Perhaps the most amazing, strong, and devout followers of Christ on the earth. Just as the Waldensians are the most persecuted of all protestant denominations, the Coptic Christians of Egypt are the most persecuted of ALL Christian denominations, period.
Founded by John-Mark (author of the “Gospel of Mark”) in the first century A.D., this church flourished under the authority of the Eastern Church (later to become the Eastern Orthodox church in 1054). At the council of Chalcedon, when the Western “Roman” church began to over reach its authority. This little group of believers was wrongly accused of monophysitism (the Christology that claims that Jesus has one combined nature of God and man). Nothing could be further from the truth as their own creed of faith clearly states that they hold to one Divine nature and one Human nature in perfect unity without mix which is essentially the orthodox position for all of historic biblical Christianity.
They were persecuted by the Western Church (early Roman Catholicism), abandoned by the Eastern Church, and eventually persecuted by the Muslims with heavy taxation, beatings, and martyrdom. Were it not for a letter to Mohammed to “spare the Copts as they are your ‘kin;” The Coptic Christians would have possibly been driven out or worse, wiped out. But they survived and still exist today and are constantly in the news for all of the atrocities that the Muslim Brotherhood inflict upon them. They come under heavy persecution and have had survive almost 1500 years of constant attack.
This church is the fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy that an “altar would be built in the midst of Egypt” and a “pillar placed” – The Coptic Christians are both an altar to the Lord and have had to be a pillar to His glory for 15 centuries!
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)