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CHRISTIAN UNITY               ___________________________________________________________________________________

 

January/February 2005                                                                  First Year, First Issue

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A Christian Orthodox Periodical Published by St. Mark's Orthodox Fellowship (Canada Inc.)

Mailing Address: 2160 Weston Road Toronto, Ontario M9N 1X6 Fax:(416) 243-8374

 Website Address: www.smofonline.org

 

 

Editorial

A Call to the Depth

(Luke 5:1-11)

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"So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that he stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they bean to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men." So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him."

 

  1. The Lord requests a radical change of our life for Him. It is a call for depth in our life.
  2. If we understand His call to the depth in an earthly way, we will "catch a lot" that further pulls us down till we "sink".
  3. But if we go to the depth that the Lord meant, where He reveals Himself to our inner souls, then we will work with Him to catch those who are sinking away from Him.
  4. O Lord, reveal yourself to our hearts as you did to Simon so we say with him "I am a sinful man O Lord" and follow you in your glory.

R.Ed.

 

 

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Seasonal

 

The Three Wise Men

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The Lord Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was first worshipped by shepherds and wise men from the East- the simplest and the wisest of this world. In our day also, those who most sincerely worship the Lord Jesus as God and Saviour are the simplest and the wisest of this world. Twisted simplicity and crazed wisdom have always been enemies of Christ's divinity and of His Gospel. But who were these wise men from the East? This question was closely investigated by St. Dimitri of Rostov. He asserts that they were kings of small regions or groups of towns in Persia, Arabia and Egypt. At the same time, they were greatly learned in astrology. The wonderful star that heralded the birth of the new King appeared to them. According to St. Dimitri, this star appeared nine months before the birth of the Lord Jesus; that is, at the time when the most holy mother of God conceived Him. They spent these nine months in studying this star, in preparing for the journey and in travelling. They arrived in Bethlehem very shortly after the birth of the Saviour of the world. One of them was called Melchior. He was old, withered, with long white hair and beard. He brought the Lord the gift of gold. The second man was called Caspar; ruddy of face, young and beardless. He brought the Lord the gift of frankincense. The third was called Balthazar; black-skinned and heavily bearded. He brought the Lord the gift of myrrh. After their deaths, their bodies were taken to Constantinople, from Constantinople to Milan and from Milan to Cologne. It can be added that these three wise men represented the three chief races of men that descended from Noah's three sons: Shen, Ham and Japheth. The Persian represented Japheth, the Arabian Shem and the Egyptian Ham. Thus it can be said that, through these three, the whole human race worshipped our incarnate Lord and God.

 

By: Rev. Father Iskander Younes

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church (Bayview Ave.Richmond Hill, Toronto)

 

 

 

 

 

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History

 

A Glance Into The History Of

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church

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By: Rev. Fr. L.K. Messale Engeda

The Chief Administrator of Menbere Birhan St. Mary Cathedral &

Head Priest of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Canada

 

 

Ethiopia, being deeply rooted in Judeo-Christianity, is one of the ancient predominantly Christian countries of the world. The Bible, as a unique book which tells about the beginning of all things says: "And the name of the second river is Ghion: the same is it that compasses the whole land of Ethiopia" (Gen 2:13) Psalms mentioned Ethiopia indicating her existence as far as the 10th century B.C. "Let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out her hands to God" (Psalm 68:31) Ethiopia is referred to in other places in the Holy Bible also by secular literature, like the Greek poet, Homer (800 B.C.) and the famous historian Herodotus (400-300 B.C.)

In spite of the fact that worship in one true God has always been the basis of the Ethiopian religious practices for a long time, it was at the time of Queen of Sheba that significant steps were taken to strengthen the belief. As it is recorded in 1 Kings 10:1-13, having received information about King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba made a journey to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon thereby she mastered Judaism and descended to her son Menilik 1 who himself went to Jerusalem to be acquainted with his father, King Solomon. This journey was also intended to introduce Ethiopian civilization in return. The relationship that followed created conditions for the introduction of the Old Testament teachings and belief in Ethiopia. It was at this time that the Ark of the Covenant was brought to our country. From that time on wards, the Old Testament became the basis of the religious belief, practice and teachings of the people and accordingly, Ethiopia became the seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

            Since then, the Ethiopians had been worshipping the One True God, making pilgrimages annually to the Holy Land of Jerusalem to offer sacrifices for His deserved glory. "From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My supplicants, even the daughters of My dispersed, shall bring mine offering" (Zephaniah 3:10). Because of these historical, cultural and religious relationships with Jerusalem, the Ethiopians used to travel to the Holy Land, crossing the deserts on foot and animals back. The constant journeys made by the Ethiopians to the Holy Land made them owners of centers of worship in the City of David. This ownership of worshipping centers in Jerusalem is a symbol of honour and pride not only to Ethiopians, but also to all African people as a whole. This historical and religious relationship also opened the way of Christianity in Ethiopia. The Holy Bible tells us that in the 1st century A.D. the Ethiopian eunuch, who is traditionally known as Backos/ Mel-chiz-ed-ek, a man of higher authority in Ethiopia, the then Finance Minister of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia made a journey to Jerusalem to worship the One true God according to the existing Judaic tradition. During his stay in Jerusalem he willingly accepted Christianity and was baptized by Philip the Apostle. On his return to his homeland Ethiopia he preached the true faith in Christ among his countrymen.

            In so doing, he was the first to bring the Good News. As mentioned, this was taken place in the beginning of the first century, A.D. 34 as it is recorded in the (Acts of the Apostles 8:26-39). In asserting this fact, Eusebius, the great church historian writes of the Ethiopian Eunuch as "the first fruit of Christianity in the whole world"; Ireaneus also speaks that "he preached the apostolic faith to the Ethiopians."

            Despite the fact that Ethiopia accepted Christianity in the very first century, the establishment of the Bishopric and the administration of all the Sacraments were started in the 4th century A.D. when St. Athansius, the Patriarch of Alexandria, consecrated St. Frumentius, as the first bishop of Ethiopia during the reign of Emperors Ezana and Syzana (Later they are called Abraha and Atsbaha). St. Frumentius, the first bishop of Ethiopia, is also known as "Abba Selama Kesate Berhan", which means " the Father of Peace and Revealer of light".Therefore, it can rightly be said that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was officially organized in the fourth century (i.e. 328 A.D.) after Christianity was introduced to the country in the very Apostolic era. The work of the Church was further strengthened by the coming of the Nine Saits who came from the Byzantine Empire (479 A.D.) These men made a memorable contribution to the Ethiopian Church. They translated many books from Greek into Geez, preached the Gospel throughout the country and established monastic life.

            By about the middle of the 6th century the Church of Ethipoia entered a new era. The golden scholar St. Yared, who is the founder and composer of the Ethiopian Church Hymnology, rose at the time and composed a great variety of Church music together with their notes. No one has so far surpassed him, and his work is still being used predominantly in Church services.

            Ethiopia is, after all, the only African country to have preserved Christianity as its religious life for over a millennium and a half. Moreover, having its own rich alphabets, language and literature, the Church developed from very early days a tradition of ecclesiastical scholarship.

 

The Christological Teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church

 

            Interesting enough, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church considers itself to belong to the One, Holy, Universal and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. It is One because its Head Christ is One; it is Holy because its founder, Christ, is Holy; it is universal because the whole world is its province and because it is universal in time and place; it is apostolic because it is established on earth by the apostles of Christ.

            Christ is one nature of God the Word. After the union it is impossible to speak of Christ as being in two natures. By the union of the nature in the Incarnation the two natures became one nature, the natures being united without separation, without division, without confusion and without change. Neither of the two natures was assimilated by the other, the properties of the divine Word were attributed to the flesh and those of the flesh to the Divine Word. The Logos revealed himself in our flesh and became man like us. He did all things that man does with the exception of sin (John 8:46). And at the same time He was truly God. He is God-man. The church abides by the formula ' the One Incarnate Nature of God the Word", on which St. Cyril of Alexandria increasingly insisted.

            Accordingly, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church maintains that Christ is perfect God and perfect Man, at once co-equal and consubstantial with the Father in His Godhead and with us in his humanity. Theunion of the Word with the flesh took place in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. John says: "The Word was made flesh…" In the same way we can say that also the flesh was made divine. Subsequently, the attributes of the flesh can be given to the Divine Word and vice versa. Due to this we hold "mia physis", composite nature, one united nature. Again the Lord Jesus Christ is perfect man and perfect God. The word "perfect" closes the door to all quibble and distortion.

            In the light of the above explanations, it is unfair for the church to be nicknamed "monophysite" by the faithful who accept the Chalcedonian formula of "two Natures in the One person of Jesus Christ", because the expression used by the non-chalcedonian side was always "miaphysis " and never "monophysis" (mia standing for a composite unity unlike mone standing for an elemental unity). Therefore, these churches are best referred to as the non-chalcedonian Orthodox Churches. Happily the Dyophysites are currently realizing the position.

 

 

The Oriental Orthodox Churches Conference

 

            I, hereby, would like to remind you all once about the Conference of the Heads of Oriental Orthodox Churches, which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during January 1965, through the special and unreserved effort made by the late His Imperial Majesty Haile Sellassie 1, Emperor of Ethiopia. This conference is undoubtedly an event of some importance in the history of the Church in our times. For the first time in history in brought together in a formal meeting the Heads of five of the historic Churches— the Coptic Orthodox Church; the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch; the Armenian Orthodox Church; the Syrian Orthodox Church of India; and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, holding the "faith once delievered to the saints". In the fact, the Addis Ababa conference of the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches lasted only about fifteen days. But it did pave the way for the participating churches to leap over more than fifteen centuries of mutual isolation. For it was at Ephesus in 431 A.D. that these churches had their last common Council. In general, all of these five churches are members of the World Council of Churches and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in particular is one of the founding members.

 

 

Statistical Information about the parishes, clergies and laities

of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church

 

            As the 1999 annual statistical report of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarchate Parish council department indicates, there are about 37 dioceses; 32, 494 parishes out of which 1013 are monasteries ; 9005 Sunday Schools; it is also estimated that currently the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has 300, 000 clergies and more than 40, 000, 000 faithful. As far as the overall activities of the church in abroad is concerned, many parish churches are already established in Africa, in the Middle East, in Europe, in the Caribbean Islands and countries, in North America, Latin America and consequently a large number of people are participating actively in the various ministries and undertakings of their respective parishes.

            Lastly, it is my heart felt belief that the vivid explanations given so far will give you a brief overview of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and it will clearly attest the deeply rooted influence that this church has made in the overall life of Ethiopia and Ethiopians.

 

 

 


 

Short Notes on the Bible

 

"The Brothers of the Lord"

 

By: St. Mark's Orthodox Fellowship  

 

Question: Who are the Brothers of the Lord that are mentioned repeatedly in the Gospels?  A detailed answer is requested because this issue has acquired renewed interest due to the discovery of an ossuary (ancient burial box for bones) in Jerusalem, on which the words, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” were engraved.  This has been hailed in the media as the “Oldest archeological record of Jesus”, referring to an article in “Biblical Archeology Review”. Has this any effect on our Orthodox Dogma?

 

Answer: Briefly, this discovery, even if approved by all experts as authentic, does not affect the Orthodox Dogma.  The Orthodox Church, and most of her fathers, teachers and service books teach that the brothers of the Lord, James, Joses, Simon and Judas, are children of the righteous Joseph the carpenter from his first wife who died few years before St. Mary was espoused to him (see the Coptic Synaxarium, 26th of Abib, departure of St. Joseph the righteous man).

 

For a detailed answer, we include here a copy of a study written by Philip Schaff at the end of the 19th century.  Although a Presbyterian (Protestant), Philip Schaff concludes in this Note that the Orthodox Church teaching in this issue is the most tenable explanation, and is supported by the earliest writings of the Church teachers.  He also admits that when he as a protestant has advocated the Protestant view (that they are children of St. Mary), he “did not give sufficient weight to the second theory (the Orthodox)”.  Professor Philip Schaff is author of the 8-volume book “History of the Christian Church” and editor of the well known Series, “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers”.       

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James and the Brothers of the Lord

By Philip Schaff [1]

 

There are three, perhaps four, eminent persons in the New Testament bearing the name of James (abridged from Jacob, which from patriarchal memories was a more common name among the Jews than any other except Symeon or Simon, and Joseph or Joses):

 

1-     James (the son) of Zebedee, the brother of John and one of the three favorite apostles, the proto-martyr among the Twelve (beheaded A.D. 44, see Acts 12:2), as his brother John was the survivor of all the apostles.  They were called the “sons of thunder.”

2-     James (the son) of Alphaeus, who was likewise one of the Twelve, and is mentioned in the four apostle-catalogues, Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.

3-     James the Little, Mark 15:40 (ó μίκρός, not “the Less” as in the E.V.), probably so called from his small stature (as Zacchaeus, Luke 19:3), the son of a certain Mary and brother of Joseph, Matt. 27:56 (Μαρίαήτού ̀Ιακώβουκαί̀Іωσήφμήτηρ); Mark 15:40,47; 16:1; Luke 24:10.  He is usually identified with James the son of Alphaeus, on the assumption that his mother Mary was the wife of Clopas, mentioned John 19:25, and that Clopas was the same person as Alphaeus.  But this identification is at least very problematical.

4-     James, simply so called, as the most distinguished after the early death of James the Elder [son of Zebedee], or with the honorable epithet, Brother of the Lord (όάδελφόςτούΚυρίου), and among apostolic-writers, the Just, also Bishop of Jerusalem.  The title connects him at once with the four brothers and the unnamed sisters of our Lord, who are repeatedly mentioned in the Gospels, and he as the first among them.  Hence the complicated question of the nature of this relationship.  Although I have fully discussed this intricate subject nearly forty years ago (1842) in the German essay above mentioned [not included here], and then again in annotation to Lange on Matthew (Am. Ed. 1864, pp. 256-260), I will briefly sum up once more the chief points with reference to the most recent discussions (of Lightfoot and Renan).

 

There are three theories on James and the brothers of Jesus.  I would call them the brother-theory, the half-brother-theory, and the cousin-theory.  Bishop Lightfoot (and Canon Farrar) calls them after their chief advocates, the Helvidian (an invidious designation), the Epiphanian, and the Hieronymian theories.  The first is now confined to the Protestants, the second is the Greek, the third the Roman view.

 

(1) The Brother-theory takes the term άδελφοί in the usual sense, and regards the brothers as younger children of Joseph and Mary, consequently as full brothers of Jesus in the eyes of the law and the opinions of the people, though really only half-brothers, in view of his supernatural conception.  This is exegetically the most natural view and favored by the meaning of άδελφός (especially when used as standing designation), the constant companionship of these brethren with Mary (John 2:12; Matt. 12:46; 13:55), and the obvious meaning of Matt. 1:25, and Luke 2:7, as explained from the standpoint of the evangelists, who used these terms in full view of the subsequent history of Mary and Jesus.  The only serious objections to it is of a doctrinal and ethical nature, viz., the assumed perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord and Saviour, and the committal of her at the cross to John rather than her own sons and daughters (John 19:25-27).  If it were not for these two obstacles the brother-theory would probably be adopted by every fair and honest exegete.  The first of these objections dates from the post-apostolic ascetic overestimate of virginity, and cannot have been felt by Matthew and Luke, else they would have avoided these ambiguous terms just noticed.  The second difficulty presses also on the other two theories, only in a less degree.  It must therefore be solved on other grounds, namely, the profound spiritual sympathy and congeniality of John with Jesus and Mary, which rose above carnal relationships, the probable cousinship of John (based upon the proper interpretation of the same passage, John 19:25), and the unbelief of the real brethren at the time of the committal.

This theory was held by Tertullian (whom Jerome summarily disposes of as not being a “homo ecclesiae” i.e. a schismatic), defended by Helvidius at Rome about 380 (violently attacked as a heretic by Jerome), and by several individuals and sects opposed to the incipient worship of the Virgin Mary; and recently by the majority of German exegetes since Herder, such as Stier, De Wette, Meyer, Weiss, Ewald, Wieseler, Keim, also by Dean Alford, and Cannon Farrar (Life of Christ, I. 97 sq.).  I advocated the same theory in my German tract, but admitted afterwards in my Hist. Of Ap. Ch., p. 378,that I did not give sufficient weight to the second theory.

(2) The Half-Brother-theory regards the brethren and sisters of Jesus as children of Joseph by a former wife, consequently as no blood-relations at all, but so designated simply as Joseph was called the Father of Jesus, by an exceptional use of the term adapted to the exceptional fact of the miraculous incarnation.  This has the dogmatic advantage of saving the perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord and Saviour; it lessens the moral difficulty implied in John 19:25-27; and it has a strong traditional support in the apocryphal gospels and in the Eastern Church.  It also would seem to explain more easily the patronizing tone in which the brethren speak to our Lord in John 7:3,4.  But it does not so naturally account for the constant companionship of these brethren with Mary; it assumes a former marriage of Joseph nowhere alluded to in the Gospels, and makes Joseph an old man and protector rather than husband of Mary; and finally it is not free from suspicion of an ascetic bias, as being the first step towards the dogma of perpetual virginity.  To these objections may be added, with Farrar, that if the brethren had been elder sons of Joseph, Jesus would not have been regarded as legal heir of the throne of David (Matt. 1:16; Luke 1:27; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev. 22:16).

This theory is found first in the apocryphal writings of James (the Protevangelium Jacobi, the Ascents of James, etc.), and then among the leading Greek fathers (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Epiphanius, Cyril of Alexandria); it is embodied in the Greek, Syrian, and Coptic services, which assign different dates to the commemoration of James the son of Alphaeus (Oct. 9), and of James the Lord’s brother (Oct. 23).  It may therefore be called the theory of the Eastern church.  It was also held by some Latin fathers before Jerome (Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose), and has recently been ably advocated by Bishop Lightfoot (l. c.) followed by Dr. Plumptre (in the introduction to his Com. on the Ep. of James).

(3) The Cousin-theory regards the brethren as more distant relatives, namely, children of Mary, the wife of Alphaeus and sister of the virgin Mary, and identifies James, the brother of the Lord, with James the son of Alphaeus and James the Little, thus making him (as well as also Simon and Jude) an apostle.  The exceptive είμή, Gal. 1:19 (but I saw only James), does not prove this, but rather excludes James from the apostles proper (comp. είμή in Gal. 2:16; Luke 4:26,27).

This theory was first advanced by Jerome in 383, in a youthful polemic tract against Helvidius, without any traditional support[2], but with the professed dogmatic and ascetic aim to save the virginity of both Mary and Joseph, and to reduce their marriage relation to a merely nominal and barren connection.  In his later writings, however, after the residence in Palestine, he treats the question with less confidence (see Lightfoot, p. 253).  By his authority and the still greater weight of St. Augustin, who at first (394) wavered between the second and third theories, but afterwards adopted that of Jerome, it became the established theory of the Latin church and was embodied in the Western services, which acknowledges only two saints by the name of James.   But it is the least tenable of all and must be abandoned, chiefly for the following reasons:

(a) It contradicts the natural meaning of the word “brothers,” when the New Testament has the proper word for cousin (άνεψιός, Col. 4:10, comp. also συγγενής, Luke 2:44; 21:16; Mark 6:4, etc.), and the obvious sense of the passage where the brothers and sisters of Jesus appear as members of the holy family.

(b) It assumes that two sisters had the same name, Mary, which is extremely improbable.

(c) It assumes the identity of Clopas and Alphaeus, which is equally doubtful; for the former is a Hebrew name, while the latter is an abbreviation of the Greek Κλεόπατρος.

(d) It is absolutely irreconcilable with the fact that the brethren of Jesus, James among them, were before the resurrection unbelievers, John 7:5, and consequently none of them could be an apostle, as this theory assumes of two or three.

Renan’s theory: I notice, in conclusion, an original combination of the second and third theories by Renan, who discusses the question of the brothers and cousins of Jesus in an appendix to his Les évangiles, 537-540.  He assumes four Jameses, and distinguishes the son of Alphaeus from the son of Clopas.  He holds that Joseph was twice married, and that Jesus had several older brothers and cousins as follows:

 

1- Children of Joseph from the first marriage, and older brothers of Jesus:

a-      James, the brother of the Lord, or Just.  This is the one mentioned Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal. 1:19; 2:9,12; 1 Cor. 15:7; Acts 12:17, etc.; James 1:1; Jude 1:1, and Josephus and Hegesippus.

b-     Jude, mentioned Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Jude 1:1; Hegesippus in Eusebius’ Hist. Eccl. III. 19,20,32.  From him were descended those two grandsons, bishops of different churches, who were presented to the emperor Domitian as descendants of David and relatives of Jesus.  Hegesippus in Eusebius’ Hist. Eccl. III. 19,20,32.

c-      Other sons and daughters unknown.  Matt. 13:56; Mark 6:3; 1 Cor. 9:5.

 

2- Children of Clopas, and cousins of Jesus, probably from the father’s side, since Clopas, according to Hegesippus, was a brother of Joseph, and may have married also a woman by the name of Mary (John 19:25):

a-      James the Little, so called to distinguish him from his older cousin of that name.  Mentioned Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1; Luke 24:10; otherwise unknown

b-     Joses, Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40,47, but erroneously (?) numbered among the brothers of Jesus: Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; otherwise unknown.

c-      Symeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem (Hegesippus in Eus. III. 11,22,32; IV. 5,22), also erroneously (?) put among the brothers of Jesus by Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3.

d-     Perhaps other sons and daughters unknown. 

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After submitting this study without editing or modification, we like to make it clear that we do not like to attack the belief of any other church, but we offer this study as an illustration that unbiased scholarly research, in an atmosphere of faith and love, should lead to a better convergence of opinions.  We would like also to emphasize that we do not think that holding either of the second or third theories is a vital issue, a dogmatic error or a “heresy” in any sense, but all what we desire is to keep the correct teaching which is supported by the original tradition of the Church when it was in its manifest life as well as in its essence “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic”.  Our final purpose from this answer is to study and understand the word of God, in order to realize its holiness, and keep it in our life, as commanded by our Lord.



[1] - In “History of the Christian Church”, by Philip Schaff, vol. I “Apostolic Christianity”, pp. 272 - 275, 3rd revision, Reprinted 1991 WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.  It is published as a “Note” after the discussion of  § 27- James, the Brother of the Lord, pp. 264 – 271, which includes sources referred to in this “Note”.

[2] - The passage quoted from Papias in support of this theory is taken from Jerome and belongs not to the sub-apostolic Papias of Hierapolis, but to a mediaeval Papias, the writer of an Elementarium or Dictionary in the 11th century. See Lightfoot, p. 265 sq.

 

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Theology

Titles of Our Lord Jesus Christ

"Jesus the Son of God"

By Rev. Father Pishoy Wasfy (from St. Mary and St. Athanasius Coptic Church in Mississauga).  An excerpt from a lecture in a series about "titles of Christ" organized by Saint Mark's Orthodox Fellowship (SMOF) in Toronto in 2004.  (Lectures are available on tapes and CDs upon request.)

Between Christ's Sonship to God and the Sonship of human beings to God:

The Lord Jesus Christ was called the only Son of God to distinguish Him from the rest of God's children who are called children through love, faith and adoption.  He is the Only Son, who has the same Nature, Essence and Divinity with God.  Christ was called 'the Only Son' in the following places:

1.      "No one has seen God at any time.  The Only Begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him" (John 1:18).  This means that Christ declared God and we knew God through His seen Incarnate Son, whereas the Father can not be seen in His Divinity.

2.      "For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

3.      "He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the Only Begotten Son of God" (June 3:18).  If the belief in This Only Son gives everlasting life and takes away condemnation, then this is a proof of His Divinity.

4.      "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His Only Begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (1 John 4:9).  We cannot live through Him unless He is God Himself because God is the Source of life.

5.      "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).  Here the Evangelist is talking about the glory that befits Christ as the Only Son of God.

The Jews understood Jesus' Sonship to God with its Divine meaning.  That was why when they asked Him in the Sanhedrin if He was the Son of God, and He replied in the affirmative, "the high priest tore his clothes, saying, 'He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses?'" (Matt. 26:65).

The Gospel according to St. John says: "Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God" (John 5:18).  This Divinity was the reason for the Jews seeking to kill Him, as they said to Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God" (John 10:33).  That was the accusation for which they crucified Him, saying to Pilate: "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God" (John 19:7).  The common sonship, of which Isaiah said" "O Lord, You are our Father" (Is. 64:8), was not the reason of sentencing Christ to death, but it was the particular Sonship which carries the meaning of His Divinity and that He is equal with God.

Yes, human beings were called sons of God, but in a different sense than Christ's Sonship to God.  It is written in the Book of Genesis that "the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful" (Gen. 6:2).  Here the sons of God mean the sons of Seth and his son Enosh, when "men began to call on the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26), while the daughters of men are the descendants of Cain.  That is why the Lord said in the Book of Isaiah the Prophet: "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me" (Is. 1:2).  It is also written in the same Book: "You, O Lord, are our Father; our Redeemer" (Is. 63:16), and "But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our Potter; and all we are the work of Your hand" (Is. 64.8).  This is the prophecy but it is said by human beings and does not at all mean Sonship of the essence of God.  The Lord said in the Book of Exodus: "Israel is My son, My first born" (Ex. 4:22), and in the Book of Proverbs: "My son, give Me your heart" (Prov. 23:26).

In the New Testament God is called 'our Father' in many situations, as we say in the Lord's Prayer: "Our Father in heaven" (Matt. 6:9). 

However, the Sonship of human beings to God is either through faith, or love, or adoption.  With regard to faith, the Holy Bible says about Christ: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).  The phrase 'children of God' here means the believers.  St. John says in his first Epistle: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1).  Therefore, it is an act of Love from God to call us His children.  With regard to adoption it is written in the Epistle to the Romans: "But we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23). 

 

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Readers' Views

 

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Church News

 

In an article by one of the researchers, Filip Genkens, in Atlantic Magazine under the title of "The Next Christianity", he talked about the role of The Christianity of the East and South parts of the world on the future of Christianity saying that:

 

The demographic structure of the church in the future will be changing as there have been a steady growth of Christian faith in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  That faith is more conservative and traditionally based compared to the faith in Europe and America.  The researcher said that the successful Christian churches in the South and East, preach an orthodox life of communion, disciplined spiritual behaviour, deep personal belief and life of meditation and contemplation.  All of this is based on obedience to the spiritual leaders in the church where the spiritual fathers are full of the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

[L'Osservatore Romano – Bulletin]

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The Heads of the Oriental Orthodox churches in the middle east: Pope Shenouda III (Coptic Church, Egypt), Mar Zakka Eawas (the Patriarchate of the Syriac Orthodox Church) and Mar Aram (the Patriarchate of the Armenian Church in Kilikia of Lebanon), had their periodical meeting this time in Egypt in October 2004.  Their recommendations reiterated the importance of shared activities between their congregations everywhere to enhance Christian unity.  They visited and congratulated His Holiness Theodore II the new Patriarchate of the sister Greek Orthodox Church in Egypt.

 

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His Eminence Bishop Soterios, the Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Church of Canada, shared with the Armenian Orthodox Church in Toronto in celebrating the Nativity Feast this year by giving the sermon in the mass that was conducted by His Eminence Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, Primate of the Armenian Church of Canada.

 

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The Greater Toronto Area Council of Churches had a prayer meeting for the unity of the church in January 30, 2005 held at St. Barsaumo Syriac Orthodox Church,organized by Rev. Fr. Estphanos Issa.

 

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Holy Trinity Armenian Church Of Toronto

 920 Progress Ave. Scarborough, ON

(N.E corner of Markham Rd. & Progress Ave. just S. of the 401),

 The Armenian Church youth commission are organizing lectures on the Divine liturgy conducted by His Eminence Bagrat Galstanian , Primate of the Armenian church of Canada.

 All Lectures are in English and begin at 8:00 pm on the following dates:-

February 2 General Introduction

(The Words Liturgy and patarag . The Origin Of the Litugy .  The Origin of Different Rites . The History of The Armenian Rites. Parts of The Liturgy . Vestments and Vessels used in the Divine Liturgy.

March 2 The role of the Holy Mother of God in the church and the Liturgical perception

April 6 The shape of the Holy Altar 

May4 preparation

(The Vesting . The purification. The Accession .  The Prothesis)

June 1 The Synaxis

(History . Censing. Enarxis . Lesser Enterence . Lections. Creed . Prayers After the Lections)

September 7 The Institution of the Eucharist

(History . The Great Enterance .  The Laying Of the Gifts .  The Gift of Peace)

October 5 The Anaphora

(The Prologue . Anamnesis . Epiclesis . Diptychs . The Lord's Prayer)

November 2 The Anaphora

(The Inclination . The Elevation . The Doxology)

Fulfillment and Communion

(The Intetion . The Fraction . Prayers Before Communion . The Tasting . The Thanksgining)

Conclusion

Prayer Amid the Church . The Last Gospel . The Dismissal)

December 7 Practices Related to the Celebration of the Divine Liturgy

 

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The Word of Life: A Bible Study Magazine (volume 4, Number 2 –Winter 2005) published by Saint Mark's Orthodox Fellowship U.S. is now available upon request (416) 505-4876

A single issue for $ 2.00.

 

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