Orthodoxy is a type of faith that is based on Christianity. It is an important part of the world’s religions. However, Christians were not always called orthodox. There were times when Christianity was split into many different factions. Some of the divisions were due to schisms, disputes over the teachings of the fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon, and the persecution of Christians.
Nestorian Churches are Christian groups that began in the eastern part of the world. They are also known as the Assyrian Church, the East Syrian Church, or the Persian Church. Today, most members of the church live in Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
The church grew from a missionary movement in Asia. Its origins lie in the teachings of apostle Thomas. Many of its members claim to be the descendants of Abraham.
The Nestorian Church was a branch of the Syriac-speaking church of Antioch. In 498, it severed ties with the patriarchate of Antioch. However, it continued to intermarry with other Syriac-speaking peoples in the east.
Disputes over Christology
Christology is a key tenet of the Christian faith, and has been subject to ecclesiastical controversies over millennia. The church continues to rely on a scripturally derived doctrine of Christ. While the exact definition is sometimes disputed, the disagreements primarily revolve around semantics.
A christological hermeneutic emphasizes going beyond the literal sense of a text. It focuses on the bigger picture, or what the author of a particular text is trying to say.
An example of a christological hermeneutic is a statement that Christ is one of the two persons of the Trinity. This is not to suggest that Jesus is not a God, but that he is not fully a God in the traditional sense.
The Orthodox Church, originally an Apostolic Community, was established by Jesus Christ. Its roots are found in the “outpouring of the Holy Spirit” upon the Apostles at Pentecost. This event marks the beginning of the Church’s mission to the world.
The First Ecumenical Council took place in Nicea and condemned Arianism. It also proclaimed that the Incarnation is the true doctrine of the Church.
Emperor Aurelius was a Stoic and opposed Christianity on philosophical grounds. His tutor had a biased view and persecuted Christians for his own reasons. Eventually, the affluent indebted to Jews opened their doors to the “Jew killers.”
Galerius issued an edict of toleration to the Christians, but his death in 311 was the first empire-wide persecution. Novatian, a Roman presbyter, was also persecuted.
Missionary dioceses in the Middle East and Europe
When we think of missionary activity in the Middle East and Europe, we usually think of Roman Catholic missions. However, there are several other Churches in the region, and many of these have been active for centuries. Some of them are in the Byzantine tradition and have been involved in missionary work throughout the Middle Ages.
There are over ten million Christians in the Middle East, and the largest Church family is the Oriental Orthodox Community. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt has a strong tradition in missionary activity, and its Patriarch lives in Damascus. Other churches in the region include the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, and the Chaldean Church.
Disputes over the Christology of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon
When the Fourth Ecumenical Council convened in Chalcedon in 451 AD, it set in motion a series of unanticipated events. These events impacted the understanding of Christian beliefs about God and Jesus, and shaped the course of history.
The underlying philosophical presuppositions of both sides of the debate at Chalcedon had a major impact on the intensity of the dispute. One of the major concerns of the Nestorians was divine immutability. It was important to the Antiochene theologians that the natures of Christ remain unchanged. This emphasis on divine immutability influenced the debate in Chalcedon, which also focused on the two natures of Christ.
Schism of 1054 vs Photian Schism
The Great Schism of 1054 is one of the most important events in the history of Christianity. It brought about the separation between the Orthodox Church of the East and the Roman Catholic Church of the West. This schism resulted in the formation of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
While most of the schism lasted less than two years, it had lasting consequences. The Western Church and the Eastern Church remained in a state of tension for many years after the break.
A great deal of debate was generated over ecclesiastical and political authority. Pope Adrian II, who was the head of the Church of Rome in the west, sought to establish an unchallenged dominion over all of Christendom. But, the Eastern leaders refused to grant the pope power over policy.