainly weren't in communion with anyone when most of Asia had our parishes in it back in the heyday.

In any case, back to your original point.

You know as well as I do that in the CoE, any baptized Christian can receive the Qurbana and participate fully in the Razeh.

Would your priest give me bread and wine if I approached the altar?

This points to the very heart of the issue: we respect you, but unfortunately, that respect is not mutual.

It is the EOC that has to change its mentality if it truly wishes to have a relationship with the CoE. We're more than willing ... our actions show it. But on the other hand, we're fine with things as they stand, too.

Listen to the speech by Qasha Antwan Latchin, regarding being "skinny" (definition: those who aren't comfortable being alone and isolated from the rest of Christianity)

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