Armenian Apostolic Church

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Armenian Apostolic Church

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Armenian Apostolic Church

– Founded by Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew – 35-50 A.D.

The origin of the Armenian Church dates back to the Apostolic age. According to the ancient tradition, which is well supported by historical evidence, Christianity was preached in Armenia as early as the second half of the first century by the two disciples of Jesus Christ, namely, St. Thaddeus (John 14:22-24) and St. Bartholomew (John 1:43-51). Early tradition holds that after the ascension of Christ, Thaddaeus traveled to and preached in, Armenia. Among the number of new Christians was Sandukht, the daughter of Armenian tsar Sanatruk. The Apostle along with Sandukht and other new Christians met their martyr death in Shavarshan by the tsar’s order. After a while, after preaching in Persia, St. Bartholomew came to Armenia. He converted Vogui, the daughter of Sanatruk, and many nobles to Christianity; then, by Sanatruk’s order he was martyred in Arbanos.

During the first three centuries Christianity in Armenia existed as an underground religion due to heavy persecution particularly in 110, 230, & 287 AD which were reported by early church fathers Tertullian & Eusebius. However, in 301 AD, Christianity was officially accepted by the Armenians as the state religion – making the Armenian church the first “state” or “national” church in the history of Christianity. St. Gregory the Illuminator and King Thiridates III, the ruler of the time, played a pivotal role in the Christianization of Armenia.

Because of internal war with Persians’ endeavouring to wipe out Christianity, the Bishops of Armenia did not attend the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and they rejected the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon at the Council of Dvin 553-555, and so the Armenian Apostolic Church split from the Churches of Rome and Byzantium over the Christological position of monophysitism – which holds that Christ has just one Diving nature and not both a human and a Divine nature which is Biblical orthodoxy. It is because of this position that the Armenian Apostolic Church is considered closely related to the early so-called schismatic churches – Coptic Christians, Syriac Christian, and other Oriental Orthodox churches.

According to some, the Christological differences between the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches which date back to the Council of Chalcedon, have largely been resolved, through a series of formal agreements over the past decade, and today the Apostolics and Catholics of Armenia are virtually identical in traditional liturgy. This approach to Christian worship most resembles the Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Rite faith. Today, this ancient denomination is most often referred to as the Armenian Orthodox Church

Eastern Orthodox denominations – the Oriental Orthodox churches broke off in the earliest of schisms in Church history. Some were Nestorians, others were “monophysites” (a complex understanding of Christology unfairly declared heretical). This family still has a representation of denominations dating back to the third century – Coptic Christians in Egypt (heavily persecuted by Muslims), Church of India (established by the Apostle Thomas), Armenian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (possibly dating as far back as the Biblical encounter between the Apostle Philip and the influential Ethiopian eunich in Acts 8)

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