Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coptic Christainty

We visited St Mark's, home of the Coptic Pope, Pope Shenouda III. Who are the Copts and how are the different from Orthodox or Catholic Christianity?

According to ancient tradition, Christianity was introduced to the Egyptians by Saint Mark in Alexandria, shortly after the ascension of Christ and during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius around 42 A.D. Some famous Coptic scholars were Athenagoras, Clement, Didymus, and my favorite, Origen, who is one of the most distinguished of the early fathers of the Christianity.

They also gave Christianity monasticism. the most prominent figures of the monastic movement were Anthony the Great and Paul of Thebes (who we've already talked about), and Macarius the Great (who we WILL talk about!).

The Copts had a HUGE impact on the rest of Christianity but are considered to be different, part of the Oriental Christian Tradition, NOT the Catholic or Greek Orthodox traditions. The Oriental Orthodox communion comprises six groups: Syriac Orthodox,Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India) and Armenian Apostolic churches. These churches are different due to a disagreement at the Council of Chalcedon.

Chalcedon declared that Jesus has two complete natures, one human and one divine. The Copts argue that Jesus, though divine as well as human, is only one person. They likened Chalcedon's doctrine to the Nestorian heresy, condemned at Ephesus, which stated that Christ was two distinct persons, one divine and one human. In 2001, the leaders of Oriental Orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy concluded that they had always believed in the same Christology, but differed over how this was to be formulated, thus healing has begun between the Orthodox and Catholic churches.

Here's the visit to St Marks:

During the Q&A session with the Pope, two really funny answers that stuck in my head.

Q: I like a girl, but she doesn't like me! I pine and yearn, but to no avail, what should i do?

A: I wish these boys loved God as much as they love these girls.

Q: I recently moved to Cairo from a small village. I'm finding city life has a lot more temptations than the village life. How can i keep from sinning amid all these temptations?

A: No one can make you sin. Your heart has to be open to it in the first place. Pray and go to church, but realize that you are the one making the decision to sin or not.

Both of these responces brought a deafening roar of approval from the crowd. it was like being at a rock concert or sports game. maybe i should do a weekly Q&A from my church or even on the blog... ummm......


Anonymous said...

I was not even aware of all these various forms of Christianity. My interest in orthodox Christianity is greatly on the increase as I see the dishonesty of the fundamentalism from which I have come. Thanks for sharing your trip.

RJ said...

This is a GREAT post, Luke. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences.