Oriental Orthodoxy

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Oriental Orthodoxy refers to the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon (451). Hence, these Oriental Orthodox Churches are also called Old Oriental Churches or Non-Chalcedonian Churches. These churches are generally not in communion with Eastern Orthodox Churches with whom they are in dialogue for a return to unity.[1]

Despite the potentially confusing nomenclature (Oriental meaning eastern), Oriental Orthodox churches are distinct from those that are collectively referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Oriental Orthodox communion comprises six groups: Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India) and Armenian Apostolic churches.[2] These six churches, while being in communion with one another, are hierarchically independent.[3]

The Oriental Orthodox Church and the rest of the Church split over differences in Christological terminology. The First Council of Nicaea (325) declared that Jesus Christ is God, "consubstantial" with the Father; and the First Council of Ephesus (431) that Jesus, though divine as well as human, is only one being (hypostasis). Twenty years after Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon declared that Jesus is in two complete natures, one human and one divine. Those who opposed Chalcedon likened its doctrine to the Nestorian heresy, condemned at Ephesus, that Christ was two distinct beings, one divine (the Logos) and one human (Jesus).


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