Church of the East (Nestorian)

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Church of the East - Nestorian Churches

– Founded in Persia – appx. 65-100 A.D.

The Nestorian Church is the name commonly given to the Church of the East and is also called the “Persian Church”, “East Syrian Church”, “Chaldean Syrian Church” in India only, “Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East”, and just “Assyrian Church of the East”.

It is a bit of a misnomer to refer to the Church of the East, which was established in Persia in the first century, as a Nestorian church founded by Nestorians as Nestorius and his controversial Christological views wouldn’t take place until the Council of Chalcedon in 431 AD. This church was in existence for nearly 350 years before Nestorius. In effect, it was Nestorius who followed the Church of the East and not the other way around as both had compatible views of Christ – two natures in one person.

The Church of the East received the scriptures from the Apostles themselves in Aramaic original the language of Palestine at the time of our Lord Jesus Christ and that Aramaic Bible “Peshitta” is the text of the church of the East which has come from Biblical times without any change or revision.

However, after the 4th ecumenical council which concluded in 431, many Christians were persecuted by the self-appointed pre-eminent See of Rome. This would be one of the earliest examples of so-called “Christians” persecuting other Christians due to a disagreement. In reality, it was the suckling babe version of the Roman Catholic church which is not a truly Christian church but an aberration thereof. These persecutions which started with Arians persecuting non-Arians i.e. persecution of Athanasius would become a hallmark of Roman Catholic behaviour toward Bible-believing Christians thereafter.

John Nestorius was not an Assyrian nor did he know Syriac language. He was a native of Antioch and Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431 A.D. His rival Cyril was Patriarch of Alexandria. Therefore, the members of the Church say that they do not have anything to do with the Nestorian controversy. It was several years later and even after the death of Nestorius in 451 A.D. that the Christians of the Persian Empire heard about the controversy. They decreed that the stand taken by Nestorius was in agreement with the view always maintained by the Church of the East.

As a result of the persecution of the followers of Nestorius, many Chris­tians had to flee from the now Christian Roman Empire and found refuge among the followers of this Church.

Persecution again broke out around the 14th century along with deception and attempts at extermination by Mongols. The remnant which escaped the persecution of Tamerlane finally found refuge in the mountains of Kurdistan. The split caused by Sulaqa who took refuge with the Roman Catholic Church, persecuted by the Kurds and Turks, and during the First World War further weakened this church.

Whereas the Church of the East believes in the same Triune God of the Scriptures, they do hold to the Roman Catholic doctrine of “Apostolic Succession” which grants authority to distribute Sacraments necessary for participation in the church (and by default salvation) The doctrines of apostolic success and the sacraments are both creations of the the western Roman church and are not found in Scripture.

Much of the information about the Church of the East was found on the following site: www.nestorian.org Its a very informational site and a great source for further information.

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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