Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox?!?!

Yes, there are two families of Eastern Churches: Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox. And what is the difference? Pretty straightforward: the Eastern Orthodox, like the Catholic and Reformed churches, accepts the Definition of Chalcedon.

Ah, so that doeesn't help much? Well the Definition of Chalcedon, promulgated in 451, stipulates not so much the explanation, but the mystery of the incarnation: That Jesus Christ is at once fully God and fully man. Not a mixture of the two, nor did his divinity consume his humanity. He was both at the same time. 100% human. 100% divine. Wrap your mind around that. But some churches did not accept it, those are what we call the Oriental Orthodox churches. The largest of which are three:

Aremnian Apostolic Church
Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Coptic Orthodox Church

They are each based in their respective countries (Copts in Egypt of course). So here is a statement of "unity of faith" betweeen two of those three churches (though there are other such churches).

Before leaving for the mission field I recall well visiting a Coptic church in my home city. Now I would feel much at home, having been familiarized with that form of worship. But then it was very...different.

In any case, here is the definition of Chalcedon, from a Reformed website no less. We must not forget that this is a profoundly Reformed text, while at the same time being Catholic and Orthodox:

Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D)

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

***

And finally, here is part of the text of accordance between the two Oriental Orthodox Churches:

We rejoice with the heartening developments in the lives of these historic Oriental Orthodox Churches, deeply rooted since the beginning of Christian history among the people of Africa. Their theological, spiritual and liturgical heritage, as well as their centuries-long witness to the Gospel, constitute a valuable source of inspiration for many other member churches of the WCC fellowship.

We rejoice with this promising news that extends far beyond bilateral relations by confirming that true reconciliation among churches is possible. We are grateful to each of you, the heads of churches, for the tangible witness you have offered in dealing successfully with church-dividing matters.

We recognize that all the protagonists in this process of healing and reconciliation are well known to the WCC fellowship of member churches as outstanding ecumenical leaders. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III served as one of the presidents of the WCC from 1991–1998. His Holiness Abune Paulos currently serves as one of the presidents of the WCC, having been elected in 2006. His Holiness Catholicos Aram I served as the moderator of the WCC Central Committee for two terms from 1991 – 2006. We congratulate you and offer our thanks to God for this historic achievement.

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