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Assyrian Church of the East

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Assyrian Church of the East

Nov-08-2000 at 11:50 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East

Members of the Assyrian Church of the East are the descendants of those who first followed the Messiah in the East? We are that Congregation, that Church, founded by the Apostles of St. Peter, St. Thomas, St. Bartholomew, and St. Thaddeus in the fountainhead of Christianity, the Middle East.

The beginning of the Church of the East is coincident with the early ministry of our Lord. In fulfillment of a promise made by our Lord to King Abgar, sovereign of the little state of Oshroene, St. Thaddeus (Mar Addai) was sent by St. Thomas to the capital city of Edessa to preach the gospel. The king and all his people believed in Christ. Through the efforts of these Assyrian converts, the Gospel spread to the south among the Persians. St. Thaddeus was then joined by St. Peter and St. Thomas. Traveling from Edessa, the apostle, St. Thomas, preached the gospel in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the capital of the Persian Empire, and Parthia. In about AD 52 he reached India, establishing the Church there.

From the first apostolic preaching of St. Thomas and St. Bartholomew, to the time of the Council of Ephesus AD 431, there had been no break or diminution of life in the Church of the East. This is important to remember for the following reasons:

1. Whether through ignorance or by design, many Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox teachers deliberately assign the birth of the Church of the East to this period of history. Completely ignoring the long and glorious history of Persian Christianity, they connect the coming of the Nestorians with the birth of Eastern Christianity.
2. Throughout subsequent history the Church of the East has been erroneously referred to as the Nestorian Church, the only name by which westerners recognize the Church. Because the Greek Nestorians were received with open-armed by their fellow Christians in the East.
3. In spite of the coming of so many westerners (Greek Nestorians), who were in exile, the Church of the East remained a Semitic, Syriac, non-Gentile Church. It retained its ancient forms of worship; it did not alter its doctrine; it continued to pursue its long established goals.

With the influx of so many Greek Nestorians into the Church of the East, correspondences began to take place between the archbishops of Rome and Antioch with those in Seleucia-Ctesiphon (known mistakenly Babylon by the west). Finally a synod of the bishops of the East took place in AD 490 at Seleucia. The bishops, following the most ancient doctrines of the Church, decided in favor of the Nestorians and their thoughts, and appealed to the bishops of Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome to accede to the truth and restore right doctrine. The request was refused, and thus did the western churches become schismaticor at least that is the official position of the Church of the East.

The Church of the East grew rapidly amidst heavy persecution, spreading throughout Asia. Historians estimate that by the 13th century her great missionary zeal had converted eighty to a hundred and twenty millions to Christianity, covering Arabia, Persia, India, China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea. But in the 14th century the Mongols and Tamerlane swept through the East, leaving behind destruction and great ruins upon the holy Church. The remnant of the western part of the Church gathered around the Patriarch in northern Mesopotamia and lived totally isolated in the mountainous region between Turkey and Iraq. Of the Eastern part, little remained except Malabar, India. During the First World War, the Church of the East was forced out of her centuries old stronghold, still have succeeded to be intact, and without doctrinal change, that faith committed to her by the Apostles of Christ. In 1976 the church added the Assyrian title to its name and began to be known as The Assyrian Church of the East.

The Synod, the highest governing body of the church convenes at the request of the patriarch or if called for by majority of the prelates (bishops). The purpose of the assembly is to add, delete or amend the synodic laws (Sonhados) and decrees to the clergy. All the clergy and laity are to adhere by resolutions of this council. The doctrine of the Church of the East has been briefly but fully summed up in the following hymn of praise composed by Mar Bawai the Great in the 6th century.

Worshipped by all in two natures;
In his Godhead begetter of the Father
Without beginning before all time;
In his humanity born to Mary
In the fullness of time, in a body united
Neither His Godhead is one nature of the Mother,
Nor His humanity of the nature of the Father;
The Natures are preserved in their Qnumas
In one person of one Sonship
And as the Godhead is three substances in one Nature,
Likewise the Sonship of the Son is in two natures, one person,
So the Holy Church has taught.

Thus the Church of the East professes in two natures in Christ, namely, divine and human, united inseparably and eternally in the person of the Sonship. It rejects the term Mother of God used for the Virgin Mary, and God died also applied to the death of Christ. And the reason for this rejection has been so clearly stated by Mar Odishoo in the BOOK OF Marganitha, where he says:

First, if the Virgin Mary is the Begetter of God and the name God, we know denotes Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then she brought forth the Trinity and not the Son only.

Secondly, if the Virgin Mary is the Begetter of God and He who she brought forth suffered, died and was buried, as the four evangelists testify, either you hold that He died in reality; (and he who really dies has no power whatever to revivify others or himself, but must remain in death for ever) and thus you declare false the saying that He rose again: or else you hold that he died by hallucination, and in the same way rose again, (in which case He could not have risen in reality, seeing that He did not die in reality) then the hope of the Resurrection is vain, since hereby the saying that He has raised us up with Christ is made void.

Thridly, if the Virgin Mary is the Begetter of God and Peter testifieth of Him who she brought forth, saying: Thou art Christ the Son of the Living God, then according to your statement she is not the begetter of Christ, but the begetter of His Father and Christ is Her grandson, not her Son, and she is the Mother of His Father.
Who then is the Mother of Christ?

The Faith of the Church of the East is pure Orthodox. On the other hand, it is said that the Assyrian Church of the East is Catholic, but that is not because it is a Roman Catholic in faith, rather because it is Universal. The Church of the East (erroneously called Nestorian) had been the Church of the Arabs, Persians, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, and other people in the past. Even today it has Indian congregation in Malabar, on the Indian West Coast, and American Congregations in Seattle, Washington and Sacramento, California, hence the word Catholic which means Universal. That is the connection of the word Catholic in the title The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East.

Today, members of the Assyrian Church of the East are scattered throughout the world, in countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, South America, Russia, England, Sweden, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, and in almost every European country. The see of the Church is in Chicago/USA, with dioceses in Baghdad/Iraq, North of Iraq, Beirut/Lebanon, Fairfield/Australia, San Jose/California, Phoenix/Arizona, Ontario/Canada, Kerala/India, and Norsborg/Sweden.


Gathered from various issues of the Voice From The East a magazine of the Assyrian Church and other sources.

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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